Categories > TV > Babylon 5
Commander Alan Chaffin first officer of the Earth Alliance starship Prometheus frowned slightly at the odd readings that had appeared on his scanner display. They were now only two jumps away from the territory of the mysterious Minbari, travelling along a part of Alliance territory that was dominated by the looming multi-coloured mass of the Eye - a massive nebula complex the spanned several sectors and marked the border of know space and the unknown and barren regions towards the edge of the Orion arm of the galaxy.
The Prometheus was the newest Hyperion-class heavy cruiser in Earth Force, her sensors were partially reverse engineered from captured Dilgar technology giving them greater range and better accuracy than those on her sister ships. And now a short distance inside the perimeter of the Eye they'd picked up a series of strange spatial distortions that almost read like opening jump points but were far to brief to be any known form of jump point.
"Captain," he called out turning his chair slowly and carefully in the zero-gee environment of the ship to look up and over at Prometheus'proud master Captain Michael Jankowski. Chaffin didn't really want to serve under the man, Jankowski was known to be something of a loose cannon, but he was to career minded to turn down the benefits of serving on Earth Forces newest cruiser. Serving here for one or two years was a sure ticket to a ship of his own.
"What is it, commander," Jankowski asked.
"Sensors have detected a series of strange energy and spatial distortions a short distance inside the perimeter of the nebula," Chaffin reported. "They read almost like jump points opening inside the nebula, however they are far to brief in duration to be jump points as we understand them."
Jankowski raised an eyebrow. "Can you detect any vessels,"he asked.
Chaffin carefully checked the sensors again. Radiation from the stars forming deeper inside the massive nebula complex reduced the penetrating power of the sensors but he could see well enough to see approximately forty vessels of various sizes.
"I'm picking up approximately forty vessels of varying size inside the nebula, unknown configuration," he reported. "They appear to be holding position."
Jankowski frowned slightly, a fleet of ships appearing in the Eye so close to the new colonies on the edge of Earth Alliance territory was not good, especially if they were warships with hostile intentions. Which was very possible as their had been rumours for a number of years that at least one fleet of Dilgar warships had escaped from the Dilgar Empire before their home sun exploded and wiped the cruel cat-like race from existence.
"Communications, contact the other ships. Tell them we are changing course," Jankowski ordered. "Navigation will you plot an intercept course into the nebula, bring us in off the bow of that fleet.
"Aye, sir," the lieutenant manning the navigation station reported before working with his colleagues elsewhere on the ship to plot the desired course.
"Sir are you sure this is wise," Chaffin felt compelled to ask. "We only have three warships and our orders..."
"This is a clear potential threat to Earth Alliance security commander," Jankowski replied. "We will investigate this first, the Minbari can wait, they will still be there when we're done."
With quiet grace that almost belied there blocky, angular forms the small explorer division came around. The task force of two Hyperion-class heavy cruisers, one older model Nova-class dreadnought and asingle exploration ship came about and glided in towards the nebula. Intent on in investigating just who it was who was trespassing on the their territory.
Combat Information CentreBattlestar Galactica, A Few Moments Earlier
Admiral William Adama blinked away spots from in front of his eyes as with an audible humming sound Galactica's power systems came back to life. Moments ago when they'd jumped in almost every single system on the ship had shut down with the exception of life support and artificial gravity.
"Dradis contact," Gaeta abruptly called out as over the map table the dradis screens flickered briefly, washed with static then came on at full resolution. A large mass of angry red dots was bearing down on them. "Massive Cylon fleet on an intercept course," Gaeta added with a clear note of alarm and fear in his voice.
It was understandable, the Galactica was no match for a Cylon fleet this massive, Adama counted at least a dozen basestars bearing down on them - between their Raiders and missile batteries the Cylons had enough firepower to blast the entire fleet out of the stars without even breaking a sweat. There would be nothing the Galactica could do to stop them, which left them with only one alternative.
"I want an emergency jump for the whole fleet," Will ordered.
"Sir, all fleet ships were powered down during the outage,"Helo reported grimly from where he stood in the place normally occupied by Saul Tigh. "It will take at least twenty minutes for everyone to spool up their FTL drives."
"We just don't have twenty minutes," Will replied feeling apronounced sense of dread settling on him like a smothering blanket. The Cylons had them this time; it didn't look like they were going to get out of this one. He faintly heard the sound of Gaeta calling the crew to action stations and ordering the launch of every available Viper.
At that moment Colonel Saul Tigh came running into CIC from wherever else he had been on the ship and looked up at the dradis display. His one remaining eye widened in horror at what he saw, the Cylon fleet was bearing down on them with confident arrogance. In moments they would be within range of the basestars missile batteries, and when that happened all hell would break loose. How the hell did they find us, he thought then inwardly shivered at the revelation that he, Tory, Tyrol and Anders had only just come to, the revelation that they were Cylons. Did we somehow cause this, he thought.
"Oh frak," he said softly looking at the horrifying spectacle of death moving towards them.
"Basestars launching Raiders," Gaeta reported as dozens then hundreds of small red dots appeared as each of the five basestars began launching its full compliment of Raiders. "New dradis contact, single fighter to our stern."
Overhead the speakers crackled softly with an incoming transmission. "/Galactica/, Apollo," Lee Adama abruptly said. "I've got the bogey on my ten o'clock am moving to investigate."
"What the frak is he doing in a Viper," Saul asked.
"It doesn't matter now," Will replied, he didn't have to wonder why Lee was in a Viper though he was no longer an officer in the Colonial Fleet; Lee had heard the alert, read the tone of Gaeta's voice when he'd ordered alert status and jumped in what had been his Viper. He would have done the exact same thing in Lee's position. "We need every pilot we've got out there. Saul scramble every bird that we've got, everything that can fly, any pilot whose ever held a stick get them out there. Dee put Lee on speakers."
"Yes sir," Dee replied.
"Hello Lee," a female voice said from the speakers, a voice no one had ever expected to hear again. A voice from the past, belonging to someone who was supposed to be dead. The voice was that of Captain Kara'Starbuck' Thrace.
"Kara," Lee replied sounding shocked and disbelieving. "No this is crazy, I saw you... your fighter blew up."
"Afraid not, I've been to Earth, I know the way. And I'm going to take us there."
"Authenticate her ship ID," Will ordered a second before new contacts appeared on the dradis display.
"New contacts," Gaeta reported. "Four ships, unknown configuration on an intercept course."
EAS PrometheusThat Same Time
Captain Michael Jankowski frowned at the tactical display; he didn't like the looks of this situation one bit. The initial scans had resolved into two distinctly different groups of ships, one looking battered and tired headed by a single large ship that looked like it had been through hell. The other a pristine looking group of five large star shaped warships that were disgorging scimitar shaped fighter craft, towards a screening force of dart like fighters.
"It looks like we've stumbled into someone else's war," he said softly. "Mr Chaffin, what do our sensors make of those ships?"
"The first group of ships appear to be almost entirely unarmed ships sir," Chaffin reported as he studied the sensor readings. "And one large warship, the warship is armed with a large number of projectile weapons; they look like railguns and a small number of nuclear missiles. No energy weapons detected. Life signs... sir the life signs on all the first group of ships read as Human."
Jankowski's eyes widened slightly and he turned his head to look at Chaffin. "Confirm that?" he ordered.
Chaffin rechecked the sensors though he had already done so twice, mostly to assure himself that he was not seeing things. "Confirmed sir," he reported. "Life signs are human, I read just over thirty-nine thousand separate signatures. Some of the ships seem to be in quite a bad way showing a lot of stress on all their systems. My guess is they've been travelling through space far longer than they were ever intended to... curious."
"What is it?" Jankowski asked.
"There are no jump engines on any of the ships, not even on the warship."
Jankowski frowned. "Then how did they get all the way out here without jump engines," he asked. "There are no jump gates beyond this nebula, their signals would have long ago been picked up if their were."
"Unknown sir, sir the second group are targeting the first group. Sensors read multiple missile tubes opening."
"What can you tell me about the second group?"
"The second group of ships is substantially more advanced that the first group. All five warships are powered by some sort of nuclear fission reactors and they appear to have gravitic engines. Armament appears to be almost entirely missiles, I'm reading a lot of hollow space aboard the five ships, especially in the arms. My guess is they're some sort of carrier/missile cruiser hybrids. Life signs, they look almost Human but something is odd."
"What do you mean odd?"
"I don't know but they don't conform to the normal Human baseline. They could be genetically engineered, they do seem to have more than enough firepower to destroy the first group."
"Well we can't let this happen," Jankowski said. "I am not about to sit by and watch a slaughter. Communications have you been able to identify their stellar comm. frequencies?"
"I'm afraid not sir," communications reported. "However Iam picking up radio transmissions between the first group of ships, analysis shows there speaking a language that has not been spoken in thousands of years."
"And that is?"
"Ancient Greek," communications replied.
Jankowski blinked in surprise, these people whoever they were spoke a language that Humans hadn't spoken in thousands of years. It only added to the mystery of what is going on here. "Can you broadcast on the same frequency in the same language," he asked.
"I believe so; it might be a little rough."
"Then open a channel on as many frequencies as possible."
"Aye sir, channel open."
"This is Captain Michael Jankowski of the Earth Alliance starship /Prometheus /to unknown vessels, you are engaging in hostile actions in Earth territory. You are directed to stand down immediately or we will respond."
Combat Information CentreBattlestar Galactica
Shocked silence reigned in the command centre of the /Galactica/. Moments ago an immensely powerful radio signal from the four unidentified contacts had burst across every single communications frequency they had, and avoice in badly accented Colonial standard had claimed to be from Earth and demanding both they and the Cylons stand down.
A change on the dradis display brought everyone out of their stunned shock.
"Admiral Cylon forces are changing direction," Gaeta reported. "There targeting the Earth Alliance ships."
"The Cylons are going to blow them right out of the sky," Tigh said softly, inwardly he was ashamed at the beings he now knew to be his own kind and what they were about to do. The thirteenth tribe were innocent in the conflict between the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons they shouldn't be drawn into the war.
"Dee open a channel to the Prometheus," Will ordered.
"Cylon ships launching missiles, twenty no forty missiles heading for the Earth ships," Gaeta reported.
"Gods protect them," Roslin said softly, though she knew very little about military tactics she knew that forty missiles against four ships was overkill.
"Vampire, vampire, vampire, multiple missiles inbound,"Commander Chaffin called out. "I count forty missiles targeted on us and the rest of the group. Sensors read some sort of high explosive warheads, unable to calculate blast yield."
"Interceptors fire," Jankowski ordered. "Launch Starfuries target incoming missiles. All forward guns target the closest hostile ship and open fire."
From gun arrays mounted along there silvery grey hulls the /Prometheus/and her sisters came alive, spewing out rapid fire bolts of plasma from there interceptors towards the storm of missiles. Designed to track and shoot down enemy pulse weapons and fighters the interceptors had no problem impacting the inbound storm of missiles.
Rapidly tracking interceptor bolts began slamming into missiles, punching missile after into haze balls of rapidly dispersing, disassociated ions. Missile after missile died, vanishing in momentary bursts of flame as superheated plasma sent them to their doom, but the sheer volume of missiles fired by the Cylons worked against the interceptors.
Two missiles impacted the side of the /Prometheus/exploding on contact with the cruisers electronic defence web. Two brilliant orange fireballs momentarily blossomed on the side of the Hyperion-class ship, before fading revealing no damage to the thick armour plating, the e-web having dispersed the heat and explosive force of the high explosive warhead over alarger area of the hull.
Even as the Prometheus shuddered under the impact, her compliment of six Aurora-class Starfuries scrambled from her flight bay and her heavy main plasma cannon opened up. Blue-white bolts of superheated plasma burst from the twin muzzles of the cannon and flew across the space towards the cruiser's enemy. Simultaneously her secondary pulse arrays opened up, sending smaller calibre but more rapid firing bolts of plasma.
The heavy plasma bolts slammed into the centre of one of the lower radial arms of the closest basestar, striking with searing hot force. Cylon armour melted and buckled allowing some of the superheated material through the outer armour belt, to tear at the hull heating it up but failing to instantly breach it. Even as the Cylon basestar rocked under the blow the secondary plasma blasts arrived, slamming into the same section of armour again and again. Multiple breaches opened in the hull of the Cylon warship allowing the star core hot material into the interior of the basestar. Bulkheads blew apart as internal atmosphere was heated to the point of flash ignition, vaporising humanoid Cylons and Centurions alike before they had any chance to react.
Secondary explosions rippled all along the struck radial arm, steadily tearing it apart. Unable to take anymore the disintegrating arm broke off from the rest of the ship and tumbled away into the clouds of the nebula.
The main guns of the Prometheus spoke again, slamming more heavy plasma blasts into the better armoured core of the basestar. The Enola Gay the companion cruiser to the Prometheus joined in the onslaught; both Hyperion's peppering the basestar with heavy and standard plasma bolts, tearing its hull apart and sending destructive explosions rippling through the vessel. Unable to endure anymore the Cylon basestar came apart, disintegrating in a massive series of explosions that sent shrapnel from the ships destruction flying in all directions.
Combat Information CentreBattlestar Galactica
A cheer went around the CIC as the crew observed the complete destruction of a Cylon basestar in moments by the Earth ships. To asoul everyone was enjoying watching the Cylons take a pounding at Human hands for a change.
"Sir Cylon Raiders are completely breaking off their engagement with our Vipers," Gaeta reported keeping his eyes focused on the dradis display. "There moving to attack the Earth ships. Cylon baseships launching more missiles," an alarm on his console went off, "radiological alarm, the Cylons have launched twenty nukes and eighty conventional missiles."
"Helo instruct half our Vipers to pursue and engage the Cylon Raiders," Adama ordered. "Instruct the other half to form a defence perimeter around the fleet. Dee try and get me a comm. link with the /Prometheus/I need to speak with Captain Jankowski."
"Yes sir," Helo replied and picked up the phone on the side of the map table.
"Yes sir," Dee echoed a moment later.
"What are you planning, Bill," Saul asked his old friend softly.
"We can't jump yet, Saul. Our only choice is to stand and fight," Adama replied.
"There doesn't appear to be any other choice," Roslin agreed. "And we have to help the thirteenth tribe against the Cylons."
"Even though they seem to be quite good at pounding the Cylons without us," Saul said not at all unhappy at seeing Cylons dying. Though he now knew he was a Cylon himself he was first and foremost Colonel Saul Tigh of the Colonial Fleet, XO of the battlestar /Galactica/. That was who he chose to believe he was not some stinking Cylon skin job.
"We still have to help them, colonel," Roslin pointed out. "If we want the thirteenth tribes help, we have to help them now."
"Yes madam president."
The storm of missiles from the four surviving Cylon basestars streaked through space towards the Earth ships. Sensors on the three Earth warships detected the presence of the nukes and directed interceptor fire primarily at the incoming thermonuclear weapons.
One by one nuclear and other missiles once more began dying, but the sheer weight of incoming fire began to simply overwhelm the overtaxed interceptors. A single surviving nuke slammed into the side of the Enola Gay and detonated enveloping the ship in the searing heat and energy of afifty megaton thermonuclear explosion. Armour vaporised allowing the raging energy and radiation into the interior of the ship, vaporising crew and equipment in a millisecond of time, before flash heating the jelled deuterium tanks that fuelled the ships fusion reactors to the point of detonation.
The Enola Gay ruptured wide open and vanished in abrilliant fireball that merged with the flash of the nuclear blast, blinding sensors on all sides for several moments. When the fireball faded there was nothing left of the /Enola Gay /or the five hundred and fifty six souls aboard her, beyond a dispersing cloud of dust and radioactive debris.
Captain Michael Jankowski stared at the expanding debris cloud that was all that remained of his companion cruiser in stunned surprise. Then he got angry as he thought of all the people who had just died, the souls snuffed out in a blaze of nuclear fire. Two can play that game, he thought glaring at the four star shaped warships before toggling the communications switch on the arm of his chair.
"Bridge to firing control," he said. "I'm authorising the use of tactical nukes, load tubes one through four with ship to ship fusion missiles."
"Aye sir," firing control replied a moment before a series of explosions rocked the Prometheus as Cylon missiles exploded against her flanks, overloading the e-web to scorch and pit the six metre thick armoured hide of the ship.
"Multiple direct hits," Chaffin reported. "The e-web is down. Minor damage to the outer armour, interceptors are running hot, eighty percent capacity and dropping. We're going to get a lot more of those."
"Firing control to bridge, missile tubes one through four are ready to fire," firing control reported over the comm.
"Fire," Jankowski ordered.
A soft shudder ran through the /Prometheus /as powerful electromagnetic launch rails to disgorge four missiles from tubes on her underside. Each missile was tipped with a ten megaton nuclear fusion warhead. The moment they cleared their tubes the missiles own engines activated adding to the inertial imparted by the launch so they shot away from the heavy cruiser towards the new enemy that was slowly pecking her apart. The salvo split apart into a two pronged attack as their seeker heads confirmed a target lock.
The Cylons immediately detected the nuclear warheads bearing down on them. In milliseconds the hybrids that were the central processing units of the basestars computed all possible impact vectors. Missiles with specialised warheads roared away from all four basestars even as another of their number shuddered in agony as a massive volley of eight twin heavy plasma bolts from the Nova dreadnought Persia ripped into and through one of its upper radial arms sending destructive secondary explosions rippling through the ship.
The salvo of defensive missiles exploded scattering shaped shrapnel in dense clouds in the path of the incoming nukes. The smart seeker warheads of the Earth Force missiles immediately detected and registered the danger but it was too late. All four missiles impacted the shrapnel clouds and detonated into billowing plumes of plasma from the kinetic force imparted by the high speed impacts.
Jankowski scowled as he saw the destruction of their missiles on the tactical display. Shrapnel clouds, he thought with grudging respect for his adversaries, damned clever trick.
"Captain we're getting a hail from the warship protecting the first group of ships," communication's reported a moment before the ship rocked as half a dozen fighter launched missiles impacted on the starboard side despite the best efforts of the outnumbered Starfuries and overtaxed interceptor grid.
"Starboard interceptor banks three and four are out,"Chaffin reported even as two more missiles detonated against their armour. Sparks shot out of an overtaxed power conduit at the back of the bridge. "Those last two hits have taken out our starboard laser cannon. Our armour integrity is down to sixty-three percent. We can't stay here much longer sir, their pecking us to pieces."
"I'm aware of that, commander," Jankowski replied waving ahand at the thin haze of smoke that was beginning to filter into the bridge, even as yet more missiles impacted jolting the ship with ever more violence. Powerful as his ship was he knew full well that the sheer volume of missile firepower being directed at them would be their doom if they stayed here much longer. "Communications put the contact on speakers."
The overhead speakers crackled then a powerful male voice spoke. "This is Admiral William Adama of the Battlestar Galactica to the Earth Alliance starship /Prometheus/, respond please," the voice said.
"Admiral Adama this is Captain Michael Jankowski," Jankowski replied as half a dozen hits in rapid succession rocked the ship, triggering more sparks from power conduits as the blasts against the hull sent shockwaves ringing through the vessel, rattling memory crystals and chips and causing power surges all over the cruiser. "We cannot stay here much longer,"Jankowski continued. "What is the status of your ships? Can you escape?"
For a moment there was silence. "Negative," Adama answered. "The FTL drives on the bulk of our ships are still off line and we can't leave them here."
Jankowski thought quickly as more blasts rocked the /Prometheus/and a new alarm began to sound, an alarm he recognised as the warning of a hull breach.
"Hull breach starboard section four deck five," Chaffin reported. "Dropping pressure doors."
"Navigation adjust our position to keep them off our starboard side. Commander, are our jump engines online," Jankowski asked. "And can we open a jump point in this nebula?"
"Yes sir we can," Chaffin said as manoeuvring jets fired altering the position of the Prometheus so her forward portside faced the Cylons, turrets rotated and continued firing plasma bolts at the fighters swarming between them at the warships. "Its not recommended but we can do it,"Chaffin continued.
"Admiral Adama," Jankowski said into the comm. "We're going to move close in to your fleet and open up a jump point. We'll hold it open if you can instruct your ships to go through into hyperspace one ship at a time"
"What is hyperspace," Adama asked sounding honestly curious. Jankowski blinked in surprise. These people knew nothing about hyperspace? What else did they use to bypass the restrictions of Einsteinium space time and make space travel viable? It would be interesting to find out but that could wait until later. Right now they had to escape before they were destroyed; a fact that was reinforced by another violent shudder as more missiles exploded against the ships hull.
"It's complicated but the simple answer is hyperspace is another dimension where spatial distances are shorter than in normal space,"Jankowski replied. "Its perfectly safe to travel through as long as your ships stay together and wait for us to join you, if you try to navigate there on your own you'll become hopelessly lost."
Combat Information CentreBattlestar Galactica
William Adama frowned slightly at what he was told about this hyperspace, it sounded quite dangerous and he wasn't sure if he wanted to risk taking the fleet into it. When he thought about it he released he didn't really have a lot of choice but to trust this Captain Jankowski, after all the man was fighting to save them and taking a hell of a pounding in the process.
"We don't have a choice but to trust them," Roslin said softly seeing how the admiral was torn.
"The president's right, Bill," Saul Tigh added. "The Earth ships are being steadily swamped with Raiders and missiles. They'll be destroyed soon then we'll be next. Unless we trust this Captain Jankowski."
William sighed and nodded agreement before speaking into the microphone. "Alright captain we'll do as you suggest," he said.
"Excellent," Jankowski answered, his voice punctuated by what sounded like an explosion in his command centre. "We'll approach your fleet now and open up the jump point. We can only hold it open for a finite amount of time so your ships will have to go through as quickly as possible and stick close together on the other side."
"Understood," William answered before putting the microphone down and glancing up at the dradis display and seeing the large blue dots that represented the Earth ships changing position and coming towards the mass of green dots of various sizes that represented the fleet.
"Dee inform the fleet to get into a single line formation,"he ordered. "Advice all Vipers to screen them, and tell Lee to keep a close eye on Kara until we can authenticate her ID. Navigation move us to the back of the line, we'll cover the withdrawal."
"Yes sir," came the replies from the various stations.
The two remaining Earth warships and the exploration ship that had been hanging back, using its limited defences to swat any Cylon Raider that came to close to it, came around and headed for the Colonial Remnant, aft guns opening up with fresh plasma salvos that blasted Raider after Raider from the heavens. The handful of surviving Starfuries also flipped over and added fire from their weapons to the onslaught while continuing to retreat.
Ahead of them the Colonial Remnant awkwardly arranged itself into a line of ships, screened by Galactica's Vipers. The battlestar for her part moved to the back of the line and turned so her powerful dorsal gun batteries were trained on the Cylons.
Slowly the range wound down and then the Prometheus /and /Persia were passing over the battlestar, continuing to fire on the Cylons with aft batteries raining streams of plasmatic destruction on their enemies. For the first time since the battle had begun the /Galactica/opened up, filling space with a lethal hail of kinetic rounds that ripped into the pursuing swarm of Raiders like a swarm of locusts into a corn field. It did about the same amount of damage as the scimitar shaped Raiders shattered and exploded under the hail of kinetic death.
The rest of the Raiders veered away to the flanks, hoping to outflank the battlestar and hit the vulnerable civilian ships she was protecting. While out of the Galactica's gun range the three remaining fully operational Cylon basestars began launching more missile salvo's all targeted on the fleet, the forth basestar severely damaged with two of its lower radial arms torn off and fires raging inside it limped away, surrounded by a protective screen of Raiders, debris and burning gases from the great rents ripped in its hull by the energy weapon assaults formed a slick behind it.
Lee Adama grinned as he pulled the trigger on his stick and sent a salvo of railgun rounds tearing through a Cylon Raider. The machines right wing snapped off and for a second the Raider drifted - spewing blood from its organic components, then its fuel and oxygen store detonated turning it into a brief lived fireball.
Part of him was glad to be back here in the cockpit of aViper, it felt like this was where he belonged. Especially now that Kara Thrace had apparently returned from the dead, an event that sent shivers down his spine. It brought back the memory of what Major Kendra Shaw had tried to tell him before the Guardian basestar was destroyed, that Kara was somehow dangerous. Delighted as he was to see Starbuck alive again he would be sure to keep a close eye on her, as he couldn't discount the possibility that she was and always had been one of the final five humanoid Cylons that Athena had warned them about in the past. As hard as that possibility was to stomach.
Looking around he spotted Kara blowing another Raider out of the heavens, one that had been angling to fire at /Colonial One/. Two more Raiders angled towards Kara intent on blowing her out of the sky. He started to open his mouth to issue a warning when both Raiders exploded as blue-white bolts of energy from one of the Earth ships bizarre X-shaped fighters tore into them.
"Whoever that was, thanks," Starbuck said over the radio.
"Anything for a fellow stick jockey," an unfamiliar voice with an accent that sounded like a combination of Gemonese and Caprican replied.
Lee smiled slightly and was about to add in a comment about Starbuck having a new admirer when something happened that took his breath away. Ahead of the fleet a glowing orange vortex burst into existence, it was strangely beautiful to look at, a swirling whirlpool of energy that seemed to lead into infinity.
For a moment nothing happened then resolutely leading the way, Colonial One entered the vortex and seemed to vanish. One by one the other ships began to follow, with the Earth ships standing sentry, occasionally picking off a Raider with a bolt from their formidable weapons. Glancing back at the Galactica Lee scowled when he saw half a dozen missiles explode along the old battlestars back, even as she slowly came around to follow. Come on dad, Lee thought as the badly battered and battle scarred warship came around and started to head of the vortex herself.
"All Vipers, Galactica begin proceeding into the vortex," Dee's voice said.
"Rodger that," Lee replied as the Vipers began following the civilian ships into the vortex, though strangely Kara's Viper just sat in space. "Starbuck, Apollo what are you doing? Follow the fleet into the vortex."
"This is wrong we can't do this," Kara answered. "We're going wrong I know it, this isn't the way were supposed to go."
"Save it for later, Starbuck," Lee replied. "Just get in formation, or do you want to stay here and be blown to a zillion pieces by the Cylons?"
"This is wrong, Lee we can't do this," Kara insisted sounding almost hysterical.
"Kara go through the vortex," Lee repeated.
"Now so help me I'll shoot you myself," Lee growled.
"Get in line, Apollo," Sam Anders added.
"Sam," the surprise in Starbuck's voice would have been comical if the situation not been so serious. "What the frak are you doing in a Viper?"
"It's a long story, Kara," Sam answered. "I'll tell you later, that is if you're coming."
"Alright, alright I'm coming," Kara said. "But I still don't like this."
"No one's asking you to now get going," Lee snapped.
"Okay, okay keep your shirt on, Apollo."
Despite himself Lee grinned. That was Starbuck through and through; true to her word her Viper got moving and vanished into the vortex following the last of the civilian ships. Lee took a deep breath before guiding his Viper towards the glowing orange funnel and heading inside. As he crossed the threshold there was a momentary sensation of falling then suddenly he was in aspace that was very different.
Instead of the shifting clouds of gas and dust of the Ionian nebula this place was a dark red and black vista that seemed to go on forever. The red and black areas seemed to waver, shimmer and shift location constantly making it impossible to lock onto anything long enough to get his bearings. It was disorientating and it was all he could do not to throw up into the helmet of his flight suite. To prevent that he locked his eyes on the closest civilian ship, making it his anchor.
"Is everyone alright," he asked over the squadron frequency.
"Yeah but this place is really weird," Hotdog replied. "I feel like I want to be sick."
"Focus on the civilian ships, make them your anchor," Lee instructed. "That should help."
"Copy that, Apollo."
Glancing down at his dradis display Lee saw the form of the /Galactica/appear behind the fleet. Followed moments later by the three Earth ships the fuzzy mass of the energy vortex evaporating seconds after they cleared it. Well looks like we're committed now, he thought a moment before his radio crackled with a private channel.
"Lee?" his father's voice said.
"Yes, dad?" Lee asked repressing the instinct to respond with a 'yes sir' as his father wasn't his superior officer anymore.
"Bring 'Starbuck' aboard," William answered. "Take her straight to the infirmary so Cottle can examine her."
"Do you think she could be a Cylon?"
"I don't want to believe it son but we have to consider that possibility."
"It's occurred to me as well. I'll make sure she goes straight to the infirmary."
"Good. We will meet you there." The communications link closed down with a hiss of static. Lee sighed before switching back to the squadron's frequency.
"Starbuck we've got orders to report back to the /Galactica/,"he said.
"Lead on then, Apollo," Kara replied sounding like she had expected the summons to come sooner or later.
Lee didn't answer her further; instead he turned his Viper around and headed for the Galactica'/s/ port flight pod. Starbuck matched the manoeuvre and side by side the two Vipers headed into land.
Captain Michael Jankowski relaxed once they were in the relative safety of hyperspace. The battle was over, but he suspected it was the first of many to follow. Something told him that whoever it was on the star shaped warships would come looking for Earth and start a new war. A war that Earth Force was more than ready for as their fleet was even larger and stronger now than it had been when they had fought and defeated the Dilgar twenty years ago.
"Set course back to Jericho base," he ordered. "Are all the Colonial ships with us?"
"Yes sir," Chaffin confirmed.
"Good. Communications tell the Colonials to follow us and to stay in as close a formation as possible, after what we've gone through to get them here I don't want to loose anyone to the hyperspace tides."
"Then open a Gold Channel to Earth Force Command, I need to speak with General Lefcourt. He needs to know we may have just started a war."
"We've saved thirty nine thousand lives sir," Chaffin pointed out. "Whether we've started a war or not we're heroes for saving so many from certain death."
"Yes so why don't I feel like one," Jankowski asked softly thinking about the Enola Gay and all the people who had died with her. People whose lives he as fleet commander had been ultimately responsible for. The fact that they had died for a noble cause and wouldn't have felt any pain as their existence was snuffed out in milliseconds of nuclear fire offered him no comfort.
Chaffin didn't answer, their was no answer he could give. So instead he turned back to his station and got back to the never ending tide of work that first officers on warships had to deal with.
Cylon BasestarIonian Nebula, That Same Time
Silence reigned in the command centre of the Cylon basestar that had been the command ship for the fleet intended to wipe out the Colonials once and for all. The gathered humanoid Cylons had just watched their erstwhile quarry flee into a strange energy distortion unlike anything they had ever encountered before, a distortion generated by the Earth warship that had called itself the /Prometheus/.
"Well it seems that things have now changed for us," Cavil said breaking the silence at last. "And it appears I owe you sixes an apology the thirteenth tribe is real after all."
"Apology accepted," Six replied. "Though we take no pleasure in being right. It appears that the thirteenth colony is considerably more advanced than the other twelve were."
"Yet the Earth ships at first glance appeared very primitive," Aaron Doral pointed out. "No artificial gravity system that we could detect and lower powered ion engines."
"Yet their weapons are far more advanced than has ever been thought possible," Leoben added looking deeply concerned. "Sensor records confirm our ships were hit with some kind of focused plasma energy bolt, a type of weapon our armour is not designed to withstand as evidenced by the quick destruction of one of our baseships."
"So what do we do now," Simon asked.
"We must continue in our search for Earth," Cavil said. "The Human race must be eliminated if we are to flourish."
"Something tells me that is going to be harder than we ever thought possible," Six said. "But God is testing us, testing our faith in him. We cannot turn away from this, the greatest test he has ever set for us."
"We agree," Cavil replied and he did agree but for different reasons than Six. The sixes were known to be highly religious - a flaw their particular model had though it was offset by their skills at seduction and manipulation. The reason he was agreeing was more pragmatic, they had to destroy the Humans before the Humans destroyed the Cylons. The catastrophe of New Caprica had proven that the galaxy was not big enough for the two of them. For the survival of the Cylon race to be assured the Humans had to be eliminated and it was as simple as that.
"We do not really have a choice," the number eight once known as Boomer added. "If we do nothing then we will still eventually end up dealing with the Earth Alliance as Admiral Adama and President Roslin rally them against us. Either we find and destroy them now, or they will destroy us later."
"What say the rest of you," Cavil asked.
For a moment there was silence as each model in the room polled all the others of their particular model on all three intact baseships. They left the damaged baseship out as the models on that ship were far to busy trying to put fires out and repair or bypass destroyed systems to present ameaningful contribution.
"We agree," Leoben said at last. One by one the others all nodded their agreement.
"Then it is decided," Cavil said. "We find this Earth Alliance and destroy it."
"By your command," the others replied in the a-typical Cylon response to a decision being made. A decision that though they didn't know it yet would have profound and long lasting implications for the future of both Humans and Cylons.
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