Chain of Command

Commander Mitchell Hanson, Lieutenant Colonel Amaris Kendall, , Major Catherine Wolf and Captain Thaddeus Scott
CIC on mission day 1

Amaris sat in her office, her pen dancing artfully over the log book in front of her. Her handwriting was masterfully even and indicated an attention to detail that was unique. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying, yet she kept working. She had taken the time upon getting back to her own quarters to shower and change into a fresh uniform considering the blood of her former lover and CO had ruined the one she had been wearing. But, right after she changed, she was back to work. Everyone on the ship lost someone; she was no different. Her work was interrupted by the sound of the telephone on her desk. She reached over, picked it up, and placed it against her ear.

“This is the commander.” she said, rather uncomfortably. She still sat in the XO’s Quarters, but that was mostly because there hadn’t been time for her to move and, even if there had, it wouldn’t have been good for her coldhearted practical front to work in Martin’s office.

“Captain Scott here ma’am,” the man on the other end of the phone spoke quickly. “DRADIS has detected two Colonial signals on the edge of the system, headed our way,” the voice revealed.

“On my way, Captain.” she said evenly, placing the phone back on the receiver and standing up to walk to CIC. Within a few seconds, she had arrived and stepped over the threshold of the airlock, walking toward the command table. All of the bodies had been removed from the CIC and the commander’s blood had even been cleaned up. She suspected Captain Scott had made that a pretty high priority. Nothing eroded hope like your leader’s blood splattered all over the command center.

“Open a channel.” she said, turning to the communications officer with a nod and then fixing the headset to one of her ears, holding it with her hand. “Colonial vessels, this is Solaria Actual. Identify yourselves.” she said quickly and seriously. Her voice held the tension of the day, but still expressed a patience and calmness.

“Solaria, this is Colonial Raptor 4-9er. Ulysses Actual was expecting Commander West,” the unknown female voice spoke over the communications channel. Naturally, no one outside of the Solaria had any idea than the Commander had been killed.

“Commander West is dead.” Amaris relayed coldly, resenting the woman a small amount for making her say it. “This is Major Amaris Kendall, former XO.”

“Major, this is Ulysses Actual,” a deeper male voice called out. “We’ve got two Raptors of survivors. Request permission to dock,” the man spoke.

Amaris paused and raised an eyebrow. She met eyes with Captain Scott, her eyes direct and holding a deep significance of thought. Her finger slid over to the mute button on the headset and, after it was pressed, she spoke to him. “Full service record, XO.” she said clearly.

After her words were finished, she unmuted the call and spoke again. “Ulysses Actual?” she said clearly. “Is the Ulysses close by?”

“We were travelling from Picon Fleet Headquarters when the Cylon’s struck. Ulysses was caught in the initial attacks,” the older male replied over the communications array.

Meanwhile, Captain Scott had stepped away to get the information the Major had requested. It wasn’t going to be easy.

Amaris looked around the room at the many faces looking at her. They were all wondering what was going on; none of them knew the debate that was going on in her head. “Permission granted. Dock in the port flight pod and I’ll meet you on the hanger deck.”

She hung up and put the headset back on the hook. Walking over to the Captain, she leaned in. “He’s going to want Solaria.” she said simply.

“He’s a veteran,” Scott began as he slid the file over towards the Major. “He’s only been in command for a few months himself but it is his years of experience. Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel for a while before then. He’s got a spotless record. No infractions, no demerits, not so much as a warning,” he concluded with a smirk. “If he does want the ship, we could have been lumbered with someone worse,” he added quickly

Amaris scanned the file quickly, not indicating any feeling whatsoever. She looked over at him and nodded her silent thanks. “I’m going to meet them. You have the conn.” With that, she turned and walked at her usual brisk pace out of the CIC.

[Port Flight Pod Hangar Deck]

The hangar deck was a hive of activity in stark contrast to much of the rest of the Solaria, enlisted crewmembers of many different ranks, positions and departments joining together to prepare for the arrival of the two Raptors. The two Colonial craft had arrived on the ship seamlessly so far and the movement from the Pod to the Hangar was well underway. What marines were aboard arrived swiftly to secure the area and be present at the Commander’s arrival.

Amaris entered the Hanger Deck and walked past the throngs of people, many of whom were standing and waiting for the new arrivals. While she understood the excitement of it all, she knew she needed to break it up.

“Everyone here who has a job to do needs to get to it.” she said loudly. “This Battlestar isn’t battle-ready and a war is on.”

People disappointedly sprang into action, some leaving the area completely, others merely pretending to be doing something productive

As the doors to the raptors opened, the CO took several steps in front of the Marines and placed her arms behind her back.

The raptors finally came to a standstill and the occupants of the lead craft began to vacate. First, two Lieutenant’s departed and stood on the hangar deck, swiftly followed by a female in a Major’s uniform. Then another figure appeared. Significantly older than the others in the craft, the man made his way to the deck and then fired a salute to the Major who had greeted them. It was unusual for a superior to salute first, but Hanson was conscious that the Solaria was not his ship and as such, opted to give the gesture first.

Behind them, the occupants of the second raptor made their way around the side of their craft and joined the collective as the Commander gave his salute.

As the colonial officers filed out of the raptors, Amaris took careful note of their dispositions, ranks, and appearances. In particular, her attention rested on the female Major stepping out of the first raptor. When it came down to it, she knew that she would either hand command over to this man willingly, they would fight over it, or he would be a very strange commander indeed and relent. She saw the first option as being the most favorable, but she wasn’t going to vacate the XO role as well.

She forced her attention back to Hanson and, as he saluted, she lifted her own hand crisply to her brow.

“Welcome to the Solaria.” she said clearly, her eyes locked on his. “We’re glad to see survivors in the middle of this hell. Mr. Winters will take down each of your information and put you to work.” she said, gesturing toward a man with a clipboard. “At present we’re not yet battle-ready and it seems there’s a lot more fighting to be done.”

There was no questions in her words. She had taken note that the commander had saluted first, but she was not simply accepting that as a gesture of respect. In her mind, she was in command until she said otherwise. She had to get to know this man first; his file checked out perfectly, but she had to know his fighting spirit. Would her crew be safer under his command than hers?

Hanson watched and waited as the Major gave her orders and then looked at those who had accompanied him, giving a nod for them to progress as instructed. He then looked at the woman from Solaria again. “Major Kendall, this is my XO, Major Catherine Wolf,” he revealed as he gestured for the two to meet.

Wolf nodded in respect to the fellow Major and smiled. “Major,” was all she said as she looked Kendall over. She could sense some tension in the small group, no doubt because of the proverbial elephant in the room.

“Why don’t you show me to the CIC?” Hanson suggested as he held out a hand and gestured in the direction of the hangar bay exit. He knew exactly how to get there, but he wanted to take the opportunity to discuss matters with the younger officer.

Major Kendall didn’t offer the courteous smiles that were expected of her in the moment. She simply looked on evenly. When he’d requested to be taken to the CIC, she wondered if he had intended for Wolf to come along as well. Her eyes looked from the woman back to Hanson.

“We should take the long route, sir.” she said simply. From many others, such a phrase would have been a joke; she did not feel very much in a playful mood today.

“As you wish,” he nodded and began to walk alongside her, a single hand gesture indicating that Wolf was to remain on the hangar deck for now. He wanted to talk with the Major from the Solaria alone.

Once they had made their way through the nearest door and it closed behind them, the Commander let out a sigh. “I know what you are thinking Major and I don’t blame you. I would be thinking it myself if I were in your position,” the Commander spoke as he slipped his hands behind his back and grasped one inside the other.

“Anyone with sense would, sir.” she said directly. “Let me just get right to the point. You’re miles more experienced than me, your service record is flawless, and you outrank me. I am fiercely capable, well adjusted to command roles, and I know this ship and crew.”

She folded her arms underneath her chest and looked up at him, pursing her lips. “How do you propose we fight this war?”

“Probably not the way you would fight it,” he told bluntly as they walked. “Nor the way your father would I am sure,” he spoke without looking at her. He wasn’t stupid. He had been around the fleet long enough to know who to look out for, who to watch and who to respect. “Admiral Atticus Kendall. Not exactly known for being… cautious?” he asked rhetorically, wondering what reaction his comment might illicit from her. “My experience tells me that we are done here. The Cylons have us out matched and outgunned. This ship is in no shape to fight and what would we even achieve if we did so? Where would we go? Back to the colonies?” he mused, his gaze always focused on the steps he was taking and the direction they proceeded in.

She nodded, not surprised by his response. “You’re right, you know. If I retain command, I would scuttle the small fleet your drawing in for parts and able men and I would do everything in my power to destroy the enemy. Do you know why, sir?” she asked, walking calmly beside him. “Because the Cylons will never let us go. They will hunt us around the galaxy, they will corner us, and they will kill us.”

She cleared her throat, turning to the left into a stairwell alcove. She climbed up to the next level. When she was there, she turned around and waited for him. “I don’t want to give them to option. I believe we should always be ready for these bastards and look for any chance we can get to put them down.”

Once at the top of the steel steps, the Commander tugged on the bottom of his uniform jack and stood still, looking her over. “Do not mistake my reluctance to stay here as cowardice or an unwillingness to fight. I’m ready to fight them any day of the week, but we’ll do it on my terms, not theirs. We’ll do it when I know we can win,” he told bluntly. “One more ship in the here and now makes no difference. You could scuttle the entire civilian fleet for parts and this Battlestar would still be destroyed. Instead, if we leave, we buy ourselves time to regroup and potentially even the odds at the next encounter.” He had begun to sound like he was pitching some sort of action plan to the admiralty, and he almost was. If she was anything like her father, she would take some persuading. He stepped closer to her and lowered his voice. “They don’t know we are here. We have the element of surprise and can use that to get out of here. We need to be the spark that starts the flames and by gods, if you are with me Major, I swear we will burn the Cylons to the ground. But not here, and not on their terms.”

Amaris watched him as he spoke, her brown eyes flashing over his features and her mind racing to process what he was saying. On the inside she was a raging inferno of discernment, but on the outside, she was calm as still-water; yet another thing she’d learned from her father. When he had finished speaking, she looked at him for several moments longer. She wasn’t uncomfortable with the silence, and she knew that thinking in this moment was crucial. Suddenly, she turned and continued to her right down the corridor. After a few seconds, she paused and looked behind, an expressionless face somehow encouraging him to follow.

The Commander followed her with a raised eyebrow but instead of continuing to speak, he opted to follow suit and walked in silence. He swiftly caught up with her and walked by her side. He hadn’t needed to justify his thoughts or his opinions, he didn’t need to tell her his potential plan, but if he hoped to get her on side, it was probably crucial to any future success. He had to have her on side. One thing was certain though, her whole demeanour gave nothing away and that unnerved him somewhat. Wolf was like a book; he could read her easily and that made working with her incredibly easy. This woman though, daughter of an Admiral, was giving no clues away.

Amaris took a right into CIC, which was now a hive of activity. She looked over at Captain Scott and gave a courteous nod as she moved to the command table. She situated herself on her old side and picked up the telephone. The chime rang out as she lifted the phone from the receiver. She looked at Commander Hanson as she raised the phone to her lips. “All hands hear this. All hands hear this.” her eyes locked on his, very seriously, yet much more gently than before. “This is the XO. As of this moment, I am transfering command of the Solaria to Commander Mitchell Hanson. Standby for a greeting from your new commander.” She lowered the phone back onto its holder and gave him a nod.

Mitch acknowledged the Major with a smile and a nod as he lifted the receiver nearest to him on the opposite side of the command table. “This is the Commander,” he declared proudly over the comm. “Today has been a trying one for us all. You would be forgiven for thinking the gods had abandoned us, but it is not us they have abandoned. We are the lucky ones, we have survived. Together, we will continue to survive for many days to come. It won’t be easy and we won’t be able to do it here. We’re going to have to flee our homeworlds, our home system. We’re going to have to find somewhere new to call home. But, at the same time, we mount our resistance against our common enemy. We harras, we annoy, we hijack and we destroy any Cylon force we come across. We let them know in no uncertain terms that the human race lives on because we are the lucky ones and they…” he looked around the room at those that were listening to him as he spoke, “they have failed. They have destroyed our homes, killed countless millions, but so long as a single human draws breath there is hope.”

He took a breath for a minute and considered his next words. They would be important, they would have to be effective and they would have to galvanise his new crew. “In the coming days, people will join us here. They will join this family. That’s what we are now; not just a Battlestar, but a home and those of us that live and work aboard her are a family that depend on one another. I expect to be able to rely on you to do your duty with dedication and a great sense of pride and in return, you can expect me to guide you to the safety of a new home – for that is our mission now; to seek out and colonize a new home. Whether that be planets described in the ancient scroll of Pythia, such as Kobol or Earth, or if it is a new world we come across on our travels. Solaria may be old, she may be damaged, but she is one hell of a fighting machine. She is an angel of mercy in a time of great sorrow and we, her crew, are the guardians of the human race. Mourn your losses, but be sure to celebrate your triumphs. They will keep you alive on the dark days when it seems all is lost. So say we all!” he declared, almost in a sense of triumph as he put the receiver back in its holder.

“So say we all.” Amaris repeated after him, a small smile on her face. Around CIC, the Solaria’s officers were repeating the chant over and over again. She didn’t join in, but her smile did broaden considerably as she organized the papers on the command table. She slid them toward the older man and looked at him with a strong sense that she had made the right decision. Only time would tell, of course. Anyone could make promises. She was usually very cynical and didn’t believe in much of anything except herself and, perhaps, her father. But in this man, even if just for a few seconds, she chose to believe. A little hope was much needed. “So say we all.” she said again, nodding.

Deep down, the Commander was rejoicing at the positive impact his speech had already shown, even if only for the remarkable smile on the face of the woman opposite him as she slid across some documents. He slid them back in to the middle of the table and shook his head slowly. “I don’t need paper and reports,” he commented. “What I need are people. Paper tells me facts, data, statistics. What I need is the gut feelings of my people, their ideas and their suggestions. We are in uncharted waters now. Facts and data only gets us so far,” he told. He hated paperwork, it was no secret, but he was a firm believer that it certainly restricted people at times. It was time for orders, time for action. “XO!” He beckoned, more to get the attention of everyone else in the room rather than the woman across from him. “A Captain Kilmartin was on the second Raptor. Contact the flight deck and give him carte blanche. I want an Air Group that is prepared to defend us and I want a CAP in the air yesterday. There were some other officers with us. Get them up here so we can put them to work. Then, gather together whatever marines we have and some non-coms. Get them to the depot and scrounge whatever supplies and ammo they can,” he instructed with a nod, “then you, me and Major Wolf need a chat in private.”

Amaris made a mental note of everything he’d said. Not many people would have been able to retain it well, but she already had a game-plan. “Aye, sir.” with a business-like expression as she reached for the telephone again. She keyed in the number for the hanger bay and lifted the phone. After several seconds, she heard a gruff and tired-sounding voice pick-up on the other end.”

“Port Hangar.” he said dryly.

“This is the XO. Do you have a Captain Kilmartin down there with you?”

The man immediately cleared his voice when he’d realized who had called. He spoke again, this time more clearly. “Yes, sir. Would you like me to get him for you?”

“Please.” Amaris replied simply as she turned around and leaned on the command table slightly. Her eyes roamed around the CIC at people working. They were all sad, to be sure, but there was definitely more energy in the room.

“Kilmartin,” came the previously unheard voice on the end of the line, a slight tinge of hesitation audible.

“Mr. Kilmartin.” she addressed him simply. “Congratulations. You’re the new CAG. Put together a full roster of pilots and coordinate with the deck crew to get those vipers repaired. We need a CAP in the air as soon as humanly possible.” she said, then corrected herself. “Faster, than humanly possible..” She spoke evenly, aware that the news she was relaying was heavy. As was her style, she gave the orders plainly.

There was a sigh on the other end of the line. “I have enough Vipers to launch a single CAP, with no reserves. I can shrink the CAP somewhat and hold back some reserves if we need them. We don’t want to be caught with our pants round our ankles if the Cylons show up,” the man told. It was a case of too many pilots and not enough birds right now, but if they put all their birds in the air they would be hamstrung if the enemy came calling.

By his reply, Amaris could already tell that he was the right man for the job at the moment. Making wise snap decisions was very important at a time like this, and she was glad to see evidence that the new Commander was making the right one at the moment.

“Our pants are already around our ankles. Put a full CAP out and stay aboard to lean on the Deck Crew, Captain.” she said simply. “Everything you need will be at your disposal. Kendall out.” With that, she put the phone back, turning to face the command table again. She input a new code for shipwide and spoke. “This is the XO. All unassigned officers who have already signed in at Port Hanger, report to CIC immediately for assignment.”

This time, when she hung up the phone, she didn’t pick it up again, but looked across the table at Hanson. “I’ll get the marines together by your order sir and we’ll take Raptors over to the Depot.” she said calmly, then leaning forward and lowering her voice. “These forms are on ship and personnel readiness, sir.”

It had been a subtle “do your paperwork” from a subordinate to a superior. Her eyes held no apology, but there was also no disapproval or amusement. Just a neutral gaze. There would be time for warming up later. For now, the war was on and she knew that he needed the information she’d placed on the table.

Hanson had been watching, observing during her recent conversation and so far was quietly impressed. Clearly competent, he now faced a dilemma that he had only a short time to resolve. Wolf or Kendall? Better the devil you know or someone new? “Officer of the Deck,” he called out, still oblivious as to who most in the room were.

Sir,” Tad called out from the upper Communications station, automatically reverting a role once Kendall demoted herself.

“Have Major Wolf meet the Major Kendall and I in the Wardroom immediately,” the Commander ordered as he stepped around the table and headed for the pressurised door that looked more like it should have been on a submarine than a ship of the heavens.

“Aye sir,” the Captain nodded and picked up the nearest telephone to make the arrangements.

“Ok Major,” the old man smiled, “lead the way.”

Once Amaris had recognized that the Commander intended for them to meet before she went over to the Depot, she walked over to Tad and slid a note under his hand. It held orders to organize the marines and go over to the depot. It also suggested she would be over as soon as possible.

With that out of the way, she nodded to Hanson and lead the way out of the CIC.