To Raise Up Troy
Prologue – When the Walls Came Down
"Commander on deck!" the marine at the hatch belted out as Captain Tylor stepped through and into the CIC, his voice crisp and clear. And obviously new.
"As you were." Tylor said, completing the morning ritual and shaking his head at the formality, "XO, what's the plan for the coming weeks?"
"We're set to jump out to Ragnar Anchorage and secure the facility and munitions." Tylor's XO, Karo Mathes, replied as he picked up a small stack of paper, boredom lacing his voice "After that we'll be replacing the Battlestar Perseus on patrol along the Armistice Line until we cross flight paths with Battlestar Hellena, where we will then jump to Armistice Station."
"Busy weeks ahead of us for once, Karo." Tylor commented as he glanced over his copy of the launch orders, not really seeing what was on the paper. He'd been to enough mission briefings, and held more, to make him exhaustingly familiar with his own ship's plans for this tour.
"Maybe, but still just a long waiting game."
Settling in to the normal routines of launching a Battlestar, Tylor and Karo set about their duties.
"Unknown DRADIS contacts jumping in. Three, seven, sixteen contacts." came from the young woman at the DRADIS station, and the crew leapt into action at the words.
"Set Condition One through-out the fleet." Fleet command spoke over the fleet-wide bands.
"Contacts confirmed. Sixteen Cylon Basestars moving to engage Picon orbital fleets. Cylon Raiders are now registering on DRADIS."
"We haven't even had a chance to set out for Ragnar..." Karo commented to Tylor.
"Better we fight here than that cloud." Tylor returned, watching the DRADIS.
"I'm just saying."
"All Vipers launch, standard intercept formations. Keep our firing lanes clear of friendlies." Captain Tylor said, "Wait'il my big-shot Mercury Captain sister hears how we got to hunt Cylons, Karo, while she was off on patrol."
With no warning a simple sensor sweep and background signal swept over the fleet, and the entire Colonial Fleet over Picon became crippled. Computer cores fell silent, networks crashed, consoles shutdown.
A few of the older Gunstars and a single Battlestar remained unaffected, but without their fighter screen the Cylon missiles, Raiders and Heavy Raiders began to burn them and crack them open like eggs. They struggled valiantly, claiming a single Basestar and perhaps three dozen Cylon fighters, but none of the Colonial warriors survived.
"Frak!" Tylor yelled, the CIC lit red like blood, watching the flickering DRADIS on a nearby screen as Colonial ship after Colonial ship vanished from the display, and Picon began to burn, "Get the FTL back up and Jump us to Caprica. YESTERDAY if you please!"
"All-hands!" moments later and panicked, the Jump Tech bellowed into the ship-wide overhead speakers, "Prepare for Emergency Jump!"
And with a flash of rainbow light their ship, the Pylops, was gone. Gone from the slaughter of the Colonial Fleet, now helpless in orbit over the rapidly burning Picon.
Slowly, the shadowed grey hull slid through the aether. Gliding beside the expanse of grey plating were smaller shadows, dull-white dart-shapes and brown lumps like ancient earth toads. All moved silently through the void of empty space.
A flash of prismatic light reveals a smaller grey ship much like the first, but burnt down one side with fire pouring from much of the rest. A single brown shape seems to leap from the foundering wreck and speed towards the still mighty grey ship as her fleet of darts launch to protect her.
Spare minutes later and two more flashes reveal a pair of dull grey ships shaped like a pair of tri-pointed stars stuck together. As the grey trails of missiles leap from their hulls to the unharmed warship, another prismatic flash whisks her away from the funeral pyre of her wounded and dying little sister.
"What the frak is going on!" the Captain roars, her voice more deafening than the silence from moments before when news of Picon's fall had reached them from the smaller Pylops.
When two Cylon Basestars had jumped in and they in turn jumped out, Akara finally found her voice.
"Seriously, anyone wanna give me one frakking IDEA!" she continues, slamming her fists down on the plotting table, the center table, as the bridge crew at their stations around the room glance between each other and their consoles.
"What?" Akara snaps, interrupting the comms officer, a young man whose name she hasn't learned yet, causing him to visibly flinch before replying.
"The uh, the message pod the Pylops' Raptor brought over was just finished with in the ECM room. They cleared it and want to know if they should bring it up to the CIC..."
"Yes, thank you," she replies, taking a calming breath and placing her hands on the edge of the center table, "Have them bring it straight up."
"No..." breathes the Jump Technician, standing only because she had taken a half step back and was now leaning against the vertical graph screen, "It can't- can't be all the Colonies."
The entire bridge, the entire ship, had just heard the Pylops account of the Cylon strike on Picon, the jump to Caprica, which was also burning in nuclear fire, and its skirmish over Sagitaron before jumping out to their location in deep space along the Armistice Line.
"I'm so sorry big sister." Tylor Sonyu's voice whispers, weak, from the overheads as the fires burn and alarms scream in the background as the Pylops' Jump Tech yells that he is jumping as fast as her FTL can handle as they race to warn the Hellena, to warn Akara, "I'm sorry I won't be following you any further than this."
As the audio file ends, without a single word Akara steps away from the center table and leaves the CIC through the side hatch.
"All hands- Brothers and Sisters..." Toni fumbles seeming to be verbally grasping at straws, numb like he supposes everyone aboard the Hellena feels, as he leans against the center table, "Minimum crew on duty for the next twenty-four hours, four hour shifts. Let's mourn. Dismissed."
Straightening he stiffly, slowly, walks out of the CIC the same way Akara had.
Alone in the vast distance between stars, the crew of the Hellena mourned. Their home on Picon is gone, and the homes of their families, the other Colonies, are gone too.
[Captain to the CIC, Captain to the CIC.] scratches from the overhead, and Akara steps out of her small office just down the corridor from the CIC of her ship.
Entering the nerve-center of the Hellena, she clears her throat and steps up to the center table.
"Report." is all she says as Toni steps through the door.
"The data from the Pylops contained information on how the Cylons attacked the Twelve Colonies."
"How did they do it." Akara's voice was low, calm, and carried an undercurrent of danger.
"Ma'am... they used the CNP. They appeared to fast-hack through a back-door and crashed the networked systems within the fleet. They turned our ships into floating graves."
A feeling of horror floods through the CIC before the young tech continues.
"The Pylops recommends wiping the computers of the CNP, and disconnecting the wireless linkages to keep out further hack attempts. It's why they sent a Raptor instead of contacting us on the radio."
"But hard-linking the main systems will be almost impossible with us jumping out!" the Jump Tech from earlier interjects, "And we'd have to use most of our reserve cabling just to connect CIC with Engineering, Flight OPS, and Firecontrol."
"Do it." Akara says firmly, "Take the jump computers offline first, but keep the FTL spun up with a destination in case the Cylons catch us while we work."
"Roger." is chorused around the CIC before the crew begins the long work of hardening the Hellena.
Several hours later, with cables running through the corridors and blocking open hatches, Akara and several others gather in her small office attached to her living quarters back in the crew section of the battlestar. Ship's Executive Officer Commander Toni Soan, Senior Jump Technician Dulei Lanna, and Flight Deck Crew Chief Tomas Lorn.
"So, what's our Jump path?" Akara said looking to Lanna.
"One of the old scout routes from right before the first Cylon War follows out from near here. It should Jump us out along the galactic arm, and we might find settler outposts."
"I say we follow it." Lorn gruffly states, "It's not like we have any better directions to Jump."
"But what about finding survivors?" Toni asks, eyebrow arched, "There could be other military ships that got out, not to mention civilian ships. Ships with small jump ranges and no CNP to crash and keep them in one place."
"It could take weeks or longer to find anyone, time they don't have. And that's assuming they stay where we could look without being noticed." Akara spoke, "We'll follow this route, and pray it gets us somewhere we can rest and plan."
"I'm just saying we send a few Raptors to scout around. We have the time, and anyone they can find is a boost to moral."
"Do it," Akara says after a moment, "We'll give them seventy-two hours to look around, twelve hour shifts of four Raptors at a time. And have them spend the last half hour jumping around to keep our location hidden."
The other three nod, before Akara continues.
"What are the status of our supplies?"
"As we are only a month into our patrol, we still have seven months of consumables. We also have a full Best-Case seventy-two hours of munitions, both for the ship's guns and our Viper and Raptor compliment. We even have enough material for our fabricators to roll out upto another twenty-four hours of munitions and potentially build a dozen more Vipers and six Raptors." he replies.
"So, we have seven months to find somewhere to restock or settle down." Lorn grumbles.
"Settle down?" Lanna echoes, jaw dropped, "We're Fleeters, Marines and Pilots, not backwoods colonists."
"We can't keep the Hellena up and running for more than a year without resupply, and not more than three without a mobile tender or fleet yard. Not to mention our water will only last so long in the reclamation system." Lorn returns.
"We'll worry about that at a later date." Toni interjects, then glanced at the Captain, "For now, we'll follow where the old scouters pointed."
"Correct." Akara nods, then stood, "Dismissed, I'll see you all in the morning in the CIC."
With a chorus of "Ma'am", the others left Toni and Akara in the small office.
"So," Akara starts after a few moments of silence, "Care for a glass of ambrosia?"
Akara gets a pair of glasses and a bottle out of a drawer in her desk and fills them halfway with ambrosia. Bringing them back to the small table, she sits in the small chair opposite Toni. They sit in a somber silence for several moments, sipping their drinks, neither looking up from staring at the floor or table in thought.
"He's gone." her voice sounds oddly small to Toni, used to Akara's normally firm and occasionally loud voice, and he turned his eyes back to her.
"Yes..." Toni whispers, voice catching, "he is."
"I mean... I just..." Akara's already whispering tone begins to crack, and Toni moves to stand beside her. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he gives a gentle squeeze.
"I know. Me too..."
"Last flight of Raptors is due back any minute." Toni notes quietly, standing at his station to the right of Akara, "Think they found someone this time?"
"Maybe," Akara returns.
"DRADIS contacts! Six, eight contacts holding position one point eight kay-klicks out off our starboard bow at bearing zero-two positive zero-one." the tech on duty announces.
"Confirm ID's," Toni orders, "Are they Cylon?"
"Negative Sir, ID codes confirm our four Raptors plus four civilian transports."
A cheer rose up at that, finally others had been found.
"One heavy cargo and three liners."
"Lets bring all the birds home."
Toni steps through the hatch onto the landing deck, which had been sealed and pressurized while the civilian ships, two at a time except for the cargo ship, were inspected.
"What's the status of the civilian ships chief?" Toni asks as he walks over to a work station not far from the hatch, pausing a few steps back as Lorn turns from the screen.
"Not good I'm afraid. Only one of the liners is truly fit for long duration travel, and while the cargo is meant for long hauls..." he grunts, a frown marking his face, "it has seen better days."
"Could we canabalize parts from one to fit out another?"
"Maybe, but it'd still only last so long before that breaksdown too." Lorn sighs, "we'd be better off loading the freighter's haul into one of the lower flight pods and using it to make one of the other liners fit for travel."
"Do it." Toni nods once, "It'll be easier dealing with a pair of liners than civlian onboard or complaining about the conditions on a freighter."
"It'll be ready to jump in..." Lorn glances back at the screen for a moment, "say six hours, give or take. Hopefully faster if the civilian captains don't frak around."
[All hands, all hands, prepare for jump. CIC repeats, prepare for jump.]
Akara and the bridge crew stood ready. Soon they would be maxing out their jump range in a bid to put as much distance between them and the Cylons burning the Twelve Colonies. And maybe bring them closer to a world they could try and call home once more.
"Redline Jump in fifteen seconds." Lanna announces, and began the timer, then whispered to herself, "And may God guide our steps away from our sins."
With a prismatic wash of light, the Hellena and her two charges left behind the Cylons and their hunt for Colonial survivors, and jumped into an uncertain future.