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 Post subject: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:10 pm 
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_________________________________ Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict _________________________________

Battlestar Libra
Pilots' Briefing Room
Day 340 0530 Hours


"Next item," Captain Gary Rudnik, the Libra's CAG, announced. Quiet settled over the room, only the noises of shifting chairs and the creak of leather flight suits sounding as all eyes turned to the podium and the officer standing beside Captain Rudnik. There had been whispered speculation about the black-uniformed man who had stood patiently at attention throughout the pilots' briefing, but until now the morning routine had been exactly that - routine and unremarkable, assignment of the CAP rotation, discussion of Viper and Raptor maintenance, normal everyday material for the pilots of the Battlestar Libra.

Now Major David Dedrick took the podium, quietly speaking his thanks to the CAG before addressing the assembled pilots. "Good morning," he said, looking out across the group. "Lieutenant Watson, Lieutenant Mayfield, you are to report to the Flight Deck at 0700 hours to fly Falcons One and Three on a Search and Destroy mission." As a murmur passed through the room, Dedrick continued. "Prep for long-range reconnaissance, and verify your supplies personally. Your weapons loadout has been set and transmitted to the deck crew already."

In the third row of assembled pilots, Derek "Cowboy" Watson leaned forward, bumping fists with the slender pilot that sat two chairs away. "Sorry, Preacher," he whispered to the officer seated between them, "but it looks like someone decided not to let you hog all the flight time."

Preacher shot a glance at Lieutenant Mayfield, then faced Watson. "Drew can have this one, sir," he replied with an easy grin.

"Captain McPeek," Dedrick said, naming the Crusader squadron leader, "You will select three members of your squadron to accompany yourself as escort for the Ranger Scouts. As stated, prep for long-range recon and verify your own supplies. Captain, you'll have command of the mission."

"And what is our target, Major?" McPeek asked, a trace of humor showing in his eyes. Spooks, he thought, always dragging out the details for every ounce of drama...

Dedrick faced McPeek, holding his gaze for a long, silent moment. "You'll be leading your birds back to destroy the beacon satellite in the star system designated 'Haystack'. There won't be much 'search' to this mission; you were there when we located the satellite, now it is time to go back and eliminate it. The Ranger Scouts will prosecute the target and make a full record of the beacon's destruction for review by senior officers. The Crusaders will escort the mission and assure its completion. We are now over 70 light years from that infrared star system, so it's going to be a long haul." Dedrick paused, looking from McPeek to Mayfield and Watson, "Any questions?"

Lieutenant Chris Freeman, one of the Crusader pilots, raised a hand. At a nod from Dedrick, he asked, "Major, what about any other groups of survivors? Aren't we closing the door on them if we kill the beacon?"

McPeek shot Freeman a dark look, but Dedrick simply drew his lips into a thoughtful line. "A fair question, Lieutenant," the MILINT chief responded. "It is true, we will be erasing the trail to Earth, removing it so that another group would be unable to follow it. But we'll also be preventing its discovery by the Cylons, and while the presence of another group of human survivors is uncertain, our pursuit by the cylons is not. The Admiral has considered this at length, and decided not to leave any loose ends."

Major Dedrick stepped back from the podium, and Captain Rudnik replaced him. "You have your orders," Rudnik said to the assembled pilots. "Dismissed!"


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:44 pm 
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Fifty-seven days earlier...


Fleet Tanker Distant Sun
Mid watch, Day 283


Lieutenant Daniel Coulter, XO of the Distant Sun, stood with his hands braced against a bulkhead, breathing heavily. He was up before the morning watch and had just run the length of the tanker's spine three times, a two-kilometer distance. Having started at the forward end where crew quarters - and most everything else - were located, he was now at the aft-most compartment of the tanker, the shuttle bay. With no traffic scheduled it was unmanned and dimly lit, the small noises of the ship echoing quietly, impressing the size of the hangar upon Coulter's ears. Only the tylium tank modules were larger, and Coulter could count on one hand the number of times he'd been inside one of those.

Between his hands lay a small viewport, and beyond it several of the fleet's ships were arrayed astern the tanker. Coulter could make out the form of the Harvest Moon, its immense bulk faintly illuminated by the local star. Nearby hung one of the Cloud Nine class liners. Coulter knew it would be the Catalina, for the damaged Nimbus would be in formation nearer to the battlestars.

Some of the rush from his run faded as Coulter's thoughts turned to the other victims of the cylon attacks, the Fleet personnel who perished when the Bellerophon and Griffyn were damaged and the civilians who died aboard Pan Galactic 402. He tried to banish the pain of that knowledge with thoughts of the Order's success on Oasis. Only a dozen days earlier, nine people had stood within the tomb of Kallistos and discovered a secret. That secret had put the Libra fleet onto the trail of navigation beacons that should lead them to Earth.

It was a fragile thing to hang his hopes upon, but Daniel Coulter had to believe. The legends of the Order maintained that the path to Earth had been 'taken up', which most interpreted to mean that the navigational satellites had been removed or destroyed. Now they knew differently. The clues from the tomb had led the fleet to the infrared star, and the Chiron had activated one of the beacons - proof not only that the path had once existed, but also that at least a portion of it still remained. That transported his youthful fascination with Earth and his grandfather's beloved Order of the Dragon into the realm of fact, and though doubts circled and nipped at his faith, Daniel believed that the fleet was destined to find the beacons, one after another, until they were led to the home of the Thirteenth Tribe.

Daniel Coulter drew in a deep breath, holding it as his eyes traced the form of the Harvest Moon one more time. He let it out, closing his eyes for a moment, then turned and crossed the shadows of the hangar bay to a hatchway. Passing through it, he returned to the central passageway that ran the length of the tanker and loped off toward the bow of the ship.

Half an hour remained before the morning watch. Enough time for a shower and a cup of coffee.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:16 pm 
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Battlestar Libra
Port Upper Flight Pod
Day 283 0815 Hours


Captain Chris Pike stood by the nose of a Viper, watching as the pilots of Archangel Squadron approached. The squadron XO, Lieutenant Gloria Mendez, was leading them in a run as part of morning PT. Around them the flight deck was already a hive of activity as the repair crews continued the round-the-clock task of getting Libra's planes ready to fight again. Pike silently admired the dedication of the knuckledraggers, a slight grin creeping onto his face as Chief MacLean's voice drifted to him above the noises of a working crew.

"No, Specialist, you will get off my flight deck and get a meal and some rack time," the Chief admonished. Pike didn't need to look - he knew some well-meaning but weary mechanic had tried to stay beyond the night shift, but MacLean had caught them. "If I see you back here before twenty-hundred hours you'll be cleaning gun cameras all night." Pike chuckled quietly at the threat, knowing that MacLean wouldn't really carry it out during this critical period, but certain that the knuckledragger got the Chief's meaning.

The sound of running feet kept Pike from hearing a response, if there was any, and he turned his attention back to the Archangels. As their formation passed, Pikes eyes sought one particular pilot, and he barked out a name.

"McCue!"

Lieutenant Tim McCue fell out, cutting aside as he ran and then quickly slowing. He then jogged a few paces until he faced his squadron commander and came to attention, saluting. "Sir, yes sir?"

"At ease, Lieutenant." Pike let the order, as well at their location, signal his intent that this discussion was serious but not formal.

"Sir," McCue repeated, acknowledging Pike's command. He placed his hands behind his back, clasped, and widened his stance, then waited for Captain Pike to speak.

Pike ran his hand through dirty-blond hair. Cropped short, it still managed to look unruly and only added to the impression that he was a decade younger than his forty years. Pike looked at McCue, fifteen years his junior and nearly three inches taller. McCue's brown hair was short on the sides, but the top was longer and threatening to fall into the pilot's blue eyes. A few days' growth of beard showed on McCue's jawline, darker than Pike's short-clipped goatee. A stranger might think the two men to be roughly the same age.

"It's been thirty days since we lost Dusty," Pike began, referring to McCue's prior wingleader. "Out here that's already more time that we can afford for mourning, Tim." McCue's head had bowed at the mention of the dead pilot, but he looked back up when Pike addressed him by his first name. "If you want to keep flying, you've got to tighten back up. You've always been one I could depend on to follow regs, to keep up protocols. Talk to your squadron while you're out there. Talk to your wingleader. If you can't do that, I can assign you to teach comms to the nuggets. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," McCue responded, grimacing at the thought of doing communications drills with the pilots-in-training.

"Now catch up with the squadron, Lieutenant. Double-time."

McCue took off at a brisk run after snapping a salute. Pike stood for a moment, watching him, his mind on a memorandum that lay on his desk. It was a list of open assignments within the Fleet, jobs for which an active combat pilot had been requested. Maybe what he needs is something beyond just the break that helping train the nuggets would allow, Pike thought. Maybe it's what the Archangels need, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:56 pm 
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Battlestar Libra
Black Crows Ready Room
Day 283



Watch… rewind… watch.

Watch… rewind… watch.

The room was dark with the exception of the projection screen behind the podium. The pilot’s briefing room for the Black Crows squadron was sparse save for a few photos on the wall, a flight roster hastily written on a dry erase board, and two flags that stood in their floor holders to each side of the screen. The flag on the left was the flag of the unified twelve colonies. On the right was the flag of the Battlestar Libra. Above the projection screen a plaque adorned the largest free area of the bulkhead. The plaque was the unit crest of the Black Crows, the 172nd intercept squadron.

Upon the floor of the room sat eighteen seats, all bolted to the floor, and in three rows of six seats each. There were three seats on either side of an open walkway that led to the hatch and the corridor beyond. Each successive row sat elevated from the row in front of it.

Quickdraw watched the retrieved gun camera footage of Draco’s viper over and over. As with the networked systems in all of the newer colonial systems, gun camera footage as well as monitoring systems were transmitted to the base ship via an encrypted wireless beam. The result was an instantaneous archive of all combat operations in a given theater. Normally it would have taken the intelligence unit weeks to get to the gun camera footage from her viper. This wasn’t a normal situation though. Within hours of QuickDraw touching down on the deck of the Libra, he'd been standing in the doorway of the intelligence unit demanding the footage of all of his Vipers. He was going to make certain he knew what happened to Draco. It was a promise he made to her, and to himself.

In the open hatchway of the Black Crow’s ready room stood a lone figure, silhouetted against the lights of the causeway behind. With the lack of lighting in the ready room, save for the flicker of the video on the screen, the person in the doorway was in complete shadow. If Quickdraw paid any attention to anything but the footage he was watching, he did not show.

“Nick?” Divot asked from the hatchway. Her voice was subdued and sounded as if it were far off. She watched intently for him to make a move, to turn and look at her, or to even acknowledge her presence. All she got in return was a continued image of the back of his head, his right arm held up with a remote control, and a continued loop of the gun camera footage on the presentation screen. She took a few tentative steps within the hatchway. “Nick, what are you doing?” Again, it was as if he didn’t even know she was there. Either he was too enthralled with what he was watching, or had chosen to ignore her completely. Perhaps it was a combination of both.

“What you want, Divot?” QuickDraw finally replied, not taking his eyes off the screen in front of them.

“What are you doing in here?" Divot began to slowly walk towards the front of the ready room. She stopped in the aisle slightly behind QuickDraw and looked up at the screen. After a few moments of watching the footage, she suddenly realized exactly what was playing before her. A wave of panic slowly began to creep up her spine. She tried her best to hide it and stayed behind him.

“Doing exactly what I told everyone I would be doing when we touched down. I want to know exactly what happened.” QuickDraw glanced slightly to his left. “Draco was too good of a pilot to have been hit like that. I’m going to find out exactly what happened and when I do the person responsible is going to pay.”

“Come on Nick, we’re at war. People die in war all the time. There’s absolutely nothing anyone could have done to save her. All you’re doing is killing yourself slowly over will probably have been her time. You’ve said it yourself many times - when it’s your time to go there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”

QuickDraw paused the video and snapped his head around. “Do you really believe that? That her death was merely her time to die?” He slowly stood from his seat and turned to face her. “I think that’s bullshit. Those frakking toasters weren’t flying good enough to even beat a three-year-old in a video game. The only person that seemed to have problems was you.” QuickDraw’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Divot. He leaned in closer, his face becoming red with anger. “As I remember it, she had to fly out there and save your ass for getting blown out of the sky. Thanks to you, your wingman was vaporized! So don’t tell me it was Draco’s time to go. Something went wrong and I am going to find out what the hell happened.”

Divot wanted to say something, she wanted to put her hand out and touch his shoulder, to tell him things were all right. More so, she wanted him to stop watching the video. She knew what he would find there. She knew that he would find out the truth.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me Captain, I have some work to do.” QuickDraw turned his head back to the screen and hit the resume button on the remote. The screen began to flicker in the footage from the gun camera came back online.

Divot turned very slowly as if she was in great pain and began to walk out of the ready room. She’d only taken two steps when her worst nightmare was realized.

“What… The… Holy… Frak!” QuickDraw screamed. He bolted out of his seat staring at the screen. Suddenly, he spun around and glared at Divot. “You, it was you, Gods Dammit!” QuickDraw slowly started walking towards her.

She wanted to run, she wanted to say something. All she could do, however, was stand there frozen in place. She opened her mouth as if to speak but only a light whimper past her lips.

He couldn’t believe what he had just seen. It was as if his entire world had been flipped upside down and he had been dumped on the floor. Nothing that had happened to him to this point since the beginning of the Holocaust had affected him as greatly as this. “You, it was you. What the frak have you done?”

“I… I didn’t mean for anything like that to happen Nick, you have to believe me. I had turned on him and had lined up the best shot I thought I would ever get. How was I to know that he would bank away and she would be there. I never intended to shoot her ship. Even worse, I panicked and kept flying. I know what I’ve done is inexcusable, but I panicked.” She took a tentative step forward. “Nick, I’m so… So sorry. If I could do anything to change what happened I would. You’ve got to believe me.” Divot’s voice was weak and trembling. As she stood there, she could see the video imposed on the screen ahead. It was running in the loop and continued to show the depths of what she had done. She remembered back to what felt like an eternity ago.

Day 280

Viper combat over Oasis
The attacking cylon raiders did their absolute best to break through and destroy the colonial fleet above Oasis prior to them leaving the system. Every squadron from both Libra and Taurus were engaged in active heavy combat to provide the retreating civilians a chance at survival. While the raiders weren’t exactly adept at their attempts to destroy the humans, they had numbers. Those numbers added up to almost a five to one ratio. By itself that gave the sidelines a definite advantage.

Divot was a better-than-average pilot. She was rough on her planes and a general pain in the ass but she could fly. Her major problem was a lack of confidence at times and bad decision-making at others. With the tremendous number of enemy ships in the area, it was a target rich environment. The only problem was, however, she had a hard time choosing which target to prosecute. This problem exacerbated itself to the point that when she chose a target, more often than not she was in a bad position and had to work that much harder to take down her enemy. This is exactly what happened just before Draco was killed.

She had decided to go after a particularly agile raider, which had been able to avoid her for most of the engagement. She felt she got the better of it when it began to slowly come out of a dive and into her crosshairs. She mashed the trigger but her bullets went wide. The raider immediately noticed it and changed its flight path with a quick as turn and it dove underneath her. She gave chase, inverting her viper, yanking back on the stick, and following. At the same time, she transmitted her position and said she needed some help. Draco answered the call and said she would be there momentarily. That’s the last thing Divot actually recalled with any definite clarity. That was, until Draco was hit.

The raider had made another mistake and started to come out of another series of turns with Divot directly over top of it. She fired another burst from the guns in her viper and as the raider turned away, she yanked the stick back and followed it. She ignored everything else but the cylon fighter in front of her. She lined up the enemy in her sights and mash the trigger one last time. Just as her guns opened up the raider Brook to the right and her rounds went wide. Those rounds impacted Draco’s viper as she was coming in from the front to help Divot. Suddenly everything slowed down and Divot panicked. Instead of trying to help, she hit the afterburners and flew away to a spot far removed from what had happened.



“You have to believe me Nick, I never intended for that to happen. If I could do anything to take it back I would.” Tears ran down Divot’s face.

Consumed with rage and trying his best to control it QuickDraw turned his attention from the vid screen and stared coldly into Divot’s eyes. “All you had to do,” he said in the sneering whisper, “was simply to radio your position so someone could get there. Accidents happen Divot, what you did was negligent, and borderline traitorous.” As he spoke to her, his teeth were bared in a feral snarl. “Now gods dammit, you need to give me one good reason why I shouldn’t drag you onto the flight deck and flush you out of an airlock.”

Divot could sense his hatred now. It was a seething, living thing. Suddenly, Divot was very afraid. More afraid than any centurion ever made her. All she wanted to do was to disappear, to get away from all of this. “So… So what do we do now?”

“We?” QuickDraw clenched his fists so hard his knuckles turned white. “What is this we shit? All you’ve done, Divot, is prove to me you don’t deserve to be sitting in the cockpit of a viper. If it were up to me, the only flying you would be doing is from a navigator’s chair on the prison ship. You can’t be trusted anymore. I don’t know anybody in this squadron who would be willing to fly with you. As far as I’m concerned you might as well stay on deck.”

Despite her fear, Divot began to get angry. “You’re only saying that because you had feelings for Rayna. If it had been me none of this would be happening.”

QuickDraw’s fist lashed out and connected with Divot’s jaw. The impact was strong enough to stagger her. “Who the Frak do you think you are saying that? You’re trying to turn this around. The only thing you need to be concerned about is whether I rip your flight status from you and kick you off this ship! ”

Divot spat on the deck, a combination of blood and saliva. “You can’t do that, the only person that can do that is Captain Rudnick.” She rubbed her swelling jaw with her left hand.

“Do you want to bet your life on that? You seem to forget I’m your squadron leader. In this situation, I can do damn well what I please. Don’t you ever forget that. Now get the hell out of my face before I decide to wipe yours all over the floor.” Pushing past her QuickDraw walked away before the temptation to beat her into unconsciousness overtook him.


Battlestar Libra
Mess Hall
Day 283


“So, there he was without his rifle, his pack, and his pants, hiding in a thicket of brambles. He was definitely a sight,” Zayne laughed.

Asanus shook his head slowly and mouthed the words ‘you die’ to his friend. “True, but I did win the bet. Top that one.”

“Are you serious?” Ashley exclaimed, a smile spread across her face. She sat at the table next to Asanus and the other members of Shadow Team. Present were Riley, Zayne, Vinoli, and Barkley. It was nice for her to be able to see everyone relax after the hell they had gone through over the past several weeks. Just being with them as they made jokes and told stories was the best thing she had done in longer than she could remember.

Riley leaned back in his chair and stretched. “I’ve got to admit though, that was the most unique way I’ve seen somebody get away from a SERE school capture team in all my years with the military. I’ll never forget the look on the Commandant’s face when we pulled you out of there. I thought his head was going to explode.”

Barkley shook his head in amusement. “I don’t know what was funnier, the Commandant’s reaction or the fact our buddy Mister Asanus had to walk back the entire twenty-five miles with everything hanging out in the wind.”

Zayne was next to jump on the pile. “Yeah, everything may have been hanging out but the fifteen hundred cubits he won was worth it I’m sure. I know I had a long wait until payday after that.”

Riley smiled and his attention was drawn towards the hatchway in time to see Rodrigues enter. A young deckhand saw him enter and jumped up from the table to announce the admiral’s presence. Rodrigues held up his hand before the young crewman could say anything.

Rodrigues locked eyes with Riley and nodded. After a quick wave, he walked over towards the table where the group sat. “Mind if I join you?”

Ashley, originally at ease with everyone there began to get a bit nervous. Asanus saw this, reached over, and squeezed her hand.

Rodrigues pulled a chair from a neighboring table, turned it around and sat down, leaning his arms against the backrest. A young crewmember appeared and sat down a cup of coffee in front of Rodrigues’s place. He looked up and nodded, “thank you.”

“Finally able to get a few minutes free?” Riley asked.

Rodrigues nodded, smiling. “Seems like these days the only time I get away from CIC is when I get a few minutes for rack time. How about you guys, enjoying the downtime?”

Zayne nodded, “yes sir, I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve actually slept a full twelve hours. I could get used to this.” He raised his glass in a small salute and took a drink.

“Has there been any word about the situation on Oasis? Riley asked. He glanced over at Ashley who, although somewhat timid being in the presence of a fleet admiral was also interested in what he had to say.

Rodrigues shook his head. “Not since the last update. The only thing we can do now is to make certain the tin cans don’t follow us. I've put out an order to have any beacons we have been following destroyed in place. It means no one can follow us, including anyone from the colonies. It means the Cylons won’t be able to follow us either.”

It was one of the harder decisions he had to make recently. He understood and fully accepted the fact that he needed to do something to keep the enemy from chasing him. Unfortunately, it also meant that he had to cut off any link to earth from anyone else who happened to survive the Holocaust. He had to look at it simply as a situation in which they were the only ones left. Even though he knew the Galactica was still out there, he hadn’t heard of anything else. There were times he wondered if any other vessels survived. At one point, the unified colonial fleet consisted of several hundred warships, from battlestars, to destroyers, to cruisers. He knew the Atlantia was gone along with Admiral Nagala. Nevertheless, what about the other ships? What about the Osiris, the Agamemnon, the Valkyrie, and the Prometheus? It made him wonder about all those ships that weren’t in the system at the time of the attacks. What about the Cortina?

Having found the shuttle from the Cortina on Oasis gave him a small bit of hope at first. Maybe she was still out there somewhere. Maybe she was going back to the colonies.

At first, he felt that there was a possibility to find the Cortina. Even though the crash of the shuttle happened several years before there was always a chance. That wish was a short-lived one. The intelligence section assigned two officers to parse through all of the communications records, all of the sensor data, and all of the logs from the wrecked shuttle. It had taken close to two weeks however; a good picture of what had happened could finally be constructed. The shuttle Merton found on the far side of Oasis was the last shuttle to be launched by the Cortina everyone else on the ship was gone with the exception of the ship’s captain, Rodrigues’ wife. At the time of the launch, the Cortina was on minimal power and had been drifting. The engines had been damaged and there were no parts for repair. Life-support was intact and there were ample supplies and food however it was believed there was only a matter of time before something else would happen. Major Rodrigues ordered the evacuation of the Cortina. The shuttles were to follow the last known route she had taken, that route took the Cortina close to Oasis. According to the logs, the Cortina did not make contact with the people from Oasis but noted their location, which would have been provided to fleet headquarters upon the Cortina’s return to the colonies.
Major Rodrigues decision to remain with the Cortina was not one she chose to be a martyr but for purely practical reasons. The last ship out had room for five people which included enough food and water to survive until they could reach Oasis. To add a sixth person would have placed everyone in jeopardy. That final shuttle had no jump capability and would have had to travel at normal speed. They had been in space for ten days when they finally reached Oasis. At that point, the shuttle had run out of fuel and entered the atmosphere on fumes.

“Is everything alright sir,” Barkley asked.

Rodrigues snapped out of his contemplation. “Yeah, yeah I’m all right. I was just thinking about something.”

“So,” Riley continued. “You were saying something about the beacons?”

“Yes, I was. In order to give us the best chance to get away I have decided the chance is too great that the Cylons will find the beacons and be able to follow us. It seems like our best option at this point is to send a ship back and knock them out. That will break any link between Oasis and Earth. It’s not something I want to do,” Rodrigues glanced down at the table for a second and then back up at the group. “If there was anything else I could do to make sure we stay safe trust me I would do it. This is the only thing I can think of. We have to face facts, our homes are gone and in all reality, we are the only ones left. So instead of worrying whether or not anyone will be able to find us and join us, we need to concern ourselves with survival.”

Somberly, everyone nodded. “Admiral, may I ask a question?” Ashley looked expectantly at Rodrigues.

“By all means, what can I do you for?” Rodrigues winked and gave a slight lopsided grin as he looked at the young intelligence officer.

“If we are destroying the beacons does that mean we will never go back to Oasis?” Her voice trembled slightly.

“I would love to say that we will be going back. But we have to deal with things as they are now. The Cylon’s have invaded Oasis and I can guarantee you they are there in force. Most likely, they will have numerous ships in orbit and legions of troops on the ground. This fleet doesn’t have enough warships to be able to handle that. If we were to return now it would be suicide. I’m not saying we will never go back to Oasis but right now we can’t.”

Ashley’s face showed sadness and she looked down at the table. “You know, even though there’s nothing there for me anymore, even though I feel as if you are all more of a family to me in the few weeks I’ve known you then in my entire lifetime on that planet, I can’t help but feel sad about the chance of never going there again.”

Asanus squeezed her hand again slightly. “I know how you feel. The colonies are completely gone. We’ve all lost our homes, and our families. Many people here have absolutely no one and feel they are completely alone in the universe. The one thing that we have is each other.” He turned to her and looked in her eyes. “You have your daughter, and you have us.”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at the man who she felt was her savior. “And I have you,” she looked at the others at the table. “If it weren’t for you, all of you, my daughter and I would be dead. You can’t know how much I’m indebted to you. You’ve taken us from a life that had no chance, no future. Thank you, thank you all.”

“No Ashley, thank you. You’ve given this group of weary soldiers a reason to keep on fighting.” Riley replied.

“For in the darkest hour, the darkest of night, or the worst of times, fear not,” Vinoli said softly.

“For you are not alone. Be not afraid for we will protect you,” Barkley added.

“We will guide you towards the light, we will right that which is wrong, and we will stand between you and evil,” Asanus said.

“We strike down those who wish to terrorize the innocent. We are the shield, we are the sword, we are justice.” Zayne continued.

Riley looked at the man across the table from him and at Rodrigues. “Though our enemies are mighty, they are also weak. For they will not see us coming. Where evil looks in fear, we will be. We are their worst nightmare, we are ghosts, we are specters, we are shadows.”

Rodrigues looked at each of the men and slowly held up his mug. Riley, Asanus, Vinoli, Zayne, and Barkley all held their glasses up to his. “Let our enemies tremble in fear, for we will destroy them. Let those whom we protect fear not, for we will always protect them.” He touched his mug to their glasses and they all drank. It had been a long time since the members of Shadow Team had recited the team motto. It was as if they were all sitting in the barracks and colonial intelligence headquarters again.

Ashley looked at the men seated around the table and smiled. These people were truly a different breed. The people from the colonies were nothing like she had always been taught. These were caring, kind people. She and her daughter were truly blessed to be with them. She glanced down at her watch. “I think I need to go check in on the little one, she’s had a very busy few days.” She stood to leave and paused. Thinking for a second, she knelt down and kissed the top of Asanus’ head. Without saying another word, she left.

“Think I’ll hit the rack,” Barkley said. “I’ve been trying to sub in for Doctor DeValera’s people to give them a break.” He stood gave Asanus a quick pat on the shoulder and walked out.

Vinoli, Zayne, and Asanus all stood. After a quick exchange of goodbyes, the three men left, heading off to their quarters or to other areas they were needed, leaving Riley and Rodrigues alone.

“I’ve been thinking,” Rodrigues began. “You guys have been taking the brunt of every surgical strike mission we’ve had since this started. Have you considered at any point in starting up another team?”

Riley nodded. “As a matter of fact I have. I’ve been working this out for the past couple of days and I think I may have a solution that would help us achieve more of our objectives. Have you got a minute?”

“Definitely, what have you got?”

“Actually, I’m thinking of three more teams. The sizes, however, are going to vary depending on the mission. The first group that comes to mind would be a unit that handles larger scale special operations missions, such as high-risk ship boardings. I was thinking of assigning the spectres with this task. Duncan’s former special operations and he has a great resource. I can’t think of anyone better than him to run that team. Additionally he’ll have at his disposal a smaller group of personnel within the specter unit that he can assign more surgical high-risk tasks to. Kind of like a team within a team.”

Rodrigues nodded, “sounds interesting. I like it. I can see quite a few uses for a group like this. Not to mention taking over a large ship but even more so seizing ground targets as well.”

“Exactly, we could use them in the same way McAllister had his team set up to do raids on terrorist compounds located on Troy.”

“Do you see any issues with setting that group up?” Rodrigues asked.

“Not one problem, Duncan will make sure it gets done right.”

Rodrigues liked Scott Duncan. He had turned out to be a fine addition to the Mardet. “Okay, what else have you got?”

“Another team can be formed that would handle situations such as specialized interdiction, training of indigenous personnel, and high-value target suppression. They will work hand-in-hand with shadow team when we need a diversion or a secondary surgical strike team. I’m thinking of asking Dedrick if he wants this job.”

“Sounds good, we could also use them to conduct specialized training to the troops should we ever get the time. Maybe we should have him draft most of his people from the force recon element.” Rodrigues smiled. He knew Riley would be on top of this. He really liked where it was heading.

“The last group would be a specialized attachment of the force recon Marines. We’ll use them for reconnaissance, more akin to the long-range surveillance units we operated on Tauron. They’ll be inserted and will operate autonomously for days, and even weeks at a time. We’ll use them to transmit information back to command-and-control regarding troop movements, emplacements, and anything else we need to know before an operation. We can also dedicate a few sniper teams to this unit to handle any special requests.”

“Do you have anybody in mind to run this unit?”

“I have a few, although want to talk to them first before I make any decisions.” Riley looked up past Rodrigues’ shoulder to see QuickDraw enter the mess hall. QuickDraw walked up to a cabinet and grabbed a glass. Then picked up a bottle of alcohol from the cart next to it. Turning, QuickDraw walked over to an empty table in the far corner, pulled out a chair, and set. Pulled the top off the bottle and filled half the glass. He then just sat there and stared at it. Riley returned his attention back to his commander. “So what you think boss?”

“Doesn’t seem like you’re leaving yourself and the rest of shadow team with a lot of things to do.” Rodrigues chuckled. He knew shadow team had plenty to do. Hostage rescue, pinpoint strike missions, high-value target neutralization, etc. Knowing Riley the way he did Rodrigues could be sure shadow team would not be staying out of anything. “I think, Colonel, in the downtime you have, it would be best served to get this stuff in motion. You have my blessing. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I better try and get some down time while I can.”

“Aye sir,” Riley stood with Rodrigues as the admiral turned and left. He began to walk towards the door but paused. Looking over he saw QuickDraw still seated at the table, unmoving. He turned and walked towards the table where the young pilot sat. “Do you mind if I have a seat?” He said.

QuickDraw looked up from his glass and, seeing the Marine Colonel standing in front of him, began to stand.

“No need for that,” Riley said.

“Please, help yourself.” QuickDraw said. “I don’t know how much company I’ll be but you’re welcome to sit here if you want.”

Riley sat down and looked at the captain in front of him. He could tell something was troubling QuickDraw. “I wanted to personally say thank you for helping us out over Oasis. If it wasn’t for you and the rest of the squadron we probably would’ve been spread all over the atmosphere like PG402.”

QuickDraw turned his gaze to his drink. For whatever unknown reason he didn’t have the stomach to want to even drink it. Not looking up he answered, “That’s what we're here for Sir. We lost good people though.”

Riley nodded, “I heard. I’m sorry for your loss.” Riley could tell QuickDraw wasn’t in the mood to say too much more. “I just wanted to say thank you. If you need anything my door is always open.” Riley rose and began to leave.

“Does it ever get any easier? I mean, do you ever get used to losing people?” QuickDraw finally looked up from his glass.

“Easier, absolutely not.” Riley shook his head. “Not only does it not get easier, sometimes it gets even harder. The thing you need to remember is that when it begins to not matter, that’s when there’s a problem. We are all members of the military, sure, but were also people. Losing someone, no matter who that person is, isn’t meant to be easy. Take your grief, your anger, and your hatred, and put it away for a time when you need it. Don’t ever let it consume you, or you’ll be dead. You’ll make mistakes that will get you or someone else killed.”

QuickDraw nodded. “Sometimes I think being a viper pilot is a mistake.”

“You are a viper pilot for a reason. You’re there to keep us alive. I can’t handle things in the air as you can. I have to have ground under my feet.”

“I just wish sometimes all of this could end. All we do is run and the only thing we get out of it is a bullet in the back of the head.”

Riley exhaled slowly, “what we get out of this, QuickDraw, is the knowledge that we’re protecting innocent people. I don’t know about you but that’s all I know. And as long as I’m here, as long as there is an enemy trying to exterminate us, I’m going to do my job.”

That statement seemed to snap in QuickDraw’s head. He looked up at Riley. “Thank you sir, I appreciate it.” As Riley left, QuickDraw looked at the glass in front of him. He lifted it up and drained the contents. “I know what I need to do now,” he whispered.

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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:03 pm 
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Battlestar Libra
Day 283, Early evening

Chief Alexandra MacLean stood uncertainly outside the hatch to the Libra’s sickbay. She turned to leave, then turned back. “Oh, frakkit,” she finally muttered crossly to herself, and went in.

She turned and walked down the inner passage to the medical admin offices, stopping in front of Monica Fox’s desk. She wasn’t surprised to see the tall, blonde woman there—relieved, actually, because that meant Dr. DeValera was still on duty.

“Hello, Chief,” Monica greeted Libra’s Deck Chief warmly. “How are you doing?” Monica could see that Mac was troubled, and her question held genuine concern.

Mac sighed. “I could be better, sir,” she said. “Do you think Dr. DeValera would have a little time to talk to me?”

“I think he’d just finishing up some paperwork,” Monica told the small knuckledragger, standing. “Let me check.” She went into DeValera’s office, closing the hatch behind her.

“What’s up, Monica?” DeValera asked, looking up from the medical records on his desk.

“Mac’s here, Ralph,” she told him. “And she looks… stressed. She wants to talk to you.”

“Of course,” the physician nodded, closing the folder and putting it to the side.

“Frankie…?” Monica said.

Ralph grimaced slightly. “Probably,” he said, getting up and going to her. He gave her a small smile, smoothing his hand over her pregnancy and kissing her cheek. “I’ll close up shop here when we’re done talking… see if you can round up some dinner for us and I’ll meet you in our quarters later.”

She nodded, stepping out as he opened the hatch.

“Mac, come on in,” DeValera said to mechanic.

“Thanks, sir,” Mac said to Monica, then followed DeValera into his office, hovering hesitantly.

“Have a seat, Mac,” he said, closing the hatch. He went to sit in one of the comfortable chairs at one end of his office, and Mac sat in the other. She didn’t relax, though, sitting straight, her hands on her knees.

“How’s business?” he asked her casually, sitting back in the chair and resting an elbow on the chair arm.

“Oh, it’s all right,” she said, clearly more comfortable with a safe topic. “I’ve been trying to help out with the Viper manufacturing line… we don’t have enough trained mechanics to staff it properly, and half of them are fleet civilians who’ve never worked maintenance before. They’re doing okay, but we just don’t have enough people to train them, or to get everything done quick enough.” She shrugged. “I’m used to that sort of problem, though. We’ll sort it out.”

He nodded with understanding. “I’m sure you will,” he agreed. “But you’re not here about a backlog with Viper production.”

Mac sighed again. “No, sir,” she said. “You know why I’m here.”

“Frankie,” he stated.

She nodded. “I know he’s been coming to see you, because he wasn’t happy that Gunnery Sergeant Razorski ordered him to and he bitched about that. But he…” her voice trailed off. She breathed in and out and then continued, “I know you can’t talk about his sessions with you. But I don’t think… it doesn’t seem like… he’s really trying. To get over k-- shooting Dr. Valliant.” She’s almost said ‘killing’, but that wasn’t true. The eighth cylon model known as Sarah Valliant had resurrected and returned to the Fleet.

“What has he said to you?” DeValera asked intently.

“Nothing,” she grumbled. “He has nightmares. And he’s been drinking too much. And he doesn’t want to have sex or even touch and kiss. I know it’s really bothering him, but he says everything is fine.” She looked down at her hands, clenched together between her thighs. “He doesn’t act like anything is fine, no matter what he says,” she said softly, “and most of the time it seems like he doesn’t even want to be with me. He doesn’t come home most nights and tells me he’s on duty but I know he’s not.”

DeValera waited silently.

“You know he actually shot her… that model… twice,” the Chief said abruptly, looking up. “On Pythos, too, when he was doing sniper duty. He didn’t see her face, then, but he told me about it. After he shot Dr. Valliant. He knew, then, that he’d shot her before.”

The doctor nodded.

“He’s… bitter. And depressed. And angry. He said he thinks it’s his destiny to destroy her, not just Dr. Valliant, but all of her… that model,” Mac’s voice was so low, DeValera had to listen closely to hear her. She was looking down again, a silver glint of a tear dropping from her cheek. “It’s like he’s a whole different person. It’s only been ten days since… I know it’s hard. But I don’t know what to do. To help him.”

Dr. DeValera breathed out slowly. Quietly, he said, “There’s not much any of us can do to help, until he wants to help himself.”

Mac looked at him, scrubbing the tear-track on her face with the heel of her hand. “What should I do?” she asked him, gulping. “I have to do… something.”

“Keep on caring,” he said gently. “Keep on being yourself. Don’t take his behavior personally—it’s not against you, it’s against himself.”

“Should I try to make him talk?” she asked. “Or pretend everything is fine? Should I ignore when he’s angry, or… fight back? Should I try to cheer him up, or just leave him alone?”

Slowly, DeValera shook his head. “I don’t know, Mac,” he said softly. “Right now, he doesn’t want help. Hopefully he’ll soon see that he needs it.”

“I don’t know, Doc,” she said, close to tears again. “He won’t take the medicine you gave him. He won’t listen to anyone, not even Razor or any of his friends. I’m afraid he’ll do something… bad.”

“Has he said anything about wanting to kill himself?” he asked intently.

She shook her head, swallowing hard. “No, but he wants to go back into combat, fight the cylons again. And he tried to get into a fight with Dan—Lance Corporal Wolfe. It’s like, like he’s trying to find a way to get in trouble. Trying to find a way to punish himself.”

“That’s a common reaction for what he’s been through,” DeValera said, leaning forward to put his hand on Mac’s shoulder. “It’s important that you don’t blame yourself for what he’s struggling with. The best thing you can do for him is to take care of yourself. Be yourself. Trust your instincts. Don’t give up—but don’t let him drag you down, either.”

Mac finally sat back in the chair, rubbing her face with both hands. “It’s so—frakking—hard,” she said with frustration. “And I’m not even the person it happened to. I can’t imagine what he’s feeling.”

“None of us can,” DeValera replied. “Even if we’ve been through similar circumstances, each person has their own way of dealing with it. Keep on being strong, and come talk to me any time you need to.”

She gave him a lopsided smile. “I don’t feel strong,” she told him.

“You are, though,” he smiled back.

She nodded. “We all are, to have survived the incomprehensible,” she sighed. She stood, and he got up, also. “Thanks, Doc,” she said.

“Any time,” he repeated, “come talk to me.”

“I will,” she promised, straightening her spine, and she walked out with resolution in her step.

“Let’s hope he sees reason before it’s too late,” DeValera murmured to himself. He turned off the lights in his office and left, dogging the hatch behind himself.

_________________
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, about budget cuts for the US’s intelligence agencies: "We're not going to do more with less and all these other clichés. . . . We will just simply have less capability."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:35 am 
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Highlands Dawn
Presidential Suite
Evening of Day 283


It was finally a quiet moment for Andy Meyers, the President of the Fleet and Quorum of Twelve. The day had been all about numbers: dead, missing and new. Like most of the government, he didn't have a grasp of how many people were in the fleet. The last days over Oasis had been an insane mess, especially right before the Cylons appeared. Colonials and Oasians had been crammed into ships, shuttles and every transport that had open spaces that could go planetside.

Now, the Colonials were in the process of identifying everyone they could. Due to the hectic nature of the last day of evacuations, not everyone had documents. Some had already been moved around the fleet. Documenting and getting a good census of the fleet was much harder.

Andy next looked at the list of the dead. That list, for the most part, was easier to put together. It was filled with the names of the crew from PG-402, lost military members and the dead from the damaged Nimbus. Captain Dana Yearwood topped the list. No matter how many times he had looked at the list, seeing her name hurt him the worst. Another friend lost to this...insanity! I hope and pray the Cylons were telling the truth about this being over...but I doubt it.

Meyers couldn't take another moment of re-hashing bad news. He placed the report back in its folder, opened a desk drawer, dropped the folder in and slammed the drawer shut. It didn't make the President feel any better, but for the moment, the report was out of his sight.

These people need to be remembered, Andy thought. Civilian and military...something needs to be done or said. Meyers was about to page his personal secretary when he looked around the room: except for his cat, he was alone for the first time all day. I need a break...I'll do this myself and then contact Ben.

After reaching for a legal pad and pen, Andy started to write. He'd spend the next six hours scribbling his thoughts to paper before falling asleep on his office couch.

_________________
"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:25 pm 
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Six quietly made her way down the baseship corridor. As she reached a hallway juncture, the Cylon peered around the corner. All was clear: no Centurions or biological Cylons. As quickly as possible, she continued on her journey. Almost there...almost.

After a few more minutes of travel, the Six model finally made it to the hangar bay. This is where things could become tricky. If all had gone right, the Centurions would pay her no attention. The Heavy Raider that awaited her was less than a hundred yards away. Briskly, the dirty-blonde Cylon made her way across the bay. As planned, the Centurions paid her no heed. Almost there...I’ll have to execute the jump as soon as I clear the bay doors...

The hatch to the Heavy Raider opened as she approached. Six stopped in her tracks as she watched two Centurions walked out with their hands and arms in automatic weapons mode. As the Six looked around, she noticed she was surrounded. A ‘sister’ looked at her with disdain. A Three model sneered as she made eye contact.

“I must say, it was a nice try, Six” One said as he appeared from Heavy Raider. “You almost made it out of here. Now, before I go back to what I was doing, we’ll collectively ask one more time: Where?”

“I don’t know and if I did I’d never tell you...John” the Six said defiantly.

John ‘Cavil’ glared at the Six and then looked at the others. “The next time I suggest that we box our problem and then tear the humans apart, listen to me! Our time has been wasted in this little game. There are better things to do. Time to set course to the human fleet. Centurion, finish this broken machine.”

A lone Centurion stood in front of the Six and leveled its gun at the shaking Cylon’s head. For her part, the Six closed her eyes and started to mutter a prayer...then there was a bang.

–------

Special Holding Cell – Battlestar Taurus
Evening
Day 283


The Six known as Carolyn Warren screamed as she sat straight up in her bed. Breathing hard, she looked around the cell. Above her, she could hear the sound of a security camera moving to take a look at her.

Slowly, she placed her hand on her pregnant belly and looked down. Her breathing began to calm as she relized it was all just a dream...a bad dream.

”Prisoner, do you need any assistance? It was one of her guards on the other side of the heavily-reinforced hatch.

“No...I am fine.” Warren said after a few moments. “I’m fine.”

“Then keep it the frak down in there, Cylon,” the guard replied coldly. She could hear an audible click as the guard turned off the intercom.

I hope that dream didn’t mean anything. Carolyn looked down and touched her stomach. For all of our sakes, I hope that was just a bad dream.

_________________
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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:20 pm 
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Twenty-three Days Earlier

Oasis
Far Side of Planet
Cortina Shuttle Crash Site
Day 260 0010 HRS CUT

Rodrigues watched the flames dance in the fire pit the group had dug only a few hours before, transfixed by the flickering light. The wisps of fire danced around each other and the burning wood as carefree as small children would play joyfully in a large yard. The crackle and pop of the wood drowned out the far away sounds of the rain forest’s wildlife, muting their cries and bleats.

“Sorry to hear about your wife Admiral,” Merton said. He handed a canteen cup to Rodrigues, a small gesture of condolence from something that had happened so long ago.

Rodrigues took the offered container and drank deeply. “Thank you,” he said. I appreciate it.” He continued to stare into the flames.
Merton shifted uneasily. He looked at the others, sleeping nearby. The only other person awake was Crenna, who kept watch on the campsite from a dozen or so meters away. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Rodrigues gave a silent chuckle, sensing his comrade’s awkwardness. “Not too much more to tell. We had talked about retiring and trying to raise a family a few times but it never really seemed like a priority.” He took another sip from the cup and passed it back to Merton. “We both loved being in space, something about the freeness of it all. We knew the risks and yet it didn’t seem to matter.” He turned and looked at the Pack leader. I would suspect you are the type who feels the same way?”

Merton nodded and drank a bit from his own cup. “True, I guess I would be climbing the walls if I got stuck too long in one place.” He watched the flames for a few more minutes, also lost in the flickering light. “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?”

“When the Cortina disappeared the Admiralty went into panic mode,” Rodrigues replied. Picking up a stick, he prodded the fire. “That ship was their best hope to conduct a new type of warfare,” he turned his head and looked directly into Merton’s eyes. “We were going to begin running combat operations which relied more on the use of Special Operations troops than the regular line.” Rodrigues looked down at his Canteen cup, watching how his slight movements created ripples in the water. “I’ll admit it had merits but you can’t wage a war of this kind that way. The cylons aren’t terrorists; at least they weren’t in the way the admiralty believed. This wasn’t going to be a bunch of hit and run attacks by a guerrilla force. When they came back, they were going to come with everything they had. A belief that we all saw firsthand.”

Merton nodded absently. He took a few brief moments to carefully consider his next question. Merton liked the admiral. Hell, he even admired him in a way. The only problem was he wasn’t completely certain how the man sitting next to him would take being asked personal questions. “I’ve spent my fair share of time in the military, Admiral. What I don’t understand is why the Admiralty would have completely lost their shit over one missing vessel. I don’t mean any disrespect, Sir, but it doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense."

Rodrigues chuckled silently. He took another sip of water from the canteen cup and set it down on the log next to him. Getting up, he prodded at the flames with the stick in his hand once more to get the flames moving again. He put the stick down in place his hands in the small of his back, in the area of his kidneys, and stretched. He turned back to his companion. “Yeah, well you know how the Admiralty was in the last few years. If anyone even mentioned Cylons, half of them completely come unglued while the other half thought the toasters were gone forever. They went nuts because the Cortina wasn’t a standard surveillance ship. It was a prototype to a whole new type of warfare."

Merton looked at the admiral with intense interest. “Since when does a surveillance ship. Become the answer to a war. You need heavy hitters out there, you need fighters out there. Hell Admiral, you even need a bunch of Marines to take the ground objectives and hold them. What was so damn special about the Cortina?"

“The Cortina is based off of the Valkyrie light carrier concept. She has a radome on both topside and her bottom, has one squadron of fighter craft for defense, a full contingent of Marines special operations troops, and a shitload of heavy ground equipment to include tanks and land rams. Add to that, a construction area which could keep knocking out new equipment as needed. On the surveillance side, you had state-of-the-art listening equipment and some of the most sophisticated drones I have ever heard of. They used tight beam technology to send back real-time video and still images of a target. Parked in orbit, a battlefield commander could have high resolution images of a planet’s surface down to being able to count the freckles on an Aquarian’s backside."

Merton shook his head. “So you’re telling me the Admiralty combined a surveillance platform with a troopship. And that’s what they were freaking out about?"

“That, and the fact she had enough firepower to level a good portion of the main continent on Caprica. She carried a butt load of nuclear weapons in her missile tubes.”

Merton let out a low whistle. “Holy Frak,” he looked up at the admiral. “It makes sense now. They really did put all their eggs into one basket didn’t they?”

“Yeah, what a bunch of paranoid morons. Staggers the mind to think that some of those people had so much power. The only one worth a Frak on that board was Admiral Nagala. It’s a wonder it took the toasters almost half a century to finally wipe us out.” Rodrigues replied bitterly. “It doesn’t matter though; it’s all water under the bridge. They never found her and it’s been over five years since she went missing.”

“Any chance you can get reverse telemetry from the navigation computer?”

“Hard to say,” Rodrigues replied. “Vinoli looked at the data and it looks to be corrupted. We’ll have to take it up to the Libra and have them take a look at it.”

Merton stood and held up his canteen cup in a small salute. “Here’s hoping the intelligence people can come up with something.”

Rodrigues nodded, “Thank you, unfortunately I don’t think he will be able to ever find her. The odds are just too great. She’s a drop of water in the ocean of Aquaria.”

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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:19 am 
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Battlestar Taurus
Medical Conference Room
Day 284


"So..." Colonel Wilson began, growing serious. Admiral Rodrigues set his drink down and gave his attention to the Griffyn's commander. Wilson looked weary, and now he wore an expression of uncertainty. "...we're really going to follow this thousand-year-old chain of ghost satellites, Ben?"

Colonel Richard Cole still stood, hands clasped behind his back, but just as every other officer in the room, he turned to face the Admiral, eyes narrowing as he waited for Rodrigues' response.

Rodrigues began nodding slowly even before he began to speak, and his eyes moved around the room, alighting briefly on each of his assembled officers before returning to Wilson. "It's more like two thousand years, Dean," he commented wryly. "But the answer to your question is yes, we are going to follow them, for however long the trail remains intact."

"So you're convinced they're genuine, and not some kind of cylon trap?"

"As much hardware as the cylons threw into their efforts on Pythos, and the evidence of their forays onto the Chiron, I'm confident that it's no trap", Rodrigues responded. "And if it's not genuine, then it's the biggest gods-be-damned practical joke in the universe." The Admiral could tell Wilson was not yet convinced and continued, hoping he could get the former knuckledragger to understand. "The evidence that Dedrick and his dragon-worshippers presented is compelling, and it has all played out so far. We've verified the first beacon, and, if nothing else, we'll be following a space lane that's been traveled before. That has to be better than wandering around without any clear goal." Rodrigues got up from his chair and walked over to the table at the side of the room. He picked up a pitcher of water and poured some of the contents into two glasses. He picked them up and passed one of the glasses to Wilson. He took a drink from the other. “Think of it this way Dean, every time we’ve followed a beacon-related clue in the past we've found remnants of Colonial presence. I don’t care, at this point, how good the cylons are. They don’t know everything about us. I don’t believe they have been able to think of everything.”

For a moment, everyone was silent, thinking everything through that the Admiral had just told them. After a quick look at the faces of the other attending officers, Cole, the youngest among them, was the first to speak up. "So we follow a millennia old trail towards a planet that has always been regarded as a myth, but all evidence we have points towards it really existing? If so, I only have two questions and I think most of you are thinking the same things. Do we know what might await us there? And who should be told about Earth being our destination? Because having, as you put it, a clear goal, might give us a much needed boost in morale, especially among the civilians. Might even help with integrating the Oasis population..."

“To answer your first question, why not? Where else are we going to go, Richard?” Rodrigues moved over to his chair and sat down. He held the glass in his hands and stared at its contents for a moment, thinking carefully the words he was going to say next. “Caprica, Aquaria, Tauron, Libron, they’re all gone. Just like every other world in the colonies. Anything there is either fully occupied by the Cylons, or has been reduced to ash.” Rodrigues’s voice lowered in volume until it was almost a whisper. Despite that everyone in the room could clearly hear him. “I don’t like this anymore than any of you. But as the de facto military leadership of this fleet, we need to do the things that will best ensure the survival of what might be the entire human race. As for what awaits us? You all know as much as I did. I can tell you what I hope for, and that is another world full of people that can help us, that can take us in, and that we can live with. I want to get as far away from these machines as I can, I want to completely forget about the Cylons and everything they stand for.” Rodrigues realized he was almost preaching and sent back a bit in his chair. “Can we really afford not to try?” He waited for a reply from the men assembled in the room, anyone with a dissenting opinion. He received none. "Now, to answer your second question. I agree the fleet needs to know where we are going. The problem is, how many cylons are still here with us? I'll make a decision on what to tell everyone but the specifics of how we are getting our information will remain compartmentalized. I don't want anyone other than military command staff to have any specifics, understood?"

Wilson raised his hand. "I take it that also includes civilian leadership to include the Quorum?"

Rodrigues nodded. "Nobody but military command. If the president has an issue with being kept out of the loop he can make an appointment with me to talk about it. I'm sure I can fit him in to my schedule sometime in the next decade."

Rodrigues' statement elicited a chuckle from the officers in the room. It was no secret that Rodrigues and President Meyers were no seeing eye to eye recently and to a man, they all were happy to see some of the admiral's junkyard dog attitude return.

"It's settled then," Rodrigues said. "Now if I'm correct we all have an appointment to see the newest addition to the fleet. Let's go folks."

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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 7:07 pm 
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Agricultural Freighter Demeter
Day 284, Early


“We've had to learn on the job, Miss Carter,” Clive Brown explained to the Oasian rancher. They were in the cattle confinement in one of the Demeter's large cargo pods, discussing the methods being used to raise cows within the limitations of a space-going freighter. “None of us really knew that much about keeping cattle – or chickens, or fish for that matter,” he went on, gently shaking his head. “We were capable drovers, and we could keep our cargo healthy during a transit. But after we fled from the cylons, we had to improvise systems for keeping our cargo alive for the long term. We've had better success than I expected, to tell the truth. But we're only in our tenth month of doing this, and if we're going to make it for the long haul we still have problems to solve – like breeding another generation of cattle.”

Carly Carter nodded. It was the morning of her fourth day aboard the Demeter, and only the beginning of her second day learning the systems that supported the lives of the animals aboard the freighter. She and her nieces, Mindy and Hannah, had been touring the compartments where the crew of the ag ship raised chickens and fish, and kept the small herd of cattle. Hannah was her usual wide-eyed, inquisitive self but Mindy seemed disinterested. Carly scowled at her older niece before returning her attention to Clive.

“It's amazing what you've done, with limited experience and equipment.”

Clive acknowledged her praise with a slight smile. “Thanks. Your expertise is going to be invaluable, though, if we're going to keep these cattle alive.”

Carly's response was cut off by the appearance of Else Mueller. “Clive!” the 13-year-old called out as she approached the group, “There's a shuttle inbound from Harvest Moon with two more transfers.” Shifting her focus to Hannah Carter, Else went on, “I think one of them is your cousin!”

“Skye!” Hannah exclaimed, clutching at Carly's arm. “Can we go see her?” she asked, looking first to her aunt and then to the Demeter crewman.

“Else, take them to the shuttle bay,” Clive replied, nodding. “Miss Carter,” Clive added as she began walking away, “I know this has been a difficult time for you, but I thank the gods that you're here now.”

Carly Carter nodded solemnly, then followed Else Mueller out of the cargo pod.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 7:13 pm 
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Ag Freighter Demeter, Shuttle Bay
Day 284, Early


Giada McCormack was still waiting for the shuttle bay to pressurize when Else arrived with Carly Carter and her nieces. Giada greeted Else with a smile, then spoke to Carly as she approached.

“Carolyn.”

“Mom's the only one who calls me that...” Carly's voice trailed off and her eyes glistened with involuntary tears.

“I'm sorry,” Giada apologized, a pained look in her eyes. “It's Carly, isn't it? I'll have to remember that.” Giada brushed at her clothes, turning to face the shuttle bay hatch. Her thoughts returned briefly to the first days after the attacks, almost ten months ago, and how easy it had been to reopen fresh wounds with a few careless words. She didn't know if there was anything she could say that would make things better, so she simply remained silent.

The shuttle bay finished pressurizing and the light over the hatchway turned green. Giada released the hatch and led the Carters within. Two people debarked the shuttle, the first a teenage girl with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. Behind her followed a lanky brown-haired boy of a similar age. The girl broke into a smile the moment she spotted Giada's group.

Among the Carters, Hannah squealed with delight at the sight of her cousin. She called out to Skye and ran across the deck to meet her. Skye stopped as Hannah wrapped her arms around her.

“Glad to see me, huh?” Skye teased.

Hannah looked up at her cousin, grinning, but did not let go. “Just a bit,” she admitted.

The rest of the group approached, and Skye looked to her other cousin and then to her aunt. “Mindy, Aunt Carly,” she acknowledged them.

Rich Baracon stood by as the Carters greeted one another, not uncomfortable but still feeling a bit left out. Giada, who had been letting the girls' reunion continue uninterrupted, noted the trace of sadness in the young man's eyes and realized that he might be his family's only survivor. Attempting to divert his thoughts, she cleared her throat and began speaking.

“Welcome to the Demeter,” she said with genuine feeling. “I'm Giada McCormack, ship's cook and de facto social director,” she went on, wearing a mischievous smile. “You must be Richard Baracon.”

“Richie,” Skye corrected. She turned to face Giada, having broken off Hannah's bear hug.

The boy gave Giada a respectful smile, then shot Skye a look of mild reproach. “I think I prefer 'Rich',” he said.

“Sorry,” Skye replied, her eyebrows knitted in momentary puzzlement. She'd always known him as Richie. This preference for a shortened moniker was new. Rich simply shook his head slightly, dismissing her concern.

“So where have you two been?” Carly asked.

Harvest Moon, ma'am,” Rich replied. “The ag station. Skye found me at the camp and ditched her shuttle to come with me. We rode up on a transport, with like a hundred folks on board.”

Skye nodded, remembering the ride on the Highlands Dawn transport. “Yeah,” she affirmed, “I was supposed to be on one of the starliners...”

Giada drew a sharp breath, then immediately regretted it. Carly turned to her, eyes questioning.

PG 402,” Giada began, explaining. “One of the starliners was destroyed during the evacuation. It was Pan Galactic Flight 402.”

Skye shivered, and her hand found Rich's. “I was supposed to be on that,” she said, eyes wide with the realization that by mere chance she'd cheated death.

“How many people?” Carly asked.

“Almost two thousand,” Giada stated apologetically. “The President mentioned it in his address to the fleet.”

“David,” Carly gasped, turning her attention to Skye. “Have you seen him, or heard from him?”

“He's okay, Aunt Carly,” Skye reassured her. “He found me yesterday. That station is huge – he'd been just one deck above me since we got there and I'd never seen him.”

Relief that her nephew was safe showed clearly on Carly's face, and the news that their brother was in the fleet touched both Hannah and Mindy. “Why didn't he come over with you?” Hannah asked.

“He wants to fly planes,” Skye replied, giving Hannah a lopsided smile. She looked to Carly, her expression turning serious. “Space fighters,” she clarified.

Carly's eyes flared for a moment at the thought of the risks that entailed. Her nephew was an adult though, twenty-two years old and responsible for determining his own future. Here in the fleet he would be in his element. He'd always loved flying, and had been fascinated by space and the Oasis colony's history – or at least the part of it that involved space travel. She knew he'd been out to the wreck of the Sextant at least once, and a hill near their ranch had been a favorite spot of his because one could see the wreck from there.

“Dad stayed behind,” Skye added, fighting back the tears that threatened to spill onto her cheeks. “G'ma too.” Her questioning look was as clear as words to Carly. Anyone else?

Carly swallowed hard at the news that her oldest brother had remained on Oasis. Though she wasn't surprised that Emmett hadn't come to the fleet, hearing Skye confirm it made it real. She drew a deep breath. “Wayne and Lily stayed with Mom” she said, referring her middle brother and his wife, Hannah and Mindy's parents. “Nobody had heard from Michael when we left.” She gave a helpless shrug.

There was a moment of silence among them, and Giada moved quietly to put a comforting hand on Carly's arm. She wished for words to say, to comfort these refugees. She did not want them to suffer such sadness, but she knew of nothing that she could say that would diminish their pain. All she could do was offer them a place in a new family aboard the freighter, but she dared not put that into words at this moment. Instead, in a hushed voice, she suggested that they leave the shuttle bay.

“Let's get you settled in, and maybe something to eat?” Giada gestured toward the hatchway.

Else Mueller, who'd been quietly absorbing every word since she'd arrived at the shuttle bay with the Carters, tugged gently on Giada's arm.

“Momma will want to meet them, too,” she said.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2015 11:05 pm 
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Battlestar Taurus
Recruitment Office
Day 284 0800 Hours


"Warren Carter?" the Specialist asked aloud, glancing between the two men standing in the passageway outside the Recruitment Office.

David Carter met her eyes, taking a half step forward. "Ensign Allen will see you now," the Specialist stated in response.

Carter stepped into the office, noting yet again how cramped everything seemed despite the immense size of the battlestar. I guess there's a lot of stuff shoe-horned into this ship, he mused silently. Carter had soaked in the atmosphere of the Taurus from the moment he'd left his shuttle on the hangar deck until he'd reached this place, near the CAG's office. The old battlestar seemed to be all greys and blacks and shadows, and it smelled of oil and sweat.

The officer seated at a desk within the compartment rose as Carter entered. He was tall, probably a full six feet, and tallow-haired with an easy smile. He appeared to be no more than a half-dozen years older than Carter. His left arm was in a sling and the bandages that covered his left hand continued up the limb, disappearing into a sleeve that had been partially split to accommodate their bulk.

"Mister Carter," the officer greeted him, "welcome to the Battlestar Taurus. Have a seat."

Carter obeyed, sitting with his back straight in the single chair. He placed his hands on his knees and gave the officer his full attention.

"I'm Ensign Anthony Allen, and that's the last time I'll rise when you enter a compartment," Allen said. He paused a moment, watching Carter, then snorted a laugh. "Unless you wash out and become a civvie again," he added with a shrug.

Carter didn't immediately say anything. In fact he wasn't sure what to say, or if he was even supposed to say anything. Ensign Allen looked directly at him, bemused. "Silent in the presence of a superior officer," he noted. "We're off to a good start."

Allen picked up a few papers from the desk, skimming across the top page. "Warren David Carter the Second," he recited with mock gravity. "So you're a Junior?"

"Uh, no sir," Carter replied, finding his voice. "Warren Carter was my grandfather. I'm not a junior, just a second."

"Ah, I see," Allen. He returned to perusing the pages before him. "Age 22. Former resident of Oasis. Rancher. College graduate. Certified single-engine aircraft pilot with 6 years experience." Ensign Allen made a face that indicated he found Carter's resume to be marginally passable.

"So Carter, why do you wanna fly Vipers?"

By now Carter had grasped that Ensign Allen had a sense of humor, so he took a risk. "I didn't figure you had anything prop-driven on board," he quipped, adding a shrug. When Allen snorted another laugh, Carter grinned and went on. "Truthfully, sir, I've always been fascinated by the idea of spacecraft. I've read everything I could find on the colony ship that settled Oasis, and its escort. Then, when you all came and I saw those space fighters... well, that did it for me. I knew I had to fly one."

Allen wore a satisfied look, and was nodding slowly. "I had toy Vipers as a kid, but when I saw my first real one at an airshow, that's when I decided I had to be a pilot. I know exactly what you felt." The Ensign flipped through the remaining papers, then slid them into a folder. He sat back in his chair and fixed Carter with his gaze. "You should know, Carter, that your life expectancy in a Viper in combat against the cylons is less than ten minutes." He paused, letting that fact sink into Carter's mind. "Now that doesn't count training, or patrols... that's actual combat time." Allen patted a log book with his good hand. "That's all our fights with the tin cans, combat time for the survivors and the casualties. Some of our better pilots have more than that in combat time logged, so as you can guess, the nuggets have the short end. And you're a nugget, Carter."

It was Carter's turn to signal his understanding with a slow nod. "I get it. It's probably the most dangerous job in the fleet." He looked around, then met Allen's gaze. "I could go work on one of your livestock ships, and that's important work - probably critical work. I get that too. But I'm a pilot. And you need pilots."

"Very well then," Ensign Allen said. He stood, gathering up a few pages from the desk. "This is your enlistment agreement. Take it back to the Harvest Moon with you, then read it through. If you still want to volunteer, sign it and send it back to me via Fleet mail. I'll assign you to a training squadron and notify you of your start date."

"Give me a pen, I'll sign it right now," Carter countered.

"No, nugget," Allen replied, his expression serious. "You'll follow orders and take it with you. Think it over before you sign." Carter nodded and accepted the papers.

Allen offered his hand, and the two men shook. "You're dismissed," Allen said, and as Carter turned to leave, Allen added, "Carter, make out your will."


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 3:30 pm 
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Agricultural Research Station Harvest Moon
Deck 3, Warehousing
Day 284 Mid-morning


Scott Thorpe sat on the deck, his back against a bulkhead. His laptop computer was closed and laid across his knees; atop it was a sheet of paper. Scott held a pen above it, the side of his hand resting on the laptop. His attention was on the young man who sat beside him.

"Where you figure we'll be sent, Matt?"

Matt Volk looked up from the paper he held, regarding his friend. Thorpe was barely 20, with a shock of unkempt sandy hair above a high forehead. His friend was of a similar age, though the mop of black hair that hung into Volk's eyes did not foreshadow the balding that would befall Thorpe. Volk regarded him with a look of concentration.

"I'd be of use anywhere there's work about," Volk said. "You bein' in the gun trades, seems certain you'll go to one of the warships."

Thorpe nodded, frowning thoughtfully. "Most like they'd have me make my mark and join up," he surmised. "Mitzi won't take a shine to that."

Volk shook his head. "They need you, they'll take you as a civilian. They don't... well, you can always turn a wrench for me."

"Heh," Thorpe laughed. "Like I did when you were milling gunbarrel stock in Building Four? I missed my quota two months in a row, so much time I spent making your machine right."

Volk let out a sigh, then let his eyes rove across the expanse of the room where they sat. It had been a storeroom, its contents hastily removed and stuffed into other warehouse space so that it could be turned into temporary quarters for the immigrants. Bedrolls dotted the deck everywhere, and here and there a few Oasians had managed to set up makeshift screens that offered a minimum of privacy. The officials aboard the Harvest Moon had set a security guard at the door, but the immigrants had bombarded him with so many questions and requests that now there were two. The Oasians weren't restricted to the storeroom, but the guards had a limited number of passes for loan so only a few of the newcomers could roam the station at a time.

"Folk seem to have settled in well enough," Volk observed.

"It'll be a shock to some, but they made the right choice runnin'," Thorpe replied. "I'd have left, whether the cylons came round or no. There's those who may arrive upon the moment they question leaving, once the threat seems distant. That's when we have to remind them why they ran." He patted the folded-up laptop computer.

Volk huffed, feigning disgust. "Scott Thorpe, the voice of reason," he said, as though making an introduction. "Will the Colonials give you access to their net?"

"Mayhaps, but there are more ways to sway a man's mind than the written word." Thorpe now looked across the crowded room as Volk had. "If needs be, I can speak as well as I write."

Volk laughed aloud. "Guess you've forgot freshman year, when you ran for student council." He eyed Thorpe for a reaction and got a dark look from his friend.

"I've improved in the days since," Thorpe asserted, then acted as if he were regarding a mirror and straightening a tie. "The folk will look to me for an opinion, as they did back in the world. I'm set to give them that opinion, them that has ears to hear. Better though that I'm on the net to reach those with eyes to read - means I can reach more than just what's here aboard this ship."

Volk nodded acceptance and sat quietly for a long moment. When he spoke, his voice was subdued, his eyes bleak. "How many?" he asked his friend. "How many got away before this fleet left the world forever?"

"One in ten?" Thorpe guessed, his eyes taking on a distant look. "Less than those what settled Oasis."

"Our forebears should never have accepted Oasis," Volk stated, his mouth twisting into a scowl. "When they ended Lathrop, they ended us all."

Thorpe was silent for long moments after that, his thoughts turned to his grandfather and the elder Thorpe's unsuccessful attempt to continue the journey that his friend, Lathrop, had pioneered. When he finally spoke, he did so without inflection, his manner candid.

"We are all ended, Matt. We are not thwarted, though." Thorpe turned to look his friend in the eye, his expression brightening somewhat. "This fleet did not stumble upon Oasis. Somewhere among this throng there are those who believe as our forebears did. They were at the pyramids - they found something." He gestured about them, indicating more than just the storeroom and its occupants. "This is the Search for Earth, Matt. A desperate one, to be sure, but we are set once more upon the course of our grandparents. This is our destiny."

Gravely Thorpe added a silent coda. Their worlds had to end, and ours, to realize this journey. We must not therefore be thwarted, that we may honor those sacrifices.


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:59 am 
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Iasoan – Conference Room
Day 284
Morning


The guarded door swung open as Commander Guynes sat at his temporary desk. Capt. Ramona Neuman entered holding a hand full of folders. “Good morning, Commander.” Ramona said cheerfully. “How are Jenny and the baby this morning?”

“Doing very well!” William said with a grin. “If all goes well, they’ll head back to the Demeter for a week or two and then return to the Bull. I’m ready to have the family all in one spot.”

“It makes for an easier commute. Here are the dailies that need your signature along with the Colonels’. I was told to tell you it was all ‘run of the mill’ type things.”

William pulled out a pen and signed after briefly reviewing each one. “All quiet? I know we still have a lot in medical that can’t be moved yet.”

“We’ve had it rougher, sir.” Ramona sighed a little. “I still think the Cans are going to show up at any time.”

“I put no stock into what they said about peace. That’s why we continue to drill and be on the lookout. I want my daughter to have a long life…preferably one where she never sees a Cylon. We’re going to do our best for all the kids in the fleet.” Will then paused, taking a sip of coffee before continuing, “Now that you are here, we need to have a little chat. How is the MarDet holding up?”

Ramona’s heart sank a little with the asking of the question. “I’m not gonna lie, sir. The grunts are taking the loss of the Major hard. They try not to show it…but it’s there. I imagine once you find someone to take over for me, things will improve.”

There was something in the way that the Captain said her last statement that threw William for a loop. “Take over for you? What if you are the one who we think is best to take over?”

“I would be honored sir and would do it…but to be honest, I think I’m more valuable in MCIT” Ramona carefully admitted. “I think that it’s a bit more my calling and with the loss of four team members, MCIT is hurting as well.”

“Well, I have to admit, you were at the top of my list.” Guynes paused for a moment. “But, I learned long ago that when one of my main officers feel right about something…they generally are. So, if not you, then who?”

“Someone who is strong and already has the respect of the people he or she works with. Someone who could step in now and get things back on track.” Ramona locked eyes with the Commander, “At this point, someone off-ship and doesn’t have a cloud over them…no matter how small, dinky and full of bullfrak…personally speaking.”

“No Lt. Masterson is what I’m hearing? Can’t say I disagree. Ticking off the Vice President and her security detail wasn’t one of the smartest moves…even if he was right.” Once again, the Commander took a sip of coffee before continuing. “I know his ‘people skills’ leave something to be desired at times, but he is a good officer. He’s also a good Intel Chief. So, off ship but already respected? Gonna have my work cut out for me.”

“Spectres may need a new home before all is said and done.” Ramona said. “Just putting that out there for consideration.”

“According to one of the last things I read, Col. Wilson is feeling good about our chances of bring the Belle back from the brink. Our nomadic warriors may still be able to call that ship home. Dean Wilson is one man I wouldn’t bet against too often. Still, something to consider…his family would all be on one ship. That would make our XO pretty happy.”

Ramona allowed herself to giggle a little, “That’s your selling point, sir!”

“I just have to convince the Admiral of that one.” William paused, “Okay, I’m going to follow what you’ve said and put the ‘help wanted’ sign out. If you have a change of heart, let me know.”

“Yes sir…”

_________________
"Times change...and so must I." - The Doctor, 'Time of the Doctor'


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 Post subject: Re: Episode 37: Loose Ends/Derelict
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:46 am 
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Hospital Ship Chiron
Deck 3 Medical Conference Room
Day 284 1145 Hours


Doctor Nathan Santana finished speaking to an orderly and gave a nod of thanks to another who'd just arrived with bottles of water for his guests. The four doctors seated at the conference table were all refugees from Oasis, and each had been assisting the staff of the Chiron with the wounded for the last four days. Doctor Armas Lyisti, tallow-haired and fit despite his sixty-two years, held his round spectacles in one hand while he rubbed the bridge of his nose with the other. Beside him Doctor Mira Lyisti-Cora sat watching her father with concern, though her own face displayed signs of both physical and emotional fatigue. Next at the table was Doctor Nicole Praver, who seemed a bit less haggard than the others. Praver watched Santana expectantly.

The fourth Oasian, Doctor Dane Burke, took a bottle of water from the tray on the table. Opening it, he drank deeply, then looked around the assemblage. He had no particular reaction to the Lyistis but scowled slightly when he found Praver's attention on Santana. He looked then to the Chiron's commander and found Santana watching him. Burke gave Santana a cocky smile, despite his weariness.

"Lunch will be here momentarily," Santana said, taking his seat. "Thank you for joining me. Although this lunch is a bit tardy to be an official welcome, I want each of you to know that I am grateful for your invaluable contributions over these last days." Santana spoke with formality, shifting his focus to Dr. Armas Lyisti, the most senior of the Oasians. "As I am confident you can see, the talents each of you possess are sorely needed by this fleet. I believe that the best place for you to practice those talents is here, aboard Chiron. I am asking you, in my capacity as both Captain of this vessel and Chief Medical Officer of this hospital, to join my staff." Doctor Santana looked to each of the Oasians as he made his offer.

Doctor Armas Lyisti smiled at Dr. Santana, "I think I can safely speak for my daughter that she and I will be more than happy to stay on. Any contributions we can make to the people of this fleet... well, Gaea would be disappointed if we didn't use our talents here. If you have a home for us and my grandchildren... then it's a yes."

"Agreed." Mira said in a tired but hopeful tone. "If you have a spot for our family, then we'll gladly make our home here."

As everyone glanced at Dr. Praver, Dr. Burke went emotionally blank on his face. His thoughts, though, were not so neutral. Gaea... Gaea... Gaea with you two. To each their own. Lets see if the butt-kisser continues doing what she did on Oasis?

"I'll gladly stay." Dr. Nicole Praver said with a smile. "If it helps you, my brother Chris repaired medical equipment for several of the doctors and the hospital on Oasis. If you have a need, it'll keep him busy. He's done work for all three of my compatriots at some point."

"Chris did a good job of keeping our older equipment running." Mira said, nodding. "The sensors and leads to fetal heart rate monitors can be finicky... he was an ace at keeping those working well." As she finished she cast a sidelong glance at Praver. She mentioned her brother, but not her husband. That's a bit odd.

Santana nodded, adding another entry to his notepad.

Finally, all eyes turned to Dane Burke. He clasped his hands and looked around the table and then spoke in his accented Oasian / Aquarian voice, "First, I want to say a heart-felt 'thank you' to my fellow Oasian compatriots for vouching for my background and skills. Thank you to you as well, Dr. Santana, for giving me this chance. Also at some point I wish to meet the person who found my belongings on the Griffyn and had them shipped over. I now have something of my family left, other than memories. Since this place seems to be the best place for my skills... then I accept, Dr. Santana."

"Very well then," Santana said, looking around the table. "The Chiron is at roughly 20% of the staff for which the ship was designed. There are a sufficient number of crew cabins for you and your families, and for now you may make this ship not just your workplace, but your home. If you would, please let our Quartermaster know how many persons you will be bringing aboard."

"My daughter and I will discuss it." Dr. Lyisti said. "I see that it would make our lives easier, but we also want to make sure we fellowship with our fellow Gaeans when we can."

"Also, making sure our kids continue their education somehow is important. We will look into everything... but I like the idea of doing it all on one ship." Mira admitted.

"It's a little easier for me, so I'll gladly call Chiron home." Dr. Praver said with a small smile towards Dr. Santana.

"Well, if I need some night life somewhere, I guess I can always risk it and catch a shuttle." Burke said with a sly smile on his face. "I've gotten to know the Quartermaster well the last few days. Mayhaps he knows of a nice two-bedroom apartment with cheap rents?" Burke's smile grew momentarily, then he adopted a serious mien. "Truth be told, though... no commute sounds like a great idea."

Dr. Lyisti-Cora tried not to roll her eyes, "Dr. Santana, I have noticed others with children. Is there a school here or has the government even had a chance to form one yet?"

Santana nodded. "Yes, there are a few children aboard Chiron, and we do provide a classroom and instruction. I'm not certain that their situation is optimum, but the civilian government is still working out the basics of an education system."

Their discussion of living quarters lent a sort of finality to all the Oasians had lost - homes and family, indeed their entire colony - and coupled with their exhaustion it left the group subdued. Lunch had arrived as they spoke of education, and the doctors ate in relative silence. Dr. Lyisti and his daughter seemed almost comfortable with the quiet, as did Dr. Praver. Dr. Burke made several attempts to strike up a conversation, each one invariably involving some detail of his life. Dr. Santana replied briefly each time, barely concealing his disinterest in Burke's self-absorption.

When the meal concluded and everyone started to file out, Dr. Lyisti approached Dr. Santana and extended his hand. "Once again, thank you for offering us a place to stay and be of help."

Santana nodded, gripping the Oasian doctor's hand and shaking it firmly.

While an orderly cleared lunch away another arrived with several messages for Dr. Santana. As he completed his responses and prepared to return to the hospital section of the Chiron, the first orderly handed Santana a folded piece of paper. It had his name written across it. Santana unfolded it and read the brief message, noting the angular scrawl which marked the writer as male.

Quote:
Let us get together and discuss a fellow compatriot. Your office, on the morrow?


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