"Radiological alarm! We've got another incoming nuke Commander," the Officer of the Deck exclaimed excitedly.
The acrid smell of burning electrical components and plastic made Commander Benito Rodrigues' eyes water. Smoke hung in the air, thick and menacing. Rodrigues turned from the dradis console and raised the phone to his ear. He stayed outwardly calm however, inside he was screaming.
"Point defense weapons, track incoming targets. Fire when you have a solution.” Rodrigues turned to the Officer of the Deck. "Mister Hastings what's our status?"
Hastings, in a flurry of movement, checked numerous readouts and answered quickly. "Sir, we've lost our FTL drives. Missile batteries are starting to come back online, estimated three minutes. Technical believes it has isolated the issue with the CNP program and has set up a temporary fix. It'll hold for now but we need to look into it further to be certain. Seems the information we got from Picon Fleet Headquarters on our way here was accurate."
Rodrigues listened to the captain while looking over at the marine standing guard by the CIC doors. This kid looks like he's no older than seventeen are. Hell of a way to spend his youth. He was shocked back to reality as Hastings yelled.
"Point defense isn't going to get this one! Missile is inbound!"
"All hands brace for impact!” Rodrigues grabbed the table as alarms sounded. The ship shook violently, throwing everyone in the CIC around. Lights flickered and glass panels broke. Electrical components failed from energy overload, sending showers of sparks in all directions.
Rodrigues picked himself up from the floor and surveyed the damage. Fortunately, it was minor. "Damage report Mister Hastings."
Hastings pulled himself from the deck and sat back in front of his readouts. "Structural damage to engine nacelles three and four. Explosive decompression in causeway eleven, defense batteries fourteen through twenty seven offline."
Rodrigues shook his head almost imperceptibly. "So what's the bad news," he said dryly. He turned to the communications officer. "Get me the Delphinus."
The communications officer, her face streaked with sweat, attempted at reaching the Delphinus. After what felt like an eternity, she looked back at the commander. "Sir, I have Commander Krill on the line."
Rodrigues nodded and picked up the handset. "Libra Actual to Delphinus Actual, what's your status?"
"We're hurting Ben. We've taken three nukes amidships. Our flight pods are heavily damaged and our catapults are out of commission. This isn't the vacation I had hoped for." Commander Wendy Krill replied. The commander of the Delphinus watched silently as the medics carried the body of her XO out of the CIC. He had been killed when a support beam collapsed in the CIC after the last missile impact. "Rainey's dead and I have reports of about 45 percent casualties."
Krill looked about the CIC. Smoke and soot was everywhere, the smell of burning circuitry permeated the air. Crews were running about, their shouts heard clearly through the closed clear doors. Krill saw a spray of what appeared to be blood on the colonial emblem that adorned one of those doors.
The Delphinus was a Mercury Class battlestar, like her sister ships Libra and Pegasus. They were supposed to be top of the line. Their vulnerabilities, however, were showing today.
As she spoke into her handset again Krill could only imagine what was happening aboard the Libra. "We're still operational but I don't know for how long. The techs managed to get the CNP patched in time but all the fixes in the world aren't worth a frak when you've got a ton of nukes flying around."
Rodrigues tightened his grip on the phone. "Get out of here Wendy. We'll cover your withdrawal," he cupped his hand over the mouthpiece and spoke to the XO. "Have the starboard defense turrets alter their trajectory to include the area around the Delphinus."
Nodding, Colonel Vansen moved briskly to the weapons console.
The Second Cylon War as it would soon be referred to and the many battles fought during its short span would be talked about for generations to come by all of humanity's survivors. At the onset of the attacks, the colonies were caught with their proverbial pants down. The cylon war machine had appeared suddenly over the colonies and let loose a bombardment of such intensity it was no small wonder how anyone lived.
The Colonial Fleet was mostly out of the space docks and on patrols within the system save for those vessels in the Scorpion and Picon Fleet Shipyards.
The first engagements between Cylon Baseships and the Colonial Battlestars were an utter slaughter. Apparently, the cylons had developed a new type of weapon, which allowed them to shut down the navigation, and networked components of Colonial vessels. Lessons were learned quickly in the first hours of the second Cylon war. Unfortunately those lessons were too late for ninety-five percent of the colonial fleet.
Battlestar Group (BSG) 26 was enroute to the outer reaches of the Cyrannnus system to assume anti pirate patrol duties when the attacks started. Preliminary reports were sketchy but from what Rodrigues was able to best determine the cylons had gained total surprise.
Rodrigues ordered the battle group to return to the inner system and defend the colonies. As preparations were being made for the battle group's return they received follow on orders from Picon Fleet HQ to intercept a new battle fleet entering the sector.
Rodrigues and his staff quickly put a tactical plan together and the battle group proceeded to an intercept point where they hoped they could stop the newest threat. That plan was a simple one, lay in wait and ambush the enemy ships as they dropped out of hyperspace. While enroute to the engagement area Rodrigues received information regarding the weapons used by the cylons and what they appeared to be using to shut down all colonial ships they encountered.
The technical people were learning quickly that the problems were beginning in navigation and spread from there. Further investigation showed the Colonial Navigation Program, which handled all automated navigation plots for the fleet, had a few extra lines of code. This code was a proverbial back door into the otherwise encrypted systems and allowed the cylons to access the network. The Libra's Intel and tech personnel had informed Rodrigues they could slow down the spread of the network intrusion with a series of field expedient software patches in the time they were allotted.
Battlestar Group 26 jumped into an area of space devoid of any civilian traffic and waited for the cylons to arrive.
It didn't take long for the Colonial battlegroup to see their targets. Five Baseships complete with support vessels jumped into the area. It would have been a slaughter had the cylons known about the ambush. Fortunately surprise was on Rodrigues' side and as the Cylons jumped in a salvo of nuclear and nonnuclear missiles was already flying from the three battlestars. One enemy baseship, caught completely off guard, was destroyed within moments. Another was heavily damaged and fell back.
Then the real fireworks started. The Battlestars Libra, Delphinus, and Solstice moved in to close combat, launching full complements of vipers. The tech people had tried desperately to fix the vipers however they couldn't get them all. It was going to be a crapshoot as to who lived and who died. They didn't have the luxury of holding back combat ships when the entire human race was being wiped out.
Battlestar Libra, Hangar Deck
As soon as Draco heard the CAG's announcement, she ran to the hangar deck wondering what was going on. As she entered she noticed half her squadron, the 113th Black Crows, were already running to their vipers in preparation for launch. Other squadrons were doing the same nearby. Wow, even the reserve squadron is launching, she thought. This must be bad... Pirates maybe? Draco spotted her CO, Captain Janis Dell, and ran over to her. She was discussing something with the CAG.
"Sir," Rayna said firmly, as she saluted the CAG and her CO. The CAG quickly returned the salute, nodded to Cpt. Dell and ran off.
"Draco, glad you're here. We'll divide the squadron into two. I'll take Alpha, you take Bravo. Apparently the Cylons are back, and we've got some raiders to clean up," Captain Dell said grimly.
Rayna seemed puzzled, overwhelmed with the reality of the situation. "But, I'm only the acting XO. I…Shouldn't someone else…"
"I know Rayna. This is…" worry and doubt crept into Dell's voice. "It's a really frakked up situation out there, but we've gotta do this. Listen, if I didn't think you could handle this, I wouldn't have chosen you to fill Aaron's spot."
Rayna felt slightly embarrassed. "Well, I've only been here for about three months... "
Captain Dell gave a warm smile. "I've gotten good recommendations, and you're a good pilot... but besides that, I can just tell." She put a hand on Draco's shoulder. "Good luck and good hunting Lieutenant."
With that, Captain Dell ran to her viper. Draco stood there completely dazed but quickly snapped out of it. Reluctantly, she ran to her Mk VII viper, "Red Dragon". After securing her helmet and activating systems, the knuckledraggers moved her into the launch tube. She waited impatiently for her turn to be shot from the catapult. Soon enough it was her turn.
"Draco, this is Shooter," the launch officer called from his station. "Stand by. Board shows green. Launch in five…four…three…two…
Suddenly sparks erupted from Draco's front panel and the power she applied to her engines cut out.
Red Dragon's systems went cold. They had to pull her viper back out onto the hangar deck. A few minutes later and Chang had found the problem.
"What the frak? This thing is practically brand new. What's wrong with it? How the frak am I supposed to be leading Bravo..." her voice trailed off. Draco felt defeated already.
"Wiring fault sir. Under ideal circumstances, we could probably have it nailed within an hour. But, as it is…"
Draco could tell how nervous Specialist Chang was.
"It's, okay Chang. Shit happens," all she could do was offer him a sincere smile, but it was enough. Chang nodded and focused his attention back on his duties.
"I could have 376 ready for you in a minute. She's a Mark VII but we hadn't been able to install all of the upgrades into her yet."
"Where is she now?"
"On the flight line next to Chief Sutton's office, Eltee. The old man wants every bird that can fly to be ready to go at a moment's notice."
Draco nodded. "Thanks Chang," she said as she ran off.
Moments later, Draco was finally out the tube. It was a mess out there. She read multiple inbound hostiles and erratic Colonial signals. All she could hear was bits and pieces of comm traffic over her wireless, and lots of static. The view was about the same. Some vipers were still flying around attacking raiders. Some were motionless.
"This is not how I thought my first combat engagement would go," she thought. Actually, she never thought she'd have her first combat engagement.
"Commander!" the XO shouted, "Solstice is going up!"
Rodrigues' eyes shot up to the dradis screen and fixed his gaze on the small digital screen above it. There, he watched a live video feed that had been oriented towards the position where the Solstice was located. The Solstice crew hadn't gotten the battlestar's systems prepared quickly enough and at the start of the engagement was rendered inoperable after launching its complement of vipers. The remaining ships of the battle group lost contact with the Solstice immediately afterwards. One of the baseships began to take a special interest in the Solstice and launched salvo after salvo of missiles into her. Her viper screen took as many of the missiles out as possible but they were overwhelmed. Sadly, the rest of the colonial battle group was too busy fighting for its own survival to lend a hand.
The Solstice's ammunition and fuel stores kicked off, blowing huge sections of the ship apart which vented precious oxygen into space. Surprisingly though the vast majority of the Solstice stayed intact. If they remembered their training, Rodrigues thought, there was a chance there were survivors.
Rodrigues said a silent prayer. Solstice was an older class battlestar built just after the last cylon war. She was due to be retired in another five years. She had a crew of fifteen hundred souls. "XO," he said calmly to Colonel Vansen. "Get the SAR teams ready. Once this is over, I want her boarded. We need to see if there are any survivors."
Vansen nodded. "I hope we get the chance sir."
"So do I Karl, so do I."
A shout of joy erupted from the main Kinetic Energy weapons station. "Baseship number three is breaking apart sir!"
Despite the brief outburst everyone was brought back to reality as the ship shuddered from another missile impact.
A notification alarm sounded and Hastings checked his readouts, looking up quickly at Rodrigues. "Sir, Delphinus is on fire. She's losing hull pressure at a massive rate. I'm reading multiple detonations on her aft engines. The toasters are concentrating on her."
"Get her on the comm." Rodrigues spoke as calmly as he could. Within a few moments he was connected with Commander Krill. "Delphinus this is Libra, you were ordered to fall back."
The reply was short and sweet. [Ben, we're done for. We've sustained approximately eighty-five percent casualties and lost all but maneuvering thrust. Say a prayer for us.] With that the line went dead.
Rodrigues raced to Hastings' station and watched the screen. "Oh my Gods, NO!"
As the Delphinus was hit with several more missiles she continued moving towards the nearest baseship. She picked up speed, firing a full salvo of missiles and flak cannons into the area in between the two capital ships. The missiles found their mark, impacting on the central hub of the baseship. The point defense weapons sent shells into the oncoming raiders, destroying many of them.
Delphinus never slowed. She continued on through the raiders and plowed straight into the baseship. There was a quick flash of light then the darkness turned into daytime. Debris flew in all directions and secondary explosions from live munitions bathed the impact area in an eerie light.
Stranded pilots whose ships were knocked offline from the cylon intrusion watched in horror as the Delphinus made the ultimate sacrifice. Everyone realized at that exact moment they were all now on the losing end of this fight.
Rodrigues closed his eyes briefly. Commander Krill was as close to family as he had; now she was gone. He looked around the CIC. The smoke, the soot, the exhaustion of his crew said it all. It was their last stand. If they didn't take out these enemy capital ships they were all doomed to the same fate as the crew of the Delphinus.
"Mister Hastings, inform the CAG he will have to handle the raiders. We will be concentrating on the undamaged enemy baseship." He turned to the communications officer. "Specialist, contact the Griffyn. Advise them we will be making a run on the last surviving baseship and require their assistance."
Rodrigues turned then to his XO. "What do we have left XO?"
Vansen regarded his commander with a look of sheer exhaustion. "Three ships still operational sir, including us. Griffyn and Perseus are both combat capable."
Rodrigues shook his head. Three ships out of fifteen, this was insane. "Have Perseus hang back in reserve and assist the vipers with fighter suppression. Inform the Griffyn we will send a screen of missiles and nukes into the baseship. She is to follow behind the screen and deliver her payload. Let's make it happen."
The Libra turned to port and the battlestar moved ahead. Slowly at first but ever increasing in speed the colonial capital ship pointed herself straight at the cylon baseship.
"Steady people," Rodrigues said calmly. He kept his eyes on the readout screen at Captain Hastings' console as well as the overhead dradis monitors. "Mr. Hastings, have the KEW stations ready to fire on my command."
"Aye sir," Hastings reached for the handset at his console.
"XO," Rodrigues said, "Have DC teams stand by. This has a very real possibility of going horribly wrong."
The distance between the two warships decreased as they both maneuvered for the best position. From the vantage point of the fighter pilots watching the spectacle, it appeared as if the Libra was making a suicide run.
The communications specialist could hear several pilots as they shouted over their ship communications system to the crew of the Libra to stop their approach for fear the Mercury Class battlestar was in the process of making the same sacrifice as her sister ship.
Shells from the KEW stations were launched in quick succession from the Libra's nose mounted heavy guns. The rounds struck in several areas along the baseship's forward section, rocking the great ship. A spread of missiles launched next, adding to the destruction. Three fourths of the missiles also impacted the baseship and as the explosions bean to dissipate, Libra maneuvered out of the way giving Griffyn an opening.
Viper Pilot - Battlestar Delphinus
It was unreal, like a video game. Raiders swarmed all around like angry hornets.
Somewhere baseships and battlestars slugged it out, angry colossuses spewing death and destruction. He could see the flashes of light all around, but it didn't matter.
Nothing mattered any longer but staying alive.
Staying alive meant moving constantly, shooting at the raiders. There was no time to exult in the terrible beauty of targets exploding mid-air.
There had been a moment of almost paralyzing fear when they'd first catapulted out of Delphinus. They were under attack! After almost 40 years of peace, the cylons were back, and they had returned with a vengeance.
He was lucky he had been assigned one of the older Mk VII vipers. Somehow the cylons had disabled a lot of the new ones, rendering them sitting ducks, to be blown up at will.
He had seen it in that half-second of immobility when he first shot out of the battlestar – it was a rout, total carnage, hopeless…
And then something snapped.
He flipped the viper around and started shooting.
Outside, raiders buzzed and men and women fought and died.
Outside, battlestars and baseships slugged it out like drunken deckhands on Colonial Day leave.
Outside was chaos, death, and destruction.
Outside, the Delphinus rammed into the enemy in a last glorious act of gallantry and desperate bravery.
He saw it all through calm, dispassionate eyes, while his body guided the viper through evasive contortions, while his fellow pilots screamed silently in their fiery coffins, while the Colonies disappeared under mushroom clouds, while his world collapsed around him. All the while he kept shooting away against the unending stream of raiders, against overwhelming odds, against all rhyme and reason…
Bull bared his teeth and pushed his stick forward as he dropped in behind another raider that had been unfortunate enough to invade his area of space.
"Close it, close it!" a knuckledragger yelled. Private Dan Wolfe put his not-inconsiderable weight behind the hatch, helping the two others already pushing on it. It closed with a scream of tortured metal and he spun the wheel, dogging it sealed.
Dan had turned twenty only a month before, had been on the Libra only two weeks, and had never imagined a reality like the explosions, smoke-filled passageways and constant ear-piercing alarms. He coughed harshly, not having even been on board long enough to be issued a damage control enviro suit. There had been some for regular sized personnel, but the quartermaster had had to put in a requisition for one to fit Dan's 6'2", 225 pound frame.
"You okay?" the knuckledragger asked Dan.
"Yeah," he replied, easing the weight of the fire bottle strapped to his back. The knuckledragger was a Petty Officer 2nd Class, he noted, seeing the rank on the collar sticking up out of the neck of the bulky firefighting suit. "Where to, sir?" he asked him.
PO2 Lundon Alger gave the hatch a critical look; then, assured it would hold, looked at the brawny Marine who was assigned to his Damage Control team just a short time earlier. "What's your name, jarhead?" he asked the marine with a grin. Glad they gave me a big one or we might never have gotten that hatch closed!
Taken aback at his smile, Dan replied, "Uh, Wolfe. Private Dan Wolfe, sir."
He slapped him on the arm. "I'm Al, Wolfe. Good to have you on the team." He looked around at the two other team members, knuckledraggers as he was. "You two all right?"
They both nodded. Even with the broadcast of 'brace for impact', they were all thrown around by the impact of the Cylon ordnance.
"Okay, back to causeway ten," Al ordered, retreating along the passageway at a trot. Dan took up the rear, musing, well; the fire bottle isn't as heavy as a full pack, at least.
At the junction of the passageway and causeway ten, Al tested the handset on the bulkhead, and finding it working, gave a terse damage report. He listened for a moment, and then hung up.
"Decompression in eleven, it's a good thing we got that hatch closed so quickly," he told the others. "Our post is here now, and let's hope like hell she doesn't take another one like that…"
Silently, Dan agreed.
"Griffyn, the Solstice is down, repeat… the Battlestar Solstice is…" the crackle and silence of the viper radio said enough.
Colonel Brennan Herald stood in the CIC, shocked at the chaos unfolding before his eyes. He pushed the thoughts from his mind and focused on the here and now. "How are the vipers doing Lieutenant Landry," he asked.
The look on Landry's face said volumes. "They're holding their own for now but we've lost contact with about a fifth of our fighter cover."
Herald looked around the CIC. To some, seeing the multitude of people running about would bring visions of a mad, unorganized dash however, in reality it was a well-practiced drill.
"When the forward missile batteries have a firing solution, order them to salvo fire," he said to the XO. I can only imagine what's going on behind the porthole shielding, he thought as he watched his second in command.
They had received orders from the Libra to follow her on an end run to destroy the last fully operational baseship. Herald wanted to make certain the Griffyn did its part. He watched as the Libra punched forward and delivered a slew of deadly ordnance into the enemy ship. Herald smiled as he saw the Libra alter its course, leaving an open path for Griffyn to prosecute.
It took only a few moments longer for the weapons officer to get the desired readings on his console. "Sir, forward batteries report they have a firing solution," Johnson said.
Herald looked at his XO, waiting for him to give the command to fire. A few seconds passed, which felt like an eternity. The XO stood motionless and was in an obvious state of anxiety. Herald grabbed the handset and placed it to his ear. "Missile batteries commence firing."
The Griffyn got closer and closer to its target with flak turrets blazing, her vipers engaging targets of opportunity as they approached the destroyer. Suddenly, the CIC shuddered and a volley of eight missiles barreled towards the Baseship. Within the blink of an eye the Weapons officer's console began registering hits on the enemy capital ship.
"Sir, we have direct hits all over the Baseship," Braddock said to Herald. Outside, missiles from the Libra, now moving off on a parallel course, and the Griffyn converged on the baseship in the double digits. Detonations from the multiple warheads showed all over the radial arms and the central hub. The Baseship's central axis erupted into flames and debris. The explosions spiraled outwards until the Baseship was engulfed in an ever expanding ball of fire.
The fading blip on the dradis screen confirmed the kill, and Herald gave a small smile. He turned to his XO, leaned in and whispered. "Mr. Johnson, we don't have the luxury of taking our time here. I need you to obey my orders as soon as I give them. Otherwise we'll end up like the crew of the Solstice."
Johnson nodded quickly, the embarrassment showing on his face.
Herald smiled and patted his XO on the shoulder. Now wasn't the time to discipline anyone. That could be handled if they made it through this. It wasn't over yet, however. There was still another Baseship and squadron upon squadron of enemy raiders to contend with.
"Incoming ordnance," Braddock said in a panicked tone as he looked up at the dradis.
The ship lurched and lights flickered as a missile impacted the bow portion of the Destroyer's starboard flight pod.
"Damage," Herald asked.
The communications specialist took a moment to confirm the incoming reports from the different areas of the ship. "Starboard flight pod has sustained damage sir. Possible hull breach indicated. All other sections report okay save for a few bumps and bruises."
"XO, get DC teams to the site, and seal off decks that have been breached," Herald said.
As the baseship exploded under the barrage of missiles fired by Libra and Griffyn, the Libra turned immediately into the path of the one remaining baseship. It had been heavily damaged at the onset of the battle but was still very dangerous, a point punctuated by a stream of missiles that were fired in the direction of the two colonial warships. The Libra took three missiles intended for the Griffyn, thus giving Colonel Herald a little breathing room.
Rodrigues spoke into his handset. "Herald this is Rodrigues, we'll take on the last baseship. Keep our aft covered and help with the raiders. If we don't take it out on this pass you are free to engage." He turned to his XO, "Let's get this bastard."
Upon hearing Rodrigues' orders Herald nodded. I hope the old man knows what he's doing.
Herald grabbed the wireless: "Roger that Libra," he said. He looked over at Johnson. "Get me Mad Dog."
Captain Alicia Barker loved flying, especially vipers. There was nothing like dropping in on a nugget in training and watching them panic. Of course the feeling of playing chicken couldn't be matched either.
But this was REAL. There were no more games, no playtime, no nuggets, at least not anymore.
[CAG this is Griffyn Actual,] her wireless chirped. She replied instantly. "Actual, this is Mad Dog, go," she replied as another Cylon... and another viper exploded off to her port side.
[Orders from Libra are to guard her aft and take out the Raiders as she makes attack run on remaining Baseship]
"Roger that sir," she switched to the squadron channel. "Talons, take the Raiders on Libra's port aft. Stallions form up on me to take Raiders on Libra's starboard," she yelled into the wireless. The remaining Griffyn vipers did just as she said.
Watching the dradis intently Rodrigues counted off the seconds until the Libra had moved up alongside the baseship. Missiles from both vessels flashed across the void in between the two warships, each missile impacted their targets in different areas. The Libra changed course slightly and set course to a point alongside the baseship. Rodrigues grabbed the handset and looked at the communications specialist. "Give me ship wide," he said.
It took less than a second for the young specialist to make the connection. "You're all set sir."
"All hands, this is the commander. Brace for impact. DC teams to the starboard side of the ship. Be prepared for numerous missile hits." Rodrigues turned to the weapons officer. "All starboard batteries and missile tubes fire on my mark. We're going to give them a broadside."
Libra began to pass the baseship and Rodrigues watched the screen, his eyes unwavering. As the lumbering cylon baseship reached just in front of the Libra's flight pods Rodrigues shouted to the weapons officer, "All batteries FIRE!"
The starboard batteries opened up with missile salvos, flak guns, and a large spread of heavy weapons. The effect was instant and devastating. Multiple detonations quickly took their toll on the baseship and it came apart in a fiery mass.
Rodrigues gave a sigh of relief as the enemy capital ship exploded. Now they had to take care of the raiders in the immediate area.