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Garris' PEGASUS (Books 1 and 2)

Book 1 - Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO - Death of a fleet.

Battlestar Atlantia – Combat Information Center

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

"Welcome aboard, Admiral", Commander Wes 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.

“I’m sure that Garris wouldn’t be too unhappy at this ‘delay’ to his ship’s decommissioning”, Nagala commented wryly. He thought highly of Cain and knew that his abilities would be needed in this time of battle. The Columbia-class Pegasus was old, but Nagala knew that Cain would still have the old girl at peak efficiency.

"Excuse me, Commander", the Atlantia Comscan 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 incoming 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 home fleet units as soon as possible.

He listened to the various reports coming in from the various home 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 Atlantia Comms walked up to him, looking extremely pale.

"Its official, Admiral", Comms quietly said into Nagala’s ear as he passed a printed message to him. "Picon 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 Home Fleet, Commander”, Nagala announced, "What is her status?"

"All systems operational and our strike wing’s on full alert", Anson replied.

"Good", Nagala replied, turning to Comms. "Make this message to all Colonial Fleet Units on priority scrambler: "I'm taking command of fleet after destruction of fleet headquarters. The Atlantia will act as command ship for defense of Colonies. All Units acknowledge by same encryption protocol and deploy according to OpPlan Five. Nagala"

“You want to include the reserve fleet ships in the message, Admiral?” Comms asked. Nagala nodded. Perhaps there would be time for the caretaker crews of the old warships at Tarturas to get their ships away from the dock before they came under attack – if they hadn't already - and there were a few reserve fleet ships out on assignment. He had a sickening certainty that every piece of materiel was going to be needed.

As the Atlantia Comms 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 home 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 expects everyone in the fleet to do their duty. Nagala out".

Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center

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 indeed going all out and everything that the colonial military can muster was going to be needed.

"X.O.", 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 all vipers in the wing – including reserve pilots - readied for immediate combat operations. When we run into those tin-head Cylon toasters, I want us to be able to deploy everything instantly, understood"? Cain ordered.

Tolen nodded and headed over to the Core Command 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 all vipers in Silver Spar wing ready for combat", Tolen announced. "And all batteries report that they are cleared and 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 dry-docks and construction facilities on Tarturas have also just reported that they are coming under attack, and the Scorpio fleet docks have been annihilated ".

Tolen and most of the CIC personnel looked stunned. Those two task forces alone numbered twelve battlestars and they no longer existed. There were several battlestars at the fleet docks at Scorpio that are now presumed destroyed. And with the Tarturas dry-docks also being hit, it would make things that much more difficult to maintain the fleet. As the reserve fleet’s battlestars at Taturas had only caretaker crews and thus would not be able to quickly deploy, it looked like they were going to be sitting ducks…

"It all adds up to the conclusion that the tin-headed toasters have achieved complete and total surprise. How did they manage to do it?" Tolen asked, using the First Cylon War nickname for the Cylons.

"How isn't important at the moment. All that concerns us at the moment is that those tin-headed toasters have done it. Our planets are being nuked, the 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, and then communications were 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 re-provisioning. That would depend upon the outcome of the upcoming battle.

With the Atlantia leading, the six battlestars of Nagala’s task force 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 Colonial Fleet. But something was nagging at Cain. Even with the Cylon 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.

Battlestar Pegasus – Silver Spar Wing Ready Room

For Tricia Cain, now sitting in the ready room, things were really looking bleak. First – after being informed to remain on board - 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 – Captain Eugene Syke - that she was available, and that she was also qualified as a viper pilot, but was told by Syke 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. But 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.

“Where are you going, Lieutenant?” an Ensign called as she headed out of the ready room.

“To war”, Tricia icily replied.

Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center

"Commander", Captain Sanders announced from the dradis 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 the helm officer 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, Major Wyatt Thyssen.

"Commander", Thyssen announced. "We have a downed primary energizer unit. Our sub-light drive has been reduced in efficiency by forty percent as a result. 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! Willing himself to remain clam, he inquired, "How soon before you can get our sub-light drive and thrusters back to full power?"

"It will take an hour to get primary energizer 'A' back on line. Energizer 'B' is okay and the auxiliary energizer 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, "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 Lieutenant Annan at Core Command. I'm sure that they can use you”, Tolen ordered. Tricia saluted, and then headed to her assigned post. Tolen thought that having an available pilot assisting Annan would be the best thing to do.

Battlestar Atlantia – Combat Information Center

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 square 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 Pegasus and Pacifica deploy their fighters at least?" Anson asked. Nagala considered it, but then he shook his head.

"We'll keep their wings in reserve for the time being. Besides, if the Cylons do come across the Pegasus first, they are going to need all the fighter protection that they can get".

"Admiral", one of the scanner technicians announced. "Dradis 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. He watched the dradis screens as they displayed the locations of the various ships.

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.

Battlestar PEGASUS – Combat Information Center

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 strike 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 dradis 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: "the dradis now shows... all fighters destroyed!"

Tolen and Cain looked sharply at each other. Eighty Viper mark VIIs 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. The dradis’ primary tactical display was now showing the attacking Cylon Squadron launching missiles at the Solaria and Columbia. Neither battlestar was laying down suppressing fire!

Battlestar Atlantia – Combat Information Center

Nagala was looking at his dradis 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 fleets' 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 dradis 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 to fallback position Theta".

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

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

"Admiral", Atlantia's Core Command officer suddenly reported, "CAG reports their fighters going offline. They're helpless!”

Battlestar Pacifica – Combat Information Center

Commander Josh Hansteen looked at the telemetry screen showing the incoming Cylon squadron, and the now-helpless strike wings from the Atlantia and Rycon getting blasted by missiles like it was a session of target practice.

"Deploy the Pacifica to place her between the Cylon force and the Pegasus. Have CAG launch his entire wing and head over to the PEGASUS immediately, along with our support shuttles", Hansteen ordered his Core Command officer.

"And what about us, Commander?" the X.O. asked.

"The toasters can shut us down somehow, but I'm not abandoning the Pegasus. Inform Admiral Nagala", Hansteen ordered.

Battlestar Atlantia – Combat Information Center

Nagala received Hansteen'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 all 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!"

"Core Command, 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", the communications officer replied.

Battlestar Pacifica – Combat Information Center

"What is the status of your ship, Josh?" Nagala asked Commander Hansteen.

"So far, we're okay, Admiral, but we have a Cylon squadron closing in on our position", Hansteen replied.

"You'd better get out of here now", Nagala advised.

"We can't just leave Caprica, Admiral, or the Atlantia and Rycon either", Hansteen objected.

"We have just lost two battlestars, in addition to nearly two hundred fighters. The Atlantia and Rycon are both next, Commander", Nagala reminded him.

Just then, Hansen noticed the lights in CIC flickering. Her knew what it meant even before Comms’ expression confirmed it.

"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 toasters, Admiral", 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 with bitterness in his voice. "Stand the wing down from launch". Tolen quietly nodded and relayed the order to the CAG.

"Helm", Cain ordered. "Activate the FTL and get us out of the combat zone. Head to fallback position Theta. We don't have much time".

Battlestar Atlantia – Combat Information Center

Admiral Nagala looked around at his bridge officers. They all knew what was coming.

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

As Comms 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. He began to silently pray – not just for the people who were about to die, but also for revenge for this day’s slaughter…

Battlestar Pacifica – Combat Information Center

Commander Hansteen watched his dradis tactical display 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", Hansteen communicated over the scrambler. "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 old viper call-sign. "You stay, and the Pegasus will meet the same fate. Get out of here, find out what happened, and when you come back, you make those tin-headed toasters pay for what they did here!"

"We've got five incoming missiles, Commander", Comms reported to Hansen. "dradis shows them to be nukes. So far, none are homing in on the Pegasus".

"Listen, Garris", Hansteen 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".

Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center

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.

Battlestar Pacifica – Combat Information Center

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 X.O.

"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.

Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center

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 on board as the Pegasus flashed away from the glowing fireball that was the Battlestar Pacifica.

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