Book 2 - Chapter 10
CHAPTER TEN: Aftermath
Cylon Base Star – Control Deck
It had been a day since the escape of the Battlestar Pegasus after getting the milginite ore from the ‘Seeder’ probe. The Cylon Base Star that had nearly caught up with the Pegasus was receiving the remainder of its patrols. All of them had reported no contact, but there was an interesting report from a raider that had FTL-ed to the nearby system.
"The patrol reports that one of the planets had been artificially altered to support human life. The remains of a probe from the humans' Operation ‘Seeder’ had been detected on the planet. No other life with the exception of the vegetation imported by the probe has been found", a centurion reported to Number Seven.
"Very well, Centurion", the Number Seven humanoid Cylon responded, "Have a flight of raiders irradiate that planet with some cobalt-jacketed high-yield warheads. We leave nothing that can possibly help the humans".
"By your command", the centurion acknowledged.
As the centurion left the command center to relay the order, the Number Seven contacted his analysis directorate.
"Any progress on the analysis of the debris from the vicinity of the destroyed patrol ship?", ‘he’ asked.
"The metallurgy reports show nothing definitive. The alloys found are used in both Cylon and colonial ship construction. Some traces of organic remains have been detected with the debris, but due to the force of the explosion, the nature of the weapon used, plus the effects of vacuum on the remains means that it cannot be definitively identified", the centurion technician reported.
"Can you rule out human?", the Number Seven asked.
"That cannot be ruled out, but I cannot definitively confirm it either", the centurian answered.
The Number Seven knew that the Supreme Commander had ordered a complete accounting of all colonial warships – Home and Reserve fleets - that had been in commission on the eve of the attack, in case it was a remnant of the colonial fleet inflicting these losses. It was unfortunate that he could not provide ‘her’ with definitive information.
"Very well. Keep me informed", the Number Seven ordered, before cutting the communicator.
It all boiled down to supposition. Assumptions were anathema to a race that prided itself on certainties, and the only certainty was that something unknown was managing to inflict a fair amount of damage on them. If it was a human warship - and that could not be discounted - then it was doing a good job of escape and evasion.
The Number Seven had given a lot of thought about this possibility. The infiltration of the colonial defense network by his 'colleagues' had provided a clear picture of the disposition of the human fleet. That knowledge had indeed made their destruction a lot easier. However, if the intelligence was not as completely accurate as previously thought, then at least two possibilities could manifest itself: either there was an intact warship that was not one of the 122 on the commissioned roster – a Reserve fleet vessel - or if one of the warships reported as definitely destroyed during the attack had somehow survived. He hoped that the Supreme Commander took those possibilities into account. One way or another, they had to be certain of what they were up against because until they did, planning to deal with it was not going to be easy.
"As soon as our raider dispatch to de-habitate the seeded planet returns, plot a jump to the next sector on our search grid. There's nothing else here to uncover", Number Seven ordered. Time enough for conjecture later. Right now, the best thing that he could do was to continue searching for clues.
Battlestar Pegasus – Deep Space
In another sector of space - thankfully not the one that the base star was heading to - the Battlestar Pegasus was cruising through space.
With Primary Energizer 'A' back on line, the Pegasus was now back up and running on full power. Chief Engineer Thyssen had been most pleased with the fabricated replacement parts built by Chief Krag, though if it weren't for the efforts of the recent survey probe under the command of Lieutenant Tricia Cain, the Pegasus would have been under a severe power handicap, regardless of what Krag could make.
The sector that the Pegasus had made its hyper-light jump into was extremely sparse. Normally, Commander Cain would make a further jump into a more 'occupied' sector, but decided that the crew needed some down time so that they would be alert and ready, so the ship was on a skeleton watch while overdue maintenance was carried out and the overworked pilots of both wings took advantage of the down-time to relax from the recent crisis.
Battlestar Pegasus – Lieutenant Cain’s cabin
Tricia was seated at her desk writing up her post-mission report. As the recently appointed head of the reconnaissance section of Silver Spar wing, she qualified for separate quarters, along with the CAG and the other squadron commanders. She had enjoyed the luxury of a shower and wanted to have a long sleep as well, but thought that the sooner the report was completed, the better. She inherited the 'duty first' attitude from her father and as tired as she was, she could not relax until the report was finished.
She was writing a detailed report about the mission that she was recently on, and the probe that had been found. The discovery of that seeder probe on the milginite prospecting mission was an encouraging sign, and even though living on that particular world was out of the question - even if the seeding of that planet had been fully completed, the Cylon presence in that sector was reason enough to leave well alone - it meant that other seeded planets could very well be encountered in the future. Despite the urgency of their task, it was nice to be standing on the surface of a planet instead of a big piece of metal in the middle of nowhere...
A knock on the door broke her concentration. "Come in", she called.
Commander Cain walked in. Tricia immediately stood.
"We're off-duty now, Tricia, so you don't have to stand on ceremony", Cain admonished with a smile. Tricia relaxed from the attention position.
"Hello, Father, I was just finishing writing up the after-action report", she answered, gesturing to another chair. Commander Cain walked over and sat down. Tricia sat back down in her chair and swung it around to face her father.
"I wanted to thank you for getting back with that milginite", Cain said, "and I wanted to apologize for having to retract the landing bay pods when I did".
"CAG told me about the approaching Cylon patrols, Father, so you have nothing to apologize for. Things did get cut a little fine, but we got back, and we got away", Tricia replied. Despite the stoic facade that her father showed, she knew that he had feelings, but she also knew that the Pegasus had to come first with him if they had any hope of surviving.
"You know, I'm getting tired of running, Tricia", her father confided, "even though it's the only thing to do until we link up with the Galactica and the other survivors".
"Well, to be honest, Father", Tricia answered, "I'm getting tired of being stuck as a recon pilot. I was trained to be a viper pilot, though I'm enjoying getting Midshipman Gorde trained up as a raptor pilot".
"Well, it's your own fault you know", Cain retorted with a smile, "if Commander Parks hadn't insisted that you get some raptor time under your belt, and if you hadn't been quite so good at it, you would have stayed as a viper pilot".
Tricia remembered the commander of the now-destroyed Battlestar Triton giving her the advice about expanding her flight experience.
"Commander Parks said that to be in the running to be the next CAG, I had to have proficiency in both raptors and vipers", Tricia replied, "and now look where it's gotten me. If the Cylons hadn't attacked, I would probably be a captain and the new CAG on the Triton, instead of the senior reconnaissance pilot of Silver Spar Wing".
"Bob Parks was right about that, Tricia", her father acknowledged, "because he had told me shortly before the war that he had high hopes for you and that you would indeed be the new CAG, but if you had, you would probably be dead, with the rest of the Triton crew".
Tricia nodded. CAG's did not get much in the way of leave time. In fact, the only reason that she had gotten leave was because Commander Parks thought that Commander Cain would like to see Tricia while he sat out Commander Adama's retirement ceremony. It had been arranged under the stated objective of shuttling over to the Pegasus to pick up a replacement raptor for the Triton. Tricia had just arrived on board the Pegasus when Picon Fleet Headquarters had dispatched the 'Cylon attack under way, this is no drill' message, and she found herself stranded on the Pegasus as it had moved off to join up with the Atlantia task force. It was just as well as the Triton was one of the first battlestars destroyed near Virgon.
"You never told me why you didn't go to the Galactica decommissioning ceremony, Father", Tricia said, changing the subject, "after all, you and Commander Adama are close friends and you both served together in the same squadron off that very ship".
"Bill Adama and I made a pact about thirty years ago in that if one of us retired before the other, the person staying active would not go to the retirement ceremony. Instead, when the second person retired, then both of us would meet at the 'Golden Arrow'" - a famous bar in Caprica City frequented by service veterans - "and take a drink from a bottle of vintage ambrosia we had put aside for the occasion. Besides, I'm still fond of the Galactica and I didn't want to see the old girl turned into a museum. At the same time, I didn’t like the idea of Bill ribbing me over the Pegasus getting scrapped".
Tricia nodded her understanding. The bond existing between pilots is a strong one and both 'Renegade' Cain and 'Husker' Adama had an exceptionally close bond.
“Well, at least the Pegasus isn’t going to be scrapped any time soon”, Tricia replied, “unlike Aunt Helena’s Pegasus. There’s irony there with her brand-new battlestar being destroyed instead”.
“I knew that she was really looking forward to my having to board her ship and handing over the flag and sculpture to her”, Cain confided, “So at least that little humiliation she wanted to inflict on me won’t be happening”.
Tricia noticed her father’s mood becoming more melancholic. Like her father, she did not think a lot of Helena Cain, but she was family and apparently dead along with so many others. She decided to change tack on the conversation…
"You still have that bottle of Ambrosia, I take it?" Tricia asked.
"Yes. It’s tucked away in the safe in my quarters. I picked up the bottle from storage before the last fleet exercise and brought it back to the Pegasus. It would be my responsibility to personally bring it to the bar and toast both of our retirements", he replied, "but it looks like Bill won't be retiring any time soon", he concluded.
"Well, Father", Tricia consoled, "when we find the Galactica, maybe you two can still drink from the bottle. Thirty year-old ambrosia would probably be a smooth drink by now", she finished with a smile.
"Well, I hope we do find Bill", Cain agreed, "and not just for the ambrosia. I still want the toasters to pay for what they did, and we'll have a chance to do just that once we join forces".
"You think we can do something with just two battlestars?" Tricia asked. If the Colonies could be lost with 122 colonial warships protecting them, then what could just two do?
"Two battlestars can accomplish a lot with what I have in mind, Tricia", Cain answered, "Because way out here in deep space, a guerilla war can be successfully fought. With two battlestars conducting hit-and-run tactics in unison, it will force the Cylons to divide their forces in response, while leaving the rest of the survivors to find a place with sufficient resources that can be used as a base. This way, we can both rebuild and wear down those tin-headed Cylons".
Tricia did not answer. She knew that her father wanted so badly to inflict payback on the Cylons for what they did and what he said did make sense, but with the rest of the human race wiped out, that did not leave room for any mistakes.
“Besides”, Cain said next, “there may be other fleet survivors out there. Remember that some of the Reserve fleet’s ships were being used to pull escort duty for exploration and survey missions. Perhaps they are still around. It’s something to hope for anyway”.
"Anyway, Tricia", her father said as he stood, "you'd better get some sack time. Leave the report until tomorrow. Consider that an order", he finished with a smile.
"Aye-Aye, Commander", Tricia replied with a formal salute.
As her father left her quarters, Tricia sighed and went over to her bed. Quickly striping off her flight suit, she lay down. She was wondering how her father could still manage to keep things running smoothly and still project the image of the decisive commander after all that had happened. She knew that he did have feelings; the death of Mother hit us both hard, but it had hit him much harder. She had cancer and both of them knew that she was dying, but her condition deteriorated much faster than the doctors had estimated, and she passed away while both of them was away on duty. Tricia knew that her father never forgave himself for not being there.
Battlestar Pegasus – Starboard Landing Bay – Black Knight wing Ready Room
Death was on the minds of others as well. In the starboard landing bay, a sober service was under way. The ready room being used by the personnel of the Black Knights had been cleared of all unnecessary items. Now all were assembled in their combat uniforms facing a podium on which the chaplain of the Pegasus was standing.
"We call upon you, oh lords of Kobol, to look after the soul of our departed comrade Phillip Agar and that you grant him, by virtue of his gallant sacrifice, life eternal. So say we all", the chaplain intoned.
"So say we all", the assembled pilots intoned.
The pilots of Black Knight Wing had assembled in Starboard Hangar Bay Three in order to conduct a memorial service for Ensign Phillip 'Charmer' Agar: killed while trying to destroy the Cylon Raider that had FTL-ed close to him. He had managed to jam the raider's transmissions and to keep it busy until Ensign Virgil 'Zipper' Morgan - the patrol commander - could destroy it with his viper's weapons. Sadly, Ensign Agar's viper had been destroyed just before Morgan could destroy the Cylon.
Beside the lectern where the chaplain had been reading from the sacred scroll of Kobol, was a pedestal that had a pilot's helmet placed on it. The landing bay was dimly illuminated, except for a single beam of light that shone onto the helmet. As Agar's body could not be recovered - it had to be thoroughly blasted along with the remains of his viper so as not to leave the Cylons anything to positively identify - Agar was represented by his spare flight helmet only. Behind the pedestal stood the flag of Planet Geminon – Agar’s home planet - and that of Black Knight Wing (a copy fabricated by the Pegasus Quartermaster as the original flag had been destroyed along with the Battlestar Pacifica).
Captain Lance Voight – in his capacity as the CAG of Black Knight Wing – then stood up and walked up to the lectern. The chaplain folded up the scroll and stood back.
"Ensign Agar died in the line of duty", Voight intoned, "Those words seem rather empty, particularly when we do not have his body to honor. Our duty makes such sacrifices inevitable, but saddened as we are by the loss of Ensign Agar, we must not let this detract from our duty to each other, this ship, and to humanity".
The assembled pilots listened intently to Voight's words. After a brief pause, he continued”
"In peacetime, if you are killed, you are entitled to a full military funeral, with the flag of the deceased’ colony on your casket, an honor guard of your peers, and a member of your family to collect your medals and the folded flag. Now, in the aftermath of a war which has seen our worlds destroyed, most of the fleet decimated, and with us deep in uncharted space, such niceties have to be discarded and you have to be buried - or remembered if your body cannot be found - the best way that you can. Ensign Agar was the last survivor of his family, and with his death, his bloodline no longer continues, but even so, he did not die in vain, or without those he loved. This wing was his family. This wing is our family, and as long as his name is remembered, he will not die in our hearts. He gave his last full measure of devotion to ensure our survival, and we can do no less, for anything less dishonors his life and the circumstances of his passing".
The room was silent as they took in Voight's speech. An honor guard marched up and removed Agar's helmet from the pedestal. As they marched out of the hangar bay, the chaplain chanted a phrase in ancient Kobolian from the scroll. When he had finished, the honor guard had left the bay.
"Dismissed", Voight ordered. The pilots quietly dispersed and left the bay. They would be heading back to quarters to get some rest, but they would not forget the memorial service, or the feeling that there would be more of them to come in the months ahead.
Captain Eugene Syke was sitting in his office near the squadron briefing room in the Port Landing Bay. He had watched a closed-circuit broadcast of the memorial service. Black Knight tradition dictated that only members of the deceased pilot's wing could attend it live, which was why he was in his office, instead of representing Silver Spar wing over there.
He had ordered his wing's pilots to get some sack time, but as far as he was concerned, he felt it important to watch the service. As the screen showed the pilots leaving the hangar bay, he reached over and switched it off. Leaning back in his office chair, he sipped some water from a tumbler on his desk and thought some about the memorial. Sometime soon, he grimly thought, it will be my turn to officiate at one of those - unless it was him being immortalized. Death was an occupational hazard of a member of the Colonial Armed Forces, and even though one had to remain professional, it's something that you could never really get used to. At least, he thought bitterly, he would not have to write letters to the victims’ next of kin. The Cylons made sure that there were no one to write to when they wasted the colonies...