A short story, three chapters maximum, that I've been working on. It takes place during the final Colonial Conflict and is told from the perspective of Caprica. I fiddled around with the canon we've been presented with in Caprica (such as the development and deployment cycles of the Cylons). So, it's very AU with mostly original characters.


Chapter One

E9/21305

Approaching the Planetoid Corvus, Cyrannus Binary System

Space and planets ran red with blood. The corpses of millions, hundreds of millions, four hundred million fouled the worlds in a war more destructive than the four before it. Debris from thousands of warships obstructed the space lanes and would rain down on eight worlds for the next fifty years.

Wars once fought with such simple weapons as guns and bombs had evolved to a point where guns and bombs were worthless. A single ten million ton warship could sit in space, safe from attack, and launch kinetic strikes on helpless planet-bound foes.

Across eight worlds, on the ground and in colossal orbital complexes, thirty-four billion people fueled the fires of industry to build and deploy warships, bombers, and armies more fierce, more destructive, and more powerful than any deployed in the history of humanity.

Even the Gods would envy the might of their children.

On board one such mighty warship, a single Admiral pondered these thoughts as she prepared her forced for battle. The Gods had given them the gift of science and technology and in an exercise as human and natural as breathing or fraking they had used that gift to kill and destroy their enemies.

"We've bled and we've died, but now we have the toasters to do that for us," Admiral Kessandra Makos mused as her hands ran back and forth on the cool metal of the command console. She sniffed as a strand of brunette hair, streaked with gray, fell loose from her braid and brushed up against her nostril. After pushing it gently back behind her ear she sucked in a silent breath, held it, and slowly released as her hand settled on the ledge of the console. Her index finger took to tapping.

On the far bulkhead her amber eyes focused on the colorful wall-sized display. It was large enough to mark each ship in Sixth Fleet with its own green circle or green triangle.

Flanking the DRADIS display, in recessed alcoves stood two life-sized marble statues of the ship's patron goddess. Her body was of the finest marble from ancient Caprican quarries. Each was donned with a golden breastplate and raised helmet of the highest quality from the treasury of the Picon Planetary Reserve. In her hand she clutched a doru, a long spear made of the finest iron and oldest and tallest Triphime trees from the vast and dense jungles of Scorpia.

The mirror-imaged statues of Pallas Athena stood proudly in their positions of honor as they flanked the most important display at the fore of the War Room.

The statues were gaudy, out of place, but stood as symbols of Caprica's wealth, power, and prestige. Her command ship, the battle carrier Athena, and at one point eight kilometers long and eighteen million tons was one the largest warship in Caprican history. In its short history it was already a legend, a feared beast in battle, and a champion of the five billion people of Caprica it served.

The warship was two years off the Caprican Hephaestus Forge Yards and had already seen half a dozen pitched, ferocious battles. As a ship of the list the name 'Athena' would always serve as an active duty warship as long as Caprica endured. The name had a long and glorious history dating back centuries. Even during the times of empires, nation-states, and a world divided dozens of navies had claimed the name as their own. Combined, the name had thousands of years of history spanning hundreds of naval ships from old ships armed with canon and sail to aircraft carriers to space warships.

Athena and her compliment of attack craft already had a dozen destroyers and cruisers and two battleships as kills of her own. She had directly fired upon and aided in the destruction of three times as many warships. Already an accomplished warship, Admiral Kessandra Makos was confident that this Athena, CDS-841, would be remembered as the most feared amongst its enemies and the most victorious and honored amongst its allies.

The Admiral let her attention focus on the displays, consoles, and read outs before her. The War Room, her flag bridge, was half the size of a Pyramid court. Just within her field of vision were dozens of sailors, from lowly fleet recruits serving as messengers or couriers between battle stations to experienced field commanders and gray haired veterans. Equipped with the new Hekatonkheiries battle control system, Makos and Athena would have the capability to coordinate the entire battle from this location in near real time. Hek, as it was abbreviated, would link into the Command Reaction Interface Band, a militarized holoband visor, and allow Admiral Makos and her staff to coordinate a battle which would be paced over hundreds of thousands of kilometers cubed and involve hundreds upon hundreds of warships and tens of thousands of attack craft, and do it all in real time.

She turned away from the wall-sized DRADIS and closer to her over her head were half a dozen tactical DRADIS monitors, outline in a black metal casings, and hanging from the support struts of the bulkheads in the center of the War Room. Closing her eyes she slowly raised her chin. Opening them again her amber orbs glittered with the bland greens and reds and oranges of the DRADIS displays. Green circles with three white hash marks at equidistance indicated friendly Triumvirate human-crewed warship clusters. Green isosceles triangles with no hash marks indicated Cylon clusters. Each cluster could have been dozens of warships.

Admiral Makos felt the pride swell within her as she looked at the icons and turned her steely amber eyes towards the War Room. This was what she was entrusted with. Hundreds of thousands of lives had been entrusted to her; billions of tons of warships, thousands upon thousands of attack craft were all entrusted to her. Three worlds and nearly fourteen billion people were relying on her to deliver these men and women safely back to their families and their home worlds. It was a responsibility and a burden she freely accepted.

Her family had served the Caprican navy for centuries. Her father and mother had expected similar of her and she too had expected it of her own children. They were a family bred for war. And a family who knew all too well the horror and loss of death. With her new battle fleet and these robotic soldiers she would be able to bring many more of those men and women home now.

Her fleet had been organized almost a year ago into what was numbered as the Sixth Fleet, but she much preferred its religious name; the Fleet Eosphorus- dawn-bringer. The current conflict had blackened the Colonies in horrors not seen in centuries. Already the conflict, only mid way through its fourth year, had seen more death and suffering that all the prior four of the named Colonial Conflicts. Eight of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol were engaged in a war which would only be declared over when the other side was totally defeated. For a century too much bad blood, diplomatic 'situations', small-scale military 'encounters', and economic warfare had plagued the competing planets of the two alliances.

Everyone knew war had been coming for the last half century. Each side had looked towards its greatest inventors, industrialists, and military thinkers to device new weapons of war and novel strategies. Warfare had remained almost unchanged for the past century as each adopted the lesson from the past wars. But in the last three decades, with the introduction of the Cylons by Daniel Graystone twenty-nine years ago, warfare had been fundamentally altered.

Makos frowned. Not only had the very nature of war been changed but its difficulty had been changed. Now, with robotic instead of human armies, it was so much easier to go to war. No priest visited the family home of a dead robot, no funeral rites were held for a hunk of scrap metal.

Out in the lead, the Cylons would serve as the metaphorical tip of the spear. The triangular icons were out in the front and even on the limited DRADIS display above Makos's head there were dozens of icons indicating hundreds of Cylon warships. Hundreds of gargantuan warships, the smallest at five hundred meters and the largest at over three that size moved quietly and purposefully forward as their ion engines pushed them ever closer to the other 'Cylons' of the Diadalos Pact.

On the corner of the DRADIS screens were small, blocky numbers counting down the seconds until the fleet was in position to perform their tactical FTL jump.

While the robots of the Triumvirate's enemies looked eerily similar to their own, the Diadalos Pact and their creators within the Vergis Corporation had looked to mythology for inspiration. They were Cylons at their root- the meta-cognitive processor, but they were not known as CYbernetic Lifeform Operation Nodes. Their robots were named the Spartoi, the 'sown men' of Kobolian legend, the children of Mars grown from dragon's teeth and bred for war who had helped Kademus defeat the mad tyrant Eukles.

Her Cylons looked sinister, evil, and had the single crimson blood eye. They were blocky and built as utilitarian robotic foot soldiers. The Spartoi were more angular, slightly shorter, and had dual, dark, jade-colored optical sensors. There was an almost artistic flare to deadliness built into the Spartoi.

The fleet commander focused in on the objective, displayed on her tactical console. The small planetoid had positioned highlighted in yellow circle with white text to indicate defensive positions. There were hundreds of little pinpricks of yellow on Corvus, the main objective, and Makos grimaced to herself at the expected casualties. Even with Centurion the human losses would be heavy, but there were ways to reduce the human death toll.

There were millions of robotic and human laborers on the planetoid. The attacks would undoubtedly fracture the habitation domes and rupture tunnels. And she knew the Diadalos Pact would not, could not just surrender the planetoid.

The Cylons would be the first wave of the ground assault. They would clear landing zones for more of their robotic kin and their human masters to follow. Then low-grav IFVs and tanks would land all over the planet and secure the surface as the Cylon forces moved in to take control of the massive subterranean mining tunnels and defensive installations.

Where the Cylons went death followed. There were millions of human workers on Corvus, millions, and she had no doubt that the Cylons would shed their blood. She didn't want so many innocents to die but each man and woman down there would know the importance and the crushing defeat losing Corvus would have on their home worlds. Many would grab rifles or barring that, deadly mining tools and fight the Centurions and human soldiers to the death.

Athena and Poseidon, hear my prayers, she thought, today we fight for your honor. Bless our fleet and guide my hand. I pray that they surrender and recognize their fates. There is no honor in senseless death, nothing to be gained. Guide them, stay their hands, and give them the wisdom to surrender… so say we all.

She looked down at her watch. On Caprica the festivals would have just ended. It was the tenth day of the week and the last day before harvests would have traditionally begun. While the small farms which once dotted Caprica were now replaced by sprawling industrial farms the tradition of Thesmosphoriain in honor of Demeter was still held. And because they were at war Caprica had offered in sacrifice ten thousand of its strongest, fattest, and most virile steer at the beginning of the harvest. The men, women, and children of Caprica City would then feast on the richest meat the planet had to offer. Hopefully such a gesture had won favor with the gods and would grant victory.

Kessandra Makos herself had donated a small fortune to the Forum of Asclepius, a medical charity named after the god of healing which tended to the unfortunate victims of the war, military and civilian alike.

The tactical console beeped twice and she was drawn back from her thoughts and concerns of the upcoming battle and focused intently on what was in front of her.

Within the vast War Room she stood over a large glowing table, the command console, with her senior fleet staff arranged around it. Like the CIC two decks up and ten frames forward the War Room was nestled deep within the armored bowels of the battle carrier. The compartment was so deep, buried under so much armor and airtight hatches that everyone in the room wore their uniforms, sans pressure suits. If this compartment were opened to space a pressure suit would do little good; the concussive force of the blast, the overpressure, the heat would kill them long before vacuum ever could.

And even if they somehow did survive and have pressure suits any breech would be filled with jagged and sharpened beams, cracked bulkheads, and other dangers. They would be sliced to pieces as the turbulent suction force smashed them against over a hundred meters of bulkheads and armor. Their bodies would be jelly, their bones broken and fractured before even reaching space!

Makos shook away those thoughts of death… but even as she focused on her staff, her own morality lingered in front of her. Thirty-seven years ago she'd been forced to eject from her Python attack craft after being jumped by Virgon aerospace fighters. The explosion had damaged the beacon in her chair and she'd floated for three days in space before she had been rescued…

Looking at each of her senior staff she pushed her shoulders back, her chest forward, and stood at her full one hundred and eighty-eight centimeters. Her boots added to her already impressive height and she was taller than everyone except two other Picon men gathered around the command console.

"Admirals," she began, surveying the men and women, "and commanders, this is the final briefing before Operation Lelantine commences." She smiled. "As you know for two months we've been feigning attacks at the Daidalos Pact." She keyed up a two-dimensional map of the neighboring stars, Helios Major and Minor. "With Canceron and Sagittaron orbiting Helios Major we've successfully diverted a large portion of the Pact fleet to our neighboring star system. The key to this war is Tauron. If we break the back of the Taurons then their allies will fall.

"But first we must isolate the dirt eaters by smashing Virgon and Gemenon. If we do that we eliminate their allies in this star system. Caprica will be able to launch attacks on Gemenon and secure Cyrannus Major while the Scorpions attack Virgon and secure Cyrannus Minor. Caprica and Scorpia will then isolate and invade Tauron." She made a fist and pumped it for affect before throwing both hands behind her black on black tunic and clasping them in the small of her back. "Prior to the invasions we will systematically annihilate- what we cannot take- the orbital infrastructure of Virgon and Gemenon. Once space supremacy is achieved we will then use Picon as a spring board in Helios Minor we will then raid and demolish all orbital infrastructures around Sagittaron and Canceron. With our armies on Tauron and the rest of the Pact unable to reinforce their patron, we will force their surrender."

She nodded to each in turn as they broke into small discussions amongst themselves. She paid careful attention to the Piconese trio of admirals. She frowned to herself as they discussed small points of the battle plan amongst themselves. Makos thought she saw the well-known flash of doubt on the face of the junior rear admiral, Rupert Troy, but it vanished as he bobbed his head, smiled, and pointed at the display.

The Picon Federal Union had been Caprica's stalwart ally for nearly two centuries. They enjoyed a special relationship which had been forged in battle and had remained unbroken. Over the centuries it had been strained. At the end of the day they each considered the other brother and sister.

Caprica had aided the in the unification of Picon some two-hundred and eleven year ago by declaring support for the nation of General Augustus Parro as he led the Boetian Allied Union in a twenty-six year campaign to unify the planet under a single government. Caprican arms, mercenaries, and space ships had secured him his victory.

With Caprica in orbit of Cyrannus Major and Picon in orbit of Helios Minor, their alliance had not only been culturally and economically wise, but militarily as well. Picon had given Caprica a toe hold in the Helios binary system for Caprican companies to set up regional headquarters, factories, and warehouses. With Picon as a partner Caprica had nearly eighteen billion potential customers in the binary system.

Picon itself had benefited as well. With Caprican engineering expertise and technology it had become a first class world with living standards which matched Scorpia and was third to only Caprica and Tauron. It also boasted the third largest shipbuilding industry of the Twelve Colonies and was rich in natural resources, even tyllium. In turn Caprica's position in Cyrannus Major had opened up a market of twenty-eight billion.

The third member of the Triumvirate stood to the left of the Picon admirals and Makos studied them from the corner of her eye as she split her attention to watch the DRADIS. The Scorpion staff officers in their smart uniforms of black tunics, braided with silver on the cuffs and neck and blue trousers were the pinnacles of professionalism, piety, and devotion. Their officer corps was regarded as a rival to Tauron or Caprica. The average service length for a Scorpion War Fleet officer was fifty years.

Makos knew the families of the Scorpion soldiers standing opposite her could trace their military heritage and legacy back almost a thousand years. The High Admiral of the Scoprion Fleet, Katia Iro could trace the Iro family name back to the original settlement of Scorpia.

The allegiance of Scorpia had been earned seventy-years ago during the Fourth Colonial Conflict. Gemenon and Virgon had used the Inter-Colonial Courts of Justice to wrestle control of half a dozen lucrative tyllium and space-based mineral extraction territories from the Scorpions. They had also used the Colonial Economic Commission, dominated at that time by Tauron and Aquaria to flood Scorpia with cheap, duty free products. The Scorpions had finally had enough with the Justice ruling. Aerilon, the breadbasket and historical neutral power had declared support for Gemenon and Virgon- to the distress of Scorpia.

Scopria had dispatched its War Fleet to protect its mining interests. Its fleet was powerful but not powerful enough to fight Gemenon and Virgon while trying to force Aerilon to ship pre-paid agricultural stocks, and defend the home world.

The War Fleet had been forced to launch an attack on the Gemenese and Virgons, starting a two year, three sided war between ten of the twelve colonies. Caprica and Picon had declared for Scorpia and forced a negotiated peace. Nothing had changed hands; the status quo had been maintained. Less than a hundred million had been killed.

Looking at the dozen or so officer arrayed around her she could not ask for a finer collection.

"In a little over three hours we will launch the Operation, once Commander Corman's son returns from his Raptor recon." Admiral Makos stated with a grin. She nodded at her chief of staff, Iason Corman as she thought of his son, Robert.

Lieutenant Corman was the finest Raptor pilot in the combined fleet and Commander Corman's only surviving son. His youngest son had been killed at the Battle of Point Scion and his daughter had died in a Pact ambush in orbit of Giedi, Caprica's largest moon, two years ago. But the Corman's were a legacy family. Their service to Caprica dated back almost six hundred years and traced its roots to the Delphian League before Caprica had unified.

As she watched countdown clock she ran her hands down her finely tailor black on black uniform and tugged at the subdued gold-colored belt. Using only muscle memory she confirmed the belt buckle and gig line were even. Her military tailor was well-paid, and quite good with needle and thread, and a uniform which had never accented the female body somehow hug to her feminine curves quite well without being too ostentatious, gaudy or against regulations of course!

Her eyes shot over to the Picon rear admiral, Dexter Toles when his husky voice broad the silence around the tactical console and banks of DRADIS displays.

"Will these new models work, Doctor?"

A bit late to be asking that question, Toles, but understandable, nonetheless, Makos thought pointedly. I know you hate the Cylons… but frak, who cares if they're 'abominations in the eyes gods' if they'll win us wars! The gods gave us fraking brains for science and technology; we might as well embrace that!

Admiral Makos nodded at Rear Admiral Toles in acknowledgement to publically support the question and as she took in a breath and pushed back her shoulders turned to the man in the position of honor at her right side.

On a military warship, especially in the War Room he was quite an oddity. He wore no military uniform. He had no official government position. Instead he wore a finely tailored suit of the Brandin Tailoring House from Caprica City which set him apart from everyone else in the War Room.

He was as tall as the Admiral but had no meat on his bones. His cheekbones were sunken and he had a thick scar on the right side of his neck, courtesy of a failed assassination attempt. His hair was a light red but heavily streaked with gray- there was more gray than red- and two days of not shaving had produced a thin layer of stumble on his chin.

Not only was he the man of honor, he was a billionaire, regarded in his prime as a play boy, and a brilliant scientist and industrialist who made this entire war possible. He was the man who had given the Triumvirate a three year head start on Cylon development.

Makos raised an eyebrow. "That is an excellent question, Dr. Graystone. These new models are supposed to be sharper, faster than the Tauron counterparts… the Gemenese, by some fraked up miracle-" she had looked towards the DRADIS and was rolling her eyes when Dr. Graystone interrupted.

"They'll work, admiral." He said sternly. His tired eyes met her amber colored irises. "I was paid to deliver. I know the risks and I know the consequences of failure. The Gemenese are morons with delusions of grandeur. The Fenrir Empire has been dead for centuries. This is their last attempt at revival, riding on the coat tails of the Taurons-"

"History lesson notwithstanding, Doctor," Toles said, "The Gemenese produced a model of Spartoi far superior to your Centurions and the Vergis Spartoi." He cocked his head. The shorter, darker skinned man shifted on his feet. The others could see his jaw muscle contract. To a Picon the Gemenese were worse than Taurons were to Capricans. "The Triumvirate-"

"Will win this battle, gentlemen and ladies." He nodded at Toles and clicked his teeth. Frustrated he leaned on the command console and pointed at the fleet formation. "There are hundreds upon hundreds of ships out there crewed by Cylons. This is one of the most heavily armed battle fleets in history. The new MCP brains on the ship will perform. And if they don't then the previous model is installed as backups." He lifted a finger and wagged it at Toles and back at Makos. "And Graystone Industries ate the expense and installed dozens of additional MCPs as localized fire control computers. If the central MCP goes down then the ship can still fight and maneuver."

"How gracious of your corporation," Toles snorted. His dark brown eyes got a little darker in that moment.

Makos inwardly grinned. To say the Piconese had been apprehensive of using robots as foot soldiers and sailors might have been an understatement. They saw the benefits and had been amazed at the proving grounds, but were still apprehensive. In the spirit of self-truth Makos could admit she felt some apprehension as well, especially after the Second Battle of Sagittaron.

"If it wasn't for my corporation casualties would mount into the hundreds of millions of soldiers and sailors alone, rear admiral," Graystone shot back. Toles nodded his head in concession. "Without Cylons you would have lost at half a dozen battles already. We saw how effectively Admiral Kronus used robotic attack craft at First Picon…" he trailed off as he saw the glitter of embarrassment in Toles's eyes which was instantly replaced by rage. The powerful emotion wasn't directed at Dr. Graystone.

Admiral Kronus of Tauron had launched a daring assault on the Picon Orbital Shipyards and destroyed dozens of the heaviest cruisers and battleships using nothing larger than FTL-capable gunships with heavy missiles. It had been the worst defeat in the combined military history of the Colonies.

Even worse than the materiel loses and loss of life had been the hit to morale. The First Battle of Picon had occurred in the opening weeks of the war and had effectively crippled the Picon fleet for the better part of a year. To replace loses they needed Cylons to crew new ships until sailors could be trained.

Doctor Grayson hid the dark thoughts circling around in his mind that the Picons had 'deserved' the defeat. They'd been the major force behind the delays in the initial production of the Cylon models. Twenty-four years ago they had refused to believe a robot could perform as well as a human. A robot could not 'think critically' and was thus doomed to follow its programming. No matter how sophisticated the programming was, according to Picon military officials, it was impossible to program in every conceivable scenario… or surprise scenario!

Humans could adapt. Cylons could not.

Graystone had been force to be persistent. Very persistent, in fact. The financial well-being of nearly a quarter million workers and millions of shareholders had been counting on him! Using the profits from the holoband and the massive reserves of qubits Graystone Industries had amassed from its other divisions it had fully and completely funded the later stages of Cylon development after the Triumvirate had slashed funding. He'd personally paid for, out of his own massive fortune, the first two thousand U-87 prototypes.

By that point in development the Cyber Combat Project had been exposed in a media broadcast by the Inter-Colonial Broadcasting News Corporation. He'd made a grand public gesture that robotic soldiers could save lives and that he, as a Caprican patriot, would not ask the tax payers to waste money on unproven concepts. So he very publically spent billions of qubits to build the first two thousands units. And he offered to pay the government to cover the entire cost of a division-sized training exercise to prove his Cylons were more than capable of taking on human opponents.

Many said robots could not compare to humans… many said he was a fool.

When the Cylons, the U-87s had 'slaughtered' the Caprican 563rd division outside Oasis at the Fort Trakkas Army Training Grounds he had been vindicated. A contract for ten million units had been signed before the sun had set. Nearly half a trillion qubits flowed into Graystone Industries over the next year from Caprica, Scorpia, and to a lesser degree, Picon.

And that had only been the initial military order. Less capable civilian robots hit the market six years later and had eclipsed the military order.

Makos breathed out. "Still, Doctor Graystone, we can't have a repeat of Second Sagittaron." She frowned at him. "We lost over three hundred warships. Not even the Pact toasters retreated." She parted her hands and quietly brought them together to emphasize her point. "They just smashed against each other and blasted each other until nothing but scrap remained. That was not the finest moment in robotic warfare. The cost alone in lost warships…"

"What happened there was a fluke," Graystone reassured her, leaning forward and raising his eyebrows.

"It wasn't the first time Cylons and Spartoi have acted… strangely," chimed in Admiral Demeter Leos, a short, dark skinned woman from Picon with sandy blonde hair.

"I had to rush the previous 4.0 generation into service, Admiral Leos," Graystone countered. "And they still inflicted one point four to one kill ratios on the Tauron Spartoi. The Taurons had to use numbers, not better tactics, to win. And the Cylons at Second Sagittaron were old AIs, two generations back, as a matter of fact, three years. In robotics and AI development, Admiral, that is as out of date and as old and futile as a matchup between the ancient Hornet aerospace fighters against our new Wasps or Vipers."

A previously quiet Scorpion admiral, Evzan Brinks, gave Graystone a look and spoke up. He tugged down at his sleeves and then tapped on the side of his cheek, right in front of the ear lobe.

Admiral Leos was only partially convinced. "Doctor Graystone. After our previous assault on Virgon's moon, the after action reports, our Cylons were out maneuvered. The new model the Taurons developed… codenamed Crixus, took down two Centurions for every one of their lost." He cocked his head to the side. "The Zero Five Cees will perform, I hope, Doctor Graystone." His tone was overly formal and rigid, but that was typical of the Scorpions. Social convention also forced them to repeat the name of the man or woman they were talking to if their words could be perceived as a challenge.

"Yes, of course they will." He confirmed. "The Cirxus models are superb and the ones we captured from that operation have provided insight, but there hasn't been enough time to back engineer the improvements, yet. The Oh-Five-Dees should have the improvements hardwired in and the Five-Cees will receive it in a patch."

Graystone looked at each of the admirals and turned back to Makos. He felt relieved to have her as an ally and humbled to be her guest of honor. Her family had been indispensible in pushing through the contracts. Her father, an admiral now deceased, had watched the first U-87 prototype demonstration after he'd 'acquired' an MCP and installed it.

He continued. "The Five Cees have thicker armor and longer batteries and are much faster and more fluid in their reactions, Admiral." He decided to be cynical. "Don't worry, the tax increases to pay for this army won't be in vain. And if they're landing on that planetoid then I can analyze the results in real time. That's why I'm here." He finished, tucking his chin low into his chest and shifting his weight forward so his chest was slightly over the console.

Makos's right shoulder rose barely a centimeter for a small shrug.

"If you say so, doctor, if you say so, doctor." She said with a small bob of the head. "Your technology from holobands to Cylons has revolutionized war. But enough with the question," she waved and used her opposite hand to tap commands into the command console. "Once we hit Corvus and take the planetoid's skies we will land Centurions in these positions…" the planet rotated on the flat screen, yellow pinpricks, hundreds of them illuminated, indicating landing points. "Once the Centurions, the Five Cees have secured the zones we'll land additional units, including low-grav IFVs and tanks. The Centurions will then proceed into the mining tunnels and subterranean defensive works. General Krios, if you will, please." She gestured at the display.

General Krios, a Scorpion who was taller than even Makos, stepped to the side and then forward. He was an Army soldier and senior Army general with nearly forty years of service. The man's face was like stone and his brown hair was devoid of any gray, giving the sixty-three year old man the appearance of a fifty year old.

His jaw muscle clenched as he prepared to speak. The skin around his face was taut and streaked with long and thick scars from his dangerous hunts in the deep Scorpion jungles. He had confirmed kills of twenty of the intelligent and violent jungle treecats, small cat-like creatures with razor sharp teeth and claws. And those scars were badges of honor in his society… it meant he killed them with nothing but an aspis and xiphos . To a Scorpion, killing one treecat was a badge of honor. Killing twenty had only added to his military reputation and had elevated him to that of a living legend.

While he was entitled to wear a pseudo-thumb from each treecat he killed on his tunic's belt, he wore only one so as not to boast.

"Since we need Corvus and its tyllium mining operations in tact, nuclear weaponry on the surface is not authorized." He began. Radiation rendered unprocessed tyllium inert and worthless. "We can't secure the space around Corvus and its orbital infrastructure until we secure its surface. Intelligence indicates nearly three million Spartoi." He frowned and paused. With his lips slightly separated he thinking of their strategy. He cared nothing for the Cylons- they were smart machines, but soulless- yet he did not want to needlessly sacrifice expensive pieces of war equipment needlessly.

"Will the surface operations still take six weeks as projected?" Asked Rear Admiral Troy.

Krios nodded. "Yes, it will. Maybe longer," he added. "The planetoid has a circumference of four thousand kilometers and there are tens, possible hundreds of thousands of kilometers of mining and fortified tunnels. We also have confirmed reports of Stone Burner-class nuclear missiles. We have no idea where they are." He tapped more commands into his computer sheet and an image of the ninety-eight meter high missile rotated on the console. "These are top of the line ground-to-space missiles which boast acceleration rates higher than even our Titan G-T-S missiles. Intelligence also believes they are equipped with the latest in EW and countermeasures and in the second phase, the missiles begin dropping decoys. The Centurions and my men and women will go in, and to sum up, find the missiles and neutralize them."

Admiral Makos folded her arms in front of her. "Once the fleet is deployed we'll be sending the Cylons in low to feint the Spartoi and any human operators on the planet into launching. We do believe the missiles are clustered so if we must, we can use conventional bombardment with kinetic strikes." Still with folded arms she pointed at the missiles. "These are ship killers. Like General Krios said, their acceleration puts everything else to shame… one hit from these will certainly destroy anything smaller than a battleship and at a minimum, cripple a battleship."

She mentally groaned. She prayed to Athena and offered a hundred goats in sacrifice four months ago to make sure the Taurons hadn't equipped the missiles with FTL engines. That was the last thing she wanted… for missiles to pop right in the center of her fleet formation.

"And if they have FTL engines… we'll have to keep the fleet spread at large intervals," Commander Corman noted. "If we get in fast and keep the range close for at least initial contact and clutter space with EM mites, EW jiggers, and scatter drones we should be able to confused their ground DRADIS for a few hours. So when the Cylons go in they'll also have to target them or risk having their missiles found before they even have a chance at that."

General Krios hummed an agreement and nodded. He folded his arms, his uniform creasing at the shoulders and he rubbed a smooth chin. "They'll have to go active to paint us with DRADIS. If they do we'll deploy fast attack Centurion units. We have seven wings of Nightmare gunships with high acceleration, EW jiggers and mites and anti-DRADIS missiles allocated specifically for this purpose. Burners have their own DRADIS but we can at least blind the look-outs."

"Very well," Makos said, sensing the end of the final briefing was at hand. "Soldiers…" she checked her watch and double checked the countdown on the DRADIS, "we have three hours until we launch our operation. If you will join me in the ship's temple, we will make our final sacrifice and offerings to the gods for their favor."

The men and women, Graystone included, around the console all nodded their consent. Smiling back at them she led the way to the temple for the quick ceremony. In three hours the decisive battle of the Fifth Colonial Conflict would be fought. By dinner space around Corvus should be secured. The three planets finally had their boot pressing down on the throat of the Pact. With luck, skill, and the favor of the gods they would emerge victorious. The boot would come crushing down onto the Pact's throat and finally snuff the life out of the alliance. It would be the first battle to finally and decisively end the war.

With victory finally within their grasp the Triumvirate would finally end the most destructive war in Colonial history. Upon their victory the planets and its leaders would become legendary as they ushered in an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity, led by Caprica, Picon, and Scorpia.