Chapter 2

Trial by Fire

Ensign Todd sat in the launch control room for the rapid deployment bay of the starboard flight pod of the Ajax. As soon as the jump was completed the pressure began to build in the catapult system. Within seconds every tube was ready to deploy. Due to the depleted numbers of fighters currently stationed on the Ajax, the port bay had no vipers in the initial launch, which meant that as soon as the CIC ordered the fighters launched, and it was upto him to ensure that the vipers were launched as quickly as possible so they were able to get into position before hostile forces were able to vector in on the ship unchallenged.

He instantly sat bolt right in the booth as the order came down to launch.

He quickly toggled the mike

" Vipers, standby for rapid launch "

Rapid launch meant that the vipers would be launch within moments of each other, so unless the pilots were aware of this they could veer to soon and colide with each other.

Next he slammed down the manual launch levers for each of the tubes, and one by one the sleek one man fighters were catapulted into space. As soon as they were all empty he instantly began reset the system for the next launch.

Captain Claire 'Sky' Swales felt pinned as the viper she was piloting was launched from the flight pod as soon as it had deployed from the jump. With no CAG on board she had become the defacto CAG on the ship, and she had so far organised all of the air wing training.

The Commander was instantly on the comm system

"With the network on board the shipdown, we have not activated the fighters on board networks as we don't know how wide spread the problem is, so your operating on manual systems only. Take three of the squadrons and go help the Resolution. She doesn't seem to have any birds in the air. One squadron is to make an attack run at the enemy capital ship in support of the Ajax. I want the last squadron to provide close in support for the Ajax "

"Understood Commander. " While training had not yet run to a full compliment of fighters she had simply numbered the squardon's 1 to 5.

" Group 5, you get to keep the barn safe. Squad 4, attack the capital ship, try and draw off any fighters so the barn can open up with the main batteries. The rest of you, lets go save the Admiral "

While issuing her orders, Claire had swung her fighter round to wards the Battlestar Resolution. As the relief fighters followed her, she gasped as she saw the scene unfold before her.

She flew past plenty of sleek fighter wreckage as she closed on the be-leagued Battlestar. "Sky to the barn, There is plenty of viper wreckage, but only Viper's, no enemy remains "

"Acknowledged Sky " came the wireless response

As the Vipers cleared the wreckage they got there first clear view of the warship. The hull was pited with weapons impacts from stem to stern. Fires blazed out of control from main of the gashs in the ships armoured hull. Of the four engines mounted at the stern of the ship, only one was still operational. All of the running lights were out and only a handful of the ships flak batteries were operational. As she watched, the batteries failed to stop a barrage of missiles from the attacking capital ship.

They struck the ship on starboard side. As the ship reeled under the onslaught the starboard flight pod broke from the main hull. The reminder of the Battlestar Resolution went dark as the ship lost the remainder of its power reserves and the hull started vent atmosphere from many breaches. The attacking fighters, doubled pronged and deadly looking veered towards the oncoming force of vipers.

As the first attacking fighters reached the oncoming vipers the lead ships activated a red laser beam which hit the lead vipers…..

And did nothing. Under Sky's lead the Vipers guns and missiles flared into action destroying a score of fighters. The rest broke formation and the vipers followed, eager to avenge their fallen.

Jones stood staring at the Dradis console. The Ajax was closing on the attacking capital ship. He had ordered every possible reading of the ship to be recorded for later analysis. Suddenly a new alarm sounded in the CIC.

" We have incoming nukes. Alien ships are engaging with nuclear ordnance."

Instantly the Ajax's XO swung into action. "Flak batteries set to interception mode. Shoot those missiles down. "

He quickly swung towards the Commander " I wonder is it was an ambush with nukes that caught out the Resolution, "

Jones looked at an image of the massive attacking ship, with two sets of triangular prongs, connected by a central stem. He nodded then turned towards the officer who command the ships main offensive arsenal

" I want all batteries that will bear on the ship to commence attack. Salvo fire "

" Aye sir "

Sky piloted the viper as she shot down her fourth alien attacker. While the three squadrons had caught the enemy by surprise, they clearly had faster and better armoured ships unless they were hit in the cockpit area. However, she had been able to make her way, with her wingman, towards the shattered hull of the Resolution.

As the broken hulk drifted through space, she was able to view the port side of the ship, which still had its flight pod attached. She also noticed that the port pod still had minimal power.

Suddenly her wingman flipped and launched his remaining missile and a barrage of gun fire, destroying three fighters chasing them.

" Quick, Zoom, follow me."

Sky called into her mike as she flew the viper towards the entrance of pod.

With Zoom alongside, the two vipers landed on the pod, and taxied to adjacent elevators. As the two ships came to a stop, the elevator sprung into life and the two fighters descended. Tractors were waiting at the bottom and dragged through the airlocks the two Ajax vipers.

As they emerged into the surviving pod, surviving crew of the Resolution hurried towards the new arrivals. Their silhouettes moving through the shadows gave their moments a very sinister look.

Quickly, Sky powered down her viper and slid open the canopy. A crewman quickly attached a ladder and she climbed down to find an officer waiting for her, while others started to re-arm her viper.

"I'm Bill Wregger, ships XO, he said, noting the squadron patch that sky and zoom wore. "

"Sky, CAG of the Ajax. "

Suddenly the crew pressed closer at the mention of another fleet vessel.

"We are from the Battlestar Ajax. She will have by now engaged the capital ship, our air group has drawn away the attacking fighters"

Suddenly the XO warned,

" You must dis-engaged. They have the ability to hack our networks. They can shut you down before they engage you at close range. After that, it's a slaughter "

Sky allowed herself a small smile before shy answered

"We may have caught a lucky break then sir. The Ajax's networks are off line, as are the networks in the Vipers. We have nothing to hack, and shes currently keeping that ship from finishing off the Resolution hull"

"Thank the gods for that " breathed Wreggor. " I have 65 people in here. That's all we were able to round up as we headed here from the CIC when we realised that the ship was lost. But if what you say is true, we can disconnect the raptors on board network, then we can jump. We also have admiral in one of the raptors. He is badly injured"

Sky quickly climbed back into her cockpit and activated the wireless

" This is Sky, requesting permission to speak to actual "

On board the Ajax, Jones grabbed the Dradis table as the ship rocked from a missile impact on the bow. In the background he hear the on onboard chatter as damage control teams responding.

"This is actual. Go"

"Sir, I'm currently in the Resolution's remaining flight pod. We have 8 raptors ready to depart, along with Resolution actual. I need an FTL rendevous for the survivors."

Jones stood shock still in surprise as he realised where Sky was and what she was asking him.

He glanced at the Dradis, and saw that the battle was starting to shift in his favour. The enemy commander must also have realised this as suddenly, the enemy capital ship jumped away. Moment later, the surviving fighters also started jumping away"

"Sky, they are bugging out. Get everybody airborne and back to the barn. They are l be going to be back, and I think it will be very soon, with friends. Lets not push our lick to far today "

"Understood" Sky responded

Within minutes, 8 raptors and 4 vipers left the flight off the Battlestar Resolution for the last time.

The Ajax had swung round so that the ships stern, and recovery posture was aimed at the incoming craft. The air group survivors were also streaming onboard, combat landings for all craft had been authorised.

Sky was still 30 seconds out when her small on board Dradis detected two enemy capital ships jump back into the area. This time, however, they had the hulk of the Resolution between them and the Ajax.

In the CIC, Jones waiting until the flight pods had finished contracting, before ordering a jump back to the ships previous location. However moments before the Ajax jumped away, the nearest ship launched a wave of nuclear missiles at the Battlestar. He also noticed that both of the new arrivals were un damaged, unlike the ship that had fled.

Just as the ship jumped away interceptor fire from the lone colonial Battlestar caught the ordinance and it detonated. However, due to the velocity of the missile, debris covered the fleeing colonial ship.

On board the Ajax, as the crew were recovering from the jump, the effects of jumping within the shock wave of nuclear hit the ship. Moments later the ships power source cut out, and the ship started to spin out of control.