nBSG and Firefly Crossover: The Road That Will Take Me Home
Chapter 1: Transit.
RAG-TAG FLEET, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE EVENTS OF THE CAPTAIN"S HAND
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA CIC,
"Admiral, all ships secure, all FTL drives spun up and ready. Jumping in five minutes."
The lean, weathered man at the center of the human anthill nodded, said, "Very well, Mr. Gaeta," and the fleet prepared for yet another step farther from home.
As he approached the communications console he asked P.O. Dualla, "Hey, Dee, what's the word on the next system, anything exciting?"
Dualla checked her console. "Uh, the Raptor off Pegasus didn't find much, just more space. Should be quiet this time."
"Finally, a little peace and quiet."
In the twenty seconds the exchange took, the background radiation in the nebula began climbing, doubling, every minute or so. The radiation was entered into the sensor logs but not yet potent enough to trigger the radiological alarm…
As Gaeta was counting down the final seconds of the jump, the alarm went off, startling everyone concerned and prompting the last pre-jump thought of the entire CIC: good riddance.
The Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus, along with the rest of the rag-tag fleet jumped. But not to the coordinates scouted by the Raptor mission.
SERENITY, IMMEDIATLEY AFTER THE EVENTS OF "OUT OF GAS"
Everything was back to normal. Well, as normal as things got on this boat, anyhow, thought Captain Malcolm Reynolds as he relaxed into the rarely-used copilot's seat on the bridge of Serenity, stomach twingeing a bit from the bullet wound the Doc had fixed. They were back on course for Paquin and had their connection to the Cortex back up. Everything was going just fine. This worried Mal a bit, as things rarely went "just fine" for long.
As if in answer to his answer to his thought, the space a kilometer in front of him flashed, and around fifty ships of varying sizes appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. The radar lit up like a Christmas tree decorated with napalm and set a-blazin'. Mal punched the shipwide intercom and yelled into it,
"Zoë, Wash, Get the hell up here!"
For all of three seconds, Mal's mercantilist instincts went toe-to toe with his desire for self preservation. They reached a kind of draw, when the merchant in his head pointed out that if he tried to run, they would probably be destroyed, and they might as well try to make some kind of profit out of it by at least appearing friendly.
Mal also activated the communications array, and earnestly broadcasted;
"This is Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity, you folks lost?
As he stared at the ships, two stood out. They were the largest, most deadly-looking, and they had changed vector, launching something out of the pods on their port sides. Several somethings actually. As Zoë and Wash ran up to the bridge, Mal leaned back in his chair, he was thinking;
I really hope these guys are friendly.
In addition to Wash and Zoë, Simon and River Tam showed up on the bridge as well.
Mal shot a glare at Simon, who replied with "She wanted to see this. I couldn't stop her if I wanted to."
As Wash slid into his chair, (the one with the plastic dinos around it,) Zoë peered out the bridge canopy and gave the just-appeared fleet a thorough inspection: "they don't look like Reavers, nor Alliance, sir."
"Yeah," Wash added, "whatever they are, I'm not reading anything from them that would indicate a Munchausen drive core. I don't think they can make interplanetary travel. Well, not without some other kind of Faster than light drive. Huh. Nothing in the IFF yet either"
"Did you get any response, sir," Zoë asked.
"Nah, nothing yet."
The smaller craft which had launched from the larger ones vectored closer to Serenity and then stopped. On closer inspection, they appeared to be small one-man fighters three-winged ships of two types, one type colored red with white stripes, and the other more curved with a blue color. The aesthetics of the fighters did not immediately concern Mal. The fact that all of the ships had cannons mounted on the wings, however, did.
"What are they waiting for?" he wondered.
Just then, the radio crackled, and then resolved into words, of a deep and confident pitch, but not immediately understood to most of those now on the bridge of Serenity.
She was staring off into space and then stated in a completely even tone, "Their odyssey complete with the battle half-done." She then whirled and strode over to Mal's console and began typing at a furious rate. On the screen, Mal saw pages from the cortex appearing with titles like The Iliad, Oedipus at Colouns, and the Dulares Book of Greek Myths. Titles he had barely remembered, ones he had only seen before in the schoolroom of Shadow, the month his mother taught him about the Greek myths.
River then activated a teaching and translation program, on the cortex, one that helps to teach the English or Mandarin so essential in the 'verse to isolated planets in the boonies, the ones that don't have the will or the time to teach their kids the language they don't speak. River activated the Greek section of the translation program, seldom used except on backwaters like New Athens or Sparta reborn.
She gave Mal a soft stare, and said, "Tell them again. Slowly."
Mal complied and repeated his greeting.
The static cleared, and the deep, stern voice returned, this time, in English:
"Captain Reynolds… This is Admiral Adama of the Battlestar Galactica. We would like to- extend an invitation to come aboard. We will be armed, you had better not be. Adama out."
Chapter 2: Meetings
Mal got his crew together at the dining table for one of those meetings where everyone had a say, and then Mal chose an option that they presented him with, or one he thought up. It was rarely the best choice, and was usually the least stupid. Therefore, Jayne's ideas rarely made it past the first stage in the decision-making process. Wrapping up a brief explanation, and adding; "…so, I told them we'd come over in twenty minutes. Enough time to run, or dock with them, but it seems to me if we stick around and keep our cool, we stand to gain from this-"
"Gain what exactly?" Queried Jayne, "from what you say, these folks seem a mite twitchy to do business with, and if there not even from around here, it ain't exactly like they'll have any cashy money or decent goods we can get from 'em if we help. I say we run."
"Where, exactly do you intend to run TO? In case you missed the beginning part of my little lecture, they appeared out there in a flash. Whatever type of drive they got, its obviously faster than us, and all those fighters have guns, and I'll lay even money that those Battle-thingies have even bigger guns, and the people on 'em seem jumpy enough to use them if we bolt. I say we sit down, have ourselves a calm little palaver with these folks and try to set us up a business relationship with them. Besides, I bet Kaylee's gonna jump at the chance to take a look at their engine rooms."
Kaylee grinned, and the room seemed to get even brighter "Oh, that'd be shiny cap'n! Can you set that as part of the deal with them?"
Mal grinned; you couldn't help but be cheerful around her, "well, now it's you, me, Wash, and Zoë. What do the rest of you think?"
Shepard Book raised a hand and spoke; "Well, I never though that I'd have the chance to make history. This should be a unique experience."
Mal stared at Simon and River. "Now, while it would be bad for her to go nuts on us at a wrong time-"
"She is the only translator you have if something goes wrong with the cortex uplink, so of course she will be going. So I will go too."
River said lucidly, "I'll be good. However I will make no allowance for any bad behavior on their part."
"Fair enough." Mal turned to Inara. "And you?"
"Well, I suppose aside from the Shepard, I have the best manners of the lot of you. I volunteer to be the ambassador." Mal raised an eyebrow and was about to speak when she continued with a semi-mock glare. "Someone has to give a good first impression."
"Of good taste, and respectability, not likely." Mal riposted
Zoë rolled her eyes, "Ok, enough arguing, It's settled. We all go aboard Galactica except Jayne, who misses getting to look at all the new kinds of guns they'll be pointing at us."
"Fine by me." he rumbled. "I'll be in my bunk."
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA PORT HANGAR BAY
Admiral Adama, Colonel Tigh, President Roslin, and a squad of Marines were the only ones on the deck at present. Vice President Dr. Baltar was being kept in the dark about the discovery until they needed his scientific expertise. Adama and Roslin were beginning to sense something oily and hidden in the man. As they watched the extendable airlock attach to bottom front of the odd looking ship, Saul Tigh stared at the ship with an expression of bemused disgust, mumbling,
"Well, I hope the crew is better looking than that piece-of-crap ship."
Roslin smiled. "I don't care if they're blue, green or polka-dot if they can tell us where Earth is."
Tigh turned bright red. "Oh. You heard me. Sorry Ma'am."
"It's quite all right Colonel, as a matter of fact, I agree with you. Just don't tell the captain."
"Yes, Madam President."
The airlock pressurized, the light near the door handle turning form red to green. Adama hit the communications button, and said: "Reynolds, I have a squad of Marines standing outside this door. Now would be a good time to drop any weapons you and your people are carrying."
After hearing some murmuring and several thumps, Adama opened the airlock door to find eight people and a diverse arsenal of weapons on the floor.
A brown-haired man in his mid-thirties with a look of authority smiled and stepped forward. In his hand he held several small headphones similar to the one in his own ear. The man spoke in a language unfamiliar to Adama, until a wafish young girl stepped forward and said in halting tones,
"Put this on, it connects direct to our translation program. Then you can talk-to all of us."
Adama grew instantly suspicious at the words connection and program, but, acting on his gut, he took a pair of headphones, passing a set to Roslin and Tigh also.
As he put on the headphones, the brown-haired man began to speak: "Admiral Adama, I presume?" extending a hand, "Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity.
Nodding, and grasping Reynolds' hand, Adama got the impression of a career Marine noncom promoted from the ranks, competent with his job, yet uncomfortable in it. He would look out for his people first. This was not a man to trifle with.
"Captain Reynolds, This is the President of the Twelve Colonies, Laura Roslin…"
"Pleasure to meet you, Captain," she said, smiling warmly as they shook hands.
"…and Galactica's executive officer, Colonel Saul Tigh
Tigh managed to choke out: "nice ship" but was clearly holding back.
"Oh," said Mal. "Serenity may not look like much, but she gets us where we need to go, er, most of the time."
Adama stared at Mal and asked; "You are obviously human. Please tell me; do you come from Earth, or know where it is?"
Mal responded: "sure, this won't take but a moment:
"Here's how it is: Earth-that-was got used up, so we terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths, some rich and flush with new technologies, some not so much. The Central Planets, them as formed the Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule; a few idiots tried to fight it, among them myself and Zoë.-
Pointing, at the beautiful, dangerous woman behind him
After the war, I bought a ship, Serenity. She's a transport ship, Firefly class. Got a good crew: a pilot, Wash, Zoë's husband, a mechanic, Kaylee. We even picked up a preacher for some reason," (Nodding at each crew member in turn,) and a bona fide-
-"Ambassador," Inara cut in, introducing herself around,
. There's a doctor, too, took his genius sister outta some Alliance camp, where they played with her brain. So they're keeping a low profile. River's a little loopy sometimes, but she's a reader, like to be she tells you what you had for breakfast. Last year.
After the rest of the crew was introduced, with amusement at the Jayne "Mr. Public Relations" Cobb's decision to remain aboard Serenity, and raised eyebrows at the fact that the Shepard only worshiped one god. Mal looked Roslin in the eye and queried:
"You mentioned something about twelve colonies, Ma'am; care to go into more detail about that?"
"Certainly," she replied, "let us move to the briefing room. Come along ladies and gentlemen."
"No offense ma'am," said Zoë as she was walking past, but you sure remind me of my third-grade teacher."
Roslin smiled over Tigh's muffled laughter. "None taken, Minister of Education and schoolteacher were my prior occupations."
When they reached the briefing room, Roslin said; take a seat. We will try to give you the short version of why we are here. We don't quite know the "how" yet.
The crew of Serenity (minus Jayne,) sat down and listened to two hours of brief Colonial history, the journey of the rag-tag fleet, and their burning desire to find a thirteenth colony called Earth.
Roslin concluded the epic telling by saying; "one planet with humans would have been wonderful news, several hundred inhabited or inhabitable planets are far better than what I had hoped for. Thank you, Captain Reynolds."
A Marine noncom entered the room, and told the group: "Doctor Baltar wants to see you, sir, Madam President, shall I tell him you're busy?"
"No." said Roslin. "Send him in. Now it is time for the scientific explanation of how we got here."
Captain Reynolds, I'd watch Baltar it I were you. He's a bit slimier than he lets on.
The first thing Gaius Baltar saw when he entered the room were Adama, Tigh, and eight people he had never seen before, including four women, three of whom suited his tastes rather well. (One was a bit too young, but still, three new, legal female faces did make for a happy day.)
As he entered the room a bare leg with a silver bracelet contrived to get tangled in his, causing an undignified stumble. Baltar glared the leg's owner, a tall beautiful blond woman only he could see.
"One must create a nice image for these-people- That of a bumbling but kind scientist should do nicely."
With a quirky, embarrassed smile, Baltar made his way over to the table, and was introduced to Serentiy's crew, paying particular attention to the dark-haired woman in the flowing robes who exuded grace, sophistication, and a subtle sensuali-
"Gaius, it would not do to attempt a liason this early on. Keep on task and pay attention!"
"Well, Doctor," asked Roslin, "what do you have for us?"
"Madam President, while at first glance the energy spikes in the nebula appeared to be natural in origin, after closer examination of the Galactica's sensor logs in the seconds before the jump, I can only presume that the energy buildup was artificial. You see…"
Mal listened to Baltar ramble in scientific jargon, exponents, probabilities, signal decay,
And believed, absolutely that this man was not to be trusted, he was reminded of Niska and Badger, the man of intellect and culture on the outside, (or at least trying to be,) and then and the as-of-yet intangible air of something underneath the crust. Mal already disliked him, and taking a glance around the crew, looked at River, saw a tiny shake of the head, and that was all he needed.
He would bide his time, be polite, look for the gain of it. And watch his back.
Chapter Three: Maneuvers
FIRST CONTACT PLUS ONE, 0133 HRS,
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA BRIEFING ROOM
Still in the briefing room with Roslin and Adama, Zoë and Mal were trying to get as much information on the colonials as he could, and on their robotic nemeses, the Cylons, as possible. Kaylee and Wash were busy learning about the engineering and propulsion technologies of a new civilization, and Jayne, finally coaxed from his "bunk" in the bowels of Serenity, was busy comparing notes and weapons with some Marines, under the redoubtable Gunnery Sergeant Hadrian. Simon and River were on Pegasus treating the sick and wounded from the Pegasus' last scrap with the Cylons that had cost former Commander Garner his life and led to Lee Adama's succession to command of Pegasus. Few questions were asked about his origins, it was enough that he was there and that people had stopped dying. The rest of the crew was back exploring the areas of the Galactica that they were allowed to see.
With the fleet rumor mill already open and the news services unrestricted, by Presidential order, a sense of jubilation tempered by apprehension about the Alliance government was sweeping through every ship in the fleet. Even D'anna Biers, the sharkish reporter was giving good, positive copy.
"…and you're sure there's no way these-Cylons made it through the Big Jump along with you? Fella could get a mite twitchy; he knew one or more of those things made it through along with you."
"Captain Reynolds," responded Adama, "the primary threat is not the metal Centurion unit; it is the other models of cylon, each of whom can look and act like one of us. We have ID'ed several models so far, and have photographs of them if you would like to see them. However, we are still unsure as to how many "Sleeper Agents" remain, or precisely who they are. Galactica also has a prisoner, a defector if you will.
"Defector? How'd that happen?"
"She developed feelings for a stranded pilot, and helped him to survive on Caprica after the attacks. She was placed in the brig after they made it to the fleet. We are still unsure of her reliability."
Mal could sympathize; he had had the same doubts about defectors from the Alliance during the War.
While Laura Roslin realized that Reynolds' depiction of the Alliance was heavily biased, she knew that her government had not been entirely perfect, and had had its share of Black Operations, (only confirmed by Bill Adama's slight-but-visible reaction to those two words,) but she was positive, absolutely positive, that the Colonial government would stop short of medical experiments on children. She decided to hold off on contact and negotiations with the Alliance government until, after analysis of comparative technology and weapons, she could be sure that the Fleet could negotiate from a position of strength.
SERENITY DINING ROOM, (Inside Battlestar Galactica Docking Bay)
FIRST CONTACT PLUS TWO, 1125 HRS
The crew was back on Serenity for another "strategy session," having managed to eat in the Galactica's mess. In Mal's opinion, the food there was even more simple and bland than on Serenity, but still better than field rations. Oh and they ate too many noodles. Man can get sick of them pretty quick, as he found out recoupin' from a war wound at New Canton Hospital after his third tour, when a nerve cluster on his back was hit by a piece of shrapnel… no young, pretty nurses, only ones old enough to be his amah, and nothin' but gorram noodles
Mal sat back and listened to Kaylee expound on the wonders of Colonial tech, with half a mind (still more than Jayne could muster on a good day,)
"So, as far as I understand, the drive folds space, and the ship moves near-instantaneously to another point in space- drive's reliable, it don't break down…much, and ya can mount it on a ship of near any size!"
Mal was struck with a brilliant idea.
"Kaylee, any chance we could mount one of those drives, maybe from a spare shuttle or Raptor, (He had learned 'Fleet parlance by this time,) on Serenity?"
"I figured you were gonna ask that Cap'n, an' so I asked their Chief when he came over to have a look at Serenity. Nice man, seemed a bit sad, though, but I didn't wanna-"
"Oh." (Grinning impishly,) "Sorry, he said he was fairly sure they could do it. According to him, non FTL ships back at their Colonies do it all the time, oh, and did you know they have an girl engineer named Cally, I mean, how weird is that-"
She stopped talking after a masterfully arched Zoë eyebrow slash glare.
"Anyways, if it's possible, should cut our travel time and fuel costs down significant. Assuming we can get Tylium for it. S'posed to be lots in Asteroids, maybe in the Belt,"
Mal squinted contemplatively; I'll have to see what I can do about that…
Three minutes later, A klaxon began to sound throughout Galactica, and through the vessel's intercom came;
"Attention, unidentified vessel detected. Set Condition One throughout the fleet…"
(One of the two Major Planets, location of Parliament, center of the Alliance Government)
The cool green lawns, sheer blue skies, and graceful silver maxscrapers and government buildings of the Capital City served a dual purpose. They were carefully maintained to awe and calm the many, many hayseed tourists and minor officials from the outer worlds, exuding a veneer of technology and civilization, and acted as the velvet glove for the iron fist of the Parliament and the Prime Minister's Inner Cabinet that controlled it.
Those ten men and women on the Cabinet had inscrutable, unquestioned power, and massive influence over the Alliance Policy, along with the fleet that backed up that policy. They had orchestrated or permitted nearly every Alliance Black and Covert Operation before, during and after the Unification War. Three of them were the Board of Directors of Blue Sun and a host of subsidiary corporations with secret experimental facilities.
An aide rushed in and whispered into the ear of the thin, balding man in his mid-fifties. The Naval Secretary stood up and addressed his fellow ogliarchs:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, The IAV Dortmunder was on a routine patrol around the Paquin sector, and observed a large fleet containing vessels of unknown type-"
Images of the Galactica, Pegasus, and her fleet began flashing on a projection screen.
"The Captain of the Dortmunder is unsure of their intentions, and has dispatched a standard, multi-lingual greeting. I am of the opinion that, as we have few Fleet assets in-sector, and they have made no violent actions, we should attempt to open diplomatic relations. And see where we stand."
With murmured assent, the Cabinet decided to attempt peaceful contact.
But one man in the room had a plan of his own…
The Naval Secretary turned to his trusted aide,
"Mr. Doral, cancel my 0500 with the board, I'll be staying here for the next several days."
And the drab, unremarkable, brown-haired aide of average build and height, who went by the name of Aaron Doral, left the room to respond to his boss's request.
While he sent a message of his own.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA CIC, IMMEDIATELY AFTER CONTACT WITH UNKNOWN VESSEL
"Unidentified vessel, this is the Battlestar Galactica. Please respond."
Reports flooded in from all over the ship;
"DC parties standing by,
-vipers in port launch tubes prepped,
-Main batteries locked, plotting CWIS (Close-In Weapons System) cone for possible fighter intercept vectors,
-Pegasus Actual reports ready."
"Hold fire." ordered Adama, "and launch Vipers. We are going to try to make peaceful contact, but if you get any hostile intent, open fire."
Unconsciously, P.O. Anastasia Dualla put her hand to her headphones, "Sir, I'm getting a response, from the unidentified vessel."
"Put it on the CIC intercom," said Adama.
Even through the static, the voice sounded hesitant nervous:
"Galactica, this is Captain Harken of the Interstellar Alliance Vessel Dortmunder, we have been ordered by Parliament to escort you to the nearest naval base. You are required to disarm your weapons, and prepare for boarding teams-
CABINET ROOM, LONDONIUM
The Comm feed was live,
"What in the Seven Hells!" exclaimed the Naval Secretary, "Doral? Did you dispatch the message correctly, or is Harken a raving luna-"
He was stunned as Doral; his close aide of so many years strode back into the room wearing a belt with containers of ball-bearings over blocks of Comp5, a plastic explosive. The Secretary got as far as recognizing the irony that he was on the appropriations committee for said explosive during the Unification War, and trying to simultaneously dive under the table, when his world went white…
IAV DORTMUNDER BRIDGE
"-Surrender now. Any attempt at hostile action, and you will be fired on."
Captain Harken was a standard, by the book officer. He had gotten one of the border patrol "Pride" commands, the class of ship commissioned after the war. Heavily armed, imposing, and lightly built, it had been designed to impress local dignitaries, and catch smaller vessels, not go toe-to-toe in a fleet battle. That was for the Dreadnaughts. It resembled nothing so much as a series of skyscrapers in space, gleaming and delicate. Dortmunder carried seventy-five hard-hitting gunships, and multiple energized torpedo launchers. It was not well armored; because tactics dictated it should release gunships, and stay back from the main fighting. Also armor was more expensive, and, in the budget-cutting days after Unification, with no organized enemy to fight, was not seen as a practical expenditure. While this worked fine for picket duty and smuggling interdiction, this theory had yet to hold up in battle.
Harken took a look at the tac screen, and shivered. Those two battlestars looked deadly, the smaller (civilian?) ships could be armed, but orders were orders.
"Sir!" crowed the Ensign at the Radar screen, multiple small objects launching from both Battlestars."
"Are they maneuvering?" queried Harken.
"yessir, they appear to be one or two-man fighters, velocity standard to our gunships, er- so far they are maneuvering into a flank position above and below the two Battlestars. The appear to have a broadside position on us,
"Sir!" Said the ensign at the comm station
"Adama says he will not stand down, -I've lost contact with the Cabinet!"
"I don't think so, sir, we still have the Cortex and Sector Net."
Harken was puzzled and scared. He made the call,
"Weapons, give me a firing solution on the largest Battlestar. Detach Gunships. Order them to engage only military targets."
GALACTICA LAUNCH TUBE, PORT HANGAR BAY
The past few days had been weird for Brendan "Hotdog" Costannza, what with meeting the earthers, earthlings- whatever they were called, and finding out that they were just as human as he was. When that pilot of theirs, Wash, accepted Starbuck's offer, and got in a Viper cockpit, he flew rings around damn near everybody, even the almighty CAG herself. Wash was talkative and funny, but struck him as a bit too modest for a topnotch pilot, even if he was the right level of eccentric. After the joyride, (and asking if he could keep the Viper) Wash had returned to Serenity, and, as all the male pilots noted enviously, to the arms of an incredibly beautiful woman.
"Hotdog" mulled it over;
How could a guy like Wash get a woman like tha-?
Major Kelly's voice snapped him out of it,
"Hotdog, launching in three, two…"
As he sped down the tube, Hotdog was glad to have gotten a Mk IV for this battle. He had the feeling he would be needing the extra firepower and speed as he angled his guns down onto the deadly looking gunships approaching the Galactica's centerline.
Dortmunder opened fire first, launching five ion-catalyst torpedoes, engines glowing green, towards the Galactica. Its complement of gunships began to arc gracefully out of their original trajectories heading toward the Battlestars' centerlines, and began to maneuver toward the Galactica, trying to get within range to fire their anti-ship missiles at the smaller Battlestar.
Exclaimed Lt. Hoshi,
"Dortmunder has fired!"
Commander Lee Adama frowned,
"Helm, alter heading port five degrees, roll left three. Main batteries, load antiship and fire as you bear on Dortmunder. Secondaries, task for suppression fire on the gunships. Galactica has the missiles.
Lee paused, took a breath, picked up the intercom mike,
"All vipers weapons free, stop the fighters from getting to the civvies, and stay out of our suppression fire."
To the bridge crew of the Dortmunder it looked as if both of the Battlestars had erupted in flame. It was as if hundreds of fiery tongues were licking out into space, the ones from Pegasus shredding the forty-five gunships still on approach to the Galactica, with the "Bucket's" secondary batteries prematurely detonating the four of the missiles- one got through. It made Commander Harken feel a bit better, until he saw the heavy projectiles from Pegasus' main guns, the ones mounted on the starboard flight pod.
There was no way Mal was stupid enough to take Serenity out in the middle of a battle voluntarily, but once Admiral Adama had pointed out to him that the starboard launch bay was the only one capable of landing Vipers, a landing which would probably be very hurried, very chaotic, and involving a lot of said Vipers hitting the deck all over.
Having no FTL drive, and given that his crew had decided to stick it out with the Colonials, Serenity was cleared to dock with Cloud Nine,the luxury liner. The only problem was getting there intact through the freewheeling melee of a dogfight around Galactica between the Vipers and surviving gunships. So far, although Wash's piloting was tossing them around like olives in a rapidly shaken martini glass, his skills had kept them from getting hit. So far-
"What was that?"
Asked Mal, as a piece of his beloved Serenity decided to "part company," as it were, from the nose of the vessel.
"looks like a piece of shrapnel clipped the port guidance leads." Muttered Wash in a strained voice,
"I have no control on that side and we're in a spin heading away from the center of the furball, towards the civilians."
Mal bit back some very unpleasant curses, (Wash didn't deserve them,) mused;
"Well, we're out of the bad for now, Wash, get on the horn, see if anyone can give us a tow, or meet us halfway, meanwhile,"
"Kaylee, get up here, I got a boat needs fixin'"
IMMEDIATELY AFTER DORTMUNDER INITIATED HOSTILITIES.
Starbuck's voice came through his helmet speakers, loud and crackly as always,
"All Vipers, All Vipers, weapons free, Red Team, break by pairs and engage the bogeys. Stick with your wing, and good hunting."
Hotdog listened to the conformations, gave his, and then commed "Duck," his wing.
"Duck, we got three threats in our sector, designated Omega 1-3. High mass-thrust indicators, but little maneuverability shown so far. We play this safe; we go home with some nice kill stickers. I'll take cover you first pass, and then we leapfrog."
"I copy, Hotdog."
The two vipers rolled out in to the fight, firing RCS thrusters, and moving on seemingly random, unpredictable paths past the gunships. Until both craft stopped completely, pivoting one hundred and eighty degrees, and accelerating on the tails of the three gunships, began firing their three 30-millimeter Kinetic Energy Weapons.
Two spectacular, silent explosions later, the third gunship began firing its few attitude jets, trying to escape the deadly streams of fire. A larger flash off starboard caused Hotdog to glance to starboard, in time to see the death throes of the IAV Dortmunder as high impact AP shells from Pegasus' and Galactica's dorsal armaments rip through the ship completely, creating a massive hole, a few shells even emerging from the other side before the remainder of the Dortmunder ripped apart, through explosive decompression, and the sympathetic detonations of its fuel bunkers and ammunition storage lockers.
COCKPIT OF ALLIANCE SIXTH FLEET, THIRD SQUADRON GUNSHIP "MIDWAY MACE"
Lieutenant (JG) Marie Nimitz, descendant of the Illustrious Fleet Admiral Chester,
Hero of the Battle of Midway so long ago on Earth-That-Was, took pride in her heritage as a member of a famous military family, was content with her service to the Alliance, and excited about her posting to the Outer Planets. Until about ten minutes ago.
Like all Nimitzes since the Disparosa, she studied records of her ancestor's epochal success in detail. At the moment, however, Marie was most reminded of the part of the Battle of Midway when already unmanuverable American Avenger Torpedo Bombers had to fly "straight and level" to launch an attack on the Japanese carriers. They were perfect targets. Not one plane of Torpedo Squadron Eight made it back to the American Fleet, or inflicted damage to the carriers.
The Alliance Nebula-5 Gunship was made for high-speed space pursuit and atmospheric maneuverability, (hence the myriad of control surfaces) The N-5 was a new, postwar, model, made when some idiot in accounting determined that two ships could be made for the price of one if half of the expensive space maneuvering systems, (attitude jets,) were removed. This move was very popular, what with all of the postwar debt, but made the N-5 less maneuverable in a vacuum.
The prevailing thought was: "The War's over. Who is there to dogfight in space anyway?"
In Marie's esteemed opinion, the N-5 was barely adequate for interstellar police and customs work, and completely ill-suited to space warfare, no matter how hot a stick it was in-atmo. With the beginning of the battle, she had already brought up the "eject" option on the N-5's central computer. This would eject the cockpit containing her, the copilot, Ensign Mike Royce, and her Weapons Officer Philippe Deveraux.
The Comm boards were filled with the chatter, screams and silence of pilots in her squadron;
"Gorramit, he's too slippery-"
"Three here, picked up a tail, someone get him off-"
The other two gunships in her flight were quickly blown apart, and the two small fighters which had caused the destruction turned to pursue her.
As they closed in, Marie dropped her countermeasures, which exploded into searing lights and metal fragments, several of which tore a wing off of one of the fighters
He saw Duck's wing fragment, watched the viper spin its way off into space, shoved it out of his mind, and poured 30-millimeter HE shells into the bastard until it exploded and a large chunk of it shot off into space, obviously a cabin of some sort.
Hotdog decided to frag it.
Then he heard Duck;
"Crypter Crypter, Duck here. -hit and spinning, no joy on controls, punching out."
Hotdog keyed his mike,
"Hotdog here, Duck had to eject, took out three bogeys, I got have one eject from them, too. Logging coordinates, Hotdog out.
The battle was over. Another war had begun.
Chapter 4: Mission: Indomitable
There's somethin' happenin' here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun, over there
Tellin' me I got to beware
-Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
"MIDWAY MACE" COCKPIT ESCAPE MODULE
As the sleek, deadly-looking fighter oriented on her, Marie Nimitz knew she was going to die. She had just destroyed its wingman, and held no illusions about the "nobility" of fighter combat. So she took a deep breath, and waited for nothingness. She was partly right.
Nothing happened. Immediately, at least- About five minutes later an ungainly, tan craft, larger than those elegant fighters that had turned her gunship into confetti came to a stop above the cockpit module. Two "clunks" later, and they were moving again, towards the larger of the two "Battlestars."
PEGASUS PORT DORSAL HANGAR BAY:
Commander Lee Adama stood by the elevator with a marine bodyguard, waiting for the arrival of the captured escape pod. While Captain Reynolds had been friendly, almost ingratiatingly so, in his two weeks of commanding a Battlestar, he did know that people who had shot, or had been planning to shoot at him less than a half an hour ago deserved extra scrutiny. Especially the only people intelligent or fast enough to eject from their ship before it exploded. And then there was the Intel angle- while "Mal" as he insisted on being called, had fought in the Unification War, he had done it as a ground-pounder. These people were pilots, and were probably well acquainted with Alliance military vehicles and capabilities.
As the pod rose into the hangar, the marines all aimed their weapons at the windows. The three space suited figures inside raised their hands.
Well, thought Lee, I suppose some customs are universal after all,
He picked up a radio, broadcast into the ship, in the "clear."
"This is Commander Lee Adama. Come out and keep your hands raised. Any false moves and you will be shot."
Three helmeted heads nodded, and one person got up to pop the hatch.
Lee fought down a smile, which would not have looked appropriate on the face of the "Beast's" commander. It was just that he felt like a cliché cop in those "Caprica Enforcement Files" broadcasts. He silently swore never to use that line again.
The three figures made their way over to Lee and the Marines, slowly, reached up and took off their helmets revealing two young men and a very beautiful-
-Stop it, Lee-
Young woman. Who promptly saluted.
"Lieutenant, Junior Grade Marie Nimitz, my copilot, Ensign Royce, Weapons Officer Deveraux, Alliance Fleet. In accordance with the Fifth Geneva Convention, I and my men are authorized to provide you with our names, ranks and serial numbers. Nothing more."
"Lt. Nimitz," Lee responded, due to acts of aggression by the IAV Dortmunder a state of war now exists between the Colonial Remnant and the Anglo-Sino Alliance. You and your men are under arrest."
Lee nodded to a Marine Sergeant;
"Take them to the brig, but don't interrogate them. Yet."
With that, Lee Adama turned on his heels, and strode out of the hangar bay, leaving Marie Nimitz and her comrades to an uncertain future. She felt really, really uneasy about the way Lee Adama had said "Interrogation." No matter how cute he looked.
"Captain Reynolds?" queried a slightly bemused President Roslin,
"I was not aware that making you our Cultural Attaché left me at your beck and call."
Mal didn't bat an eye.
Madam President, I was watching a broadwave, and it mentioned a bombing in the Cabinet Chamber of Parliament, on Londinium."
Mal pressed a button on one of the Bridge's many screens, and chatter from a news show cut in:
Showing footage of a flaming, ornate building, with a broadcaster commenting;
"-the only survivor of the blast was a Cabinet aide by the name of Aaron Doral-"
The news network showed a still photo of a very familiar, though soot-blackened face
Mal froze the image, turned to Roslin.
"I was looking through those pictures of the "skinjobs" you sent us. Figgered It'd come in useful if I did."
He stared at her pointedly.
"Reckon I was right to beck 'n call ya after all. How bout you?"
Roslin stared right back. The captain was baiting her, but if she had learned anything from her years as an educator, it was how not to be baited. And how to act fast.
"It certainly does. Thank you Captain Reynolds. It appears as if the Cylons have beaten us to your people."
Reynolds raised an eyebrow,
"With respect, Madam President, them as just got killed ain't my people. Odds are, they're the ones who had the bright idea of Unification and consequently, got my people killed. I'll shed no tears."
Roslin winced, more from the grammar, (or lack thereof,) than her mistake,
"Come with me."
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA BRIEFING ROOM
Mal sat in the room with Roslin, Adama, Tigh, and Lee.
Roslin cleared her throat,
"Captain Reynolds, it appears we are now at war on two fronts. I apologize for involving you and your crew in any of this- situation."
"No apology necessary Madam President. Continue if you will."
"Admiral, what is the status of the fleet?"
"The dogfight was pretty one-sided. The fighters we didn't destroy with the suppression barrage got picked up by the Viper Squadrons. They were not as maneuverable, and we lost six birds to their seventy-five. We recovered two of our pilots, and three of theirs, the only ones to eject. No damage to Pegasus, and the one missile that got through to Galactica impacted on the hull armor. No casualties or additional damage to the civilian vessels."
"Thank you Admiral."
She turned to the rest of the room,
"You and your people did an excellent job. But now we have nowhere to go, and the Cylons could be anywhere."
Mal spoke up,
"Excuse me, folks, but that ain't exactly so."
Roslin waved a hand, encouraging him to continue,
"See, after U-Day, the Purple Bellies-er- Alliance were celebrating for a week straight. No security anywhere. Friend of mine named Les Martin led a squad of our Commandos, them as was still uncaptured, and any other Independent die-hards still of a mind to fight, and they up and stole the brand-new Alliance Littoral Frigate Kearsage right out of Boros Drive Yards. Renamed it Whistlin' Dixie, and lit out for parts unknown. To most. Might be, I'm able to contact them. Now what do you say to that, ladies and gentlemen?"
"Sounds like a damn good idea." grumbled Tigh.
Adama, Roslin, and Lee nodded, and then Roslin spoke;
"We would like to send a few of our people too, if that's all right with you, Captain?"
"Fine by me," Mal answered, "long as they ain't too conspicuous."
"Sounds reasonable, we've installed a Raptor FTL on Serenity, so why don't I send the Chief Tyrol and a few engineers for troubleshooting the engine, and some Marine-"
"No Marines," Interrupted Mal. "Remember 'conspicuous?'" Me and mine can handle ourselves in a fight, and if we gotta meet with any Independent resistance Cells, your Marines just scream, 'Alliance!' Don't much matter what they wear."
"One Marine." Adama shot back. "Gunny Hadrian."
Mal smiled. "Alright. It'll be worth it- just to see Jayne's reaction."
"Good" responded Adama. "You leave tomorrow, and so will we. I'll give you the rendezvous, Captain Reynolds."
Chapter 5: Bar-the-Way
There's battle lines bein' drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
-Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
SERENITY MESS HALL
The crew of Serenity and the personnel from Galactica were gathered around the dining table for a briefing and discussion. In addition to Chief Tyrol and Gunny Hadrian, Cally and Jammer from the Chief's crew were present as well. An FTL drive from a scrapped Raptor was installed and working at parameters, all that remained was an FTL test.
Mal gave them the particulars,
"So, now that we know these Cy-lons are runnin' the government, it explains the repressiveness of the Alliance regime, and the reason for the start of the Unification War. 'Pears to me as if they wanted to get us divided and proceed in us beatin' each other down, then they can come in and blow up the pieces."
"Seems a sound theory, sir" remarked Zoë, "As I recall, Alliance Fleet had its budget and ship production reduced even before the Battle of Serenity. I've always been wondering why."
"The plan," Mal continued, "is to track down any Independent resistance cells still operatin'. See if they can help us track down the Whistlin' Dixie and any other Independent fleet ships that didn't disarm come U-Day."
"I Reckon we need to form a coalition against the Cylons, when more come, if they come, and try to sway any Alliance ships we can. That means we need evidence of the skinjobs' tampering. First things first, though, we find the Dixie, and talk to Les and the crew, get them on board. That means contact with a resistance cell. Closest one I know of is on Beaumonde, led by Nate Bradley. Goes by "Brad" He's crafty, and a sonofabitch on and off the field. Bit twitchy, so no uniforms or rank from any Galactica crew that go with us." "You all got civvies?"
The Colonials nodded, but Hadrian added,
"Captain, for this mission, we have been directed to obey your chain of command. Civilian clothing makes sense, but I'm a trained soldier. I won't be in a skirt. Are we clear?"
"Crystal." Answered Mal.
"Wouldn't mind seeing you out of one," remarked Jayne, quietly.
This pearl of "wisdom" might have gone ignored but for the fact that Jayne had been seated directly across from Hadrian. She immediately stood, reached across the table, and twisted his right arm into a very uncomfortable position, and pinning his face to the table with the other. Her expression did not change.
His did. To agony.
"Gahhhhh! Mal! Zoë, little help here!" he cried,
The two people in question stared at him, shrugged, and Mal gestured to Sgt. Hadrian,
"Continue if you would,"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cobb, I was unable to hear all of your last comment. What precisely did you say?"
Jayne was stunned. The only other women in his life he had been afraid of in his life were his mother and Zoë. He mentally added Hadrian to the list, while computing a response,
I'm still right though, he thought, she does have nice legs.
"Uh. nothing. Er. I didn't mean anything by it. Won't happen again. Honest!"
Hadrian raised an eyebrow.
"I'm sure you are." She said, slammed his head on the table, and turned to Mal.
"Anything else Captain?"
"Nah, that's about it. Sorry you had to do my job for a bit there."
"Very well, Captain," she stared at a somewhat groggy Jayne, "I'll be in my rack."
Wash, we're heading for Beaumonde. Chief, get that FTL prepped, and link it to the navcomp. Jump insystem far enough out so we can keep our little ace-in-the hole a secret."
"You got it" said the quirky pilot.
The room emptied, leaving Jayne still on the floor.
Mal poked Jayne a couple of times, until the lummox regained most of his clarity. Looked him in the eye.
"Jayne. Do you know what the chain of command is?"
Aww Crap. Thought Jayne.
Mal reached into a supply locker and pulled out a silvery chain attached to a cardboard sign that read, in flowery Kaylee-script; Chain of Command.
"It's the chain I beat you with until you understand who's in command here."
"Gorramit, Mal!" Jayne groaned. "you stole my line. My one good line."
Mal's eyes twinkled for a minute, then grew cold.
"Keep a civil tongue in your head. Or I'll let Hadrian rip it out.
He slung the Chain of Command back into the locker and left.
Inara's voice behind him. She must have been waiting by the door.
He turned around, her beautiful face looked drawn, worried. He decided this was no time to be funny.
"Yeah, Inara, what is it?"
"Why are you doing this? This isn't your fight, and you could get a lot of people killed. People who sat in that room moments ago, your friends. Do you even know why?"
" 'Nara, these Cylons with the Alliance, mean to end us. All of us. Humanity. If it takes till a year from now, even ten, it don't matter. We go our merry way and do nothing to stop this, the end'll come, one way or another. If not for us, then to our children or theirs. No bright future for humanity. It just stops, it's over.
Mal shrugged, weakly,
"If I don't stop this when I had the chance, I couldn't live with myself."
Inara placed her hand on his shoulder, and looked at him with compassion,
"I'm glad to see you have good reasons, Mal, but you can't let a desire to take revenge on the Alliance distract you from the real problem. Ever. You say you couldn't live with yourself if you didn't take action. Now imagine how you would feel if Wash, or River, or even Jayne were to die, not for the "greater good," but for Malcom Reynolds' Vendetta. Please, Mal, don't make this personal."
She gave his shoulder a squeeze and walked away, leaving Mal, for once, without a comeback.
ONE DAY LATER
With the rest of the crew back on Serenity, Mal, Zoë, Hadrian and Tyrol stood outside the dingy entrance of the Maidenhead Tavern, located in the seedier section of the spaceport. They all wore brown or brown-ish coats.
Mal decided to explain to the two Colonials why they were visiting a bar instead of asking around for Nate Bradley.
"Nate's war-buddy Al Bergstrom owns the joint. Uses the shipment of bar supplies to smuggle in weapons and other gear. We need to talk to him to get to Bradley. Now. There's a weapons check area up front, so leave your visible "iron" there.
Hadrian and the Chief nodded, and the group went inside.