There was now a sizeable fleet forming at the Nogura Fleet Depot, especially with Colonial Heavy 679, the Olympia and the Patrolstar Achilles in tow. Upon the return of all teams on the Depot, the Commander had dispatched the XO to the Achilles to take temporary command and ascertain the situation on the ship, leaving Wolf to temporarily step up as XO again. Hanson was in the CIC, stood around the situation table and reviewing the haul brought aboard from the depot and was pleasantly surprised. The ship was now relatively well stocked.
Coop was standing at the central table in the CIC and he was reviewing the jump records of the ship. She was an old girl, but she was in good shape, slowly getting repaired and combat ready.
He glanced up seeing an older man entering combat. The glinting pin of a Commander at the collar. “Commander on deck.” Coop said loudy, the room snapping to attention.
Hanson nodded in appreciation and a wave of his hand signaled for the crew to stand easy. He liked the pomp and ceremony of being the person in charge, he loved that the crew had taken to him being their new commander, but he felt a little uncomfortable with it in such a crisis situation. This was, naturally, like nothing he had experienced before. Despite being a veteran of the first Cylon war, being in command was entirely different.
“Report Captain,” the Commander asked as he reached the command table.
“I’ve been reviewing the jump logs, engineering is still evaluating systems, but we should be capable to jump if needed. With your permission, I’d like to prepare a contingency jump, and relay it to our, fleet, so that if the Cylons find us and attack we’re ready if a tactical retreat is required.” Cooper said. “However, some of these ships are barely FTL capable, they’re not really intended for this kind of operation.”
“Agreed,” the Commander confirmed. “Let’s also work out which ships are going to be a liability in such a situation and transfer any crew and passengers to FTL capable ships. If they give you any grief, tell them we’ll leave them to the Cylons,” Hanson instructed firmly in full military mode. He had no time for people who would have him put the entire human race at risk.
“Yes sir.” Coop said. “We should have emergency jump prep ready in 10. We’ve already begun compiling a list of the jump capable ships. Engineering has requested any ships we can’t bring with us we cannibalize for parts. Spares will likely be hard to come by. Here’s the initial list.”
“Let Engineering know they have the go ahead,” Hanson nodded as he took the list and looked it over slowly. “Let me know when jump prep is complete,” he added.
“Aye Commander.” Coop said.
About 20 minutes later Coop handed another report to the Commander. “We have three contingency jumps planned sir. Our immediate evac route is a short one that all of our ships could make. Should the Cylons engage us I believe our best course of action would be to jump there. Engineering reports it would take about 6 hours the cannibalize the desire parts from the ships that won’t be able to make continued FTL travel. However priorities can be pulled in an hour, if we believe we were in imminent danger of follow up attack after our first jump. Two alternates are further out, systems with low probability of valuable resources, our belief is that these are less likely targets that the Cylons could be staking out.”
Hanson looked over the report with a satisfied nod as he shared the information with Major Wolf when the DRADIS console suddenly started to blare out. It drew all eyes to the large ceiling mounted screen and a sudden cry from Lieutenant Byers.
“DRADIS CONTACT!” She beckoned. Seconds later, she spoke again. “A lone Cylon Raider, bearing 45 carom 221. A thousand AU and closing.”
“They’ve found us…” Hanson whispered to Wolf before declaring his orders. “Set condition one throughout the fleet! Have the CAP intercept and destroy that Raider before it transmits our coordinates,” the older man declared.
Wolf immediately picked up the telephone before her. “Set condition one throughout the fleet. This is not a drill,” she declared before pressing a button to change communication channel. “Solaria to all Vipers; Incoming Cylon Raider. Closedown and destroy. Weapons free,” was her order.
“Scout here,on our way Solaria.” Scout checked his position as he maneuvered to close on the bandit. He swore under his breath. “Solaria be advised we are out of position. We are on the other side of the fleet currently. Might be..” Ranulf stopped talking. He realized he was about to give advice to the CIC and they would not need his advice. “On our way at best speed Solaria.” Ranulf looked to see where Jestor was “going full throttle Jestor, we got to get there and no time to waste.” Callsign Scout streaked away toward the lone cylon hoping without hope to get there before any damage was done. He knew deep down the Cylon would have to be blind to miss this fleet and report before he could intercept.
Jamie had been in the middle of checking over some of the medical department’s equipment stock, when the alarms blared and a voice over the intercom loudly announced that the ship was set to Condition One. The follow-up warning that it wasn’t a drill made this particular Condition One his first genuine one – all his previous have been conducted as practice runs during his reservist training.
The young paramedic immediately stopped what he was doing, and ran out of the storage room and into the medical dispatch room, where all his paramedic gear was kept. Any moment now, and he may have to be deployed anywhere on the ship to bring in the most seriously wounded. Almost all Fleet personnel knew basic first aid, and so hopefully injuries would be minor enough for them to self-present to the CASREC unit.
Other medical staff scrambled about, performing their designated roles in preparing the department for imminent casualties. It was a protocol they’ve trained for over and over, but each Condition One announcement would bring about the anxiety of not knowing what might hit them. Hopefully nothing that would totally overwhelm the Sickbay’s capacity to provide emergency medical care to every person that would need it.
Captain Nathan O’Hare exited the small office space assigned to him, the sleeves to his tunic rolled just above his shoulder. The CMO moved through the bay with a purpose, stopping by each bay to ensure it was fully equipped. He passed a young medic fumbling with the kit she was checking, likely civilian given her uniform. “Breathe,” he urged. “We might have patients to tend to, it’s no good losing our cool during the critical moments.” He half wondered how many of the personnel surrounding him would have been cleared if a psychiatrist was present. He made a mental note to seek one before moving deeper into the bay in order to conclude his survey.
Dr Callahan, potentially the only other doctor (so far) on the Solaria, managed to walk into the CMO’s path. “Chief,” she nodded respectfully. “We’ve cleared out all our patient cubicles, and our resus bays are free. Some of the staff are bringing out extra gurneys just in case. Hopefully we won’t get filled to the brim with casualties.”
The Chief nodded gratefully, “Please, Doctor or Captain. Those are what I worked towards, I was given this position due to the dire nature of our circumstance, not merit.” His words sounded cold, but his expression was soft. “I’m hoping we only have minor injuries to deal with. Hopefully the Commander doesn’t lead the us in a charge towards a futile battle.” He’d only spoken to the ships Commander once, and given his junior officer status, their interactions were likely to stay formal throughout the foreseeable future. “I’m more inclined to believe we’ll jump before we encounter any real danger though.” The concept of danger seemed abstract. They would all need to reevaluate what they once thought was danger and reconcile it with their current circumstance.
Callahan nodded. “Yes, Captain. I’ll head over to resus and help set things up there,” she said, before disappearing into another short corridor.
Meanwhile, Hanson had stepped over to the new Navigation Officer. “Captain Yates, begin emergency jump prep to Ragnar Anchorage. If Galactica is still there, we’ll join up with her. If not, we need a backup set of coordinates to somewhere safe,” the Commander ordered. “Time to put your escape routes to use,” the older man commented before looking away again.
“Aye Sir,” Coop said. “Ragnar was one of our planned jumps. Jump is plotted. “Spooling up the FTL.”
Persephone ran through the corridors of the Solaria. She began to type on a nearby console. “Commander. I’m attempting to scramble its transmissions, but if it jumps out, we’re frakked.”
At the command table, the Commander was watching the DRADIS console and suddenly took in a deep breath and closed his eyes. He had that horrible feeling in his gut, that horrible feeling he had grown to trust. “XO,” he began as he opened his eyes. “Launch alert fighters,” he instructed.
With a deep breath, the Major knew exactly what that command meant. It meant that he knew there was now more than a 75% chance that more Cylons would show up and that meant trouble. She lifted her telephone and called out clearly. “This is the XO. Launch alert fighters. Repeat, launch alert fighters,” she ordered.
Ayesha ran to her Viper, grabbing her helmet and all but diving into her Viper’s cockpit. She pulled her helmet onto her head and began her checks swiftly. “ECHO ready,” she called into the system as her viper was moved into the launch tubes.
Kilmartin was suited and booted in his flight suit and holding his helmet as he made his way past other pilots rushing to what craft were available. He quickly clambered into the cockpit of his designated Viper and pulled the canopy closed as the ship was moved in to position in the launch tube. “Sunbeam to all Vipers, launch,” the CAG instructed.
His own Viper hurtled forth and shot out of the launch tube, crossing the threshold to space with a minor explosion, quickly moving in to position on the port flank of the Solaria.
ECHO came up on his port side. “ECHO to Sunbeam. On your six sir.”
With the Alert Fighters in position and a wingman by his side, the Captain was ready to rock and roll. “Sunbeam to all Vipers. Close on target and engage. Repeat, close on target and engage when ready.”
With that, the Captain punched his throttle forward and his Viper hurtled in the direction of the enemy craft.
Ryan was one of the last of the alert fighters to launch. It felt as though he had been living in his flight suit since he had arrived on the Solaria, and with the need for pilots he had welcomed the chance to take the fight to the enemy. “SNACO, ready.” He called into his headset as his Viper was moved to the launch tube.
Ryan was pressed back into his flight seat as he was hurled down the launch tube and into space. Taking a quick moment to orient himself he moved with the rest of the alert fighters into position.
Hanson was relieved to see the alert fighters forming up in a protective position on the DRADIS screen and then moving off to engage the Raider, He also noted the additional information that the gun batteries were online and ready.
“Something is wrong…” Wolf whispered as she looked over the data on the DRADIS screen. “The Raider hasn’t armed its weapons, it hasn’t locked nukes. It hasn’t so much as moved since it jumped in to range,” the Major told. And she was right.
Suddenly, the Raider spun on its axis and turned to flee from the incoming Vipers.
Hanson swiftly reached out for his phone and lifted the receiver. “CAG, this is Actual. Take out that son of a bitch before it jumps,” he ordered sternly.
“Actual, Sunbeam. We’re on it sir,” the swift response came.
“EM spike! It’s spinning up. Alert fighters! Step on it!” Seph moved to navigation. “Focus on the coordinates, I’ll coordinate them with the fleet.”
Cursing, Echo cut under Sunbeam’s wing and brought her weapons to bear. Almost in time with the CAG her finger pressed down causing her viper to spew its payload at the raider. “Frack! Come on die already you bucket of bolts!”
“Sunbeam this is the CAP, Scout and Jestor moving into formation.” Scout did not want anyone getting startled as he and Jestor were joining the Viper formation. He saw Echo fire. She was nearest to the Cylon so covering her would be the task of the rest. Scout just hoped she got the kill but he was not all that sure it would make any difference even if she did get the kill.
As the Vipers hurtled after the nimble Raider, two massive flashes of light threatened to blind the pilots as the emerging Baseships arrived almost directly in their flight path.
“FRAK!” Sunbeam yelled over the open comm channel. “All Vipers! Break, break, break!” He instructed hurriedly as he seemed to flip his craft around on its axis to avoid smashing into the central spine of the enemy command ship.
ECHO didn’t curse loudly, instead she pulled hard on her controls and the Viper flipped as well. “Well this just went downhill quickly. Transmitting data to Solaria.” She added as she hit full throttle and followed the others.
With the lead Vipers racing their way now, Scout banked to port hard and let the others pass before rolling into a reverse turn and following the leader. He did not like the idea of running away. Seemed with two basestars in their sights they should have attacked and given the fleet a chance to escape. He watched behind him as he chased after the rest of the flight. He kept his thoughts to himself, but they were going to have to face those basestars sooner or later. To his thinking right back there seemed a good time to hit them, while they were transitioning from FTL to normal space. Scout frowned thinking of what his favorite instructor had said to him often enough ‘when you think I am wrong and you’re right… Then you know you’re wrong.’ Scout moved into a recovery approach, a lot of Vipers were going to be landing hot. He was eager to show his skill with a combat landing.
Echo hated and it really was hatred that she felt as she considered her approaching combat landing. She hated them. She always felt horrible about crashing her ship.
Ryan had been following in a loose formation behind the rest of the alert Vipers, and with the call to Break he had turned and burned with the rest of his compatriots. The thought of doing a combat landing made him grip his stick tighter in anticipation. Like most pilots, Ryan was confident in his skills in the cockpit; however, he was still a new pilot relatively speaking, and he had only ever conducted enough combat landings to qualify. ‘This is going to be interesting.’ He thought.