by AJ Marks
Part 70: Third Fleet
Baltar watched Lucifer walk back into the command room. The IL series Cylon never showed much of anything but over the years Baltar had managed to read the Cylon. The most telling feature, how slowly the Cylon entered. Lucifer always approached slowly when he had bad news. Baltar wondered slightly if the Cylon even knew he did that.
“Report Lucifer,” Baltar said, looking down at the Cylon.
“By your command Baltar,” Lucifer replied. “The latest report of the Galactica and her fleet are not good.”
“Explain,” Baltar said.
“The fleet had sped up, now they are slowing down,” Lucifer reported to Baltar.
“And what does the Imperious Leader in all his wisdom think?” Baltar asked.
“He thinks the fleet is running low on fuel,” Lucifer said.
“A logical explanation,” Baltar said. “But if there’s something I’ve learned lately, is not to believe anything without looking into it further.”
“A wise decision Baltar,” Lucifer said.
“Of course it is,” Baltar replied quickly. “Unlike the Imperious Leader who continues to folly away with pointless attacks and so called traps I’ve watched the fleet closely.”
“And what have you discovered Baltar,” Lucifer replied.
“I believe that an illness has spread though the fleet,” Baltar said. “It’s the only logical solution and only reason that can be allowed for the reason that Adama has allowed several ships to be abandoned. The next time any ships are abandoned I want a recon of the ships.”
“By your command,” Lucifer said, giving a slight bow before leaving the command room.
Ares walked onto the bridge to look over the latest intel from the patrols. The voyage had been long so far, but he had a plan now.
“Any word?” Ares asked, looking down at Rebecca.
“We just received word a few minutes ago,” Rebecca replied. “Finished sending it to you.”
Ares glanced down at his handheld noticing that indeed the communications had been received. He nodded his head. He quickly brought up the communications to the Galactica waiting a few seconds until Commander Adama appeared. The older man had returned from Earth after meeting with the council. An agreement had been reached. The Colonials would use the planet of CB-3 as a temporary home and would retain full political control over the Colonies and Earth would keep control of their bases, including CB-3.
So far several trips had already transferred over a thousand Colonials to the planet, along with several members of the council. Two members rotated back and forth until the fleet finally arrived at the planet.
The one thing Ares had felt during the trip had been the one thing he hoped this plan would succeed in soothing. Many of the survivors wanted revenge on the Cylons. Ares also knew that the closer the fleet got to Earth the greater the chance of the Cylons finding out about them. So he sent his plan to Commander Pratt who sent word back they would.
“Commander Adama is on the line,” Rebecca said.
Ares turned to his monitor seeing both Adama and Tigh.
“You wanted to see me Commander?” Adama asked.
“Yes sir,” Ares said. “I wanted to let you know that the plan is set, and it seems the ships are in position.”
“Good, I’ll begin the fleet’s part in this then,” Adama said.
“Hopefully if this works out, we’ll give the Cylons something else to think about for a while,” Ares said.
“I think it will,” Adama said. “The real question is what will Baltar do.”
Ares had to nod his head at that comment. They had kept an eye on the basestar they considered to be Baltar’s. The ship had made no aggressive moves, and seemed to hang back whenever the Cylons attacked. Adama had mentioned that he thought Baltar still did not fully know about the Argo and the Enterprise. Such a tactical advantage so far had worked to Ares’ advantage, but now the time had come to pull off a major surprise.
“I guess we’ll find out shortly then,” Ares said.
Adama nodded before ending the communications.
“Tell the fleet to change course,” Ares said, knowing that this part of the plan carried the most risk and leaving the fleet with only one battlestar to protect it.
“Fleet is stopping,” Rebecca said.
Ares nodded watching the scanners. The Enterprise and Argo along with the rest of the Earth fleet now slowly headed away from the fleet. Ares hoped the Cylons would not do anything for at least a day. That would give him the time he needed to spring the trap on the Cylons. The Galactica would send out patrols to the nearby systems giving the illusion of empty fuel tanks in the fleet. What the Cylons would not know is the fleet had just been topped off with fuel allowing all ships to flee at their maximum speed when the plan called for that to happen.
He hoped everything went as planned, but also understood that plans fail at the most critical times. He pushed the though from his mind not wanting to jinx the plans. The next part of the plan, actually had more to do with the Cylons than anything else. The fleet had to wait for the enemy to show up once more.
Adama looked down at the scanners, knowing that the Galactica’s scanners could not lock onto the Argo or any of the other ships in the fleet. Still he looked down knowing how much Commander Ares risked on the plan. In a way the commander reminded Adama of Commander Cain. Adama had learned that Ares and Cain had been in the same fighter group.
“Commander,” Tigh’s voice said breaking Adama’s thought.
“Yes Tigh, what is it,” Adama said, looking up at his second in command.
“A patrol already indicates an incoming Cylon patrol,” Tigh said. “Shall we destroy it?”
“Have the nearest patrol intercept it,” Adama said. He had to maintain the illusion the fleet now appeared low on fuel. If the fleet really had been low he’d have any patrol destroyed before any raiders could scan the ships.
“Boomer and Jax are on patrol, I’ll inform them,” Tigh said.
Adama nodded before turning his attention back to the scanners. All three battlestars exchanged pilots so often that sometimes it was hard to remember which pilot came from which ship.
Now that the Argo and Enterprise had left it only left the fleet with the Galactica, and a destroyer, the Calgary. The fleet though did have an additional two squadrons of fighters. One group flew the newer Mark VIIIs, the other squad the Mark IIs, same as the Galactica.
“Father,” Apollo said. Adama turned to see Apollo along with Starbuck, Sheba and Cassiopeia all standing there. “I, well, we’ve been thinking about this plan that Commander Ares came up with and I think we have a better idea.”
Adama’s eyebrow rose but he remained silent. His son usually came up with very good ideas, and if Starbuck stood with Apollo not saying anything then the plan must be good. “All right, I’m listening.”
“Well, I’ve gone over the maps of space from here to Earth, and Ares wants to use the asteroids here,” Apollo said, pointing to a spot on the map not far from the fleet. “There is a deposit of tylium over here though, and a spot to cover one of the battlestars.”
Adama looked at the map and the areas that Apollo had pointed out. They were to keep up the illusion that the fleet had run out of fuel.
“The Cylons already know about that deposit of fuel, we know they scanned the surrounding area a sectar ago,” Apollo said.
“Yes, the patrols watched them,” Adama said.
“We can send a patrol there, and then send out tankers there, along with a squadron of vipers, split our forces, end the guessing of when the Cylons attack,” Apollo said.
Adama looked down at the scanner for a second longer before activating the communications to the Argo. He felt sure that Ares would agree that Apollo had a good idea there. The Cylons almost couldn’t pass up such an invitation to attack.
Ares listened while Adama mentioned Apollo’s plan.
“Brilliant, I can’t see how I overlooked that,” Ares said. “Rebecca, contact the Enterprise and tell them to wait near the fuel deposits. I need to revise the placement of the ships slightly. How long until you send a patrol there?”
“The next patrols is actually scheduled to head there,” Adama said.
Ares nodded his head. That meant if Adama proceeded with the plan he’d have at most a day to place the fleet.
“Okay, don’t alter that, we can get into position quickly,” Ares replied. “I’ll let you know when we’re ready, shouldn’t be too long to reposition.”
“We’ll be waiting,” Adama said.
Ares looked back at the map again shaking his head.
“Something wrong?” Troy asked.
“Can’t believe I missed that fuel deposit there,” Ares said.
“Well, there isn’t much there,” Troy said.
“Yeah, but if we’re giving the illusion the fleet is low on fuel, Adama would take any fuel he could find,” Ares said.
He watched Troy nod his head in agreement. Ares had to admit that the new tweak in the plan make it better. He’d been so focused on battle that he had forgotten about how to run a refugee fleet that should appear desperate in their flight from the Cylons. He had an advantage and wanted to use it.
“Order Enterprise over there,” Ares said. He wanted to make sure the Cylons were trapped this time.
He looked at the scanners, and markers from other warships indicating the placement of the basestars. Six basestars, not including Baltar’s, now surrounded the fleet. It appeared the Cylons had learned, slightly, from past mistakes. The last two attacks had been with only three basestars. Ares figured, after talking with Adama and Tigh, the first attack when the group from Earth interfered had been under the command of Baltar. Ares wondered if the Cylons were punishing Baltar, or if he simply watched, learning from the tactics.
“Basestars three and four have stopped,” Rebecca said.
Ares glanced at the scanner noting that the two basestars now held a position outside the Galactica’s scanning range. One basestar, which he named four, was below the fleet, and number three above the fleet, six held a position behind the fleet while the other three, one, two and five, waited in front of the fleet. The Enterprise currently held a position close to three, the Argo close to four. He’d catch the Cylons off guard for sure.
“Report Lucifer,” Baltar said.
“By your command Baltar,” Lucifer replied, bowing slightly. “The Imperious Leader himself is leading the attack.”
“He is, is he,” Baltar said, his mind thinking. Last time he spoke to the Imperious Leader the Cylon had warned Baltar not to plan any other attacks. “And what does the Imperious Leader wish of us?”
“We are to hold our sector until the fleet breaks up. Our raiders are to destroy any fleeing Colonial ships,” Lucifer said.
“He expects a victory then,” Baltar stated, smiling slightly. “Then he’ll be disappointed when it doesn’t happen.”
“No, the Imperious Leader has calculated the odds heavily in our favor this time,” Lucifer said. “Shall I tell him we won’t participate?”
“No, tell him if the attack succeeds we’ll help, but he still has no idea what he’s up against,” Baltar said. “There have been reports of ghost ships that he’s ignoring.”
“There is no evidence that such ships exist, even if the Colonials managed to perfect a cloaking device for their vipers we still have numbers on our side,” Lucifer said.
“And we’ve had numbers now since chasing the Galactica from the Colonies and it hasn’t helped,” Baltar said. “No, there is more here, and I wish to find out. Relay my reply.”
“By your command,” Lucifer said, bowing before leaving to the communications room.
Baltar walked over to the monitors glancing at the layout of the basestars, and the fleet. “Now Adama, we’ll see how you handle this threat.”
Troy stood next to the command chair waiting for the orders. The Cylons had started to move. Raiders had been launched from the basestars and waiting outside the scanning range of the Galactica. Heading out from the Galactica one squad of vipers along with a tanker headed to the one planet where some fuel had been located.
“Adama,” he heard Ares say.
“Commander Ares, what news?” Adama asked.
“Looks like the Cylons have fallen for it,” Ares said. “They began launching raiders the moment the squadron left with the tanker.”
Troy saw Adama nod then looked off screen. The Galactica went to red alert.
“We’re ready,” Adama said.
“Good, get me the Enterprise,” Ares said.
Troy watched Gunther appear on the screen. The Enterprise appeared full of activity from the look of things behind Gunther.
“You’ve seen?” Ares asked.
“We’re waiting for the go ahead,” Gunther replied.
“Put the fleet on red alert,” Ares stated.
Troy flicked the switch watching the familiar red light bath the bridge. Looking over at the indicators he watched the posts report in when ready. In less than a minute the entire battlestar was battle ready. He knew it wouldn’t have taken long. Many of the crewmembers were close to their battlestations knowing the attack would happen any moment.
“Raiders moving in on fleet,” Rebecca said.
“Launch vipers, target intercept,” Ares said.
“Green squadron, intercept raiders in sector six, red squadron in sector five,” Troy relayed to the squadron leaders, Bri and Jax.
Troy also relayed the message to the Enterprise. Their vipers would intercept the raiders coming from behind the fleet and top and below. Troy had to admit things felt strange no longer in the cockpit of a viper in battle. Watching things play out on monitors made him feel slightly helpless.
“Galactica has launched,” Rebecca said, indicating the moment the Galactica’s scanners had reported the raiders.
Troy watched the tanker turn around while the vipers turned to engaged the nearest raider group, from basestar three.
“Basestars one, two and five moving in,” Rebecca said.
Troy looked back down at the moving groups. The vipers and raiders would engaged in seconds. The Galactica had started moving away from the fleet towards the three basestars.
“All right, get me Commander Pratt.” Ares said.
The Imperious Leader sat on his throne on his personal command basestar. The reports coming in were not that unexpected, heavy losses, but the raiders were starting to push through. Once more reports came in about a viper that failed to appear on the scanners.
The invisible vipers would not prevent a Cylon victory this time. He had the largest collection of basestars since the defeat of the Colonies. Once the basestars destroyed the Galactica then they could attack the transports. With those gone the invisible vipers would be useless and drifting in space after the Cylons left. Then he go back and destroy the remaining pockets of humanity they had come across.
“Report centurion,” he ordered.
“By your command,” the Centurion replied. “The Galactica is headed towards the basestars located in front of the fleet.”
“Good, send in the other two basestars to attack the Colonial fleet, leave none left alive,” the Imperious Leader replied.
The Centurion turned to carry out the order. The Imperious Leader turned to watch the battle. He didn’t want to miss a single moment of the destruction of the Colonial fleet.
“Imperious Leader, new report coming in from the basestar commanders,” a centurion said. “They are under attack by a Colonial warfleet.”
“Explain,” the Imperious Leader stated.
“A basestar commanders state incoming vipers from a warfleet consisting of two battlestars, and numerous other warships from behind. What are your orders?” the Centurion asked.
“The other two basestar commanders report they are under attack as well,” another Centurion stated.
“Identification of the incoming battlestars,” he asked.
“Negative, they are not in our warbooks,” the Centurion replied. “Also the design is slightly modified.
He thought about what to reply when the basestar rocked slightly from large weapons fire. He looked down at the scanner not seeing anything down there.
“Aft turbo-laser batteries state an attacking gunstar,” the Centurion said.
“Our raiders?” the Imperious Leader asked.
“They are engaged in combat with the Colonial vipers,” the Centurion replied.
The basestar rocked again from another hit.
“Retreat for now,” the Imperious Leader stated.
“Baltar, you wished to know how the battle goes,” Lucifer said, causing Baltar to turn towards the Cylon.
“Yes, has the attack failed?” Baltar asked, a bit surprised at the speed at which it could fail.
“It appears that the Colonials have some new battlestars,” Lucifer said.
“The Pegasus isn’t new,” Baltar said, walking over to the monitors. He glanced down taking in the attack. The Imperious Leader’s basestar already appeared to be retreating. The others also retreating further back. He frowned expanding the radius of the scan noticing a large formation of fighters and ships approaching. The scanners identified the ships as Colonial warships. “A colonial warfleet? Out here?”
“It appears so Baltar,” Lucifer replied.
“Pull back as well,” Baltar said. He looked back down not knowing what had happened. All battlestars had been accounted for over the years, even the Pegasus despite the knowledge that they thought it was destroyed. He turned to the Cylon archive bringing up the list of battlestars and where they were destroyed quickly looking for any unknowns. Only one came out, the Pegasus, listed as destroyed, but unknown.
“And what of the Imperious Leader,” Lucifer asked returning to the command room.
Baltar glanced back at the scanner. The basestar reported to be under attack, but no knowledge of by what. “We retreat, I warned him, not my fault he failed to listen.”
“By your command,” Lucifer said.
Baltar looked down now able to make out more of the Colonial warfleet. Two battlestars, two gunships, and a dozen smaller craft all heading towards the basestar. The burning question in his mind now, where had they come from? Slightly more important was did they have more than what was being shown? He had the feeling Adama had to have had something to do with it.
Baltar turned heading back to his chair to wait and see what happened next.
“Commander, Pratt is on the line,” Rebecca said.
“Put it though,” Ares said, looking at the scanner. So far everything had gone pretty much as planned. The biggest let down was basestar six managed to escape at the moment.
“Commander, anything you want us to do beside the current targets,” Pratt asked.
“No, the 3rd Fleet needs to destroy those ships. The nearest replacements are several weeks away still,” Ares said.
“Okay,” Pratt replied.
The communications ended leaving Ares to look at the total picture of what had happened in the battle. The Argo still currently engaged as was the Enterprise. Baltar’s basestar had retreated at the first sign of the 3rd Fleet.
Behind the 3rd Fleet an assortment of transports, fuel tankers and other craft had also arrived. Ares activated the communicator again waiting for General Pakrov to answer.
“Commander Ares, I was waiting for your call,” the man said.
“Everything is set, begin the operations,” Ares said.
“All right,” Pakrov said, “Oh yeah, the booster relays are set up now.”
“Booster relays?” Ares asked, not sure what that was.
“Oh, right, you don’t know about them. Doctor Weaver discovered the technology on the Orion, a way to boost the speed of transmissions over long distance. We now have almost instant communications with Earth,” Pakrov said.
Ares sat stunned at that.
“Of course the Argo’s communications will require a slight modification to use the system,” Pakrov said.
“The ships of the 3rd Fleet have the technology?” Ares said.
“Of course,” Pakrov said.
“All right, then we’ll have to set up a meeting between all leaders,” Ares said. “Start setting up the base on the following planet.”
Ares sent the instructions to the general who nodded before signing off. Ares glanced over at Troy who seemed as shocked at the recent technology news as anyone else.
“Seems the doctor never stopped taking that ship apart,” Troy said.
“Wonder why they invented such technology?” Ares said. “The only logical explanation includes a large empire.”
“Maybe not,” Troy said. “They might have developed it for their fight against the Arbus, a way of setting up signal bases on distant planets to monitor the movements.”
“Possible, but there might be more to this,” Ares said. “Schedule a time to have the Argo’s communications upgraded. There are a lot of people on board who want to call home.”
“Yes sir,” Troy replied.
“Sir, Commander Adama is on the line,” Rebecca said.
“Put it though,” Ares said. “Commander, how is the Galactica?”
“Survived fine, minor damage,” Adama said. “We suffered no losses in the fleet, what about the battle fleet?”
“Took the Cylons by complete surprise. They are still engaged, but the other three have fallen back,” Ares said. He looked down to notice that two of the Cylon basestars had been destroyed. “Only one left to engage.”
“Good, one of the hits took out our scanners,” Adama said.
“I think we can repair that,” Ares said. The Skartians were very adept at repairs. “Oh, there will be some aliens that will come on board to help with the repairs. Allies of Earth.”
“I’ll trust your judgment on this, after all you’ve worked with them for a couple of years now,” Adama said.
“We helped liberate their homeworld about halfway through the war,” Ares said. “Good people, not fighters, but great builders.”
“Any news about this Galactic Council?” Adama said.
“Not yet, but the fleet’s communications will be upgraded. Seems a booster has been discovered and we can talk with President Xai to see what the situation is,” Ares stated.
“Improved communications, very nice,” Adama said.
“Yeah, I want to get the council together to have a conference call with the leaders back at CB3 and Earth,” Ares said.
“A general discussion,” Adama said.
“Yes, we’ve reached a turning point,” Ares said. He’d been fighting on the defensive due to the Colonial fleet, now he had the tools to fight deep into Cylon territory and destroy them once and for all.
“You remind me of Cain,” Adama said. “He never was good at defense, but offensively a genius.”
“I don’t like being on the defensive, the offensive is easier to control many times. That and it’s been yahrens since the Cylons have been on the defensive. We have an advantage and we have to use it now before they adapt,” Ares said.
“I don’t think anyone in the fleet will have a problem with that Commander,” Adama replied. “We lived though our homes being destroyed, our friends and loved ones killed. I think they deserve it.”
“You think the Council will accept such a tactic. If we go on the offensive, it won’t end this time until the Cylons have been destroyed. No peace talks, no surrender,” Ares said.
“The Council has changed since the destruction of the Colonies. Each time they’ve tried such tactics it’s backfired on them,” Adama said. “The last time Baltar, the Eastern Alliance and Boralian Noman kidnapped them.”
“All right, we’ll meet on the Warspite in three hours,” Ares said.
Bri glanced over at Troy in the rec room. Troy’s parents were watching Mary run off some energy after having been kept locked up in a room during the battle.
“So, Ares thinks a turning point has been reached?” Bri asked, having been told of the conversation between Ares and Adama.
“Yep, reminds me of what Commander Cain might say,” Troy said. “But.”
“I still get the feeling that my vision will come true, the Argo will be destroyed,” Troy stated. “I don’t know how, or when but I feel it stronger now than ever before.”
Bri sat back in her seat not sure what to say to Troy about that. Silence fell in their conversation after Troy’s remark. She looked over at Mary who appeared to be charming another fighter pilot.
“Then we’ll have to try hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Bri replied.
“It may not be that simple,” Troy answered. “If I knew more, maybe, but, I don’t know. My father had visions of the attack by the Cylons, but knew not when until it happened. I guess some things can’t be changed.”
“Perhaps, but we don’t know. I don’t think the future is set in stone,” Bri said. She’d keep an eye on the Argo during battle from now on.
End part 70