"This is incredible, truly incredible," groaned One. "We come with overwhelming force, we destroy the Galactica's escort, albeit not without suffering some setbacks, we inundate the Galactica with wave after wave of centurions and yet total control over the ship still eludes us. Now, would someone with an intellect far surpassing my own please explain why we have not simply destroyed the Galactica?"
"We are holding out in case the centurions can recover Sharon and her child," said Six, her icy tone betraying how tired she had become of this particular line of conversation.
"Oh yes," chuckled One, "Sharon and her mystical child. Have none of you heard of the trouble that other Sharon, "Boomer," has been for us on Caprica since her resurrection? It seems to me that these Sharons are far too flawed to merit the attentions all of you have seen fit to lavish on them. So she is with child? What of it? This child can only be the inferior product of an inferior copy."
"Be careful what you say," said Eight.
"I said copy, not model," said One, "so there's no need to be so damned touchy."
"You can stop whining, One," said Three as she entered the conference room. "I've initiated a plan that should put the Eight in our hands."
"You mean back in our hands right?" said One, "As I recall we her had just moments ago and then you managed to lose her." As One said the last part he was staring directly at the Eight.
Three continued, doing her best to ignore One, "My number on the Galactica has activated the nuclear weapon. Captain Adama should send most of his marines to deal with this new problem, opening the way for her to get to the bridge, secure Sharon and bring her back home."
"And then we can finally destroy the Galactica," said One with a sigh.
"Yes," said Three. "There is a high likelihood that we will lose the nuke but we still have sufficient firepower on this baseship to destroy the Galactica once Sharon is returned to us."
"What?" snapped One, "A high likelihood? Don't our centurions outnumber the Colonials and their allies?"
"Of course," said Three, "but our centurions have proven far less effective in holding territory than they proved in taking it and arming a nuclear warhead is likely to draw a determined assault from the colonials."
"Then the centurions will have to be overhauled as well," observed Five.
"True," said Four, "but upgrading our raiders and baseships must take priority."
"We can deal with that later," said Six, before she turned back to Three, "please, keep us apprised."
Garrus pressed his ear against the bulkhead and, satisfied that the gunfire was coming immediately from the other side of the bulkhead door, moved back to take cover behind a pallet stacked with crates.
"Everyone take cover," said Garrus, "Private Jonas, prepare to open that door on my mark."
"What's on the other side of that door?" Garrus asked Corporal Venner as he waited for everyone to take their positions.
"A locker room," said Venner, as he thumbed one after another of his prayer beads.
Garrus nodded, and saw that everyone had taken their positions.
Private Jonas cycled the door's wheel and pulled it open.
A centurion on the other side of the door raised one of its arm-mounted cannons to fire a volley through the opening but its head was quickly reduced to shrapnel by an armor-piercing round from Garrus' rifle.
Unable to see any other quarries, Garrus vaulted over his cover and moved into the room, hearing the sounds of motors and servos, Garrus whirled to the left to face a red-eyed centurion and opened fire in the same moment it did. While Garrus' shield absorbed the impact from the centurion's guns, the centurion had no defense against the round it took to the chest, and when it collapsed face-first onto the deck it revealed a gaping exit wound.
After examining his surroundings, Garrus saw no other centurions, only a collection of lockers the centurions had torn from the walls to create barricades of their own and the broken remains of several centurions Garrus knew he had not destroyed.
"Thanks for the assist."
Garrus turned to see a human in black Systems Alliance armor coming from a doorway at the far end of the locker room, and he was followed by several other men who were similarly armored. The man's natural gait meant that he was almost certainly a Systems Alliance marine.
"We had these centurions cornered. It was just a matter of time for them." The man leapt over the centurions' barricade and extended his hand, "Gunnery Chief Cyrano."
Garrus shook Chief Cyrano's hand, "Garrus Vackarian, what's the status of you and your people?"
"We're holding up just fine. There's nothing a little medi-gel and a kick back to the front lines can't cure. We've been on our own since communications went down so we've been doing some search and destroy."
Chief Cyrano looked to see the rest of Garrus' detail emerging from the corridor outside the locker room, "Corporal Venner, glad to see you made it back. What took you so long?"
"I'm afraid we don't have time for any more pleasantries," interrupted Garrus, "Galactica's sensors detected a nuclear activation in the starboard flight deck. We need to keep the Cylons from detonating that weapon."
"Alright," said Cyrano with a toothy grin, before he turned to his marines, "You heard the man, we've got some toasters to smash."
Lieutenant Kaidan was looking over Sharon's shoulder as she studied reports of the logic bomb that had infected Galactica's systems when a blood-splattered messenger wearing a Colonial pilot's uniform rushed into the CIC only to collapse by the DRADIS console. Kaidan descended from the galley to the DRADIS pit as Captain Lee Adama was helping the pilot to his feet.
Although the pilot was covered in blood, very little of it seemed to be his own.
"What happened to you?" asked Lee.
"The centurions were about to break through the barricade. Sergeant Malory sent me back here to make the report. The Cylons are attacking in force and their target is the CIC."
Garrus warned me this would happen, thought Lee, and he wished he hadn't sent Corporal Venner's entire detail with the turian.
Lee spoke up to address the CIC, "Listen up, I need everyone who is not involved with fixing the virus or monitoring DRADIS to grab whatever weapons you can and report to the barricades immediately."
Lee turned to Kaidan, "Has the Cylon figured anything out yet?"
"She's still reading over the code," replied Kaidan.
"Then get it to read faster," said Lee.
Lee studied the faces of all the CIC crew leaving to man the barricade. They looked grim and hopeless. A brief glance at the DRADIS monitor, which was swarming with red blips, did nothing to alleviate the leaden weight that had settled on Captain Adama's shoulders.
When Lee looked away from the DRADIS monitor, he saw Dee moving along with the rest of the CIC crew out the door and quickly caught up with her.
"Petty Officer Dualla," said Lee, "I need you to stay at your post. If reinforcements show up we need to be able to communicate with them."
"With all due respect, sir," said Dee, "communications are completely shot and even if reinforcements come, I don't think they'll have a hard time figuring out what they have to do." Dee moved closer to Lee and spoke in a whisper, "The barricades need all the guns we can give them, sir."
Lee paused for a long moment before speaking, "I'll join you out there soon, Dee. Carry on."
After watching Dee leave, Lee hurried up to the galley to join the Cylon prisoner and Lieutenants Gaeta, Reid and Kaidan.
"You'd better have something," Lee addressed the prisoner.
"This is hopeless," stuttered Reid, "how is she supposed to figure out in minutes what we couldn't in hours?"
"I know what to do," said Sharon, and she tore her gaze from the code to look at Gaeta. "I need a direct link to the mainframe and communications routed through a fiber-optic comlink. You also need to prepare all hard drives for erasure."
Lieutenant Gaeta looked to Captain Adama for confirmation.
"Do whatever she says," said Lee, coldly. She's the only option we have left.
After circumventing several compartments that had been exposed to vacuum, and thus rendered impassible. Garrus, Liara and their marine escort had finally found a door leading to the starboard flight deck.
"This door should open up on to the balcony," said Corporal Venner.
"Good," said Cyrano, "I like to rain fire from above. Now when this door opens, I want everyone to fan out. First we take control of the balcony, then we kill everything below us. Everyone got that?" Cyrano was promptly answered by a chorus of marines saying 'Yes chief!'
Liara found herself wondering if Cyrano's assumption of control bothered Garrus but didn't have long to ponder.
"Open it up, Corporal," ordered Cyrano as he readied his assault rifle.
The marines broke out from the door and fanned out along the balcony, just as Chief Cyrano had ordered, but they found no hostiles to kill.
"What the hell?" muttered Cyrano as he emerged onto the balcony. Peering over the balcony's edge, he still saw no centurions he could lay waste to.
What Cyrano and the others did see was a conspicuous device sitting on a service table at the center of the lower deck.
"This reeks of an ambush," Garrus muttered as he examined the situation.
"I'm inclined to agree," said Cyrano. "An ambush is a coward's tool," Cyrano grinned, "but when these toasters are going up against us it's hard as hell to blame them."
"What do you propose?" asked Garrus.
"Simple: spring their trap. Corporal Venner, guard the door. Garrus, I want you to cover us. Everyone else, with me."
Liara gave an uncertain glance to Garrus before following Cyrano and the other marines down to the lower deck. Once they had descended the ladders, the marines carefully approached the device on the service table. Liara nervously took in her surroundings, carefully noting the placement of all crates and pallets that could be used as cover, or as concealment.
Cyrano was only a few feet away from the device when it began to emanate a terrible, high-pitched noise. The marine felt as if daggers were piercing his ears and boring into his skull. Within moments, all of the humans and Liara were clutching at their ears in agony, trying to block out the sound.
Only Garrus remained unaffected, and a single round from his rifle quickly destroyed the offending device. But as the noise subsided the turian heard the metallic footfalls of numerous centurions.
Garrus turned around to see a disoriented Corporal Venner get backhanded by a centurion, and the impact sent Venner against the threshold of the door with enough force to knock him out. The same centurion was soon destroyed by Garrus' rifle. As the centurion fell, Garrus saw a tall, blond-haired woman with cold eyes behind it. Certain that this woman was a Cylon, Garrus fired again but the woman dodged his shot and the turian heard the alarm signaling that his weapon had overheated.
The Cylon darted toward Garrus, refusing to give his weapon its required cool-down time. Garrus swung in an attempt to hit the woman with the butt of his weapon but she ducked under the attack, came up inside his guard and struck Garrus in the abdomen with surprising strength that caused the turian to drop his weapon and stumble backward. Another punch that landed under his mandibles laid Garrus out on his back.
"It's a pity you weren't as strong as the other specimen," said the Cylon as she loomed over Garrus.
Seeing his rifle, Garrus quickly seized it and, jabbed the scalding hot barrel of the weapon into the Cylon's abdomen, which caused the woman to recoil with a pained shriek. Garrus' rifle clicked, signaling that it had cooled down. The Turian took aim and fired.
As he got back to his feet, Garrus saw that numerous centurions were assailing the marines on the lower deck, too many of whom hadn't survived the initial assault. The surviving marines had taken cover behind whatever they could.
Liara popped out of cover just long enough to take a few shots and only barely dropped back behind the crate before her shield gave out under the assault of the centurions' relentless barrage. In her brief glimpse, Liara had seen at least ten centurions, and there were certainly more of them behind those centurions.
"I think I can handle them," said Liara, so quietly that Cyrano, who shared her cover, only barely heard her.
"What do you mean?" he shouted in response, "there must be twenty of the damned things."
"I can handle them," said Liara, more resolutely this time, "but I'll need cover."
Cyrano looked skeptically at Liara, but he was clearly willing to try anything.
"Listen up marines," bellowed Cyrano, "suppressing fire in three, two . . ."
Cyrano and the other marines emerged from their cover and fired wildly. Liara stood and her figure became bathed with shimmering, iridescent, blue light.
The centurions turned from the marines to bear their fire on her but not soon enough. A blue orb appeared in the empty space above the centurions and they were quickly pulled upwards, circling it as they were pulled in closer and closer. Although the centurions writhed and struggled, they were powerless to break free while the marines stood awed by the display of power.
"Don't stare," shouted Cyrano, "perforate the damned things!"
At Cyrano's order, the marines opened fire, decimating the trapped centurions. Once they had all been destroyed, the orb disappeared and the dismembered metal components fell to the deck in a giant scrap heap. At the same moment, the blue light faded from Liara and she stumbled, but was caught by Cyrano, who set her down on the ground gently.
The exhausted asari drew in deep breaths to calm herself.
"Damned fine job," said Cyrano, as he surveyed the damage.
"Thank you," Liara managed, weakly.
"We need to get back to work," Cyrano turned to see that Garrus and a still-disoriented Corporal Venner had arrived on the lower deck. Garrus looked briefly at Liara, "Someone should stay with Liara while she recovers, the rest of us need to spread out and find the nuclear weapon. Quickly."
"You seem to be in a terrible hurry," said Cyrano, "is there something else I should know?"
"We are holding a Cylon prisoner at the CIC," said Garrus, "This prisoner seems to be the Cylon's main objective and the only reason they haven't destroyed this ship already. Thus we need to find the weapon and return to the CIC as quickly as possible."
Captain Adama clutched his pistol nervously on as he sat crouched behind the barricade next to the equally nervous Petty Officer Dualla.
"We'll be alright," said Lee, "we're ready for them."
"Would you please stop talking to yourself, sir," said Dee, "you're making me nervous."
Lee laughed humorlessly, but his laughter was cut short when distant gunfire drew closer. The rapidly encroaching gunfire was soon joined by the sounds of footsteps and in seconds marines and other personnel in bloodstained uniforms were running toward the barricade, some of whom supported wounded.
Then the last barricade has fallen, thought Lee.
"Make a hole," shouted Captain Adama as he moved aside, allowing the incoming survivors to cross over the barricade and helping those who brought wounded.
"Anyone with a weapon can stay out here," shouted Lee, "If you do not have a weapon get into the CIC!"
"Centurions!" shouted one of the men on the barricade.
The centurions ruthlessly opened fire on the stragglers who had yet to cross over the barricade. Without the benefit of Systems Alliance armors, these stragglers were quickly wiped out.
While the defenders returned fire on the steadily advancing centurions, they were reduced to using Colonial weapons, which could only destroy the seven-foot-tall monstrosities with well-placed or lucky shots.
"All hard drives are prepped for erasure," announced Lieutenant Reid.
At the same time Lieutenant Gaeta pressed the fiber-optic microphone into Sharon's hand. "Access to both the mainframe and communications have been routed into this mike," said Gaeta.
"Good," said Sharon, who then bit her lower lip. "I need a knife."
An injured marine quickly volunteered his combat knife.
"I wish I could have gotten Dee's pocket knife instead," muttered Sharon as she nervously eyed the combat knife's massive blade.
After taking a deep breath, Sharon cut the head off the microphone, revealing a sparking fiber-optic thread, then took another breath and used the knife to make an incision into her wrist.
While the CIC's remaining crew winced, Sharon slid the fiber-optic cable into the incision. Sharon's eyes rolled into the back of her head as blood seeped from the incision, causing Kaidan to wonder if she might lose consciousness.
At that moment Lee burst into the CIC and stalked toward where Sharon stood; his flightsuit was stained with the blood of his shipmates.
"If you are going to do anything, you had better do it now," warned Lee, as he trembled with rage and held his sidearm with a white-knuckled grip.
If Sharon had noticed Lee, she didn't show it, "Erase the hard drives. Now!"
Gaeta and Lieutenant Reid's engineers quickly carried out the order and the CIC went completely dark before red emergency lights flickered on.
"Frakking toaster," muttered Lee as he brought his sidearm to bear on Sharon.
Kaidan moved to stand between Lee and Sharon. "Captain Adama, please," said Kaidan, "she's trying to help."
"What! She's trying to help?" shouted Lee, "how many of us has that thing let die?"
The CIC's lights suddenly returned and stayed on, blinding the crew for a moment. More importantly, gunfire no longer reverberated throughout the Galactica.
Lee slowly lowered his sidearm.
"All systems read nominal," said Lieutenant Gaeta. He sounded confused after reporting the next part: "DRADIS reports that all Cylon contacts are adrift. We must have sent the virus back to them."
"That Cylon logic bomb must have felt right at home in Cylon computers to have turned them all off like lights," muttered Lieutenant Reid.
Sharon pulled the fiber-optic cable from her wrist and sat down on the steps leading toward the DRADIS pit. Then she met Lee's stare and answered his question coldly: "I haven't let anyone die. Colonel Tigh and Commander Adama did that when they decided not to ask for my help." Sharon shook her head, "None of this should have happened."