Her hard-soled boots tapped loudly on the deck-plating as she walked the corridors. The few crew who were still aboard moved out of her way as she stormed around them. Amaris Kendall moved fast; she always moved fast. The fact that she was reading from her clipboard didn’t slow her down a bit, but it gave others a reason to watch her more closely. Commander West was a charming man, an intelligent man, but not a detail oriented man. Whenever she brought the tedious details regarding the decommissioning of Solaria to his attention, his bright blue eyes seemed to go dull and he drifted to his own private dreamland. She frakking hated that.
Almost all of the work had fallen to her; she was good at it, but she couldn’t shake that stereotypically “Kendall” feeling that she should be the one who was running the show. She stepped past the airlock and over the threshold into the CIC of the Solaria. She had served there as XO for only eight months, but she was sure they were some of the most productive eight months in the ship’s history. She had the decommissioning crew working like clockwork; no rest for the weary. She walked to the command table and her eyes fixed on Commander West.
“We’ve finished the equipment logs and have all small-arms and shipboard ammo packed away in crates. I just need your signature, and we can get them moved to cargo.” she said, pressing her full lips together and sliding her clipboard across the command table.
West looked up from the clipboard of information that he was reading, regarding the construction details of the newest Mercury-class Battlestar and then looked away again. He hated talking about the decommissioning, even if he had a new ship waiting for him in a few months time – patience was not his strong suit. “Did you know that they have ditched the refit of the Phoenix to speed up construction of the new Solaria?” he eventually spoke, pushing the clipboard he was reading away. “I’m sure Commander Finemann will be pleased!” he smirked as he took the clipboard his XO wanted him to look at. He reviewed its contents with a raised brow and signed away on the dotted line.
“I hadn’t heard, no. I’ve been a bit distracted..” she said, clearly cross with him in a way that only a lover can be cross. She looked down at the table, her head turned slightly to the side as he signed the document. She’d been working on that clipboard for the better part of five days. All that he had done was sign his name. With any other CO, she would have been all “yes sirs” but with him, she looked on with a bit more frustration.
She leaned in and lowered the volume of her voice so that only he could hear her. “I know you’re excited about your shiny new Battlestar, but you’ve got one here to run.”
After she finished with a furrowed brow, she slid the papers he had been reading to her side of the table and slid more of her own forms to his.
“These also need signatures, sir.” she said louder, a painted grin on her face.
“What are they?” he queried as he picked them up and started to flick through. He hated being put in his place by the XO, even if she was right. It was understandable to be excited about trading a bucket like the Solaria for a newer model; it was like trading in ones car, or even their girlfriend. Much like his father had when he’d ditched his mother for his new “step-mother” six months earlier. She was old enough to be his sister! Suddenly something on the clipboard caught his attention. “When did this happen? Who turned down Smyth’s promotion to Lieutenant?” he glanced across the table at his XO, a less than impressed look on his face.
She arched an eyebrow and looked at him wordlessly for a few seconds. “Smyth is a drunk who’s been late for his shifts 5 times this month. I’ve had to run him around the ship as punishment.” She pursed her lips; he probably didn’t mind so much, considering he had been the one drinking with him. “Sir, we talked about this last night. Ensign Smyth, in my opinion, isn’t ready for more trust and responsibility.”
Anyone who knew her was aware that when she said “In my opinion” it meant to her “In fact.” She looked at him with challenging eyes, but looked away when she realized that they had caught the attention of one of the CIC crew.
West bit his tongue and resisted the urge to counter her response when he too realized that they were drawing attention their way. He looked at the nearby crewman with a scowl. “What?” was all he said. He valued the “facts” of his XO, but gods she got under his skin sometimes.
“Sir,” the nervous looking Petty Officer began, “we’ve been asked to vacate our berth so that they can bring in the Odysseus. Admiral Nagala wants us to get underway for Nogura Depot,” she concluded as she passed over a new clipboard of information.
“What?” he genuinely looked confused now as he glanced over it and then slid it to the XO. “I thought a skeleton crew were going to take her to Nogura?” he quizzed, certain this wasn’t something he had forgotten or let slip by him.
“There was a message yesterday from Nogura, requesting that we take her there ourselves.” Amaris responded. “We’re set to rendezvous with the Columbia, and Admiral Kendall requested that we be present for the final cargo transfers.” She looked down at the pile of papers before him. The request was somewhere in the stack, likely untouched.
She knew he would hate that. Martin had always steered clear of her father and, to be honest, she understood why. Her father had sniffed out through intuition that they were intimate and immediately set to work making the man’s life difficult. She looked at him, this time her large brown eyes filled with compassion as she spoke. “I don’t know why, sir. I’m sure we’ll be able to transfer to the new Solaria soon.”
West looked at the XO with a raised eyebrow and mustered a quiet “Hmph,” in response, sure that the meeting would be as smooth as always.”Alright then,” he spoke much louder and clearer this time. “XO, sound departure stations,” he ordered.
“Communications, inform the Fleetyard of our departure.” Amaris said, her authoritative tone filling the CIC. “Mr. Thomas, close all external airlocks and release moorings.”
She reached a delicate brown hand toward the side of the command table and grabbed hold of the phone attached there. As soon as she released it from it’s housing a blaring tone sounded through the shipboard speakers. She brought the receiver to her face and spoke clearly. “All hands, this is the XO. Prepare for immediate departure. I repeat; all hands prepare for immediate departure.” With that, she put the phone back where it belonged and looked over at her CO, studying his features for some indication of what he was thinking.
“You may want to hold off on that Commander,” a different voice spoke as a new figure emerged from one of the other stations. “I’m sorry to disturb you, but we’ve picked up a priority one alert message from Fleet Headquarters. It… it was transmitted in the clear,” he informed, a worried expression on his face. It was unusual for transmissions from Picon Fleet Headquarters to be transmitted without some form of encryption, but it wasn’t even that which worried him – it was the content.
“In the clear?” the Commander queried as he held out a hand for the message to be passed his way. He read through it and then passed it over to the XO. “They can’t be serious?” he asked as he looked at her for her opinion. If what the message said was true, he needed to know and fast. “Mister Scott, get me Command. Verify that message,” he ordered.
The man who had brought the original message nodded and sped off back to his raised platform and the communications station there and set about verifying the contents of the transmission.
Amaris scowled as she read what was on the paper. Her heart began pounding in her chest and adrenaline coursed through her. She looked at what it said and a scowl crossed her face. She looked up at Martin with big eyes. “If this is true, it means we’re at war. If we hurry, we might be able to get Solaria battle ready and get those weapons out of the crates.”
“Captain!” Martin called as he looked up towards the communications station, an almost pleading expression on his face. If he was to give his next order, he needed confirmation of the transmission.
Captain Thaddeus Scott, Tad to his friends, looked up from the communications station with a nod. It was all the confirmation the Commander needed.
With the confirmation from Captain Scott, West lifted the telephone receiver in front of him, his gaze falling on to the XO as he spoke and never moving. “This is the Commander. Moments ago, this ship received word that a Cylon attack against our homes is underway. We do not yet know the size or disposition or strength of the enemy forces… but all indications point to a massive assault against homeworld defenses. Admiral Nagala has taken personal command of the Colonial Fleet aboard the Battlestar Atlantia following the destruction of Fleet Headquarters in the first wave of attacks. How this could’ve happened, why it happened — none of that matters right now. All that does matter is that as of this moment we are at war,” he declared before placing the handset down again.
Gasps, audible shock, even some tears could be seen around the CIC, but still the Commander’s gaze remained on his XO, his loved one. The disagreements, the banter, the down right annoyance no longer mattered. “Amaris…” he whispered, “action stations.”
She looked at him, genuine fear in her eyes, something he had likely never seen before. There was a moment where she felt so encountered by those feelings that she forgot who she was and where she was. It was only a second, before she remembered the lessons of her upbringing. Her father had taught her well, she had to be a razor now; they all did. She quickly turned to the Captain Scott, the fear in her eyes melting away to a coldness like steel. “Actions stations!” she said clearly, pointing to him.
As the voice of the tactical officer rang out over the speakers, she turned and looked around the CIC, her keep personal instincts causing her to zero in on the scared faces around her. Some moved slowly, some were so overwhelmed with shock they sat still and did nothing. Rage filled her; she was mad at them for being just as weak as she was. “HEY! Get your FRAKKING heads out of your asses right now and get to work, people! It’s soldier time!”
As the crew around them startled and then leaped into nervous action, she turned coldly toward the man she loved with eyes absent of feeling; she couldn’t afford to feel. Not now. “Your orders, sir?”
In the background, the voice of Captain Scott rang out as he called all decks to attention “Action stations, action stations. Set condition one throughout the ship. This is not a drill. Repeat: Action stations, action stations. Set condition one throughout the ship.” With the announcement done and out of the way, the Commander considered his orders for a moment. This was it, the real deal. It was a moment he had been waiting for, even if it was much worse than what he had hoped for, it was his moment to show the crew he was the leader they needed. “Get the armaments off the crates and in the tubes. Whatever birds we have left, get them piloted and in the tubes,” he declared before stepping away from the table and towards a large glass panel that served as a sort of map of the system. “We need to meet up with…” he didn’t get chance to finish his statement before there was a severe rumble throughout the ship which threatened to throw them all off balance. The rumble was soon accompanied by the sound of the DRADIS console going off above their heads.
“My gods…” West trailed off as he caught sight of several large, red symbols appearing around them. Cylon Basestars. Six to be exact, all converging on the Fleetyard. The rumble, not severe enough to have been a direct hit to the Solaria, had to be feedback from an explosion somewhere on the station.
Amaris looked over at the weapons officer. “Get those weapons ready for use, Lieutenant. Now.” she then reached for the phone again, dialing in the number for the hanger bays. “This is the XO. Every available bird needs to be ready and in the tubes immediately. Standby for further orders.”
She hung the phone up and walked over to the weapons console herself, her cold gaze falling on the woman behind it. “How long until weapons can be loaded?”
“Get certain, Lieutenant! We don’t have time. Get the answers we need, that’s your job.”
She turned and walked back to the table, still listening as the weapons officer coordinated with officers from around the ship. After a short moment, the woman spoke up again. “Major Kendall, they should be loaded in the next five minutes.”
Amaris turned to West with a bit more feeling than before. “If we stay here, we’re dead. We need more time to get ready. We should jump to meet with Nagala’s fleet.”
“No frakking way,” West shook his head swiftly. “Do you know when this ship last jumped? Nearly fifteen years ago!” He looked at the XO and saw the expression on her face. It was a case of “you know I’m right” and with a sigh, he reluctantly agreed. “If we are to do this we need to be clear of the station,” he told as he turned towards the Navigation and Helm officers. “Nav, plot a hyperlight jump to rendezvous with Admiral Nagala.Helm, full reverse. Clear us of the station so we can jump when ready,” the Commander instructed.
He then leant across the table and whispered to the XO. “Get me some intel on what’s there. I want to know what we are jumping into,” his own facial expression now demonstrating the fact that he had pushed sentiment and feelings to the side. There wasn’t time for them right now, that could come later.
She nodded wordlessly and walked over to the tactical plotter, fixing her gaze on the junior tactical officers standing there. They looked over at her uneasily. She cursed their situation in her mind; they were a decommissioned battlestar with a skeleton crew, many of whom had been assigned there because they were mediocre. She pushed her annoyance to the side as she spoke. “I need information on what we’ll find when we jump. DRADIS results and long-range scanners will help.”
Once they had nodded their understanding, she returned to the command table. “Commander, they’re working on it, but we can’t afford to wait much longer. We shouldn’t wait.”
“Then get it yourself,” he scolded. “I’m not going in there without pinpoint intel. Understood?” He turned away from the XO at this point and moved towards one of the side stations, talking to the officer there.
Amaris would have groaned, but she kept her irritation under control as she turned from the command table and walked over to the DRADIS controls. She looked at the two officers sitting there studying the displays with confused faces. “Move.” she said harshly as she took their seat. As they began to wander away, she scolded them. “No! Stay here and learn how to do your frakking jobs. You’ll need to know next time.”
Next time. That was a funny phrase in this situation. Would there be a next time?
After several seconds of work, Amaris printed off the DRADIS readings from the station on transparencies and walked over to the command table. She stepped around to Martin’s side and placed the images on the lighted surface.It was no mistake that her arm rested on his as she stood behind beside him. “There. Your intel.” she said, not having looked at the readings yet herself. She was in a hurry as 6 basestars loomed outside.
“You sure this is a good idea?” he whispered, looking at the readings briefly before glancing back at her. “If it goes wrong, we’re dead,” he reminded her.
“There are six basestars closing on our position, Martin.” she said quickly. “If we don’t try, we’re dead. Let’s get our heads in the game. We’ve got to pay these bastards back for what they’ve done.”
Martin looked at her and eventually nodded. “Nav,” he called out. “Begin jump prep!”
The officer at the Navigation station nodded and started to call out the different systems required for a successful faster than light jump. As she did so, the ship rumbled again, this time much more severely, a missile hitting the station much closer to the Solaria and the resulting shockwave impacting the ship.
“It’s now or never!” he decreed over the noise.
“Belay the prep, just jump now!” Amaris called out to navigation. Her right hand found Martin’s without her even thinking about it, and as she felt the warmth of his skin, she felt the fear she’d pushed away one last time.The navigator nodded and, in the tense seconds between her putting her key in to FTL console and pressing the button, the CIC was silent.