Battlestar Argo – Part 75

Battlestar Argo

by AJ Marks

Part 75: Preparations

Ares stared at Adama a bit in shock at what he’d been told.

“Baltar, the one who turned traitor to the humankind, the one who dogged the Galactica halfway to Earth. The same one who refused to engage in combat after the Argo and her fleet had arrived, that Baltar,” Ares asked.

“Same one,” Adama said.

“I’m slightly amazed they even allowed a human in the position of command, let alone enough Cylons followed him to lead a revolt against the current Imperious Leader,” Ares said.

“I am too, but it does explain why they had that revolt,” Adama said. “We’ll have to be more cautious in our approach now.”

“Yeah, with the Cylons we could anticipate their reactions,” Ares said. “I expect Baltar has some idea as to the makeup of our fleet, and why they don’t appears on the scanners.”

“That’s a good bet,” Adama said. “I’ve increased the patrols around colonies and the patrol ships are working in large area making sure we know where the Cylon basestars are.”

Ares nodded knowing that Baltar might already suspect the reason why the Cylons were losing the battles.

“Well, we’ll decide what the next step is after the fleet gets back,” Ares said.

“How did the battle go?” Adama asked.

“We lost the destroyer Sullivans,” Ares said. “And several of the smaller ships were damaged, we’ll have to work hard to undergo repairs. Are any the faculties around the colonies working at all?”

“No, none were operational when the Galactica left,” Adama said.

“Well, we need to get those up and running right away,” Ares said. “Especially when there are roughly a dozen or so basestars around their homeworld. We’ll need every advantage we have to defeat them.”

“I’ll get some people on it and have a report when the rest of the fleet arrives back at the Colonies,” Adama said.

“I’ll see you in a bit then,” Ares said.

He looked over at Troy who had heard the entire conversation.

“What do you think?” Ares asked.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Troy said.

“We really need to figure out how many basestars are left in the Cylon military, that would help out tremendously,” Ares said.

“Well, the destruction of that dockyard and the T3 did hurt them,” Troy answered.

“Yeah, and the destruction of a few other basestars always helps,” Ares said. “I’ll need a report of what cruisers are ready for raids along with destroyers, specifically the stealth ships. If we can continue to harass the supplies to the Cylons it will even out the playing field.”

Already he knew he had to inform Earth of what had happened, a good thing communications now was much quicker. They had put up communications relays while on route to the Colonies. Communications was the least of Ares’ worries.

*****

Troy walked into the rec room needing to unwind for a few minutes after the last couple of hours. Being the Colonel of a battlestar had a different set of rules. He’d been working even more since his promotion, but he also seemed to be able to get things done. He really was more like commander of the Argo, while Ares was fleet commander. He had a moment of relief now that the fleet had arrived back at the Colonies.

“There you are, thought for a second I was going to have to come up to the bridge,” Bri’s voice said.

Troy half smiled before flopping down next to his wife. “Ugh, command sucks sometimes. Too much paperwork.”

“Hey, we’ve got paperwork as well,” Nall replied.

“Yeah, but who do you think receives it, reviews it and write the condensed report for the commander,” Troy said. “Though overall, we did pretty well, lost a dozen vipers, which was less than some of the other battlestars. And one destroyer, along with damage to two others, two cruisers, the Pegasus was damaged again, and the Richelieu took some damage. Her armor really held up well.”

“I think we can take some credit for that,” Nall said. “After all we’re the ones who fired the first attack, damaging some of their weapon systems.”

“Yeah, you did, probably saved several ships,” Troy said. “The major mission was accomplished there, though I think Ares really wanted to destroy all the Cylon ships there.”

“We needed a better plan for that,” Bri replied.

“No time, he wanted to take advantage of the situation at the Cylon homeworld,” Troy said, suddenly remembering what he heard on the bridge from Commander Adama. “We know who the new Imperious Leader is.”

“I’ve heard some rumors,” Bri said. “One is really far-fetched, they are saying Baltar is the new Imperious Leader, how bizarre.”

“Well, truth is stranger than fiction,” Troy said with a small shrug. “Besides, that rumor is the right one.”

He watched two jaws drop in shock at his statement.

“Hey, I guess you just told them,” a new voice said. Troy looked up to see Rebecca sit down next to Nall. “Close your mouth dear, someone might think you’re drooling.”

Troy suddenly started laughing at that statement, especially when she pushed Nall’s chin up.

“Very funny,” Nall finally said, recovering enough to speak again.

“It’s true then, Baltar is the Imperious Leader? But, um, how?” Bri said.

“No idea,” Troy said. “The only thing Ares and I could come up with is the Cylons are crumbling, their narrow programming is faltering somehow.”

“Have they ever had a civil war?” Rebecca asked.

“Well, um, don’t know. Surveillance on the homeworld was hard to come by,” Nall finally said.

“It’s possible they’ve done it before and we’ve never noticed,” Troy said.

“So this behavior of overturning the leader when losing might be programmed in somehow,” Rebecca said. “We don’t know, and I doubt you’ve captured an Imperious Leader to study his programming.”

“She’s right,” Bri said. “We know only so much about that, and most of that comes from the Centurions, and a few captured IL series Cylons.”

“This stealth metal has allowed us a big advantage that much is for sure. We’ve never had the advantage of knowing where the Cylons were, how many ships they had, or even what they were doing behind their lines,” Troy said.

“That’s the truth,” another voice said. Troy noticed Jax and Boomer standing there. The group moved slightly allowing them in.

“Thought you were on the Galactica?” Troy said, to Boomer.

“Was, volunteered to pilot the commander’s shuttle over,” Boomer said.

Troy didn’t have to wonder why he volunteered. He knew it had to be because of Jax. The two of them had rekindled their relationship and it appeared to be going quite strong.

“How are Starbuck and Apollo?” Troy asked, hearing a laugh.

“Well, Cassie, Starbuck’s girlfriend, is pushing for a sealing ceremony; Starbuck is being his normal self, afraid of commitment. As for Apollo, he’s his normal self, and Sheba appears to making progress with Apollo. I think after Serina he thought he was unlucky in love,” Boomer said.

“Hey, you talking about us,” Starbuck’s voice said.

“Yes, you’re not here, so why not,” Boomer said.

“Ha-ha,” Starbuck said sitting down. “I’ll have you know that Cassie and I are just fine, and no pressure from her for a sealing ceremony.”

“So her dropping about a hundred hints yesterday wasn’t pressure,” Boomer said, laughing.

“No, pressure is when Athena starts asking when we’re going to be sealed,” Starbuck stated.

“So you are being pressured,” Nall said. “Taking it from someone who is probably very much like you, it will change your life.”

“I wouldn’t say very much like you,” Jax said. “After all, I never heard any stories about Starbuck wanting to do a threesome with both Athena and Cassie.”

“All right, you win,” Nall said. “I couldn’t help it.”

“And now you know better, at least if you know what’s good for you,” Rebecca said, causing Troy to laugh again.

*****

Baltar looked out on his new empire. He had done it, something he knew no one else would have ever imagined. A human taking over the Cylon Empire, and he finally had the power for revenge on Adama.

“Report Lucifer,” Baltar said. He had kept Lucifer in the position of advisor to him, elevating the IL series Cylon’s position in the empire.

“By your command Imperious Leader,” Lucifer said. “All commanders have recognized you as Imperious Leader.”

“And the dockyard?” Baltar said.

“Unfortunately it was destroyed in the battle, along with the new improved basestar,” Lucifer said.

“They knew, somehow they knew we were occupied,” Baltar said. “What about the other dockyards?”

“All are operating as normal, though they are further away from the mines,” Lucifer replied.

“Increase the patrols along the mine routes, that will be their next target,” Baltar said.

“Are you sure, they might come after the other dockyards,” Lucifer said.

“No, the dockyards are useless if there’s no material,” Baltar said.

“A wise decision, but leaving such facilities operational is logically dangerous,” Lucifer said.

“And that’s why I’m the Imperious Leader,” Baltar replied. “What of the attack, anything unusual?”

“Reports are one battlestar took on the improved basestar and defeated it,” Baltar said.

“It wasn’t cloaked or anything like that?” Baltar asked.

“No.”

“Interesting, what are you planning Adama,” Baltar said. “Leave me, I have to think.”

“By your command Imperious Leader,” Lucifer said, bowing before leaving.

*****

Ares glanced around the group of commanders who listened in to the damage done to the fleet in the last battle. Even President Chin, along with the President-elect, Osla, a beady-eyed bald man who Ares hadn’t met yet listened in on the conversation.

“The loss of the Sullivans doesn’t affect our abilities that much,” Ares said to the group.

“It may not affect that, but it does affect those families who lives were lost,” Osla said.

“Senator Osla, what do you expect us to do, wave little flags and tell them to deactivate themselves,” Ares said.

“Surely with this new, what did you call it, um, Imperious Leader, he might be willing to talk now,” Osla said.

Ares opened his mouth to speak, but Commander Adama spoke up first with anger in his voice.

“That new leader betrayed twelve worlds to the Cylon senator,” Adama said. “He will not negotiate in good faith. As far as the people from the Colonies are concerned he’s responsible for billions of lives lost.”

“Senator, the Cylons are not like any enemy you’ve ever faced,” Ares said. “They will use any trick to win, from human shields, to bribes, to false promises. The only thing they care about is winning, they have no rules.”

“Impossible, all sentient life follows some rules, even the Arbus did,” Olsa said.

“They are machines, who only want to win sir,” another voice said who Ares recognized as Uri. “We’ve been deceived by them twice now, there will be no peace as you know. There are only winners and losers. The Cylons have already eliminated several other intelligent races though force and trickery, they don’t care.”

“I just don’t want any more loss of life, it’s time to end it,” Olsa said. “I don’t see why we had to rush to this war without more information.”

“Sir,” General Otto said speaking up for the first time in a council meeting. “With due respect, are you that dense. The Cylons were already at the halfway point. We’d be fighting them right now anyways, and fighting a defensive war against such a group is a larger waste of lives and resources.”

“Senator, if we don’t beat them now, we’ll be at war with them for a long time. The quicker we strike, the more likely it is we will win the war,” Adama said. “I know the responsibility of lives, and how even one life lost is a huge loss. When you have less than a hundred thousand people, and an enemy following you, you understand things better.”

Ares noticed Olsa had gone silent, thinking. Ares hoped the man understood soon, and wondered silently what had been promised to get the election. He seemed quite clueless in dealing with Cylons, surely he had read the reports as a senator about what had gone on.

“All right, the third fleet is on the way, but it does leave us a bit defenseless,” Chin said.

“Good, the more badly damaged ships will start back when they are fit for travel,” Ares said.

“The Skartians have a few ships they wish to send as well,” Chin said.

“We’ll welcome the support, any word from the Galactic Alliance?” Ares asked.

“Only petitions and such, we’re keeping it a secret about how big our fleet is, but if they learn how much of our fleet is away, it could damage the process,” Chin said.

“If that happens, then you can tell them the Cylons have roughly twelve basestars, and another twenty older ships at the moment. If we don’t defeat them now, by the time they arrive in Earth space their fleet will have doubled, with improved ships. They won’t stand a chance,” Ares said.

“T-that many?” Olsa said.

“Yes senator, that many,” Ares said.

“Oh, um, well that, um, makes things very, um, different,” Olsa said. “And they could, um, double you said.”

“Easily, now we’re hitting their supply routes, making it difficult for them to build new ships and repair damage ships,” Ares said.

“Senator, I know you ran your election on the fact that the current President, Chin, is never on Earth. The simple fact is forces in the universe sometimes make demands on people, in this case you’re going to be running around all the time, between Earth and the bases, and maybe even the colonies,” Uri said. “It’s not going to be an easy position.”

Ares noticed the man paled slightly at the knowledge. Ares had the feeling Olsa never read his security reports, and now he hoped the man’s oversight didn’t lead Earth down a false path.

*****

Commander Gunther watched as the Enterprise slowly approached the target. The patrol had located a nearby group of Cylon ships patrolling the convoy route.

“Six tankers,” his scanner operator said.

“Good, launch vipers, that’s their targets, hit and run,” Gunther said.

“Yes sir.”

He watched as the vipers were launched to head into battle. He hoped they could destroy the supply ships quickly. It would be their second attack within the week. In the first attack they had destroyed three ships, along with an old Cylon destroyer and squad of raiders.

“Incoming message from the patrol, one Hades basestar headed this way.”

“Inform all vipers to launch missiles at extreme range and return, we’re not getting into this fight,” Gunther said. He didn’t think the Enterprise couldn’t take on the basestar, he wanted to avoid that for the Warspite and Richelieu which were the hunters of the basestars. The Enterprise along with several of the stealth cruisers were in charge of destroying supply ships.

“Viper squadrons returning.”

Gunther waited patiently glancing at the scanner. The missiles struck true, destroying three of the four tankers. The destroyer escorting the convoy also was damaged along with the older basestar. He watched a group of raiders launched, heading in the wrong direction.

“Basestar changing course.”

Already the recovery of vipers was occurring. If it hadn’t been for the incoming basestar he would have pressed the attack, but he had orders to avoid conflict, and damage.

“Once all vipers are back aboard, we’ll head here then return to the convoy route,” Gunther said.

“Yes sir.”

*****

“Report Lucifer,” Baltar said.

“It is as you said, they are attacking the supply ships, and doing a good job Baltar,” Lucifer said.

“I don’t want excuses Lucifer, how many ships?” Baltar asked.

“Our losses so far are eleven tankers, two damaged, two escort ships, three more damaged, and we’ve lost two basestars in attacks,” Lucifer said.

“Those invisible ships, they are ruining us, any word on why our scanner’s can’t see them?” Baltar said.

“An inspection of wreckage from the dockyard has provided something useful Baltar,” Lucifer said. “It appears that they Colonials are using a form of metal that absorbs scans preventing all but high powered scans.”

“How far away can we see them?” Baltar asked, finally getting some answers.

“That’s the problem Baltar, our scanners are geared for low power, to prevent detection, however, if the colonial ships are producing a higher power scans to see each other, we can us that to our advantage,” Lucifer said.

“Put it into effect then,” Baltar said.

“By your command Baltar,” Lucifer said.

*****

“Incoming message from the scout crew on the dockyard,” Rebecca said.

Troy hesitated for a second before deciding to take the call himself. It took only a second before he saw the lieutenant’s face on the screen.

“Colonel, Commander Ares wanted to know the condition of the dockyard here,” he said.

“Yes,” Troy said, remembering the conversation not long ago.

“Well, we’ve completed our scouting, and we can one dockyard up and operational within the day. Seems Jonas was a dockyard hand on vacation so he wasn’t on it when the attack occurred. He’s been a great help in getting the systems on-line,” the lieutenant said.

“So we have one operational bay, which one?” Troy asked.

“Bay three, it’s not the biggest, but it can fit a cruiser, or two destroyers,” the reply came.

“All right, is Jonas there?” Troy asked.

“Not at the moment, I can get him though.”

“Go ahead, I have a question for him,” Troy stated. The lieutenant ended the call to find Jonas while Troy quickly placed a call to the supply ships. It didn’t take long before the captain of the ship answered.

“Colonel, what can I do for you today?” the captain asked.

“Just a few questions, how many skilled dockworkers do you have on board?” Troy asked, forming a plan already.

“Hmm, well, we have about thirty, but the supply fleet has well over six hundred, most are on the repair ship Vestal,” the captain said.

“Well, we have an operational dockyard, or at least one bay, I suspect your men would prefer to work there instead of from the ship,” Troy said.

“So one of the docks is operational?” the man said. “I know we sent some men over there but I hadn’t heard back yet.”

“They contacted me not long ago, I wanted to get your approval for this, after all it’s your field,” Troy said.

“Well, I appreciate that colonel,” the captain said. “Let me contact my team and see what they think and I’ll give you my report then.”

“Fair enough,” Troy said, ending that call only to have Jonas’ call come in. The man had changed slightly from the first time he met him. He seemed younger, more relaxed and willing to talk. Troy guessed that if he had been in Jonas’ position he’d have done the same things.

“Ah, Colonel Troy, what can I do for you?” he asked.

“I received the update on the dockyard, and wanted your professional opinion,” Troy said.

“My opinion, all we lack is personal,” Jonas said.

“I think that can be taken care of,” Troy replied, already knowing where the people were going to come from. “How many would you need?”

“Well, with only one dock open, anymore than one hundred and fifty would be too much,” Jonas said.

“Hmm, I don’t know about that many, but I can get you some crew workers. We have about six hundred, and I know the commander will want the Vestal to remain operational. But the dockyard is a top priority as well,” Troy said.

“I think we can do with less, one fifty is the max, but less than seventy-five will be ineffective,” Jonas said.

“All right, I’ll work to get you at least seventy-five, I think that should work out,” Troy said. “Also Commander Ares wanted to place you in charge of the dockyard, seeing as you’re the highest ranking worker left.”

Troy noticed a bit of surprise on the man’s face. He hadn’t been expecting that bit of news. Troy waited patiently for the man’s reply.

“If you want me, I’ll take it. Guess I know a bit more about responsibility now than a few yehrens ago,” Jonas said. “Never really wanted it, actually looked forward to building deep space explorers that were planned after the peace treaty.”

“You might still get that chance one day,” Troy said.

“Perhaps,” Jonas said.

“Colonel, I have Captain White requesting to talk to you,” Rebecca said.

“Put it though, I’ll be back in touch Jonas,” Troy said. He ended that conversation and switched communications bringing up the captain.

“Colonel, I just finished talking with the boys, and everything looks good. The one dock is stable and with a bit of patchwork that should take at most a day it will be operational,” Captain White said. “Also I think we can get about eighty men to work over there.”

“That would be enough, I just finished talking with Jonas, who will be the dockyard captain and he says between seventy-five and one fifty,” Troy said.

“One fifty would be stretching it,” White said.

“Those numbers were the max and mins,” Troy replied.

“Ah, then that’s doable,” White said.

“Okay, you’re first ship will be the Leopard, let the captain know when he can dock. After that Commander Ares talked about servicing the destroyers,” Troy said.

“Yes, we talked about that. I’ll get things going right away,” White said.

Troy ended that conversation and glanced over the rest of the progress on the Argo making sure everything ran smoothly. Not seeing anything he stood before excusing himself to report to the Commander’s office. He knew that Commander Ares would want to know this bit of information.=

*****

Ares gathered up the reports that came in. So far in the past week things were looking up. So far the raiders had destroyed over a dozen tankers, two old basestars, several destroyers and the hunter group had eliminated two basestars. The odds were slowly being whittled down to their favor. He also knew things were getting harder, as Baltar seemed to be consolidating his position and changing his tactics.

It seemed strange to him to think of the enemy leader now as a human. That changed his mindset slightly as the narrow-mindedness of the Cylons had been replaced. Now the game would be more of a chess match that he had played a few times back on Earth. Perhaps he’d buy a chess set one day after this war was over and he retired. He glanced back at the reports which he noted the change in tactics.

The Richelieu almost had run into an ambush, with a basestar near a planet, which held an additional three squadrons of Cylon raiders. A patrol of the planet had discovered it before the battlestar had engaged, and broke off before battle could start.

That had been close, the loss of a battlestar would hurt their efforts greatly. The Pegasus finally was back in fighting trim after round the clock repairs to it. Two destroyers and a cruiser had been sent back to Earth for more complete repairs. He glanced up as Troy walked into the office.

“Report of the dockyards,” Troy said, handing Ares the paper. Ares read though it quickly. It seemed that a few of the survivors had helped out in getting one dockyard operational. With the additional personal from the last supply he had an advanced repair base operational for the war.

“Good news,” Ares said.

“Yep, we put the Leopard in it, should be done in a couple of days,” Troy said. “After that the destroyers are going to be put in for repairs. We have a tentative schedule of a week for it all.”

“I don’t think the reinforcements will arrive in time,” Ares finally said.

“Sir?”

“We’re heading to a final battle, the last battle,” Ares said. “Whoever wins will win the war.”

Ares noticed Troy had gone silent for several seconds.

“What’s wrong?” Ares asked.

“Um, nothing much commander,” Troy said.

“All right,” Ares said. He watched Troy walk back out of the office before thinking about it. “Now why would he be acting that way?” he asked himself.

He read the reports a bit more before his mind provided him the answer.

“Well, that’s what it is, well then, so be it.”

End part 75

Continued in And So It Begins

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