The city laid in utter, flattened ruins.
Jamie’s Raptor and its occupants had survived the shockwave, continuing on its course towards Glenvale Harbour, which was a smaller urban area 30 kilometres southeast of what was once Argentum. The immensity of Mount Conara stood stubbornly ahead, seemingly undisturbed by the nuclear blast, save for a few slabs of impacted snow that had been shaken off.
Chaos reigned within the Raptor. Both Jamie and Matheson had rushed up to the cockpit, joining Loza in pure shock as they watched Argentum burn.
Profanities and other similar utterances filled the inside of the cabin, cried out by all three of them. Fear, confusion, devastation. Jamie was hit with a torrential onslaught of thoughts and feelings, all of which were agonisingly distressing. Despite the hot and fiery havoc he saw with his own eyes, what materialised in the pit of his stomach felt like a massive ball of ice, violently tugging at his insides. He immediately became nauseated, reaching out with both hands to steady himself against the bulkhead separating the cockpit and the cabin, turning away in case he had to spew over the deck. He managed to hold it in, but only just.
He thought of Oliver. He thought of his father. Everyone he grew up with in Glenvale. Everyone he knew who lived in Argentum. Tina, Wesley, Samir. Jordan, Fiona and their daughters. His friends from school, his teachers, everyone who had helped make him who he was today. Was he trapped in some sort of a sick nightmare? Did someone accidentally set of one of the Fleet’s nukes?!
Rushing over to the cabin side window, he peered out and looked along the coast, one that would eventually trace towards his home city. They were high enough for him to spot the familiar aerial view of Glenvale Harbour’s compact central business district, some 30 kilometres away. No nuclear detonation there, but tiny flickers of explosions instead. Conventional weapons fire. Cylon Raiders, swooping in.
Forty years of silence from them, and now they were back. It was almost two decades before Jamie was even born when the armistice was agreed to, and the Cimtar Peace Accords signed. And now this was happening in his lifetime.
“Holy shit! Frackin’ Cylons!” he said, his voice breaking. “They’re attacking our cities!” Then, without any clear plan in mind, “We have to help!”
Pilot Sam Loza seemed more capable of containing her emotions than Jamie was. “No! Wait! We can’t… We aren’t equipped with weapons of any kind. We’ll be shot down by Raiders the moment we fly close. Our re-entry must’ve masked us from detection. We have to take this opportunity to escape.”
Jamie stormed clumsily back into the cockpit, having felt the Raptor bank away. “What’re you on about?! Where the -frack- are we gonna escape to?!”
“I… I don’t know. But I know if we head to Glenvale, we’re as good as dead!” She fumbled with the comm panel, before quickly giving up. Her mind was already scrambled enough with having to process the event that had just unfolded. “Sarge!” she called out to Matheson. “I need your help, sir.”
He complied, knowing exactly what he was being asked to assist with, even if the request came from a more junior NCO. He sat down at the co-pilot’s seat and began flipping through the wireless, sending out emergency calls. No doubt the channels were being inundated.
All that could be heard were cries of help on civilian frequencies. Nothing from Scorpia Shipyards. Nothing from the other colonies. Silence from all military comm lines. “I’m not getting anything,” he said, trembling hands turning on the dials. “Nothing from the Fleet…”
Jamie shook his head. “No, no! We have to turn back! We can’t leave all those people behind!” he protested, reaching forwards, as if trying to take control of the joystick in Loza’s hand. But his intrusion was forcefully blocked by Matheson’s arm.
“Pull yourself together, Specialist!”
The Sergeant wondered if the younger paramedic’s usual role as a Reservist made him more prone to emotional volatility during catastrophes as extreme as this. Matheson had a wife, children and other family on Argentum, all of whom were now presumed dead. The loss he felt tore him at the very core, but there was an immediate need to confront the reality they were facing.
He tried to suppress any expression of despair that struggled to break free from within, but a few tears made their way through and flowed down his cheeks. His voice wavered. “They’re gone, Jamie! They’re all gone!” The words were directed at the young reservist just as much as they were for himself. “Consider yourself on full active duty, son. You’re a soldier, and the Fleet expects you to act accordingly in times of war. We regroup with what remains of the Fleet… And once we’re in a safer position, only then can we mourn in private.”
Silence filled the Raptor, as all three of them took a moment to absorb the situation they were in. Nothing but the sound of the engines, and the air flowing past its vertical stabilisers.
Then, suddenly, words breaking through the static from the wireless speaker: “… Attack… All Colonial Fleet and civilian… Rendezvous at Nogura… Depot…”
Matheson tapped on the comms panel, trying to clear the transmission: “… Repeat… Forces are… rendezvous at Nogura…” According to the readings displayed on the screen, the signal came from afar. Certainly not from within the local Helios Gamma system.
The Sergeant made a swift decision. “We follow those orders. Loza, spool the FTL drive. We’re going to Hera. Calculate the furthest distance we can jump from our current atmospheric location.” His voice was stone cold, calculating. Focused on survival.
“Sir, Hera is in the Helios Beta system. We’ll need several jumps to go that far,” the pilot said.
“Then several jumps it is,” he replied. “Spool the drive.”
He turned back to look at Jamie, who still appeared emotionally wrecked from having just lost everyone he knew back home. He couldn’t blame the kid, but there was work to be done. As awful as it sounded, the patient they were transporting to Glenvale Hospital had plunged to the bottom of his list of priorities, so perhaps it was best to assign the young Reservist that particular job.
“Specialist Perth. Keep an eye on Crewman Lewis. Make sure he’s stable.”
Jamie was tried his best to compose himself, something that felt impossible. “Yes, sir,” he nodded, admitting defeat and returning to the cabin. He sat down on his seat, staring blankly ahead at the gurney where his patient lay peacefully, motionless in an induced coma, without any idea of the events transpiring around him.
“Computer calculations complete, FTL ready, sir.”
“Make the jump.”
Jamie looked out the window once more, catching a final glimpse of his home from afar, suffering a relentless enemy bombardment. A flash of light, followed by the thunderous clap of spatial distortion, and the Raptor disappeared from Scorpia’s atmosphere.
Spc Jamie Perth
Critical Care Paramedic
Colonial Fleet Reserve