The Ark Royal Saga

Written by: Wes Imlay

(Author's Note: Battlestar Ark Royal made an appearance in the Battlestar Hermes/Battlestar Victorious Universe, otherwise known as the D5 Multiverse on the Galactica Fanon Wiki. It has made an appearance in the story 'Survival of the Battlestar Stryker' and was mentioned in the story 'Once Burned'.)

Chapter One: Firestorm

History of the name Ark Royal:

From the time the first ships of the Virgon Royal Fleet began to patrol the space around the colony, there have been many names that were passed down as new ships appeared and the old ones found their way to the breakers. Among the ships that served in defense of the colony was named Ark Royal, and the name had long since held a place of affection in the hearts of not only the royalty but also in the hearts of the citizens.

In the modern Colonial Fleet there are five battlestars that can trace their lineage back to the days of the old Royal Fleet; Atlantia, Redoubtable, Royal Oak, Indomitable, and Ark Royal. Apart from the Atlantia, four of these names live on in the Illustrious-class of battlestars.

Battlestar
Ark Royal (BS-50):

Ten Days Before the Fall:

In Orbit of Tauron:

The Illustrious-class battlestar Ark Royal had made its way from the formation of battlestars that composed Battlestar Group 61 of the Fifteenth Fleet. To the casual observer, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but on the inside, there was a crisis going on. In some areas of society, a small fire was nothing to be worried about, but in space on a ship, it could easily morph into a disaster of epic proportions.

CIC:

"Get me a damage report," Commander Audra Ortiz called out to her XO from the Command and Control Station. The forty-five year old from Caprica had been in command of the Ark Royal for slight over four months now and this was something she had hoped would not happen. The best she could hope for is that the crew's training would kick in and they would be able to extinguish the blaze before events spiraled out of control.

"Chief Lancaster says that they have managed to contain the fire and extinguish it," Colonel Yesinia Hawkins said as she relayed the latest communication from Chief Reginald Lancaster.

"At least when he said it was easy to put out he meant it," Ortiz said, Lancaster had managed to keep it from spreading and causing more damage to the ship.

"Commander there's a report being sent from Sickbay," Lieutenant Dwight Woodward announced.

Ortiz walked over to read the report from Doctor Robles. Her eyes scanned the report and despite the optimism worded on the page, a feeling of regret began to enter her mind. There had been one death and two hospitalizations resulting from the fire. By most standards those were surprisingly low but at a time like this one death was one too many.

"Colonel Chandler, order the air group to land immediately. We'll document the damage from the fire and then launch our birds tomorrow," she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Chandler relayed the orders and within minutes the Vipers and Raptors that composed the air group of the Ark Royal began landing.

"Stand down from Condition One to Condition Three until further notice," she ordered and breathed a sigh of relief that it was just a minor fire and one that did not endanger the ship. Ark Royal was fortunate enough to be a 'lucky' ship.

The Next Day:

Queenstown, Picon:

Colonial Fleet Bureau of Ships,Donald S. Cramer Building:

Commander Caden Charka stepped off the elevator on the sixth floor of the Donald S. Cramer, the main building that was a part of the complex of buildings of the Colonial Fleet Bureau of Ships. The forty-five year old Colonial Fleet officer had been at his house back home on Scorpia when he received a message instructing him to come to Picon as quickly as he could.

He entered the room that led to the office of the Director of the Colonial Fleet Bureau of Ships, Rear Admiral Patrick Bennett, and informed the secretary that he was here for his meeting.

The secretary, Charka noted her name was 'Miranda Sterne', promptly buzzed him into Bennett's office.

"Commander Caden Charka, reporting as ordered," Charka said when he entered the room and stood at attention.

"At ease Commander and take a seat," Bennett said as he arranged some folders that were on his desk before asking, "Do you remember Commander Audra Ortiz?"

"Yes sir, she relieved me as CO of the Ark Royal four months ago," Charka said. The Ark had been his last space command before he was transferred to the staff of Vice Admiral Gregory Black and had been posted to Fort Autzen on Scorpia. He was actually glad for the chance to serve on Scopria and be back on his home colony.

"Yes…well there's been a small fire onboard the Ark yesterday. It broke out in the Chief Petty Officers' Mess and was contained; however there were two injuries and one fatality. President Adar has sent word to Admiral Corman that he wants the Ark Royal decommissioned as part of his plan to reduce the size of the Colonial Fleet."

"I see, and where do I fit into this?"

"The President has requested that Commander Ortiz and her XO be relieved until new assignments can be found for them. You are to relieve her as CO of the Ark Royal and send the ship into retirement. It's going to fall to you to oversee the decommissioning and inactivation process."

"Admiral, if you don't mind me asking you; why was I selected for this assignment?"

"Governor Walter Becton himself has requested that you oversee the Ark's decommissioning. It seems you left quite the impression on him when you were in command of the battlestar."

Charka remembered the occasion the Governor was referring to. It was last year when he had first taken command of the Ark. He had attended a social gathering at the Petrus Palace, and as the Ark's name had roots that dated back to the Virgon Royal Fleet, both he and his officers were invited to attend the gathering.

Admiral Frederick Becton, Governor Becton's older brother, was there as well and had met both Charka and Commander Elisa Smith of the Illustrious class Royal Oak. The flag officer told both of them that he would do what he could to make sure they made flag rank, a promotion that was usually a slow process in the peacetime Colonial Fleet.

He did not want to drag out the conversation further and realized that there probably no way he was going to get away from this assignment. It was best that he show the right attitude. Perhaps that could come back to help him when all of this was over with.

"I'll be happy to take command of the Ark once again; Governor Becton can count on me to handle the ship with the utmost care."

Bennett stood up and offered a handshake, which Charka promptly took.

"Thank you Commander, you'll have time to gather your belongings on Scorpia before you head to Lampetia Shipyard to take command of the Ark Royal."

Wardroom:

Ortiz had assembled the department heads that composed her senior staff. She had received the communiqué from Picon Fleet Headquarters that had confirmed her worst fears.

"As of 0830 the Battlestar Ark Royal is hereby ordered to proceed to Lampetia Shipyard to begin the process of decommissioning and inactivation. The air wing will depart one day from now and the following day we will formally decommission our ship by order of President Richard Adar and Fleet Admiral Peter Corman. Also, upon reaching Lampetia there will be a change of command. Both Colonel Hawkins and I are being relieved of command. Commander Caden Charka and Colonel Patrick Killian will be assuming command and will see the Ark through its last days of active service."

The Day of the Fall:

Lampetia Shipyard:

Docking Ring, Berth 8-C

"How does it feel to be the one to send the Ark off?" Colonel Patrick Killian asked.

"Feel wrong for the most part, there's so much life left in her. Sending her off to reserve because of a small fire isn't right," Commander Caden Charka said.

"May not be right but that's the reality of Adar's great plan," Killian said with more than a hint of disgust. President Richard Adar had put forward a plan that as he put it would 'reshape the Colonial Fleet into a fighting force that would be both strong and effective.' In other words, he wanted to gut the fleet and reduce its size to a small fraction of what it had once been.

"We're weaker now because of it, he's halved the number of active battlestars and plans to do even more in the future," Charka said. Just a few days ago, he had been informed that he had been selected to be the first Commanding Officer of the Stryker-class Battlestar Hood when it was completed in the next few months. Now that assignment might be in doubt because he was pulled to take the Ark Royal out of service.

"You won't hear an argument from me. From what I've heard it's safe to say morale in the Fleet has plummeted," Killian said as the pair rounded the corner and headed towards the airlock that connected the Ark Royal to the Lampetia Shipyard's Docking Ring 8.

That was then they saw the airlock. Above its entrance in bold red letters were the words Ark Royal BS-50, along with two of the Marines who stood guard at the entrance to make sure that only authorized personnel were allowed to board the battlestar.

"Is that Commander Ortiz?" Killian asked when he saw the woman standing off to the side talking to a group of reporters.

"I believe so," Charka said and after excusing himself, he made his way over to the reporters.

"Commander Ortiz," he said when he got within earshot of her.

She turned around and while he thought she was surprised to see him she did not miss a beat, "Commander Charka, it's a pleasure to see you."

"You as well," he said and then he leaned over to her ear, "Can we have a word in private?"

She turned to the reporters, "You'll have to excuse me. Commander Charka needs a moment of my time."

As they walked into the airlock towards the Ark Royal she turned to him, "I owe you for that one, I thought they'd never shut up with their questions."

Charka smiled. "I had the impression you had gotten tired of it."

"I was going to simply leave after the Change of Command ceremony but I was asked to stay behind and give interviews and put the right spin on what had happened," Ortiz said though she seemed none too happy about it.

"What happened to you and your XO was terrible. The two of you got screwed and the Colonial Fleet didn't even call you the next morning."

In spite of it, Ortiz laughed, "Don't worry, they may not have called but they sent me roses when they realized how bad things looked."

Charka raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."

"I've been promised command of the Kronus. It'll be nice having a big Stryker-class battlestar to command."

The two stepped onto the now empty hangar deck, the cavernous deck now had no Vipers or Raptors. The air wing had flown off when they had reached Lampetia and were now flying to Picon where they would await their futures. The inactivation process had yet to be completed; Charka had decided to wait until the many civilians who had requested a last tour of Ark Royal were off. Over the course of the next six months, the ship would be deactivated and sealed up for storage until it was either reactivated for service or sold to a scrap yard. If it ended up on Active Reserve it would be fine, if it went on Inactive Reserve it was a gamble as to what the future would hold. Inactive Reserve ships were the ones that were picked over for parts to keep the active ships running. Usually the Inactive ships were picked over clean and then sold for scrap.

"What's your XO going to do?" Charka asked. He had yet to hear what was going to happen to Colonel Yesinia Hawkins.

"She got assigned to Vaught-Hemingway on Caprica, the planet's home for her so she's not too upset about it. She's here on the Ark until the civilians are off and they begin the inactivation," Ortiz said.

"Are you going home before you make your way to the Kronus?"

She shrugged, "I've thought about going home to Libran to visit my family. What about you?"

"I plan to go do some deep sea fishing on Picon with my family once I finish up with the Ark; by then the Hood should be ready for outfitting."

"Sorry, I never pegged you for a guy who likes to fish."

"Something I picked up from my father, whenever I come back from a deployment I take my boat out and just unwind."

Ortiz was going to say something to Charka but she did not get the chance to get the words out as there was a large explosion and both were thrown hard to the deck. The Ark Royal trembled as though it were the toy of some giant.

Charka was shaky as he got up to his feet. He saw Ortiz lying unconscious on the deck. He reached down to check for a pulse and found she still had one. He wanted to get her medical attention but he knew his place was in the CIC. He quickly bounded down the corridor to make it to the CIC, hopefully to make sense of the confusion.

CIC:

"Sitrep!" Charka called out when he came into the CIC.

"Our DRADIS has detected a Cylon baseship within range of us," Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Chandler said before adding, "The Royal Oak, Valhalla, Invincible, Swiftsure, Asteria, and Orion are reporting direct hits from the Cylons."

"That's all the battlestars here besides us," Charka said quietly before his mind came up with a solution, "Colonel Chandler, I want you to plot a jump to the Taussig Nebula."

"I can have that plotted for you momentarily," Chandler said as he began inputting the coordinates into the computer.

"Sound the boarding alert; I want to get as many people onboard as possible before you disengage us from the airlock. When everyone's onboard then get us as far away from here as we can," Charka said knowing that he was going to leave people behind to die. He could only hope that as many people got on the Ark Royal as humanly possible.

In a single movement, the boarding alarm began to sound, alerting the people in the area that the airlock was about to close so the Ark Royal could disengage. There was a rush as people made their way onto the battlestar, the deafening sounds of missiles hitting the shipyard's docking ring doing enough to spur people to board. One of the Marines picked up the receiver that connected directly to the CIC and announced that all the people in the area had boarded the battlestar. In less than a minute, the two Marines had boarded the ship and the airlock doors slammed shut. The battlestar quickly moved from the docking ring as a missile from the baseship hit the spot where it had been moored moments ago.

"Sir, there is a message coming in from the escort battlestars Kridan and Amari," Woodward called out.

"What is it?"

"They have launched Vipers being piloted by cadets along with Raptors; they want to know if they can land on us."

"Tell them that's an affirmative; send word to Chief Lancaster to prepare to receive the Vipers and Raptors."

"Aye sir, sending the message now," Woodward said.

"Commander, the Swiftsure and Asteria have been destroyed. Royal Oak and Invincible have reportedly lost power…the Orion and Valhalla have also lost power as well along with their air wings," Chandler reported.

"As soon as those Vipers and Raptors have boarded we jump to the Taussig Nebula," Charka said.

"The Kridan and Amari have put themselves between us and the baseship and are taking heavy damage."

Charka thought about it and it dawned on him that they were sacrificing themselves to buy the Ark Royal more time. The Kridan and Amari were Orianos-class escort battlestars and could not hope to survive long against the Cylons.

"We have incoming missiles heading straight for us," Chandler called out.

"Are the cadets onboard?"

"Yes sir, the last one landed a moment ago," Chandler said.

"Make the jump!" Charka called out.

In a flash, the Ark Royal disappeared before the missiles could strike.

Taussig Nebula:

"Jump complete," Chandler called out.

"Are you picking up any traffic?" Charka asked.

"There's a lot of jumbled communications out there," Lieutenant Dwight Woodward said as he scanned over the messages that were being relayed from various vessels.

"Sir, there are six ships making their way towards us," Chandler announced.

"Friendly?"

The Tactical Officer shook his head, "Yes sir, they appear to be a group of civilian vessels with an Aerilon registry."

"Anymore coming our way?" Charka asked.

"There's a passenger liner from the Sharpe Line, the Cambrian, and their wireless operator tells me they're making their way here and to please not leave."

"Is that all?"

"Yes sir, it would appear to be all of them," Chandler said.

"Very well, Mr. Woodward, I want you to send a message to the ships to follow us into the Taussig Nebula. They are to maintain wireless silence until we order otherwise."

Thirty-Seven Minutes Later:

The ships they had come across when they had initially jumped to the Taussig Nebula surrounded the Ark Royal. Besides the luxury liner Cambrian, the civilian ships Egeria, Patroclus, Basaran, Laysan Island, Cape Johnson, and Hermitage now joined the battlestar. They were a mix of ships ranging from a food transport to a tylium refining ship. They had managed to meet up with the Edenton class heavy cruisers Illumini and Hadrian.

"Send word to the captains of those ships we'll have a Raptor…" Charka said and then realized that they had no real air wing and the cadets probably had not yet learned about piloting in a nebula, "Send word that we will have a video conference in ten minutes to discuss our situation."

Ten Minutes Later:

Ark Royal, War Room:

On the screen were Captains Joyce Powell, Avery Walters, Jermaine Ballard, Simone Fitzpatrick, Leif Dawson, Gregg Barrett, and Christina Jensen.

"Why is it that we're having to video conference instead of just meeting on your ship?" Dawson asked before any others could say a word.

"I regret to inform you that we were about to begin the process of inactivating the Ark Royal. When the decommissioning ceremony was held, the air wing flew off and headed to Picon for reassignment. As of this moment, we currently do not have a proper air wing," Charka said.

"What do you mean by that?" Jensen asked.

"We have cadets who landed their Vipers and Raptors onboard but they're too green to be put into a combat situation just yet. Our original air wing was sent away when we held the decommissioning ceremony. We still have our equipment to manufacture Vipers and we intend to start on that shortly. Our guns still work and we have ammunition for them so we can still defend ourselves against the Cylons."

"What do you plan on doing about getting enough pilots to get your ship's air wing up to full strength?" Fitzpatrick asked.

"That's where I need your help," Charka said as he scanned a report that had come in, "As of now all former members of the Colonial Defense Forces have been recalled to active duty. If there is anyone on your ships who served in the Colonial Fleet, inform them that they need to report to my ship as soon as they can. Perhaps from there we can put together an air wing of some sort."

Ark Royal, Hangar Deck:

John Penn, Thomas Stone, George Clymer, Arthur Middleton, James O'Hara, Joseph Hewes, and Brian Emerson stepped off the transport shuttle and onto the Hangar Deck of the Ark Royal. They had been serving as deckhands on the Cambrian when they had heard the call for all former Colonial Fleet personnel to report to the shuttle bay for transport to the Ark Royal.

"Looks like we're among the last ones here," Penn said.

"I tell you, I never thought I'd be back on one of these," O'Hara said as he looked around the hangar of the Illustrious-class battlestar.

"I wasn't even sure if I wanted to be back on one of these," Clymer said.

"Truthfully, I'd rather take my chances here on this battlestar than I would on the Cambrian," Stone said as he scanned the crowd that was not too far from where the shuttle had landed.

"If someone had told me this morning that I would be called back to duty and then be assigned to a battlestar I'd have told that person they had gone absolutely mad!" Hewes declared followed by a rueful laugh.

"I at least did a few months one of her sister ships before I got sent packing," Stone said.

"Really, and which one would that be?" Penn asked.

"I was part of the Deck Division on the Illustrious before I left the Fleet," Stone said.

"What about those people milling about over there in the other hangar bay?" Hewes asked.

"They look young enough to be cadets, wonder if they were here on some sort of training cruise," Penn said.

"Then you have the people in our group over there," Clymer said as he turned his gaze to the group of people who had found out not too long ago that they had been returned to active duty in the Colonial Fleet.

"Let's go join them and see what lies in store for us," Penn said as he started walking with the rest of the group following.

"That's the last of the people we found on the ships," Ortiz said as she checked off the list of people who had been sent over from the various ships.

Hangar Deck, Upper Level:

"How many is that?" Charka asked. Both he and Ortiz, who was shaken from the initial attack but had been given a clean bill of health, were standing on the upper level of the hangar deck looking at the group of people who would make up the air wing.

"That's going to give us about fifty-three people. I got a report stating that there were volunteers on the ships who wanted to come over," Ortiz said before turning to face Charka, "Are you sure this is the right idea?"

"We need pilots and at least this group has spent time in the military. Before we take any volunteers we need to build a core group of pilots, are there any former officers in that group?"

Ortiz looked down the list, "That's a negative; we have a group of former enlisted people on our hands."

"I hope they don't mind the fact that they're due to become officers."

"Just how do you plan on doing that?"

"We do it on a case by case basis; we'll see what information we can get on their time in the service and go from there. We can assign ranks and see how it pans out, but for now, we need to turn these people into pilots. Who do you have for instructors?"

"I know Colonel Hawkins was a Raptor pilot so she can help with that. We have group of pilots in place with Captains Alisa Stark, Aaron Rice, and Keith Lloyd, along with Lieutenants Donovan Stanley, Shawn Porter, Walter Kidd, Olivia Fox, Marisa Patterson, and Cheryl Clayton. They were pilots who happened to be in our area of the docking ring when the missiles hit. We were fortunate that they were able to get onboard before we closed those airlock doors."

"Those pilots are going to form our group of trainers; I want both you and Colonel Hawkins to take the lead on this one. The pilots will answer to the two of you when it comes to how we train these people."

"What about the civilians?" Ortiz asked as she broached the subject that they had not yet discussed.

"I want them disbursed to the civilian ships, right now a warship is not the place they need to be," Charka said as he checked his watch.

"What are you thinking?" Ortiz asked.

"We are sitting ducks here right now, we have no viable air wing and if we can't get those cadets and enlisted people trained to fly then it's just a matter of waiting for the Cylons to find us and finish us off."

"I'm going to go meet with our new crewmembers, in the meantime go to the CIC and stay on top of things until I get done here. It's important that we keep the crew busy so they don't dwell too much on what's happening. When we're somewhere safe we may have a chance to reflect on lost loved ones," Charka said, and after a nod, Ortiz walked through the hatch and down the corridor.

Charka had given the order for the people to assemble in formation and he began to inspect the assembly. He noticed one old man who held in his hands a gold-plated cane with a lion's head at the top of it.

"You sure you need to be here?" Charka asked him.

"All former military personnel were reactivated and I assumed it to be me as well," the old man, who looked to be in his mid sixties, said.

"I think you'll find they might have made an exception for you."

"Even if they had I'd have been here to offer my assistance."

"No offense, but I don't see how you can help me."

"I saw combat during the Cylon War as a Viper pilot. I can teach Viper techniques and put my combat experience to use."

"Tell me this, why should I allow you to stay on here and help with Viper training?"

"Because if you don't then we'll all be killed before you can turn these people into decent pilots."

Charka thought about it and asked, "Who are you and where did you last serve as a pilot?"

"My name is Lloyd Thomas and I was a pilot on the Battlestar Achilles during the Battle of Cosmora."

"You're hired," Charka said. The man was more than qualified to help teach Viper techniques. When he was done with this group, he would look more into the past of Thomas.

There was a ladder nearby that would have been used to help the pilots out of their Vipers, Charka stood up on it and got the attention of the crowd.

"My name is Commander Caden Charka and you are on the Battlestar Ark Royal. Not too long ago, the life we knew was turned on its head. We are currently hiding here in the Taussig Nebula but it will not be long until we jump to a new location where, hopefully, we can avoid the Cylons long enough for all of you to finish training to become Viper and Raptor pilots. It is my intention to turn this group I see into an air wing for this battlestar. Those who are cadets will finish your training and those who were just brought back into the Colonial Fleet will also undergo pilot training and when it is done you will be both pilots and officers onboard this battlestar. You are now going to find your rack here on this ship and will make yourself at home. I advise you to shower and get some sleep because you will need it if you are to survive the training that lies ahead for you." With that said Charka dismounted the ladder and made his way to the CIC. There was still much work that lay ahead for them if they were going to avoid being destroyed by the Cylons.

Commanding Officer's Quarters:

Charka walked into his quarters and let out a deep sigh. This was nothing like he had imagined it would be. He was supposed to be overseeing the inactivation of the Ark Royal but now he found himself in command of a battlestar in a time of war with an air group that was one in name only. He took off his uniform jacket and set it on a nearby table before sitting down at the desk.

Charka began looking up information on the formerly retired Colonel Lloyd Thomas, if this man what he said he was then it was important to find out exactly what his experience was. When his eyes saw Thomas' call sign they promptly stopped cold, Black Devil." Charka thought, "Wait a minute Black Devil…I've heard that call sign somewhere before."

As Charka read more about Thomas and his career in the Colonial Fleet, he learned that Fleet Admiral Stryker gave the call sign of Black Devil to him because of the black pitchfork that Thomas had painted on the tail of his Viper. It was also mentioned in the report that Thomas was Stryker's favorite pilots. The report had pictures of Thomas after he had finished his rehabilitation at Jermaine Tanner Medical Center in Queenstown on Picon. He saw pictures of Thomas with both Jonas and Elizabeth Stryker. In one of the photos, Elizabeth Stryker was presenting Thomas with an item that Charka realized he had seen when he met the retired pilot on the hangar deck. The gold-plated cane was give from Elizabeth Stryker after Thomas had finished his treatment for the injury to his right leg that he had suffered at the Battle of Glennon.

Lloyd Thomas' Quarters:

'Commander Charka knows how to show his respect,' Lloyd Thomas said to himself as he eased onto the bed and laid back. Earlier in the day, he was on a pleasure cruise and now he was recalled to active duty and assigned as a Viper Tactics instructor, the same job he held at Abry Military Academy.

The Picon native had come a long way since his younger days when he was piloting Vipers and trying to keep the Cylons from destroying humanity. His mind began to go back to one of the major battles he had been in, the Battle of Cosmora. He had been assigned command of Viper Squadron Four of the Battlestar Achilles. His Viper had been one of the reserves that had been held back by order of Commander Dominic Rigel, the CO of the Achilles, and he was onboard when the Cylons boarded the battlestar. When the Achilles appeared to have possibly been lost, his squadron was launched immediately, along with the Raptors that were still onboard.

Out in space he had just taken out a Cylon Raider when he saw the Achilles jump away, in an instant before he thought he saw the battlestar's air being vented out into space. It was then that he realized the ship had been lost and Commander Rigel had done one last act to protect the Colonial forces that were engaged in the battle.

Five year later, he would find himself on the sidelines on a more permanent basis. He had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and been made the CAG of the Battlestar Gemenon. It happened at the Battle of Glennon, eleven days before Operation Raptor Talon. One of the rookie pilots was in pursuit of a Raider and was so focused on his pursuit that he did not notice a Viper in time and ultimately rammed into it. Thomas was the pilot of that Viper and the damage his leg was so severe that there was talk of a possible amputation. Thankfully, that was not needed but it made sure that he would never fly again.

When the war was over Admiral Jonas Stryker came to the aid of one of his favorite pilots. He called in various favors and got Thomas a classroom job at Abry Military Academy teaching Viper Tactics to the cadets before they actually got into the cockpit.

He could not complain though; he had a chance to make a difference. It was an opportunity he had not had since before he was given a retirement package from Abry. Now he was in a shooting war and even though he could not fly a Viper, he could pass on the knowledge he had obtained over the years to make sure that the pilots on the Ark Royal would stand a fighting chance against the Cylons.

'Damn it feels good to be back in the game!' he thought to himself as he allowed sleep to take hold of him.

Three Hours Later:

Hangar Bay One:

Ortiz, Hawkins, and the pilots who would serve as trainers stepped up onto the podium that had been erected by the deck gang for this occasion, altogether there were now around two hundred and fifty pilots. They were a mix of the cadets from the Kridan and the Amari, the enlisted personnel who had passed the physical and were allowed to enter pilot training, as well as civilians who had volunteered to join.

"Stop the chatter and listen up!" Ortiz called out and she waited until she had their attention before she continued, "You are all here for various reasons. Some of you were in training to become pilots in the Colonial Fleet, some of you are former enlisted who have been approved to train to become pilots along with these cadets, and the rest of you are civilians who have volunteered to join us in our fight against the Cylons."

She stopped and saw that they were all waiting for what she would say next, "Behind me are your instructors. My top lieutenant, Colonel Yesinia Hawkins, will help me with overseeing your development. Reporting to both us are Captains Alisa Stark, Aaron Rice, and Keith Lloyd; Lieutenants Donovan Stanley, Shawn Porter, Walter Kidd, Olivia Fox, Marisa Patterson, and Cheryl Clayton. They will train you to become pilots for the Vipers and Raptors that you see here on this hangar deck. When your training is complete, I can guarantee that you will become pilots and officers that will do justice to the Colonial Fleet. Find your racks and get some rest, in the morning you're going to need it."

She watched as the crowd dispersed to head to their assigned berthing compartments. They had potential, she had to admit, and it was just a matter of putting them through the paces and turning them into the pilots the Ark Royal so desperately needed. As she stepped away from the podium, she thought of the Ark's motto: Desire Does Not Rest.

Wardroom:

Charka looked at the table of his assembled senior staff. The only thing that was missing was a CAG but that was to be expected when there was no functioning air wing.

"I've done some research and have come up with a plan," Charka said and tried to gauge the reactions of his officers before continuing, "We received a message from Commander William Adama of the Galactica ordering all Colonial units to rendezvous with him at Ragnar Anchorage."

"Are we heading there now?" Colonel Patrick Killian asked.

"Yes but we are going to stay a good distance away. The heavy cruisers each have a small hangar with facilities for five Raptors. I have tasked the Raptors on the cruiser Hadrian to scout ahead for us. The last thing we want is to alert the Cylons to our presence; right now, we are simply unable to mount a credible defense against the toasters."

"What do we do if the Cylons are there at Ragnar?" Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Chandler asked.

"I've asked Lieutenant Woodward to search the map of the Cyrannus System for places we can hide and we've identified a large nebula near the Red Line. It straddles the Nevis and Haran Sectors in the Southwest section of the system.

"When do we jump?" Ortiz asked.

"We leave within the hour, the sooner we find out if Adama and the Galactica are at Ragnar the sooner we can plan for how we'll survive against the Cylons,' Charka said as he dismissed the staff.

"Commander Ortiz, how do the prospective pilots look?"

"I think they have potential. It will be nice for the Ark to have a properly functioning air wing again."

"Yes it will. When you think about it, we're going to need them and the Raptors if we hope to survive this."

"I have no doubt about that, I'll have them ready to fly whenever the Cylons do find us," Ortiz said.

"It's just a matter of finding where we can hide at…any suggestions?" Charka asked.

"You're serious on this one?" she asked, stunned that at a time like this the man who relieved her as CO would ask for her help.

"I have some ideas but it never hurts to get a second opinion, besides you're a Commander as well."

She thought about it, "You might want to consider the Mjollnir System, we can hide in the upper atmosphere of the star and there's an anchorage there that we can use to get the weapons we need."

"That's not a bad idea, I had thought about Nassau where that station is but I think the Cylons may have already hit it," Charka said.

"It would make sense to me; it seems they hit whatever military installations they knew of."

"What about the two heavy cruisers and our civilians?" Woodward asked.

"I'm going to have them jump to Mjollnir where they should stay hidden until we're done. I'm going to have the Illumini and the Hadrian guard them, however I'm going to have one of the Raptors from the Hadrian join us to scout ahead for us," Charka said as he mentally checked his plan to make sure it seemed sound before adding, "Let's get to the CIC and get moving, if we have a chance to catch up with the Galactica we don't want to miss it."

CIC:

"Lieutenant Wade, what's the latest?" Charka asked when he walked to Command and Control where Lieutenant Carmella Wade was standing as Officer of the Watch.

"Lots of traffic has come in from the Fleet and none of it looks promising, it seems the Cylons are able to deactivate battlestars at will."

"Do you think it could be something with the computer systems?" Ortiz asked.

"It's a possibility, but it shouldn't affect our systems because the ship had its network taken offline because of the inactivation," Chandler said after looking over the reports that Wade had handed over.

"Fortunate for us," Charka said before adding, "Colonel Chandler I want you to plot a jump to Ragnar. We'll make the jump as soon as we have the Raptor from the Hadrian onboard. Send word to the cruisers and the civilian ships that they are to jump to Mjollnir and wait there for us."

"Commander, I've sent your orders to all ships. The Hadrian reports that their pilot, Lieutenant Ashlee Wyatt, and her ECO…Ensign Cathryn Perez have left the ship and will be here within a few minutes," Woodward announced.

"Commander we'll have the jump plotted momentarily," Chandler said as both he and Wade began to work on plotting the jump.

"Looks like things are getting interesting around here," she said.

"I think we're already past the 'interesting' part, I just want to get us out of harm's way until we have an air wing again. Until we have that we're at the mercy of the Cylons."

Ortiz nodded her head thoughtfully, "Without its air wing a battlestar is just as vulnerable as the old warstars were when it comes to battle."

The warstars were heavily armored citadels in space with rail gun turrets that were designed to unleash their firepower on both enemies in space as well as bombard planetary surfaces. Their fatal flaw was that they were vulnerable to the swift maneuvering of the Cylon Raiders, this led to their being phased out in favor of the battlestars as the new type vessels were brought into service.

"If we're lucky the Galactica will be there and we shouldn't have to worry too much about not having an air wing. Not to mention we can take the ammo and supplies from Mjollnir to bulk up the ammo for our guns," Charka said.

"The idea of a battlestar jumping into battle without having its Vipers is asking for trouble," Ortiz pressed.

"Since you seem so determine to prove to me that this is a bad idea, what would you suggest?"

"We have the cruisers and civilian ships make the jump to Mjollnir and that should help to hide them while we jump to Ragnar. If the Cylons are there then we jump away before we're detected."

"Sounds like a plan, I think that might actually work," Charka had to admit it was nice to have more of an idea as to how their plan was shaping up.

"The Raptor from the Hadrian has landed and is now in the hangar," Chandler reported.

"The ships are reporting that they are ready to make the jump to Mjollnir," Woodward said.

"Have them make the jump," Charka ordered and soon came the report that the small group of civilian vessels and the two heavy cruisers had jumped away.

"Now that that's done let's get ready to head to Ragnar," he said as he looked up and saw the contacts disappear from the DRADIS screen. With luck the Ark would meet up with them once they had discovered what the situation was like at Ragnar Anchorage.

"Commander, I have the jump plotted," Chandler called out moments later and when both Ortiz and Charka looked at him his face took on a look of embarrassment as though he had just created an awkward situation.

"Commence jump," Charka said and moments later the Ark Royal made the jump to Mjollnir Anchorage.