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Against all Odds

Posted on 07/25/2019 @ 11:43pm by Colonel Celeste Porter & Lieutenant Colonel Tyrus Craine & Major Hamilton Stockwell & Captain Arthur Theron & Lieutenant JG Finn Kidane

Mission: 1 - Twilight
Location: Radamanthus Fleet Retirement Yards
Timeline: MD 01 - 2100 Z

"Why do you always get stuck with the milk run, sir? All due respect, you're the OOD, I don't get why the old man always chooses you to come out here and patrol a graveyard. Especially when we've got the CAG of the Bellerophon this time."

Celeste chuckled at her Raptor pilot's query, and turned from her screen momentarily. She'd enjoyed the last several months flying the CAP over Radamanthus Fleet Yards, especially being in a Raptor with Lieutenant Harbeck, a fiery but capable woman.

"Hey I like organizing CAP. It feeds into my god complex, and my fetish for organization and structure. And besides...I didn't tell you this, but this is actually the last CAP we're doing at Radamanthus. The Bellerophon is supposed to take over for the next three months, while we put in at Picon and get a few upgrades. Apparently there's some new CNC software that the Pollux needs to have installed, in order to not get grossly outmatched by the Mercury class."

"HA!" Harbeck keyed her mic, and continued, "Hey Lockdown, sounds like you get to handle the spooks and the rust buckets for the next few months. Who'd your CO piss off to get this mission?"

"Ran over Admiral Thales' dog," was the utterly deadpan response from Bellerophon's CAG. "Was a hell of a thing. None of us stopped him, so the whole ship's out here."

Still smiling at the banter, Celeste donned her headset, and keyed her own mic.

"Radamanthus, this is Lady Gray. Sitrep."

"Colonel Craine's currently doing a routine boot-up, but he'll be back in an hour or so. This is Captain Laye. Sitrep: DRADIS is clear and...stand by." There was a long silence, before the man continued with "Sir, are you hearing this?"

Celeste turned to look at Harbeck. The red-headed pilot's normally rosy face had gone ash-white and she was pressing her earpiece onto her head further.

"Hey. Hey, Harbeck. HARBECK!" she shouted the final word. The pilot craned her head around, and Celeste continued, "Let me hear it."

The woman unplugged her headset quickly, and a cacophony of shouting and chaos came through immediately. In a matter of seconds orders were being relayed, rescinded, and re-issued. After a few moments, one clear voice came across. "All Colonial assets, return to Scorpion Fleet Yards immediately, we are under attack! I repeat, all Colonial asseFRACK!"

Celeste sat for a moment, letting the sound of static over the comm fill the Raptor. She quickly jumped into the ECO seat in the cockpit, and put her hand in Harbeck's, squeezing tightly.

"That was from Scorpion, sir," Harbeck said quietly. "I...I think they just got hit."

"Yeah," Celeste responded. They let a few more moments of silence pass between them before the silence was suddenly punctuated by an incoming tranmission.

Lady Gray, this is Pollux actual. Can your CAP make it back to us or the Bellerophon in the next two minutes?

Celeste shot a glance to Harbeck, who looked down at her DRADIS and shook her head.

"Negative Pollux, we're too far out. We should have fuel to remain on station for at least a few hours though. We can figure it out after that."

We're only down 2 squadrons and three Raptors. Bellerophon is about the same. Celeste...I can't just...

"I understand sir," she interrupted. "Do we know who it is?"

The Cylons. I don't think they'll bother with an old ship graveyard but if they do, you know what to do.

"Shoot the frackers 'til we run out of bullets. Good hunting, sir."

Good hunting, Colonel. Pollux out.

"What the frack do we do, sir?" Harbeck asked, panic seeping into her voice. "The fracking Cylons? What the hells do they want? I thought we had a fracking armistice!"

"They apparently just broke it," Celeste responded. Keying her mic again, she opened her own com channel and said, "This is Colonel Celeste Porter, acting CAG for the joint Combat Air Patrol mission at Radamanthus Fleet Yards. I'm keeping this communique on a low band, so anyone hearing this, you should be either in my Wing, or on the base. I don't want my birds and my people up here if some shit goes down and the toasters decide to show up. Anyone who has any recommendations, now's your time to make a career out of this for yourself."

If Lockdown was at all shaken by the latest revelations, it didn't come in his voice. "Most of the ships here are dead or dying hulks, Lady Gray. With Bellerophon and Pollux gone, do we have defences that aren't the CAP?"

"Unlikely," Celeste responded. "But I'm hoping someone has some ideas, because we can't, you know fly around up here indefinitely. There's at least a few ships down there that haven't had their payloads transferred out yet, for whatever reason, as I understand it. But I don't know that there's enough of us to man a Frigate, let alone a Battlestar."

There came a gentle, mildly frustrated huff from Lockdown - then his breath caught. "Shell game," he mumbled, before speaking up in a more clipped voice. "If we can get any of them even moving, or the ones we can crew go deep in the hulks, they don't all need to be fighting fit to give us some cover. Enemy might not know who's a targeting priority." What they'd do under the shroud of that confusion was a whole different issue.

"Good call. Anyone from Radamanthus on frequency and can verify?"

Onboard one of the derelict mothballed battlestars he tended to daily, Lieutenant Colonel Craine lifted the phone in the ships CiC with hesitation. After a short pause, he finally collected himself, "This is Artemis Actual," he spoke, hardly an exaggeration of his position at this point. "There are only a handful of people at Radamanthus, and I just ordered them all to the Artemis. I will send a ping for our exact location if you care to join."

Celeste arched an eyebrow. The voice was familiar, but she couldn't place it. She definitely remembered the name of the ship though. "Artemis...well, I guess a bucket as old as my grandfather is better than nothing. Artemis actual, Lady Gray. Send us that ping. I've got a wing of birds up here that are about to crash your party."

"Ping sent. I'll start firing up the old bird in case we get some unwanted company. Both flight pods should be clear for landing," Craine added some instruction over the comm. "The rest of the shipyards personnel are landing now and they should be able to assist."

"This is Lockdown; heading received, Lady Gray, Artemis Actual," came Lockdown's reply a moment later, before he shifted to address the pilots with him from Bellerophon. "Outriders; acknowledge heading. We're to make for Artemis. Lady Gray, recommend leaving Two Flight on CAP; electromagnetic interference from Zeus means a perimeter patrol might pick up Cylon activity before Artemis does."

"Sound reasoning," Celeste responded. "Who knows what the status of the DRADIS is on that old bucket. Lockdown, coordinate with your two most skilled and not-tired pilots and a Raptor, and maintain a CAP until we know what's going on. And for frack's sake, keep an open comm."

"Copy that, Lady Gray." Lockdown reached to flick his comms to a squadron frequency. "Outriders, you heard all that. Ranger, Coyote; you're up for a CAP. Grab Pitbull's Raptor for better DRADIS, and you all stay in touch. Everyone else, you're on me. We're going to make Artemis our home for the next while."

The affirmations came back to him, with no hint of discontent from the new CAP that he couldn't read as wider concerns he shared. For a moment, Lockdown wondered if he should go with them, as one of the more experienced pilots. But he'd picked Ranger and Coyote because they were two of the older of the squadron, not prone to flapping. And he was the CAG - or, at least, Bellerophon's CAG, one of the senior pilots here. He was going to be far more use on a flight deck organising Artemis' impromptu air wing than he was in the air.

The three smallcraft disengaged as the bulk of the old CAP started to turn towards Artemis. Lockdown brought his fighters up for protective flanking of the Raptors, and keyed his comm again back to the CAP frequency. "Lady Gray, Outrider squadron is on your wing; ready to follow you to Artemis."

"Outriders, Typhoons, and anyone else flying with us out here, on me. Raptors to the aft-ward elevators. Anyone in a Viper, sit tight once you're down, we're going to head into the bay and make sure there's enough of us down there to help get you out of your birds. Artemis actual, once the pilots are out of their birds, Lockdown and I will head to the CIC. Let's go."


"Finn, what's on DRADIS?" In the small round hatch window, Lieutenant Ranulph Marshall tried to pilot- but all he could see was the swirling red and ochre of the gas giant Zeus. It looked like a fuzzy piece of banded, used gauze. In its pillowy upper reaches, one understood how the planet got its namesake- flashes of lightning crawled the clouds, some of them larger than a Battlestar.

The Escape Pod had passed the point of being unbearably hot. It reeked of sweat and blood. Finn's curls had slacked to waves in the heat, his milk-caramel skin aglow in dewy perspiration. He wiped at his upper lip, still crusted from the dried remnants of his earlier nose bleed. His left eye and cheek had blossomed a grayish-blue bruise. "No sign of Cylon activity out here. The yard should be in the L2 LaGrange," he said. Finn's normal warmth was weary and thin; he just reported the facts. He rubbed at his eyes, blinking to keep them open from the salty sting of sweat threatening to drip in. He'd had someone else's knees in his kidneys for the better part of an hour. "It looks like the shipyard's clean."

"Alright," the man with the thinning hair said. He reached over his head and twisted some kind of control. "Let’s see if we can find a place with enough atmo to dock with and hold out." He looked over his shoulder, "Crosby, get on the low band. Let the rest of the life pods that followed us in know the plan."

"Yessir." After a moment, they spoke up, "Sir there's some traffic on the low band here." Just then they began to jostle and Finn’s DRADIS chirped at him.

"Colonial or Cylon?" Ranulph asked, twisting futilely back to look at the person who had their knees in Finn’s back. “What was that?” he lowered his voice to ask the boy next to him. Ranulph’s gaze surveyed the bruise blossoming like a weed across Finn’s cheek and bagging his eyelid.

“We’re passing through Zeus’ electromagnetic field threshold. Hold on. It’s…”. Finn winced as the pod gave itself to a rolling feel that made most anyone inside feel queasy. The lighting flickered and behind them, a Medic was saying a prayer to Hestia, a Goddess of the Tribes of Kobol. “There’s a lot of ionizing radiation… sorry, go ahead.”

"Colonial." Crosby reported finally.

"Open a channel," the older man said. “Radamanthus Actual, come in.”

"Attention Colonial DRADIS contact. This is Colonel Celeste Porter. We can't make out what type of ship you are, but I need your authorization codes immediately, or my combat wing will fire upon you."

Marshall eyed the board and the DRADIS that Finn’s curls partially eclipsed, "I don’t need to get nuked twice in one day. Finn, get those disaster response codes up before they blow us away," the man said, gesturing hard behind the boy. Finn twisted into Crosby’s knee on his right and went for the code log. He flipped through it, the space so cramped his long nose nearly touched it.

"I've got it," he said, his brows knitting. Again, he swiped sweat out of his eyes. He punched in the disaster code for the Cardia and cycled it through the lower band frequencies. "Done."

"This is Lieutenant Ranulph Marshall of the Colonial Courier Cardia, outbound from Tauron. Designation Cardia Evac, to Radamanthus Actual. Do not fire. We are Colonial Militia. We have thirty-two souls from the Cardia and the Nike in six life pods. We need immediate assistance. We have wounded. Over."

"Finn, are they taking hostile action?" He asked. Finn’s blue-glowing face studied, knitting at the DRADIS. The curly haired youth looked at contact circles, "Zeus' putting out a lot of electromagnetic interference but I don't think-."

"Codes accepted and verified. Once you're closer to Radamanthus, you'll see where we are. I think we're safe for now, but I'm hesitant to just say it outright even on a low band. Port hangar is mostly empty. Porter out."

"I've losing Reynolds, dammit!" Someone said behind them, their voice high. "She's in some kind of damned arrest!" Finn could hear the pulsing of the first aid ECG detector warbling. This was Hell. It was hot, it stank, and there was death. With the sickening jolt of energy, he heard the body of the woman seize and slack. There was an irregular beeping behind them in.

Finn couldn’t keep his attention there, and tried to push the sick, hollow swim in his stomach down.

"There," Ranulph pointed through the small iew hole, "There, see that Finn?" Across a thinly spread mosaic of grays and whites- ancient hulls- there was short flashes of engines that dropped to dark moments later. But in the starlight, they could see shuttles pushing toward something large and long.

Finn poked at the DRADIS and flexed his fingers out to zoom it's scope, "Looks like an old Battlestar. Valk-"

"Valkyrie-class," Marshall nodded. "BSG-42. Alright signal the pods and frakking hope they've got room on... wait, what side did she say?"

"Port. Port, I'm sure she said port," Finn breathily said, nodding. His throat was dry and he tried to swallow back the uncertain yo-yo of feelings. Well, were they in the clear or not? Who knew?

"You're sure?" Marshall whipped his head to look at the boy.

Finn's eyes slipped away to the DRADIS and back. His mouth guppied and closed, his eyes widened, "I, guh- Pretty sure?"

Marshall flexed his eyes closed, mouthing something vulgar without sound. That or it was a prayer to the Gods- maybe both, "Alright, try this. Would you bet your left ball on it, because it might come down to that."

Finn nodded, "I'm sure, I'm sure." He reached down and subtly cupped himself. "I'm sure."

"Cardia Evac to Radamanthus Actual. We are on final approach." Ranulph took control of the yoke with the two antler-like control sticks. "Frak get me a bearing Finn, piloting was never my strong suit. I just shoot big space guns." The man with the thinning hair winced as the maw of the old Battlestar began to peer, almost like a steadily gaping set of fish lips.

"Bearing 025 mark 321... we're going way too fast ... slow it down. drop our z-axis by... about 300 clicks. negative-Z, 300." Finn winced as the gray lip of the top of the bay was looming too close, too fast. He reached over and pushed at the stick, then with a hissing whistle, the pod lurched.

"Counter thrusters, Sir, counter thrusters!" The lip of the hangar bay was still too close, "Ok now, counter-thrusters, hard burn, three seconds!" Finn unbuckled when the man looked exasperated, leaned his leg through the Lieutenant's thigh gap; Finn stamped hard on the pedal between them for three seconds. "Okay, okay... glide down... then set us on the deck."

Nice landing, the comm channel buzzed. Hang tight, we'll have you out of those buckets in a few minutes, we're lowering the elevators so you have atmo."

Finn breathed out and ruffled the back of his head. He tapped a few toggles to extend the support legs. With a hydraulic hiss they deployed. He tilted his head back against his minimal head rest and blinked. He reached up and turned off the DRADIS system.

The Raptor shook as Ham piloted his bird towards the Artemis. As she glided through and around the other ships in the yard, he could see vipers zoom by above him. Selfishly, he hoped they were going to be covering his ass as he sailed towards safety. It was slightly terrifying knowing that at any moment, the Cylons could jump in with no warning and it could all be over. During the first war, things felt different. Was this a war? So many questions that needed to be answered.

Seeing vapor start to come out of various exhaust ports on the Artemis either was a good thing or bad thing. Looks like it had been years since she was properly cared for. During his time at Radamanthus, Ham had been on the Artemis before - mostly for a shower here or there. Maybe even grabbing a stale snack or two from the holds. She was definitely past her prime, but he hoped to the Gods that she had some life left in her.

Ham turned on his comm, "Artemis, this is Raptor 45-GT do you read me? I'm coming in hot - granting myself permission!"

"45-GT, this is Artemis Actual," Craine responded over the comm, still wary about that title, but unsure of anything more fitting. "You're clear on both pods. Try not to scratch the paint."

Ham maneuvered the Raptor towards the starboard pod, "Roger that, approaching starboard pod." Ham was certain he had heard the voice on the comm before. He couldn't place it, but perhaps it was someone who was in charge around here, someone he'd run into before. He hoped to the Gods that it wasn't some schmuck who happened to be in the CIC on this of all days.

As the Raptor approached the pod opening, Ham glided the bird in and onto the magnetic docking pad. He could feel the pads lock into place and the pad begin to lower into the hangar. He breathed a sigh of relief, for now.


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