The pressure seal on the door to the wardroom was released following the customary spin of the door handle by the Marine that was seemingly now responsible for the Commander’s security and was following him everywhere like a chaperone, even opening and closing doors for the new commander of the Solaria. Hanson wandered into the large room and was delighted with what he was greeted with – it appeared as though the wardroom was one of a few vessels to suffer only minimal damage in the Cylon attack. “West had this place decorated beautifully,” the Commander smiled as he glanced back at Kendall. It was customary for official staterooms to be modified and even decorated as to the wants and desires of their commanders, within reason of course, to personalise the ship from others of the design.
“Commander West dreamed and I whipped the dream into shape.” Amaris said, allowing a smile to cross her face which was much more than subtly. It evolved slowly into a frown as she thought on his loss. She would miss him intensely; more than most XOs miss their COs. Like a woman misses a man. “I hope you like it.” she said. The smile returning gently, but clearly for politeness sake.
“It screams functional yet stylish,” Hanson smiled with a nod of approval as he took a seat at the table that went along one of the bulkheads of the room.
They were soon disturbed by the sound of the door lock releasing once again and the door being opened to grant the other visitor entrance to the wardroom.
“Commander, Major,” Catherine smiled as she entered the room and wandered over to their position at the back of the room.
Amaris lowered herself into a seat at the table, looking at the new arrival. She knew she was a bit absurd for disliking a woman she hadn’t even really met, but she did. She tried to respond as politely as she could muster. “Major.” she said, forcing half a smile and then diverting her attention elsewhere.
Hanson welcomed the newcomer to the room with a wave to the table and a gesture to take a seat close to him and the incumbent XO. He took a few moments to gather his thoughts before speaking. What they discussed in this room over the next few minutes would say a lot for how the ship would proceed from here on out. “Ok, we have a problem,” he began. “I have two XO’s and only one position. There are multiple reasons for each of you as to why I should have you at my side in the CIC,” he told as he looked at each of the women in turn. He was trying to be as honest to both of them as he could be. He had to do what he felt was best for the human race now, not for him. “Catherine, you’ve been with me for a while on Ulysses. We work well together and you are a very talented officer,” he then let out a sigh and an apologetic look. “But Major Kendall is going to remain as XO. She was gracious enough to concede command and I cannot forget that this is her ship, her crew.” he then looked over at the woman he had only met minutes ago. “It is crucial at a time like this that a crew has a stabilizing force, someone that they can look to and know what to expect. Right now, there are so many new variables for everyone, but you will be the one person in the CIC they have a link to right now. That will be crucial going forward,” he told honestly and, somewhat brutally. It hurt him to deny his fellow Ulysses survivor a promotion she had deserved for a while, but Kendall was the standout officer, more than he actually cared to admit to her face right now.
Amaris gave no indication of what was going on in her head, particularly in front of Major Wolf. She merely looked at him nodded her understanding when he’d spoken. After he was finished, the tinge of nervousness she had been feeling went away. In a handful of ways, she was the most politic officer to pick. She had deeper connections with the crew than either of them and she knew that meant she could either make a very effective second in command, or a very effective malcontent. She set those negative thoughts aside, knowing that now was the time to affirm that the decision was, in her opinion, appropriate.
“I will do my best to stand at your side with the competence and wisdom that are necessary, Commander.” she said, blankly. It was a meaningless statement, everyone would know. She mostly said it because it was most appropriate that she should say something innocuous that caused no ripples whatsoever. Who could know when she might need a friend in Major Wolf. Her father had always taught her never to make an enemy of someone who could be your ally. He said it in the same breath he reminded her to never let her friends get close enough to destroy her.
“Major Wolf, you’ll join us in Ops as Officer of the Deck,” the Commander informed, to which his counterpart from the Ulysses nodded in response. Truth be told, it wasn’t the promotion she hoped for, it was simply returning to the role she had held on the Ulysses anyway, only now it was on a less glamorous vessel than before.
“XO,” the Commander spoke as he looked at Kendall again, “I want you to personally oversee the collection of supplies from the depot. Anything and everything that you can take, we need,” he instructed as he seemed to relax in his chair somewhat. “I’ll take CIC for the next few hours. Major Wolf, I want you to liaise with DRADIS and the CAG. Get some Raptors out there and bring any survivors our way,” it may have seemed to them both that he was being somewhat lazy by passing the buck so to speak but he wanted to see how truly capable they were in a crisis.
Amaris listened to his orders knowing that she had already sent Captain Scott and the marines over to the depot to get the job started. She was eager to get over there and speak with him. Not only would he be promoted once in position today, he would be demoted twice.
“I’ll get it done, sir.” she said simply with a gentle acknowledgement. She looked over at Major Wolf and took some time to try and figure out how she was dealing with the situation. She’d known nothing about her and made a mental note to pull her service record as well. She needed to know who she would be working with.
“As you wish Commander,” Catherine nodded in confirmation as she too sized up the opposition. For now, Kendall had won the battle, taking the mantle as Actual’s right hand woman, but she was not the kind of woman to disappear quietly into the night.
“Now on an unrelated note,” the Commander sat up in his chair and seemed to refocus his energies as he changed topic. “While we were on the Raptor, we received reports of strange technical glitches; whole Battlestars losing power, Viper’s drifting in combat and being destroyed like sitting ducks. Any thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?” he queried, more in the direction of Kendall than Wolf since the latter had been with him on the Raptor and probably knew all that he did.
“My experience with that was limited.” Amaris said, listening to him speak. When she recalled, she did notice Battlestars dropping like flies along with the Atlantia. “The Solaria joined Admiral Nagala’s Fleet during the attack on the Colonies. We were the oldest boat in the fight, yet we were the only ones left standing at the end save, perhaps, the Columbia..” she paused for a moment there, and then went on. “Considering Mercury Class Stats, that clearly makes no sense.”
“Perhaps it is no coincidence,” Wolf added as she shifted her stance in the chair slightly. “All of the Vipers that have come aboard the Solaria in the short time I’ve been down on the hangar deck have been of the newer variety, save for two. Those two stayed in the fight a hell of a lot longer…”
Amaris thought for a second, looking down at the table; she looked up, realization in her eyes. “The Solaria doesn’t network systems!” she said. “We’ve had evidence since the First Cylon War that networks can be hacked by the Cylons but…” she paused, angling herself more towards the two of them. “The defense mainframe was supposed to prevent access. If the securities weren’t there, the new networks for Mercury Class Battlestars could be hacked across the board.”
“But the mainframe was there. It was functioning perfectly on Ulysses right before we left for Picon,” Wolf protested as she began to exchange words with the XO. “It has to be some sort of virus or something,” she suggested, looking back briefly at the Commander.
“A system-wide virus that no-one detected?” Amaris clarified, looking over at the other woman. “We’d have seen some evidence of that. No..no.” she continued, shaking her head. “This has to go deeper. Someone had to have passcodes or something.”
“We need to look into this. It is obvious that the newer the technology, the more susceptible to enemy attacks. We need to find out as much as possible,” Hanson instructed again with a slow nod. I’ll use what information and links I have from my time at the Defense Ministry to try and solve this,” he revealed, opting to share a snippet of his past.
Amaris looked at him with raised brows after he’d finished his statement. “Where are you going to find information like that after the world has ended, sir?” she asked, making unflinching eye contact as she generally did.
“The Ministry had its share of paranoid people Major,” the Commander countered quickly. “There is a redundant secondary mainframe about 1000 metres below Caprica’s surface. I hope that my credentials might still get us access, but I’m going to need a networked Computer,” he frowned.
Major Kendall looked displeased. She gave an uneasy look around the room, her eyes dancing between the two of them for a few seconds before she responded. “What are you suggesting, sir?” she asked, her arms under her chest; her eyes narrowing with worry.
“We need a ship, one with colonial access to a network. I know it’s not the best idea but it’s a starting point,” the much older man told. “It’s our only hope…” he added.
“At this point, all we have is a viper.” she responded. “And I don’t think putting you out there in a Viper is the best thing to do at the moment.” She spoke clearly and honestly; it was one of the things that made her effective. There was no ambiguity about where she stood when she decided to make herself known. At other times, she could be most mysterious.
Mitch knew she was right even if that wasn’t quite what he was suggesting, but they needed to figure it out and quickly. He was pacing the room when he stopped and spun on his heels. “Gaius Frakking Baltar…” he exclaimed.
Catherine looked at him curiously, unsure what he was getting at, but she knew of Baltar from the Commander’s stories about his time at the Ministry. “Sir?” She asked as she watched his face change to display all sorts of emotions as he seemed to consider different possibilities.
“When we brought the old Ulysses in for scrap we were told about the mechanical upgrades on the new ship. One engineer was waxing lyrical about Gaius Baltar and his new Command Navigation Program. It would eventually control all navigation automatically, negating the need for a Nav Officer in the CIC full time. It could plot jumps and everything. It was going in Vipers and Raptors too, but only new versions. I know him. His creations are so damn technically complicated but totally networked to the mainframe,” he recalled as he returned to his seat at the table. “These reports said that ships stopped moving, shut down, drifted, even changed course. What if the Cylons found a way to hack the CNP?”
“That would explain how they brought us to our knees in minutes. We couldn’t even put up a fight.” Amaris remarked, an anger surging in her as she remembered. “Is there any way for us to corroborate this theory?
“Who is your Chief Engineer here?” Hanson queried. Not having had chance to look over the full, complete crew roster yet the Commander was unsure of who to go to with this theory.
“Captain Alden Kenly, sir.” Kendall said. “A capable officer and a good engineer.” She was trying to follow him, but he was processing in his head. She figured she would understand what he was getting at when it was time.
Hanson nodded slowly as he mused something over in his head. “I want him to make sense of the information we have been given and then rip apart one of the affected Vipers. If anyone can figure out if what I am saying is true, I am sure it will be an engineer,” he told.
“Yes, that might get us somewhere..” Amaris said from her seated position. She frowned at the idea that this technological innovation may have provided the Cylons an opportunity to attack them so effectively. She looked over at Major Wolf, observing the other woman for a few short moments. “Major Wolf, relay the orders to Captain Kenly and work with him through his dissection.”
“Very well XO,” Wolf confirmed with a nod. It was perhaps with a slight tinge of bitterness that she used the Major’s position rather than rank to acknowledge her.
Amaris looked over at the Commander, watching him fret and pace around. There styles were very different, it seemed, but she had seen his before. The distinction between them was one that had caused a divide among fleet officers who were closely associated with her father. The Admiral was a hard man, and his razors were hard and sharp as well. In the end, Amaris hoped that her being a razor would be enough and hoped the things Hanson had said about keeping up the fight weren’t just political lies.”Anything else, sir?”
“No. Dismissed,” Hanson shook his head as he slumped in his chair, a look of deep contemplation on his face as he played out many a scenario in his head. It was going to be an interesting few hours to come, he just hoped that he would be able to get the investigation completed in time.
Major Wolf rose from her seat and nodded in the Commander’s direction, even though he was no longer paying attention to them and wandered towards the door where she would wait for the XO. She had something to say to her counterpart.
Amaris rose from her seat as well and noticed that Wolf had paused at the door. She strode confidently and quickly, as she always did, toward the door. Once it was opened, she motioned for the other woman to go through. “Please.” Amaris said, offering a smile.
Wolf thanked the woman with a smile and stepped through the hatchway and into the much more militaristic corridor. When they were both out of the Commander’s earshot and the door closed, Wolf took it upon herself to start the conversation she wanted to have with her. “I’ve seen this before,” she blurted out before swiftly adding “the look… on the Commander’s face, there at the end.”
Amaris took a moment to adjust to what was being said. She turned her head effeminately for a moment and then righted it, crossing her arms loosely under her chest. “Oh?” she asked, a curious look on her face. “What did it mean the last time?”
“He’s worried…” Catherine responded as she mirrored the stance the other Major took opposite her. “I’ve seen him work. I’ve seen him when times have been bad and I have seen that look. He is worried and in my experience, when there is that look…” she trailed off with a sigh and a look that suggested things were only going to get worse.
“When there is that look…” Amaris encouraged her to continue, moving a bit closer.
Wolf moved closer to the Major to avoid the chance that any passers by would hear their conversation. Right now, it was words that needed to be kept between them and them alone. “You think it’s bad now? That look tells me there is worse to come and experience tells me he is usually right…”
“Can he handle it?” Amaris asked immediately, unconcerned with the sentiments being expressed on the outside. She’d had the same feeling, that things were about to get worse, but her chief concern was seeing this crew through it and paying the Cylons back. She had to be sure their new leader was ready. “The pressure, I mean. If it gets bad.”
“Our chances with him in command are ten times what they would have been without. He is, afterall, the only person on this ship to have fought the Cylons before today,” Wolf whispered, keen to ensure that the Major didn’t misinterpret her warning as a lack of confidence in the Commander. “All I’m saying is when he gets that feeling, you probably want to be somewhere else…”
“This is exactly where I want to be, Major.” Amaris responded quickly. “There’s a big job to be done and there’s a lot at stake.”
Amaris’ response had been hard; they normally were. It was after she had spoken, that she realised her words had an unnecessary intensity for the moment at hand. “I understand what your saying. Thank you for telling me; I don’t know him and you do. Your experience will be crucial for us as things….get worse.”
Wolf nodded at the woman in appreciation for clarifying her thoughts and then strolled off in the opposite direction to get back to work with the task at hand. There was, indeed, a rather large job to be done.
And it was only just beginning.