|PEGASUS Book 12 Return to the Colonies
Author: Expatkiwi PM
After some years of settling in to the Alliance, there is now a move to return to the Twelve Worlds. Garris Cain is being recalled to duty in order to take part in the mission to find out what had happened to the Twelve Worlds... and to the Cylons.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 7 - Words: 17,911 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 20 - Follows: 20 - Updated: 04-14-13 - Published: 04-11-12 - id: 8014871
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
BATTLESTAR AMETHYST – SCARPA FLOW NAVAL BASE – KALIDASA SYSTEM
"Got some news for you, Hondo", Admiral Truly said as he passed to Walter Hunter a piece of paper. Hunter had just come on board the AMETHYST after he had docked the PENSACOLA to the task force flagship.
Hunter read the message: Chief of Naval Operations to Flag Officer on board AMETHYST. PEST Survey vessel JERUSALEM en-route to Scarpa Flow. Inform Commandant Walter Hunter that PENSACOLA will take JERUSALEM and crew on board before commencement of DIASPORA. Inform Admiralty, but not the Operation Commander when ICARUS arrives. JERUSALEM will operate under ICARUS' command during mission. Non-Belligerency status confirmed. Message Ends.
"What's this about the ICARUS, Ice?", Hunter asked. Don't tell me you're hosting this ship?
"Afraid so", Truly confirmed, "and my orders are clear: they are to lead the survey of Planet Kobol when we arrive. We don't interfere, we don't question, and we don't even go on board their ships. It was bad enough only having the ICARUS to deal with, but with the JERUSALEM on board your battlestar as well, this may present a problem".
Almost immediately after Truly said those words, Forrest entered CIC. He walked up to where Truly was talking to Hunter.
"You're the commandant of the Battlestar PENSACOLA, are you not?" he asked in a tone that was more like a statement. Hunter's eyes raised some at the rather arrogant tone and demeanor of the newcomer, but managed a curt nod.
"I take it that you have been briefed as to the impending arrival of the JERUSALEM?" Forrest asked.
"Admiral Truly had just informed me of that, Mister…?", Hunter began.
"Forrest", Forrest finished for him, "I'm the survey team leader, and I'll be in overall command once the AMETHYST and PENSACOLA make the jump to the Kobol system".
"Overall command of the survey portion of the mission, you mean", Truly said.
"No, of the task force", Forrest clarified, handing to Truly a piece of paper. Truly's eyebrows raised some as he read the directive.
"According to this", Truly said slowly – albeit in an ominous undertone, "You are to take full charge of the task force once we arrive on station in the Kobol System. May I ask why?"
"Non-belligerency means I'm not at liberty to answer, Admiral", Forrest answered blandly, "but I can tell you that I have no intention of compromising both battlestar's safety, and military decisions will remain with you. The prime concern that you have is to get us to Kobol, and to get us back home once our survey is complete".
Hunter could see that Truly was getting annoyed at the new directive. He decided to head off any confrontation by saying, "I'd better get back to the PENSACOLA and make preparations for receiving the JERUSALEM, Admiral".
Truly looked at Hunter, and then nodded. "Let me know when the JERUSALEM is secured on board".
"Will do, Admiral", Hunter acknowledged.
"Remember that Admiral Sanders is not to be informed, as per our orders", Truly said directly to Hunter.
Hunter looked at Truly for a second, then nodded – catching the meaning of what he said.
As Hunter left CIC in order to return to his docked battlestar, Forrest asked, "Is Commandant Hunter a reliable officer, Admiral?"
"He worked for Blue Sun for some years, Mister Forrest, so you should know", Truly icily replied, "but I can tell you that when he was reconnaissance commander on board the PEGASUS, he was regarded as one of the most resourceful and efficient officers on board. He understands his orders".
Forrest nodded, saying, "I'll be back with my men if you need me. Please let me know when we depart".
Not waiting for an answer, Forrest left CIC. Truly pondered his orders, wondering why PEST was taking over things. One thing was for sure: it did not auger well. He hoped Hunter got the hint…
PEST SURVEY SHIP ICARUS – BATTLESTAR AMETHYST PORT LANDING BAY FIVE – ONE HOUR LATER
In the briefing room on the ICARUS (which doubled as a chapel), a prayer meeting was just concluding.
"…and we pray to almighty God that the sacred mission that we are about to embark upon will be successful", Forrest said to the other members of the crew, who were kneeling in front on him in prayer.
"Amen", the others intoned.
"Then rise, and as we take Holy Communion, let us all reflect upon our sacred duty, and pray that we do our utmost", Forrest said next.
As the others stood up and moved to the table that held a wine chalice and a loaf of bread, Forrest noted with satisfaction that they were all holding in their hands the little silver crucifix that they had hung around their necks. Each crucifix had engraved upon its long arm a sword pointing downward, and a letter 'T' above it.
"Padre", Forrest's XO said, "I just received a message from Padre Manna on board the JERUSALEM. He has informed me that he has arrived on board the PENSACOLA".
"Excellent, Brother", Forrest replied, "Join us for Communion, and rejoice in the sacred role that you have been called upon to do for His glory".
As he did so, Forrest slowly smiled. Everything was coming together, and soon, everything will be completed, in the name of the Almighty. He thought about the 'cargo' that the ICARUS was carrying in its hold, knowing that the JERUSALEM would have a similar 'cargo' as well. They should be more than sufficient to do the job…
BATTLESTAR PENSACOLA – SECURE CODING ROOM – TWO HOURS LATER
Hunter had received the report from Vice-Commandant Sims regarding the arrival of the PEST survey ship JERUSALEM, and that the ship had been secured in port-side landing bay five. Sims had also reported that the JERUSALEM'S captain: an individual named Manna, had made requests concerning the security of the JERUSALEM and its crew. Hunter had acquiesced to the requests.
Now, in the coding room, he had dismissed the coding officer and was there alone going through a certain book that he had brought on board the PENSACOLA from planet Salisbury…
"Well, I always obey my orders, so Admiral Sanders will not be informed", Hunter said to himself with a smile, "but since PEST is not exactly making me, nor Admiral Truly overly comfortable with their presence, it's time for a little command initiative…"
With that, he slowly started to transcribe a message…
BATTLESTAR PENSACOLA – COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER – ONE HOUR LATER.
"Comms", Hunter said as he entered CIC, "send this message out".
"No can do, Commandant", Major Michener replied, "I just got a communication from the flagship: no wireless communications outside of our two ships until we depart".
"Any reason for those orders, James?" Hunter inquired.
"Admiral Truly said that per our directive from Fleet Operations, he was obliged to give those orders. Also, all CAPs from both battlestars are to be immediately recalled".
Hunter deduced that Forrest had given Truly those instructions. Well…
"Very well, Comms", Hunter said, "Inform Admiral Truly that we are complying with the instructions".
As Michener did so, Hunter thought to himself: "Well, if I can't send the message now, there is still the preliminary rendezvous at Earth-That-Was… Still, what is Iblis playing at?"
BLUE SUN CORPORATION HEADQUARTERS – OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR
Hunter would have been surprised to know that Balthazar Iblis had no knowledge of the PEST presence on board the AMETHYST and the PENSACOLA. Those orders had actually originated with Iblis' deputy: a dour individual named Johann Pretorius.
Pretorius knew the risk he was taking by acting behind Iblis' back, but he also knew that just like Parliament, Iblis would need to take cover behind plausible deniability should anything leak out. Still, despite his risking Iblis' wrath, Pretorius ultimately answered to a higher authority.
"Dear God", Pretorius quietly mouthed in his office, "let the forces of righteousness succeed in the name of Your everlasting glory".
As he mouthed those words, his hand went to the crucifix that had hung around his neck. It was of the same design as the ones worn by the crewmen of the ICARUS and JERUSALEM.
All of the people on board those two ships were pious, and all were volunteers. And with Padres Forrest and Manna leading them, there would be no mistakes…
BATTLESTAR PEGASUS – PLANET JIANGYIN – RED SUN SYSTEM
"Admiral, Commandant Ford reports that the ANNAPOLIS has arrived and is proceeding to take up its position around the flagship", Leech reported.
"So you're all ready to go now, Admiral?" Inara asked. She had arrived thirty minutes previously and was in CIC with Admiral Sanders.
"Just about", Glen Sanders replied with a smile, "I hope that your quarters are comfortable?"
"They seem to be. I didn't get much of a chance to relax", Inara said dryly.
"If things don't go according to plan, none of us may have a chance to relax", Glen pointed out, "Still, given Captain Reynolds' report, I don't envisage it".
"With a task force this size, you're not taking any chances either", Inara said.
"That too", Glen replied, nodding. He then turned to Leech, asking, "You did inform all Actuals of my desire to have them on board the PEGASUS by 1700?"
"Yes, Admiral", Leech said, "The conference room is being prepared now".
"Sweep the room thoroughly", Glen ordered, "And make sure there's a place for Miss Inara as well".
"You want me there?" Inara asked. Glen nodded.
"You'll be attending the briefing", Glen informed Inara, "As the diplomat assigned to the mission, you'll need to be kept fully informed".
"Will I be able to communicate with the GALACTICA and AMETHYST groups as well?" Inara asked.
"Not until we make the initial rendezvous at Earth-That-Was", Glen replied, "Orders from above".
Inara nodded. She understood security, and it made sense to wait until all three task forces made the initial rendezvous there before the in-depth details of the mission were discussed…
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA – DOCKED AT SUPER-SENTINEL POST 'DEVISOR'
"Welcome on board, Captain Reynolds", Cain said as he offered his hand.
"It's good to see you again, Admiral", Mal replied as he shook it.
SERENITY had just arrived on board the GALACTICA and had been stowed in Starboard landing bay hangar one. Cain had gone down to the bay in order to personally greet Mal and his crew.
"So, are all of the gang coming with you?" Cain asked as he saw other familiar faces emerge from SERENITY.
"Jayne is running the freight line back on Miranda, but the others are all here. Even Simon Tam", Mal replied, "it makes a nice break from the monotony of running cargo".
Laughing, Cain said, "Surely the money you got from all that salvage from Earth made your 'monotony' more than bearable, Mal".
"Like you, Admiral, I live for adventure. I'm just not the kind of person who wants to settle down for too long. The Black beckons to me".
Cain nodded. That logic he understood. It was people like Mal Reynolds that kept humanity expanding to the stars…
"I received word from the PEGASUS that Inara is on board. The countdown to the start of the mission has begun", Cain said next.
"Well, going back to the colonies has an appeal for me, though not so nearly as 'appealing' as it must be for you", Mal pointed out.
"True", Cain replied, "and since you've been there the most recent, that's why you're here".
"I take it we have a letter of credit up at the officer's club, Admiral?" Zoe asked as she walked up and shook Cain's hand.
"I think something can be arranged, Zoe", Cain replied, "and I've got quarters set up for you all in the VIP section. Unlike your last trip, you'll be going most of the way in style, and without using your fuel getting there".
"Works for me", Mal said with a smile, "I feel a thirst coming on…"
BATTLESTAR PEGASUS – CIC CONFERENCE ROOM – 1830 Hours
"…and that is how this task force will be configured until we arrive at the initial rendezvous at Earth-That-Was", Glen Sanders concluded. He had been briefing the commandants of the six battlestars under his command of the initial disposition of their ships.
"I take it then that after the initial rendezvous, we'll be breaking up", Commandant Ford inquired.
"I can't go into too much detail about that at the moment, Harry", Glen replied, "but when we get to the Cyrannus System, the task force will be equally dispersed to cover each of the twelve worlds. The full details of which battlestars are to survey which worlds will be made at the initial rendezvous point".
"The GALACTICA and AMETHYST task forces will also be at the initial rendezvous, correct?" Commandant Carla Halley of the PACIFICA inquired. Glen nodded.
"Are we going to be able to maintain contact with them throughout the mission?" Halley asked next, "I've heard about where they're going and what they find at their destinations could decisively influence what we'll be doing".
"As I said, all will be revealed at the rendezvous. Just be patient, Commandant", Glen advised.
Halley looked over to where Chester Warden, the commandant of the TRITON was seated. Warden silently shrugged back, his face carefully impassive.
"If there are no other questions at this stage, then you had all better return to your ships", Glen said next. When no one said anything, Glen then said, "Dismissed".
As the commandants shuffled out, Inara said, "They're a good group of people, but do you think it's wise keeping too much from them?"
"I have my orders from the Admiralty", Glen replied, "I don't like it, but I'm not supposed to debate whether or not to follow my orders".
Inara nodded, but she had the nagging feeling that a lot of this mission was not being made clear to the people most involved. Security was well and good, but too much security could also be a detriment…