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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Frigate Patrocles
Lifestation
Day Zero -1, early morning


Private Nik S'Jahar waited until PO2 Nguyen and ENS Rafferty went with SPC Rankin, then he said to Delmonico, "We'll go to the MarDet Orderly Room to get a rack assigned for you, Lance Corporal. And I'll introduce you to Staff Sergeant Lynden, our 'Det commander."

The Herodotus Marine didn't respond for a moment, his gaze still focused on the hatchway through which the other two survivors had left. "Yeah..." he murmured in response to S'Jahar, then suddenly he was focused on the young Scorpian. "Sure," he said, meeting S'Jahar's gaze, "sounds good. Your 'Det has a Staff as CO?"

Nik nodded, leading the way out of Lifestation and through the passages toward the MarDet. "Yeah," he confirmed. "SSgt Lynden is a good guy, he knows his stuff." Nik paused, about to ask about Delmonico's MarDet CO on the Herodotus, but he changed his mind. "I've only been on board for about three months, but he's already run us through a bunch of exercises. He did some zero-g exercises especially so I could get qualified, even though everyone else already was."

Delmonico nodded, a gesture of comradeship that told Nik he'd been through the same exercises. "Guess that served you well today," Delmonico added.

"Yeah," Nik agreed. He thought about how he'd felt when they encountered Delmonico in the wreckage of the ship. It had been a combination of relief and satisfaction but his emotions had also been tinged with regret--regret that they hadn't found more people alive. He couldn't think of a way to describe it to the Lance Corporal, but with his mind on the survivors, he asked instead, "What's up with the Ensign, anyway?"

Delmonico shot S'Jahar a dark look, the derision on his face clearly meant for Rafferty. He turned and moved through the hatch then stepped aside, allowing Nik past to take the lead. "Guy's a fraktard," Delmonico said.

Nik glanced at Delmonico. "What did he do?" he asked with curiosity, slowing so the other Marine could walk beside him. He thought of how Del had been moving through the ship, looking for other survivors while Rafferty stayed in Lifestation with Nguyen. He'd wondered about that, when he'd heard that the Damage Control Officer wasn't doing damage control... but Nik wasn't sure what was expected of a DCO when a ship was clearly disabled. "Or what didn't he do, that he should have?"

Delmonico made a disgusted sound, then said, "The guy just isn't right." He matched steps with S'Jahar, but kept his gaze ahead, his eyes roving the frigate's passageway. "You run into a few brig rats and lifestation commandos in the 'Dets," he continued, using Marine slang for grunts that spend too much time in lock up or sickbay. "But when it really gets bad, we all pull together, even the slackers. We're Marines, and that's just the way it is. You know it, you count on it... it's never in doubt. Rafferty... he's got no code. He's all about himself."

"Or all about Petty Officer Second Class Nguyen," S'Jahar suggested, glancing at Del from the corner of his eye to see his reaction.

The Lance Corporal's expression softened instantly at mention of the pretty, dark-haired helmsman. "She's a honey," he said, then grinned and glanced at S'Jahar as if to check that the Scorpian shared his opinion. "Once Rafferty was in Lifestation with her, you couldn't have pried him out with a pike. I requested that he come with me to gather the dead, but he wouldn't even consider it."

Nik nodded agreement at Delmonico's assessment of Nguyen, opening the hatch to the MarDet and stepping through, then closing it behind the other Marine. "Well, Rafferty isn't a Marine," he said, his tone dismissing the Ensign as beneath his contempt. "Can't expect him to know about duty and sacrifice."

"Corps and Colony, jarhead," Delmonico intoned. "Our CO was fond of saying that..."

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:39 pm 
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Superheavy Vessel Retriever Tauranian Titan
Combat Information Center
Day Zero -1 Time 0650



Master Chief Samuels stood at rest after giving Colonel Trafford the latest report on the status of the Herodotus. His stocky form was still outfitted in an EVA pressure suit; he held the helmet clamped under one arm. His hair, though cropped short, formed into tight curls that left the brown skin of his scalp visible. His broad, friendly face showed little sign of having been on board the carrier for more than eight hours, and though his expression was serious his dark eyes danced below curly eyebrows. Ty Samuels loved his work, and it showed.

"Thank you, Master Chief," Trafford said, his face still pensive as he soaked in all that Samuels had told him. "I'll be apprising Colonel Bisby of our status shortly."

"Sir," Samuels acknowledged Trafford with that single word. "I'm going to get breakfast, then I'll be back aboard the carrier to make sure things go smoothly." Samuels' face bore the slightest hint of an impish grin, and he turned to leave the bridge - the fact he expected to be stopped quite evident in his movement.

Trafford regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "No," he said firmly, "you won't."

"Frak," Samuels muttered under his breath as he stopped. Turning to face Trafford again, he broke into a grin. "You never let me get by you with anything, Bill," he complained jovially.

Trafford shook his head slightly, grinning as well. "Ty, you know the regs. After a quarter century in the fleet you can probably recite them." Trafford's patrician accent made the statement sound less like an admonition than an invitation to perform the recital.

Ty Samuels came to attention, and with mock seriousness stated, "Maximum EVA time under standard conditions is 8.5 hours, including airlock time. Down time of 14 hours, including 8 hours of sleep, is required before EVA can be repeated."

"Precisely," Trafford replied, still grinning. "This is still a Standard operation. I'll let you know immediately if the status changes. Meanwhile, you get some rack time... after that you can supervise your boys from this side of the bulkheads."

"Aye, sir," Samuels responded, then did an about face and left the bridge.

"Comms," Colonel Trafford called out as he turned and strode back toward the plot table, "get me Patrocles Actual. I have a status report for Colonel Bisby."

It was nearly a full minute before Colonel Bisby came on the line. Trafford waited patiently, knowing that as the task group leader Bisby had many responsibilities. As he waited, Trafford pictured the imperious Colonel in the CIC of the frigate; when he spoke moments later on the wireless Bisby's curt voice fit Trafford's mental picture perfectly.

[Patrocles Actual,] Bisby said expectantly.

"Titan Actual," Trafford replied. "I have an update on the Herodotus."

[Proceed,] Bisby directed, his tone making a clear he felt that the order should have been unnecessary.

Trafford gave a disgusted expression, glancing around the compartment. By chance he caught Lt. Keppler's gaze and the DRADIS operator chuckled silently in compassion. Trafford cleared his throat then, and began his report.

"Colonel, my primary concern in preparing the carrier for FTL is the condition of the port tylium tank. Enemy weapons fire has rendered the port refueling connector useless. We have located the transfer valve and pumps, in order to pump the port tank across to the starboard, and they are intact and operable. However we have not yet established power to the pumps. The main power grid on board the carrier has been compromised in multiple places - we have established power to a few areas of the ship but we are having to work section by section."

[How long?] Bisby interrupted.

"I've sent in a team with a gas turbine generator; we'll set it up on the flight deck and cut straight through to the valve actuator and the pumps." Colonel Trafford paused a moment, and swore he heard Bisby give an impatient sigh, but he held to the thoroughness of his report. "We should be able to begin transferring fuel around 1500 hours."

[Ah,] Bisby acknowledged.

"Captain Ames can verify this," Trafford cautioned, "but I don't believe the transfer valve will support the full offloading capacity of the Distant Sun. It's going to slow us down."

[So when,] Bisby asked, [do you estimate we'll be able to jump the wreck?]

"It'll be near to midnight," Trafford began, suppressing the urge to add if we're lucky and the Gods are with us. "We can begin maneuvering out of the asteroid field shortly before that."

[Ah,] Bisby said again. [Colonel Trafford, do what you can to accelerate the process. It appears that the IHC conducted a well-planned ambush of the Herodotus. Their action constitutes a clear escalation of military action in what they consider to be their sovereign space. I want you and the Distant Sun ready to jump to safety if they are foolish enough to engage us.]

"Understood, Colonel," Trafford replied, a bit surprised by Bisby's verbosity.

[Patrocles Actual, out,] Bisby tranmitted, and Trafford answered in kind.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:48 pm 
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Advanced BioResearch Corporation cruiser Satyr
Plaka Asteroid Field, Jericho System
Day Zero -1 Time 0800


Amber Beck stood with a tablet computer resting on her left forearm, her right hand bearing a stylus poised over the screen. Displayed there was a complex schematic of a human-size arm, though its components were entirely electromechanical. She was in the command crew office of the Satyr, speaking with its Captain, Mischa Cherenko. Cherenko sat behind a broad desk, attentive.

"Our progress over the last three days has been substantial," Beck reported. "Studies of the Centurion have resulted in an entire series of upgrades to our design, which I hope to have fabricated and ready for implantation within 48 hours of receiving the supply freighter." Beck smiled, trying to focus on the matter at hand and not the woman behind the desk. Beck was 5' 4" and pretty, with an oval face and wide-set brown eyes framed by shoulder length black hair. Though most of her colleagues dressed in white, she wore a dark colored suit, favoring a slender skirt instead of pants. She was the primary Biomedical Engineer among the Satyr's crew.

"Very good," Captain Cherenko replied, giving Beck a relaxed smile. Cherenko sensed the woman's slight discomfort around her; it was a reaction to which she was accustomed. Though Beck was much more demure than Cherenko, they were similar in appearance and perhaps Beck felt a sense of competition based on that similarity. Then, too, Cherenko had made a sexual overture toward Beck during their early association. Beck had rebuffed her, albeit politely.

"We are on schedule to meet the supply ship tomorrow," Cherenko continued. "The material you requisitioned is on the manifests."

Beck smiled and nodded, saying, "Thank you, sir." She then turned and left the compartment. Cherenko watched as she left, her lips forming into a momentary pout as she recalled Beck turning down her offer. Then she returned her focus to the paperwork on her desk.

Beck emerged from the command crew office onto the bridge of the Satyr. The research cruiser's Executive Officer, Gabriel Kyros, noticed her enter and inclined his head toward her, a suggestion of a bow. Beck altered her path slightly, making sure that she intersected with the tall officer as she walked toward the exit. When she was close by, she acknowledged him, saying, "Mr. Kyros".

"Doctor Beck," Kyros returned her greeting, the title recognizing her Ph.D. in Engineering. "Always a pleasure," he went on. Though his words were pleasant and affable, Kyros' mien was reserved, his smile almost non-existent. Beck's eyes were drawn to his face - hawk-like features, with sunken cheeks above a strong square jawline, a high forehead followed by short-cropped dark hair, pale lips that seemed almost constantly pursed. Meanwhile Kyros surveyed her critically, his gaze rising at the end from the modest ruffles at her neckline to meet her eyes. "Looking quite sharp, as always, Doctor," he appraised, a fleeting smile once again slipping across his features.

"Thank you, Mr. Kyros," Beck replied, her smile genuine. More interested in my clothes than my cleavage, she thought, slightly bemused. Beck looked away then, taking in the DRADIS display, and directed a question to Kyros. "Are we still playing the surreptitious spectator to the salvage operation?"

"We are," Kyros affirmed, taking a step closer to her and speaking quietly. Beck cast a glance back... and up... at Kyros, who towered ten inches over her. When he stood close, which was his habit, it made her feel like a little girl again. She bit back a giggle.

"Then are we planning to slip quietly away to meet our resupply?" Beck asked.

"Yes," Kyros answered. After a pause, though, he continued, "I believe the captain intends upon returning to our surveillance, though."

"For what purpose?"

"I think, perhaps," Kyros responded, "that she likes to be the cat, playing at being the mouse."

Beck turned to leave then, chuckling softly. She placed a hand upon Kyros' chest, a gesture of familiarity, and felt as the Executive Officer laughed silently. "Good day, Gabriel," she breathed, then broke the contact and strode toward the exit.

Kyros fixed his eyes on the DRADIS screen once more, stretching his neck upward for a moment, and said no more.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:53 pm 
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Advanced BioResearch Corporation cruiser Satyr
Surgical Suite Observation Gallery
Day Zero -1 Time 0845


"She is quite beautiful."

Aaron Doral stepped into the surgical observation suite, his quiet remark seeming unusually loud as it broke the silence of the darkened chamber. In the surgical compartment below, Mischa Cherenko circled a motionless Centurion, studying it intently. Doral grinned with self-satisfaction as the audience for his comment took a step back from the observation windows. Luther Bragg was of average height and at 26 still had the leanness of youth; he wore a mustache and fringe beard, each trimmed close, and his dark hair was cut above his ears. He looked at Doral with green eyes, startled.

"She's also quite beyond your reach," Doral continued.

"Ever the observer of human nature, Mr. Doral?" Luther Bragg asked, though his tone made his words sound very little like a question. He regarded the Cylon through narrowed eyes, clearly displeased. "Mr. Rand is allowing you free run of the ship now?"

"Individually I pose no great threat," Doral observed. "Mr. Rand, however, is not as yet aware of my wanderings." Doral crossed from the entrance to stand nearer to Bragg. He turned his eyes downward, watching Cherenko as she scrutinized the Centurion. "The underling he set to watch me was a singularly unimaginative fellow," Doral commented, looking aside at Bragg with a raised eyebrow. Affecting a grin, he added, "He was not difficult to escape."

As Doral returned his attention to the Satyr's captain in the room below, Bragg pulled a small device from his pocket and set about typing a message on its touch screen. "I'll feel safer alerting Mr. Rand to your whereabouts," Bragg commented. The Cylon made no move to stop him. "Despite your assertion that your kind will soon reveal itself, I still consider you an unknown... and I like my unknowns duly restricted, to where at least their actions can be known."

"Precisely why your Captain will always spurn you. You want your world labeled and categorized, everything revealed as to its purpose, laid out where you can analyze and exploit it all." Doral never took his eyes off Cherenko as he spoke. "Your Captain is adventurous and a risk-taker, much like Six. It is easy to see why she prefers Leoben."

"Is it?" Bragg growled. He opened his mouth to continue, to question Doral if he believed there was something beyond the sexual to Cherenko's dalliance with his fellow Cylon, to bluster that Cherenko's fascination with Leoben would be fleeting. Instead he made no comment. Doral was right - Cherenko had shown no interest in him - and the Cylon seemed untouched by human traits like jealousy. It was likely he would not care about the motives or the duration of Cherenko's interests.

"Six?" Bragg queried instead.

"Yes," Doral responded, easily falling into the role of teacher. "My irrepressible sister, who has many of the same proclivities as your Captain Cherenko." Doral paused a moment, his gaze shifting from the surgical suite below to regarding Bragg closely. "Six would like you," he stated. "She is attracted by the intelligent, quirky types."

"Six..." Bragg mused aloud, "a rather banal appellation. Is that indicative of her place in the progression you have mentioned? Brother Cavil is One, Conoy Two, yourself Five?" And the unfortunate Dr. Sheila Knight, Cherenko's last sexual plaything, was Number Eight, Bragg recalled.

"Yes." Doral straightened, facing Bragg. Something about the topic piqued Doral, and he gave his human companion full attention.

As Bragg was about to speak, the entrance to the observation suite slid open, revealing the Satyr's Chief of Security, Robert Rand. Rand entered the chamber, followed by a stocky subordinate who wore a decidedly displeased look.

"We'll discuss this more another time, Mr. Doral." Bragg said as the Cylon moved obediently toward the door. "I'm very interested to learn more of Six, and the other three models."

Doral glanced back at Bragg. "Other two," he corrected. Then he was gone, following Rand into the corridor, with the stocky guard behind him.

"Other three," Bragg breathed softly, his expression puzzled. "Other three."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:30 pm 
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Hospital Ship Chiron
Mass Casualty Ward
Day Zero -1, 1030 Hours


Corporal Jaamet Algashi eyed the Chiron crew members at the end of the ward warily. She recognized their leader's rank, captain, but this was a medical ship, so Aten only knew what sort of captain this woman was.

In Iri’shèè, Warren said to Algashi, “She looks like she’d boil in the sun.”

Algashi snorted, nodding with agreement.

I’d make her boil for sure,” S’Mani leered.

“In your dreams,” Kristopher Warren replied to his fellow mercenary with scorn—and also humor.

Captain Katherine Layton was exotic looking to nomad eyes. She was slender and pretty, with pale skin and auburn hair, her hazel eyes lighter than any nomad’s. She held herself straight, her movements precise, and a slight expression of distaste was on her face. If she was aware of the nomad's eyes on her, she gave no indication of it.

“She’s one of the medical staff on this ship,” Warren said with disdain. He was this platoon’s medic, and he held little regard for any of the fleet dod’e bawa, sheep, medical staff or not.

“What the frak does she want?” Algashi asked scornfully.

Warren shrugged. “Guess we’ll find out.”

Captain Layton retreated from the mercenary she had been addressing, stepping delicately around another who was asleep on the deck. She approached Algashi, two nurses trailing behind her. One was male and clearly into physical fitness; his muscle definition was obvious beneath the light green scrubs he wore. The other nurse was female, brunette and attractive, and wore a traditional uniform. Layton favored her with a glance backward, checking that she was making it through the crowd of strangers.

As Layton came up to her, Algashi stood, setting her feet and crossing her arms. She was slightly taller than the fleet nurse, with the lean strength common to all nomads. Her short, shaggy hair was jet-black and she surveyed the fleet group with a swift glance, her gaze lingering on the male nurse. Then she regarded the Captain, her dark eyes cold. Without taking her eyes from Layton, she said to Warren in Iri’shèè, "I wouldn't mind having him warm my bed. This one, though, would get lost between sand grains."

Captain Layton waited respectfully while the nomad woman spoke. Though she did not understand the language, she watched Algashi's lips intently and listened to the cadence and emphasis of her words. Layton then met Algashi's gaze, not challenging her stare but giving no ground. She smiled, though the expression carried no warmth, and said, "Ensign Gregory is not at liberty to associate with civilians aboard this vessel."

The Captain then turned to face Warren. "You're one of the medics?" she asked, but did not wait for confirmation. "Is there anything you need? Anyone of your people who requires attention?"

Before Warren could reply, Algashi said, "I think I require Ensign Gregory's attention."

Right after Algashi spoke, S'Mani said to Layton, "I could use some of your attention." He circled around her, not attempting to hide the knife in his hand, and from behind her, he winked at Algashi.

Algashi narrowed her eyes to conceal her amusement, nodding once slightly, and she released her forearm knife from its sheath, letting it drop down into her hand. She took a few smooth steps, going closer to Gregory but staying an arm's length away. "What do you think, War?" she addressed Warren. "You think they can get us anything we need?"

Warren looked at his fellow mercenaries, hiding his amusement behind an expressionless face. "Maybe if we asked in just the right way," he answered Algashi.

"I can assure you that is not the right way," Layton snapped, fire in her eyes. "And you," she said, turning to S'Mani, though her eyes instinctively dropped to the knife in his hand, "you may need some attention after I have a word with your commander. I saw him in Major Davenport's office, and doesn't look like the kind who would brook this sort of behavior." Layton managed to put some bluster behind her words, but the proliferation of knives truly frightened her, and some indication of that fear managed to creep into her voice and her expression.

Meanwhile, Ensign Gregory faced the exotic woman, the desert warrior who had clearly propositioned him. He moved slightly around Captain Layton, silently cursing the fact that she had brought him as protection from this insane lot of knife-wielding nomads. He managed to shift away from S'Mani and a bit closer to Algashi. Looking at the lithe, tanned woman with the bob-cut hair, he grinned lasciviously. "You won't need that with me, sugar."

"Oh, yeah?" she replied, spinning the knife adroitly on her palm, returning his gaze with a similar one of her own. "It depends on what I decide I need..." She glanced quickly at Warren, then back to Gregory. "I kind of like this ship of yours..."

"And some of the crew," S'Mani added, looking at Layton and licking his lower lip. "It'd be nice to have both..."

Darren S'Bec had been reclining against a bulkhead nearby, his head hidden under an SFA desert hat - a prize of war. Hearing the sound of knives loosed from their sheaths, he'd set the hat aside and risen, silent as a spectre, to stand behind the third member of Layton's group. He took a step forward at S'Mani's words and hooked an arm around the female nurse, Lieutenant Kelsey. "I like this one," he leered. To Kelsey, S'Bec whispered in her ear, "You can sit in my lap when I drive the ship."

Algashi sidled closer to Gregory, her knife still in her hand, but she ran her other palm down his muscular upper arm and said to him sensuously, "I'll take this ship and you."

Gregory could tell that Layton was pissed--and afraid. Truth to tell, he was a little afraid himself, but he was also a bit excited. Knowing it would needle Layton, he said to the dark-haired woman, "I think you're used to taking what you want, but you won't have to fight to get me, babe."

Captain Layton turned to glare at Gregory, stating, "Ensign, remember your position! You are a medical officer on this ship, start acting like one!" Under Algashi's flat stare, she swallowed hard--but she didn't look away.

Gregory did look away with guilt.

Layton's words had a different effect on Lieutenant Kelsey. She twisted within S'Bec's grip and stepped down hard on his toes. The attack had little effect on his boot-clad foot, but still he reacted instantly. Releasing the nurse officer slightly, he spun her about and clutched her tightly to him. Now face-to-face, he favored her with a grin and a raised eyebrow. His expression said as eloquently as words, "What are you gonna do now?"

Kelsey regarded the nomad who held her, his left arm around her waist. She was unsure where his other arm was, but she guessed it was not far from a knife. The man had short-cropped hair and a handsome, tanned face. His cheeks and chin wore the stubble of a beard, adding to his rugged appearance. For a moment Kelsey was still, her green eyes locked with his dark brown ones. Then she searched his face, noticing the variations in his skin tone that outlined where his desert goggles fit and the way his scar split his left eyebrow. Finally her gaze settled on his lips, and she was surprised that they were not dry and chapped. As she watched, her own lips parted, and S'Bec spoke quietly, "You're a fighter... I like that."

Then he kissed her. His lips were warm, almost hot, and he tasted of dust and sweat and war. The stubble around his mouth poked and tickled her. The contact was animal, visceral and passionate, and before Kelsey could form a thinking reaction she was kissing him back. Then she pushed away from him, though he still held her around the waist, and struck him across the face with her other hand. The slap was loud in the silence following Layton's admonition. S'Bec grinned with satisfaction.

Captain Layton's fear was outpaced by her fury. How dare this beast take advantage of one of her staff! "Let go of her at once!" Her voice was not quite a shout, but it was loud enough and sharp enough to carry clearly through the now-quiet ward.

Ensign Gregory didn't know if he should laugh or intervene, but with the number of knives visible, he wisely decided to do neither. S'Mani sniggered quietly, and Algashi bit her lip to keep herself from smiling.

Layton's words were heard by Lieutenant Kasan Smith and Major Rattler, who had been conversing at one end of the ward. Smith was in his mid-twenties and looked typically nomad, lean almost to the point of gauntness, with a hard, sharp-boned face and eyes that showed no mercy. The only thing that set him apart from all others in the mercenary battalion was the lack of the outcast scar over his left eye.

The angry tone that Layton used had caused Smith to slip his knife into his hand as automatically as breathing. Seeing what was going on, Smith said to Rattler calmly, "Some of mine, and one of J'Seelah's." He meant that all involved but S'Bec were in his platoon. Still with his knife in his hand, he walked down to Captain Layton, the nomads in the crowded room parting silently to let him and the Major pass.

Smith stopped, his gaze flickering over each of those involved. He could tell at once that the soldiers had only been toying with the Chiron crew members. With a deliberate move, he flipped his knife back into its forearm sheath. Each of the mercenaries who'd taken out their knives also sheathed them.

"S'Bec, release the Lieutenant," he said calmly.

"Sir," S'Bec replied respectfully. As he loosened his grip on Kelsey, he inclined his head and spoke softly into her ear, "You know where to find me." The words were not whispered, so that Smith would hear and understand S'Bec had offered the nurse no further threat, and S'Bec withdrew his arm immediately after. Kelsey glanced back at him, her face unreadable, and stepped to Layton's side.

Smith met S'Bec's gaze, comprehending the nomad's message. Then he looked at Kelsey and asked, "Are you all right, Lieutenant?" The Lieutenant gave a quick nod, but said nothing.

Layton faced Smith then, her eyes filled with anger. Her arms were folded across her chest, but the stance seemed more protective than indignant. "Are you in charge here?" she asked vehemently. Shifting her gaze over Smith's shoulder to Rattler, she added, "Are you?" Before either man could answer, Layton continued hotly, "I came here to check on your people, expecting to find storm-weary soldiers. Instead, we're accosted by these rutting savages, brandishing knives and assaulting my personnel! Is this how you run your unit? I'm surprised they chose to obey your order to stand down!"

"Our warriors are bored, Captain," Smith replied dismissively. "They were merely amusing themselves." He looked around the ward, his eyes sweeping over all the mercenaries. "You may continue with your duties, they will not trouble you further." He turned away from her, the matter concluded.

For a moment Layton glared holes in the back of Smith's head, furious at being cut off. "I will not continue here," she said, not caring whether Smith heard. She turned a withering glare onto Warren, adding, "If any of your people need care, you come find me... and be prepared to ask properly." Layton turned with a huff and strode quickly toward the exit, calling her two subordinates to fall in.

Before he followed Layton, Algashi stepped closer to Gregory, caressing his chest suggestively with her palm. "And you know where to find me," she said to him, winking.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:33 pm 
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Advanced BioResearch Corporation cruiser Satyr
Day Zero -1, 1200 Hours


Gabriel Kyros stood in the center of the bridge of the Satyr, surveying the activity around him. The research cruiser's command center gleamed; most of its equipment was antiseptic white, the crew attending the ship's functions dressed in white uniforms. The blackness of space beyond the great forward windows was a sharp contrast, dark depths of night broken here and there by distant stars, traversed by silently tumbling shadows that were the asteroids.

Kyros stood with his hands clasped behind his back, a posture that accentuated his tall lean frame. The small sounds of the bridge came to his ears, and he identified each one -- the low hum of conversation among the bridge crew, the soft rush of air from the ventilation ducts, the click of keys as a crewman touched a keyboard. Kyros relished the familiarity of each sound, the characteristic noises of his ship.

The Satyr was his ship, inasmuch as Kyros was concerned. Kyros acknowledged Cherenko's command of the vessel, there was no question of that, but he viewed her as a figurehead - the queen of a monarchy where he was regent and the true power behind the throne. It was as much a result of his background versus hers, as it was his commitment to a job that he considered she viewed with far less zeal.

This was not the first time Gabriel Kyros had commanded a ship in this system; a decade earlier he'd led a squadron of United Colonies fighters here on a peace-keeping mission. It had been a period of unrest, with asteroid miners from the Colonies asserting territorial rights under dusty old treaties, to which the IHC reacted with force. Kyros could still picture himself in that uniform - ivory shirt over dark blue trousers, capped with a light blue beret. He admitted to himself that corporate whites suited him better.

Kyros glanced at his wristwatch, pushing old memories aside. He turned to face his communications officer, saying, "Mr. Jaeger, inform Captain Cherenko we are withdrawing from the vicinity of the salvage operation." The Satyr had a rendezvous to keep, and timing required that they make for a point where it would be safe to perform a hyperlight jump.

"Mr. Sterling, back us out of here, maneuvering engines only. Follow the curve of the planetoid until it lies directly between us and the military vessels."

"Aye, sir," a female voice replied as the helmsman busied herself at the Satyr's controls.

A few minutes later the helmsman reported that the Satyr was screened from military eyes by the full mass of the planetoid. Kyros orderd the ship to pivot in place and then set her on a slowly rising course out of the asteroid field, directly away from where the Herodotus was being salvaged. The research cruiser continued monitoring Colonial communications while it executed its withdrawal, but there was no indication that their presence had been detected.

A few hours later the Satyr stood high above the plane of the asteroid field, the expanse of shattered rocks curving away beneath the ship on each side. The navigational officer reported that the vessel was clear to perform a hyperlight jump safely. Gabriel Kyros nodded once and turned to the helm.

"Mr. Sterling, access coded FTL destination Alpha-two-one-four." As he spoke, Kyros crossed the distance to the console, then paused a moment while the helmsman loaded their jump destination. Then he slid his ID card through a reader slot, authorizing the coded file to be opened.

To the bridge in general, Kyros stated loudly, "Make the ship ready for jump." Around him the bridge crew set to the task. Kyros watched the communications officer, following his lips as he made the jump warning announcement into the ship's intercom.

With the warning given, Kyros turned to the FTL console and inserted the jump key, turning it to STAND BY while he waited on each section to report "Ready for jump". When everyone had checked in, Kyros said, "Well, let's go meet our supply ship."

He turned the jump key, and the Satyr vanished in a flash of light.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Hospital Ship Chiron
Above K'way Tebur, Scorpia
Day Zero -1, 1330 Hours

Nursing Director Katherine Layton regarded the exit hatch from her office, her mind still upon the small delegation of junior officers - all nursing staff - who had just left. With a sigh she sank back into her desk chair, wondering for a moment which of the two nurses who had accompanied her to check on the mercenaries had disobeyed her order not to discuss what had happened. Likely both, she thought, dismissing the question as irrelevant now. The delegation had presented her with some valid complaints, she admitted. They had requested that she carry their concerns to Major Davenport. She took out a note pad, making several notes in bullet point, in preparation to do just that.

Layton's office was on the top 'floor' of the hospital, Deck Three of the Chiron. The vessel's command deck lay directly above and at this hour Major Davenport was likely to be found there. Layton stood, checking her appearance in the mirror mounted on the bulkhead beside her Certificate of Commission. Instinctively she brushed at her Captain's pips, then left her office to ascend the ladderwell to Deck Two.

On the command deck Layton presented herself to the SP standing guard at the entrance to CIC, thinking We need more of you. The Chiron did not have a large complement of the Fleet police officers, known curiously as 'Shore Patrol'. Departing as she had, Layton doubted that even their full number were aboard - every other department aboard the hospital ship was seriously understaffed. A shortage of SP's would make her imminent discussion with Major Davenport even more serious.

Layton spotted Davenport immediately as the doors opened and strode confidently toward him. She afforded the XO, Captain Eglin, a nod as she passed his position.

Al Davenport saw his Director of Nursing the instant she stepped into CIC. Judging by the resolute expression on her face, he knew she had something serious on her mind. With resignation, he thought, It's about those godsdamned mercenaries. Once she stood before him, Layton spoke quietly but firmly, "We need to talk, Al. In private."

"Certainly, Katherine," he said calmly. "Let's step into the Plot Room."

Layton followed her commanding officer into the small room at the rear of the command deck. Once inside, she stood with chin on shoulder, watching behind her until the automatic door closed. Then she turned to face Major Davenport. "Three hours, Al. After I told both Gregory and Kelsey to keep quiet about what happened. Barely three hours later and I had most of my department heads in my office to protest the presence of those... mercenaries." Layton's demeanor was agitated, but she clearly did not blame Davenport for the Scorpians being aboard.

"Have a seat, Katherine," Davenport gestured, and they both sat on stools at the plot table. "I'm just as upset at having them here as you are." He pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Unfortunately, we don't have any choice in the matter. I'm expecting orders on what to do with these people at any time. Until then, we just have to carry on." He regarded her with sympathy. "There haven't been any further problems, have there?"

"No, nothing further," she replied. "I have instructed my staff that they are not to enter the mass casualty ward without my approval, and as you know I told the mercenary medic he'd have to ask for assistance if they needed anything. That should effectively keep my people safe, though if any of them decide to act on their carnal urges..." Layton let her statement trail off, but in her mind she envisioned one of her female staff going for a bit of adventurous sex and ending up with an unwanted marathon of forcible violation.

"In spite of their barbaric behavior, I believe they'll obey their commander," Davenport said. "I'll have a word with him." He envisioned Major Rattler's response... He probably wouldn't give a frak what his people do to our crew. Personally, I'm more worried that they might try to take over the Chiron. We can not let that happen. Not with the secrets this ship holds... He stood and asked, "Is there anything else you'd like to discuss, Katherine?"

Layton took a deep breath, settling the tension in her shoulders. "No, that's all. I told my staff I'd take this to you and I have. I know you're limited in what you can do, Al."

Davenport nodded, gesturing for Layton to precede him out of the Plot Room. He remained just outside the Plot Room door until she left CIC, then he turned his gaze to Eglin. "A word, Captain," he said to his XO, and turned back into the Plot Room without waiting for Eglin's response.

Eglin immediately glanced toward the CIC doors, aware of Layton's exit. He gathered his eyebrows for a moment, puzzled at what the Nursing Director had discussed with Davenport and whether it was the same topic that Davenport now called him to discuss. He shrugged mentally, as he entered the plot room. He stopped and came to attention, saying, "Sir?"

Evenly, Davenport said, "Captain, I know that there's no way anyone could have foreseen the accident that has led to these mercenaries being housed on our ship... but I am not at all happy that we have gotten involved in an 'operation' like this." Politics be damned. Any favors we may have gotten for going along with Eglin's contacts have probably gone down the drain with what's happened now.

"You didn't seem particularly unhappy about the previous 'operation'... sir," Eglin commented. Then he went on, one hand raised to defer Davenport's response, "Everything was settled - my people were supposed to be assigned to the Diokles under Major Marceau. No one foresaw that Admiral Cain would muck things up by annexing the Chiron."

Davenport said sourly, "Leave it to Cain to get her way." The Chiron and I were supposed to go under Admiral Lathrop's command. That was the plan even before the ship was commissioned. "For political reasons, I have been willing to look the other way when it came to these 'operations'." He paused, regarding Eglin straightly. "I certainly hope that the problems we've had with this operation won't reflect badly against me... or you."

"It's not going to reflect well," Eglin snapped. The XO shook his head, looking at the deck, then continued in a more conciliatory tone, "If this goes against anyone, it's whoever didn't delay the pickup until after the storm."

Davenport breathed in and out evenly, then pinched the bridge of his nose again. I can't very well refuse to do any more of these operations... damned if I do, damned if I don't. To Eglin, he said, "In the future, I will expect to have more say in how things are conducted. I think that those who assign these operations to us will find a more satisfactory result will ensue if unexpected circumstances can be handled appropriately."

"Very well, sir," Eglin said, his voice stiffly formal. When he received a sharp look from Davenport at his vaguely noncommittal reply, he added, "I will convey your expectations to our associates." He bowed his head slightly, plainly wishing to be dismissed.

"Thank you, Captain," Davenport replied. Aware that Eglin's contacts could make things difficult for him, Davenport said in a more moderate tone, "We both have our reasons for accomplishing these missions, Frank. Keeping them quiet will allow them to continue." He looked steadily at Eglin a moment, then said, "Dismissed." And I pray to the gods that Lathrop can get the Chiron assigned back to the Deep Space Command so we can perform the mission for which this ship was designed.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:35 pm 
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Hospital Ship Chiron

Davenport splashed water on his face, rubbing it vigorously with both hands, then picked up a towel, blotting his tidy mustache and goatee. He regarded his reflection in the mirror a moment, then proceeded to wash his hands as thoroughly as if he was going into surgery.

He’d needed a short break after his tense conversation with his XO, and had come to his quarters to freshen up. His thoughts were going in circles… wondering who in Fleet command would find out about this botched “mission”… hoping that orders telling him to offload the mercenaries would arrive soon… cursing Cain for pulling the Chiron, and him, into her battlestar group.

The medallion on the chain around his neck glinted in the light, pulling him out of his ruminations. Ruefully he realized that he’d already soaped and rinsed his hands three times, so he turned off the water and again picked up the towel. He gazed at his reflection, his eyes this time on the medallion, silver against the white of his uniform under-blouse.

Al’s mother had been a Scribe in the Order of the Dragon, and he’d been initiated as a Scribe, also; but now, he reflected, he was as much a Knight as a Scribe. He touched the medallion with a finger, thinking of his mother and of the Order.

“Sextant,” he murmured to himself, then went and sat at his desk, rubbing the back of his neck, trying to relieve tight muscles. The Dagger and the Sextant headed to Earth, and we—the Chiron and me, along with Knight Defender Lathrop’s ships—are supposed to follow in their path.

His thoughts turned to the message he’d gotten from Vice Admiral Maureen Lathrop, when he’d still been commanding the Telephos. He opened his safe and took out a data card mailer, removing the message from the stiff envelope. He unfolded it and carefully smoothed it out on the surface of his desk.

    From:
    Vice Admiral Maureen A. Lathrop
    Deep Space Patrol Command
    Fleet Station Ursula
    Aerelon

    To:
    Major Albert D. Davenport
    Hospital Ship Telephos
    Battlestar Group 47
    Scorpia

Code:
Personal Privacy Encoding, Level III
Version 4.0, Revision 7

Message begins.

Albert,

I have recently been made aware of events which have dealt our endeavor a serious setback, and have made the Chiron project even more important.

Having convinced the Scorpian heretic to part with the item we so desperately seek, our agents arrived at the agreed-upon exchange site only to find that another group had pre-empted us.  Evidently we were not the only ones seeking the Mad Emperor's map, and these others must have discovered our arrangements and arrived early, claiming to be us.  It appears these 'procurers' decided to relieve the heretic of his possession by force and thus complete their mission while keeping the funds provided by their employer for its purchase.  Upon retreating they left behind one of their number, wounded but alive.  Before succumbing to his injuries, he confessed that he did not know the identity of this collector - only that he was a wealthy businessman.  No doubt the artifact has now been delivered to this unknown person, and I fear that at this point the trail of the plate has been snuffed out.

The heretic is dead and the map is lost, so therefore the modifications to the Chiron have become very nearly our last hope.  The push is currently underway to have you assigned as Commanding Officer, and I am confident that we can obtain Admiral Nagala's approval.  Once that is accomplished, I will see to it that Chiron is assigned to DSPC, and soon thereafter we will be seeking the course of the Dagger and the Sextant.

Honor to you for your service,

M. A. Lathrop, Knight Defender

Digital Signature verified.

End of message.


He’d gotten the command of the Chiron, but then Cain had put her claim on the newly commissioned, state-of-the-art hospital ship. Cain outranked Lathrop, and so far Knight Defender Lathrop had been unsuccessful in her efforts to retake the Chiron.

Maybe, Al brooded, this frakked-up operation will put us in Cain’s disfavor, and she’ll be glad to get rid of us. He considered the thought a moment, then shook his head. Most likely, she’ll have me reassigned to some ancient tub stationed in close orbit over Aerilon and keep my ship for herself.

He gave his head a vigorous shake to dislodge the gloomy thoughts. “Damn mercenaries are getting on my nerves,” he said aloud, but knew it was a combination of events, including the deaths of the Amaryllis’ crew members, that was depressing him.

He folded Lathrop’s message and slid it back into the envelope, returning it to the safe, then stood, squaring his shoulders resolutely. “You’ve got your duty, Al,” he told himself, repeating his mother’s oft-stated admonition. He put his blue duty jacket on and headed back to CIC.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:35 pm 
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Scorpia, above K'way Tebur
Hospital Ship Chiron
Day Zero -1, 1530 Hours


Major Davenport's grip on the wireless handset was white-knuckled, but his voice relayed none of his anger and frustration. "We've gotten our orders, Tatia," he said tonelessly.

[I'm reading you five-by-five, Al. Go ahead with orders.]

"We're to proceed to a rendezvous point near Scorpia Shipyards, where we will transfer our 'passengers' to the civilian vessel Neptune's Cradle at 1200 tomorrow," Al told her.

[At least they kept it to a simple orbital transfer,] Jenkins transmitted. [I think Amaryllis can take the stress. If not, help will be nearby.]

Davenport considered the mechanics of the orbital transfer. The Chiron and Amaryllis were "stationary" in orbit above K'way Tebur, remaining in position there as the planet rotated. Similarly, Scorpia Shipyards was stationary in orbit above the shipyard's ground facilities below. Therefore, the two ships were maintaining a unchanging distance from Scorpia Shipyards as they all rotated with Scorpia. Proceeding to a point near the shipyards merely entailed decelerating to a lower orbit and then accelerating back to to the geostationary orbit matching the shipyards. As Jenkins had said, a simple procedure... for undamaged ships.

Al nodded to himself. "If possible, I'd like to arrive at the rendezvous coordinates as close to 1200 as possible," he told Tatia. "The less time we're hanging out there twiddling our thumbs, the better. But we need to make sure we have a little leeway in case you have problems. I'll leave it up to you to plot our course changes."

[I'll have the orbit changes plotted and transmitted to you within the next 30 minutes,] Jenkins stated. [Don't think me timid, Al, but you're giving me 20 hours to do this, and I'm going to use it all and keep the stresses minimal.]

"You're doing it exactly the way I would, if I were in your position," Davenport assured her. "Appropriate caution is in no way timid. I'm sure you have contingency plans if everything goes FUBAR, but I need to mention it anyway. Let me know if you need help with anything." And the gods help me keep Rattler's mercenaries contained.

[If I have to, I can fit the entire crew into dropships Three and Four. I'm supposed to go down with the ship, though, right?] Davenport heard Jenkins give a mirthless chuckle. [If I lose the Amy, I might as well go with her, for all my career will be worth afterward.]

Al replied soberly, "I'd hope the Fleet has leadership smart enough to recognize talent like yours, and understand that accidents happen. That is why we have contingency plans written up in the regs." He sighed inwardly, though, knowing that the politics of the military required finding someone to blame, even for events beyond human control. And if we lose the Amaryllis, my career will probably go up in smoke, too. Speaking to himself as well as Jenkins, he finished, "Think positive, Tatia. You've got a good crew, and we'll get back to the Shipyards in one piece."

[Understood, Al,] she replied, and Davenport could hear the resignation in her voice. He pictured her nodding a reluctant assent, her mouth drawn into a thin line. [I've got to get that maneuver plotted,] she said. [Talk to you in thirty.]

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:45 am 
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Recon Carrier Herodotus
Deck Five
Defueling Op +14 Hours


SeaBees Michael Tallent and Davy Foreman stood in the harsh electric light on Deck Five. Power had been restored to this section of the carrier, and so far the grid was holding. Deck Five was a mechanical equipment deck, not meant to be traversed in the daily operations of the carrier, and it lacked the corridor-based layout of the rest of the ship. Instead its accessways threaded around the various pieces of equipment; sections of the deck had a low overhead with exposed framework and dozens of pipes and electrical conduits, while around the secondary tylium containment tanks the height reached nearly two floors though the width of the passages remained narrow.

Deck Five was compartmented against decompression like the rest of the carrier, with airtight bulkheads arranged at regular intervals. Though the sections around the port tylium tank appeared intact, it had lost atmosphere with the rest of the ship, and the Master Chief had decided not to attempt to re-pressurize - it would require air reserves from the Titan, add to their explosion risk, and gain them no real advantages. Tallent and Foreman were on Deck Five for another reason, one that would facilitate the defueling operation - the restoration of artificial gravity.

Both SeaBees had packs with standard salvage tools, and each had a smaller kit containing electrician's supplies. Tallent regarded Foreman for a moment, checking the younger man's readiness, ticking off items in his head. Satisfied, he met Foreman's gaze, his eyes just visible through the goggle lenses. "You got the sniffer?" he queried, referring to a tylium detector he'd assigned to Foreman.

Foreman drew a yellow and black device from a holster on his belt and displayed it to Tallent. "Yessir," he replied.

"Make sure it's active, and let's go!" Tallent said, turning around and starting off. In the zero gravity, he grabbed a low overhead beam pulled himself forward, then moved around a tight corner. Still on the wireless, he added, "We have to get to the local grav control unit. Let's hope this section isn't too much of a clusterfrak."

Foreman nodded agreement, pressing the "test" button on the sniffer, again nodding to himself as the numbers on the display mounted, then returned to 3.19--an acceptable level of tylium ions for an industrial area of a ship. He followed Tallent more slowly, dividing his attention between the display on the sniffer and the obstacle-ridden environment of the deck. His progress was also slowed because he had only one hand free to pull himself along, and because he still was unsure of his movements in zero gravity. He had gotten a little better at it, he thought, but he still felt incredibly clumsy. Especially compared to Tallent.

Tallent continued to thread his way through Deck Five; shortly the two SeaBees found themselves at the top of a ladder, the deck dropping away below them while before them stretched a smooth bulkhead painted bright red and bearing the stenciled words "FUEL CONTAINMENT". Tallent drifted out over the drop, pushing one-handed against a huge section of piping. As he moved toward the floor below he looked back at Foreman. "Grav control should be just ahead," he transmitted over the wireless.

"Okay," Foreman replied, following Tallent's lead, concentrating.

Moments later their goal was in sight, a section of deck marked off by caution stripes, with a complex-looking set of controls surrounding a dark monitor. Tallent hit a switch and the monitor flared to life. As he worked, checking the status of the artificial gravity system, he glanced aside at Foreman. Tallent grinned, knowing that Foreman would be spared the look by his pressure suit. "Punch the ALARM key on the sniffer, Foreman," he said, his voice carefully even. "That'll put it in passive mode and you won't need to carry it. Make sure the wireless icon is active on the readout, and it will sound an alarm over your suit's wireless if it's triggered."

Startled, Davy looked up from the sniffer at Tallent, but he couldn't see the constructionman's face. He looked back down at the sniffer, locating the ALARM key. "Gods, I'm such an idiot," he muttered, pushing the key. He made sure the wireless icon was showing, then clipped the instrument back onto his belt. He felt his face burning, and was glad that Tallent couldn't see his embarrassment.

Foreman's mumbled comment triggered his transmit circuit only intermittently, so Tallent only heard a few short bursts of static but he knew the younger SeaBee had commented, most likely in the negative. "Don't sweat it, Davy," he said, keeping his tone casual. "You hadn't trained on that equipment yet." Then Tallent's focus was back on the artificial gravity console and he was silent for several minutes while he conducted a full check of the system. Satisfied, he allowed himself to float back, regarding the control panel while his hands gripped handles to each side. "Looks like we're ready."

"Yessir," Foreman replied, wishing he was ready for anything.

Tallent transmitted a message to the team of SeaBees monitoring power in their section, alerting them he was about to add a major load to the system. Then he twisted in the null gravity, righting himself in relation to the floor. Still gripping one of the handles at the control console, he leveraged his body downward. "Boots on the deck!" he cautioned, watching Foreman.

Carefully, keeping his hold on a bulkhead-mounted handrail, Foreman swung his legs down and activated the mag-lock function of his boots. "Down and locked," he reported, using a quick visual survey to make sure he was standing as upright--in relation to the deck--as he could.

Tallent grasped the horizontal bar of the control handle with his free hand, the glove of his pressure suit making the fit a bit tight. The ship's designers had wisely placed the "ENGAGE" position at the top, so the considerable force that Tallent had to apply to shift the handle served to plant him firmly on the deck. As he shoved the handle upward its resistance built until with a solid 'thunk' it slid into place. Tallent felt the deck vibrate as the artificially induced gravity grabbed him. A length of steel bracing slammed to the deck just feet away from the pair, the impact strangely silent in the still decompressed compartment. "Shit!" Tallent exclaimed, realizing he'd forgotten to check the space above their heads for debris. "There's a lesson learned," he said to Foreman grimly.

With a small degree of satisfaction, Foreman noted that he'd positioned himself correctly for when the AG came on. He didn't feel nearly as clumsy in normal Gs. "Do we have to get the AG back on anywhere else, sir?" he asked Tallent.

The senior constructionman nodded. "We'll do the same in the next section, on the other side of that airtight hatch." He gestured to a hatch a few meters away. The seal indicator light, showing that the integrity of the airtight barrier was not compromised, glowed green at one side. Below that, another light blinked red, signaling that there was no atmosphere beyond the door.

Tallent stepped across the fallen steel beam and plodded to the hatchway, his mag-lock boots still activated. The portal was a knee-knocker, with a threshold that rose about a foot and a half above the deck. The hatch cover was as wide as two men standing shoulder to shoulder, with a central handwheel that operated a set of eight locking pins arranged around the circumference. Hinged on this side, it would open toward the SeaBees when they got it unsealed. Tallent looked at Foreman. "Ready?" he queried.

"Yessir," Foreman nodded, putting his hands on the wheel and setting his grip.

Positioning himself to where he could help Foreman on the wheel, Tallent bent his knees and heaved. The wheel was resistant, more so than he had expected, but it turned steadily under their combined effort. Once the two SeaBees had rotated it almost a full turn, it became somewhat easier. "It should be freewheeling by now," Tallent commented over the wireless. "Careful..."

"Wonder... if it got a little warped or something," Davy ventured, trying to turn the wheel smoothly. "Yeah, being careful."

Tallent eyed the locking pins closely as he and Foreman continued turning the wheel. As they neared the fully withdrawn point, he waved for Foreman to step back. Foreman took two long steps backward, his boots toe-to-heeling on the deck. Tallent gave the wheel a final turn and the pins cleared their locking holes; as they did, the hatch cover was forced open by a tangle of steel that must have been piled against it. The cover caught Tallent across his shins, but with the mag-locks set his boots did not slide. Foreman heard him yelp in pain, looking down just as the boot's magnetic grip gave way and Tallent toppled backward to the deck. A torrent of foul language clogged the wireless channel.

Foreman took a rushed step to Tallent's side, dropping to his knees next to him. "Holy frak, Tallent, are you okay?" he asked, realizing how stupid it sounded as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

At that instant, the sniffer's alarm sounded in his suit wireless, an urgent high-pitched warble that made him clap a hand to his ear--to the side of his suit helmet. Then he fumbled for the sniffer at his belt. "Frak!" he exclaimed, looking at the read-out. "Twenty-seven point seven!" he said, sure that it was bad, but uncertain how bad. He looked up at the debris that had flung the hatch open, a low jumbled pile of steel pipes and girders that had fallen over the lip of the hatch as if the room beyond had vomited it there. His gaze went to the passage past the hatch, long and narrow and dimly lit by the emergency lights.

As Foreman watched, some of the debris that extended through the hatchway shifted as the active artificial gravity laid claim to it. A shower of electrical sparks appeared from the far side of the portal, the effect oddly silent and arrow straight. A weird flash followed, trailing through the airless passage up and away from the wreckage. A second followed rapidly, and a third, extending ever deeper into the compartment beyond, illuminating the bulkheads with iridescent blue-white lightning. Somewhere in the shadows of the next compartment the phenomenon ended with a violent, soundless flash.

"Godsdamned..." Foreman breathed, scrambling away from the hatch, grabbing Tallent's arm as if to drag him along. "What the frak is that?"

Tallent shifted in his partner's grip, grabbing Foreman's arm in return and pulling himself to his feet. "Tylium fluorescing," Tallent explained. "With no pressure you just get a light show..." Turning, he took a halting step and stumbled, cursing as he did. "It's okay, I can walk," he reassured Foreman, "but it hurts like a sonofabitch."

"You need to see the doc," Foreman stated. "And... I think we need to evac the compartment, with the tylium ion readings so high." And maybe go back to zero-G, that'd make it easier. He regarded Tallent with sympathy. "Let's go," he said unnecessarily. The words bolstered his confidence, though, and the two began retracing their steps.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:04 am 
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Superheavy Vessel Retriever Tauranian Titan
Combat Information Center
Day Zero -1, 1859 Hours


"Master Chief on the hardwire, sir," Ensign Haley O'Rinn informed Colonel Trafford. He'd heard the attention signal at the communications station and had looked up from the paperwork he was skimming - an injury report from the Titan's infirmary. A scowl, brought on by the number of minor injuries his SeaBees had incurred aboard the carrier, left his face, replaced by a neutral expression at the news that MCPO Samuels was calling with an unscheduled update. It wasn't likely to be good news.

"Get Distant Sun Actual on the tight beam," Trafford ordered, "and inform the Master Chief to stand by for myself and Captain Ames." With the Distant Sun at station keeping for the defueling operation, the two ships were taking advantage of their fixed relative positions and using directional transceivers for wireless communications. With their narrow focus and low power, the "tight beam" setup was almost as secure as a wired connection, while avoiding much of the risk of detection by enemy forces that a wireless broadcast presented.

Moments later the red-haired Ensign announced, "Distant Sun Actual standing by with the Master Chief, sir."

Trafford stepped around to the communications console and picked up a headset, holding it to one ear. "Titan Actual," he said, then more casually, "What do you have, Ty?"

"Colonel. Captain," the Master Chief replied, acknowledging both commanders. "Bad news, unfortunately. We've discovered a secondary containment breach on the port tylium tank. Deck Five has dangerous levels of tylium ion contamination, so any further work down there will require HazMat gear."

[What's that going to do to our ability to defuel the carrier?] asked Captain Ames.

"I'm not certain, Captain," Samuels replied. "That's not our only problem. The crew that discovered the containment breach was re-establishing artificial gravity on Deck Five, but they were forced to evacuate the deck before they had finished. The port tank now has a grav field active across the forward half, which is creating a stirring effect as the tylium sinks and its own weight forces a lateral flow into the null gravity in the aft half of the tank. Honestly, I'm unsure about the implications..."

[By itself, it doesn't present a problem,] Ames replied, but his voice carried a note of caution. [How serious is the breach, Master Chief?]

"We're preparing now to go back in and attempt to find it," Samuels said. "It's bad enough that we've lost the entire load of nitrogen-argon on the port side." The inert gas mix was used to back-fill the fuel tanks, maintaining a pressurized flow of the tylium fuel. "Under normal circumstances, I'd just use the starboard supply, once that tank was empty. Since we're doing the cross-transfer, though, that option's not available."

"We can deliver nitrogen-argon from reserves aboard the Titan," Colonel Trafford interjected, "but establishing the connection to the carrier will take some time."

[How much, Bill?] Ames queried, dropping protocol.

"If the delivery connections are undamaged, it's still at least an hour," Trafford pronounced. "We can come in from either side - gas flow won't be much affected if we have to cross feed it."

[Do what you can, Master Chief,] Ames said. [And keep in contact with Petty Officer Grainger. He'd just informed me that flow was erratic - now I know why. We need to figure out exactly what we're dealing with here so we can determine if the defueling can be successfully completed. Colonel Bisby needs to be updated as well, and soon.]

"Aye, sir!" the Master Chief responded. "Bill?"

"Yeah, you're dismissed, Ty," Trafford answered, giving a wave of his hand that Samuels could not see.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:09 am 
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Destroyer Fleet Escort Bellerophon
Pilots' Ready Room
Day Zero -1, 1930 Hours


Lieutenant Malichi Nyberg looked across the room at the small group of Raptor pilots he was debriefing. "Before I dismiss you, let me give you a short update: Defueling has hit a snag and is behind schedule. Projected completion time has been pushed back to 0800 tomorrow. Meanwhile, two of the Herodotus' Raptors and five of her Vipers are still missing. Lt. Markham remains in guarded condition aboard the Patrocles; no survivors have been recovered since." Nyberg's face took on a slight frown as he delivered the news that no one else had been found alive. His gaze moved from face to face across the gathered pilots and ECO's. "Any questions?" he asked, preparing to end the meeting.

Lieutenant Jack Mayer hadn't been paying complete attention to Nyberg, but when he said 'Any questions?' it brought Mayer out of his thoughts. He gazed at Nyberg a moment, and decided to wait until he could ask his question privately.

When there was no immediate response to his query, Nyberg continued, "Dismissed, then. Get some rack time while you can."

Mayer didn't get up from his seat immediately, making a pretense of stretching and yawning. Finally, as the other pilots were filing out, he levered himself to his feet and ambled to Nyberg. "How much has this side trip frakked up our original mission schedule, sir?" he asked casually, as if the question had just occurred to him. I sure as frak hope that Mast is still planning on stopping at Bieffe Depot.

"Original schedule?" Nyberg echoed, momentarily confused by Mayer's question. "Oh!" he exclaimed a moment later, as his mind put the pieces together. He looked at Mayer with a raised eyebrow. He's not asking about this mission, Nyberg thought. He wants to know about the combat patrol which we were scheduled to make in a few days...

Nyberg continued to scrutinize Mayer. "Jumping the Herodotus back to the Shipyards will take priority," he began. "Our scheduled patrol was a show of force. I'm guessing that something along those lines might still be in the works, but it's anybody's guess after the attack on this carrier. We might still go, but with a larger fleet... or maybe not at all. Hell, with politicians in the mix, we might even go to war." Nyberg shrugged, still holding Mayer's gaze.

Jack realized he had to give some reason for his question. He lifted his palms upward slightly and said, "I have some friends who are going to be at Bieffe Depot around the same time we were originally scheduled to stop there, that's all." He could see Nyberg's skepticism, and added, "Not a big deal." By the gods, it is a big deal, but Nyberg doesn't need to know that.

Nyberg nodded, breaking off from watching Mayer to gather up his clipboard and the few papers he'd brought to the debriefing. Still, something about Mayer's question tickled his curiosity, and he watched the surly pilot leave. Friends... Mayer? Nyberg mused, and at a commerce station on the frakkin' ass end of nowhere?

Mayer strode down the passageway, his jaw clenched. Son of a frakking bitch... I've been sitting on these classified documents for weeks now. I have to get them to Maxwell and Ditaan before anyone finds out I have them. He glowered at a deckhand going the opposite direction, and the young woman diverted her eyes and scurried along faster. They'll wait a little while at Bieffe, but not forever. I've got to find a way to get there. If I have to hijack a ship, I need to get there!


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:33 am 
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Frigate Patrocles
Patrolling salvage area
Day Zero, 0555 Hours


Captain Thompson reviewed the night log, expecting Colonel Bisby to show up for dayshift at any moment. There were additional problems that Colonel Trafford's people were having with the defueling operation, so she would have to give him the bad news about that. The only other item was hardly worth mentioning, but she figured Bisby would expect to be briefed about everything, no matter how minor.

She smoothed a hand over her hair, making sure every strand was in place, and tugged on the hem of her uniform jacket to ensure it was straight. She looked around CIC, noting that everyone was in place and looking suitably busy. She clasped her hands behind her back and waited for the Colonel's entrance.

A slight stiffening in the posture of the Marine guard was Thompson's first indication that Bisby had arrived. Moments later the dour Colonel stepped through the entry hatch, the watch officer calling out a crisp "Commander on deck!"

Bisby responded with a brusque "At ease," and then turned to Thompson. "Captain?" he queried expectantly as he stopped beside the plot table, clasping his hands behind his back.

"The defueling operation has had further setbacks, sir," Thompson reported. "There's a secondary containment breach on the port tylium tank, with dangerous levels of tylium ion contamination and an active gravity field across the forward part of the tank. Because the SeaBees have had to do a cross-transfer of fuel, they have had to connect to the Herodotus to deliver nitrogen-argon gas to backfill the port tank. Best estimates as of thirty minutes ago is that they are 40% complete with fuel transfer from the port tank, 70% overall."

Bisby stood unmoving as Thompson delivered the news, his eyes focused somewhere distant as though he could see through her. When she stopped speaking, he refocused, meeting her gaze. "Very well," he said, turning his back to her and placing both hands on the plot table. He leaned on them, seemingly studying the diagrams displayed there. "Is there anything else?" he asked, his displeasure obvious.

"We received a message from fleet headquarters, sir," she said. "Courier officer overdue coming back from Armistice Station. They've asked for a full status report on all FTL capable ships just in case they need somebody to jump out there today--see if his ship is having any mechanical problems."

Bisby replied dryly, “I think we’re a little bit busy today, wouldn’t you say so, Captain?”

"Aye, sir, we are," the Captain concurred. "I responded with our status at time of receipt."

"Ah," Bisby responded. He turned from the plot table to regard the DRADIS display, giving Thompson a long look in between. He said nothing further for a moment, then glanced over his shoulder at his Executive Officer. "I have the Conn, Captain. Dismissed."

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:16 am 
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Advanced BioResearch Cruiser Satyr
Near Ragnar
Day Zero 0720 Hours



"Jump complete, sir," the FTL technician reported. "Holding position 200 000 kilometers above Ragnar."

Gabriel Kyros nodded acknowledgement. After a brief glance at the DRADIS display he strode forward on the command deck, toward the broad exterior windows. "Let's have a look," he said with interest. "Helm, roll 120 degrees starboard."

"Aye, sir," the helmsman responded, and seconds later the view through the Satyr's viewports began to spin counter-clockwise as though the ship were still and the universe rotated around it. Kyros noted the communications officer turn his head, closing his eyes momentarily; the Satyr's XO understood the young man's discomfort - the visual effect was unsettling to some.

As the Satyr completed her maneuver, the amethyst gas clouds of the Ragnar Storm appeared. Ranging in hue from deepest purple to streaks of pink, the emission nebula cloaked the gas giant Ragnar in a deadly tempest of stellar gases driven by ultraviolet light from the twin stars some 60 solar units distant and heat from the gas giant itself. The 'storm' was violent but curiously static, allowing the Colonial Fleet to place an armory station within the protection of a calm corridor - that station was on the far side of the giant planet from the Satyr's current position. It was not, however, the only facility hidden within the forbidding nebula; Advanced BioResearch had their own outpost here as well.

Kyros glanced again at the DRADIS display, then addressed the DRADIS technician. "Any prying eyes out there?"

"None, sir," the tech responded, adding "EM interference is marginal, sir. We have a clean image."

"Very good," Kyros replied.

The helmsman cleared his throat discreetly and when Kyros looked to him with raised eyebrows, he asked "Sir, will we be descending to the station?"

"No, we'll be holding position here until our supply ship arrives."

That arrival was not long in coming. The DRADIS officer detected the approaching vessel before it was visible against the regal glow of the nebula. "Vessel closing at 120 kilometers per second, sir. No IFF, but DRADIS returns are consistent with our expected supply ship."

Ten minutes later the ABR transport Atraeus was keeping station alongside the larger Satyr, communicating via tight beam wireless. The Atraeus was not what one might expect of a freighter; instead of a framework covered in a jumble of modular containers, Atraeus' smooth hull was sleek and white. The two ships held their parallel positions briefly, then the Atraeus moved close using RCS thrusters and established a hard dock with the Satyr. The transfer of cargo commenced.

Having left the third officer in command, Gabriel Kyros proceeded to the Satyr's cargo dock. He did not normally oversee resupply operations personally, but he was expecting more than just equipment and provisions on this delivery. He surveyed his crew momentarily as they transferred the freight, then found the receiving manager. "Passengers are authorized to come aboard now," he informed the officer, accepting a clipboard for his signature.

Shortly two figures appeared, crossing the hard dock. Kyros recognized the man from his days in the abortive United Colonies peacekeeping force. He was Abraham Maxwell, a weapons designer, FTL expert and a self-styled Doctor though he did not hold a Ph.D. degree. He did, however, have Masters degrees in three separate fields. Maxwell was short and robust, bald on top with greying hair on the sides. His goatee beard was interspersed with grey as well. He wore glasses that rode down on his nose; his sad blue eyes were visible above the frames.

Maxwell had a woman on his arm, and Kyros raised an eyebrow as his view of her became clear. A touch shorter than Maxwell, she had long dark hair held in a ponytail swept forward over her shoulder. Her face was a pleasant oval and her red lips small, but her eyes were her striking feature. They were brown, nearly bronze, and shone with a sharp intelligence that was accented by the arch of her eyebrows. She did not smile, but wore a look of concentration. Her jewelry was elegant and understated, her clothing a sleeveless patterned top and dark pants that spoke of money. She didn't look like a consort, Kyros mused. More like a bodyguard, and a capable one at that.

"Welcome aboard the Satyr," Kyros said formally as the pair reached the near side of the hard dock. He stepped forward, nodding to the woman and then extending a hand to Maxwell. "Doctor Maxwell," he continued, placing the barest hint of humor into his usage of the ersatz title. "It's been a long time, Max. It's good to see you."

"And you as well, Gabe," Maxwell responded. The weapons designer looked further into the Satyr for a moment as though to proceed, but was stopped by the expectant look on Kyros' face. "Oh, oh," Maxwell stammered, "I forget myself." He cast an apologetic look at his female companion, and she responded with a faint smile. "Gabriel Kyros," Maxwell began the introduction, "this is Ditaan Mayer, an associate of mine." Maxwell gave the word an unusual inflection, cocking his head a bit to one side as he said it. "Ditaan, this is Gabriel Kyros, Executive Officer of the Satyr."

"A pleasure," she said in return, but kept her hands on Maxwell's arm. "The captain, did he not come to greet us?" Ditaan asked, affecting a slight. Kyros noted a forced quality to her question, more than just the offense it suggested. She's a contralto, in truth, he thought.

"The captain thought it better that I greet you, given my prior association with Doctor Maxwell," Kyros explained, dipping his head to Ditaan. She gave him the same small smile she'd afforded Maxwell; Kyros took it as acceptance of his apology. "I will have a bosun's mate show you to your quarters," the XO stated. "Would you join the captain and I for the noon meal?"

"Certainly," Maxwell replied, and Ditaan gave a slight nod.

"Very well, then," Kyros said, turning to leave. "At the moment, I am needed back on the bridge."

Robert Rand stood nearby, quietly watching Kyros' guests as they came aboard the Satyr. He'd known they were coming for some time, and had researched their backgrounds. There were some curious details in both of their histories, but nothing that had left Rand feeling he needed to confront them as they debarked. Still, he'd made certain to be at the cargo bay when the Atraeus docked.

As Kyros left the bay, one of the stevedores approached Rand. "Sir," the man said, then waited a moment for Rand's attention. "There's a package flagged to be routed directly to you, Mr. Rand. It's marked as Handle with Care - Explosives." The stevedore gestured over his shoulder, and Rand quickly spotted the meter-long box with its black and yellow striping and red warning labels.

"Thank you," he said to the loader, meeting the man's bemused grin with a raised eyebrow. As the stevedore returned to his duties, Rand crossed the deck and examined the box. Taking out a pocket knife, he opened the blade with a practiced flip, then carefully slit the packing list envelope pasted to the outside of the carton. Rand grinned when he saw the handwritten document - 'Perry, M.' was listed as the shipper. Michael Perry was a former member of Rand's espionage team, but he'd left ABR about a year earlier. Next to Perry's name was a small symbol that Rand recognized immediately. Perry had marked the packing slip as containing a coded message.

Rand easily shouldered the box, despite its weight, and headed for his quarters for a closer look.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 1: Descent Into Darkness
PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:50 pm 
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Hospital Ship Chiron
Ship Staging Sector, Scorpia Shipyards
Day Zero, Mid-morning


Major Davenport stretched, wishing for a patient to care for, or a surgery to perform. The slow, careful trip above Scorpia shepherding the crippled Amaryllis had been both boring and tense. Thankfully, there hadn't been any setbacks, and now the Chiron sat motionless, the Amaryllis station-keeping off her port side. Other ships, singly and in small groups, also sat at intervals in the Staging Sector, awaiting clearance to dock, or to rendezvous with other ships, or for clearance to proceed to the planet's surface.

The Chiron was positioned so that Davenport could see the Shipyards, the curve of the planet in the lower left corner of the viewport. The Shipyards reminded Al of the model kits he used to assemble as a child, larger pieces attached to a central straight plastic stalk, other smaller parts attached to branches off the central stalk. He would use a sharp blade to cut the pieces away from the stalks and then glue them together to make a plane or boat...

It was a much more complicated scene before him, though, various ships of all sizes docked in the cradles. As he watched, he could see shuttles going to and fro, delivering people and supplies. At one end of the docking structure was his battlestar group's flagship, the Pegasus, docked for a refit. The Chiron had been free to be sent on this gods-forsaken mission because of that refit, BSG 62's ships assigned elsewhere for the duration of their flagship's refit.

Image

Al pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. Their rendezvous with Neptune's Cradle was scheduled to occur in half an hour, and he debated whether he should go to his quarters for a fifteen minute nap, or stay here on the bridge. By the time I get to my quarters, it will be time to head back here... and I don't think I can sleep until I get these mercenaries off my ship.

He wondered if VAdm Lathrop knew how the Chiron and Amaryllis had been used for these illicit missions, and if she'd be able to do any damage control for his and Tatia Jenkins' careers. He glanced expressionlessly at his XO, who was working at the plot computer. He couldn't completely blame Eglin for his part in things; Davenport himself was as guilty by allowing it to go on. Transport the mercs from here to there, payment certainly in texa gems stolen from the clans and smuggled off the planet. Frank gets his cut, but I bet the majority of the profits go to those nameless string-pullers high up in the Fleet.

He sighed and went to stand by the viewport, looking out at the Shipyards. Maybe by now we've curried enough favors that they'll let the Chiron be reassigned under Lathrop. Maybe this mission will put us in Cain's disfavor, and she'll let us go.

At the plot computer Frank Eglin was killing time, calculating a series of short FTL jumps with Picon as the ultimate destination and querying the mainframe about the cumulative jump advent shock force for each series. So far, it appeared that a single jump subjected the ship to the least shock, but as he input more jumps of a shorter length, the cumulative force was trending back down. In a way, the exercise had a basis in reality, though Eglin doubted that the Amaryllis would be asked to leave Scorpia before being repaired. It really didn't matter, though, for Eglin wasn't really focused on the research; in his mind he was reviewing the likely fallout from their botched mission over the desert.

He doubted that - in the overall scheme of things - their failure would have much effect upon the nameless people in Scorpia's government who choreographed the clandestine operations. Nor was it likely to impinge upon the Fleet officers whose covert complicity allowed the involvement of vessels such as Amaryllis and his own. No, they were likely not to give the two ships much consideration at all, and Eglin found that disquieting, for he expected the scheming phantoms might turn to other assets, other vessels. That would mean the end to the flow of cubits that Frank Eglin so enjoyed. Frak Davenport and Jenkins and their worries over their careers - Eglin was worried about his money.

The plot computer beeped, and Eglin noted the shock data, ten short FTL hops to Fleet headquarters. His most recent thoughts made him look at Davenport, and he wondered once again just what it was that the Major gained by turning a blind eye to the smugglers among his crew. I was pissed when he figured things out, Eglin thought darkly, but I'd almost rather he was taking a cut instead of being so strangely complacent about the illicit ops. His mouth set in a dissatisfied frown, Eglin regarded Davenport through narrowed eyes. He's sure as shit getting something out of this, but frak me if I can figure what.

The first wave of the Cylon attack upon Scorpia Shipyards was a spread of stealth missiles launched from high orbit. Those munitions impacted the vessels docked at the yards after having been only intermittently detected by Colonial DRADIS, and almost universally written off as ghost returns or other sensor glitches. Most of the missiles carried conventional warheads and detonated against the docked battlestars and cruisers, breaching hulls and causing structural damage and casualties throughout the shipyard. The remaining missiles carried small nuclear warheads, designed not for destruction but for disruption; when they exploded the resulting electromagnetic pulses crippled communications and DRADIS equipment, blinding the Colonials to the huge scale of the Cylon assault.

Seconds behind the initial salvo of the attack, another barrage of missiles struck the shipyards. These rode in on trails of white vapor, making no pretense of hiding their existence. Their nuclear warheads detonated against the hulls of Colonial warships, causing crippling damage. The battlestar Nikomedes was struck in the stern amidst its engine cluster and the exploding nuke caused secondary detonations to ripple through the Valkyrie-class vessel, destroying it completely. The aft section swung upward and across the ship's main hull, the great engines engulfed in flame as the tylium reserves ignited. Completing its arc, the wreckage plunged into the structure of the shipyards, destroying a large section of the rambling platform.

Davenport was frozen with horror for a split second, thinking, An accident! but even as that thought arose, another replaced it, grim in its implications: An attack. He spun on his heel, snapping to Lt. Abberaugh, "Get our point defense weapons online now!" and then to Petty Officer Davos, "Sound Condition One throughout the ship!"

As the klaxon blared, PO2 Davos' voice sounding over the ship's intercom, Al swiftly took stock of those on the bridge. Himself, his XO, Officer of the Watch Lt. Abberaugh, Davos at the Damage Control station, and Specialist Rex Tamati on Communications. No one else; a good portion of the crew had been on leave when the call came for this mission. Godsdammit, what can we do? Al thought furiously.

Eglin stared in shock as the Shipyards became a panorama of burning ships. Cylon Raiders coursed across its sprawling structure, adding hundreds of smaller explosions to the destruction as they strafed the surface of the station. He was peripherally aware of Davenport as the commander scanned the personnel assembled in the Chiron's command center; when Davenport's gaze settled back on him Eglin saw the question in his eyes.

He began shaking his head before he even began speaking, emphasizing his words. "Al, there's nothing we can do! We're one ship... almost no medical staff aboard... shit, I don't know if we can even muster flight crews for the six Raptors we have!" Eglin glanced at Lt. Abberaugh, then back to Davenport. "Maybe when the attack is over, we can try to save some... but while the Cylons are still here, we gotta lay low." Eglin's expression was grim, his eyes focused intently on Davenport. He knew Davenport wasn't suicidal, wouldn't risk his ship by flying into the midst of the surprise attack. Still, he felt he had to put it into words; caution... restraint... and the one thing that both men had been thinking, but he was the first to voice - the Cylons had returned.

The word hit Davenport like a physical blow. Cylons. He knew Eglin was right, about the cylons, and about their current lack of options. His gaze was drawn back to the scene before them, the Shipyards in flames; and then he focused past the nearby destruction to the planet's surface. There, like rapidly blooming flowers, the flash of multiple nuclear explosions glowed then dimmed. Feeling detached and sounding oddly calm, Davenport said, "Specialist Tamati, what do you hear?" After he spoke, he tore his eyes from the viewport and looked at the communications specialist.

Haltingly, the olive-skinned crewman said, "Mostly... just... garbled transmissions, sir. A lot of interference. Krypters... ships are... don't have any nav or propulsion control." He held one hand to the earphones over his left ear. Under his naturally tan skin, he was pale.

"Thank you, Specialist," Davenport's voice remained calm, steadying the young crew member.

Image

Eglin crossed the deck to stand just behind Davenport, off to one side, taking the deferential position without conscious thought. Looking out at the destruction of the shipyards, he struggled to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events. A series of flashes announced a flight of Raiders as they jumped in, practically on top of the tylium storage tanks on the near end of Pegasus' concourse. The tanks erupted into a massive sheet of flame and the Raiders banked across the surface of the shipyards, leaving a trail of fiery impacts that paralleled the Mercury class battlestar. At that moment, on the concourse beyond, Eglin watched as a brace of nukes hit two Columbia class battlestars; the warships erupted in flames as they were propelled into the structure of the shipyards. Eglin could not recall the name of the first vessel; the second he recognized as the Ramses. I know warriors aboard that ship, he thought. Men and women I helped save, at one time. He couldn't think of their names.

As great gouts of white-hot gas erupted from the bow of the Pegasus, Eglin blinked in confusion. Then realization struck him - Admiral Cain was backing her flagship out of dock, attempting to... to what? Save the ship? Defend the shipyards? Engage the Cylons in a counterattack? The superstructure of the docking bay was obliterated by Cain's emergency maneuver, the fiery exhaust gasses of the Pegasus' bow thrusters adding to the conflagration caused by the Cylons. The battlestar twisted as it backed away from the shipyards, tearing free from its docking connections.

Watching, Davenport felt a sudden, unexpected rush of fierce aggression. Go get them... kill the frakkers, Cain! With agonizing slowness, a pair of missiles flew toward the Pegasus like twin comets, curving, aiming, closing in on their target. No!

The bright flash made Davenport think, for an instant, that the nukes had hit the Pegasus, but then he recognized the expanding ring of an FTL jump wavefront. Flames collapsed inward, the cavitation effect of the battlestar's jump pulling them into the sudden void.

And then the Pegasus was gone.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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