The Cylon ship crashed into the Pegasus. There was one weightless moment before the impact threw Bill into the hard console. He crumpled to the deck in a heap as pain erupted throughout his entire body. His vision darkened, and the world became a blur of dark shapes.
"...mage control… fires…"
He couldn't move his shoulder or his arm at all. The impact had wrenched his arm out of its socket and left it a throbbing mess.
"...have DRADIS back online…"
Everyone yelled over each other in the ensuing chaos while the air turned acrid and pungent as air filtration stopped working. There were alarms, so many alarms screaming for attention. People groaned. Bill heard one man's voice rise above it all to bark out orders, but to him, it sounded like it came from underwater. Fisk, Bill realized; he's doing some good.
Even so, he knew he had to get up. He had to help his people. They were treading for their lives as the current threatened to pull them out to sea, and he was their leader. His head and shoulder ached so bad that he wanted to close his eyes and focus on ignoring his body. No. Get up! he ordered himself. Bill rolled over to push himself upright, debris biting into his palm. His left arm hung useless.
Another voice spoke in his mind, and it sounded like one of his old instructors: "A Cylon Basestar setting a collision course for a Battlestar usually destroys both ships. If a warship is left intact, it was done on purpose—it means a precision hit. Your best bet Cylons have run their calculations and are gettin' what they wanna get."
Get up, you old man!
Grabbing onto the console the impact had thrown him into, Bill hoisted himself to his feet using his one good arm. He felt vaguely nauseous. He'd gotten a concussion for sure. A sudden thought popped into his foggy head as he stumbled back over to the Command and Control table; Cottle's gonna be a bitch to deal with.
He turned to Fisk. "Sitrep!"
"Cylons hit us hard, sir. We've lost FTL drives and the navigation computer. Gun turrets are offline. Primary computers are frizzy as hell. Life support is… not good. Comms are down," Fisk said, and the deck under them shook for what was likely a violent decompression somewhere in the ship. He looked Adama in the eye with a resigned worry. "We're a mess."
"No incoming ordinance?" Adama asked, squinting at the static-filled DRADIS screen—no doubt as compromised as the rest of the ship.
"We're not seeing any."
"Why wouldn't the Cylons just fire on us and finish us off?" Hoshi muttered a little too loudly. Bill glanced over at Hoshi and then took note of the damage control board over his shoulder. Not good. Really not good.
Not far off, Kendra Shaw helped a dazed Cain limp to the Control table while the older woman clutched at her leg. Although clearly injured, she waved her officer off when she could lean against the table; she needed it to stay upright.
"Get our weapons back online," Cain snapped.
"No, focus on Comms," Adama said. Cain frowned and looked as if she'd like to rip Adama's head off for countering her order. Wounded animals lash out, and Pegasus was bleeding heavily.
"Get it done, people!" Cain yelled, unhappy with how long it took for the jostled crew to return to stations. "So the Cylons knocked us off our feet; let's get working so we can punch 'em back." Crewmen hurried back to stations, although some remained on the ground. Cain pursed her lips and quickly looked away from the fallen soldiers. "Get some medics here."
The voice of Adama's old instructor nagged at him again: "If the ship's left intact, and it's for a purpose, do any of you officer-wannabes gotta guess what it might be?"
Above the Command and Control table, DRADIS frizzed and sputtered, but Bill noted the rest of his Battlestars engaging in one-on-one battles with their Behemoth targets. Cylon Raiders swarmed them like angry hornets. The Escort ships made a courageous stand against the Basestars. These weren't sustainable odds. As he watched, something dripped into his eye and blurred his vision. Bill wiped his eye and saw blood on his hand. It felt sticky on his fingers.
"That's right you nuggets. If your ship gets slammed up the ass by a collision, it'll throw you around like bits of poppin' popcorn, and then Cylon boarding parties will be coming to eat up what they can. Now CIC is any boarding party's dream target, but it's one of the hardest places on a ship to attack. The clankers will settle for what they can. If that happens, you jarhead marines not paying attention in the back need to focus on defending the auxiliary targets, things like the engine room and environmental controls."
Adama looked at Cain. "They're sending boarding parties."
"Right," Cain nodded. "We were hit in the stern. Sergeant Collins, get runners to double-time it to our marine squads and tell them to defend the aft sections. Make sure Cylons don't take the engine room or our FTL drives."
FTL drives and the engine room were the two top targets in the aft section. It would be better if they knew precisely where the boarding parties were. Runners would have to suffice for now to help coordinate the defense; until comms came back, they were blind inside.
Bill looked back at Hoshi who had yanked open a panel and was wrestling with a tangle of wires. "I don't like being blind, Mr. Hoshi."
Hoshi glared at the sparking panel as if ordering it not to electrocute him. "Primary relays are shot. I'm trying to hotwire this to bypass the affected systems."
"Status of the Hub?" Cain asked.
"Present and still intact."
Cain and Adama shared a look before her fists clenched, and she looked down at the reports on the table. "We're in no position to go after them," she growled.
The ship shuddered and set off more alarms. Cain gave a sound of pain as the deck jostled her injured leg, and Gina took up position beside her to provide additional support. Around them, they heard the sound of the ship's metal bones creaking with strain under pressure.
Adama wiped more blood away from his eye while Cain and Fisk tried to get Pegasus back on her feet. He let them order the crew around. Pegasus remained their ship. His attention shifted to his fleet fighting the battle he was currently powerless to help coordinate. He hated feeling useless to those out there and blind to the boarding parties likely tearing through Pegasus. He grimaced at a hot shot of pain from his injured head and arm.
Wasn't the battle supposed to be easier than this?
In the last timeline, they'd destroyed the hub using only one Basestar and some ingenuity. Bill's fist clenched. Of course, this happened. It was like one of those bad reruns on TV; they hadn't prevented the Cylons' attack on the Colonies, so Pegasus shouldn't be spared in this timeline either. Or the Valkyrie or the rest of his military fleet. Why was it so hard to save as many people as possible?
"Where are the comms?!"
"Taking time to bypass the systems," Hoshi yelled over to him. "Sir."
A medic stopped by and, after a sharp nod from Bill, a medic stopped by and jammed the dislocated joint back into place while the deck lurched underneath him. The pain made him so dizzy he couldn't tell if it was him or the deck shaking anymore. He looked down and noted the medic had put the injured arm in a sling. Then he saw it. On the blue wool of his uniform, a red hair clung to him, curled in a strange design. Laura's hair tended to snag itself in the most curious places. Even before they were together, he'd find strands, and it used to irritate him. He plucked this one from his sleeve, thinking of her. His girls needed him. The battle was supposed to be easier than this. Even so. I'm coming home, love, Bill promised, the boys and I will make it home. They had to.
His resolve even further strengthened, he turned and made his way to Hoshi's station. Together they pulled at cords, stripping and twisting the wires so that the damaged systems were bypassed. The Admiral admired Hoshi's ingenuity. Finally, static erupted from the comms.
"...impacted on stern…"
"...you read us?"
All of the soldiers in CIC could hear how concerned and sad the crews of their sister ships sounded. It was the sound of friends preparing to accept more losses that the apocalypse kept reaping from them.
"We're not dead yet," Adama said, handing Hoshi the wire he'd been told to strip. They grunted as a few wires sparked. "You can tell them that soon," he said through gritted teeth.
The G forces pulled Liam back into the seat of his cockpit as he whipped his craft around. The throttle burn vibrated through the ship and into him. He tasted the salt of his own sweat as he focused on the battle around him. A Viper, barely fifty meters in front of him, crumpled from the impact of Cylon bullets. The now-useless Viper flipped end over end, tumbling back behind Liam's line of sight. The Raider zeroed in for the kill. Liam swerved between the two, hitting the Cylon ship harder and faster. It exploded, sending all of its limbs floating in different directions with a small shower of debris.
One Cylon down, thousands more to go.
With a moment to breathe, he glanced over at the mangled bulk of Pegasus stabbed by a Cylon ship. It wasn't a Basestar. It looked like something out of a history book from the First Cylon War. It looked terrible, and every few moments, Liam couldn't help but glance over in horrified fascination at the spectacle.
Battlestars were designed to take a pounding, he reminded himself. His dad told him that. His dad's history books contained examples of Battlestars hit even harder than Pegasus that still could jump and then limp home. The Battlestar Pacifica, one of the original twelve Battlestars, lost a chunk of her fore section and still jumped home to Libran. Dad and Zak still had a chance.
It was hard to focus on the battle. His ship rocked sideways from a nearby explosion, and he turned away from Pegasus and back to the fight. Liam craned his head around as he turned his ship to search for his wingman that should be nearby. He shot down another Cylon that should have been out of range, but he had excellent aim.
He pulled on the stick, flying through bullets and broken ships. A staccato beat of debris hit the canopy of his Raptor. It sounded like rain.
There was also the sound of dozens of people talking over comms, mostly the pilots of his squadron, calling out kill counts and warning others to watch their backs when an enemy approached from behind. Sometimes a Battlestar commander's voice broke through the others by using the command channel. Pegasus remained dark.
He couldn't help but glance over in time to catch another violent decompression somewhere in the Pegasus's aft section. His sharp eyes spotted the bodies hurled into the void of space. Emergency bulkheads would keep compromised sections isolated. Sickbay and CIC were in the mid-fore area of the ship-well away from the impact. They could still be alive.
Mom threw Leoben out an airlock, Liam remembered. I wonder if he could tell us how it feels. According to Uncle Jack, space yanked the oxygen out of the body, rupturing the lungs and causing the body to balloon to twice its size. Skin was more elasticy than people realized, so the tales of a body exploding were all myths. One could boil though; despite how cold space was, exposed liquid vaporized in space so the tongue and eyes would boil. Did Leoben remember that happening? How many pilots experienced that? Academically running through what happened to a body in the exposure of space probably wasn't his smartest play. How were Dad and Zak?
"Keep your head in the game, Falcon," Kat said, swinging alongside her rookie wingman and switching to a private ship-to-ship channel that let her voice rise above the rest. "You'll know when we hear from them. I bet it takes more than a little shove to kill the Old Man."
They switched back to general comms, and Liam tore his gaze away from the wounded ship, focusing solely on the raging battle. The heaviest fighting took place around the Hub, which remained in the center like the eye of a storm.
A Cylon ship careened toward Kat from the side.
"Bogey at your 3," Liam called out, barrel-rolling over his wingman while turning to face the Cylon, graceful as any ballerina twisting to her music. He aimed and fired. The Cylon exploded, becoming one of many balls of debris, heat, and escaping gas.
"More than a pretty face," he tried to joke, but it sounded forced.
"A Viper pilot needs to sound cockier than that," Tucker "Duck," Clellan said, shooting down a Cylons with a cry of victory.
"Shut up, Duck," Nora said to her fiance, prompting the delighted hoots and hollers of their entertained squadron.
Liam's squadron remained close to Pegasus, charged with keeping enemy fighters away from it. If needed, they could also engage the Hub. They, like many of the squadrons who defended their respective ships, struggled with the work laid out for them. The sky was filled with more ships than stars, and the Cylons pressed their three-to-one advantage over the humans ruthlessly.
Donald "Chuckles" Perry's voice calling for help over the comm crackled and ceased after a final lilting cry as his ship exploded around him. Liam's hands shook on the stick as he gripped it tighter. His shoulders ached from the tension strung through him. His legs felt like they'd run up a mountain with how often he jammed the pedals, flipping his Viper over end and engaging the enemy from every direction.
A nearby flash of light erupted, bright as the heart of a sun, from the detonation of a nuke. He couldn't tell who'd fired it. Most missiles and nukes were shot down before they reached their target; human and Cylon pilots on both sides jumped on such ordinance the moment DRADIS caught a whiff of them. A lucky one might get through.
Even the luckiest nuke wasn't getting through to the Hub. Cylon Raiders and Heavy Raiders practically blockaded it as it limped through the sky to maintain its protected position in the center of the battle. The hungry wolves kept circling.
"Apollo to all hands," Liam heard over comms, noticing the frustration in his brother's voice. Not a good sign, he thought. "Requesting reinforcements at the Hub. We're having trouble clearing the board to get the checkmate."
A prickle of worry crept over him. The best fighters, led by Apollo, Starbuck, and Bulldog, were fighting at the Hub. This was really not good.
"Understood, Apollo. We can spare Blue Squadron," Commander Ziegler responded first. Despite being one of the smaller Battlestars, she'd put up a fierce fight against her Behemoth Cylon ship. She'd severed two of its arms, but a sister Cylon ship looked to be on its way to help. It'd be a risky gamble to lose one of its squadrons, but the battle couldn't end until the destruction of the priority target.
After a glance at Pegasus, he looked over toward the Hub himself. He wanted to help at least one of his brothers.
"Hotdog and Kat, take your squadrons to help. Us Pegasus bastards will stay and protect mama," the Pegasus CAG said.
"Ironsides, have your Raider wing come with us," Kat said, swinging her Viper toward the Hub, with Liam almost in perfect sync with her. They hit their throttles, and their Vipers' engines burst with life behind them, lurching them forward.
"By your command," the Centurion spoke in their clunky robotic way, flying with the Colonials. After the gift of free will was given with the removal of the telencephalic inhibitor, Centurions chose to rig up their own upgrade to communicate verbally.
As they neared the Hub, each Viper's DRADIS marked who was who. It helped Liam find Apollo and Starbuck, each blazing through the enemy, leaving a trail of wreckage behind. It struck him with awe.
"Bulldog to Kat, form up behind my squad for an attack run."
The next few minutes were pure nightmare. The Hub now blotted out a quarter of Liam's view, and yet nothing could get close to it. His ship rocked from bullets and nearby explosions. Alarms beeped at him. Pilots yelled over comms.
Mom said they destroyed the Hub in the other timeline, he thought. She'd recounted Helo coming up with a brilliant plan. Helo was dead. The Hub still stood. Cylons kept reinforcing their prize, unwilling to let it fall without making the Colonials bleed for it.
"Admiral Adama to all hands, continue the assault and don't count Pegasus out just yet," his father's voice lept from the comms, and Liam yelled in joy. He wasn't the only one—cheers echoed over communications.
"Comm discipline people!" Commander Pertinax said.
The cheers died out, but the pilots rallied, taking down Raider after Raider.
"Red Squadron, form up and attack from sector 479, Cylon lines are thinner there. Adastraea, keep an eye on the Valkyrie's flank." Adama's voice calmly relayed orders over the comms.
For a moment, Liam felt like he was walking on clouds. He nailed a Raider on Bulldog's tail and called out targets.
"We're gonna get close enough to take shots at the H…" his voice trailed off as his father's voice came through.
"This is the Admiral. We are abandoning Pegasus. Repeat, we are abandoning Pegasus. Commander Ziegler to take command of the Fleet."
Really, really, not good. Liam thought, pulling the trigger. Abandoning a Battlestar in their position was a low blow. He wondered how much worse the battle could get. Then his wing exploded beside him under a barrage of bullets. Loud beeping sounded from all around Liam, warning him about the damage. His heart clenched when he saw the readouts, and he made a terrified split-second decision. Gripping the eject handle, he yanked hard, and he was shot free of his bird seconds before his Viper exploded.
This was really, really, really, not good, Liam thought as his brain went fuzzy from the excessive G-force.
Helena Cain, feared commanding officer of the Pegasus—one of the most advanced warships in Colonial History—froze. Her stomach dropped, and her heart stopped as if she'd missed a step on the stairs and now plummeted downward. It started when a young private, who now stood next to her, rushed into CIC, stumbling over his own feet. His knuckles were turning white as he clutched his hands into fists to keep them from shaking.
"Sir! Sir! Cylons are heading toward CIC," he'd shout-reported. "They're ignoring everything else."
"What?" Cain had asked in a cold voice of disbelief. "How close?"
A hop, skip, and a jump away.
"Oh frakkin' frak," Fisk muttered, the color draining from his face. "Dozen different ways they could try and destroy the ship, and they're not going to even try any of them?"
Cain had spread her marines out to repel the boarding parties, covering the most critical areas. If they wanted to destroy the ship, Aft Damage Control wasn't far away from where the Cylons had boarded, and it controlled things like bulkheads, vents, and air filtration. A few commands at one of ADC's consoles and oxygen could be vented into space, which might have been great to stop a fire, but Cylons would rather use it to asphyxiate them all. And, if that wasn't a tempting enough target, the engine room wasn't too far away, where more than one thing could make a rather large boom. Instead, the Cylons had a precision hit in mind with CIC as their goal.
"Destroying the ship isn't what they're after."
Cain locked eyes with Adama. For her, that was when the sensation of falling started, as they both weighed the horrible choice that had to be made. The cardinal rule of being boarded was that CIC did not fall to the enemy no matter what.
Her hands fell to her side when she heard Adama announce that they would abandon her ship. She could have screamed. Pegasus was one of the last Battlestars left! How dare he decide not to fight for her!
Her fingertips grazed the sidearm she kept strapped to her hip. Touching the snap that would release the gun, she looked up and glared at Adama. Wasn't this supposed to be an easy battle? The Hub should have been in pieces by now, right? She watched Adama replace the comm unit in its cradle.
Relieve the Old Man of command, a vicious part of her mind ordered her. Do it!
"This is Admiral Cain," she said, yanking the comm off the cradle and holding it to her face. She felt tense as a bowstring. "We're abandoning ship, but not the fight. Get to your evac Raptors and fight another day. You've been a fine crew, and you'll be finer still in the days to come." With that, Cain hung up the call and let out a slow breath. She gripped the Command and Control console as if it could ground her. It didn't, but it at least helped keep her weight off of the injured leg.
"Implement Burn Bag protocol," Cain ordered CIC. Everyone looked at her, shocked that she would retreat, but she flicked open her command terminal with its array of buttons and inputted her code, sounding the retreat alarms. Guess I still had a thing or two to learn during this frakkin' apocalypse, Cain thought. Our first duty is to the living.
At the abandon ship alarm, a shriek shriller than all the others, CIC sprang into action. Shaw and Hoshi led the way, wiping their terminals quickly and without any show of remorse. Cain nodded in approval before turning to her console in the center of CIC.
"Want me to?" Fisk asked.
"No," Cain said. Without turning to look at the marine, she called him over as she typed in her command. "Private, you get down to Junction 84. Tell my marines that I expect them to hold the line while we scrub CIC."
The boy went white. When he didn't reply right away, Cain looked up from what she was doing. After a moment, the boy took a deep breath of the poorly filtered air.
"Yes, sir," he said. He stood up tall and gave a proud salute. Cain returned it. As he left, everyone knew they'd never see him again.
All around CIC, personnel typed at their consoles, inputting their commands. Since all Battlestars were de-networked at Adar's command, one of his few concessions to Adama and Roslin's warnings, each station needed to be wiped individually. Throughout, CIC screens stopped relaying data and faded to black, only displaying progress indications as Pegasus electronically shredded and immolated her data past the point of no return. A cloud of misery descended on everyone as they watched the numbers increase.
3% . . . 7% . . .
The seconds ticked by too slowly.
"She was a good ship," Adama offered Cain quietly. The ship's CO nodded before turning in a tight circle to observe that everyone had adequately followed the protocol. The last survey of her home.
"Salvage what you can," Cain ordered as the crew waited; they couldn't abandon CIC until they scrubbed everything. In the meantime, people sprang into action, grabbing first-aid kits, repair kits, containers with extra supplies, and anything they could grab.
12% . . . 18% . . .
"At least Pegasus has evac Raptors," Cain shot at Adama with biting acerbic humor. "Your old relic doesn't have that."
Her sudden wisecrack lifted some of the dark cloud in CIC. Pegasus personnel panted with effort as they rushed around, passing equipment back and forth and packing up what they could carry.
28% . . . 32% . . .
"How do you think they're doing out there?" Hoshi asked, glancing up at the now useless DRADIS screen. It now showed a number ticking up. 40% . . .
"Maybe they got the Hub," Gina said.
"You think we might be able to come back for Pegasus?" Shaw asked.
"If we can salvage her, we will," Adama promised.
46% . . .
Cain nodded but knew they were too optimistic. She closed her eyes, struggling under the weight of the knowledge that she would never stand in her CIC again. She'd never stand in the heart of one of the most powerful warships the Colonies had ever built. It hurt like a punch to the gut.
Another piece of us taken away, Cain thought before glancing at the number on the DRADIS screen. 55% . . .
Her eyes sprang open at the distant shots. Everyone cast nervous glances at the doors as battle sounds crept closer, mingling with CIC's alarms and noises. Metallic clanging, yelling, and crashing all came closer like a gathering tidal wave that came for them all.
A loud bang split through CIC. It stopped people dead in their tracks as they turned toward the main doors. More shots erupted down the corridor from the last group of marines between them and the Cylons. Someone tried to call out shots. There was a scream of sheer, awful pain.
"Seal them," Cain ordered Shaw. Shaw rushed over to the CIC doors, closing them with a command at the panel. The doors swiveled closed, muffling the sounds behind them. Only Cain, Fisk, Garner, and Shaw could open the doors. Shaw moved away, wiping the sweat from her forehead and a stray tear from her face.
Sealed doors only bought them time. They'd had to rip through more than one set of hatches to get this far. So Cain unholstered her sidearm and, with Gina's help, knelt beside the CIC's Command and Control console. It would provide them limited cover if the Centurions breached the doors. She pointed the barrel of her gun at the doors.
67% . . .
The bulletproof glass doors allowed them to see the flashes of bullets ricocheting through in the metal corridor on the other side. They watched a marine being thrown through the air, landing on the floor right outside CIC, blood trailing from his mouth. Her eyes stared up at the ceiling, lifeless.
Around Cain, others took cover and leveled their guns at the doors. Adama awkwardly dropped down on the other side of the Command and Control table, his injuries making him awkward and wobbly. Cain barely processed her own pain now. Everything hurt, but nothing mattered other than the doors and the numbers.
70% . . .
The first Cylon appeared at the door; its red eye pulsed from side to side as it analyzed the huddled Colonials on the other side of the glass. The machine leveled its guns at the glass and fired. Bullets rained down all around it as the hardened glass reflected them away.
Another Centurion appeared, its armor plating stained red. Its metal fists slammed into the doors hard enough to shake blood droplets free, some spattering against the glass. More Cylons appeared and threw themselves into breaking down the final barrier. One Centurion raked its claws against the doors, filling CIC with an agonizing shrillness of scraping metal and glass, as they searched for any nook or cranny into which to wrench themselves.
77% . . .
"Gods help us," Fisk said, frowning as they watched the Cylons attacking the doors like feral animals. Cain glanced at the other set of doors in CIC, their only line of retreat, which led to the still uncompromised fore section.
"Communication station scrubbed!" Hoshi reported, yelling over the sound of Cylons and the squalling evac alarm. A few people gasped when the Cylons created a crack in the corner of the doors.
Cain looked up at her station. 84% . . .
"Unrep station scrubbed!" another Pegasus officer reported.
The cracking glass pane finally shattered as the Cylons focused their attack on it.
"Combat System station scrubbed!"
The first Centurion appeared in the gap they'd created, firing wildly into CIC. Colonials returned fire, hitting the Centurion and causing it to take a step backward under their hailstorm of bullets. The machine behind simply shoved his now-useless brother away so it could also step into its place and fire. Behind them, other Centurions pounded at more of the doors, creating more openings.
Cylons began pushing through. At first, they didn't make it far; the Colonials kept knocking down the invaders.
A distant yelp of pain signified the first CIC casualty while more stations reported themselves scrubbed.
95% . . .
Cain tasted bile in the back of her throat at the sight of Centurions in CIC.
"Command and Control scrubbed!" Fisk announced.
"Is that everyone?" Cain asked, looking around after hitting another Centurion who dared enter her CIC. She'd been counting the stations being scrubbed, but it seemed like one was missing. No one spoke up and reported that they still needed time.
They heard the clanking of more Centurions coming.
"Let's get out of here, Admiral," Fisk shouted.
"If we can get to the fore exit…." Cain said, looking toward the other end of CIC. With the Cylons attacking from the aft, they hadn't compromised that exit yet.
"I've got it," Shaw said, holding up a grenade.
"Grenade, take cover!" Shaw shouted, unpinning a grenade and rolling it toward the doors now gaping open. CIC shuddered as the grenade went off, and the smell of melting metal swirled around them.
"That was the only one I found; let's go!" Shaw said.
"Staggered retreat!" Cain spat the order out. She pointed toward the other set of doors, which led to the fore section of the ship.
"Let's move, people!"
The first people to leave were those closest to the compromised doors. Those behind them covered their escape. Then the next closest to the door abandoned their posts. As they left, crew members grabbed gear, comrades, and sidearms. Some fell to bullets as they pulled back, but the Pegasus crewmen covering the retreat made the Cylons pay for each step they took into CIC.
Although the grenade had disoriented them for a moment, Centurions regrouped and erupted through the doors of CIC. They moved fast, but the CIC personnel had performed their staggered retreat well. Almost everyone had made it to the other set of doors. Although, not everyone was fast enough. One Petty Officer found himself face to face with a Centurion.
"Frakkin' toaster!" the soldier yelled, but before he fired, the Cylon grabbed a rifle barrel with impossible speed and yanked. The officer holding it was jerked forward on his feet and smashed straight into the outstretched claws of the Centurion. He dropped to the deck, writhing as bloody holes bloomed on his skin and clothes. A few moments later, the Cylon itself fell to the deck riddled with bullets.
As the last few humans left CIC, Centurions lost interest in them and looked at the consoles. Before Cain left, she caught a glimpse of an old man with greying hair entering the room. She took aim and fired at him but missed. The man looked up at her and tipped his hat with a grin.
She took aim to fire again, wanting to wipe the Cylon presence out of CIC. Rage boiled in her. She squeezed the trigger, but someone's hand on her arm yanked her away, causing the bullet to fire wide and miss. They pulled her through the other doors. The old man let them go, turning his attention toward a console at which a Centurion pointed.
The Pegasus CIC crew dashed down the corridor, first at a breakneck pace before finally slowing. They couldn't keep up the pace, not with the injured practically dragged along with them. Wary eyes glanced down the corridor, ready to fire the first sign of red pulsing back and forth.
They regrouped right before Junction 88, gasping for breath. A few of the quicker officers took a moment to patch up their comrades' wounds.
"They got me," one man laughed. Realizing how cliche it sounded, the young ensign laughed harder. He pointed at the hole in his shoulder. "Look at that, Hosh! They got a bullet clean through me!"
Hoshi, calmer and fiercer than anyone would have expected the quiet man to act, packed some gauze over the wound and wrapped it.
"Why aren't they following us?" Fisk asked in the meantime as they caught their breath. They heard other Pegasus crew rushing toward the flight decks to get aboard their evac Raptors in the junction ahead of them.
Cain and Adama peered down the corridor behind them, wondering where the enemy was. The hall remained eerily empty.
"They must have gotten what they wanted," Adama deduced.
"But we scrubbed all the stations!"
"I didn't…" a lieutenant coughed next to Cain. Like Cain, he clutched at his leg with one hand while slinging his arm over another crewman's neck. The supportive woman seemed like the only thing keeping the lieutenant upright. Although the man continued to slur his words from the blood loss, Cain recognized the voice as the man who'd become the first victim to the Cylon's bullets. "My station… my station…."
Cain's blood ran cold. She turned to face him fully.
"Speak up, boy!" Cain growled.
"My station wasn't… station… scrubbed…."
The woman holding him stumbled a bit as he slumped against her further.
"Your station wasn't scrubbed?!" Cain screeched, remembering the Cylons converging on a station. At that point, she'd been more concerned with getting her people out of CIC; she thought CIC had been scrubbed. "Was your station scrubbed or not!"
Cain's rage burned cold. Fear brings out some of the purest rage. When we learn something that frightens us, it's so often fear that causes the brain to become aggressive and prepared to destroy what might hurt us. Part of Cain registered fear, but it was fear for her crew and the rest of humanity. There was a godsdamned good reason CIC wasn't ever supposed to fall to the enemy. Didn't this idiot know what Cylons could do with the information in there?
"Why the frak didn't you speak up," she asked coldly.
"So much shooting," he said, clearly out of his mind, probably from blood loss.
"What station?" Adama asked. His face could have been carved out of slate as he stared at the man who'd potentially screwed up.
Navigation. Where the coordinates that led back to the civilian fleet were stored. Cain noticed Bill's eyes widen, undoubtedly thinking of what the Cylons could do with the information if they managed to extract it. Maybe the Burn Bag protocol had destroyed enough of the information in the station. Maybe not. Cain could see the flicker of fear in Adama's eyes as he no doubt thought of his family back with the civilian fleet.
Cain thought about where they were in Pegasus. She knew the ship like the back of her hand. There might still be a chance to stop the Cylons even if they'd extracted the information from the shredding program.
"We could have stopped them…" the man muttered.
Cain hauled off and slapped him hard across the face.
"You had one job at that point in CIC. One!"
"Do we go back?" Shaw asked.
"There's no way we'd make it in," Adama said.
"We keep moving!" Cain said. "Move!" She pushed the officers closest to her toward the upcoming junction. They reached the trickling stream of people rushing toward the fore section of the flight decks where evac Raptors waited to whisk them away.
Cain thought about her idea. Her stupid, awful idea that just might be worth the sacrifice. She stopped at Junction 88.
"Bill, you keep going and get them to the evac Raptors," she said to Adama.
Bill stopped and looked at her. "What are you…"
"Whatever the Cylons want in CIC, it's going to take them time to get it. I'll blow the ship before it happens," she said with a look of pure, steely determination. She nodded toward the hallway that split off from where they were going, leading to Pegasus's ordinance. "My ship. My codes. My choice."
Adama's eyes narrowed. "It's a long shot, and you know it,"
"Helena, no! Helena!" For a moment, a distant memory came to the front of Cain's mind, completely taking over her thoughts.
They were under attack by Cylon Basestars and pinned down under enemy fire in a crumbling building. She remembered breathing in dust and debris for days and constantly feeling goosebumps along her skin. They never really slept. On the last day of the attack, her mother died, hit by Cylon shrapnel. Helena Cain remembered loving her mother.
Her father tried to get his girls to a shelter, but a Cylon artillery shell rocked the building before they could make it far. Her father fell, and her sister cried.
"Helena, listen to me," her father said, lying pinned and dying under rubble. "You gotta get your sister to a shelter. Go. You gotta protect her now. Go!"
Helena wanted to run and hide. She could have run until she found a place that didn't make her want to tremble and cry. Death wouldn't catch her. So, with one final look at her father, she took her sister's hand, and they rushed down the stairs. She dragged her sister out of the building. Lucy got caught on the rubble.
"Come on, Lucy. Get up!"
Helena wanted to run.
"Get up!" she screamed.
Lucy tried to stand. "I can't!"
A nearby explosion rocked the ground under them, crumbling more buildings. Helena couldn't stay out in the dangerous open air, and after one last glance, Helena abandoned her sister.
"Helena, no! Helena!"
Lucy screamed for her big sister. She sounded so young and desperate, but Helena had been so scared of dying.
"It's a chance," Cain said, bringing herself back to Pegasus. She saw her crew running past, and she hoped they'd make it onto the evac Raptors and live. They'd make her proud. She stepped toward Adama, close enough she could whisper in his ear. "Promise you'll get them to Earth."
"And protect your little girl, Bill," Cain said. She pulled back and looked the older man in the eye. "It'll take me a few minutes to get to ordinance and a few more to arm and set off the nukes. I give it 10 minutes, so get moving."
A moment passed, and Adama nodded. "Alright."
Cain turned toward the hall that would lead her toward the nukes, now moving against the flow of people trying to leave. Her bad leg caused her to stumble. Gina swept over and wrapped an arm around her, helping keep the weight off her bad leg. They shared an intense look and then, without saying another word, they set off.
In the distance, Cain heard Adama order the rest of them to keep moving.
"Helena, no! Helena!"
I'm not letting the Cylons come for another little girl. This time, I do my duty, Cain thought. This time, I do my duty. This time, I do my duty.
She repeated her mantra with each step she took toward ordinance. Finally, she and Gina stumbled into the missile room. Cain moved as if on auto-pilot, finding the panel she needed to input her codes.
She disabled launch and warhead safeties.
"This time, I do my duty," she whispered aloud, working away. She looked at her watch. Most of her crew should have escaped by now.
The warheads were armed, and she input her firing code.
See you soon, Lucy.
Author's note: I know it was a long wait, but thank you for reading my nonsense. I hope you enjoyed it. Writing something this long and in-depth is...hard. Thanks for sticking with this.
Please leave a review/comment. It brightens up my day and put a little bounce in my step. I have some I still need to reply to, but I enjoy seeing them.