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Posted on 10/18/2019 @ 3:28am by Captain Jamie Perth

Mission: 1 - Twilight
Location: Virgon's Atmosphere
Timeline: MD 1

"What the frack?"

The bumps and shaking of re-entry had only just settled when SSGT Loza uttered those words. Jamie looked towards the cockpit, watching her tap against the DRADIS screen, flicking switches and turning knobs over the communications panel with her hands.

"What've you broken this time, Sam?" Matheson asked.

"Gimme a sec, Sarge," she said, checking the dashboard again. From what Jamie could see through the cockpit's windshield, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Blue skies with only a few wisps of cloud. Perfect weather for atmospheric flight.

"It's... like we're in a comms black out. That, or we're being jammed. But I can't detect any disruption signal. SNR's over 40, margin's good. Bandwidth is good..."

"Give the frequencies a scrub," Matheson suggested. Then, jokingly, "Have you tried turning the wireless receiver on and off again?"

But the pilot didn't smile. "Okay. Starting to pick up a bit of chatter... A lot of chatter, actually. But signal strength's not quite enough to get a good reading." She momentarily looked out the canopy, as if something outside might give her an answer to her problem.

"Boskirk ATC, Backspin. Requesting clearance to enter control zone."

There was no response.

"Boskirk ATC, Backspin. Acknowledge."

Then out of nowhere, a shockwave of pure force suddenly slammed against the Raptor, sending Matheson off his feet, just as the medic was just unbuckling from the chair and making his way to the cockpit to assess the situation. His entire body smacked sideways against the cabin, and he fell to the floor. Alarms blared, the sound of engines overcompensating, and the awful dragging sensation in everyone's stomachs as the craft dove into an uncontrolled plummet.

Jamie's heart rose to over twice its usual rate, and the first thing that came to his mind was how this would be the final minutes of life he had left. Trapped in a Raptor, falling out of the sky, smashing into the ground or sea below. Pure fear gripped him, paralysed him, and for the briefest of moments he wondered if the harrowing terror alone would be enough to kill him right then and there. The slightest relief came after what felt like the longest minute, when the Raptor stabilised somewhat and settled into a steadier course, albeit still turbulent.

Sergeant Matheson lifted himself off the floor, his back clearly aching from the impact moments ago. "What the frack was that?!" he shouted.

Instinctively, Jamie's first priority was the patient. He looked over at the monitor displaying Lewis' vital signs. Stable so far. The unconscious Crewman was perhaps the calmest out of anyone in the cabin, but only because of the anaesthetic drugs being infused into his veins. The young man slept soundly in a deep coma, eyes closed shut by adhesive tapes, breathing tube surprisingly still in place and pulling slightly at the corner of his mouth.

"My... Gods!" Loza had her eyes fixated at the horizon ahead.

The cloud cover they'd been in the midst of had cleared completely, blown off by a blast wave to reveal a massive mushroom cloud climbing up into the sky, a toroidal fireball rising from the surface. A glowing semi- spherical cap formed its upper height, with gas vortices curling around the base, appearing just over where the great city of Boskirk used to be. A distribution of energy from a single weapon, so vast and so sudden, obeying physical laws of nature which cared not of the intentions of its Cylon manipulators.

Hundreds of thousands, perhaps well over a million lives, gone in a single instant.

Families. Mothers, fathers and children. Brothers and sisters, young and old. Lovers and friends, rich and poor, the innocent and the guilty. Everything that represented the best and worst of human society on Virgon ceased to exist, obliterated in a billowing shroud of destruction.

Unbeknownst to its victims, the same was occurring in the skies over Virgon's many other cities, and on inhabited planets across all four Colonial star systems. Never had death struck so many in such a short time, in just one of many fractions of a second, shorter than the smallest recognisable unit of time.

Every person within a five-kilometre radius of the low-altitude nuclear explosion's hypocentre hadn't had the chance to notice a thing. Huge bursts of gamma rays and X-rays had soaked into the bones of the now-dead, those closest to ground zero, heating them into fluorescence, their bodies disintegrating almost instantaneously with the detonation itself. Victims that had been further away were not spared a similar fate, vaporised by the searing energy front radiating in every direction.

Jamie looked out the window, frozen in complete disbelief. A weight of emotions assaulted him and the rest of the Raptor crew with such power, more so than the physical force of the shockwave that had struck their craft less than a minute ago. The horizon turned an incandescent yellow, then a violet-red so bright it seemed to outshine the sun itself.

And as the mushroom cloud drifted further up, the sky began to darken.


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