Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Bryan, Apr 6, 2010.
can you link me that? I'd like to read it.
And don't worry, I'm still reading yours, its quite good.
Here ya go.
That link to that story sounds intriguing....
Bryan. CH_01a -.Picon - ColHQ, Corman, WhereCylons, KipisHelena; Hypathia; 7-1-5, Politics, Melianos, Amorak&Baltar, CORA, Adama&Carolanne
Bryan. CH_01b -.Caprica - Marak&Tigh, Adama&Allison, ChiefFrasier, BannonS-2, 7-1-5, UnknownContacts, Non-HostileCylons?, Marc, Crotni, Aliens
I liked it a lot up until the point where that one colonel starts unveiling that all the advances in space travel mankind has made pretty much are due to the stuff from the colonials they've found. Because, you know, looking at the exponential technologic development of the past centuries there's no way we'd have come up with ideas of our own.
It was fairly well written, but like Posbi, I didn't like it. Mostly, granted, because the nBSG ending and the implications for terrestrial life make my brain explode from the stupid.
Bryan's story, on the other hand, is made of win.
For Stargate, I always figures that most everyone spoke Goa'uld as a trade language and that you had to learn it to be on an SG team.
As for the problem of translation, you have sharp people with degrees in linguistics and archaeology on it as well as computers. And they're human, so they have a basis to work off of right there. It's not an unsolvable problem and it doesn't need a Deus Ex Machina. Just a few sentences about the problem being worked out off camera after the initial contact.
Besides, if Bryan is mean, the Goa'uld might be the first to talk to the Colonials and I'm sure this is a problem they have a painful solution for.
I have been considering having them wear holobands and letting the computer translate in "real time." It'd require some scenes to be rewritten but nothing too much. It would be pretty cool if the holoband could "teach" and except for that addiction translating over I don't think holoband skills translate tto the real world. But that would be so awesome. I know Kung Fu...
Anyway next chapter will have Amorak introduced along with a few pilots and of course, Gaius Fraking Baltar. While I think there might be some parallels between Carter and Amorak (both very intelligent) the similarities will pretty much end there.
I've sort of liked the (retcon) idea that the stargate somehow embeds everyone through it with a universal translator.
Which would mean
- spaceship first contact: "Huh? What?"
- stargate first contact: "Greetings! No, we're called the Taur'i. Here, have a Snickers bar."
Sure, it's a cop out, but, hey, the Ancients also made devices that evolved into the Goa'uld sarcophagus that can raise the dead!
Otherwise, you're stuck with trying to technobabble reasons why.
Or that Sokar went to Earth and got a bunch of medieval humans from England dropped them on a planet, thus bringing English out to the galaxy (he also made his minion ruler of the planet be an Unas host). It spread from their because of its adaptability and the fact that some very powerful System Lords at the time took it up as the commoners language (not unheard of, same thing happened with Christainty and the emperors I believe, what brought it mainstream).
For Pegasus, I don't know how it came over but maybe the time traveling weir has something to do with it.
I'm going to go with the common language of the Colonies being a sort of Greek/Latin combination with Tauron's speaking "Latin" and the Capricans speaking "Greek." Those two planets were the most powerful in the Colonies so I see their languages being spoken and eventually taking over the others.
The Taurons with their extreme nationalism would probably retain their language as the other Colonies, Caprica especially as she's a trading world, would move to the common language.
The issue of language is going to be solved by them wearing an ear bud with a small throat mike which feeds into a small computer and then translates. Sort of like how you see people at the UN with those funky ear pierces, except computers instead.
That way it also makes the language barrier less than it is; a good part of the crew would speak Tauron/Caprican so could communicate with the SG personnel.
I know you decided to use standard Earth times throughout, but you do realize Earth's way of time organization (months/weeks/hours/minutes/seconds) is the somewhat haphazard end result of thousands of years of blending many cultures' differing ways of counting time periods, including many political and religious influences rather than mainly logic?
The only real 'standards' are days and years. But why 24 hours in a day? Why not 20 or 30 or 36? Why have a week be 7 days? Or the concept of 'week', for that matter?
And aliens would scratch their heads in confusion encountering our wacky system of months and how they're apportioned in days, which all came about from political and religious decrees (and egos) over several thousand years.
Hours/minutes/seconds are a bit more logical considering our system of 360 degrees in a circle, but then why is it 360? Why not 100 or a thousand, which might then have changed the original concept of hours/minutes/seconds and how they're determined.
Your story, your rules.
It does beg the question of how identical time periods, their determinations and organization could have possibly come about in totally different planetary systems isolated by millenia.
Easy. This is a Stargate crossover right? An Ascended Being did it.
In 'Caprica', the Taurons speak Ancient Greek. No question about it. A few words that I got from Tauronese: "nothos" meant 'bastard' in Ancient/Classical Greek; "therapon" meant 'minister' or 'secretary' in the political sense; "dike Tauronion" meant 'Tauron justice' or 'Tauron victory'.
I assume that the Capricans speak a Latinate language based on Vulgar Latin (not classical Latin) or at least like Byzantine Greek, which was actually a mixture of Hellenistic Koine (International/Alexandrian Greek--different from Classical) and Latin.
In 'Razor', Kendra Shaw said that the name Inviere comes from Old Gemenese and means 'resurrection.' That's actually a Romanian word, so I'm therefore assuming that Gemenese is based on Romanian.
In 'The Caprican' news site, the few samplings of Piconese seem to be a Latinized type of Japanese, like 'baka neko' (stupid cat). But that's not canon so choose however you may. One thing's for sure: Serge said that Picon is sometimes thought of as Caprica Junior, and his descriptions make Picon sound like it's as to Caprica as Canada is to the United States.
Serge's descriptions make Virgon and Leonis sound like Britain and France, respectively. So I imagine that Virgonese is like Britannic Latin before the Normans and Saxons corrupted it, and Leonian is like Occitan, which is closer to Latin than French (it was the language of the Languedoc and Provence before the Albigensian Crusade).
As Serge said, all of the Colonial languages descended from Proto-Kobolese, which I assume is like the original Indo-European language. Therefore, all of the Colonial languages would be derivatives of Indo-European.
I know but the more complicated things get then it can get messy. BSG also had us with a 24 hour clock, but I'm not going to be using the same names for the days of the week. Realistically there would be a ton of differences but the more differences there are then the more prone to error it can become especially since this isn't my full time occupation.
And I like Alex's "An Ancient did it".
Hm... interesting. I've been using a Greek translator online for some of the stuff. While their languages all seem different I don't think that would be a problem in government or the military and those two will be the primary organizations the SGC deals with for a while.
What I've been changing int he scenes is that Jackson can understand them if they keep their words relatively simple without using slang or colloquialisms. If the Taurons speak a sort of Greek and the Capricans some Latin then I think everything will be aokay.
Rastamons right in that there's no question that Tauron is Greek.
But apparently the actual articles in the Caprican are canon. The comments are not.
And Scorpian might be Ancient persian since I read somewhere that Amanda and Darius were of Scorpian extraction and that the colony has mithras as its patron. But then again Celeste doesn't sound persian.
But there are Nordic and egyptian references so yeah.
And in regards to Picon with japanese influences you do remember what appeared to be samurai armour on a stand in daniels lab.
If you want another Virgon/Brittain parallel, I believe Serge also mentioned in his tweets that Picon(if we go by Picon 'being' Canada) was originally colonized by Virgon.
Chapter Three Part One
Part Two will be posted in about an hour and introduced a few more characters.
BS-41 Valkyrie, T15/23347
Approaching Piera Sector
Valkyrie violently shook as a missile struck the ventral surface amidships, forward of CIC, almost at the tip of the alligator head. The hull moaned under the stress of the bombardment and shook as a piece of hull plating was ripped from the battlestar. Lights inside CIC, buried deep within the bowels of the warship, flickered from power spikes and under his feet, Commander Adama could feel heavy shells and missiles slamming into the hull.
Off to his side two medics were treating one of the navigation chiefs who’d been thrown loose from his shock harness and broke his arm on the console.
Two loud DRADIS wails gave Commander Adama less than a second to brace himself and clutch the command console- fingers and knuckles white- as three more missiles broke through the defense grid and plowed right into the starboard side of his battlestar.
At his left Colonel Tigh bellowed orders to the men, his tactical officer received them and barked out his own, and gun techs working in the ‘pit’ cursed and slammed their fist on the side of their control computer.
Damage report lights erupted in a spasm of blinking crimson-hued fireworks all over the console as he glanced to see the damage from the last trio of hits. The image of Valkyrie began to automatically rotate on the display, showing damage to the ventral armor plating, the starboard flight pod, and engine mount three. At each point of major damage the rotating computer image stopped and flashed a red circle over the damaged hull area.
The Old Man gritted his teeth and silently snarled at his enemy.
The missiles had struck one right after the other, one each on the starboard flight pod pylons and one right smack in the middle, taking out defensive batteries. The battlestar shuttered again as hull armor buckled and an explosive decompression sent fifty square meters of hull plating blasting into that empty, death-filled void all around them.
“We just lost ammo feeds to starboard PD turrets nine through fifteen. Frak, Bill, the missiles in batteries four and five running in the red- about two dozen AM missiles before they’re out.” Colonel Tigh clenched his teeth and pounded at the console. “The frakers got right on top of us!”
They’d be on patrol, far beyond Colonial territory, in officially neutral space, when they’d come across a baseship and two escorts. The little destroyers, meant for nothing more than commerce raiding- or in the case of Cylons, commerce destroying- and anti-fighter/bomber roles had been vaporized by repeated hits. The battlestars had fired off a conventional salvo and nuclear chasers to spoof radiological alarms before sending in half a dozen Stone Burners into the two escorts and the baseship.
The hulks of the destroyed drifted in space, shattered, and it millions of tiny pieces sped away from the battle into infinity. Each warship had been cracked right down the middle from the nuclear missiles.
Adama frowned. The anti-missile missiles had been expected to cut through Cylon ECM and deliver a hard sucker punch to those Cylon anti-ship missiles incoming. The AM system was expected to deliver a kill count almost a third higher than last generation systems. So far the anti-missile systems were barely keeping up with the old crap. As the border patrol fleet, Sixth got the goodies first. Not that it was doing that much good right now…
But the lack of improvement with the AM’s was hardly his main concern. A Cylon Raider had come in and gotten a rear shot on Pan with a low-yield nuclear missile which had knocked out her FTLs. The ship’s DC crews were working furiously to get the jump system back online.
The Commander cursed the parameters. Throwing in curve balls was one thing but total failure of his AM systems to provide any improvements? He swiped away the complaint with a mental wave of the hand. He had a goal and by the gods he was going to set the record!
They hadn’t even known the Cylons were out there. They were in the standard picket for a BSG. Half a dozen Raptors were scouting out beyond the DRADIS range of the fleet with a trailing Raptor in the rear. They’d detected nothing… so supposedly the Cylon DRADIS ranges now exceeded a brand new battlestar and a Raptor’s. Adama rolled his eyes, great, nice curveball, he thought.
The Cylon FTLs were faster at recycling. He knew the baseship had planned to come in and get a few quick hits and jump back out. But a few lucky missiles had knocked the Cylon’s FTL off line. So two more baseships had jumped in to reinforce it.
“Pan’s reporting FTLs back on line,” the tactical officer yelled out.
“All ships are to prepare for FTL jump.” Adama glared at Tigh. “Order Pan to keep her FTLs cooled until final jump preparations… let’s make them think we’re still stuck defending her.”
“Order all ships for FTL jump,” Tigh echoed to the navigation officer, Captain Kessia Tavios. She relayed the orders for Attia.
“Aye sir… FTL’s spooling.” The captain looked up at the XO and over to a CO who just locked eyes with her briefly. In that split second the fear was washed away and it was like Adama had imbued a part of his self-confidence into the young Captain Tavios.
Tigh turned back to Adama and frowned. “If we jump we win but-”
“I have no intention of running, old friend. Order Gorgon and Attia to prep for FTL jump to these coordinates and get Attia and Chios to flush their tubes on my mark for target Alpha,” Adama ordered. Baseships were named by an alpha numeric designation by the Colonies since Cylons didn’t assign them names. “If we do this right we can get a few of them.”
Commander Adama inputted the spatial coordinates relative to his battlestar for Commander Vasic to jump her ship and her escort. The coordinates flashed green as the computer instantly calculated the jump- since it was so close- and he punched down on the red ‘send’ function from his console.
His XO cast a glance over to their tactical officer; a young black-haired, dark skinned man at Adama’s left side and operating the tactical station at the end of the command console. The man had a mean looking gash running down the right side of his forehead and over his eyebrow.
“That’ll leave them without Viper screens.” Tigh countered as his eyes scanned the tactical DRADIS monitors, now knowing what the Old Man was planning. “Those three baseships out there are in mutual support positions. We have them jump their ships and they’ll be out of defensive fire support-”
“She has two squadrons of reserves. And I don’t plan on having them next to Alpha that long.” He looked up at the DRADIS. There were nearly two hundred small Colonial craft out there. They’d committed just over two-thirds of their available Viper and Raptor support to the battle. Adama turned to Captain Alfred Papadakos. “Tactical, flush our tubes immediately and load full broadsides of jiggers. Load nuclear ordnance into turret three, four, and six. Set nuclear detonation range for tube six at five point two k-klicks.” The lull in the battle let him watch his tac officer diligently and calmly relay his orders.
The deck vibrated as a dozen missiles were fired from the Valkyrie’s heavy turrets. The DRADIS fuzzed, almost so quickly it would have been unnoticeably to the untrained eye, as two of the missiles head cones broke apart and each ejected half a dozen EW mites, penetration aides for the real missiles, to jam Cylon DRADIS and the Toaster’s anti-missile missiles.
Within seconds the high acceleration of the Acacus-class anti-ship missiles had crossed the debris strewn void of death between the Colonial warships and Cylon baseships. The assistant tactical officer reported direct hits for five of the ten missiles on the inner aspect of Bravo’s ventral disc.
“All ships report ready for jump,” Tavios reported, her fingers pressing her ear bud in close. It was loud in CIC.
Attia and Gorgon jumping would also mean that the rest of the reinforced BSG-41 would have to go without their fire support as well. Valkyrie, Pan, and Chios would lose a significant amount of their mutual defense screens and be pretty much fraked if this didn’t work. And an FTL maneuver this close together was already difficult to pull off, let alone in pitched battle.
“Missiles loaded and ready to-” the ship rocked again.
“Fire in starboard flight pod!” the DC officer yelled above the roar. “Sealing frames-”
“Fire the nukes!” Adama ordered, fist hitting his console.
The nukes were quickly flushed from out the tubes and half a dozen triangular red blips diverted- Cylon Raider squadrons- and nuke number four was shot down barely five hundred klicks from Valkyrie.
Nuke three, with an optical lock on the baseship, veered up on the Y-axis before turning slightly on the Z plane as it ejected EW mites to spoof Cylon DRADIS at three hundred kilometer intervals. Five of the six Raider squadrons covering the mid air defense zone veered off to cover the three other ‘nuclear missiles’ which had appeared and were heading towards baseship designate Bravo. “Fire the jiggers!”
On the ventral hull, fifty meters back from where the main body of Valkyrie thinned to form the head, half a dozen small hatches, barely the length of three men end-to-end, popped opened. Ejection systems pushed out two dozen small rockets. They were flat with an oval head but squat and fat in the middle and rear to hold the electronics and enough tyllium fuel for a few minutes of thrust and powered jamming.
Adama saw Vasic’s Viper and Raptor gunship screens peel away from her air defense zones in early preparation for the FTL jump and to take advantage of the nukes throwing Cylon Raiders out of position, Her battlestar scored a series of sweeping successes against the Raiders and snuffed out an easy dozen Cylon attack craft in half that many seconds.
Without even ordering it- which he hadn’t done on purpose- Vasic dumped a massive number of her own jiggers and he saw the symbols appearing of large drone mites ejecting from her ventral and dorsal ejection pods.
The decoys weren’t active yet and with luck the Cylon DRADIS, with all the interference everyone was throwing out, wouldn’t be able to detect the small, squat devices so close to Gorgon’s hull.
His ears were tickled with a shrill whine of a radiological alarm alerting him to an imminent impact- on the baseship. The explosion wasn’t enough to rip apart the mighty Cylon capital ship but the nuke took out two dozen Raiders and a handful of the Cylon gunships and anti-ship bombers as collateral damage. The armor on the baseship would have peeled, cracked, and buckled, which could give him an opening.
Already the baseships were re-deploying Raiders to intercept the missiles Attia and Gorgon and Chios were firing at the battered baseship and drawing them back from the battle. Fighters themselves posed no threat to a battlestar or baseship. Their primary role was shooting down attack craft which could have nukes or missiles. Only when nuclear armed could they ever hope to damage a vessel so massive and thickly armored.
The wireless crackled and DRADIS flickered as the interference from the nuclear blast temporarily blinded all the ships. With the wireless being jammed Adama opted to use pinpoint, thin, impossible to detect laser transmissions.
The wireless frequencies buzzed with static as the wireless relays attempted to cycle through frequencies, increase their own transmitter power to overwhelm the jamming, or find the sources of jamming from within the Cylon attack formation. But it was impossible to jam a com laser unless physically blocked.
“Order Attia to fire at Alpha!” Attia fired a full broadside of four dozen ship-to-ship missiles. If he had a view screen, Adama could have seen the serene trails yellow-orange tyllium exhaust. He waited. “Jump Gorgon and Attia.” The EM interference was beginning to clear.
Gorgon and Attia disappeared from DRADIS, jumped and everyone in CIC held their breath. As soon as the blips vanished they reappeared nearly ten k-klicks away. Instantaneously the two vessels emerged less than two kilometers from the ventral disc of the Cylon baseship as the DRADIS cleared. The old double-disc design had been ‘upgraded’ by Colonial analysts and even as a fifty year old design, was still a beast, a ferocious night lion of the field of battle.
The battlestar and attackstar rematerialized and unleashed hell on Alpha. Attia’s missiles slammed into Alpha four seconds after the two Colonial warships begun their own attacks and Gorgon began launching its reserve Vipers and Raptors. Twenty Mark V Vipers formed up with three Raptor gunships behind them and broke through the air defenses of Alpha. Cylons were hard to catch off guard, but the daring FTL jump so close- almost recklessly within the proximity limit- forced the Cylons to redistribute their air defense fighters to cover Bravo and Constellation baseships.
Defense guns on Alpha ripped apart two Vipers and a proximity hit tore a third to shattered pieces. Small debris fields expanded and left the white-gray tyllium fields of exploded reactors and ordnance behind. The remaining seventeen fired their missiles point blank into the defense guns ‘in between’ the two discs and Gorgon pounded the ventral disc and Attia fired everything she had into the dorsal disc with their kinetic canons.
The two warships fired missiles which arched gracefully and quickly up and down away from their turrets, maneuvered in through and under the battlestar and attackstar, and slammed ferociously into the central column holding the discs. Even as reinforced as the column was, Alpha began to buckle under the sustained fire.
The Cylon’s PD batteries, small railcanons, could do almost nothing to intercept the missiles. Gorgon was so close her own ECM disrupted Cylon EW systems trying to block warhead locks. This close the battlestar and attackstar could use laser designators to guide the missiles in. Alpha fired her PD guns at the hulls of the two ships, doing nothing as the forty millimeter rounds, meant to tear apart fighters, bombers, and missiles, did nothing but plink against the thick armor of the Colonial warships.
“Reorient fire to keep Bravo and Constellation off our ships.” Adama kept his eyes focused and sharpened on the three DRADIS monitors above his head.
The green and red blips danced around the screen and painted a mental picture in his mind of space and the hundreds of attack craft out there in the void weaving and dodging. Raiders and Vipers alike all tried to get in through the PD fire and air defense zones and strafe the turrets or DRADIS dishes and fire their missile point black to avoid interception.
He kept one eye glued to the far left monitor which had ‘zoomed in’ to display a ten by ten kilometer field so he could see the specifics of the battle being waged between Gorgon, Pan, and Alpha. The middle had the entire battle and on the far right was the ‘zoomed in’ view of his own ships fighting back Raiders, gunships, and bombers.
The Raiders were again disoriented, or, as he mentally corrected, just out of place- Cylons didn’t get ‘disoriented’ but they did get confused, just like humans. Adama’s steely blue eyes could detect the minute wavering in their current flight paths as they hesitated between breaking off the attack and coming to the aide of their baseship or continuing to press. Unfortunately for them Adama made that decision for them.
“Standby all reserves and have all squadrons not engaged form up and annihilate the Raiders…” he glared at the DRADIS. “All ships load Burners and a full load of jiggers and fire at baseship Bravo. Spool our FTLs to red… let’s see if they fall for it.”
Colonel Tigh’s eyebrow shot up, as did his chin. “That’s a risky move.” He shrugged to Adama’s ‘no shit’ face.
Tactical reported missiles loaded and all ships standing by. The Vipers not beholden to air defense roles had broke off and were chasing the Cylon parasite craft.
The countdown clock beeped at ten seconds and slowly ticked away until it flashed quickly at three seconds.
Adama smiled as hundreds of Raiders broke off and soared back to the baseships. Their whole formation was fraked and their defense zones misaligned. Even outnumbered two to one the Vipers and Raptors had greater local superiority.
Valkyrie and her two attackstar escorts jumped and the ship shook and groaned as it disappeared and reappeared from reality all in an instant.
The Cylons were expecting the Colonials to jump and help take out Alpha or Bravo but they didn’t jump to the aide of Gorgon and Attia and instead jumped right behind the massive Raider formation.
The missiles leapt out of their turrets and VTOL silos. Her point defense canons loaded flak rounds and opened up on the tightly packed Raiders.
Three squadrons of Raiders were torn to shreds by intense anti-air fire from three Colonial warships. A Raptor armed with proximity nukes flew out of Valkyrie’s port pod, jumped, and fired her nukes at the periperhy of the Cylon formation. The brilliant flash was there an instant. And after that instant another two dozen Raiders were nothing but broken husks and scrap metal.
Wireless reports were already streaming in from Gorgon. The battlestar was taking casualties but Valkyrie’s optical telescopes were already seeing extensive secondary explosions throughout the baseship. The ventral Raider bay was reported on fire and half the turrets on Alpha were out of commission. The Viper and Raptor strafing on the internal aspects of the discs had already destroyed dozens of missile launchers, DRADIS fire control dishes, and other important weapon’ systems.
The powerful optics mounted under the battlestar could visualize all the small pieces of debris being vaporized and smashed off the baseship.
The Old Man even noticed the slight realignment of Gorgon to take out Alpha’s FTL drive now that her defenses were neutered.
“They’re going to have to break off or risk losing Bravo and Constellation.” Tigh observed, coming to a stand next to the Old Man. “We won’t get all three.”
“No one ever has.”
“True enough. Unless we had a Columbia-II with us or another battlestar.”
Baseship Alpha began to slow in its maneuvering attempts and lose pace with the other two ships. More and more Raiders were being sent to aide in the ship’s defense. Adama saw Gorgon and Pan moving off and smiled as the Raiders sent to aide their metal brothers turned back and quickly accelerated away. Less than half a minute later the DRADIS blip beeped twice, turned black, and then disappeared. A small icon appeared down in the corner to signify the baseship was destroyed.
“We could get the rest, but the Cylons aren’t stupid, Saul. They know when to cut their losses. Three ships is a good victory. We need to know when to call it a day.” Adama looked at the combat clock; twenty-seven minutes.
The Colonel followed his eyes. “Well, we did beat it with three minutes to spare.” Tigh nodded his satisfaction. “And those Cylon bastards will abandon their little toaster brothers, too.” He snickered and shared it with a few of the crew. He preemptively picked up the receiver for his friend’s next order.
“Let’s run it out and see how many we can get.” Adama smiled. He was never one to skimp out on blowing Toasters to scrap.
Baseships Bravo and Constellation loaded as many Raiders and gunships as they could and then jumped out as if on cue and the Raiders turned in for terminal attack runs. Without the heavy EW from the baseships and the masses of missile fire to divert the Colonial defense grid, the Raiders and other attack craft, already mauled by Adama’s maneuvering were quickly neutralized with minimal casualties to the pilots.
Vipers, nimble interceptors which put Raiders to shame, tore through the dulled-blue and black craft like tissue paper and Raptor missile pods belched out their last remaining reserve missiles and reduced many more to tumbling and flaming debris. The large turrets aboard Valkyrie, Attia, and Chios reloaded their own anti-fighter missiles- converted anti-ship missiles which ejected side panels and ejected out a dozen short-range, individually targeted missiles, two per Raider.
As Gorgon and Pan added in long range fire it was simply a slaughter. Three warships closed in front the relative front, two from the back, and Vipers and Raptors stood off, under the cover of their ships’ defensive batteries, out of range of Raider canons and relatively safe from missile fire.
Adama saw the CIC dim and a red, rectangular box began floating in front of him. A five second countdown blinked down.
The timer blinked red and a buzzer, almost like a fog horn sounded. The CIC went black and disappeared. Only six of the two dozen CIC crewmen, plus Adama and Tigh, were still present, and the Valkyrie CAG and squadron COs materialized, their digital avatars appearing as orange silhouettes and then filling it.
They were in a stripped down version of the CIC. A command console was in the center of the room and the bulkheads were barren gunmetal gray. One hatch was present in the rear of the room, to the backs of all the assembled officers and staffs. It was reminiscent of barren cargo hold of an old sea-going naval vessel.
“Excellent work people,” Colonel Tigh stood proud as a red ‘waiting… waiting…’ message blinked in the air. The score was computed and displayed, “Ninety-three point one, not bad, a new best. A new high score in TG Seven by two points and in Sixth Fleet by a point…” his chin dimpled and hands flew back into a clasp behind his back, “excellent work.”
The murmurs of congratulations flowed from the other few dozen officers.
“This was good work.” Adama stepped out in front of them. “We were able to destroy two destroyers, one Cylon baseship and significantly damage a second and cause moderate damage to a third.” He looked to the side. “It appears baseship Bravo suffered extensive failures in their gravity plating, DRADIS systems, and fire control. The computer estimates that baseship would have been out of action for a minimum of four months. Pan suffered the heaviest damage, Attia a few blown turrets, Valkyrie and Gorgon moderate damage, but Chios,” he looked up and grinned at the commanding officer of the attackstar, “almost nothing. Chios had the highest scores from the simulator. Your air defense wing did outstanding. Congratulations, Colonel.”
“Thank you, Commander; it was the command staff that made it possible.” Colonel George Korzha brushed his brow, most likely from sweat on his physical form from the neural feedback, and nodded his appreciation.
“Uppity.” Adama turned to face the CAG for BSG 41, Major Yannis ‘Uppity’ Costos. “You handled the Vipers and Raptors well. The attack run on the main Raider attack wave here,” Commander Adama ‘materialized’ a display, “at the two minute and three second mark was daring. You risked being hit from the positive Y-axis by the force in front of you but split the Vipers and Raptors just long enough to keep those raiders from getting on top of you. Maneuvering like you did got the Raiders pinned against our defense grid fire and probably saved a dozen or so of your pilot’s lives. That was excellent thinking, Major and you took the initiative.”
“Thank you, sir.” The tall and wiry CAG proudly replied.
“Alright. I’ll be going over the simulation and sending evaluations to each of the participants.” He looked at his ‘watch’, which wasn’t even real in the simulation, but because it was part of his avatar, the FITS- Fleet Interface Training System- still projected it onto his wrist with proper time. “With Gorgon, I’m confident we could take on those three baseships, but remember that those ships were beasts during the war. Undoubtedly they’ve been upgraded, too, and we did have to expend powerful nuclear ordnance, however; the system also restricted how many nukes we could use. We don’t know how well our new systems will stack up against the Cylons. They’re tricky, believe me.
“We’re jumping in three hours. We have four more jumps until we rendezvous with one of the Raptors from Lucky Tonight.” He let his BSG senior staff see a little grin on an otherwise stoic face at the pet name the picket crew had assigned the ship. “There’ll be a new simulation tomorrow afternoon. Captain Papadakos will also be contacting the other ship tactical divisions for additional planning and sim time before our final jump. If the Cylons are out here and testing some new Raiders and want to fight it out… we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I intend for us to be fully prepared.” He nodded at Tigh who called the virtual room to attention. They saluted. “Dismissed.”
Dozens of pairs of hands went for their temples for their FITS and in a swift motion almost everyone was gone. Their avatars gleamed a red-orange outline and then vanished with a sound which sounded like sizzling from a soda can.
Only Commander Adama, Colonel Tigh, and Commander Vasic were still present.
“Bill, you hate these things… nice to see you’re technophobia is lessening.” Vasic walked up and winked at him and nodded at Tigh. “Both of you, in fact.”
Tigh growled. “Just because we have to use it for training…” he trailed off, looked at Adama, and reached for his temples. “And I still don’t trust all the fixes or whatever they claim to have made!” Tigh added half angry, half playful. He looked over at the Old Man and with his left eye, so Vasic wouldn’t see, gave the man a wink. “Well, I’ve got some real paper work to do and can’t play Colonials and Cylons all day.” He was still mumbling as his avatar derezed with a crackle.
Vasic folded her hands and snorted as the Colonel’s avatar disappeared. “Does he ever change?”
“No.” There was a short pause. “One of the reasons I hate these,” Adama began before Vasic could say anything, “is that they’re impersonal.” He frowned at the fake digital setting they were in. “I don’t think I told you this, but my father got addicted to these for a few years before the War.” He tapped his temples. “The old holobands with their neural feedback and generative, hack, neural-cortical feedback-whatever,” he waved dismissively at Vasic’s entertained look as he attempted to use the proper jargon, “had him addicted. He never told me what it was he was doing in the V-World.”
His spine straightened and his shoulder pushed back when he realized the ease in which he’d told her that. He’d never told anyone that before. Not even Lee or Zak knew.
The Adama men were stoics, disciplined, self-controlled. None of them, no Adama as far as he knew, had ever suffered an addiction to anything. It was a weakness. And Taurons- despite being a Caprican by birth- never let themselves lose control. Even being raised on Caprica there were Tauron traditions his father had subconsciously reinforced. Adama remembered back to when he was a kid and his dad would protest to Uncle Sam about how they were Caprican, not Tauron.
He had to admire his uncle for calling his dad out on a few occasions. Even during the Fifth CC Uncle Sam had been an unabashed, loyal Tauron, though he’d never betrayed his adopted planet, he hadn’t helped it fight his brothers, either. The Old Man didn’t much approve of that now or really, even then despite the hero worship, but did admire his uncle for his devotion to sticking to his guns. When Uncle Sam got an idea in his head on what was right or wrong…
“I didn’t know, Bill… my nephew is hoping they lift more of the restrictions. They already allow wired holobands at cafes and universities, some businesses. It’s only a matter of time before we get another New Cap City or fully fledged V-World. Which I was too young to play, but my dad did. He loved the game and the Mysteries club… said dodging the air battleship was the most fun he’d had. Which,” she emphasized, “sounds all nice and all until you consider he said this to his family. Mom divorced him two years into the FCC, he joined the Territorial Army, and got shot, killed, defending Nyx from the Virgon Blood Lancers. He’d have probably charged headlong into the Cylons if he were still alive after they crashed V-World.”
Commander Vasic walked past the commander and fiddled at the virtual command console.
“My father didn’t fight.” Adama looked down at the console she was working at. He moved over to the opposite side of the command console. “He hated guns, fighting, everything about the military and the old alliance system and everything having to do with rivalries between the Colonies.” The Old Man rolled his eyes. “He was a lawyer… I never understood how he could fight for civil rights yet get known enforcers and murderers free and bribe judges. It was just one more thing we disagreed on.” He tapped on the console. “It’s not pertinent.” Adama looked back up and smiled at his second in command. “But I still see the holobands as just another way for us to be dependent on technology again, leave us open to Cylon attack… our economy gets dependent on it again and they hack it and crash it.”
“Maybe, but anyway… you think we’re ready to fight the Cylons if it comes down to that?” She crossed over next to Adama and leaned on the console and frowned when she saw the worry in his face. He wasn’t looking right at her, but she’d served with him enough to know when something was up. “Only a few of us on the command staffs have. None of our pilots have seen combat. And these,” she pointed at her temple where the FIT band would be, “are good for training-”
“But not the real thing.” The Old Man nodded his agreement as he finished her thought. Everyone had to grow up at some point. “We learn fast, it’s in our blood.”
“We do have a long history of killing each other. We’re pretty good at it. Thousands of years of wars have taught us well.”
“I remember the first time I went up against Cylons, Allison. They rushed us through the Academy, graduating us in five semesters instead of eight. They wanted us to keep up the naval tradition, said if we just trained pilots without training officers, we’d lose the backbone of our military.” He shrugged. “For five semesters I acclimated myself to the possibility of engaging Cylons. They taught us we should think of ourselves as already dead when we burst forth from the launch tubes. That was the only way to survive; think you’re already dead. We had the very real possibility. There was an actual war on. Now, it’s still theory and probabilities. We knew we would be fighting the Cylons.
“I can’t even remember the number of times we had to rush into the bunkers in the middle of the night. On the first night of the War I saw a thousand stars flash like little fireflies up there,” he pointed ‘up’ and his voice hushed, “and it was beautiful. But it was a Cylon fleet and the beauty ended when I realized what was happening up there, how many of us were getting killed. I watched the first Gorgon break up and streak across the sky and the explosion when it hit the surface and obliterated Parthion.”
“If there are Cylons out there…”
“It’s a tyllium bunker fire waiting to explode, Allison. Let’s just hope they don’t start shooting. Or the Cylon War won’t compare to what will happen.”
Chapter Three Part Two
Picket 7-1-5, the Lucky Tonight
A beautiful woman with amber eyes, soft mocha-hued skin, and unnaturally blonde, obviously dyed hair hanging free slightly past the shoulders was enough of a distraction that Gaius Baltar inadvertently folded his hand. He didn’t even wince at his full colors with red high, a winning set of seven cards as his mind slowly undressed the woman holding her own set of cards who was more than a little surprised at him folding.
His eyes had locked on the woman’s breasts, discreetly of course, and he’d marveled at how she’d been able to make those bland and boring tan and gray tank tops so seductive. Military uniforms were hardly fashionable but somehow this one made something so uninspiring pop and shine. When she’d entered the room it was like Helios himself had pulled the suns of Cyrannus in behind her.
Almost getting caught staring he made a face, a frown, to fake his anger over folding. Of course, he could count cards. Triad was easy to manipulate for him and he never lost unless he wanted to.
Yet his eyes lingered on the woman. She’d removed her tunic three hands back, to ‘relax’, yet he hadn’t noticed… and he inwardly grinned as the light reflected off those light brown, well-toned arms of a fleet officer, and he felt his chest warm with anticipation as she leaned forward to collect her cubits.
Gaius Baltar swore she was doing this on purpose. But he didn’t care. They’d worked together for months, around nine or ten, and he’d maintained a perfectly platonic relationship. ‘Platonic’ he amended with mental quotes because his intentions were anything but. The chase was part of the fun. And it’s not like he hadn’t had his fair share of women over the last nine or ten months, either. This one, tonight, would be his dessert.
He couldn’t help himself if he undressed her with his eyes. It’s what he and men did. Perfectly natural and perfectly acceptable and with that thought proceeded to imagine her on her back, him on top of her, and her moaning as he…
Baltar leaned back in satisfaction at his mental porn and clasped his hands tightly behind his head.
Beauty and intelligence wrapped into a package about six centimeters taller than him, petite yet athletic, seductive yet by no means easy.
At thirty-three, with two doctorates, and a small fortune already tucked away, Baltar was a self-made and self-assured man. He had no reservations about his ability to attract women. As proof, he told himself quite proudly, he’d tried to keep count, but he’d lost count a few years back… and his lip physically curled into a smirk.
“What are you smirking at, doctor? I just cleaned you and everyone else here out of their cubits,” the young woman had a definite hint of playfulness in her tone and obviously feigned ignorance. She knew exactly what Dr. Gaius Baltar was doing. “How many cubits is that tonight? I think maybe around… two hundred from you. Alone.”
She and the other two officers at the table, the stealth Raptor pilots from Argus, took to laughing with her at Baltar’s expense.
“I don’t see what you two are laughing at.” He rolled his eyes at the pilots and took another puff on his cigarette. In his defeat he savored the sweet taste of the tobacco grown near Virgon’s tropical equator. “You lost just about as much as I did. She has an uncanny gift at Triad.” He rocked his chin forward at the young woman, who was actually two years his senior. But that hardly mattered.
“Them?” She waved at the two Raptor pilots. “Nikon here and Nepolitos don’t mind losing. After a month they’re about used to it.” She looked to her left at Captain Antony Nikon and to her right at Lieutenant Fredrick Nepolitos and nodded at each and then toothily grinned at Baltar. “Yeah, they’re definitely used to it. I think I’ve gotten about a month’s added pay. Thank the Gods salaries aren’t taxed on deployment or you two would be in a load of shit… your wife would have your balls in a vice, Nepo.”
A quick hand went up as Nepolitos chugged down a shot of some cheap, clear liquor from Lucky Tonight’s meager stores.
“Zeus’s cunt and Juno’s cock… wait…” Nepolitos frowned and looked sideways, casting long glances at each end of the officer’s mess. “I think I have that a bit reversed… this will probably help clear my mind a bit.” He guzzled three shots worth of cheap ambrosia, gagged, coughed, and pounded his chest. “Now, let me try that again, with the major’s permission?” He tilted his head.
“The major grants you permission.” She tried to suppress a giggle.
“Zeus’s… cu-cock and Juno’s cock I am used to losing but tired of it!” He slapped the table and dozens of precious metal cubits flew into the air. A second of awkward silence and the two pilots burst into laughing while the major grinned over at Baltar. “Did I get it right, Major Amorak, sir, ma’am?”
“Hm… Zeus has a cock and his wife having a cock could present some problems, Nepo.” Jessica Amorak rubbed her chin and pushed over her untouched glass of ambrosia to the obviously drunk pilot, who took it without hesitation and gulped it down. Nikon frowned at his buddy and shook his head at the major. “I really do wonder how that works. That won’t work unless you think Zeus almighty goes in through the back door?”
Baltar whistled. “And here I thought you were a respectable, learned scientist, major?” He joked.
“We can corrupt anyone, Doctor!” Nikon bellowed, slapping the doctor on the side of the bicep.
“It’s true.” Major Amorak agreed with a bob of the head and then a yawn. She scratched the sides of her torso. “You spend enough time with sailors and the corrupting influence of these school bus drivers,” she jabbed a thumb to her left and her right at each pilot, “and you’ll get a mouth on you. It’s a good thing I’m in the Fleet. Academia has a stick lodged firmly up their collective ass when it comes to having fun…” she narrowed her eyes thoughtfully, almost batting an eyelash, at the doctor, “though there might be some possible exceptions…”
“And we much prefer you in the Fleet, sir!” Nepolitos loudly proclaimed. He turned to Baltar using the table as support. “And you can be an honorary member!” He saluted the doctor and started fiddling with his lieutenant insignia’s on his tunic which was draped over his metal chair.
“Oh… no… that’s quite alright Nepo. As good a deal as that sounds I like the civilian world just fine.” He grinned, stubbed out his cigarette and lit another. “The pay is just so much better.” He said through pursed lips.
Nepolitos laughed, Nikon shook his head and rose.
“I think it’s time to get my buddy back to his quarters and get some shut eye.” He checked his watch. “Yeah, we have a patrol in seven hours, CAG briefing in six, so I gotta get him sobered up.” Nikon walked around the table and patted his own pockets and cursed to the gods. “You guys got any good-nighters?”
Baltar shook his head.
Amorak dug into her pocket and produced a few individually wrapped white tablets with two thin yellow lines in the center. “How many drinks did he have? Hey Nepo how many…” she trailed off as his eyes closed and his head bobbed back. “Lightweight frak,” she said through a giggle. She took out three tablets and began to unwrap one, but dropped one on the deck. “Whoops.” She shrugged and tossed it in Nepo’s water glass and did the same for the other two. “Three should sober him up by morning… make sure he drinks all of it.” She made a face and shivered. “Just make sure he doesn’t puke all over the corridor between here and my quarters.”
Major Amorak could stand almost anything disgusting like blood and guts but vomit was the limit. It made her physically sick just seeing or smelling it.
“Thank you, sir.” Nikon grabbed the water glass and slapped his friend back awake. “Hey Fruity… Fruity… Fruity!” Yelling the man’s call sign for the third time was the charm. Nepolitos snapped back awake, confused and disoriented. “Here, drink this-” Fruity protested by sniffing it and turning his nose up at the glass “-so you’re sobered up by briefing.”
About as much liquid dribbled down his chin as got into his gullet. Nikon, on returning the glass to the table, scooped up his buddy and draped a drunken arm around his shoulder to support the man’s weight.
“Alright then.” He struggled to keep Fruity, a tall and burly weight lifter, propped up. “Major, sir, Doctor Baltar, until the next game, I bid you both goodnight.” He fake bowed his head and saluted with a circling motion of his hand.
Doctor Baltar’s head swiveled as he watched the two men leave. With a smirk and a grunt he set to ‘work.’
“So,” Baltar put on his best face and leaned forward, a drink delicately balanced between thumb and index and middle finger. He swirled it gently. “I’m not quite sure I’m ready to turn in yet. Mind explaining why we had to come out here? Argus I can understand but here…” he looked around the small officer’s wardroom and made a distasteful face, “they had to leave us here on this ship?”
“Hmm. You’re not having fun?” She saw he clearly wasn’t. “Well, you’re right.” Her smile was bright and her tone light. “I’m not quite ready to get to my rack, either. But why you’re here, well,” she shrugged, “I’ll let you in on a secret.” She leaned forward. “You’re being paid double what you normally charge. Tax free.” She poked him in the elbow.
He nodded to that. Bringing up his drink he tipped it in respect and gulped the last of the ambrosia down. “Ah. In that case then why not? It’s been months and you still haven’t told me why you went Fleet. You could have worked for any of the Caprican defense or technology corporations.”
Baltar felt a little uneasy with how she looked at him. To him it was like she was looking at an idiot.
“Caprica? Why in the name of the Gods and all that is holy would I want to work for a Caprican company?” She shook her head, sighing. She leaned forward again, her forearm covering the pot of coin she’d acquired over the evening’s gambling. “Capricans are loud, arrogant, and completely self-absorbed.”
“You are Caprican.” Insisted Baltar. “You seem to be the exception.”
She wagged a finger. “No, my father’s Caprican-” she bit the inside of her lip. “But why Caprica? Prime Minister Arctus is attracting more and more tech start-ups with his low tax policies. If I did go civilian I’d go with one of them or start my own company. I’d build something, make my own fortune. It’s more of a challenge than working for a company like Graystone or Vergis.”
“Aquarion? Who’d want to live there, low taxes or not,” Baltar looked off to a corner, shrugged a shoulder, and dangled a fresh cigarette pinched between index and middle finger, “why don’t we talk about something else?”
“Why I joined the Fleet then? Well, I wanted to travel.” She winked at him. “Patriotism, then.”
“Oh, I really don’t believe that one, Jessica… the travel bit, at least.” He caught himself at the last second. The Amorak family had a lot of skeletons in their closet, were a bit selfish, egotistical, arrogant, and generally in science for the money, but he’d seen enough of Jessica to know she was not like her father or extended family. Not entirely. Maybe that was why she’d joined up? She might have been used to a lavish and pampered childhood but it’s not like the Fleet didn’t pay its career officers, or its star uniformed scientists, very, very well.
She tilted her head down to the left and brought her shoulder up. “Well, it’s not really for you to believe, is it… Gaius?” The smile to accompany the shrug was simply devious.
Baltar’s forehead wrinkled. “Fleet R&D has you stuck in a lab.”
“True.” She nodded. A strand of that dyed blonde hair swooped out from behind the ear and hung by her cheek framing her face. “But we’ve got labs all over the place and I have to go to them. And I give lectures at the Academy. Advanced Theoretical Physics Four Oh Seven… on occasion when time permits.”
Doctor Baltar tapped the front of the cigarette down on the table twice and brushed his arm slightly forward, pushing his sleeve back from his watch. “It’s getting a bit late. And if we do find Cylons we’ll need to be rested in the morning.” He looked at the top of her blonde head as she gathered up her cubits into a little bag.
He couldn’t imagine how much she’d acquired over the past month and change. The sheer amount of coin she’d managed to win had almost everyone hesitant to play cards- any cards- against her. Straight up Pyramid, two up, six card, half-and-half, and even toss she somehow dominated. Baltar, sitting there and running his finger on the brim of his empty glass, couldn’t figure out how she could have such luck. He was ‘good’ at cards not because he was lucky, but because he counted the deck. He considered in mundane and almost boring but he wasn’t interested in cards and cubits. His dark brown eyes glittered with the desire for something, someone else.
“Well,” Amorak slapped the table and pushed out her chair, “I’m ready to hit the rack.”
Baltar didn’t miss his cue, not him. He pushed out his chair, almost tipping it over in his haste, and bowed like an old, aristocratic gentleman and motioned to the hatch for the lady.
“You are a true gentleman, Gaius.” Jessica beamed.
He heard a little hum of approval as she walked by. And he most certainly did not keep himself from staring at that ass which somehow made those ugly blue pants look downright seductive or the way she swayed her hips. Baltar knew then and there which way this was going. And he thanked the non-existent Gods that Amorak’s quarters- if one could call a glorified broom closet such a thing- were personal. Meaning just her… or did it? His mental avatar winked in his mind and he stepped off, following right on her heels and then by her side.
“-and that’s the way it should probably go down, the C-Bucs versus Razor Backs at the Golden Cup.” Baltar concluded as he and Amorak came to a stop at her quarters. “I wouldn’t just discard Aerilon so casually, Jessica.”
“Cards, pyramid… my, Gaius, a little bit less hair and you could fit in the Fleet.” Amorak hesitated but reached up and brushed back a strand of his brown hair.
Baltar caught her hand and looked up into her eyes. By whatever gods there were, he loved women who were taller! There was just something about them, something… his mind switched from that sharp intellect and commodious vocabulary and adopted the common cliché; exotic. His body shivered as her warm hand was firmly in his grasp.
He watched her slide her ID card through the scanner, and the magnetic locks on the hatch to her quarters click open. The sound was soft, but Baltar’s senses were heightened, aroused, and it was like an explosion, a bang.
She leaned down and his eyes watched her lips. Then they diverted and he felt her warm breath on his ear.
“I don’t think so.” She withdrew her hand and stepped back. Winking at the stunned scientist and self-proclaimed lady’s man she pushed open her hatch while still looking at him, back stepped in, and as she smiled glistening white teeth, closed it, leaving him out in the corridor wondering how the frak he just got played.
BS-41 Valkyrie, Theta-19/23347
“Well, there she is, sir,” Captain Nikon proclaimed as he turned back in his seat. He fancied a glance, discreet of course, at the major. Unfortunately he saw Baltar’s hand resting on her back as she bent forward to get a view of Valkyrie and the rest of BSG-41. “You ever been on an Eryines?” The major shook her head. “She’s one of the newest battlestars in the fleet. A bit under one point one kilometers, bristling with guns and missiles, a hundred and twenty attack craft...” he whistled.
“I think I’m in Elysium, Premie,” Fruity, manning the ECO, chimed in. “It’s not Argus but after those weeks on Lucky I’ll be able to stretch my legs on a true fraking warship.”
“Splendid.” Baltar muttered back to Fruity.
“Oh come on, Doc,” Fruity called back, “this ship is like a space-going city. You’ll probably be able to swindle some people out of their coin at Triad. More dupes than on Lucky.”
Premie and Fruity shared a laugh at Baltar’s expense. He’d quickly gained a reputation as unbeatable at cards unless Amorak was present. One person had jokingly, though half-seriously suggested he counted cards and that had turned off a lot of Lucky’s crew from playing with them. A few from Argus still played, but not many.
Baltar frowned. It had hardly been a ‘lucky tonight’. He’d have smiled at Jessica not brushing his hand off from between her shoulder blades, but he figured chances were she was toying with him in some capacity. Somehow he’d gone completely celibate for the last few weeks. Maybe it was to prove something to her? He shook that away. Gaius Baltar didn’t really prove anything to any woman- he didn’t have to. He told himself that again; he didn’t have to.
Whatever it was he was that was festering in some strange and dark recess of his mind made him antsy and he kept rocking back and forth on his heels and had been contracting and relaxing his calf muscles the whole Raptor ride over from the picket.
“The thing’s got a few full-sized gyms, too.” Fruity smiled at that. “Go work on the guns.” He flexed in his flight suit. He made a little gun finger while flexing and made a ‘pew pew’ sound.
Premie snorted and threw in an eye roll for good measure. “You’re so fraking lame.”
“Now you can be a gym rat again.” Amorak slugged her Triad partner on the shoulder as the Raptor slowed. “And you can take me shooting.” She gave slapped Fruity on the side of the arm. “I’ve put off qualifying again and-”
“You suck at shooting,” he finished. Premie chanced a quick look over and saw her playful glare, “Uh… sir.”
Premie tapped a few keys and clicked into his wireless a confirmation for Valkyrie to link in and let the computer guide in his Raptor-S. He leaned back and locked his gloved hands behind his helmet and interlocked his fingers.
“Easy as one-two-three,” he bragged. “Major, Doctor, you all up for another Triad game tonight?”
“It’s oh-nine forty…” she narrowed her eyes as the shadow from Valkyrie’s top half of the flight pod descended over them, “and I’ll have to meet with the command staff for about an hour, then hopefully talk to the spooks… lunch… exercise…” she gave him a backhanded tap on his shoulder, “these ships have boxing rings, right?”
“Yeah, small ones, not regulation size,” Premie answered. “Why, you want me to kick your ass at boxing… sir?”
The major brought her left ear down to a raised left shoulder. “I don’t think that would happen.” She turned to Baltar and Fruity. “You guys up for boxing this afternoon?” She knew Baltar would say no.
“So, we’re in for another security detail, Basileus?” Lieutenant Afina Stagna ask playfully as she came up beside Captain Aeilos Ophion. She leaned over and tapped his shoulder with hers.
The Marine beside her sighed and twisted at the waist. “You know, I hate it when you call me that.”
“I think you told me that for the past nine years.”
“I hate that title. It has no place in the military.”
Stagna snorted. “If I were Leo monarchy and that wealthy-“
“You’d still be out here playing babysitter to a bunch of eretai.” Captain Ophion nodded at the couple of knuckle draggers, discreetly of course. The eretai had been the oarsmen on the very ancient triremes that once plowed the oceans of Kobol. The Marines used that as an inter-service insult which would have meant nothing to a civilian. Why call them an oarsman int he ancient tongue? It was just an attempt to goad, like all rivalries were. The sailors had their own insults for the Marines, of course.“Anyway, then you’d never have met me.”
She rolled her eyes and groaned. “If that were the case I’d be on my knees thanking the gods every day.”
“We had fun.”
“I think you had more fun on all your little ‘adventures.’”
“Well that was one time I did use the position.”
“Bah.” She dismissed his banter. “The Old Man is up there.” She was in front of Ophion and flicked her eyes to the left.
“He probably just wants to see the stealth ships and whatever VIF we have to escort around the ship.” He checked his watch. “At least they’re on time.”
“You know who it is?” She asked, rocking back on her heels and turning around as the elevator hydraulics hissed.
“Rumors say it’s Ares himself.” Stagna gave him a tired look and he threw up his hands in his defense. “Come on, Afina,” he grinned, “they don’t tell me anything. They tell me be here on the deck at X-hundred with a squad from first platoon to stand security for stealth ships. That’s it. Need. To. Know.”
Her emerald eyes, a rarity on Leonis, glittered as she stared at him and slowly shook her head. “Alright, sir, just wondering is all.”
“Come on.” He gave her a gentle nudge on the shoulder as the Raptor elevator descended. The inner hatch separating the flight deck and landing/launch deck clanged as the magnetic seals clamped the doors together. “That is a beautiful ship.” He turned to an assembled party. “Alright, Marines, you know the drill; only authorized personnel are allowed near the stealth craft. ID checks, no recording device, no comp sheets, nothing.”
Captain Ophion rested a hand on his side arm and nodded to the corporal. He came to attention, his heels clicking, and his right fist hit his left shoulder. The corporal followed and Ophion dropped the salute and let the corporal dismiss his men to take positions around the stealth ships.
“That is a beautiful ship,” Lt. Stagna echoed. She ran a hand through her short brown hair and smirked. “So I guess I’ll have responsibility for it.”
“You and first platoon for the next two days then we’ll switch it off. There’s a half dozen of them-”
She cut him off with a patronizing look only he caught. “Yes, I know, I read the brief… I can read. I guess that’s the aristocrat talking down to us commoners,” Stagna chuckled.
“Yeah, yeah,” he waved a hand. “Raptor two has the ‘dignitaries,” he drew the word out, “so I’ll get to those. Lieutenant.”
“Captain.” She was completely serious now.
They both saluted. Lieutenant Stagna went to take care of the first few Raptors while the XO of Valkyrie’s Marine detachment went to tend to the inevitable special needs their guests would need. He was not looking forward to this.
Commander Adama took a moment and read the orders assigning Jessica Amorak and Gaius Baltar to his command slowly and methodically. The Old Man had never met either of them but knew both by reputation. The Amorak family had a standard to live up to, and Jessica’s father had been one of the best scientists during the War. He knew her by her reputation and her work on projects ranging from the stealth Raptors to weapons.
She had a new sterling record with no major disciplinary problems, minus a few fights and had received commendations from her previous commanders. She was incredibly young to be wearing the insignia’s of a major and even accounting for the promotion being quite recent, was perhaps thirty months ahead of schedule.
The only thing that did stand out on the official records he had on the corner of his desk was her pistol and rifle qualifications. Simply put, they were horrible. The Fleet itself was a bit lackluster in enforcing firearms proficiency (and instructors tended to let their sailors continually retake the test until they passed) but still, it did have a standard.
Apparently she’d only passed the pistol and rifle qualifications by a combined one point.
He’d heard stories about her; her brilliance and resourcefulness and of course, her beauty. Even a married man could admire what the ‘gods’ created, and Adama did just that like any other man would have. Except he didn’t go out of his way or make it obvious.
Adama could feel an energy around the major which almost spoke to him. He had an almost subconscious ability to judge a man or woman’s character within minutes of meeting someone. Here he saw her as justifiably self-assured, but not cocky, and completely aware of her natural talents and appearance.
What he hoped for was that she’d earned everything she had; the rank and the commendations and the uniform. The uniform was especially important to him.
He could give Amorak a pass. She was at least in a Colonial uniform and here as part of her duty- no extra pay, no special allowances other than what a major would get. Baltar, looking almost bored beside her, was here for the money and money should be the last reason why one would accept such an assignment.
There were some other stories he’d heard about Amorak, unpleasant ones, ones which should not follow an officer in the Colonial Fleet around.
The way the major held herself he could see how they’d started. She was supremely confident in her abilities and not afraid to use her natural traits for her own benefit. She also didn’t seem to be a woman who was afraid of getting her hands dirty.
“I’m glad to have both of you on board.” Adama said as he finished reviewing the classified orders which accompanies Amorak and the classified civilian contract for Doctor Baltar. Pinching on natural paper and holding it down with the edge of his palm he took out a fountain pen and signed his name, one the left side on the line above ‘Commanding Officer’s Acknowledgment of Receipt of Orders’ and with quick, graceful strokes, endorsed the orders and accepted responsibility for them both. “There. Welcome to the crew for the next…” he checked his watch and heard the major chuckle, “about three to five months.” He leaned over his old wooden desk and shook their hands.
“So…” Baltar said, sounding slightly concerned, “I guess we can begin setting up facilities? If you don’t mind, uh, Commander, I do have other contracted work and until we encounter the Cylons I would like-”
“I understand, Doctor. I’ve kept up with some of your research. It’s impressive-” Baltar smiled and wiggled his shoulders in pride “-and some of it is truly revolutionary.” Adama’s lips parted and he tapped the desk. His eyes wandered from Amorak to Baltar and then off at something else inside his quarter. “But you two are here for other reasons. Not only have you two studied the Cylons and worked on the stealth ships we’ll be deploying, but you’re experts in computer security. I can read between the lines. If we encounter the Cylons then this will not only be a test if we can detect this supposed stealth craft but whether or not our new computer security measures can withstand Cylon infiltration techniques.” His eyes narrowed. “Can they?”
He wanted to be positive the expensive civilian consultant was worth his price in coin. Major Amorak would be paid the same regardless of where she was stationed but Dr. Baltar’s purse was going to be heavy after this mission.
Baltar, looking at Amorak and back at Adama, looked confused that the question would even be asked. He answered before the major could.
“Well, Commander, computer security shouldn’t be an issue. Everything was redesigned, manual controls as backups, and all that, so yeah, I can’t see the Cylons getting control unless they get on the ship.”
“They always seem to have their ways.” Adama pointed out.
“Well… yes, I suppose, but this is engineering where it is or isn’t. But our networks are closed. They would need to have two things to get in; one, a backdoor in the software and two, a piece of hardware physically connected to our networks granting them wireless access.” Baltar said. “Systems such as landing control, like with the Raptors,” he motioned with a thumb towards the general direction of the flight pod they’d landed in, “are isolated.”
“I’ve been working with various, um, classified projects the last few years sir, concerning our computer security,” Major Amorak said, jumping in, “and as long as the computers connected to the wireless communication arrays remain un-networked to our mainframe then it will be impossible for the Cylons to affect our main systems. They could crash our wireless but the laser comms should remain unaffected since they’re independent.”
Adama nodded. “Then we can maintain our battle networks?”
“A closed network, sir, is impossible to hack unless they’re physically aboard our ship, yes, sir.” Amorak said. “Fire control, navigation, environmental computers should all work. What we do expect is for Cylon EW to be superior to our own. Same with their ECM. Unfortunately we don’t know so we can only suspect.”
“I understand,” Adama answered, “but I want you two working together and with our network security specialists to check, double-check, and triple-check. For the next week we’ll be scouting and marking tyllium-rich asteroids and planetoids and laying down drones and buoys. After that we’re going to go hunting for whatever it is out here. So for the next week,” he pointed at them both, “I would like you two running through every system, testing it in every way imaginable, for any way the Cylons might hack in. Anything you find, inform me immediately with suggestions on how to close any holes. We haven’t encountered the Cylons for thirty-five years almost, so we can only guess at this point what they’re capable of.””
Doctor Baltar had to hide his annoyance as he listened to the commander. Despite the tablet computer and the collection of computer sheets on his desk he pegged Adama as one of the old school ‘brute force’ commanders… except ‘brute force’ didn’t work if Cylons had better fire control, could jam DRADIS, throw off your missile locks, or jump in right on top of you. Kinetic rounds worked in close but a ship could dodge. A missile could follow when a big slug couldn’t. The fleet was moving away from the emphasis on the big guns and back to missiles, away from the knife-fight engagement ranges which dominated the Cylon War and inflicted such horrendous casualties.
“All the systems have already-”
Baltar was interrupted by the major.
“Yes, sir. We’ll get right on it, sir.”
The doctor mentally rolled his eyes. In the end she was going to be the good little soldier. Unless the BSG had fiddled with their networks and broken all the Fleet’s safety guidelines, the networks would be fine. Baltar took a chance and glared and was relieved Adama and Amorak missed it. If he was going to be tasked with doing something a child could do, he’d just go ahead in do it. Maybe he could bill it under some expense?
“There’s also the other matter of why we’re here, Commander, independent of just analyzing any DRADIS data if there are Cylons out there.” Amorak said after a pause.
Commander Adama nodded. He’d been expecting something like this, something more. Sending one of the Fleet’s up and coming scientist and a civilian contractor who was paid a small fortune for this mission had seemed like overkill. The Old Man figured there’d be some revelation coming and he prepared himself with a slow blink of the eyes and an easy stare directed towards the major.
“I figured as much.”
The major offered a little lip smile as compensation for him being kept in the dark.
“Yes, sir. The other reason we’re here is because we believe the Cylons may be changing… um, it might take some explaining.” She saw the little glint of confusion in his deep blue eyes and paused. “As we all know the Cylon rebellion began at the Battle of Corvus during Admiral Makos’s offensive. A series of signals was detected by the fleet and skipping a few events, the Cylons decided killing us would be better than killing their counterparts in the Pact.” Her eyebrows quirked up and she sighed. “We don’t know what happened still, but recent information can trace the probability of the origins of the Cylon rebellion to the Second Battle of Sagittaron.
“Doctor Graystone, in his unveiling of the U-87 to the CAF used the term ‘artificial sentience.’ But this wasn’t sentience like you or me, sir.” She gestured at him and herself and Baltar. “The U-87 was designed to make decisions based on available data and determine its future course of actions, plan, based on prior experiences and available variables. Rebel? No. Rebelling takes a level of thought which was theoretically impossible, even from the most advanced MCP. It was designed to take orders from its legal superiors- officers in CAF for military robots or bosses for civilian variants, provided the orders fell within the law. A Cylon could be ordered to do anything… stand on one foot for a week or rip off its own arm and it would.”
Adama sat back and looked at the two with his steely eyes. “Yes, I know, major. I grew up with Cylons. I watched them in parade. I watched the Spartoi and Cylons fight during the FCC.” He narrowed his eyes and looked off to the side. “It doesn’t matter why they rebelled, does it, major?”
The muscles in Amorak’s neck tensed. “For the purposes of why the Admiralty sent us out here, no sir.”
She felt a bit shut down and stonewalled and was getting the idea the Commander didn’t really like her all that much. No matter.
Since the Cylon War veterans controlled the entirety of the upper ranks of the military they tended to revolve more on the practical applications of anti-Cylon projects rather than the academic sides and such philosophical questions like ‘why did they rebel?’
The claim of freedom had been tossed around, even stated by the Cylons, but they were machines, programmed. And their opening salvos in the war were so destructive that their right to ‘freedom’ had been considered forfeit with their systematic nuclear bombardment and murder of hundreds of millions of civilians.
“That’s true,” Baltar jumped in, “but the academic is pertinent for this. The old service robots could be programmed to kill. Killing by proxy still earns the death penalty even today, Commander.” He as oblivious to the blank look the Commander was giving him as the scientist went into lecture mode. “There were ways around the hardware blocks preventing someone from say, programming a robot to go and rob a bank, but I’m sure you heard of a few cases of robots legally defending their owners. You heard of perhaps the most famous… the Graystone robot, Serge, killing terrorists from the STO who tried to murder the doctor and his wife during a home invasion? There was also the machine cults which sprang up as the Cylons became more popular. They believed the machines were the next step in human evolution, that we could download our conscious minds to a robotic body and live forever. They believed violence was the only means to their end.”
“I do remember.”
“Well, Commander, then you should also know that the Cylons and Spartoi began to improve themselves in a somewhat similar manner… they found ways around their blocks to disobey order.” Baltar nodded to get a reaction from the Commander, to see if he was keeping up, but the Commander just sat that, his eyes not quite slits but subtly telling the Doctor to go on. “What we believed happened, what we know happened I should say, is that the Cylons did exactly that. When we invaded Tauron in the third year of the FCC somehow the Cylons and Spartoi began to improve each other. Doctors Graystone and Vergis used those improvements and built upon them in their own next generation of robots... not the brightest of ideas in hindsight. Some think this allowed the Cylons to achieve some sort of hive-like sentience, true sentience… uh, sapience actually through raw computing power.”
“That was always theorized, Doctor.”
“Theorized publicly, yes, that’s absolutely correct. But privately we’ve discovered this to be the case. This, look…” he retrieved a comp sheet from his pocket, unfolded it and keyed up the MCP. “This is a second generation military MCP and a third.” He put his forefinger on the comp sheet and flicked it, switching images. “The fourth generation MCPs allowed higher cognitive functions. One of the problems with robots was that they were very textbook. It’s good, but predictable. That’s why humans were needed. We couldn’t let the Cylons just go off and fight without supervision. All they tended to do was smash against each other to varying degrees without guidance. They could maneuver and flank and all that but they didn’t have the… uh, instincts real soldiers had for it. They’d wait for a textbook opening before attacking. They lacked the capability to take risks, Commander.”
Adama tolerated the little lecture in tactics with a straight face. The problem with people who’d never fought the Cylons was that they consistently underestimated them. Simulations with a military sim-band were one thing; real Cylons had no restriction in their AI designs.
“This is the actual reason why we’re here, sir. DRADIS readings can be analyzed by a computer. We’re here for something else, sir.” Amorak dug into her pocket and produced a black thumb drive with a gray finish. She placed it on the top of the desk, on the edge, and Adama picked it up. There was a small biometrics reader, barely wide enough for a thumb print. “That contains our classified orders, sir. But going off what Gaius said-” Adama’s eyebrow flickered up at her use of the doctor’s first name “-the Cylons, when they began to uniformly call themselves such, changed their MCPs. The early war was a clusterfrak for all of us, human and Cylon.”
“I’m aware, major.. about it being a clusterfrak, I was there. The Cylons fumbled at the start by not destroying Admiral Makos’s fleet and instead split to attack all the Colonies they could. They spread their forces too thin. When the war started none of the admirals understood why the Cylons just didn’t go after the fleets and then the civilians. They tried to go after both unsuccessfully.”
“Yes, sir.” Amorak bobbed her head and crossing her legs, leaned forward. “They couldn’t think strategically for the long term. But the MCPs which showed up in Centurions about a year to two years into the war showed remarkable improvements in their abilities to think long term, analyze variables, and predict. That’s why the second to ninth years were some of the worse for the Colonies, sir. The Cylons, in a nutshell, got smart. I know it’s not a popular thing to say, Commander, but they basically went from sophisticated robots governed by a sort of pseudo hive-mind to actual artificial persons each fully capable and independent if separated from the whole.”
“This… is a basic history lesson, major,” Adama pointed out, ready for the actual meat. He was tempted to snap at the two eggheads but held back. He’d already gauged this as their style and he couldn’t help but notice how they complimented each other. “I’m assuming you want to tell me something more relevant before I read what’s on this thumb drive?” Adama picked up the gray and black device and set it on his laptop keyboard.
“Yes, sir, apologies, what we’re saying is that the Cylons continually adapt. In a nutshell if the Cylons at the end of the war had been the Cylons at the beginning of the war we would have lost within a year. They had half out military resources and trashed our industry in the opening salvos. Their improvements to their MCP and cognitive capabilities, long-term strategic planning, and intuition- yes, sir, even robots can have intuition- were not enough for them to turn the tide. We had the momentum and they couldn’t turn it back. But what I’m about to say and what is on the thumb drive is classified Black Two, sir.”
“After the war the government officially sought out and destroyed all MCPs and any traces of Cylons. Despite the reactivation of the holoband network AI remains strictly illegal. Programs are severely restricted in their performance capabilities and computer architecture is designed to make AI, true AI, impossible. When the Cylons left a team was assembled to study captured units. We’ve kept these captured units for military purposes.”
“So… what you’re telling me is that the military has been keeping Cylons active?” It took every bit of strength to keep his balled fists from pounding the table. “How-”
Major Amorak respectfully held up a hand. “Sir, like I said, this information is classified Black Two-”
“And you don’t need to be reminded what Black Two, what breaching that means, Commander.” Baltar earned a glare from the Old Man which forced Baltar to almost reflexively push back and tuck his chin into his chest defensively. “It’s very serious.” He tried to hide the Old Man’s success at intimidation with an unneeded cryptic warning.
“I’m aware of Black Two.” He looked at them both. “This is incredibly irresponsible…” he was angered but knew stating anything other than disagreement with such a program would be a waste at the moment.
He’d bring it up with Admiral Corman. If Amorak and Baltar were sent by Corman then the Admiral knew. What the Commander couldn’t understand was how the Admiral, who’d himself fought through the entire war, could be so reckless. ‘Capturing’ and ‘interrogating’ Cylons during the war was a great way to get killed. One wireless network left on within range of a Cylon modem and that was it.
But he was distracted by Baltar’s unneeded warning. He’d been subject to a Black Two warning a few times before. A breach of Black Two carried only one known penalty.
He’d heard a rumor, maybe a decade ago, of a lieutenant colonel who had revealed Black Two level documents, supposedly about deployment plans and the nuclear defense posture of the Colonies. No one heard from him. He vanished. His house had been cleaned out, all his belonging confiscated, and there had been no records of him having ever existed.
Officially the punishment was hanging, the same method of execution enforced throughout the Colonies. Military executions were generally carried out by firing squad.
Adama dismissed the rumor quite quickly, though he shivered at it.
“We kept them active to develop countermeasures, sir. AI can advance in leaps. If we didn’t research their MCPs and AI architecture then we never could have developed CORA- Cyber Operations Redistribution Algorithm. CORA is basically a virus which can affect the Cylon’s communication network and disable their unit-to-unit communications.”
“Cylons are immune to computer viruses.”
Baltar winced. “Not entirely true. Their MCP is due to various hardware safeties but their processing software for communication is susceptible. At least it was. CORA worked on the Cylons we tested it on. What it does is, uh, in non-technical terms, it lodges itself in the wireless buffers and forces more and more of the system resources to redistribute from higher cognitive functions- flying Raiders or shooting at our soldiers- to combat CORA. The Cylons can defeat it in the span of maybe fifteen to twenty minutes and it would be cleared from their system. But in that time frame we could destroy any ship we encounter.”
Amorak decided to go with the non-technical example. “Sir, basically, it would be like getting a pilot piss drunk and then telling her to do an air show. The Cylons would get so bogged down, so ‘out of it’ that they’d basically be drunk.”
“For fifteen or twenty minutes. Could they adapt?”
The major’s right lip tweaked up with her right shoulder in a unsure gesture. “We don’t know sir. We need a modern Cylon for a test. And my guess is, sir, that any stealth craft is going to have a fraking top model Centurion.”
“So not only are we out here to find this theorized stealth craft-”
“We’re here to capture a modern Cylon. And use the virus. We can tweak it; find any weaknesses in their modern hardware.” Amorak smiled and leaned forward. “And if it’s successful, we can use it and destroy the Cylon threat to the Colonies.”
Amazing work!. I'm so excited as to what's coming next.
So I'm curious....what is a Spartoi? (Spartan plural, obviously)
This... this is going to backfire. And it's interesting, I do wanna see what's going to happen next.
A Spartoi is the Diadalos Pact equivalent of a Cylon.
I posted a story I consider official/canon background to Dust of the Stars. It also explains why there was a statue of Admiral Makos and who she is.
The Spartoi were developed by Vergis. The pre-War era between the Colonies in this story was marked by some pretty serious inter-Colonial War. The FCC is the Fifth Colonial Conflict which had been raging for 4 years prior to the Cylon War.
Caprica/Picon/Scorpia were allied against the Diadalos Pact of Tauron/Gemenon/Sagittaron/Virgon/Canceron. The war killed about 400 million people over four years and then the Cylon War for about 12.5 years killed seven billion.
Nice, real nice. The software and hardware setup of the battlestars sounds good, with open (wireless) systems isolated from the rest of the ship.
CORA, well it sounds like a logical step for the colonials to take. Completely abandoning computer warfare would be stupid, really stupid. I doubt you could ever actually be equal to the Cylons in computer warfare, but abandoning it completely makes you ignorant of the dangers.
I get the impression that the people working on CORA consider it to be a potentially very important tool in combating the Cylons. An untested and unproven tool that not might even work. So long as the Colonials don't put to much faith in it, but considering their history...
Thirty five years after the war, that would mean Adama would be somewhere in his mid to late fifties?
In any case, looking forwards to more!
I love how everybody here blithely assumes that the stealth contacts are Cylons. this is the SG universe. There's WORSE things than Cylons out there...
Bryan, you've become one of the top fanfic writers in my eyes. Now don't let it swell your head and keep churning those fast updates
And... Gaius "Blues Balls" Baltar ?
Separate names with a comma.