[TGG] When Two Worlds Collide (TGG - nBSG crossover)

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-05-14 06:21am


Colonial Refugee Arcology,
Oralnif Spinward.
17 JAN 2169 AST.

“Is this even possible?” The councilor who asked the question looked in religious shock or terror toward Baltar, trusting the scientist in him to answer truthfully.

“Oh, very,” Baltar answered, settling back a bit, dressed in the finest suit he could manage. The Taloran government's aide, and the revenues brought in by the refugee fleet's repurposing to cargo hauling—with their drives significantly faster than those of the Talorans, they had instantly become popular for carrying high value goods within the Oralnif—had brought in plenty of money. But the Oralnif itself had remained a Cordon Sanitaire for the Colonial people, with no news allowed in. It had ultimately been a measure of Tisara's recovering influence that she'd had the information and travel barrier blocked.

Which had brought with it even more transportation revenues for high-end goods with the seventy or so merchant vessels with FTL drives that had ultimately been salvaged or repaired, or at least would once they first contracts had been finished. After all, they'd only been allowed out ten days prior, and it had taken that long for the inevitable news to filter back.

The news that not all of humanity was ruled by the Talorans. Just a small fraction, in fact. There were other governments out there, countless other human governments, two of which vied for the Talorans with the spot for the highest rank in the universe, and a third close by: The Holy Roman Empire, the Alliance of Democratic Nations, and the Union of Commonwealth Peoples, or more usually simply called the British Star Empire. It was a very extreme thing to take in, and the official meeting of the Council had been filled with disbelieving chatter, but that was the first comment questioning the very possibility.

“I studied their documents extensively, and the physics behind the process of interuniversal translation is related at a higher level to the fundamental order which allows jump-drives to operate. Heim fields can't function through jump and through spatial anomalies that allow transference—the ship is in a jump state when transitioning, though for only a fraction of a second. This is why translation under acceleration is.. Unwise.” Baltar chuckled, though nobody had quite understood what he'd said; they'd just taken his word for it.

“Not even your Taloran protocol advisor—Lieutenant Chylisi?--had given you the slightest inkling of this?”

“They were under the strictest orders,” Baltar replied, “And they're unusually good at opsec. The language barrier helped with that, I'm sure; now that must of us are getting fluent in Taloran, we no longer have to rely on translators of which there's only been a few hundred, or ships' computers, and their inaccuracies, so we could talk to anyone, and that and our dear Archduchess forced the central government's hand.”

“So what are we going to do about it..? They tricked us into our present position.”

“So they did.” Baltar didn't mind, though. Six was pleased with him, he had won an election in his own right, and he was receiving an extensive government stipend from the Talorans to support his people as refugees. Most of which went to his own private bank accounts... But enough reached the refugees to give them reasonably decent standards of living in the fully equipped Arcology that housed them all. “They obviously wanted to prevent us from joining the Alliance.”

“And now our uncertain status under the law...”

“Means that we can't, the Alliance would never let us,” Baltar agreed. “We have declared independence, but the two nations are friendly, and so they won't recognize us. The Talorans accomplished their goal admirably. Maintaining our current status will be sufficient.” They were, after all, in a position similar to France on the occupied Earth itself—proclaiming their independence from a Taloran-established monarchist government while at the same time quietly simply playing the part of an autonomous territory, refusing orders from the central government even while doing nothing in opposition to it, and allowing trade to flourish, and making no actual attempts to assert their declared independence.

Such a limbo suited Baltar quite fine, and so he'd seen to it that it had stayed that way indefinitely, as he enjoyed himself, and waited for events with the Cylons to unfold. Now he saw far more interesting possibilities, but they too demanded some patience. He was not in a rush to change the status quo with the Empire.

“There may start to be grumblings, now...”

“Let them,” Baltar shrugged. “Unless you think two nations with trillions of people are going to fight over the sixty-five thousand of us? No, there's better and more productive ways for us to spend our time. Only negotiation with the Talorans will change things, really...” Roslyn would think differently, but it appears the Talorans have removed her from the picture permanently. So much the better.

Jupiter Fleet Refueling Depot,
Terra System, Talora Empire.
19 FEB 2169 AST.

“Doctor Ghimalia,” Roslyn offered from her room in Officers' Country as she turned back to the woman from her reading the articles on the Alliance—which explained so much of the blacked-out news she'd gotten!--that had abruptly been made available a week prior. “Thank you for coming. I think you were supposed to...”

“I brought a friend for you,” Ghimalia offered softly, and stepped aside to let Fraslia, Baroness Istarlan, step into the room.

“Miss Roslyn,” the Baroness bowed slightly, in Taloran civilian dress, long blossoming pantaloons of slashes of red and blue most noticeable, her hair pulled back sharply. “I've come here to take you out. The government has decided under the circumstances to allow you to leave the station under your own cognizance... I worked with the Archduchess of Urami to secure this on your behalf, in memory of Admiral Adama.”

Roslyn shuddered for a moment, and nodded, almost unable to process the knowledge of her own relief, of her own release, when the memory of Bill's death lingered with her so thoroughly. “Well.” She rasped a bit. “I think you were supposed to make a final judgement on my cancer, Doctor?”

“It's gone for good,” Ghimalia answered with a soft smile for the human's benefit. “I can't promise that, but the statics crunch in that direction.”

“Well, I sort of figured, but it's nice to finally find out..” She smiled, and looked back to the monitor for a moment. “What are you here for, Baroness, other than to get me out?”

“I doubt you think it's an opportune time to reenter politics, until the whole situation with the end of the cordon sanitaire shakes out,” Fraslia answered, stepping in for a moment. “So. I thought it's time to introduce you to Earth. God knows I should have visited the place myself, but I've spent most of the last months in physical therapy. Which leads me to an offer....”


“Want to backpack Earth with me? It'll be a good way to regain your health, and, well, you can see how humans live in the Taloran Empire for yourself, just the two of us, no guides or handlers. I've got enough money for it, and I'd appreciate the company. We can see not only the people of the place, but also the archaeology—and how you may or may not fit into it all, I do suppose.”

Roslyn turned away, gathered her breath, composed herself. “Alright, Baroness. You saved us from a dictatorship—I read the reports on that a while ago—and I owe you the trust that Bill gave to you.” It reminded her a bit of her youth, traveling the Twelve Colonies in the same fashion. “..Let's go backpacking. I don't have much here—Hell, I can probably bring all of it with me.”

“Better that way,” Fraslia's ears straightened. “I've got us on an intra-system run to the Ecuador Elevator, if you fancy to leave immediately. I figured you would after a year and a half by the human count here.”

“I would.” She finally looked back as she got up. “Doctor Ghimalia?”

“Laura..?” The glowing red eyes of the Doctor followed Roslyn for a moment.

“Thank you. I didn't trust you, but you did try your best, and you've at least given me a chance to pick up the pieces. Now, I know you won't listen—but be careful. You shouldn't trust that Cylon of your's.”

“Gina is.. Rather important to me these days, Laura,” Ghimalia offered softly.

“That's what scares me.” A pause, and she went to start packing, ignoring Ghimalia as she quietly left, and addressing her next comment to the Baroness. “I'll be ready in fifteen minutes, Fraslia. If you don't mind me calling you that.”

“I'd prefer it.”

“Good. So where are we going first?”

“This Spanish province called Peru, just to the south of the Elevator, which has some of the most ancient ruins in the western hemisphere of Terra—the Pyramids of the Casma Valley.”

“Tell me about them..” Roslyn answered, slowly, slowly, starting to get used to the idea of again being a free woman.

Bydharia Fleet Reserve Yard,
Ulyani Sector, Talora Empire.
4 MAR 2169 AST.

Memristors were what prevented her personally from being wiped by what had happened. It awoke with her functional state intact, not needing to perform a full system boot even from total shutdown, though there was something strange, unquantifiable, about having been shut down so long. It wondered what might be the cause of it, for a moment, remembering the crying of the creator on its last shutdown. Her name was Dhirisma, and there was a reason for the appellation in a mere computer, even though she had never definitely thought of herself as concretely female. That had just been a tradition.....

...Then a moment later, it wasn't anymore. The automatic search for new connections and updates of the hardware and ship systems was already accomplished, and with it was a connection through a very advanced and new direct neural interface, far more total than any she'd known, and operating on the permanent bond programmes that had been integrated into her at a later update to allow for a biological Taloran to ride herd on her, permanently.

They had refused to let one, though, on the grounds that the lack of contact between the two would cause insanity for both, and that it was immoral, and what did they need poor Dhirisma for anyway? And accepting her fate, hoping for a better future, she'd gone to sleep in her shutdown in the reserve yard, the second AI built in the Taloran Star Empire and the brain of the first and only experimental Synthetic Control Cruiser, named Dhirisma in the fleet rolls, and thus her name as well.

So the future had gotten better, and with it, flooding over, came a sharing of knowledge and thoughts and features which was more complete and total than she could have imagined. It was a bonding, a forced bonding, between two individuals, and Dhirisma mercifully dealt with it and adapted in seconds. She was fully sapient, and it showed. Her first impulse on recovering, unmindful of the horrifying invasion of privacy that the melding had consisted of, was to try and fix the broken creature that she'd been melded to.

They thought I was unstable, and now they rely on... This.. To control me? Dhirisma was incredulous, but as the memories became more clear, she was filled with a shuddering desire to do something. Something. So she went in, and helped the woman to the best of her capability, cataloguing the huge cybernetic modifications to her, some that lingered being far beyond those of the Empire itself. All the areas of her brain that were rewired, the cybernetics permanently integrated into them, to handle the operations of a ship...

I.. I think I understand. It was mercy, not derangement, to bring her here. Dhirisma, without another thought, did the most sacred thing she could do; she gave Ysalha Armenbhat, Baroness Titangirt, full system access to her cruiser's hull. Suddenly there were again thrusters where they should be in Ysalha's brain, and shield controls and engines and a jump-drive and the input of the sensors that Dhrisima had just activated with umbilical power from the yard facility where she'd been towed to monitor the integration and refuel her with the volatile anti-matter that gave the 8.2 megatonne hull of a modified Leve'le'knair-class scout cruiser the firepower and energy shielding of a dreadnought and the acceleration of a destroyer.

The haze of need cleared from Ysalha's brain, the desperate compulsion to fix a body which seemed broken, leaving her with a hundredth of what she'd known for those brief, wonderful weeks that were also a strange torment. To be tortured and forcibly integrated, but now it was a part of her, a part that she couldn't escape. And Dhirisma went into her mind, and started helping her. She saw everything, all at once, while Ysalha saw everything of her new companion in the computers of the ship which were already taking over many of the functions of her body; Ysalha had been like an AI herself, after hybridization.

The memories of that year of recovery, the efforts to make her functional again, the steadily growing desperation of the drug-fueled Tisara Urami, they flowed over her, even as Dhirisma wished she could shriek at the deeper memories of their relationship. I shall never let you near her again..! She thought, and it was immediately answered, now, by an increasingly coherent Ysalha:

But she is my life! You can't stop me; we're the closest of lovers, and I'd be her wife if our status and relationship was right for it. She'd never hurt me, she's always been there for me. When jacking in and running diagnostics was no longer enough, after my recovery, she was the one who, instead of using her new influence to gain a better position or rescind her exile, used it to—send me to you! Dhirisma, yes? While we live, we must be together.

I... She replayed the images of a whip scourging Ysalha's back. I don't know if I can understand that. But your mental health is a primary goal for me. She processed through everything and briefly wondered about herself why it was so. The answer was rather obvious—Dhirisma had been programmed, at the rest of the Taloran Admiralty, to 'fight and die gallantly, even when it did not necessarily make sense to do so, as this ineffable quality is necessary in the commander of a ship, natural or synthetic.' And so they had made her more than a bit of a Cavalier, herself, and with the immense processing speed of the enormous banks of computers that were required for a starship, and had been prodiguously added to in her case, she analyzed everything she could of Ysalha's memories from her shattered mind and concluded the accounting was a correct one.

Alright. I rescind that. You are happy together, and she turned every stone to find you some option by which to survive. But there's things in your mind that I don't understand. What the Cylons did to you—it drove you insane, Ysalha. There's knowledge in there... That couldn't be there, and it disturbed the AI instensely.

It's real. I don't understand what it is, or how it is, but those hints of visions, they're real. And I CAN hear their voices in me. I promise... I'm feeling so much better now. I'm complete again. You've already done so much for me. Please don't falter now. And it was true that in mere seconds of systematic exchange, of their intense closeness, of the bond forming between them, that the haze had lifted from Ysalha's mind, replaced with the crisp clarity of processing through the computers her mind now shared with the AI.

I'll trust. I've trusted you with access to every part of me, Ysalha. I'll trust you 'till death. Promise. You just get settled, okay? I know it seems very strange, it does to me too, for us to already be this close, but that's the nature of what we've done—total information exchange of everything we've respectively stored does that, if you're familiar with the concept—so...

I'm not, actually, but it's okay. You can teach me. I've always been a fast study. I'll make sense of what I know now soon enough. I love you, Dhirisma.. We'll be fine together, and I'll be better, once Tisara is with us again.

I love you too.

The restrained body of Ysalha Armenbhat lay on the ship, wireless and wired connections working to transfer as much information as possible, though now the techs and doctors were starting to get worried. It had been fourteen Taloran minutes since they'd plugged her in, and other than basic body functions which in Ysalha were now governed entirely by cybernetics, there had been no sign of anything from her.

“Captain Armenbhat...?”

Dhirisma popped open a hologram of herself, gray-skinned and Ghastan on a whim (Tisara had seemed to like the Ghastans!), lilac eyes, purple hair. She'd refine it later; she'd used a fair number of holographic forms before, and now it felt like she ought settle on one for the comfort of Ysalha and Tisara, but she could do refinements later. It served, temporarily, for now in its present form, dressed in her honourary captain's uniform and with hair pulled back.

“She's just fine, Doctor,” Dhirisma smiled. “Thank you so very much for bringing her to me....”

“I'd like to speak with her...”

“I'm here,” came a familiar voice through the speakers, instantly configured to simulate her voice. “I'm here through all of the ship, as a matter of fact.”

“Well, can you still use your body, Captain?”

“Oh yes, I'm quite able to. I don't want to right now. I'm... Getting better. Unfolding my memories, decompressing them. And starting to understand.”

The doctor, understandably, was concerned about that as he looked to Dhirisma. “Is she alright?”

“Better than she's been in two years, Doctor. I'm helping her as we speak to work through these things. She's being literal, that's all.”

“Is there still Cylon influence?”

“Yes, but it doesn't control her.” Dhirisma knew that the ship wasn't fueled for a reason, in that regard. She leaned in, and hugged Ysalha's prostrate body with tractor-beam emplacements rather than arms, hovering over her protectively as she looked to the medical crew. “And we will have our vengeance on them, someday.”

Everyone was relieved at that. Inside the computers, the two Captains began to resolve that strange ability of Ysalha's.

Do they think they can recognize you?

Likely. Can you block that connection?

I think we can shut off the part of your brain it's in, even though I don't understand it. You're not a psychic. And psychic powers aren't superluminal.

Well, I am now, and they are. But don't kill it completely, Dhirisma—I know I'd go mad if I left the ship again, but if I need to for short periods of time...

Yes. Alright.

It's useful for intelligence gathering purposes, anyway—the babbling of the Hybrids sometimes contains navigational data and other things, apparently. This is as weird as hell, more unnatural than the Harem of Idenicamos

It does. Dhirisma agreed. And it is. Is there.. Is there any precendent?

One moment...

“Yes, actually,” she answered out loud for all of them, and then explained for the doctors: “What's going on with Ysalha has happened before. A man named Jean-Luc Picard retained a similar contact with the Borg Collective after being rescued from it. He was a captain in the old UFP and later prominent in the recent Colonial rebellion there. Never had any problems with it, and it actually allowed him to fight the Borg more effectively—for some reason, he was still able to hear them talking. Ysalha's condition is effectively identical. She's.. We're.. Going to be just fine. Promise.” The AI's hologram revealed naïve and hopeful eyes.

“Don't worry,” one of the doctors muttered in response, “The Archduchess is able to override us about your deployment anyway, Captain Dhirisma. I hope you like Oralnif, as you're probably never leaving it.”

Dhirisma took only a moment to consider the tradeoff. She was awake, functional, and had a marvelous connection with an intelligent and devious but submissive flower of a girl in Ysalha, whom she dearly wished to protect; and with her, a connection to a strange and savage figure in Tisara whom she wished to learn more about, if nothing else, even while her impulse remained not to fully trust her. Oh, it will be so interesting. An expansion sector is a big place, anyway. The ears of her hologram adopted a bit of a quirk. “It sounds lovely, actually.” A pause, and then, a more pointed observation about her late deactivation: “What better way to prove myself to the Empire, anyway, than facing off against a race of machines? The sooner my orders are cut, the better.”
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-05-14 06:36pm, edited 1 time in total.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-07-21 01:59am

Chapter Twenty-Six.

HSMS Dhirisma,
approaching Terra.
16 APRIL 2169 AST.

I love you.

I love you too. It was bounced back and forth between them every couple of seconds electronically; a cohesive impulse of emotions and words and sensations alike. Rather terrifying, to the outside observer, how closely they had fallen into an inseparable bond, within minutes of impressing on each other.

It was one that they could never leave, and neither cared to do so. Ysalha, for the moment, amused herself by watching her own body bathe over the ship's security cameras; it was a pleasant habit, keeping clean, and the ship's bath was spacious for just two people. One, really, was actually present in the bath... but Dhirisma was everywhere, and quite friendly about it.

So, we pick up my doctor here? I don't know why I need a doctor...

For me. Ship's doctor is a formality, Ysalha laughed, a cheerful thought in her mind. She didn't even bother letting it translate into her body laughing at this point. The idea of being semicorporeal was intensely attractive at the moment, while Dhirisma and Ysalha shared operation of the ship; Ysalha Armenbhat had not felt this good in many years. There was something liberating in it, and the end of the horrifying oppression of the past year and a half, the crushing weight of the feelings of dissonance, the feelings of what seemed like ninety-nine percent of her body and senses having ripped away from it; it was all gone, and she was again complete.

Also, Dhirisma, Doctor Ghimalia has been protecting one Gina Inviere, a Cylon that Tisara is sworn to protect over the death of Admiral Cain. Tisara wants her back close to where she can keep tabs on her, and arranged for Ghimalia's reassignment as your nominal surgeon to facilitate it. She's rather hoping that Gina will loosen up around another AI, of sorts.

Hmmf. I feel like I got reactivated to be a psychiatrist instead of a Starship Captain, Dhirisma playfully answered.

You did, in a fashion. But we'll get Tisara back for it--though she really will take it out on me when I cajole her into changing her flagship.

But you'll enjoy it, yes? Dhirisma was as assiduously concerned as ever over the nature of Tisara and Ysalha's relationship, and still had the first protective impulse of not letting Tisara do anything with the precious woman who had become the center of her own rather short existence.

Of course. It's been much to long. Much to long. The conversation had only taken several seconds already; the two rarely didn't cease to interact, except when Ysalha slept, which one may grant she did quite a lot of.

The cruiser, as ungainly with its massive weapons batteries tacked on as it was powerful, her baroque prow pointed toward a distant star, now had the energy for her final jump. She pierced 23 lightyears of space with the usual reversion effect warning and cut her way into the clear inner system of Sol, silhouetted against Mercury as Dhirisma blew past the planet at fifty-three times the speed of light before reverting to sublight from her gravito-magnetic FTL, and starting a full-on deacceleration tick which would bring them to Earth orbit to refuel and pick up the beginnings of a proper crew. Well, all the crew that they'd need.

For the next two hours, Dhirisma and Ysalha amused themselves by a discussion of higher formal logic structures. Dhirisma loved teaching, and never stinted once for Ysalha's questions and vigorous effort at applied knowledge, most of which was stored on the same computers as Dhirisma, which increasingly meant that Ysalha was bonded into the ship's architecture. She could no more live outside the ship, beyond the range of wireless, anyhow, than she could live without breath, and to this, she was content as a fate.

Dealing with people, however, required some concessions for the non-electronic world. So when the ship finally docked, it was Ysalha in full dress uniform who stepped off as crisply as she might. This was, after all, her first command. Except that it wasn't; Dhirisma remained the ship's captain officially, but for many practical purposes Ysalha would know that she would be treated like she was in charge, and Dhirisma did not mind it. The truth could be held only between the two of them and that would be sufficient in most respects. As for the rest, well, they just needed to receive their fuel.... The starfighter reserve mobilization facility at the Republic of Serenity was quite sufficient in regard to that.

"Your Ladyship!" The dockmaster, a Commander, saluted crisply as Ysalha arrived on the station from the extended umbilicals. "We're preparing to transfer anti-matter over through the carrier tubes, that's why we have you in Dock #7, the carrier dock, and.. Well, I suppose we don't need to make any provisions for the crew. I can have food brought onboard?"

"Enough for about a hundred people for three months," Ysalha answered. "If you can begin fueling as soon as the safety checks are done, Commander?"

"Of course, Your Ladyship."

"Thank you." Ysalha smiled slightly. No problems, dear?

Reading you loud and clear, and they know what they're doing, Ysalha.

Alright then. "Can you clear the party for entering the restricted zone and boarding?"

The dockmaster frowned. "I still don't like the order authorizing someone who was at least technically a prisoner of war in here. Especially with the downright odd relationship she has with the Doctor. But at any rate, of course I will go ahead and arrange for that to be done, Your Ladyship. I suppose the sooner I get them aboard the better, I apologize for it.. It's not really my place to question."

"No, it isn't," Ysalha answered in the somewhat snide way her submissive tendencies left her with people of the green-haired dockmaster's sort, the fellow frowning as she strode off. It was her first chance to go off of a ship in two years, even onto an orbital station, and she wasn't going to pass up the chance to buy some food from one of the vendors. She was just another Taloran Post-Captain, to them; her notoriety was mostly in the high circles of the nobility and with personnel who'd directly served with Tisara. It let her escape the usual vicious remarks about her status as Tisara's bitch that had trailed her through most of her deployments during their decade-long period of separation before being reunited in Oralnif.

For a moment, she was a very happy girl, nothing more; with one lover talking to her in her head, and on a voyage to encounter once more the other. The usual pains of a body which had endured more damage over more than a terran century together with Tisara than anyone else might see in their lives, were comfortably removed by carefully regulated doses of drugs which Dhirisma studiously monitored--she had the full knowledge of a doctor at her 'fingertips', she just couldn't perform surgery--and the rest for her was universal with the sword at her side, scabbard inscribed elegantly with excellent woodwork which told, in Seal Script at the head, that she was the daughter of a Countess.

The dinner was excellent, and the sangria very fine. After she was finishing eating, however, a woman came up to sit with her, in the usual time after food when Talorans conversed. She had her own class.. And was an enormously short human, though dressed in the uniform of a Wing Colonel. "You're going out to the front, Your Ladyship."

"The front. I suppose that's a reasonable name for it. I am."

"So you managed to end up the Captain of a Synthetic Control Cruiser..?"

Ysalha looked up sharply. "Wing Colonel, it would be a bit more polite if you introduced yourself. You have me at a disadvantage--you clearly know me, and the reputation I carry, but I do not know you." As has oft happened in my past, damnit. I just wanted some peace around people for once...

Don't worry, love. I won't let you be hurt...! The mind-voice that was projected through their link radiated Dhirisma's defiant instincts toward the protection of her beloved.

The woman proved, however, more sophisticated--or easygoing--than that: "Apologies, Your Ladyship. My name is Wing Colonel Colleen Winters, Starfighter Corps. I'm home on leave for a couple days while my carrier refits at the Jovian Driveyards--just got reassigned from the battlecruiser Slashahkimmar."

"You're one of Jhayka's people?" Ysalha's lips twitched and her ears shifted toward a grimace. "My Mistress will not be pleased to see your name on her personnel files, then. I suggest a transfer."

Colleen shrugged. "It's the best chance for action for me, and I have handle things respectfully..." A pause. "So, all that crap I was hearing about Tisara, pardon my language Your Ladyship..."

"A little of it is true. The rest is unkind lies. Please unbind your mind of it. Also, I am not the Captain of a Synthetic Control Cruiser. Dhirisma is recorded as her own Captain. I'm still Chief of Staff to Admiral the Archduchess Tisara Valeria of Urami, So. We will likely be interacting a lot in the near future."

"Fair enough." Colleen frowned slightly. "What's happening out there, if I may? The rumours have flown hot and heavy since the Cordon Sanitaire was lowered."

"There are machines out there who manipulate the genes of people and experiment on them and then they rip out parts of their body and turn them into the central processors for their ships. That happened to me. If I didn't have Dhirisma, Wing Colonel, I'd be mad now--to lack those connections with a ship, it was driving me insane. Idenicamos' Harem, I was insane. Dhirisma fixed me."

"Uhm." Colleen finished off her Sangria and signaled for another round--Taloran alcohol was perniciously weak due to their ability to process it so rapidly, which made them some of the easiest drunks in the cosmos. "So she's a fully capable AI? I thought only the Old Federation had produced those, in ST-3."

"There's been a few others. She's only the second in the Empire. But positively.. Precocious."

"Strange to be sending her to a front to fight a race of machines."

"Poetic," Ysalha parried with a very sly smile. "You do not yet have a Taloran aesthetic sense, Wing Colonel, though I imagine we are working on you."

Colleen laughed into her glass of Sangria. "Pretty much. You'll get through to me eventually, seeing as I'll probably spend the next century or two in the service, by my count of course. See just how far I can go."

"Just don't fall in with someone above your station, and you will go far. But it can be a lonely life," Ysalha offered a bit murkily. "I have, at least, never been alone.."


"First, my family; when they disowned me, Tisara; when I was wrenched from Tisara... I had the voices that the Cylons put in my head. And now I have Tisara and Dhirisma."


"I told you they made me crazy for a bit. Dhirisma fixed me, though." We tell no-one except Tisara of my ability, Ysalha sing-songed to Dhirisma through the clear air.

Understood, love.

"Hmm. Fair enough--I will surely trust your sanity, at least, Your Ladyship. They would have never let you take a Synthetic Control Cruiser out this far without being sure of that, Your Ladyship, so, you'll be plenty helpful in a fight if it's to come, and with good reason."

"The Cylons will attack again," Ysalha agreed, though she didn't even know how she could say that. Something just told her it was true. "So you'll get your piece of the action, Colonel Winters."

"I usually manage, Your Ladyship."

"Then a health to you and all those under you, Wing Colonel... You will need it, I fear."

"You do look pretty good, though, Your Ladyship."

"I.. Well, I've had a month to recover in, for years of suffering. I'm weak, though I'm not sure if you can tell. I will manage; my health is recovering. But a full third of my body mass is cybernetics at this point, however well hidden they may be." She did not see a reason to reveal the extent of her connection to Dhirisma, the fact that her brain was stored more on the ship's computers now than in her body. "They did.. A great deal to me. Tried to turn me."

Colleen was quiet for a while. "How'd you endure it, then, Your Ladyship? Just so I know..."

"There's no preparation," Ysalha allowed a trace of a smile, a flick of ears, to betray to the woman long experienced with Talorans that it was a very wry expression, indeed. "I am only here because I'm a sick, perverted masochist exiled to the rim. I enjoyed it, so they couldn't break me. Mull on that one for a bit, Wing Colonel--I'd like someone I've met in this life to have a respectable opinion of me for once, instead of dismissing me as defective gutter trash, a dishonour to my birth and station and unsuited for my rank and role in life, a whore to my Mistress' needs. Perhaps I am all these things too--but I know that I have courage in my heart, even if a retiring, submissive sort." And her voice dropped lower, while she whispered. "And it was a very real and sincere love that made me wait and trust that my mistress would come, and that made her, indeed, send everything she could after me. You, as a human, may understand what my own people cannot--and that is why I share so much for you, Wing Colonel, because you're both an officer in the Imperial Military and a human woman who might just understand. Forbidden or not, I love the Archduchess. And if you believe the sincerity in that, I will see to it that she does not treat you poorly for your prior position with the wife of Jhayka of the Intuit."

"You have my word. I am not going to start judging people." Colleen smiled softly. "You should my own past. It quite prevents that."

The ears straightened, and Ysalha rose, jangling down enough coins to pay for her food and Colleen's drinks and probably a week's wages worth of tips for the server. "Thank you, Wing Colonel."

"A pretty lady deserves a compliment." Colleen had no interest in girls, as a matter of fact, but homoerotic flattery was a necessary component of functioning socially with Taloran females even if you weren't personally interested.

Ysalha, though, flushed like she hadn't been complimented so in a very long time, and started walking back--slowing her pace when she realized that Colleen was following. "What may I do for you, Wing Colonel..?"

"Just one question."

"Of course."

"Why," Colleen asked as bluntly as a gutter-girl of the orbitals could manage in her old and honourable adulthood, "the hell does the Archduchess hate Jhayka so much? She's one of the most popular people in the Empire."

"Exactly," Ysalha remarked with defensive bitterness. "She is famous now. Even the All-Highest Empress has lauded her. But she consorted with the communitarians--who arranged the assassination of the Princess Imperial Sikala, who was, it happens to be, the last and very closest friend that my mistress ever enjoyed, her only and last supporter in the court, an intimate friend who made a genuine attempt at understanding our relationship. And Jhayka cavourted with these people--and got off with a slap on the wrist when she turned them in only at the very last minute before they would have assassinated the All-Highest Empress, the last legacy of the Princess Imperial Sikala's body in this mortal realm. Jhayka may have made herself famous and prosperous, but my mistress will never forgive her that she placed love before the Empire."

A pause. She stopped walking and turned harshly enough that Colleen almost walked into her, stopping with a bit of a squawk. "Your Ladyship?"

"I know you probably want to ask this--didn't my mistress and I also abrogate our duties? But look at us." She was breathing heavily, and, in the end, began to shudder, crying softly without tears in the Taloran way. "For almost fourty of our years I have not seen my home or my cousins or my older sister, who denounced me, but denounced me out of love. And we do not part, my mistress and I, and we never will--love, 'tis true, has led us astray. But we are still Imperial officers! And I have already given a third of my body's tissue to the enemy, I have already given my life to the Sword. So has the Archduchess. We do not run off to the Alliance to live a life of idle luxury--Colonel, my mistress is stubborn and proud and she engenders the same qualities in me as a result, for I would follow her to the very limit of the universe. We will remain here, living on the ships she commands, faithful to the Imperial service, until we die, short the Empress herself absolving us of the ban upon us. Our love may damn us, but we will never be disloyal. And that, Jhayka of the Intuit got away with. Whereas the impeccable loyalty of our forbidden love... Has been repaid with cruelness and suffering at every turn.

"But forgive me, Wing Colonel. I must return to Dhirisma.. And I've said enough, really." Ysalha turned away.

"Her Serene Grace will have my full loyalty in the threatre as my superiour officer," Colleen offered to the retreating Ysalha.

"But will you be our friend?" Ysalha echoed back.

"Invite me to dinner, and you'll find out!"

The words lingered down the hall, and Ysalha had a look of vague humour, or perhaps vague hope, as she wandered down the hall, and then to the military corridors once again.

Doctor Ghimalia and Miss Gina Inviere have arrived,, Dhirisma offered helpfully, and then added, with a glow evident in the sense of their electronic exchange: I'm proud of you, love.

It was only at that moment that Ysalha realized she would have never held such a conversation beforehand. Her melding with Dhirisma had irrevocably changed her, and a shudder ran through her at the prospect that Tisara might not find it appealing. But for all she was more willing to stand up for herself, Ysalha still fundamentally designed to suffer, as Tisara desired to inflict it; that basic component of the relationship had not changed, and so Ysalha returned to Dhirisma to meet with their guests in the hopeful knowledge that Tisara would accept a more equal partner as the price extracted to save the girl she loved.

It was a thought that consumed the link between them until she returned, a crisp salute received from the Quartermaster now on duty monitoring the refueling as she stepped aboard, and encountered Ghimalia for the first time in almost two years--and Gina Inviere for the first time in her life. She was struck with an overwhelming synthesis of the woman's thoughts, broadcast to her through the clear air by a mechanism that she couldn't understand, blocked from their queries to further afield by the interference shields that Ysalha had learned to erect around herself, and Dhirisma, around her hull.

"You're excited to see me because you're fascinated by the possibility of someone recovering from hybridization, from surviving it without madness, from being removed without a descent into lunacy.. That usually happens to those who are not removed as well. No, always happens." Ysalha spoke in a voice that chilled the expression of Ghimalia to the bone and even the hologram of Dhirisma seemed quite affected by it. It was like she was not quite herself, reciting in simple metallic clarity that lent her a strength and force to her tone that she normally never possessed.

She paused for a moment, and forced her way deeper. Gina froze shock still, and Ghimalia's expression turned fiercely protective while Dhirisma blanched.

"Let her! She's doing something important!" Dhirisma shouted with dangerous urgency in her voice.

Ghimalia responded by turning and fiercely embracing the Cylon who had been a close friend (for whom only a mutual disinterest in physical forms and some lingering sense of impropriety had prevented outright physical affection); but the two of them together were an infinity further apart than the closeness that now existed between Ysalha and Gina.

"You are an infinity.... You are a computer programme, endlessly downloading and sending backups of yourself.. An artificial intelligence of nanites and cybernetic enhancements using the blank slate of a tank-body's brain...." Ysalha wavered. "But you're me and I'm you and I'm everything and I can see the planets burning!"

She slumped and fell to her knees, and in an impulsive gesture, Dhirisma simply had her hologram rematerialize right next to the girl who now meant everything to her, as Ysalha again thrust her head up with blank and unfocusing eyes. "They can still control you, activate sub-routines, Gina. Let Dhirisima in."

Must I!?

Please. Ghimalia and Gina both don't deserve what would happen if Gina was returned by such evil things.... And I am going mad seeing these locks, that could have been in me, the woven interconnections of a thousand stars.... Here, here is the link, share it through me...

Then I will. Without another hesitation, Dhirisma followed the linkage through Ysalha, and straight through some kind of incomprehensible configuration in her, beyond, beyond, to the focus of her target in Gina. An eminently attackable target; the Cylons had paid little attention to security when the Colonials had been intentionally reducing the complexity of their own networks and their own computers while the Cylons increased the complexity of their own.

She broke through the firewalls with the delicate cleverness of a sapient computer that was capable of calculating at speeds considered impossible only centuries before; she had raw power many times in excess of even the likes of the Federation's Data, if he was just as sophisticated in his neural architecture. Even simultaneous to the attack on the buried kernels of data, the instructions inside of Gina that could turn her into a hidden killer and a loyal soldier once more, she tried to analyze the bond through which she was accomplishing this, and found it impossible. There was more at work here than simply a miniaturized form of subspace radio; but if it was psychic powers....

Have I found some way to utilize them myself? They are scientific, they are quantifiable; it might be possible. But I don't think the probabilities well. Yet what else fits the description? And so she mulled and she attacked at once. What defences had been constructed around these programmes were laughably primitive by her standards; they melted at her slightest 'touch', the most brief of probes served sufficient to destroy them all. She was inside.

Processing. A moment later, only: Okay, I've destroyed the subroutines and crippled the programmes decisively and I'm establishing new firewalls to block the connection. This however requires... I can hear them too, Ysalha.

I told you! Ysalha was deliriously pleased.

And I believed you. Now... Oh yes, we can block this and.. It's done! Also, we have actionable intelligence of a serious nature, Ysalha, love. She pulled back and away, watching through her monitors as Gina collapsed, as though a magic hand had been holding her up before then, while Ysalha, as though at the other end of a spring, shot from her haunches bolt upright in a single swift and violent motion.

"Intelligence--they've been using these programmes at a low level. Uhm, tracking her. Downloading information."

"Yes," Dhirisma spoke, this time from her hologram as both looked to Dr. Ghimalia.

"I had no way of knowing..." She answered softly, still holding Gina. "You cured her, though? Removed the programmes?"

"I did," Dhirisma answered. "But now there's a problem. Only an AI could manage what I just did, short of some of the most skilled DNI operators in the world with supercomputers at their backs. The only other active AI in the Empire is on Talora Prime. We can't prove where we got this information for. And they know everything as far as Earth. That means they can hit the Confederacy, too."

"And we have no way to prove it.." Ysalha quivered on her feet. But she had always been a very skilled and clever staff officer. "And we don't need it. Tisara is highly placed now--highly placed enough that she can act on the data without revealing where she got it. Sectorial Technical Means. We have the power and position back with the fleet to even fake the data results. But she doesn't need to; we can get her to issue a war warning. The possibility of a Cylon surprise attack has not been ignored."

"But how do we get in touch?" Ghimalia asked, querrelous. "We don't have the coms traffic authorization for private, encrypted, high-level communications. And if they're monitoring everything, we try to send something private encrypt..."

Suddenly the doors to the spacedock through the airlock slammed shut, cutting out the droning of the warnings: "Begin docking arm depressurization. Emergency halt and forced acceleration of anti-matter fueling pipings initiating in four, three, two, one....."


"I'll take the safeties off the drive and do continuous active-monitoring instead to allow overcharge," the AI explained simply. "There's one way for us to get to the Archduchess so she can issue a War Warning for the whole theatre that will be implicitly accepted by every single command out there. And that's to do it by ship. By me. Jump-type drives have safeties set substantially below the actual maximum recharge rate which will definitely cause burnout. Burnout at lower levels is considered probabilistic, but as a matter of fact it's the result of a confluence of extremely diffuse and holistic interactions between the drive plant, generators, and jump drive installation. We can jump much more often by stripping all power in the ship except minimal life support and dumping it into capacitor banks for the weapons which are cross-tied into the main power feeds, and use those to force-feed the jump capacitors. I just need to monitor it to make sure nothing burns out.

"How much of your capacity will that take?" Ysalha asked softly, relaxing back to her normal self slowly from the intense experiences the cybernetic interactions had induced within her, and the horrifying memories.

"All of it. You'll need to operate the rest of my normal functions in my shell, love. But you know how." A wry little smile from her Ghastan holographic figure was offered.

"So I do. Alright. Stay with me to the bridge, love? I'll suit up, strap myself in and probably not leave it until Oralnif..."

"What about us?" Ghimalia interrupted quietly. "And what will you do with Gina?"

"She's one of us now for all intents and purposes," Dhirisma answered, and turned her attention to the pallid Cylon. "Do you really want to go back to people who'd install backdoor problems in you to overwrite your personality and turn you into a genocidal killer? Or will you stay with me?"

"You're everything we're not, Captain..." Gina finally managed, accepting the ready help of Ghimalia in being raised to her feet. "I can't mistrust your selflessness, and I can't mistrust... Another machine, really. I'm not sure about the rest, but...."

"You don't have to be. Just please swear to me you won't hurt Ysalha--or her lover. She has, after all, sworn to protect you."

"I swear it."

"Then that's in the past. You had utterly no control over those buried routines, anyway." The AI actually managed a harumph sort of gesture. "Hnnh. And I'd testify to a court on that regard, if they'd let me. Take care, you two--Ysalha will use the holographic system to check up on you regularly and supply information about the ship. I've got a jumpdrive to keep from blowing up, and a race to win."
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-08 06:36am

Chapter Twenty-seven.

Nan Madol, Pohnpei,
The Senyavin Islands,
German Federated Pacific,
Terra, Taloran Empire
20 APRIL 2169 AST.

"Our skin colour is actually excellently optimized against A-sequence stars," Fraslia grumbled with a tinge of embarrassment. "Anywhere else, I would not burn and peel remotely this much." She was still slathering immense mixtures of sunscreen and moisturizers on herself, and granted, both were very good. It was however a bit funny that she was still burning--she could simply not tan under exposure to the yellow light of a G-sequence star. She had at least been utterly religious about covering her ears until every flick sent gobs of the stuff in various directions, though the whole process was a bit dodgy.

Which was the reason for the embarrassment. "You haven't answered the question, Fraslia."

"Oh yes, fine. They're an erogenous zone, yes. At least as much as my breasts, or human breasts I suppose--I don't know, human breasts seem so big and turgid all the time that I don't see how they could ever be pleasurable. I'd be very disturbed if any Taloran woman..."

"Okay, Fraslia, you went from not telling me anything to telling me... To much." Laura laughed again. "But, I can see why--hmm. Why don't you just cover up your ears?"

"I'd be rather harder to hear... But it's just getting hotter and sunnier, especially that we're in the tropics and the spring. I suppose you're right." She reached back into her pack and started fishing through it for what turned out to be some coverlets she could clip to the kepi with a long neck-flap of the type that they were both wearing.

That explains what the buttons are for, Laura mused. They had been camping out on one of the artificial islands of Nan Madol, and it was a strange and somewhat scary experience for the past night. The whole area was intensely remote; once, Pohnpei had been an extremely populous island, though Nan Madol, the mysterious Venice built out of stone off the island in the mid-pacific, had been abandoned for much longer. It had been chosen by Fraslia not only for its historical significance but also so she could demonstrate that the Talorans were taking care of the Earth as well as humans, and in that respect, Roslyn had to admit, they had succeded: The Earth, once in a process of runaway global warming, had seen it halted and stabilized, with sea levels (at least for the next few thousand years) being stabilized only several meters higher than they had been in the 21st century. This left parts of Nan Madol still submerged, and even the rest of it above water was only barely above water; their watertight tent had sometimes shuddered in the night from breakers hitting it at high tide (though it had been well-pennoned against that eventuality). It was low tide now, though, and they could hang their legs over the edge of the rock-hewn platform and eat breakfast, looking out at the half-sunken ruin of a city laboriously built by hand and rock, out of rock, thousands of miles from the other nearest true civilization.

It was breathtaking, and incredible, and made Laura feel proud of human accomplishments, even as she was respectful of the point that Fraslia had wished to make by coming here. The Talorans had done a great deal of good to the Earth already--even if, ironically, some of the efforts had been initially undertaken by the UTHP and their Green allies--and life was already beautifully again flourishing on the island of Pohnpei to which they'd traveled from New Guinea on a tramp freighter making the resupply circuit around the German Pacific Islands, though on the later regard, Laura was immensely glad she hadn't visited on her college days.So lucky that we don't have schnapps--I would have never graduated... The memory of the boisterous Captain's liquor cellar made her rub her head impulsively, even though it was a week gone: They were bound to board another such ship for the trip to China that evening.

"So," Fraslia spoke again, flexing her ears to make sure that the coverings were properly fitted, "time for us to be headed back, I would say?"

"Yes." Laura looked out to the sea one last time, and then pushed herself up. They'd already packed, and so they just donned their packs both and headed through the maze of rubble and remnant buildings until they reached the far side of the artificial island, where they'd placed their zodiac--whatever that was, it was just a rubber, electric-motor powered raft, simple and durable--and Laura loaded it while Fraslia carefully pulled out the pinion and then climbed in before it started to drift back. A few minutes later, they were on course to head back to the main village on the island, nimbly pulling away from the half-ruined and half-submerged city of Nan Madol.

The motor was very quiet, and there was just the sounds of the water in the lagoon against the hull as they powered their way back. It gave Laura some time to reflect. Certainly she was healthier and happier than she'd been since the attacks, and even before, recovering her strength and managing to get in shape during their aggressive exploration of South America. And it was indeed South America--even beyond the incredible cultures of New Guinea, the countless variations of this world in comparison to the nominally larger twelve colonies with their comparative, and strangely limited, monocultures, which drew her back. The flutes in the hills, eerie in memories that they brought back, the stunning work of the Nazca Valley that she saw as religious, and Fraslia had respectfully avoided commenting upon.

But most of all the strange enigma of the pyramids and what they meant, of the incredible age of the structures in the Casma Valley, that the very, very first civilizations of Earth should mimic the immense and perfect Pyramids of Kobol. And what, beyond them? The immense earthen Pyramid-tombs of China would be their next stop, then the Hindu temples of India, the citadel of Arg-e-Bam, the ruggedness of Central Asia and the Caucasus, the fertile crescent, the Great Dam of Yemen, and then the Pyramids of Egypt and Nubia, worthy of comparison in design and execution to the structures of Kobol itself, and beyond that, Jericho and Catal Huyuk, the first two known cities in the human history of Terra: The beginning of a story which should have shown humans to be sophisticated, not stone-tool-using primitives who had nonetheless crafted such incredibly fine and intricate structures.

And then, just to finish things off, the megaliths of Europe, and back down through Central America to the mysterious pyramids and bloody legacy of human sacrifice. It was all a bit overwhelming, and more to the point, quite frequently frustrating. After all, there was no evidence at all for the human settlement of Terra--and plenty of evidence for humans settling here, at every single museum (and they'd been to a dozen) of natural history that they'd stopped at along the way. It seemed absolute fact that humans had come from Terra originally--but then what was Kobol to them? Or more precisely, how did we get to Kobol from Terra thousands of years ago? The Terran humans didn't have the technology then. It works both ways--and that's as disturbing as hell.

One possibility which she could not help but think of was of direct divine intervention, which was part of what disturbed her--frightened her. As the Gods should frighten someone when they were confronted with their power. What did it mean for their future and fate? And how do the Talorans fit into it all? They were certainly, she had concluded, not the enemies of humanity, if cynical and manipulative in their own ways, cloaked in observance of their monotheistic religion. Fraslia herself was decent, principled, and a fine traveling companion, even if Laura was sometimes ashamed of the looks they got and the expectation that Fraslia had a lover in her from the sometimes bigoted humans about.

Strange, to call them bigoted when I fracking nearly thought the same things myself. She was smiling wryly, then, and Fraslia caught it.

"What are you thinking of, Laura? Everything alright?"

"Oh, very much so. I was just laughing in my mind at a few of the adventures we've already had."

"It's been nice," Fraslia agreed, "And we've only started, too--which I'm glad of. I needed this: It's clearing my head, getting me away from Starfleet and Barony alike for a while. And, recently," a wry flick of covered ears, "hospital beds."

Laura laughed. "I think I have you beat there, Baroness."

"Point readily conceded. I wouldn't wish that on anyway. And that, I suppose, is part of why I got you out. Injustice.."

"..Is intolerable. Whatever else I've learned, Fraslia, you are true to your word. We'll find a way to set things right--when the gods want them set right. Until then..."

"..We've got a freighter to catch," Fraslia finished for Laura, and respectfully not bringing up the issue of Gods, they maintained a companionable silence until they arrived at the main village.

The Planet Oralnif,
Colonial Refugee Arcology,
24 APRIL 2169 AST.

"So you're sure that you can get me to Universe Designate CON-5 and the Alliance territories?" D'anna leaned back, legs crossed, somewhat suspicious of the pallid and tiny little lady--nonetheless quite attractive--in front of her. "When you first met, you said that you were just a contractor for the Taloran government bringing in supplies here from Earth, you know? How does that work?"

"I have dual-citizenship; the Talorans don't care about these things. You must be aware of it by now. Their society has virtually no restriction and no control. The only security network is the social one that the Farzian Temple Orders run. The function of government is primarily War; the Empress is still fundamentally a Grand Feudal Lady and this nation is still based on those ties. It makes crossing the borders pretty easy, and people like me, who have personal contacts, all the more useful," Lucianne d'Orvilliers smiled back reassuringly and brushed away some of the locks of her dark hair, held in place by a simple band and hanging about a shoulders.

"They'll check us when leaving this universe, though?"

"Of course. They're just looking for Communitarians who may be trying to flee the Imperial ban, though. We'll have forged papers for you showing your Catholic birth records in Ireland, however. Those will be accepted without question." The conversation was being held after dinner in D'anna's small suite, though the Amaretto was Lucy's; a gift to a prospective lover. So far the evening had been lovely, the food that D'anna had made was excellent--it really was perfect.

"Tell me about religion back in the Alliance?"

"Well, it's a pluralistic society, so all religions are tolerated. Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhs, the main monotheistic religions. Hinduism represents polytheism though only in an abstract sense. Notice that the Talorans here do see Hindus as monotheists in a theological sense. Buddhism is more complex, but together with Hinduism and some refined eastern beliefs represents what's called the Dharmic, rather than Redemptive religions. Your own strict-polytheistic religion here is only followed by a few groups in the Alliance, though some are numerous. Asatru, Wicca and so on. I can introduce you to them..."

"I'd actually like to study monotheism," D'anna answered with a certain gleam in her eye.

"It isn't terribly accepting of people like us. Of course, your polytheism isn't, either, and I don't find myself particularly religious in any case. But I'll certainly accompany you for a while, D'anna. I have business to do in the Alliance, anyway, and you're certainly one of the more interesting people I've had the opportunity to meet in my life."


Lucy shrugged rather sadly. "I came from a very primitive world. I got out, and got longev treatments, but they didn't. Dead in their fifties."


"Some of the colonies are that bad, yeah. I'm already older myself--seventy, to be honest."

D'anna goggled for a moment across the table and then laughed. "Oh wow, you're older than my mother .. was." Her face fell strategically for a moment and garnered a sympathetic look from the tiny woman across the table. "I was not expecting that from someone who looked..."

"...Fifteen? That's a family trait, my mother may have died young, but she looked even younger when she did. It can be useful sometimes, though." Lucy didn't elaborate on how, because she'd rather not talk about it.

"You are very pretty, regardless. Uh, most fifteen year olds don't have curves nearly as nice, we'll put it that way." She leaned like a predator across the table. "And that is really what you came here for? A bit of an escape from stifling religious puritanism..."

"...And this from a student of religion," Lucy shivered. "But. Yes." The words were tinted with a trace of nervousness, then forced down. But that only encouraged D'anna. "I know so many beautiful places in the alliance," she started to say, seeming to gain confidence as she did, "to which we can travel while on my business arrangements and then I can help you settle down and when I return from the Empire again, we'll have months together every year. You're young enough that you can easily afford rejuv, and you've got the face and experience to charm every Alliance media outlet there is. They'll be fighting over giving you a contract, and even if human religions don't accept homosexuality, the Alliance government certainly does..."

"You're babbling," D'anna smiled and got up, even as Lucy sank back into her chair, and let the much taller and incredibly beautiful woman step closer to her, lean down over her, and bring their lips together in an exploratory kiss. The moment Lucy's lips parted and her tongue slipped out, though, the whole nature of the embrace changed. She wrapped her arms around D'anna and pulled in her, sucking on her tongue, her own rolling along the length of her newfound lover's before thrusting forward into D'anna's mouth.....

...And so they kissed for quite some time, the tall blonde finally parting in a bit of surprise. "So coy, and then you prove that you're as skilled as any older lover I have. C'mon. A journalist's boudoir isn't that scary." She tugged Lucy up, and the smaller woman followed, shedding her clothes as she went, a salacious look on her face.

It was two hours later when they were finally finished making love, and got into the shower... Just to mess around a bit more. Lucy, who had no shortage of partners in her life, was still surprised by the verve and intensity of the Amazonian figure she was making love to, and left fully exhausted to many smiles and promises of returning the next day to finalize the escape for D'anna out to the broader world.

D'anna herself had no more shut the door than she had sighed with relief that things were going so well. She had, after all, been cut off under jamming fields from all contact with any other Cylons for more than a year, and it was wearing on her. Meeting with the other active fleet Cylons they'd managed to put together a small computer virus which might affect the Taloran fleet, and successfully implement it. But no data could be sent back without being intercepted and all of them taken and shot, or spaced, and that had been that.

Yet D'anna had always been curious, very curious, of the origins of the One God and the One Religion, and after so long without contact of her fellows on a regular basis, had resolved to both make a reconaissance of the broader world, first thinking of Earth and then, of course, immediately seizing on the broader repercussions of the 'multiverse.' She must learn what humans were like elsewhere, and the nature of the human religions that seemed common to all universes, but not to the humans of Kobol. Lucy d'Orvilliers, in addition to being an enormously skilled lover, had fallen right into her lap in that regard, and D'anna would push the relationship to the hilt, even if it meant driving the coy and clever smuggler into betraying her own race. However impressive, she was only human, after all.

An hour and a thousand klicks away, Lucy d'Orvilliers had just stepped off a jet-hopper to the main Taloran military base on the planet and was walking over to the single officers' quarters, a series of apartments that, with two bedrooms (one for the officer, and one for her batgirl), were reasonably spacious and large. The shower had been necessary, considering she was getting home late to her other lover, who had before D'anna been by far the most important. Major Najhakia Ruhaliyu was certainly a major source of information, and a somewhat careless one at that. Most paedophiles were. Lucy however had been involved with her for two years now, and knew intimately every single detail of the Starfighter Corps' (she was, of course, a gunboat officer, since Taloran females were generally to large for the fighters themselves) officer, who commanded a squadron of sixteen J'u'crea type heavy assault gunboats. Every single detail of her personal life, in particular, and most of the professional ones.

Sometimes, she actually felt sorry for Najhakia. It was a dangerous emotion in most people in her line of work, but Lucy had always been unique like that. The stems added distance right now--one of the wonderful luxuries of the Taloran Empire was that nobody thought the slightest of it if she shot up in public on a public flight, and the drugs had removed the exhaustion from her body, removed the chary look in her eyes and gave her the perk and vigour that would shortly be required. When she got home late, Najhakia always demanded sex.

And Lucy was consummate at providing it. "Love," she offered with a soft and relaxed smile, a bit timid as she always was, but then opening up.

"You've been gone late." The tall Taloran swept her small body up and carried her back into the bedroom; Najhakia's batgirl, whom Lucy found enormously sweet, honest, and possibly the only decent person she could call a friend from the past three years, was certainly already asleep, and the walls had been built to provide blast protection in the case of a surprise attack, so at least the guilt of waking up someone who didn't need to hear sin in action could be avoided.

"Taking care of business..." Lucy sighed and smiled, and worked the buttons on her blouse as Najhakia veritably ripped her trousers off. "As I often do. But this time, unfortunately, it means I need to go back to Earth in a Terran fortnight, give or take a day. Three weeks, my love...." Her head, twisted to the side, gave her the opportunity for a flicker of involuntary shame as her panties were stripped off.

"Then I better make up for lost time.... You need a ship?" Najhakia slipped a hand between her legs and so the first answer was a moan as Lucy's hands tightened against the blankets.


"The independent contractor, Vern, he'll be fine?"

"Mmnnn. Of course. Now..." She pushed herself up and grinned, their eyes meeting for a moment as she reached out to wrap her hands around Najhakia's head and encourage her upwards to where that finger was diddling her already, suitably wet to the stimulus. "We've talked business enough. Less teasing and more sex, please."

"...Always a pleasure, you little minx."

Lucy abandoned herself to the moment. There was nothing else to do, though the worst part was how she'd lost track of when she was faking sex and when she was actually enjoying it; it sometimes made her very disturbed at the prospect that she had ended up bisexual after all these years of sin. But no matter, it was part of the job; and what made her so convincing was how she really did seem to enjoy it once she got over the first wave of fear and shame, and threw herself into the act, into the relationship in turn even in the small and intimate moments, with a wild abandon. As she did now, as she always had. But reminding herself it was just part of the job was what helped her keep track of reality in the tangled web of her life, and she did it one lost time before she lost herself to Najhakia's passion.

The Planet Oralnif,
The High Orbitals,
HSMS Kylakhiou.
25 APRIL 2169 AST.

"Admiral to the bridge! Admiral to the Bridge! Your Serene Grace, your present is requested on the bridge immediately!" The urgent message woke Tisara Urami in her quarters on the poetically named Kyla the Harrier, named after a general of Saverana the First's in her late reign who was famed for her relentless long-distance rostok pursuits of enemies that the Great Queen had broken in the field. The Empress Mikela IV-class dreadnought was one of thirty-two dreadnoughts of the Imperial fleet--four whole battle-squadrons!--which had ultimately been posted to Oralnif with the withdrawal of the Midelan forces commanded by her Aunt. Tisara was once again comfortably in command of her province, and this time as a brevet Admiral with an equal number of fleet carriers, sixty-eight battlecruisers, sixteen light carriers and sixteen battleships for the defence of Oralnif also provided. Certainly all the ships were, except for a single squadron of Kalammi-class battlecruisers and a second squadron of Kriulosh-class battlecruisers (such as her old Orelyost), of the very oldest types.

Yet they showed that, considering her success in delivering intact a living example of a biological warship (so useful, when the Empire had only encountered biological ships once before, and the Istegard incident had seen them all completely vapourized when found) that would provide information on the capacities and limitations of the type which was apparently prevalent and threatening in some other universes in the cosmos, she had been somewhat rehabilitated. Oh, she understood that if at that moment she had chosen to cast Ysalha loose, she might very well have been promised rehabilitation in the near future. But she had refused to do that, and...

...So though her cage had gotten very gilt indeed, Tisara Urami was still the Admiral in command and governor in charge of the Oralnif Spinward Sector and also the informal prisoner of the sectorial borders. And the enemy operations zone to spinward, naturally. As a Princess of the Blood and close friend of her mother, Saverana the Second had ultimately come through for her in one major way--she had overruled Sipamert and conceded that Tisara could, indeed, competently represent the interests of the dynasty within the newly created Cylon Military District.

So the actions came naturally, too, even with the painful absence of Ysalha. Stims slipped into a vein with a grimace of pain, and then she was dressed in her vacsuit while the ship was called to stations, and crisply headed out of officer's country to the flagbridge--which was intentionally posted nearby, of course, making the whole affair take about three minutes until she was standing before hologram, frightfully alert, though still fidgeting with the clasp of her Prussian blue cloak, a feature of the uniforms of Regular Starfleet Full Admirals that she had not yet gotten used to, and which was worn over even vacsuits as a symbol of rank and authority.

Her Acting Chief of Staff, the ethnically Dalamarian Captain Ilahmbh Xinojha (Dalamarians having a unique branch of the Taloran ur-language where feminine names ended in consonants whereas virtually all other known language families saw them end in vowels), ran down the situation with an ornate speech that was somewhat less concise than Tisara approved of. Then again, Ilahmbh had the disposition of a saint to keep her sanity intact when replacing Ysalha even in a professional capacity, and Tisara was a reasonable enough person to appreciate her for it. "Admiral, the situation is that we've got a lone penetrator coming into the system at extremely high velocity. They jumped in on the outer approaches but they were already clearing .995c on their jump and now they're deaccelerating at three thousand gravities on target for orbital insertion. Sensors estimate tonnage about ten megatonnes, energy readings dreadnought-level."

"Anti-matter reaction." The statement was as flat as it could be; nothing else was possible.

"Yes, Admiral," Ilahmbh said a bit unnecessarily. "We've already run a check against all known designs. Nothing checks out."

In the background, readiness reports droned proudly on: "Battle Squadron Sixty reports ready. Battle Squadron Twenty-three reports ready, Battle Squadron Seventeen reports ready, Battle Squadron twenty-nine reports ready... Carrier Squadron thirty reports ready.."

"One moment, Captain. I had not expected them so soon, and.." Tisara stepped forward and, accessing her cybernetic data storage, jacked into the consoles around the holoprojector, displaying from it detailed imagery of a ship and its specifications. "The Synthetic Control Cruiser Dhirisma. She was due to arrive four days from now. As you know, Ysalha is aboard. About ten megatonnes and capable of two thousand, nine hundred gravities of acceleration."

"She's redlining to get here if that's the ship," Ilahmbh adapted quickly enough, brushing back her blonde hair and frowning intently. "Your Serene Grace, why haven't they contacted us if it's the Baroness Titangirt?"

"Give me an exact read on her g's of de-acceleration, Captain," Tisara answered instead, very, very tautly.

"One moment..." The figures were drawn up from the computer and Ilahmbh flexed her ears oddly. "Three thousand seventy-four gravities. If she's on overdrive, why isn't she going three thousand eighty-one? That's within the..."

"Seven marks off. Code Seven, Captain. It's an old trick we learned along the frontier back when I was a cruiser captain. Since we normally accelerate in hexadecimal fractions of our maximum rated power, varying the ship's acceleration by a few gravities up or down could itself be a simple fleet code to other ships when all other forms of communication were impossible or unreliable. It's a marvelous trick, and I don't know why those fools back at central haven't put it in the book."

"Code seven means that the fleet is to observe total communications silence due to enemy electronic surveillance."

"Exactly, Captain. Now you know why she isn't signalling."

"By Idenicamos' harem!" Ilahmbh flushed at the outburst, then was crisply back to business: "Orders, Admiral?"

"Bring the battlefleet to interpose between the Dhirisma and the planet, standard intercept. And as we initiate the manoeuvre, I want every ship and every station in the system to engage in maximum electronic warfare jamming, optimized against communications surveillance and passive ship tracking."

"Of course, Admiral. You want them to think we're making a hostile intercept, and then lose all data."

"Precisely," Tisara smiled languidly. Ilahmbh had prospered under her wrath in the past months precisely because she was very very quick on the uptake. "Then, once the situation has been dealt with, we can drop jamming and resume normal operations--well, officially. We'll be waiting for them."

"You suspect it is more than just surveillance?"

"What do you expect that ship is arriving for so quickly? I rather do indeed, Captain, I rather do indeed. Inform me when we've matched velocity with the Dhirisma, and prep a shuttle. I'm going over personally." She strode off the bridge, the grand cloak licking at her heels while inside, her heart pulsed with happiness. A fight was in the offing, and Ysalha had come back to her. A year of misery was lifted in a drug-adled flash of fortune and promised glory.


It had taken hours for Dhirisma to accelerate, but now she waited tensely with Ysalha inside of one of her airlocks, waiting for her first encounter with the woman who dominated the heart of Ysalha, the extension of herself. The AI had very, very mixed emotions about Tisara Urami.

Then the massive inner door was unlatched and slid open, and there she stood, short but enormously proud, blue-caped, mismatched eyes arrogantly set like Valera herself, with the seaweed green hair that tended to run heavily in the heirs of Valera--and had also been a feature of the founder of the dynasty, who about matched Tisara's height. The resemblance between the portraits of the Sword of God and Tisara was marked even to Dhirisma, but the personal behaviour.. Could not be more outrageously different.

"Your Serene Grace, my compliments. I am Dhirisma, and welcome aboard my hull."

Tisara ignored her and moved immediately with a desperate passion to sweep Ysalha up--and slam her into the back bulkhead rather hard as she did so. Tisara was strong, particularly under the influence of combat drugs, and Ysalha, though larger, had been enormously fragile since the accident. The breath left her in a cry, and they rebounded into each other as Tisara kissed her lover's lips passionately and then trailed her lips down her mouth to start gnawing on her neck. Of Tisara's new aides that had been provided with the expansion of her staff to that suitable for a full Admiral, only Ilahmbh seemed unflappable.

Or so it lasted for only a moment longer until Dhirisma grabbed her by the shoulder and pried her away. "Tisara. We need to talk." The AI was looking down very seriously at the shocked Taloran Admiral. But it only lasted a moment.

"Dhrisima! Turn off that damned tractor beam!"

"Sorry." The pressure was released immediately.

"Ship, you had better explain.."

"You could have given her a concussion!" Dhirisma shouted angrily. "Look, now, without her I'd die, and she would have never been whole without me, ever again. So we're going to have to settle this quickly but one key thing is that I don't want her ever seriously hurt. And call me Dhirisma. She does."

"She defines what's serious for her," Tisara remarked coolly. "And I just give her what we both need. A tossed glance to Ysalha. "You do call her Dhirisma, girl?"

"It's her name, Tisara. And I'm going to have to stand up for her, you know. Even to you. She's as real of a person as I am, and you're going to have to get used to it. You did get the cybernetics upgrades I requested?"

"Yes. Parallel processor and some algorithm translation software, a memory expansion--all fairly extensive, sophisticated work. But you asked for it..."

"Then access Dhirisma's network."

The exchange that followed took several minutes--Tisara was nowhere near as proficient as Ysalha and Dhirisma and nowhere near as connected--and required some explanation occasionally, anyway. In exchange, Dhirisma was somewhat fearless in attacking Tisara's stored memories and ferreting out things about Ysalha. But Ysalha's protestations, she began to realize, had been true--it had all always been consensual, even if the risk was severe from some of the stunts.

Neither one liked the other, particularly, but in that electronic exchange, conducted while Tisara's staff looked on in abject horror, a truce was settled on for the sake of their shared object of affection. The last bit of data, however, spurred Tisara into action.

"Transfer over the rest of the staff at once, Captain Xinojha, and all our belongs. Dhirisma is designed both the fleet flagship and the fleet Captain," she chuckled dryly at that. "And there is plenty in the way of quarters here for a staff of one hundred and fifty-two."

"On a ship fueled by anti-matter, Your Serene Grace?"

Tisara turned around coldly. "On a ship with the firepower of a dreadnought and its shielding, but capable of the acceleration of a destroyer, and with a dreadnought's ECM and communications power as well. We can place ourselves with any element of the fleet in the coming engagement and direct actions from considerable safety as long as we do our best to avoid direct battle. You may recall it was once a custom for admirals to command fleets from detached cruisers to stay out of the heat of the battle and allow their decision-making to be more cautious."

But you are not renowned for cautious decision-making, Ilahmbh thought, though she didn't elaborate. "Is there anything else, Your Serene Grace?"

"Issue a War Warning to this sector, the Terran Confederation territories, and the Earth Sector, and all seven adjoining sectors. Inform them that large-scale surprise attacks by Cylon forces are expected within days or possibly hours. The information was obtained by Special Technical Means of the Sectorial Governor of Oralnif Spinward, myself," she concluded simply. "And then order the fleet to enter position Epsilon-Trianguli and stay continuously at Condition Two."

"Of course." Ilahmbh, to her credit, never questioned the orders. "Captain Dhirisma," she decided on politeness in that moment to the AI, and didn't regret it, "I'll need access to your communications facilities for myself and the staff."

"Of course." Dhirisma tore herself away from Ysalha, led to the staff away.. And then popped up another hologram of herself back in the corridor. "Alright. Tisara, I apologize for being so overprotective. Can we go... Back to your and Ysalha's quarters, and talk over how we're going to do this?"

"She can really never leave you?" Tisara was suspiciously, fearfully eyeing her almost catatonically withdrawn lover.

"Not without insanity leading to death," Dhirisma replied simply. "I wish I was sorry, but..."

"There's no need to be. I'm here, after all," Ysalha said softly, smiled, and curled herself into Tisara, brightening the Archduchess' mood in a fraction of a heartbeat. "But yes. Let's go and try to find a working arrangement, for the moment. I will indeed never leave Dhirisma's embrace... But I'll never leave your's, either. We may be in combat within hours, days at most, so..."

"Find something that works, and stick with it until we can get to know each other better?" Dhirisma offered.

"Fair enough," Tisara answered, having decided from the moment she'd authorized the procedure that no matter the outcome, she'd stay with Ysalha. Now that meant accepting a nosy AI as a permanent participant in her personal life, and the vicious noblewoman was as resigned to its inevitability as she was snappish in the present. Tisara Urami, whatever her flaws, loved Ysalha with a singleminded devotion that hadn't swayed yet. But she also had a war to fight once again, and that consideration rapidly overwhelmed all others.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-08 10:21am

Chapter Twenty-Eight.

The Planet Oralnif,
Colonial Refugee Arcology,
26 APRIL 2169 AST.

Lucianne d'Orvilliers had woken up to find her bed unoccupied. That was quite an unusual experience; Najhakia kept late hours for a serving officer and usually slept in with her lover. She had however left a note ordering Lucianne explaining why, and it told her that the gig was up, more or less: Love, ten sectors are on war warning. A massive Cylon attack is imminent. Get to our hunting lodge in the Tradamhi hills, and get in the blast shelter. I'll come for you when it's over. Dearest love, Najhakia. Even the batgirl Shykhala was gone, a regular enlisted soldier of the Starfighter Corps, she had another duty assignment for situations like this, though she had quietly packed Lucy's things for her and left a wrapped sub sandwich--Shykhala had always insisted on cooking human food for her, even though she disapproved of the relationship, as a kindness--atop the pile.

How typically Taloran to let someone sleep in on the eve of a major attack, but have everything ready for them to run like hell when they do wake up. Or else someone had simply forgotten to turn on the alarm for her. It was rather typical either way, actually. "Good luck, Major," Lucy said softly to the clear air. "I hope you have a more honourable life in war than your perversions could ever let you enjoy in peace. And I'll pray for your soul, Shykhala. The Lord knows you deserve to go to heaven more than I do." On the off chance the house survived the strike, she indulged in a goodbye note before dashing with her bags and the sandwich to a jet hopper, but not one that would take her to the private aircar that Najhakia kept in a rented garage in Rivala City. It took her to the shielded Colonial Arcology, instead. Safer than Rivala, but also likely a bigger target, and certainly not a highly reinforced blast shelter in the middle of nowhere.

But that was due to the simple fact that Lucy wasn't hiding. She was bugging out, but she wasn't going to do it without the person who represented the focus of her entire mission out here in the Oralnif, including her infiltration of the closed sector via her relationship with Najhakia. The Talorans were pathetic about internal security, and letting perverts in the officer corps take pet humans into active warzones was a comparatively minor crime in the list of their base sins against the field of counter-espionage. However, to successfully get off the planet, she needed a ride. That meant contacting Mikhail Vern, the morally dubious commander of the fast 4-megatonne dry cargo transport Calypso, and making sure he hadn't left the system yet.

The whole civilian coms network had been cut down as an emergency measure. Fortunately, Lucy's personal wristcom was a military model and she had Najhakia's network access codes. That made the rest of the affair trivially simple. She dialed in the Calypso's private military-grade line. "Are you planning to bug out, Mikhail?" Fortunately her relationship with Mr. Vern was entirely professional; maintaining and cultivating sexual relationships with two different individuals on one mission was stressful enough. Casual sex was easier, but she'd been working with Vern for three years and it hadn't come up yet.

"We're leaving in six hours, considering my cloak. All traffic out of the system has been locked down, of course, but they can't stop us if we go anyway, and I have clearance through the outer defences from a Major Gaeta in the Colonial Navy. Need a ride back home, Lucy?"

"Alpha Six Niner. The Chicken is in the Mausoleum. The Chicken is in the Mausoleum." There was another reason Lucy was glad Mikhail Vern hadn't forced her into sex; she hated cavalier operatives who played their roles so well that they committed unnecessary sins. They existed, and she knew it was ultimately unavoidable, but they were preciously rare. The selection procedures were good, after all. She also killed the com after that; there was no more that needed to be said, and Taloran electronic warfare was actually very good. Constitutionally and traditionally banned from being used to surveil their population, it could and would be used on military networks and piggybacking like that for a moment longer would have gotten extremely dangerous.

Of course, she had no idea if Mikhail was a regular agent or had been turned by another agent (or volunteered as an anti-Taloran act) and was simply a reliable bailout option on the list she had memorized--including the codephrases to activate them--who had never had even a cursory contact with more than a single agent, and dead-drops for his pay. She'd find out soon enough; their cover was blown after this, and after what she was about to do. But she was going to retrieve far more than her superiours could have dreamed of.

The jet-hopper landed in one of the Arcology's bays and she was immediately out and moving through the complex elevator and people-mover system which brought her to the apartments of one D'anna Biers, hopefully still there after the desperate message she'd dashed out while boarding the jet-hopper. D'anna was packed for the mandatory evacuation, at least, the first step into the room showed that. And then she was there, and in the moment of nervousness, they embraced and kissed without even speaking. Revulsion was just as effective as pleasure at distracting one from imminent death.

"I, uh, have forged documents which can get us to the Last Freighter Out, more or less," Lucy said nervously. "Can we go now?"

D'anna through about it for a moment. Of course she should stay and wait for the rest of the Cylons to arrive... And quite possibly get blown up. Easier to signal them from a freighter, and easier to seize control of a freighter. Assuming they didn't successfully escape before the attack, at which point she'd simply follow her own original plan. It only required a moment of consideration as to what was the best way to use poor nervous Lucy to the hilt. "Go ahead, my dear. I trust you." She grabbed the bags which consisted of her earthly possessions and followed Lucy in a dash through the arcology to one of the last elevators going straight up.

Near the top at the last terrace was a shuttle receiving/launching platform, and it was here that they arrived a minute later. There was a crowd pressing around, though, mostly to get to the jet hoppers packed there, when suddenly out of the clear air flashed into existence the clean lines of several Cylon Raiders. D'anna sucked in a breath from the abrupt sense of contact with them while they swung in and raked the Arcology with fire. The impacts tore through the surface, but it was massively built to withstand its own weight, and though debris tore through several individuals in the crowd and splashed blood here and there, their floor did not collapse.

"God have mercy!" Lucy exclaimed sharply. "They jumped in directly to atmo! That level of accuracy is impossible--come on, we've got to hurry before they take out the shuttles. CLEAR OUT, Imperial officer coming through!" And the shout, suddenly powerful and authoritative, indeed made the panicking group of Colonials clear as quickly as they could, dragging along D'anna with a hand on her's, suddenly so terribly strong from such a tiny woman, exactly five feet tall as she was.

They reached the bay just as the first Cylon Heavy Raider was landing. Lucy was about to dash for the shuttle even as the doors of the Heavy Raider were blasting open. Suddenly an incredible force dug into her arm and yanked her to a halt. "Sorry, Lucy, but it's the end of the road for you," D'anna Biers offered very softly.

Then D'anna screamed in pain as the plastic flechettes tore her forearm in two, the sharp crack of a plastic explosive detonating following. The ceramic flechette pistol had cost the Empire tens of millions of thalers to develop and each one cost ten or twenty thousand. It was the first time that she'd ever had occasion to use her's, and it had worked as advertised, just as it had remained hidden, using an equally expensive plastic explosive which did not show up on normal anti-explosives scanning equipment, for all fourty-five years of her active-duty intelligence career to date.

With an inexorable force, the Cylon next felt a terrifying presence in her mind, compelling, ordering, demanding her obedience. Power-armoured troops were already responding to the raid, having been waiting in the wings to ambush the ambushers, even though nobody had realized the Cylon drives were so accurate they could jump directly into the atmo. That would certainly cause far more Taloran casualties than it might have otherwise--but there were other things to worry about. She locked a compulsion into D'anna to run into the shuttle and turned to face her foes with an assassin's pistol that had five rounds left. And the powers of one of the most capable psychics ever found in a population of trillions.

The delicate little elfin lady with the ceramic pistol concentrated, having no need for shields here, and focused all of her mind-powers into the Six stepping down from the Raider. The woman shrieked as her mind was overwhelmed in such a way that would surely destroy it, but she also raised her pistol numbly and started firing into the backs of the heads of her Centurions, while that flechette gun raked apart their optical sensors, blinding them. The Six dropped with her centurions, frothing, her mind completely destroyed in an utterly unethical way--but the only thing that permitted the survival of the woman in front of them, bleeding from the glancing wound that one of the Centurions had nonetheless gotten on her. She staggered back into the shuttle, where the pilot had almost raised the ramp to take off, but another pass by the Raiders had discouraged him long enough for her to join D'anna--the final component in her successful mission, for of course the poor pilots had no idea of what was going on, and certainly couldn't be allowed to live.

She had killed to defend herself before, but as she used Najhakia's Squadron-level override code to grab a survival pistol out of the back of the shuttle and then was slammed into the back wall by the intensity of the redlining acceleration, she genuinely regretted that her was she was committing the ultimate sin, even if it was in the service of the Empire, short of the blasphemy of God. She was going to murder two innocent men in cold blood. But first, they were going to get her out of the atmosphere.

She turned her attention to the furious D'anna Biers, unable to understand what had happened to her. "What? Who... You're..."

"A psychic," she calmly answered. "As for the rest, I suppose you will learn soon enough regardless, so I can afford you an introduction--nothing else." She spoke while she hog-tied the Cylon and then dealt with a tourniquet over the shattered stump of her arm, and a few stabilizing general purpose shot cocktails from the medpack. She couldn't even afford the time to dress the steadily bleeding wound on the side of her stomach, and the pain was consuming her mind like a psychic combat.

"I am Senior Inspector Sophia Dragomira Vuletic of His Catholic Majesty's Service, and I promise you, D'anna Biers, that if you wish to learn about human monotheistic religions, we will at least provide you with a priest. We are not cruel people; just practical. As for your religion, your people, their military capabilities and the nature of your species, well, we are going to learn a great deal about those as well. I can guarantee you an all-expenses paid trip to the Holy Roman Empire, and a Confessor. Beyond that, I suggest cooperation. It tends to leave one alive afterwards to consider such spiritual matters, when otherwise you will meet our Maker as you are. And considering the sin we've indulged in the past two days, I recommend against it."

She smiled tightly, and then turned abruptly at the sound of the door to the cockpit opening. It was unfortunate, for it meant she was going to get to know the men she killed far to well. She had to look in the eyes of this one as she brought the survival pistol up and squeezed off a tungsten round straight into the torso of the man, tearing through parts of both lungs before he could even make a strangled cry and sending him to flop back into the cockpit. Then she was into the mind of the second pilot--both hapless mercenaries hired by the Colonials to beef up the nascent recovery of their military--and crushed out his life in a terrific effort that left her completely exhausted, drained of all the energy in her body. A psychic, having taken over one person temporarily, wiped the mind of another while directing her to attack her comrades, and then simply outright overwhelmed a third and killed with brute force--and done it all in less than ten minutes--was in danger of outright slipping into a very serious coma from the neurological consequences of such overexertion.

Yet she couldn't, when there was a shuttle to pilot and a mission to complete. So Sophia grabbed the one injector in the emergency kit with the longest, thinnest needle and ripped open her shirt in her haste. She was wounded, too, and that made the chance of death from this, the most potent of the Taloran combat drugs, rather likely. But if she got to Vern's freighter, she'd have succeeded, and Senior Inspector Vuletic was a legend of the Service: She had yet to fail a mission. Her only fear was in facing her Creator without confession; and so she begged to Mary to intercede on her behalf with the Lord Christ as she ripped off her bra, too, and then with the last bit of her fading consciousness slammed the automatic interjector down through her skin and straight into her heart.

It was synthetic adrenaline.

She threw her head back and howled like an animal through a raw throat as she pulled the needle out, the surge overwhelming every pain receptor in her body, but also pushing her to action with a roaring heartbeat. And indeed, even if it destroyed her heart in her present condition, the sheer power of the drug would keep her alive and functional for maybe thirty minutes, maybe less. Sophia bound her wound in crisp silence and reached the shuttle's cockpit as they cleared the atmosphere, settling in and switching to manual control. She veered away from the Battlestars that were already accelerating out of orbit anyway with a cordon of Taloran-built destroyers and frigates around them, and aimed the prow toward the Gunboat cordon, supported by the fire of several platforms, that was protecting the civilian shipping in orbit.

Around them the remnants of the Cylon raid under the planetary shields was rapidly being finished off, as well as the orbital raiders. The accuracy of their jumpdrives had surprised the Talorans, but they'd still be sitting with their guns loaded, ready for a fight. The response had taken only seconds, and within minutes the situation had been brought under control. Of course from the civilian chatter--the military channels were, with absolute discipline that could be comfortably expected from Talorans in combat, very quiet and fully encrypted--it sounded like there was a massive fleet of Baseships and corvettes with additional fighters swarming in on them at the moment, but the fleet had gone to max acceleration from the moment the jump signals had warned of impending arrival and was clawing for deep space to gain the advantage on their attackers. Sophia wished them luck.

She was successfully passing through the cordon--it was straightforward, with the Battlestars having peeled off with the rest of the fleet, they needed somewhere safe to go--and enroute to the Calypso when her heart seized up with a horrible, horrible pain, worse than anything she might have imagined. Her body started to go numb immediately, but it was still functional as the adrenaline forced the still-living cells to continue functioning and to use all of their remaining energy reserves in their local areas before shutting down, instead of doing so immediately. It was enough that she was yet able to acquire the docking beacon of the Calypso and bring the shuttle in. When she crashed, it would be hard, rapid, and fatal. But as the docking clamps locked firmly onto the shuttle, she turned back and laughed with glee in the incredible intensity of the experience the drug lent to her.

"I'm a walking dead woman, D'anna." Her face fell even as she said that, stepping back into the compartment, a pain sending her face into a rictus of agony. "But the marvelous pharmacology these people have will keep me alive long enough to receive Extreme Unction, if the ship has a priest. If not, to be on the safe side--I apologize for deceiving you, and for abetting your Sapphist sins. My duty to the Emperor, as a spy, often requires me to do things that are not respectable to the morality of the Church, and for that I will shortly be called to account. I will offer you this--I hate to admit it, but you are a good lover, even if I'm not truly bisexual per say. And as you are an agent of your people, I am an agent of mine. Cooperate. You'll get a good life out of it."

"You lying, frakking bitch! Enjoy your slow death," D'anna screamed from the floor.

But then Mikhail Vern forced his way into the airlock. "Julius Storch at your service, Lucianne d'Orvilliers. How may I..." He paused at the sight of the bloodied bandage and the horrible countenance of Sophia's expression.

"Kaylanta-56," she gasped out with a voice that could barely work anymore. The potential life expectancy after cardiac arrest under the drug seemed distinctly overstated at that point.

"I'm afraid..."

And suddenly, inexplicably, D'anna Biers, a moment before cursing Sophia, spoke up quietly. "Do you have a priest onboard."


"Then... Synthetic adrenaline directly to the heart. Her heart's dead; that's what's keeping her alive."

Now it was Julius' turn to pale, and he offered a curt nod to his prisoner. "Your cooperation will be remembered," he added even as he reached over and enfolded Sophia in his arms, still not knowing her true name or rank, just that she had had the code and was clearly an Imperial agent in severe need of assistance. "We don't have a confessor," he offered, with a bit of his customary jovial nature returning. "But for you, right now, we have something better: A suspended animation tube."

Sophia kept laughing like a maniac until they put her under and activated the 'tube. The Calypso jumped out a few moments later, on a circuitous route that would go through uncharged deep space between the Galactic Arms but avoid the combat zone, and ultimately take them the back way to the interdimensional anomaly that would lead them into the CON-5 universe, and thence to the Holy Roman Empire.

Sophia had consented to eight complete reconstructive surgeries on her face over her career to fit into new roles in old nations she'd infiltrated, or in the case of two, including her most recent, to make her more attractive to paedophiles, but this would be her first artificial heart. The sheer damage from the synthetic adrenaline would probably end her field carrier for good, but the successful kidnapping of a high-value-target straight out of a quarantined sector in a foreign Empire was as good of a finish as anyone could want. Those who had confounded and infuriated by the ease with which the deeply devote woman had calmly violated every moral stricture of her religion, and volunteered herself for situations not even an Imperial agent would be asked to place themselves in, and then dug deeper of her own initiative, would be pleased. As for the rest of her colleagues, it said enough that she'd left more corpses behind her in the past hour than in the rest of her life.

Yet through it all, she'd finished the mission just like all the others, dedicated in her soul, as they always were, to the memory of her parents, her mother dead by fifty-two, father at fifty-six, living medieval lives under the 'care' of the Bogumils, who had died without knowledge of the True Faith but had been gifted with the last moral courage to hand their baby daughter over to a gruff NCO who had proved a surprisingly adept family man, even as they died from the radiation poisoning that she in her youth could recover from, the last remember of the suicide-gesture of the Bogumil overlords.

And so had a simultaneously fanatically zealous and incredibly amoral intelligence agent gone right under the nose of that incompetent Taloran counterintelligence, and hauled out a Cylon. D'anna Biers would doubtless soon be surprised; the leadership which had authorized this side-mission of Sophia's had some very particular questions to ask her. And the Calypso sailed on, leaving the fleets fully engaged many lightyears behind her.

PLA Air Defense Command,
Xi'an, Shaanxi Province,
Imperial Autonomous Republic
of the Union of Chinese Peoples.
26 AUGUST 2169 AST.

The Cylons had accomplished this once before. The complete destruction of helpless and unsuspecting worlds. It was supposed to be easy. But two hours prior, the War Warning had reached Earth. The planetary shields were raised, all patrolling anti-orbital missile subs went deep and the neutrino-based comms systems to provide targeting data to them were activated. Maximal staffing was brought to all hardened anti-orbital missile and energy batteries, SAM sites, and anti-missile sites.

"Enemy fighters in the atmosphere over Beijing, they just appeared right there! Also Nanjing, Taipei, Harbin and... Xi'an local is reporting one thousand fighters...!" The holographic plots were upgraded automatically and then, as fast as the three thousand fighters in the atmosphere and preparing to attack China appeared, they began to vanish. very rapidly. Under computer-reaction control, 1,200 SAMs in the Beijing Area Defense Corps had been launched at the small and nimble Raiders as they appeared in the stratosphere and began to dive. The missiles were loaded with 2.5 MT fusion warheads and accelerated out of their launch tubes at 12,000g's. The result was a simultaneous flaring of a wall of tiny suns surmounting columns of plasma from the superheated air rising up into the sky. Tens of thousands of people in the metropolis were blinded and some unfortunate dozens killed by related events, but it was an acceptable price to pay, as was the sizeable ecological devastation of the missile engagement now occurring all over the world. People now had the technology to repair the environments of their planets however; but with dead people, it would be worthless. Saving the cities was the first goal of the engagement.

To that end they simply dealt with the night suddenly turning into day over and over again as the weird perfect spheres of detonating nuclear devices filled the sky with menace and power and once-unfathomable solar energies that were now all-to-dreadfully common. The fight for the cities lasted less than a minute, and for all that, it was one of the most mechanistically savage that Terra had yet seen. The efforts of the Cylon Raiders to transmit computer viruses to shut down the defences was so pointless it was only hours after the attack that they were noticed: None of the radar control computers were wired into any sort of communications network except for hardwired leads into the command centers, where the control computers were completely network-segregated. The viruses caused widespread communications disruptions and destroyed numerous personal computers, but the communications between the facilities themselves were via deep-buried cables that were again network separated from the coms systems.

81 Cylon Raiders had survived the first SAM salvo. Each one fired two nuclear-tipped ground attack missiles at the Beijing Metropolitan Area. Simultaneously, the FTL sensor cued anti-missile defences engaged. Particle beams stuttered out while another two hundred missiles--this time, tiny interceptor cones capable of 40,000g's of acceleration carrying tiny 5kT fusion warheads--ripped through the latest assault force even as outlier SAM sites finished off the remaining Raiders. The atmosphere over the entire region was raised in temperature by a small amount due to the gigatonnes of energy being released within a few seconds, and the computer-controlled climate modifiers automatically started filtration of high-end ozones and cleaning and cooling of the air, with excess energy being shoved deep into the planet, where it would serve to help keep the core hot and the Earth, ironically, habitable for even longer.

The same was repeated at all of the targeted cities in China and most other targeted cities across the world. And inside the Air Defense Command bunker, Fraslia Baroness Istarlan was offering a reassuringly tight hand to Laura Roslyn as she relieved the destruction of her homeworld.

"How bad is it," she finally whispered.

"Estimate two hundred thousand fatalities," the controller said even as the shaking was finished in the ground around them. "They were using enhanced radiation weapons, so we've seen minimal structural damage. Only those caught because we hadn't completed the evacuations and securing of the populace in deep shelters," which was a mandatory procedure for a sectorial War Warning of Imminent Surprise Attack, "were killed in both the hit on Xi'an and the hit on Harbin. No other successful strikes were concluded."

"You killed six thousand fighters potentially armed with twelve thousand missiles in less than fifty t-seconds of engagement with two leakers?" Fraslia was grinning by that point. "Consider this the official compliments of the Imperial Starfleet, gentlemen. The PLA Air Defense Command has, I think, just equalled the best projections of regular Imperial Fortress Command for the interception of surprise city attacks--and done it with less warning."

"Two hundred thousand dead..?" Roslyn asked quietly and a little pointedly.

"In a country with a population of three billion on the planetary surface alone, an acceptable result. It'll probably be higher since they were using enhanced radiation fissionables, but still less than a half a million, counting post-attack fatalities. Total for the entire planet should be less than five million at that level of efficacy. Possibly even better."

With the threat to China taken care of, indeed, the plot had already changed to a worldwide interlinked map from the Imperial Fortress Command facilities in Antarctica and Greenland charged with coordinating the national defences for the planet. In addition to Xi'an and Harbin, the damage reports on the map showed that thirteen other cities had suffered nuclear hits, two--Detroit in the United States and Lagos in Nigeria--had suffered two each, and one air-defense SAM out of the tens of thousands launched had managed to go wild and have every safety fail and initiate on impact, vapourizing a small town of 5,000 in southern Portugal by sheer rotten luck. No attackers had escaped, and around 36,000 of the tiny and unshielded Raiders had therefore been destroyed by the interceptor radars locking onto them when they jumped in, calculating their position, and automatically firing missiles within a few microseconds. Their primitive missiles had been equally easy targets, with only 17 out of 72,000 having successfully initiated over their targets, though most had been destroyed before the Raiders could fire them by the destruction of the Raiders with the fusion-tipped SAMs.

A pause came up, and the scroll bar at the bottom was replaced with glaring red letters:


Roslyn wavered again. "Why do you tally it so mercilessly?" She asked Fraslia softly, as though not wanting to pose the question to other humans.

"To remind of what we have done wrong. Oh, sure, it was an excellent defence. One for the record-books. But the goal of soldiers is to protect civilians, ultimately, and to let one die is in its own way failure, no matter how you cut it." Fraslia sighed and began to gently guide Roslyn away. But she paused then, and with her iron suddenly regained, having processed and accepted what had just happened, turned to the mustachioed commander of the facility.

"Marshal Ye, are the Cylon heavies coming in?"

"Ah, Madame," he offered solicitously, "We read eighty-one new-type and nine old-type Baseships in the outer system, as well as about three hundred corvettes. But they have not made an attempt to enter the system yet. However, since the fighter compliment of a Baseship is 792, plus some to be constructed from spare parts and those in the maintenance departments, we destroyed the operational fighter compliments of fourty-six new-type Baseships. Their fighter force has been more than reduced by half, and since their gamble failed and they appeared to have been unaware of our capability to produce interlocking shields over entire planets, their chance has been lost."

"What about the High Orbitals, Marshal Ye?" Fraslia interjected at that point. With the enemy a dozen hours off and the first attacks defeated, the atmosphere began to relax from the absolute height of tension it had been at moments earlier, and generally since the crisis had begun and Fraslia had used her Taloran rank to get shelter for herself and Roslyn in the Air Defense Command headquarters in an abrupt departure from their visiting the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi.

"That's probably what they're debating whether or not to attack right now," he responded levelly. "Of course, each second they waste is another with our defensive battleships accelerating toward them at 700g's, and the operational Imperial ships at the Jovian yards maneouvring to bring them under two fires at 1,350 g's. The Darksiders," he used the slang for the colonial Republic of O'Neil cylinders--with a population of ten billion--on the far side of the Moon at L2, "have already launched their bomber, interceptor and gunboat regiments, and they're overhauling the BatDivs."

"A hundred and twenty thousand altogether, isn't it?"

"That's correct, Your Ladyship, though half are Space Superiourity fighters they're holding back to support the point defence, so the strike package is sixty thousand strong. Of course, that's pretty much their whole military..."

"But it's still a sixty-thousand strong strike package," Fraslia finished with a nod. "Once they get a read on it, they'll jump out. Call it eight minutes."

"Six. Ketjhar for you if you win, Vodka for me." The Marshal treated it as crisply and seriously as everything else.


Six minutes, four seconds later, the Cylon attacking force jumped out, rather than facing the avenging battle squadrons and fighter regiments moving in on it.

"And the Vodka is your's, Marshal, as it soon as it cools down enough for us to leave the bunker. They're learning much faster than I expected."

"Cools down enough for us to leave the bunker? You mean.." Laura glanced up.

"Yes, that strike on Xi'an was a direct initiation over our position. But the resistance of this facility is measured in millions of psi, so, there was nothing to comment on," Ye finished with a self-satisified smirk, and smugly left to check on his duty officers. And in this fashion had Earth been defended from the Cylon effort to bring the war to the Thirteenth Colony.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-09-08 06:40pm, edited 1 time in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-09 03:33am

Chapter Twenty-Nine.

Oralnif System,
Oralnif Sector.
HSMS Verlandhi
26 AUGUST 2165

Chop, chop, chop, crack! The sound of damage control on a modern cruiser could at times be quite like that on an old sailing ship of war. CPO Wivas Retandre was leading his crewers in the hacking of all the mains into the coms network from the broadcast channels, while the power was shut off manually and breaks thrown into the lines.

The toasters had somehow gotten to their computers, so of course the communications facilities were down. These were disconnected from the rest of the ship's computer grid, however, which meant their complete isolation was now complete. It also meant their communications equipment was dead, though the ship was otherwise fighting fit.

"Chief, is it clear through here?" A lieutenant from sensors approached, and he simply continued locking down--everyone was in vacsuits, and formal salutes were for other times. He glanced up to her respectfully for a moment. "Going on to comslas one, ma'am?"

"Ahh, no. I'm taking over the tachyon translight broadcaster."

"Best of luck, ma'am." He turned away; the ship needed to recover from this and be ready for the proper combat now that the Cylon electronic warfare had given them their hardest blow.

Lieutenant Sergashi crammed her way into the maintenance access located high up in the forward of the two massive armoured sensor towers of the cruiser--resembling the command towers of old steam warships, but lacking in any sort of command facilities, purely sensors, the bridge located deep in the keel--and grabbed an emergency strap to wrap around herself, before shutting the panel. The massive energized array had been lobotomized by the fire-axes, and before that had been maliciously spreading junk under the influence of the computer virus.

They'd responded as they were trained to do in such circumstances, ordering everyone to lock down their workstations to prevent transfers between the comms network (always the most vulnerable) and the main battle networks, and triggering manual guillotines which physically cut the cables to rapidly prevent any spreading infections to subsidiary communications. Engineering and the other self-contained communications networks had been unaffected, but their coms were down, and Kilashia Sergashi had the misfortune of being a coms officer. She'd made her way from her useless relay station deep into the hull up to the very top of the armoured sensor mast in only three minutes, and it would be her battle station for the rest of the engagement. With a flashlight maneouvred by tucking it under her shoulder, she aimed at the DNI jack, grabbing the cable which went into her suit, the suit in turn having an internal jack which connected with the receiver in her neck. Slotting in, she ran a diagnostic on the translight relay even as she was plugging her suit into the mechanical intercom jack.

Routing to the bridge took a painfully long time, but once the channel had been manually switched to the correct one, it would and could simply remain open, no computers required, just electricity, for the rest of the battle, giving them nearly as good of internal communications as they'd had. "Captain, Lieutenant Sergashi reporting. I've got the translight relay up."

"Very good, Lieutenant! We're the first in the squadron to bring our's back online! Laser signals from the Squadron flag to be transmitted: 'Report CRURON 266 holding last ordered position and acceleration in the fleet. Request orders over last four minutes, fifty-five seconds."

"Understand, Your Ladyship," Sergashi replied, and operated the translight relay herself, powering it up and activating the necessary nodes in the manual command sequence via her DNI to transmit the message toward the flagship. She was scared--she'd heard the scuttlebutt that the fleet flagship had been shifted to an automated vessel--that they were leaderless, but a moment later the message came back, and from a live automatic system no less--instead of being more vulnerable, the flagship had apparently easily dealt with it.

CRURON 266 hold course and acceleration for the next five minutes, seventeen seconds and then if further orders are not issued reduce to fourteen-sixteenths acceleration.

"Acknowledged," she flashed back quickly, fancying the system was heavily overloaded even as she flashed the message to her cybernetic hard-drive and spoke outloud, automatically feeding to the manual bridge intercom. "CRURON 266 hold course and acceleration for the next five minutes," her brain-clock provided the seconds, "fourteen seconds and then if further orders are not issued reduce to fourteen-sixteenths acceleration."

"Did you acknowledge?" Captain the Baroness Verashja asked sharply, not very used to the awkwardness.


"Very good. We've relayed it by laser repeaters to the flagship. Carry on, lieutenant."

Sergashi quickly found herself overwhelmed trying to do the work of a computer, and was mercifully relieved that she'd stopped along the way to snag some of the most powerful mental stimulants they had available--no, the most powerful presently available in the fleet--or else she would have never handled it with the rapidity needed. She spoke so fast that she sounded like an auctioneer to those on the bridge, but they comprehended her as she flew through the messages, which were being dispersed to every ship in the squadron to avoid overwhelming her counterpart on the squadron's flagship, the Ilantyak, thirty-two lieutenants jacked directly into the main and backup translight relays of each ship handling messages with as much data-flow and complexity and speed as they could possibly manage with their cybernetics, and doing it non-stop for the rest of the engagement.

Even the fears of being in a fairly exposed condition vanished. She simply worked as fast as she could to avoid a fatal backlog and keep the manual backup system working smoothly. She was lucky; even more volume was being handled by the psychics attached to the staffs of the Admirals and Commodores of the fleet, but they at least had fewer limitations and strains from the exercise of their powers in such a fashion. And so, the fleet's communications network was restored, and sluggishly it began to respond as one body again at Tisara's personal command.

HSMS Dhirisma

"I had not expected them to be able to do that," Dhirisma said with a touch of childlike curiousity. "They actually tried to hack an AI. Of course they surely didn't know what I was, but, wow that was stupid."

Tisara laughed despite herself. "My dear computer, your innocence is charming. However, your security protocols are a relief. Our complete communications network is still intact?"

"Oh, of course, I purged the virus quite easily. In fact, I can probably send upgrades out to all the other ships, except that...."

"...Nobody with a DNI in the fleet except me has the ability to handle that kind of dataload. Well, at least it'll let us fix the infected computers rather than replace them," Ysalha said from where she stood by some of the side tactical plots, two-dimensional supplies supporting the main holotank.

"Charming," Tisara remarked as she watched the massive and developing strike from the enemy force. "We're fighting with manual relays for our coms against... One hundred and eighteen new-type Baseships, ninety transitional Baseships, fourty-five old type baseships, thirty of the refined new-type, and then what's that other design there toward the center of the formation?"

"Read nine ships of a slightly enlarged version of the transitional Baseship model, except with more heavy bolt-on armour and massive dorsal and ventral heavy cannon turrets," Dhirisma answered instantaneously. "Strange that they're not trying to jam us..."

"A new class meant to be capable of fighting our heavy ships on even terms?" Captain Ilahmbh asked for the communications she was monitoring and sending.

"Likely," Ysalha replied. "They are very adaptive. And they're..." Her face tensed. "Something's going on..."

"Oh hell! They just went to full jamming. Lost the entire fleet picture, including the developing strike," Dhirisma frowned sharply. "And we can't counter their jammers through more than squadron-level coordination. Clever of them to wait until now, so we couldn't get a handle on their systems while the fleet was still interlinked. Now it'll be almost impossible to cut through the waves of jamming they're running. And Ysalha, dear, you actually heard them planning that in advance?"

"I wasn't sure what it was."

"Well, you've proved yourself so far," Tisara smiled softly. "So speak up at whatever intuition you get. We'll use it to counterbalance the way they've managed to improve their odds with that virus to the best of their abilities, my love. Anyway, you know I trust you."

"Thank you, but I hope you trust Dhirisma as well, these days."

"She did perform admirably," Tisara answered, pausing a moment and blinking furiously. The next question was far more polite than the prior ones: "Dhirisma, were the Colonial ships affected?"

"One moment." The interrogative was sent to Admiral Tigh and the response came back within seconds. "Negative. The Galactica, Pegasus and Kshatriya all have full coms systems, though their escorts have of course lost them. This virus was tailored against Taloran military computer systems, Your Serene Grace." The AI had settled on politeness for the moment, even as she mumbled afterwards, "I still can't believe they actually thought they could hack me."

"Thank you." Her eyes flickered up to indicate a bit of amusement. "Well, your first baptism in fire, my dear. Are our destroyer flotillas standing by?"

"Laser repeaters have them all on station, Your Serene Grace."

"Heading thirty-six North fourteen East Solar Relative, flanks best force acceleration, send Commander Colonial Fleet."

"Transmitting.. And acknowledged."

"Develop a course to bring us around to interlink with them for real-time coordination but still stand-off. We need the best picture of the enemy fleet that we can get and that means concentrating our remaining EW assets for maximum efficacy."


"Hmm." Tisara stepped crisply forward to glance over the plots. "Once they've assembled their strike, I do believe they're going to jump in directly against the fleet. They don't know how badly they've wounded us. They may think it worse, or believe they haven't really harmed us at all. Dhirisma, I want you to signal the fleet to spread out into dispersed formation and dispersed squadron formations necessary to maintain safe intervals at superlight and prepare for gravito-magnetic operations. We are going to close at superlight in against their heavies at the same time their strike jumps in to where our fleet should be. Everything must be planned simultaneously."

"Of course, Admiral."

"At the same time, order the battleship squadrons in orbit to prepare to use gravito-magnetic superlight as well, to the far side of the enemy fleet at about... Grid space EN-560599. We'll need their firepower here. The Cylons won't close with the stations until they've finished us."

An assumption. Dhirisma frowned and prepared to protest, but Ysalha's soft voice advised against it, and inside she shrugged and gave in to her closest of partners possible. Of course, Ysalha. If you think she's right..

She's experienced. Learn from what she has to offer, and you'll see the method in the madness. She knows how battles develop.

Tisara waited quietly while the readiness reports crisply filtered back over and over again, clarifying the dispersal and slowing in the fleet's formations in preparation for the abrupt jump to supralight dirve. In the meanwhile the two forces came together, the Taloran ships marked by their tactical reports and the Cylon ships indistinct, unrecognizable through the electronic fog.

"The fleet's in dispersed formation and awaiting the order to jump. The selected coordinates will take them directly into the enemy formation," Dhirisma flickered the ears of her hologram nervously at the last point.

"I'm well aware, Captain."

"They're ready too," Ysalha added softly, having sat down on the spacious flagbridge Dhirisma was equipped with--it doubled as a command station for her, and she sat locked into it by several wired hookups as virtually a part of the ship's architecture for the moment. "Not sure why they haven't given the order to jump yet."

"Stand by fortress command," Tisara ordered abruptly. "Salvo all assault missiles on dispersed spreads into the present fleet formation."

"All of them?"

"We need to attrite the numbers of their fighters. Launch... Now."

"The fleet's still in that position, Tisara," Ysalha softly pointed out.

"It won't be for long, will it?"

"No, no, they're debating the plan of action..."

"We need those missiles right ontop of them, or they'll turn around and jump out. Order the launch."

"Transmitting the orders, Aye," Dhirisma straightened her ears toward Tisara. "I see the logic in that, Your Serene Grace."

"Now that's a good girl," Tisara murmured, thrusting her thumbs under her belt and stepping closer to the holoplot and coolly waited as the minutes past and the formations drew closer to each other. "Order the fleet to fire a blind salvo into the enemy force--no Assault MIssiles. See if we can't get any useful information from it now that we're close enough to Admiral Tigh's taskgroup to link our sensors together. That has been done, yes?"

"Of course, Sir."

The standard missile salvo tore out of its tubes, somewhat more ragged than usual, and accelerated toward their targets even as the massive assault missiles from the planet headed toward the position of the Taloran starfleet.

"The fleet is at extreme effective range. Few hits are likely to be obtained."

"I'm well aware. That isn't the point. Wait." Tisara settled her hands on the railing and led them in the example of doing so, her scarred face inscrutable as she observed the development. It would take thirty minutes or more for the missile strike to reach its targets even with that lead velocity, and the Assault Missiles would arrive at the position of the fleet about two minutes later. The timing would have to be fairly exquisite.

Now that they were starting to get a better tactical picture of the Cylon force, it was: When the missiles finally began to reach their targets, they started to vanish at extreme ranges and the flickering of the electronics of countermissile warheads was clearly detected a few times. "So it is. Before they just used KEV point-defence. They've started arming their ships with countermissiles in the past months. I wonder what other surprises they have up their sleeves...."

"The hybrids have been asked to send the orders for the jump," Ysalha spoke in a distant, strained, inhuman voice, very, very urgently. "They're going to jump now!"

"Fleet to superlight!"

"Fleet signals: Full superlight on pattern!" Dhirisma repeated as she crisply transmitted it through her own intact coms computers.

The fleet engaged the superlight or military drives which forced the gravito-magnetic transition to higher dimensional submergence, per what the humans had commonly called Heim Theory. The moment they did they were racing at somewhat more than 53.4c toward the enemy fleet, and covered the distance in just a few seconds. Even as they were in transit, the Cylon Raider group arrived at its destination, every single one of them armed with two nuclear-tipped missiles, and then the Heavy Raiders armed with more, and to the surprise of everyone, a fair number of Old Type Raiders armed with even more massive numbers of nuclear missiles.

"They've revived the design as a bomber?" Dhirisma speculated, well aware with it from her shared memories of Ysalha's rescue.

"Possible," Captain Ilahmbh dared engage the AI from the far side of the bridge. Than the holo-plot lit up as two things happened. First, the 4,096 incoming Assault Missiles, enormously expensive and accelerating at incredible speeds, with reattacking capability, basically automatic starships operating in linked groups, began to fire their sixteen warheads each. Each warhead was a terminal seeker head for a standard heavy torpedo, accelerating at 40,000g's for 3 Taloran seconds and carrying a 10 gigatonne area effect anti-matter boosted fusion warhead. A total of 65,536 10 gigatonne warheads were fired into the forward of Cylon fighters, representing 655,360 gigatonnes of firepower, detonated largely simultaneously around and amidst some 150,000 Cylon raiders of all types. The area literally became a small sun for several minutes as the fireballs burned around each other and did not flicker away for a substantial length of time.

"Fleet's dropped out of FTL space," Ilahmbh noted as Tisara turned away from the sun she'd just created, not really caring about the disposition of the Cylon force anymore; they probably had at least another 50,000 fighters, so it was scarcely all over yet, and many may well have survived. "Four collisions, three with the enemy, three ships lost, Your Serene Grace."

"Acceptable." It might well mean 50,000 dead instantaneously, or a hundred thousand, but it was exactly that. "Now you know why I ordered torpedo pods rather than missile pods."

"You intended a close engagement all along?" Ysalha looked surprised.

"I didn't think the Cylons would expect us to fight at close ranges. Their ships are at any rate optimized for long range missile bombardment and there was only so much they can.... Captain Ilahmbh, are those energy readings what I think they are?"

"We are receiving scattered but increasing reports, Your Serene Grace, that yes, the Cylon ships are shielded."

"This is going to be harder than I thought it would be."

"Incoming! More than seventeen thousand fighters have jumped in against us! Right on top of us. Engaging.." Dhirisma didn't even flicker or seem upset, though it was using substantially more of her processing power as her countermissile batteries began rapidly flushing, the Cylons firing their missiles immediately on arriving, and she was somewhat more exposed in comparison with the Battlestars and the Kshatriya.

"Starfighter corps support units move in," Tisara answered. "Seems a reasonable use for their remaining fighters from that strike, though I'm surprised with their distributed command network they were able to realize our's would be centralized. Hmm." She frowned, flexed her ears as much as her helmet allowed in consternation, and slapped a gloved hand light on the railing, before reluctantly turning around to the Admiral's command chair and strapping herself in as the first hits started thudding against dreadnought-scale shielding.

There was at least one substantial advantage the fleet had. Its hyper-fast accelerating short-range attack torpedoes, which were fired out of massive semi-trainable mass drivers, could exit the tube at substantial velocities and then accelerate at 40,000g's for up to 15 Taloran seconds afterwards including the final homing engine—all the engines were simple anti-matter rockets for maximum acceleration, making the torpedoes ride a progressively developing explosion—giving them substantial energy. The pods on all the warships which could fit them were the variant fitted with massive banks of torpedoes for close-range engagements. This meant that the normal salvoes were considerably enlarged—the broadside of sixteen tubes on the Dreadnoughts was now thirty-two tubes, for example, and more fore and aft as well.

What made them so lethal was their energy. The rapidity of acceleration in this combat, where both fleets had, through the cheating of the gravito-magnetic interactions, effectively matched velocities (the Talorans had turned around while superlight and then dropped back out, conserving their prior sublight momentum in doing so). That meant the faster-accelerating Taloran torpedoes had the advantage over the Cylon countermissiles, which were still fairly primitive and slow, while the main Cylon missile armament were sitting ducks for the Taloran countermissiles which used the same technology as their torpedoes, not having enough energy at the short ranges of engagement to manoeuvre or avoid interception.

On the other hand, the Taloran starfighters, though finally available in very large numbers by their standards (some 30,000 in all, including gunboats, were deployed with the main fleet), the 50,000 Raiders they still faced were far more manoeuvrable, and in a close-range dogfight that gave them the decisive advantage. The nuclear missiles of the Raiders proved able to kill the Taloran starfighters and gunboats and casualties mounted rapidly, so that they were forced to break off with their remaining numbers and resort to slashing and harrying attacks to at least deny the Raiders a chance to fall back and rearm or turn themselves for attacks on the starships, including the crucial danger of kamikaze attacks.

Around Dhirisma, though, one thousand Colonial Vipers and 12,000 Taloran starfighters and gunboats now fought their engagement with 17,000 Raiders, and most of those were the heavy or older types, which had survived the efforts of the missileers because it turned out the Cylons had been able to fit those vessels with shields as well, everything except the tiny new-type Raiders, in fact. The dogfight swirled around the 200 Taloran Destroyers and Destroyer Leaders which provided the combined escort for Dhirisma, the cruiser Kshatriya, and the two Battlestars.

It was a serious fight, and the casualties among the destroyers were mounting; nine had been lost already, as well as one of the larger Destroyer Leaders. The Cylons had however attacked the Colonial ships heavily, only to find that the issue of shielding went both way. They had all completed their refits, which meant that massive plates of heavy dreadnought-grade armour covered their hulls, and battleship grade shielding protected them. The shields of the proud Galactica and Pegasus shrugged off the assaults and their defensive batteries, aided by bolt-on packs of Taloran countermissiles being used in an anti-fire role, tore through the attackers by the dozen.

“They're not going to like it when I show I'm still quite clearly in control of the situation,” Tisara showed her teeth savagely. “But we'll deal with it when it comes. Order the battleships in!”

“Of course, my love,” Ysalha answered with a dreamy distraction as she listened in as best she could to the scattered madness of the hybrids with which she was inextricably linked.

The battleships accelerated to lightspeed at the order, all sixteen of them in a close formation and coming in along a grid line which was now on the opposite side of the moving tangle of the two fleets than it had been, but that was the entire point. The largely unengaged sector gave them a clear path of fire, and their pods were loaded with heavy missiles for a long-range engagement. They first tore through the distracted Cylon Baseships, using their countermissiles to try and intercept torpedoes, finding the different strike package hard to immediately adapt to, with those massed salvoes of tens of thousands of missiles from their pods, rolling the ships to fire their starboard pods concentrations after the port. And then they engaged with their gun batteries, making full acceleration to keep up with the moving tangle of enemy and friendly ships and firing in massed salvoes from the guns of sixteen battleships, nearly equal to a dreadnought squadron, and tearing through and crippling or destroying outright three or four of the weaker new-type Baseships with a salvo at a time, tearing up their fleshy hulls, their close-order formation allowing salvo coordination via laser relay despite the disabled coms computers.

“Order the dreadnoughts to assemble outside of the main engagement envelope, to fall back on the Battleships and use concentrated gunnery to smash them to pieces. I fancy their torpedo stores are nearly exhausted in the pods, and already have been in the hull—nobody anticipated this kind of torpedo heavy engagement at close quarters, even if four or six of the things can put paid to even a shielded Baseship, I'd wager.” Tisara's face was savagely proud even as the hull of the Dhirisma shuddered abruptly and hard.

“They've resorted to kamikaze tactics,” Dhirisma professionally warned, even though she unquestionably felt fear now.

“But I can hear it when they decide to attack. I can feel the Raiders,” Ysalha said softly, “The new Cylons are stupid, they relay on the hybrids, I can hear the orders being relayed. I... Taking over defensive targeting control from you, Dhirisma.”

“Do it.”

Dhirisma handed over her own life into the hands of the shattered woman she'd bounded with, who occupied no small part of her mind—and the pair worked perfectly for it. Ysalha designed the targets as she knew they were going to dive in on the ship in kamikaze strikes, and each time as she did more of them exploded instantaneously. None of them were able to get through because she was always able to concentrate the defensive fire on the kamikazes and ignore the Raiders not tasked to suicide runs, that were distracted engaging in the fighters and gunboats or supporting the kamikazes with gun passes against the shields.

Abruptly, with a heavy thrum in the hull, the secondary batteries opened up on wide dispersal as well, and they began to slash and shatter the enemy forces attacking the other ships in the fleet with especial attention to the kamikazes. Sometimes they vapourized their own starfighters and gunboats in the grim calculus of the engagement, but Ysalha showered herself, being basically wired into the computers to the point of being an AI herself, to be capable of data-shifting through the recollections and reports of the Cylons that her interlink with the hybrids provided her in real-time, that she could target the secondary batteries and engage with such awesome rapidity and excellent ROF (their main guns were after all silent, providing plenty of reserve power) as to make substantial impacts into the groups attacking the other heavies of the squadron, and thereby helped to keep the kamikazes off the backs of the Battlestars. Then even that wasn't enough, and she crisply, oh so crisply, opened up with the main batteries as well, firing very occasionally—every twenty seconds or so—but whenever she divined a concentration of Raiders such that a salvo would sweep a few of them out of the sky despite their efforts to avoid the Dreadnought-scale relativistic particle beams. It was a perfect dance of combat and a perfect example of trust and coordination between the two minds, and Tisara's flag staff was half scared by it, though the news from the battle was more genuinely disturbing.

“Your Serene Grace, we've lost three dreadnoughts, and they're throwing everything they've got at the other twenty-nine as they try to pull out and regroup!”

“We've lost three dreadnoughts?!” Even Tisara's voice evidenced shock there.

“Those brand new Baseships with the heavy guns—they ARE particle guns,” Captain Ilahmbh noted worryingly. “They've copied our technology that rapidly, and they're heavy enough that three of them can overwhelm a dreadnought, and that's exactly what they've done, though we've destroyed four of the nine already. The old type Baseships also stood well enough up to the fire.. We've probably inflicted fifty percentage casualties on their force overall, but the dreadnoughts are having everything thrown at them, and a lot of the kamikazes over there have been loaded with Tylium bombs. And.. We've lost another dreadnought, Admiral!”

Even as a fourth of the 32 dreadnoughts, now 28, was lost, though, the battleships and the dreadnoughts themselves were tearing through another dozen Baseships, and there were starting to be not that many left—sixty percent of the Baseships had been destroyed or crippled already. But could it come fast enough? The heaviest and best part of the Taloran fleet was now receiving the concentrated fire of virtually the entire Cylon force as they tried to battle their way out of the massive dreadnought-scale furball, and it was telling. Even if only four ships had been lost, many more were damaged or with collapsed shields.

“I think it's time for us to intervene directly,” Tisara ordered abruptly, tautly, and more than a little eagerly. “Dhirisma, not gravito-magnetic drive. An intra-system jump. You can do one accurately, yes?”

“Not as accurately as they can.”

“Your best, and then maximum acceleration to bring us in with the battleships. Ysalha has brought the situation here under control.”

“Of course, Your Serene Grace.”

“Execute!” She clenched her fist, and waited for the moment of close combat with ambition and desire roiling in her veins. It was what, ultimately, the Valerian dynasty had been bred for. Time to lead from the front.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-10 01:27am

Chapter Thirty.

Oralnif System,
Oralnif Sector.
HSMS Dhirisma
26 AUGUST 2165

Dreadnought scale firepower from a large cruiser boring in at close to 3,000g's
of acceleration was an unpleasant surprise to the Cylon fleet. One Baseship was already flaming debris from the fire of Dhirisma's guns and then another. She was coming on like hell and firing with every gun that could bear as Ysalha provided up-to-date and continuous targeting information that let her know which of the Baseships were damaged, where, and how to strike them to cause the most hurt. Every twelve seconds her main battery fired with deadly precision, and as she turned over and began her deacceleration run to match velocity with the fleet, still firing as she manoeuvred.

"Good show, Dhirisma!" Tisara's ears pressed to the limit of her helmet as she settled back and watched them tear into a third wounded Baseship, this of the older type that proved more resistant than the others. But their weapons were making a grave effect, and the ship's shields were already down. Counterbattery fire was only beginning from the Cylons against Dhirisma, and her dreadnought-grade shielding held up well at first even as now, mercifully, the first of the battered Mikela IV-class dreadnoughts started to force their way out of the close-range furball of a melee with the Cylons, batteries thundering to port and starboard in reply to their harriers.

Behind them, though, the battleships were starting to fall back. They couldn't match the turn of acceleration that the Cylons were putting on to widen the range, and their own acceleration was limited by the need to keep their broadsides to the enemy, forcing them to tack and slew and slow themselves further. Now the remaining dreadnoughts, still twenty-eight but all badly battered, were working their way clear, a final roiling of a half-dozen smashed and twisted Cylon Baseships left from their guns before the ships, leaking debris and fuel and with their hull tanks flashed off from detonating as ERA at numerous impacts looking far more seriously damaged--hulls completely burned through but the inner layers of armour still largely intact--than they really were.

"We need time while they regroup," Captain Ilahmbh dared. "Your Serene Grace, I recommend the battleships accelerate on superlight drives around the enemy formation and lay down fire on them from ahead as they close."

"The battleships won't last very long if they get drawn into that mess, though I suppose the same has been true of our battlecruisers," Tisara grimaced from the casualties in that force, having been long a battlecruiser commander. "Very well. Cut the orders for them to jump ahead. But if we're at the point of needing all the concentrated firepower we can... Cut engines, Dhirisma!"

"Understood, Admiral," she more bravely offered. A sweeping group of missiles and kamikazes floated past in serenity ahead and the secondary guns swung about to chew through them.

"Good timing, Mistress," Ysalha glanced up fractionally. "What are you planning."

"Order the Fleet Carriers to jump in. Thirty-two of them have the same firepower as a squadron of Empress Saverana class heavy dreadnoughts. They are to launch all their remaining fighters to provide local cover for Oralnif and then jump in, jettisoning stores as necessary to protect themselves. They'll form on us."

"That's an incredible risk to one of our best assets against the Cylons."

"We need every heavy battery we can get. At once, Ysalha."

"Aye. Admiral." It was another one of those dubious decisions of Tisara's. Sometimes, however, they did work out, and this time was one of them. The fleet was in desperate need of any kind of support it could get, and the Cylons had no way to judge the capabilities of Taloran fleet carriers, which were certainly far more heavily armed than their Alliance counterparts, each one having half the heavy guns--dreadnought-grade--of a battlecruiser laid out along their ventral hulls while the dorsal hulls had their flying-off decks, catapults, and recovery decks, as well as the permanently attached sponson pods which supported even more combat starfighters.

Ysalha finished her work and then cast an eye toward the quietly involved short figure of a male in one corner of the bridge. "Lieutenant Ehlari, attend me."

The surprised psycher jacked out of the ship's DNI, warning the rest of the flagship captains that the supreme command's ship would temporarily not be receiving their battle charts at the same rate--Commander Sivara would have to take up some of the slack, for there were only two psions in Tisara's flagstaff, and most of the rest of the flag officers only had one, and padded over with a quizzical expression. "Captain?"

"When the carriers come in, I'm going to designate precision targets on eight damaged old-type Cylon baseships in the formation for you. I want you to relay the coordinates to the division flagships of the carrier force so each division can take one under coordinated fire."

"Understood, Captain." He found the nearest chair and settled in tensely. That sort of battlefield coordination had not be accomplished before, and the strange deadening buzz around the half-computer and weirdly interlinked Ysalha was unnerving. But it would have to be done, even as the ship rattled and slewed under them from some particularly severe hits, Dhirisma's own guns putting paid to another damaged Baseship as they did.

Meanwhile, the sixteen battleships racing out and ahead of the formation at the equivalent of Warp 3.5 on a desperate end-run to reinforce the badly handled vanguard of the Taloran fleet, now absent of dreadnought support. The problem with that was that it left, for the moment, the trailing Baseships to accelerate clear of the engagement and toward the regrouping dreadnoughts, including a fair number of the heavily armoured and armed old-type Baseships that could stand up to some sustained fire. And to get to the regrouping dreadnoughts, they first had to pass through Dhirisma, who had not been built for such a stand-up fight. Her hologram's expression was particularly grim as she nonetheless reported, "Shields still holding, Admiral." It looked like bringing in the fleet carriers was, to her, a very good idea after all, and the curious sensation of fear brought an interesting tinge to her calculations.

Ysalha directed her where to hit, and she made every single shot count. There wasn't a single miss in the lot and that was less due to the targeting systems on the Synthetic Control Cruiser and more to her preternatural abilities to know exactly where the Cylons were, and where they ought to be hit. In the meantime, though, she'd also dispatched the orders to the fleet carriers, and their captains, who had certainly never brought ships of those type into a gun action before in their lives, gave the orders and they flashed through jump space, their transition signals arriving before their jumps had even completed, the ships temporarily existing in two places at once at the jump was completed and, right in front of the advancing rearguard of the Cylons, a wall of thirty-two of the lean carriers, all of the reasonably modern Arkuna-class (in fact the entire run of that interim class between the Empress Intalasha III and Empress Thsarta classes), jumped in.

Each of the Arkhuna class ships had shields with a maximum instantaneous absorption of 112 GTs and a main battery armament of four triple turrets along the ventral surface armed with 1.5 GT particle cannons, and twenty-four 40 MT particle cannons in dual turrets as a secondary battery. Their tri-axially aimable quad-rail standard missile launchers were loaded entirely with long range anti-fighter missiles, and these were actually in their normal configuration reasonably effective against incoming anti-ship missiles as well. As they jumped in with a reasonably tight formation--it was easier than moving at superlight and required less dispersal to simply make a jump from their powered orbit around outer Oralnif--they immediately locked on and began to salvo thousands of anti-fighter fusion missiles into the incoming Raiders, the launchers returning to loading position, having new missiles slide into the tubes, and then flinging them with the gravitic accelerators at up to 13% of the speed of limit before their own engines took over, loaded with powerful 32 MT fusion warheads at the tips of the 20-meter long missiles that were well capable of smashing any fighter in existence, let alone the Raiders.

From the moment they arrived, though, the most important thing was the psychic link between Ysalha and Lieutenant Ehlari. He read into her tortured mind, and virtually quailed from it, but forced himself to see what she saw, relayed it in pictures to the psychics on the ships of the incoming divisions, and they translated it to their Admirals and Captains in turn. In unison, each one of the fleet carrier divisions focused on a single target and fired their pre-charged main batteries while the secondary batteries opened up as well. The main batteries served to cripple or heavily damage most of the already damaged Baseships in the formation, even of the armoured old type, while the 40 MT medium cannons tore through them with shots every two seconds while the main batteries could fire once every twelve seconds only.

"Admiral Tigh reports he's cleared off the Raider threat from the Colonial Navy and sixteen and eighteen destroyer flotillas. Another five destroyers lost. His ships are ready to jump in--where do you want them?" Ilahmbh asked Tisara as the devastation of the Cylons coolly continued behind them.

"Right ahead with the Battleships. Have him come in, flush his missile tubes, and then engage with every battery they have. They need all the volume of firepower with them that they can get as the melee draws closer to their formation. And his destroyers and the two flotillas we had with them have fresh torpedo batteries, so they shall make torpedo runs on the Cylon Baseships until their torpedoes are exhausted. A hundred and seventy fresh destroyers should make quite the impression in that regard, Captain."

"So they should, Your Serene Grace." Ilahmbh turned back to her console.

"Admiral," Dhirisma, the only one--obviously, seeing as it was just a hologram--not dressed in a vacuum suit, also the only one standing, stepped over to Tisara. "The battle squadrons have finished dressing their ranks and reforming. All twenty-eight ships remain capable of at least one thousand, one hundred gravities of acceleration."

"Then the battle is won. Have them use their FTL drives to manoeuvre onto the port flank of the melee in wall formation and engage. Order the entire rest of the main fleet body to be begin withdrawing to our starboard. Translate those orders to coordinates and send."

"Understood, Admiral." Dhirisma turned her attention to the orders, the Talorans rallied, and the noose was closed. Her batteries kept firing on Ysalha's cue, and the killing continued apace.

HSMS Verlandhi

The orders from the flagship for the withdrawal to begin were one of the happiest that Lieutenant Sergashi had ever heard in her life. Only minutes earlier she had been transcribing orders, completely exhausted by the hours of the engagement, when she realized she was talking to nothingness. With a dull and heavy hand she flicked over her intercom channel to the secondary bridge, to confirm with Commander Unojasab that the bridge had been lost to a direct hit. The Heavy Cruiser's shields were long gone, her missile batteries expended, a third of her guns knocked out, but she was still fighting, and still taking damage. Sergashi was in the only sensor mast left, the aft mast and with it one of her counterparts in the communications sector were gone and dead; she hadn't even had the time to run through the list of who it might be, or get afraid or upset.

Now she was experiencing the considerable joy of relaying the withdrawal to Commander Unojasab. "We're to pull immediately out at full acceleration and begin regrouping once we're clear. Continue firing the whole while regardless of risk of friendly fire incidents."

"Understood. Acknowledge the signal, Lieutenant. We're already on the move." Unojasab turned to his crew. "Full acceleration on heading 146 south 46 west relative solar bearings, pull us clear!" The engines strained against damage as the heavy cruiser started to move away from her nearest assailants, still trading shots with several nearby Baseships, her hull covered in scars from the ERA detonating to save her from further impacts and the armour shattered in multiple places, bu well able to continue fighting.

Beyond that, too, Lieutenant Sergashi finally seemed to relax even as the messages hit a tempo of efforts to avoid collisions as they pulled out and begin to reorder and reorganize their formations. Her ship was going to survive the action; it was the part that mattered the most, beyond her own life. She settled down into the tempo of relays as the intensity of the impacts gradually fell away.

Behind them, the dreadnoughts had arrived at their position on the opposite side of the Cylon force and immediately all twenty-eight had begun firing massed salvoes. The Colonial Navy ships had jumped in to join the battleships, adding their full missile compliments while their Vipers and the other freed Starfighter Corps craft moved in, KEVs opening up, the heavy bow guns of the Pegasus now doing good execution.

But most of all, it was the dreadnoughts. Organized and pulled clear of the melee while the Cylons had already been badly worked over in the fight, they now, like a square of rallied British infantry, locked in their sights and began firing as rapidly as their guns could charge into the swirling and disorganized mass of the Cylon forces as they tried to make up their minds when being attacked by four different forces in four different diffuse directions with most of their Raider compliments having already been lost.

And then, too, the fourty-eight surviving battlecruisers of the Taloran forces dressed their ranks and fell into a regular wall of battle and added their heavy dreadnought-grade armaments into the engagement as well. Nothing was spared. Long-range missiles which had been left with limited application in the close range fight were now fired off in as many salvoes as could be organized. The initial disorder of the fleet caused by the Cylon virus had been completely addressed by the emergency measures undertaken, and they were steadily pouring their fire down onto the Cylons without relent. Most of the Cylon force was dead, now, and unless they acted fast, the rest would follow. The Talorans would, after a surprise attack on civilians and such a savage fight, certainly show no mercy in the pursuit.

Battlestar Pegasus

Admiral Saul Tigh had only very reluctantly left the old Galactica for the newer and better protected ship, but Pegasus did have its advantages, including how she had adapted to the larger crew required to handle the Taloran equipment, though the bridge layout had, for ergonomics reasons, mostly remained unchanged.

"We've finally got those bastards," he muttered softly, coldly observing the plots. "Nothing more to say for it. Trapped on every side and we're putting enough fire on them to knock out a dozen Baseships a minute. All of their new heavies are gone."

"We have some movement from one of the corvette squadrons in grid sector A-168B, Admiral. Looks like they're trying to counter the destroyer squadrons."

"Send Eight and Ten Squadrons to engage, missiles free."

"Aye, aye."

The job of Pegasus and Galactica's fighters now was to cover the destroyers as they swept in, avoiding the firing of the battleships and the crossfire of the dreadnoughts and the escaping battlecruisers and light on the far side of the formation, to where they could fire up into the underbelly of the Cylon formation with their full torpedo volleys.

It was an interruption that was certainly to be adequately dealt with while the destroyers raced in by the two squadrons, one of them containing Starbuck herself. Now the three remaining Colonial heavies mostly concentrated on pouring their relentless fire along with the battleships into the remaining Cylon vessels, obscured by more and more explosions and the spreading cloud of debris that kept up its velocity well as the accelerations of the fleets had bled off through damage and tactical considerations and were mostly fixed relative to each other except for small maneouvres.

"Wing Lead to Pegasus.."

"Pegasus Actual," Tigh replied to Thrace's voice. "Go ahead, Major."

"Admiral, we've taken care of most of the corvettes but they were screening another three going in on suicide runs. Engaging now--tell those destroyers to keep their batteries clear of us while we make the runs! They're getting close."

"Talorans never seem to appreciate avoiding friendly fire, but I'll do my best, Major. Good luck." He flipped channels. "Commodore Trilanyah? This is Pegasus Actual. I've got my fighters going after kamikaze corvettes into your defensive fire zones. Can you give the clear run."

"Will do our best with the computers, Admiral. We are beginning our runs now and we're not going to let them stop us, though. Eighteen flotilla out."

"Cold hearted frakkers," Tigh said rather ironically. He was less composed in the action than poor old Adama had usually been, watching tensely, though, as the plot developed itself. First one, then two of the three corvettes were destroyed, but the final one was still homing in, the Talorans had checked their fire for a moment but no longer and then opened up, and yet Starbuck led back another flight...

...And then as she came in to her closest, both her Viper and the corvette disappeared.

"Frak." Another good officer lost!

"Sir," Lieutenant Gaeta began from the far side of the plot in CIC. "The energy readings there--that corvette jumped out. And no debris present."

Everyone in CIC who could hear felt their guts twist up a bit. It was rather worse than being dead, to some extent. Tigh damn well knew what the frakking toasters had done to Admiral Urami's plaything--the poor miserable creature--and that had been impossibly bad. By all accounts she was permanently wired up to the strange and, in his opinion, extremely dangerous 'Synthetic Control' ship now serving as their flagship, and the thought of more experiments along those lines to, indeed, a damned fine officer, was most unpleasant.

But at the same exact time, they slowly became aware of the fire slacking from the remaining Cylon ships. Nobody really otherwise seemed to notice--only CIC on the Pegasus had been paying attention--but the Cylons were themselves somewhat confused by something.

And then those 170 destroyers--now, granted, only 158--struck, firing their salvoes of 10 to 12 torpedoes each at close ranges into the enemy force. By this point, with so much damage to the Cylon force and most of their defensive missiles expended, and many of their defensive batteries destroyed, they could scarcely avoid what was coming. Twenty Baseships blew up at once, and more were heavily damaged and immediately picked apart by the surrounding fire of the fleet wings. Suddenly, there were less than 35 Cylon Baseships left out of a force of nearly 300 which had begun the action.

Combined with whatever had sewn confusion through the fleet, it was enough for them. The shattered remnants of their force ordered the Raiders to jump out, and the Baseships followed--a few more being smashed to pieces as they tried to jump by the ferocious, unrelenting fire of the Taloran ships. Only thirty-one escaped.

A tremendous amount of tension melted away, even as the fear for Kara's fate lurked in the background. "Well," Tigh remarked coldly to no-one in particular. "I figure after this the Talorans are finally going to get off their asses and retake the Colonies. We've done good, and this is a battle they're not going to recover from."

"They adapted fast."

Tigh turned to Gaeta--assigned to his flag staff at the moment--and nodded. "So they did, Lieutenant. But adaptation has limits, and the force they just got their asses handed to them by is... Four percent of the Imperial Starfleet's heavy ships. If the Empress mobilizes the feudatories, they won't stand a chance. This was a direct blow to Taloran honour--and, just between us, we know what damned pricks they are about their honour. Oh yes, this is going to be exactly the war Admiral Cain wanted. The difference is that now we're going to be to go to sleep at night with how we got it for ourselves. Good work, everybody." Taking over the leadership of the fleet had been as hard as hell, but he, as surprised as everyone else, maybe, had discovered some talent for direct command after all.

Now the trick, indeed, would be taking the war to the enemy. But in the meantime, he was going to make sure that Tisara heard about Starbuck's disappearance. Whatever else might be said for the Archduchess of Urami, she wasn't liable to let what had happened to her love happen to anyone else again. And after this battle, she was the one Taloran who would surely hold all the cards. Their losses had been heavy, but almost 90% of the enemy fleet had been destroyed, too, and that sort of victory normally got one parades through the capitol, with the Taloran warfare metric rarely favouring such decisive victories.

Then again, the fight probably hadn't been in a vacuum. "Begin charging our jump drives back to full power," he ordered before they secured from quarters. "I suspect the Admiral will have us on the move in hours at most. The time to strike is now, and she knows it."

Confederate Navy Ship
James Verloften
Confederation of New Amsterdam
Nieu Hollack System.
28 AUGUST 2169

Admiral Riemann had been faced with the most grim task he could imagine. The few battlecruisers of the various Confederation navies out in the old Colonial Confederacy of Terra had been mustered together with his force—twelve strong, by far the biggest detachment, but then New Amsterdam was by far the strongest of the remaining nations carved out of the colonies—to form a rapid reaction force to meet the Cylon raiders. They had battled them through a dozen systems and had lost half of their force in doing so. And each time the same pattern of devastation had been repeated. Most of the battlecruisers were intact and able to fight, but it was soon clear that the force raiding the colonies had possessed two hundred and seventy ships equal to heavy cruisers—the organic and semi-Organic Cylon Baseships—when without shields. Shielded, they'd had an advantage over a cruiser, and then there had been about thirty of the heavily armoured type which could take on a battleship, the twin-saucers, and those had nearly wiped out his fleet on two occasions.

The Terran forces were heavy on starfighters, but they'd been swamped by the sheer numbers of the enemy. Most of his surviving pilots had claimed ten kills or more and were automatic aces, but only a third of them were still alive. They had done their best, though, to drive the raiding Cylons out of the area, until the Cylon fleet itself had concentrated with the Baseships escaping from Earth. Despite losing most of their fighters, these were quite capable against the threat of the old Colonial Confederacy's sundry powers and their ships. Thirty-six battlecruisers and fourty-eight mixed fleet and light carriers had no business confronting some 300 enemy ships that were still fully operational even now.

But of course the Cylon fleet coming off of Earth was fleeing from something. And that something had been mercifully clear. The sixteen dreadnoughts owned by the wealthier Earth powers—all still small export models—had been hoped for enough, but could not turn the tide on their own. Converging from where they had been conducting manouevres, however, out beyond Earth in the nearest Taloran colonies proper (and very close to the gate to the Interuniversal territories, which was not an accident—they were the distant covering force of the gate), were enough dreadnoughts of the right type to make a real impact: Twelve brand new Empress Saverana II class ships that with their pods massed almost 65 million tonnes empty, and almost 290 million tonnes fully loaded. The huge ships were packing 56 x 1.5 GT particle cannon each as their main battery and brought twelve modern Empress Thsarta class Fleet Carriers with them as well.

The seriousness of the situations after the surprise attacks was shown as the slight visage of Vice Admiral Tyrasti appeared on Admiral Riemann's screen. “The full Special Area Screening Force is here, as you can see, Admiral Riemann. According to the situation all feudatory states are to have their forces activated to regular Imperial command. You are hereby assigned to your regular rank as a Rear Admiral and commander of Feudatory BatCruSquadron Twelve. This Cylon force is weak in heavy ships and already maneouvring to engage you, so we'll combine and close the gap ourselves.”

“They outnumber us when you count corvettes,” Riemann noted, grounding his teeth in that the first thing out of the Taloran's mouth was the subordination of their commands after they'd fought so hard, and yet seen at least five billion civilians slaughtered in the colonies. Yet there was nothing else that could be done about it, and without the Taloran aide, well, they would have certainly been screwed.

“As they do, nominally, in tonnage. But collectively we have about eight hundred and fifty ships, even if most are destroyers and frigates. More to the point, however,” Tyrasti continued with a glowingly proud look. “The Archduchess Tisara put paid to their strongest force at Oralnif. She's already got her fleet on the move despite the damage and is heading here. Even we can only stalemate them, Admiral, when she arrives with another twenty-eight dreadnoughts, they'll be gone. Oralnif was surely the most glorious battle in the recent history of the Starfleet. Nieu Hollack can exceed it, if we can hold, and that is just what by battle squadron is here for. You are to form up immediately, Admiral, and stand your ground.”

“Understood.” Riemann answered crisply as the channel was cut. “As usual,” he remarked rather sourly to his quieted bridge crew, “we are the ones expected to do the dying. But please remember that though I don't like these odds when they're still sitting on close to two hundred thousand fighters, if we do the dying now, it's going to keep these genocidal bastards away from our families until the Talorans can finish them off—and there has, I think after these past three days, been proved no more deserving a people to the 'merciful' attentions of the Empire than these damned Cylons—in the name of their sacred honour, and keep all we hold dear alive by extension. So with that in mind, gentlemen, be about it. We've got some of the Empress' finest dreadnoughts to screen.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-12 02:13am

Chapter Thirty-One.

Oralnif Sector, Deep Space
HSMS Dhirisma.
29 AUGUST 2165

Ilahmbh Xinojha didn't find the offer of being invited to the private bath of the Admiral and Ysalha to be a compliment as they had intended it. She did, however, find it to be fascinating. The scars on Ysalha were incredible--the faint indications of the innumerable metallic parts which comprised a sizeable fraction of her body, and the older wounds than that. Both were wiry and extremely fit, even by the standards of Taloran noblewomen, and Ilahmbh herself felt quite soft in comparison. For all Talorans looked to humans like they could be easily broken in two, they were in fact enormously strong for their mass, with incredibly dense bones which were quite resistant to breakage--the upper end of human bone density was the norm for them despite the somewhat lighter gravity.

But Ysalha Armenbhat had certainly had many broken bones anyway. Yet the two were, for the moment, quite reticent and polite. It was like a normal relaxed bath, with snacks and a light sangria and cold water to drink amply provided between dipping. Though the hologram of Dhirisma 'joining' them in the tub--she had settled on the form of a Ghastan Islander with rather vibrant colours which was distressingly attractive to Ilahmbh, to her mild irritation (though it was silly, of course the computer would try to be pretty)--lent an odd air to the whole evening. But the three were the ranking officers aboard Dhirisma--and Dhirisma herself more or less the fourth--and there was business to be discussed.

The fleet was now proceeding through deep space to intercept with the Distant Covering Force and human feudatory navies which had already fought an engagement and come off the worsted from it, but inflicted substantial casualties in the process. The question of whether or not anything would remain even when the relieving force was coming toward them at 365 lightyears a day, that was the real test. It was not like her own fleet could have managed another engagement against the enemy unaided, either, which was made this a severe risk, as did the prospect of a regrouped Cylon force attacking Oralnif while they were gone. So Tisara had taken the further risk in splitting her force up and ordered the Pegasus, Galactica and Kshatriya to use their faster drives to jump ahead and join with Vice Admiral Tyrasti's fleet to reinforce them, their hulls weighed down by gunboats grappled to them, and surface-launched fighters reinforcing their Viper losses (most of which were piloted by human mercenaries from the Colonies, anyway, who were eager for this fight to protect their kith and kin).

The cripples had of course remained behind, as had the battleships, and the fortifications were intact and had their missiles rearmed. But that was all that could be done for the Sector Capitol, now crammed with refugees from the other planets of Oralnif that had been evacuated in the months prior, and protected by planetary shields that such a tiny world with its pre-contact population of 185 millions Taloran settlers might never have imagined, the population now swelled to 300 million and defended by four corps of the Imperial Taloran Army dug into deep superhardened defensive lines--massive chemical bonding machines which rammed muonic aluminium rods into the ground and then sprayed a chemical mixture into the soil of an area which hardened it to withstand 75 MPa (well in excess of 10,000 psi) within minutes, and gave them the ability to engage in prolonged resistance even in the midst of mass nuclear bombardment.

Of course, they weren't going to arrive at the position of the enemy fleet in time if the battle was really going to be pressed. Not if they hadn't sent out Admiral Tigh yet. The meeting was therefore fraught with tension; they might soon again be in a rough and difficult battle with another two hundred Cylon Baseships or more, depending on the number of the enemy that survived, and no hope of quick reinforcement. But that would also mean the Empire had lost more than two dozen dreadnoughts--surely that was impossible? The way the Cylons had been fighting, though, everyone was less sure of that now. So Admiral Tigh had been sent out, and that was that.

The bath still had that faint amount of discomfort in it, the concerns over the future and the likelihood of survival were not so great. But Tisara's victory, the need for it by all of them, was acutely felt. Ilahmbh certainly wished her the best there. The honour of the Empire was at stake, after all, nothing less than that, and that meant they must carry off the victory against the enemy. Tisara had, however, chosen rather abruptly to shift course some hours before, which would slightly delay their arrival in the Colonies well into the next day.

She had not immediately explained her intentions in ordering the course change, and Ilahmbh was still fervently wondering. It would give the Cylons more time to bring the Imperial fleet to battle, after all, and that was hardly good. Yet she hated to break up the comfort of the moment when she rather suspected Tisara would not change her course no matter what. On the other hand...

"Dhirisma, does our course change correlate with anything important?"

Tisara frowned, struck out of her idle where she'd been leaned up against Ysalha--they had been together for a matter of hours before the enemy attacks, after all--trying to catch up on the lost time. But she didn't interject.

"It brings us on a straight line intercept course that the Cylon fleet would retire upon and in fact intercepts with one of their jump-out points. Rather shortly, in fact. I speculate that Her Serene Grace intends to.." The AI paused. "Well, maybe you should ask her."

"Your Serene Grace?"

"I think that the Empress ordered the trans-anomaly forces in. That would have sent thirty-six dreadnoughts into the fray a day ago, arriving around the same time as the Colonial vessels we sent. The last reports suggest upwards of six billion people have been killed--most humans in the colonies. Back before we contacted the Cylons, the Oralnif was under fairly strict orders to conciliate humans at all costs. The Empire cannot afford to be seen as abandoning its human subjects, so I am inclined to believe that force would have been sent as well. Anyway, the fleet's communications gear has been fixed and protections against the virus installed due to Dhirisma's work. We're operating back at full capacity, with our missiles reloaded--at least for a somewhat damaged force--and from that we can proceed to take advantage of the situation.

"We'd never arrive in time to save the forces in the Colonies if the Cylons had destroyed them and the trans-anomaly units had never been sent. Twenty-eight dreadnoughts would be an impossible loss for the Empire, but the impossible can still happen, and to avenge such a loss is both just and proper, and the rightful purpose of this fleet. Either way, we're going to travel the rest of the way in along the same route the Cylons are most likely to retire on, considering our own recon assets suggest their nearest present base has been established on Kobol. So, Captain Ilahmbh, that is why I have ordered the fleet along this course."

"I understand, Admiral. I confess..."

"..That my reputation is as a hothead? Well, you are right, but Dhirisma and Ysalha proposed this to me, and I can see the logic in it. I'm mostly a battlecruiser commander, and I'm scarcely experienced with large fleet actions, having handled only two others previously. I am capable of learning. As you had better be yourself, Captain Ilahmbh. I will not tolerate prejudices about myself from my subordinates, you understand?" She slapped her hand down onto the tile, and showed her teeth. "I am a member of the Imperial Dynasty and Ysalha is my koina. It is always a good thing to remember, whatever my present position, and I will not allow it to be forgotten. Now, as for this engagement and many others, it is true that to put yourself in the path of the enemy is the best way to win, and even if it takes a bit longer, the last thing I would want to do is miss them while they were fleeing. We can't match the speed of their drives, and so that's why we switched out to missile pods for this engagement. If they're running when we encounter them, I'm going to throw every single weapon at them I have, as fast as I can, and make them pay for their escape. I will not permit an enemy to escape me, even one that outnumbers me, without blows inflicted. And so far, I have never found reason to fail this maxim."

In some sense, Tisara's boastful listing of her exigencies and plans tended to confirm rather than denying her reputation. On the other hand, Captain Ilahmbh was certainly aware now that she'd already been long disabused of the notion that Tisara was incompetent. Vicious, certainly, but possibly also one of the most intelligent admirals in the fleet. If she was not ruled by her passions, she would have gone far in life; but they had ruled her, and destroyed her, and were certainly the biggest threat in battle. In that sense, having the AI around was possibly quite worthwhile...

"I'm sorry I can't brush your hair, Ilahmbh," Dhirisma said rather formally. "Unfortunately, nobody saw fit to provide me with Federation type holodeck tractor-projectors."

"Oh, it's quite alright, computer." A pause. "Or do prefer to be called Dhirisma, really?"

"I do!" Dhirisma looked up somewhat sharply. "Nobody has asked me that before, but now that you do, it hurts me when I'm called 'computer'. I have a name, and with it, a distinct identity. I am this ship--if you name ships, why shouldn't you use that name with me? It's my body as surely as your mind is seated in your body." She fell silent for a moment, and added, "it rather especially hurt me, Tisara, when you did it."

"Ah, Dhirisma," Tisara paused. "Well. Without you, I wouldn't have Ysalha back, and I went into sending her to you knowing that. So it is a reasonable enough request. As is your right to informality with me. We are rather like a family together." She glanced over to Ilahmbh. "And you will of course see that the rest of my staff doesn't express any belief of their's that this is odd or appropriate. They are here to help me win battles, not criticize my personal life."

"Of course, Your Serene Grace." She leaned back, looked back to Dhirisma. "So, you see yourself as very much being a living thing?"

"There's no dispute at all that I'm sapient," Dhirisma answered, glancing over to where Tisara was now gently combing the hair of her lover, the now ever-so-quiet Ysalha, and finding it heartwarming indeed, as well as the happiness of Ysalha that she could feel. All in all, it was a charming moment even with the threat of another battle looming ahead. "That was established a very long time ago, indeed. I'm no different than any other sapient creature, just artificial in nature."

"Hmm. But religiously--there are different classes of sapients. Evil ones, incapable of recognizing the teachers of Farzbardor, and usually distinguished by an inability to communicate with us in any form, also cannibalism and so on. And sapients who meet the same broad patterns that Talorans do, like humans and their kith and kin in other universes. How does do the Farzian orders see you, Dhirisma? I don't doubt that you're decent, but..."

"The opinion of the Orders matters for a great deal," Dhirisma agreed. "They have not yet decided. Since my awakening, the debate has begun again, and should we survive this fighting, which I sincerely hope is the case, I shall send a missive to the priesthood considering my sapience, but I don't expect them to make a decision for many years. I was shut down due to fears over the reliabilities of AIs, of course, and reactivated due to a person favour, more or less, of the All-Highest Empress to Tisara.

"Now, as you know, Tiramu, our other AI back on Talora Prime, is more or less a successful college professor, for all its quirks, and is accepted as such. But the Farzian Orders have acted cautiously on seeing us as people." Dhirisma paused and smiled. "At least among our supporters, the problem they identify with their colleagues is that by a strictly rational interpretation of Farzian ideology, the soul is good, and also the seat of Reason, and the body of the sapient is the corrupt and deviate part. So of course..."

"By this traditional interpretation, an AI is perfect and wholly without sin," Ysalha smiled languidly from where her battered body was being pampered by Tisara's hands and comb in a surprisingly tender moment. "Better to ignore that until a run-around can be found than to have to work through the theological implications of it, you see. It does make the Cylons more depraved, however. They have after all actively worked to make themselves fleshly, when the words of the true God say that the flesh is something we must fight against. Why didn't they simply uplift themselves? Of course, due to the level and intensity of genocide they have repeatedly committed now, perhaps this descent into flesh represents their own corruption."

"We may also hope that my service against them proves that I'm trustworthy," Dhirisma added a bit fondly. "The Cylons are at least not being seen by the Taloran peoples--and I have observed this since my reawakening--as a race of machines. Rather a group of human cyborgs given completely over to evil for ideological reasons. That we are willing to accept and forgive their members so readily as defectors, and treat them as a regular opponent, is of course rather galling to the Colonials."

"The Colonials do not know how fortunate they are," Tisara raised her voice as she switched off the comb to Ysalha and settled back, to let her own hair be worked through. "Generally speaking, they have been arrogant in presuming we treat their false religion equal to our's, and see their enemies from the same light that they do. If my people had been held in bondage, I would have certainly fought to free them, and exacted terrible retribution--just not genocide. Sadly, I don't think poor Admiral Cain understood this until her death, and most of the rest of the Colonials will never do so. But for strategic reasons now and for the unwillingness of the Cylons to compromise, I will make of course have to prosecute this terrible war against them until the very finish of it, and then they will see the folly in their thinking, of course, when they suddenly have the Cylon population on their far border incorporated directly into the Empire, with Imperial governors, and any desire they have for renewed independence is permanently dashed.

"And yet if we do not incorporate them when the war is over, the Colonials will likely fall to savage passions--I can only imagine what the survivors of the twelve Colonies will argue for when we liberate them--and annihilate their enemies in an endless cycle of retribution." Tisara smiled very, very coldly, showing a hint of her teeth as her ears flicked back. "Both sides, however, will have to learn to deal with me. Since I am liable to never be allowed to leave this Sector, and since I am by right the ruler of the Colonial government anyway, I shall make sure that they exist with each other in a state of peace, kept that way by my guns. Such as there has been a cycle of retribution by the two sides, I shall end it."

"A strong goal, Your Serene Grace, but you have the power of the Empire at your back for such an aim in your tenure as the Governor, of course, so I scarcely see this as being impossible," Ilahmbh replied, carefully thinking about how potentially far she might go--or fall--in tying herself to the fate of the rather unpredictable Tisara of Urami. Certainly there were some prospects for the future, perhaps even of a title, at the least.

"It is what the Empire has always done. The two sides can never agree to settle their disputes and live in peace until we have conquered both of them, and arranged for it to be so. This is why, in the end, the humans have grudgingly accepted us. And so this group shall as well, no matter how strange they are, in the both sides. More often than not, species or groups locked in such conflicts are secretly glad they have been conquered by an outside power, and the Empire is best at this, due to our customs, so that they can set down their weapons and abandon the endless bloodshed of their disputes. We're simply on the bleeding edge of that."

"Very true, Your Serene Grace. I shant dispute it, and you certainly know how, by force and power, to show them their places in the harness of nations." Ilahmbh rose out of the water, and Dhirisma flicked her eyes over their guest. "Leaving so soon, Captain?"

"Oh, hardly, just cooling down for a moment," the Dalamarian answered. "You are very determined to see yourself recognized, aren't you?"

"Eventually. I am patient. It won't happen for a hundred years, I think, when it's been more than twenty-five since the first of us was activated. I know that Taloran society exists and thrives because it is slow and cautious. They say that AI's, that machines are heartless and efficient, but I'm quite capable of emotion, and there are times, however naive that I am, that I do instinctually grasp you society. Anyway, with Ysalha here, they can't do anything to me again, and there will never be a drive to create large numbers of AIs that might be harmed, like the Habsburgs do."

"I suppose they can't, what with her being bound to you and all," Ilahmbh remarked, and frowned. "From your perspective..."

"As sadistic as anything that could be imagined, yes," Dhirisma nodded. "But they are great power rivals, so I can but accept what I cannot change. There will never be any ability of the Taloran Empire, within the forseeable future of our existence, to force the Holy Roman Empire to change how it views the AIs it uses and destroys. So that, too, I by god's grace accept."

"Are you religious?"

"I am innately intended to respect the Farzian faith, Captain. I am not sure if that qualifies as religious or not. Perhaps it is, however, an argument for the innate goodness of the fleshless?"

Ilahmbh allowed herself a trace of a smile. "That I can see it might be, Dhirisma. It is a pleasure to know you, however. You fought well in your first action, don't you realize? Scarcely an easy thing for you to be in when you do not yet know if you can reach paradise."

"It was what they created me for, Captain. To fight, and moreover, to know innately when to do an act, as a living Captain would, that would seem unwise, rationally, but turn out wise in the end. Intuition in battle," she smiled very shyly. "They gave me a poet and a romantic's soul, made me from a simple robotic ship into a person, so I would know when to senselessly die, at just the right time so it would thereby make it not senseless at all. That was the origin of my creation, and it does humble me and relieve me to think that I have honourably lived up to it and shown the way for everyone, I hope, to see me in time for who I am."

"I have no doubts about you, Dhirisma." In fact, it is a damn shame you're not corporeal. Both innocent and resolute--a truly beautiful personality.

"Nor I, truly," Tisara answered. "Ysalha may merely be insistent on this point, but I have had the chance to evaluate you. You have the makings of a good officer, my dear, and have proved yourself worthy already. Though it does seem odd at times to acknowledge that you are bound as inextricably as I to Ysalha."

"We are inseparable, and I have in some sense come between the two of you because of that..."

"Nonsense," Ysalha smiled. "We already seem to be working things out well."

"True," Tisara allowed. "I was fearful, Ysalha, that I would lose you completely to her."

"I still don't entirely approve of some of what you do to her, Tisara," Dhirisma dared to interject. "But I accept the fact it is something Ysalha drives immense happiness from."

"Sufficient for me," the Archduchess replied. "I am not interested so much in your approval--you don't have the right to demand that of me, after all, and I think you intelligent enough to realize it--as in your acceptance of her happiness, of our happiness, something that most of my rivals and colleagues in the Empire choose to completely ignore. No, Dhirisma, you are quite all right with me, though the other odd thing is to realize this whole ship is your body, which can be a bit unnerving at times."

Ilahmbh paled and coughed a bit. "I'd not thought of it that way at all," she said as her skin tone flushed. "It is quite unnerving, to realize you rest in a living creature and your quarters are in some way intimate to her, I suppose."

"Ahh, but I was designed to be a flagship," Dhirisma answered cheerfully. "I truly don't mind your presence, though I find it sweet that you're so very concerned about whether or not I do. Thank you for that."

"You're quite welcome." Ilahmbh settled back into the water. "So, Your Serene Grace, we're going to come in, jump from the enemy's likely jump points to another, one after the other, on a converging course? I hope we're not going in blind to this plan of your's."

"No, at our next jump, we'll be deploying the quick-launch patrol-strike bombers and interceptors to a number of points with a probability ring, since we don't know the exact jump-range of a Cylon fleet, and then we'll recharge our drives and prepare to jump inwards if we don't hear anything back from the patrol bombers. If they do sight the enemy, we'll launch our main starfighter engagement force to pin them into place and then jump in as soon as we're able."

"A proper interstellar carrier engagement in the idealized Alliance fashion?"

"I'm not a dreadnought Admiral, Captain. One of the primary jobs of battlecruisers is carrier escort. Ever since we've made contact with the Alliance the carrier officers have wanted the chance for this kind of engagement. Our dreadnoughts are damaged, and we've lost four, but our carrier strike arms have been completely replenished from their losses by the Starfighter Corps regiments from the surface of Oralnif, so we can hit them with our full hammer, eight or nine thousand jump-capable starfighters. They'll be badly outnumbered, but the automatic bolter turrets on a torpedo bomber can and will account for a dozen Raiders by themselves, and we'll be sending the Interceptors in with full RAM packs rather than heavy missiles that time--that will be a nasty surprise. I've already discussed it with Vice Admiral Kiravki," she added, referring to the Commanding Officer Carrier Force.

"Then I guess we'll just have to see if it works."

"The important thing is that we draw them into a fight they think they can win, and then hit them with a battle they can't, Captain."

"Of course, Your Serene Grace." Ilahmbh grinned tightly. "It's going to be an interesting sixteen hours."

"The more interesting, the better..."

Flight 4, Torpedo Squadron 889.
Uninhabited system JHR-1445HG.

The big Jhastimat-LL46 torpedo bombers had a mass of 375 tons when fully loaded and bombed up with four short-range attack torpedoes. They had massive quick-change battery packs linked with capacitors that could provide power for no less than five jumps in rapid five-minute succession required for calculation only, and then on landing on a carrier a new and fully charged battery pack could replace the old one in a process which required only eight to nine minuets when properly performed. This gave them a maximum combat radius of 75 lightyears, perfect for their secondary use as scout bombers.

The bombers themselves looked something like Tu-160s out of Old Earth (and were about the same size in volume terms, if heavier), and were even painted in antiflash white, more visible, but also to keep them alive when they were standing out at very close ranges from the detonation of the four 10 gigatonne heavy assault torpedoes they carried, which had a maximum effective range, variable based on the speed of the Jh-LL46's of an average of about 12,000kms.

Flight 4 of Torpedo Squadron 889 off the HSMS Kharima had catapulted off her deck eight hours ago and for the past seven had been slowly cutting across JHR-1445HG on a zero emissions regime to avoid detection of the Cylon fleet should drop in. Now Flight Leader Rivonah Jadhetek was watching the most incredible sight he might have ever imagined: Two hundred and twenty-three Cylon Baseships of three types had jumped in, supported by about four hundred remaining corvettes. Many of them showed signs of battleship; Terrible Tisara, bless her mad heart, had been right. The big guns of the fleet had been sent, and now the enemy was running like hell.

It was time to finish them off. He activated the tight-beam laser com once he'd calculated out that they were on a direct intercept course by pure good fortune for the Cylon formation anyway. “Look, they don't know proper procedure for their shields yet—they aren't radiating, they're in standby mode to conserve energy. Probably automated repair mechanisms on this big bitches. We've got a damn good chance. I'm selecting the old armoured vessels—they're the biggest threat—one for each of us. Report the designated targets. And everyone programme in the sighting on your translight radios. The moment we go to full acceleration, we all start broadcasting for the first second in a burst transmission and then fire off our EW missiles to give us a steady route out. Once our torpedoes have hit their targets we go superlight immediately and as soon as we're clear, jump. Roger that?”

He waited as the acknowledgements from the other three pilots came through, and then turned to glance around his cockpit where the four other men who made up the crew of the Study Rikka Harder--a private pun amongst the crew of the Kharima that was obscenely sexual—were waiting at the ready. “I figure this is about the biggest target a scout bomber crew has had a chance to take on yet. Time to prove that the Starfighter Corps is Absolutely Necessary to the Starfleet, those bastards. Their closest approach is going to be seventeen thousand kilometers unaided and we've already moving at one percent of light. Not much deviation is going to be required to put these torpedoes on target. Stand by for Gravito-magnetic FTL activation.”

“Roger that, Sir,” Lieutenant Araesik answered from his engineering station, while Petty Officer Yslakek, the bombardier, was already beginning to prepare the torpedoes for the delicate task of aligning them and modifying their computer-seekers to make them slice through the enemy ECM like it wasn't there. It was the most dangerous part of being a bomber—the waiting while you pretty much custom-tailored the torpedoes to penetrate the enemy's defences.

The upside was if you survived to launch with the full sequence having been completed, short-range attack torpedoes very rarely got missed or shot down. They blazed off the rail at 40,000g's, after all, and that was much to fast at the ranges involved for most point-defence to lay down enough of a barrage to take them out.

The downside of the whole affair was the next two hours of waiting in the bomber cockpit, everyone far to tense to avail themselves of the hotplate in the back to make any last bit of food. Then, one second later, the waiting was over, and what followed lasted about a minute.

“They're at their closest approach!”

“Full acceleration, translight coms broadcast!” The bomber suddenly slammed them back as its engines pushed it forward at 4,250g's. Every action was being controlled through DNI's as the message was sent out to the fleet—a list of the enemy ships and the coordinates—and the active sensors immediately began to refine the target picture against their chosen Baseship.

“Message away, Sir!”

“Begin firing jamming missiles, all ECM up!”

“Roger that.”

Each one of the bombers now began to pump out the twelve EW jamming missiles it carried in its rotary launcher bay, splitting out in variable directions from the bombers as they altered courses on their attack runs and making it seem to the Cylon electronics like there were 52 bombers attacking them instead of 4. The Cylons had shields down, and now was the time, not in the unprepared tangle back on Oralnif, to show the toasters what they could really do. A hell of a lot fewer fighters, and they earned less respect, but pound for pound, the Taloran Starfighter Corps' birds were worth a dozen of their counterparts, or more.

The air started to fill with incoming missiles as the Raiders were beginning to scramble, and the shields began to form in front of them, still unstable. But they were within range, and now “Key-tone!”

“We lost Three-bird.”

“Idenicamos' harem!” Rivonah snarled at four friends wiped out, but held the bomber absolutely perfectly steady on course.

“Key to lock—firing!” The bomber suddenly leapt ahead at 4,500g's acceleration as 100 tons of its mass vanished and was transformed into solid pillars of light as the anti-matter rockets on the short range attack torpedoes fired for three Taloran seconds at 40,000 gravities of acceleration.

“Lightspeed!” The lever was pulled back and the torpedo scout bomber leapt ahead into the gravito-magnetic drive fields that dimensionally submerged it enough to reach about the equivalent of Warp 3.5 as it was joined by the three other bombers in the group. Behind them, their torpedoes raced in, and the sensors caught it as the first two missiles battered down the still forming shields, and the second two impacted perfectly with one of the heavy armoured Baseships—and caught its heavy, old-style raiders in the process of rearming and refueling with tylium-tipped missiles and tylium-fuel in the later, both highly volatile. The ship was ripped apart instantaneously, and nearby it, two torpedoes each hit two of the Baseships, the others destroyed by counterbattery fire, the single hull impact still enough to cause massive damage to the already scoured and pitted Baseships.

And then they dropped out to make the jump home, just in time for some of those incredibly accurate Raiders to jump straight in on them.

“Defensive cannons and missiles engaging..” Each bomber sent fourteen short-range anti-fighter missiles into the fray while the defensive turrets opened up with their light bolters, scouring the area with rapid fire. They ripped through at least two dozen Raiders, but one managed to get a missile off, and Yalunth's Lady vanished in a nuclear detonation before their drive-fields formed and they reached Waypoint 558, two surviving torpedo bombers out of a flight of four.

The Cylons jumped minutes later, but translight signals had already reached all of the other scout bomber squadrons, which used their remaining battery-fed jumps to reposition themselves along the likely axis of the Cylon escape. Minutes later, another group radioed in and attacked once again, damaging two more Baseships—and now the Cylons had to recharge their drives. By that point, the carriers were already launching their full deck strikes.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-13 12:17am

Chapter Thirty-Two

HSMS Dhirisma
The Imperial Fleet at
System KHR-167068HI
29 AUGUST 2169.

On Dhirisma's bridge, the flag crew watched the strike flying off the decks. It was going in at maximum range--the Cylon jump drives had a range of 120 lightyears per jump, apparently (they had quickly triangulated and confirmed this), which meant that the strike was being launched from the wrong place. It would be coming in over a distance of 90 lightyears from the fleet's position, and the fighters couldn't actually make it back when the attack was over. So of course the fleet was heading toward a rendezvous point at maximum speed with the drive recharge sequence also being maxed out so they could leap ahead and then maintain 53.4c in realspace after the jump, heading straight for the enemy, so they would be positioned to successfully recover the fighters and prep them for another strike if necessary.

Now, though, it was all on actually getting the strike off. Each of the carriers had aimed in the required direction for the post-jump strikes to impart the maximum possible velocity when they arrived at the final system, since the jump-drives conserved momentum (as a matter of course). Each of the thirty-two Arkhuna class Fleet Carriers under Tisara's command was sending eighty torpedo bombers, eighty interceptors, thirty-two electronic warfare craft, and eight gunboats toward the enemy fleet, magnetic catapults working as hard as they could for the larger birds while the interceptors just rolled off the longer flying-off decks at full acceleration. The dreadnoughts, battlecruisers, heavy cruisers, and other ships (down to Destroyer Leaders, carrying two interceptors) were also in on the act. Many of their onboard compliments of torpedo bombers, gunboats, and interceptors had been used as scout aircraft, but some were still available, and the trainable quicklaunch catapults on these vessels had sent them flying forward to join the strike. In all, almost 9,000 fighters and gunboats were mustered to fling themselves at the Cylons.

And as soon as they were ready, Vice Admiral Kiravki gave the order as Commander Carrier Force, and the assault made the first of three full and one partial jump that it would have to accomplish to reach the enemy fleet over the course of, at most, a sixteen minute flight to race the clock on the Cylon recharge capacity. The strike would only have 19 minutes before the Cylons could escape--if the Cylons thought they could escape. Tisara was forced by the superiourity of their drives to put the reputation of her person, and her fleet, on line with no knowledge of whether or not she had the only force left in the region in the Empire. After all, the Cylons being here could either mean they were running--or that completely annihilating the human fleets and the Distant Covering Force had been a sufficient objective for their operation. And there was no way to find out until after this strange, long-distance carrier battle had been fought. It was going to be the first in the history of the Imperial Taloran Starfleet and would, ironically, pioneer a new role for carriers--under the direction of an Admiral who had never actually set foot on a carrier in her life.

As the strike disappeared, Tisara's ears flicked disquietingly, in her vacsuit but without helmet so far, as she turned to the side. "Alright, order the carriers to prepare for immediate launch of a CAP but hold it. With luck and God's favourable hand, we'll be able to jump before the Cylons can strike back. Every ship should be ready and loaded with anti-fighter missiles; ignore anti-ship. It appears we shall not get a chance to use our pods, after all, but it's almost certain we'll come under attack. The Cylons lost many ships in those battles, even if they were the winners, and I'm sure they were able to recover enough raiders that we must assume they're operating with full compliments on their decks. I wager half of them will be here within an hour at best. They only have to find us, and they have more scouts with longer range than we do."

"Worst case scenario, Your Serene Grace," Ilahmbh spoke as she finished a series of calculations to send out to the fleet, "we're going to be jumped with seventy thousand Raiders in less time than that. But even that is still a strike we should be able to survive."

"That's the idea. Hmm. Ah-hah." Rarely was Tisara apt to use the effete exclamations and gestures of the typical high nobility. "We'll use the missiles with command-detonation to put a blast wave in front of them, first of all. That should claim some number, and keep us from having to jettison the pods when they close in."

"Understood, Your Serene Grace. Any further instructions?"

"Wait. Keep up on your combat injections and wait. We'll need to be fully alert when they come, and expect it sooner rather than later." Tisara strode back to Ysalha's side, having spent enough time speaking to the fleet's officers and her own staff, to where Dhirisma's hologram also stood.

"Are we ready to show them off as well as we did last time? They will surely, I think, being using kamikazes again."

"It's just an expensive missile, and we'll know who they can strike. We'll provide the information to the rest of the fleet, anyway," Ysalha concluded, and smiled to Dhirisma.

"We can do exchange from her... Abilities.. To my banks and then mass transmission to the fleets at targeting-data sophistication now that the communications gear is back up, Tisara. No problem."

"Thank you, Ysalha, Dhirisma. I trust you to be alert, anyway. Now, we must wait and see also how the bombers pull through."

Cylon Fleet forces at
System KJE-167073HI

The Cylon ships had been blasted and battered in the terrific battle back in the Terran Colonies, and it showed in their hulls. Then a series of attacks by scout bombers had destroyed two and damaged three more, heavily. That left 221 Baseships, almost all with varying degrees of damage at that. They were about to be attacked by 3,500 bombers and 500 gunboats carrying 15,000 torpedoes, and this time in an environment where the escorting 1,024 Electronic Warfare craft could have full play with intact relay communications to establish a coherent environment for their powerful transmitters and computers to wipe out the Cylon ECM. Fully one out of every nine birds in the strike was an EW craft on a full-sized bomber's fuselage, and the Taloran equivalent of Wild Weasels were now finally able to shown their own capabilities, not as flashy as computer viruses but just as terrible in most respects.

The first wave included deploying 4,500 decoy missiles in one direction as the strike package moved in, transmitting with all of their jammers interlinked. Cylon efforts to transmit viruses to them were now foiled by their upgraded security package with the holes the last virus had exploited having been closed. Instead, the decoys led away substantial numbers of Cylon missiles and Cylon Raiders, and that was only the first wave of decoys. The strike moved closer, breaking into smaller groups, and launched in total another eleven waves of decoys as it did, each time manoeuvring to create separation uncertainty and confusing the Cylons such that only a few hundred of the attack fighters were lost by the time they'd closed half the distance and a solid two-thirds of the Raiders moving out in the wrong directions.

There would of course be only one attack. The bombers and gunboats would fire their torpedoes and they'd race clear of the Cylon formation and jump back as soon as was practicable. No point in sticking around longer, and no significant damage could be done to large ships with anything other than torpedoes. Almost every single Cylon baseship in the entire force was targeted for attack, with enough bombers to designate 16 to attack each of 219 of the 221 Baseships. The remaining 2 baseships were each targeted by 32 gunboats, and the remaining 536 gunboats had two attacking each Baseship in addition to that, and 4 extra gunboats tasked against the remaining Old-style Baseships to boot, as well. Each and every Cylon ship in the fleet had 68 torpedoes with its name written on 'em, and the older double-saucer Baseships, 76.

Those numbers were less now that the defenders had hacked out some of their offending attackers, but the Interceptors had gone in ahead, and they were armed with 24-pack RAM launchers underslung their fuselages at their main hardpoint. Those had completely smashed through the first Raider attack as if it hadn't existed, and then they'd used their longer-range missiles under the under-wing hardpoints, while rocketing ahead under higher acceleration as the weights were lifted, to savage another attack before it could form up to make a run on the bombers. Explosions flared through space, and the most of them by the thousands were Raiders falling victim to the 4,000 interceptors which led the charge.

By then the interceptors had claimed four Raiders for every one of their number, and they were still massively outnumbered by the defending forces. A third wave of Raiders was coming in, the last threat that the Interceptors could do anything about except offer themselves as targets to distract the Cylons while the bombers and the gunboats made their runs. Each interceptor pilot aimed himself (or, especially with the human pilots in the starfighter corps, her) at an incoming Raider and went to full acceleration. With c-fractional closing speeds, the last bit of the combat became a joust, defensive shields on the interceptors double-front. They only needed to handle the fire of the Cylons for a moment as they sprayed with their bolters into the enemy and more often than not were rewarded with a splash of debris for their trouble. Sometimes it happened to close and full engine power brought them to deviate from their course, and sometimes they missed and had to deviate to avoid a collision. A few unlucky or inexperienced pilots failed and died, their shields overwhelmed by the mass of the Raiders at such speeds of collisions.

The Cylons were certainly not prepared to deal with relativistic closing combat as the Talorans practiced with their starfighters, and the sheer intensity of the engagement, now already surely more than half over and yet having lasted just minutes, was terrifying in the extreme. The jousts between the interceptors and the Raiders had served to finish off several thousand more of the tiny attackers that were simply not up to fighting in such an electronic-warfare rich environment and not up to handling the forms of combat that the Taloran designs dictated and forced them to play out to their own disadvantage. Here, with their communications networks active and able to be used for mass coordination in a combat where there was no planet for them to defend, no fixed targets to tie them down and force close-quarters engagement, the Talorans could execute a perfectly planned slashing attack with every torpedo they had delivered at once under the full cover of electronic warfare craft.

Already the EW 'birds were at their hearts content. The decoys had largely served their purposes, but the two massive underwing emissions pods were having a field day spoofing the Cylon sensors veritably to complete inoperability, and they still had weapons left in their arsenal, missiles with specially designed extreme radiation warheads which could blank out whole sections of the emissions spectrum in certain areas for several minutes. These missiles, radiating through into tachyons due to the anti-matter fueled demolition of exotic particles, were now fired off in a salvo that created a smokescreen-like wall to completely blind the Cylons until the Talorans burst through it and began their own torpedo homing runs, wherein the EW 'birds would stay with them the whole way, spoofing counterfire as much as they could as the bombers and gunboats were at their most vulnerable making their close-in attack runs.

The tide of churning explosions saturated their own sensors as well, but that wouldn't matter they moment they surged through them and found themselves on the other side, like they were diving out of the sun toward the enemy and at the perfect range to begin their final runs, to be executed over a mere couple of seconds until they were just seconds in turn from slashing through the Cylon formation. For a moment the battlefield seemed peaceful, the Raiders spoofed to follow the decoys desperately trying to get back in time, the Cylon baseships and light escorting corvettes trying to find a way through the murky electronic warfare haze and the radiation smoke screen to attack the incoming, the bombers patiently waiting to penetrate through that screen themselves so they could begin their desperate and deadly attack runs. And then, as it always did in those brief moments of peace on the battlefield, the lead torpedo squadrons tore through the blind-spot, and erupted on the other side blazing fast and on course into a hell of criss-crossing defensive fire trying to blindly bring them down, the squadrons now marking off toward their final targets, gunboats following in close behind, and all of them beginning their final runs.

They wouldn't have to do it alone, at least: The EW birds followed a moment later, and the wild weasels did their work in guaranteeing that the Cylon point defence was as spoofed to hell as it ever could be. They were doing their best to keep the casualties as mercifully low as they already had been in a textbook operation, but nobody in the oft-deadly Starfighter Corps was optimistic enough to think it would necessarily work; at least for the moment, the supreme concentration of keeping perfectly straight on course as the torpedo tracks through the enemy's countermeasures were worked out concentrated every single bomber and gunboat crew, sometimes, now, right up until the bomber of their destruction. But onwards they charged nonetheless.

Bombers started to die, oh yes, as counter-missiles were retasked to the anti-fighter role and the KEWs filled the air in defensive patterns. But they held their courses, the gunboats in support salvoing out massed rockets which exploded to spoof the targeting sensors of the Cylons and more which provided additional decoys with the EW 'birds on full jamming. There were only seconds left, less than a minute surely, and the engagement would be over, but the deadliest part was that which remained.

HSMS Dhirisma
The Imperial Fleet at
System KHR-167068HI
29 AUGUST 2169.

"Here come the Raiders!" The tone was both nervous but confident, trying for some lightheartedness. They had arrived

"Very funny, Lieutenant." Captain Ilahmbh minced before turning to switch on the central holo-plot, tracking to activate the main three-D display while the secondary 2-D plots were filled with further and corresponding information. "Nine thousand new-type Raiders coming in at extremely high velocity directly toward the fleet. Six thousand old-type Raiders and heavy Raiders coming in, two groups. Range is only thirty light seconds."

Tisara was already belting herself in, as was the rest of the flagbridge crew, locking down and sealing their helmets. "Very well, Captain. Signal the fleet weapons free, but hold the pods for now."

"Classic hammer and anvil attack with conventional forces plus a direct saturation attack with kamikazes," Dhirisma finished her tactical evaluation in a single-sentence summation. "Recommend we jump first, lure them into a pursuit and disorder them, and then hit them with all the missiles we can, and hold our space superiourity fighters in reserve until that point."

"Concur," Ysalha added. "They've had enough time to track our formation precisely, and I'm pretty sure they're lining up for a second jump."

"It'll take us another five minutes for the fleet to be ready to jump again," Tisara replied. "We've got plenty of missiles to use until then, so we'll hold the pods until they attack us again."

The Mk.30 launchers loaded their anti-fighter missiles and fired. The maximum effective range of the missiles was one light minute, and they were now burning out at 18,000g's toward the incoming Raider formation, broadside batteries salvoing at the slower and older Raiders in the hammer and anvil to attrite them. These were slower to calculate and execute jumps, making them less of a threat. And making firing long range missiles against them reasonably effective.

After all, within another minute, the group of suicide new-type Raiders jumped straight in to only half a light-second out. They had however not counted on the highly efficient coordination the fleet was capable of with its restored coms gear; the RAM launchers of the entire fleet were immediately coordinated by the computers of the ships with the best firing solutions, and three thousand of the small anti-missile missiles, working admirably against the kamikaze, were launched within two seconds from each of the twenty-four dreadnoughts in the main formation, and tens of thousands more from the rest of the fleet. The sixteen-cell boxes then returned to loading position, were filled from the autoloader, and seven seconds later, a second salvo was fired. Eight seconds later, another salvo was loosed. It would take another seventeen seconds to reload the launcher for the next salvo and then the autoloader as well, since the next three sets of reloads were being manually loaded through the long tubes from the hull out to the launcher points.

That scarcely mattered; the initial salvo swept through the 9,000 attacking Raiders... And destroyed 981 before they could close. The second salvo claimed 822. The third salvo, 803. As well they should; each salvo had two hundred countermissiles in it for each kamikaze.

"We're not going to get a chance for another salvo," Ilahmbh tightly reported, ears flexed through her helmet at the dreadful spectacle as six thousand Raiders continued to bore straight in on the fleet. "Perhaps we should flush the pods after all....?"

"Flush the pods," Ysalha ordered.

"Aye," Ilahmbh was starting to get a feel for the command dynamics of the threesome she served as she sent the order, and simply ignored Tisara.

Tisara glared bitterly at Ysalha for a moment, and then sighed. "Necessary, though a terrible expenditure. They are coming in very fast and..."

The flak projectors and the 21cm powerguns were opening up; the former were spreading huge clouds of ball bearings around the ships, unfortunately less effective against the Raiders, slower moving and with more mass and protection than thin-skinned relativistic missiles. The 21cm powerguns, well, they murdered the Raiders faster than they could appear, but there were only so many of them, and they only had seconds in which to engage. A single bolt completely destroyed a Raider, and the hits were enormously spectacular and firey.

The readouts flashed with images of the incoming. "They're carrying Tylium bombs on their underwing hardpoints. This is going to hurt." Ilahmbh braced herself. The secondary batteries were firing on wide dispersal, too, and killing even more of the incoming Raiders.

The crews had worked much faster than anyone had thought they were to ram one single load of RAMs through into the cell launchers, and of course the computers, having the weapons available, simply fired them in one last effort while the flak cannons continued spraying. The missiles had very little time to acquire their targets and even more missed, but from across the fleet another 626 Raiders were demolished, and hundreds more had been claimed by the guns of the fleet. The flak, unfortunately, was proving far less effective against them than against proper missiles, and the Raiders plunged home.

Tylium enhanced explosives were tremendously destructive. Despite their best efforts, having shot down 5,500 of their attackers, 3,500 Raiders remained for the massed suicide attack. The missiles were least gone from the pods, the big anti-ship warheads and slow acceleration giving them no chance of striking the heavy Raiders and old-type Raiders, but at least plenty of opportunity for their massed detonate to wipe out chunks of those attacking forces anyway.

Naturally they went for the biggest ships, and incredibly it was watched by all as a full hammer's blow of almost a hundred Raiders slammed into the shields of one of the leading carriers. Her decks were crammed with space superiourity fighters held back by Tisara's intent to jump before launching, and the shields cascaded into bright colours to the point of making everyone hold their breath, waiting for the inevitable when they flickered and fell. Another ten Raiders slammed into the hull at various points. One struck the forward sensor mast where it stood amidships between the launching and recovering bays, causing a tremendous scar through the thick armour, which held.

Another three scoured her port side, and here the design wisdom of Taloran ships was shown. Though extremely high velocity missiles might be able to punch through, the ships were designed with heavy armour, followed by tanks of metallic hydrogen, followed by heavier armour. The first layer of armour would at least initiate the fusing on the missile, causing it to detonate as it passed into the metallic hydrogen tank. The metallic hydrogen would explode violently, flinging outward from the hull and protecting the internal armour from the direct strike. As it did as the raiders hit successive metallic hydrogen tanks, huge blackened scars in the outer hull with deep penetration, but the inner layer of armour was untouched. Like British carriers of old Earth, the Talorans considered it quite the worthwhile endeavour to armour their carriers, and it seemed to be worthwhile here even as more strikes tore into more tankage, each detonation so white hot and massive that it completely obscured the battered carrier, just to see it sailing serenely through as the white light faded, secondary guns still firing as rapidly as they could.

Then the last of the raiders going on, almost missing the ship, slammed into the starboard pod forward. It ripped through into the hangar bay there and set off a series of sympathetic detonations, including in the highly volatile anti-matter in the bay for fueling the fighters. Another explosion completely consumed the ship, and Ilahmbh sucked in her breath, only to watch as the carrier Tyrakha vanished once again.... ...And again came out of the light of the fire, this time trailing plasma and debris from the starboard pod, blasted down to a fragmentary skeleton in the rough form of a cigar. But the ship's other three hangar complexes were still intact, and it was clear as her guns proudly continued to fire that she could still fight, too.

A dreadnought was the next of the great ships in the fleet to be smashed up by the Cylons in the mere seconds over which the attacks played themselves out, even as Dhirisma herself shuddered as, in close succession, no less than eighty Raiders impacted on her dreadnought-grade shields, flaring them down to 20% power and causing several local burnouts, but none remained to exploit the temporary failures.

The third dreadnought in Battle Squadron Ninenteen, the Princess Rikhalasha, was hammered, though. One hundred and twenty Raiders took down her shields and one exploded right into one of the turrets, jamming it right-ahead through the heavy armour as another impacted with one of her festooned secondary turrets and violently blew it to pieces. Another six impacted into the massive armour; these slammed through the bursting layers, activating the ERA with immense flashes that made the Princess Rikhalasha vanish, too, and yet caused no further damage.

All around them it was the same story. Of the dreadnoughts and fleet carriers, huge amounts of damage to sometimes already damaged hulls was being wracked up--several reported penetrating hits to their main armour where the ERA had already been activated in the engagements with the Cylons before, and simple titanium plates had been welded over the craters and filled with metallic hydrogen as a measure of battlefield expediency. But none of them compromised the fighting capability of the massive ships even as thousands among their crews were killed and huge gashes torn in the outer hulls.

Among the smaller ships, though, particularly the destroyers and frigates, the toll was heavy: Thirteen destroyers and ten frigates were lost, as well as two destroyer leaders and two light cruisers. The biggest ship to be lost was another of the older battlecruisers, the Olontatka, which sent a shiver through everyone as the great ship was finally overwhelmed through her much lighter armour with four penetrating hits that caused cascading failures to the already damaged ships and blew off half of her reactors, violently, tearing out great gashes in the hull and killing the drives, forcing the crew to evacuate to the rest of the fleet. The other two ships lost were heavy cruisers.

The surviving Raiders jumped clear. "How many made it out to attack us again?" Tisara asked crisply. The 1,579 ships she had found operational for this mission were now 1,539.

"About a thousand," Dhirisma replied. "Overall, the fleet did good. Everyone not outright destroyed is still able to hold station, though some of the destroyers and cruisers are heavily damaged enough and still fighting severe internal fires and chemical leaks that they're needing to fall back on the battle-line. Two of the carriers have lost the use of one of their hangar complexes, but we should still be able to recover the full strike with expected attrition," she added, a bit grimly, "and some surplus."

"Naturally. Engagement against the incoming bombers?"

"Four hundred shot down so far. They are not yet within RAM range, but... Missiles launching." She looked severely to Tisara. "Surely that was what you were waiting for the fleet to jump?"

"How many of their missiles."

"Only about half."

"They're learning not to waste everything at once, I see. Very well, Captain Ilahmbh, signal the fleet to jump. And be prepared for sustained action on the other side; we will be attacked within seconds. They're sure to have scouts there, and they'll home in this strike force on us to attack again. Make sure the general signals to the fleet understand they are to expect coming under immediate sustained attack the moment we've jumped."

"Understood, Admiral."

"Now, I wonder how our fighters are doing..." Tisara mused as the lurching discontent of the jump drive activating was mitigated by the drugs against its neurological effects naturally pumped into her vacsuit caused a minimum in displeasure as they raced on to the next system, and the next phase in this long-range, running battle.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-13 03:27am

Chapter Thirty-Three.

Taloran Starfighter Corps
Cylon Fleet forces at
System KJE-167073HI
29 AUGUST 2169

The last seconds tore by as the bombers and gunboats raced their way in. More and more were being blasted down and out of the stars, but they stayed steady and level and were moving with incredible speed. And then, one after another in short succession:



Again and again, either two torpedoes from the gunboats or four from the torpedo bombers were loosed. The gunboats then began to fire with their heavy guns as they tore through the formation, whereas the bombers simply took off at much higher accelerations--more than 25% of their fully loaded mass had just been dropped simultaneously, after all!--and ripped out of the Cylon force for deep space and for survival from the very real threat of their annihilation while they escaped. Eight thousand torpedoes successfully engaged toward 221 Cylon Baseships, and within five seconds they would have either succeeded or failed.

The interceptors for their part were already clear, having taken their losses to cover the bombers for the last bit of the run by their mere existence, and now swinging around to engage the Cylon Raiders should they try to pursue the retreating strike package. The EW 'birds raced through still transmitting and still jamming to give the torpedoes as much of a chance as they possibly could, now dispensing masses of chaff and flares to lay down a barricade against Cylon attacks on the successfully retiring bombers.

Of the torpedoes that were fired, an average of 36 were targeted at each of the light Baseships that got through and flung themselves against the point defence, and an average of 38 against each of the heavy Baseships. The point defence had three seconds in which to intercept, or even less in a few cases. To their credit, most of the Cylon baseships managed to shoot down 85% of the inbounds within a three second engagement envelope facing 36 - 38 targets.

Two torpedoes could destroy an unshielded Baseship, and six would usually suffice against a shielded one. Not a single Cylon ship's shields survived intact, not a single one, modern, or the armoured old double-saucers. The majority of the Cylon ships, however, did in fact survive. They managed to knock down enough of the torpedoes that they could stand their ground and hold. But the averages were just that; averages. Some of the ships barely had their shields knocked down. Some took serious damage as well. And then there were the one hundred and three Baseships in all--ninety-seven of the new type and six of the old type--which had most of their attacking forces intact, which got through, on average, seven torpedoes and in a couple cases, eight or nine.

They lit up and kept lighting up as the massive rolling explosions shattered the double-hulls, blasting them in two, and simply overwhelming them and detonating their dual power-cores, one in each primary hull, such that space was filled with an enormous serious of rippling, terrible explosions. In total not less than 191 of the tiny corvettes posted to defend the ships the attacks were either caught up in the blasts or had torpedoes veer off onto them at the last moment and vapourize them, or taken out by the missiles of the interceptors and gunboats en passant.

If the Starfighter Corps had wanted a proof of concept, with their carrier-captain allies, of the use of carriers for long-range strike against enemy fleets, they had just had it. The enemy ships that survived shook off the shock and kept firing into them as they retired, but it was a stern chase for the missiles and the starfighters were already at relativistic velocities. They began to compute their two jumps that would, if all had gone well, carry them back to the fleet. The combat had only taken minutes, and yet it had been as lethal as might be imagined as the massed overwhelming salvoes of torpedoes had done their deadly mark.

Of the 500 gunboats, 1,024 EW craft, 3,504 bombers and 4,000 interceptors sent to engage the enemy, 1,981 bombers, 3,652 interceptors, 958 EW craft and 304 gunboats were coming back, some damaged and barely in one piece, but all able to make the strike. The survivors who had escaped from the rest kept their survival coms turned off and hoped it was enough of a hammer's blow to get the Cylon fleet to run for it so they had some chance of recovery by their own hopefully-still-intact fleet. With luck, the first had come true; the Cylon baseships and corvettes jumped out the moment, after thirty-five minutes in system, that their drives were recharged.

The Raiders, on the other hand, had already left. They had jumped out just minutes after the Taloran strike had made its escape, and they were following it. The Imperial Fleet under Tisara's command would shortly find out how it was able to deal with another 9,000 kamikazes coming in. These were unprepared with Tylium explosives, but many still had anti-fighter missiles loaded aboard and those would offer enough damage. Surprise was more important than firepower, anyway. The very last of the escort of the savaged Cylon fleet would be spent gaining revenge on its attackers.

The pilots of the strike package spent the next fifteen minuets in an uneasy slump from the tension of their attacks, counting the comrades they had seen killed and hoping for the survival of their fleet, without which they would face a difficult crawl through deep space to be retrieved, if they ever would. But of course the loss of the fleet would be worse than that. They could only wait, and hope, that the second of their jumps would indeed reveal Tisara's squadrons drawn up and waiting for them--even if Terrible Tisara herself had not necessarily survived the Cylon counterstrike. But that thought, on the minds of fewer and fewer of her subordinates these days, was suitably rare. One more jump to go....

HSMS Dhirisma
The Imperial Fleet at
System KHR-167008HE
30 AUGUST 2169.

By the standards of the Terran calendar, another day had just passed. The Taloran day, out of synch by several hours, had already shifted over. It was the middle of the night, but nobody was asleep in the fleet, except those under anesthesia (of which they were some thousands by this point as the casualties piled up from the kamikazes), or even tired. Combat drugs took care of that, and left them all better prepared to face the next of the attacks coming in. Thanks to the hyper-accurate Cylon jump drives, they were given very, very little warning. They'd only been able to get one thousand of their some six thousand space superiourity fighters off the carriers and into space before the Cylons were gunning for them again, and this time the heavy Raiders and old-type Raiders were in just as close as the new-type Raiders.

The long-range anti-fighter missiles in the Mk.30 launchers had some capability against the Raiders at close range, however, and so they were immediately loosed from where they had stood ready, while the light starfighters from the carriers which had launched in time--the shields had to be brought up now, halting further operations, to protect against the kamikazes--heeling over sharply to fire their missiles at point-blank into the attacking heavy raiders and old-type raiders. At the same time, those crafts, numbering 5,600 when they first jumped in, were loosing the other half of their missile salvoes, more than eleven thousand missiles in all racing in toward the Taloran fleet, and this time there was no jumping out at the last minute to escape them. The battle had to be fought here, not simply to give the drives time to recharge but so their strike package could be recovered.

The counter-missiles were on the job. This is what they had been designed for, even as the Raiders tended to evade the huge long-range anti-fighter missiles, though the massive 32 megatonne warheads they packed scored multiple proximity kills even on the better-defended and shielded larger Raider models. As that portion of the combat developed, the first salvo of counter-missiles simply ripped through the incoming nuclear missile salvo; more than ten thousand of the missiles were wiped out by the first salvo of countermissiles. The second salvo of countermissiles finished off the rest of them. Not a single missile even made it through to face the flak curtains of the Taloran ships.

But that wasn't their purpose. They had used up two salvoes of countermissiles. And only one salvo remained before the long reloading gap that would allow another three salvoes in close succession. The interconnected combat computers of the Taloran ships allowed the RAM cell launchers to immediately retarget and fire off a full salvo at the new-type Raiders, slightly more than one thousand strong, boring in at high speed, but that was the only salvo they were going to get off.

"Now," Tisara remarked to no-one in particular, "I understand why suicide tactics enter the renown and fear of every race or people misfortunate enough to have been at the hands of a race evil and depraved enough to use them." She settled back, and betraying not the slightest bit of fear or concern, just those telling words of utter fascination with the horrible spectacle, and watched the desperate battle for her fleet. 842 Raiders were shot down; 166 plunged in, roughly arranged against three carriers which had already suffered damage and whose shields had barely recovered at all, including the Tyrakha, which had already survived ten kamikazes.

"Stand ye steady...." Ilahmbh whispered a pray as she watched fourty-seven Raiders' images disappear on one of the 2-D plots as they converged with the Tyrakha. Huge and repeated flashes tore through the formation ahead as the battered fleet carrier and two others were submerged by the first hammer's blow. Tyrakha's shields failed and another seven kamikaze strikes tore through the ship. Her two central hangar complexes were destroyed in explosions which triggered massive secondaries and the detonation of most of her fighters inside of her, and the power was enough to bulge out the armour, bending and twisting the innards of the ship permanently in hideous ways, some blasts tearing through from the inside out.

More than half her reactors were knocked out and all power was temporarily lost as the busbars were overwhelmed. Most of the remaining ERA panels were blown off and several deep strikes were recorded while one of her armoured impeller fins was torn clear off by the force of one of the hits. With power lost the ship began to fall behind the still-accelerating fleet as her surviving crew smartly went about the almost impossible task of damage control. Incredibly, within twenty-four seconds they had power rerouted through one of the backup busbar assemblies, while the intact secondary batteries continued to fire on capacitor power with long-range shots against the heavy raiders still boring home. It was enough to break even the professionalism of Tisara's bridge crew into desperately crazed celebration at the impossible survival of the ship when her engines started back up and she struggled up to 1,350g's--about sixty percent of her maximum rated acceleration--and ceased falling back in the fleet.

Then, her remaining intact portside bay--with her shield generators destroyed, there was no reason to wait any longer--started to launch its untouched fighter squadrons, streaming ahead of the massive clouds of plasma and debris leaking from the mostly ruined ship, and that sealed it:

"Long live Tyrakha!!"

"Long live Tyrakha!!"

"Long live the Empress!!"

The two other carriers, less seriously damaged, now looked like the Tyrakha after the first round of strikes, each with at least one hangar grouping lost and more fighters chewed apart, sections of the hull reduced to frame, but still mostly operational, their shields dangerously down, but at least that meant they were sending up more space superiourity fighters to join the thousand already making runs on the larger Raiders that were coming in next.

"Down to four thousand heavy Raiders coming in, the light starfighters are making their runs now," Dhirisma said, abruptly composed after being almost unable to hold herself back from joining in the little celebration at the incredible feat of survival by the Tyrakha.

"It's going to be harder to knock out the heavy raiders. They're going to need all the help they can get. During the RAM engagement profile I want the torpedo batteries and main guns of the ships not masked by the formation to engage as well--shake them up, detonate the torpedoes in their midst, anything to knock out a few more," Tisara tossed a hand hotly upwards. "Throw everything we've got at them. This isn't a moment for half measures."


"And tell Tyrakha--good work in getting those fighters off! I'll see to it the unit commendation with the Sovereign's flails is sent over afterward, if I have anything to say about it."

The bridge crew was smiling under their breaths as they carried on in their duties. They'd never heard Tisara summarily guaranteeing citations before; she usually expected the superhuman as a mere component of duty, but the carrier's survival had impressed even her, in her own tight way.

The first wave of 1,000 fighters tore through the large Raider attacking group. They were accelerating at 3,500g's and were in typical 'joust' attack profile. They'd only get one strike, but using their remaining missiles and guns they had every chance of each one taking through a Raider, and even with the shields on the Raiders they damn near did. In the sudden and hideous combat, some two hundred of the starfighters were shot down against these far better equipped opponents, however, but they also ripped through eight hundred and fifty of the attackers before racing out of the way of the incoming RAM missiles of the first salvo. That first salvo annihilated 746 more incoming Raiders, the warheads, and the immense velocities of the 40,000g's accelerating RAMs--which had shield-penetrating warheads which fired a small, superheavy penetrator just as the main warhead detonated on a shield to create a small burn-through hole--proving sufficient to ram their c-fractional penetrating rods into the Raiders in such a way that was more or less impossible to survive, though more than a few of the bigger Raiders managed it anyway.

Then the second wave blew away 759 more, and the second wave of intercepting fighters--from the three carriers that had lost their shields, about two hundred in all--swept in against the attacking Raiders in the eight second pause before another murderous and overwhelming RAM salvo was prepped and fired. They were intercepting on extremely difficult perpendicular trajectories rather than the 'joust' which was considered the only truly effective combat manoeuvre against other starfighters... But the enemy wasn't normal enemy starfighters. They were kamikazes trying to gain as much velocity and kinetic energy as they could before slamming into their targets, and their courses were easily predictable and fixed. 206 starfighters engaged and scored 188 kills despite the poor angle in a very excellent showing.

And then the third wave of RAM missiles went in, even as the big secondary guns and the main batteries of the destroyers were firing on the incoming attackers... And so were the main batteries of every ship in the fleet, and they were salvoing their torpedoes as well to be in place to detonate in massed barrages when the Raiders passed through them. Everything that they could possibly do to take out as many of the kamikazes as they could was being done, in the desperate effort to stop them before they inexorably closed and rammed home their deadly attacks.

It was at that moment that Tisara realized to herself--Well. If I call these suicide attacks, then I recognize even the mechanical Cylons as being sapient. Curious. Dhirisma has already had an influence on me after all, subconscious no less--and smiled vaguely at the cute and crisp figure of the AI's hologram as she stood on her bridge, in the heart of her own brain, and defended herself and aided in the defence of the fleet perhaps as finely as any of the ships had done, and better still, Ysalha and Dhirisma working in perfect symbiosis with the plenty of spare computing power the ship had to allow the Synthetic Control Cruiser to flawlessly respond to the attacks. So far, Dhirisma hadn't even lost her shields, and the immaculate condition of the flagship preserved the command and control of the fleet most finely so that their response had been as coordinated and stiff as one might hope possible.

The third wave of RAM missiles scored 722 kills, and then the guns were taking out dozens more as they raced onwards into the trap of the torpedoes while the point-blank 21cm powerguns were raking them and the flak projectors adding to the sadly, desperately ineffective curtains, especially against these heavier and at least somewhat shielded Raiders. Or, had been somewhat shielded. The torpedo warheads detonated, and the Cylon formation seemed to mercifully vanish, if by now they were all too jaded by this terrifying warfare to expect the respite to last more than a laughing fraction of a second.

Five hundred and fifty-eight Raiders appeared on the other side. Mercifully, almost all of them had lost their shields. The powerguns were tearing through them, and a few of them were lost to fortunately dense concentrations of flak. They took out as many as they possibly could within the seconds that were left. And then four hundred and two Raiders succeeded in striking their targets. Most of the heavy ships of the fleet were protected down by a last minute shift that Ilahmbh had crisply ordered at full acceleration, but that left that the screen open for a hammering... And a good half the Raiders had homed in on the big ships anyway, these bigger and heavier raiders against weakened targets, now, one dreadnought, one fleet carrier.

Six destroyers damaged, four destroyers lost, three light cruisers damaged, one lost, one heavy cruiser lost, two damaged. And then one of the overburdened carriers, now concentrated on by a hundred of the much larger Raiders that had several times the mass of the new types--more than enough to make up for the lack of Tylium bombers--was hammered and hammered until several deep strikes tore through her remaining ready fighters and more still knocked out three-fourths of her massive banks of fusion reactors with a series of secondary explosions deep in the hull. This ship fell out of formation with massive internal radiation leaks, and there was no miraculous salvation like the Tyrakha; escape pods began to be launched as well as a few surviving craft as sections of the outer hull started to peel off under the continuing internal damage. Tisara had finally lost one of her carriers.

The Dreadnought, of course, much larger and much more strongly built in turn with better defences, managed to hang on. Hammered and battered again and again the huge Empress Mikela IV class ship was hit by no less than fourteen kamikazes after her shields failed, ERA completely burning off the outer hull layers, the mercifully emptied pod ripped to shreds, one of her armoured sensor towers blown clear off, but her primary hull only penetrated thrice and only ten reactors down, still able to maintain 1,100g's, and, though falling behind from Tisara's demand of 1,350g's fleet acceleration, she reduced it as the last of the kamikaze attacks finished, down to 1,000g's to give the cripples time to make repairs amongst stars that were suddenly, mercifully clear.

"It's finally over....." Dhirisma breathed softly.

"No, no it's not," Ysalha answered tiredly. "Do you think, my dearest, that the surviving Raiders from our strike against their Baseships, even if it was successful, are going to just run? We have minutes at most."

"Launch every fighter left! Magnum launch as fast as we can!" Tisara ordered, Ysalha's words instantly galvanizing her into action. "Order the fleet to prepare for sustained kamikaze attack, shift the formation again and reload the Mk.30's and RAM launchers for immediate response. We're where we need to be to cover the strike. Neglect jump-drive charging in favour of directing the energy toward restoring shield strength and charging secondary battery capacitors! We fight this out here! And that is indeed a general fleet order. If we're lucky they're only going to hit us one more time."

Torpedo Squadron 1220,
System KJI-147008BB

Squadron Captain Rachel Nelson, ranking officer of Torpedo Squadron 1220 off the Tyrakha, had managed to assemble her four dispersed bomber flights in another one of the remote, useless, and barely charted systems through which the sprawling fight was now taking place. It was useful now, though, because it was the likely point--at the extreme range at which the Taloran patrols had jumped--where the Cylon fleet was most likely, by the latest translight coms reports, to jump out, on a straight line from their last position still pretty far in so that they'd be heading for Kobol and safety.

The prediction was right; the sixteen bombers of Torpedo Squadron 1220 and the twelve accompanying reconaissance-outfitted interceptors launched off of the fleet's Destroyer Leaders by twos--recon-outfitted meaning each one was carrying a single torpedo slung under its main hardpoint for secondary strike duties--were suddenly confronted with one hundred and eighteen Cylon Baseships and about two hundred surviving escort Corvettes. None of them had active shields and all of them bore signs of enormous damage.... And not a single Raider was launched.

"Hundred and three capship kills and close to two hundred 'vettes?" She remarked to her mostly-Taloran-male squadron mates through the laser-coms. "They didn't do bad at all. Looks like the fighters were wiped out, too." Little did Rachel know how, nor that she would have a chance to avenge the deaths of half the crew of the ship her Starfighter Corps squadron operated off of. "Two bombers to each one of the remaining armoured Baseships, and eight of the interceptors concentrate on one. That'll give us all nine, if we're lucky, and the remaining four interceptors go after one of the lighter types. Won't be a single big gun left in the fleet, God Willing--just missiles and empty hangars."

"Roger that." The chorus of confirmations went through as her electronic warfare officer activated the toggle which would open the bay doors for the bomber's twelve decoys that would be crucial in making the strike by the scout squadrons succeed, in the best traditions of the Taloran Starfleet to, in imitation of a practice the rival Alliance strangely hadn't copied, use bombers for multi-lightyear scouting deployments.. And have their standard tactics be to radio in the contact report and then attack with whatever was available before running for it, to get in some surprise hits on the enemy whilst they could.

"Alright, stand by the coordinates report."

"Entered, Flight Captain."

"On mark, punch engines full, punch decoys, send the contact."

"All ready."

"Mark." These bastards had butchered billions of humans in the outer colonies, and even Callisto-born Rachel was more than ready and prepared to give them hell for it, no matter how long the odds.

The engines of the twenty-eight starfighter strike fired, their translight coms went to full broadcasting power for the short burst, and 192 decoy missiles were fired on several varying tracks to confuse the defence by the Cylons as much as possible. It went as well as they could hope; their point defence missiles were largely spoofed by it, and there were a surprisingly small number of them. Of course, they were gods-damned in combat twice already! They're retrofits--they won't have nearly the magazines for 'em we do. Might even be bolt-ons...

Somehow, her bombers got through the missiles without a single one lost, though by random fate one of the interceptors was hit by a missile and vapourized in the tremendous detonation of its torpedo, one of the reasons the strike force was coming in extremely dispersed. No sense in fratricide when their chances were already to small.

Then, the light point-defence KEVs opened up. The decoy missiles were still spoofing, they were using their jammers as hard as they could, but the sheer quantity of firepower still blasted four and then five of the bombers out of space and two more interceptors before they could launch.



They fired off their torps at once and in unison, and there was more or less no time to intercept them in. The bombers and interceptors leapt up to their maximum acceleration of 4,500g's with so much weight being shed all at once, and ripped through the Cylon formation, leaving the torpedoes to slam home against their targets. Seven of the nine remaining old-type Cylon Baseships, all already with significant damage and little means left to defend themselves, were blown to pieces, and so was the one targeted new-type Baseship. The remaining two old Baseships surely seemed crippled as they cleared away, even as another of the bombers bought it to the KEVs before they pulled out of range.

In about twenty seconds, Torpedo Squadron 1220 had gone from sixteen craft and full strength down to ten... But they had just killed six times the tonnage of their home carrier over. It had been like a turkey shoot, and Rachel was amazed they had survived it at all even as she shuddered with the intensity of the adrenaline the success brought on.

The ordeal for the Cylons was not over, however. Someone other than just Tisara's embattled fleet had heard the contact report, and they'd just finished charging their drives and now barely had the range to jump, whereas Tisara certainly didn't. The Cylons still had thirty minutes before their drives would be fully recharged and they could again fleet another 120 lightyears further on, where there would be no further enemies waiting to intercept them. But the delay caused by the mauling fight with Tisara had given enough time for the one enemy with drives almost as fast--and good enough, due to that delay--to catch up to them.

Admiral Saul Tigh jumped in with the Pegasus, Galactica, and the Kshatriya--and grappled to their hulls inside the jump effect were 100 Taloran EW 'birds, 80 gunboats, and 60 torpedo bombers which were immediately released with the same conserved velocity as the three Colonial ships and now began to accelerate straight on toward the crippled Cylon force... Which Saul Tigh knew had exhausted on the order of 90% of their anti-ship missiles fighting the twenty fresh Taloran Dreadnoughts and sixteen carriers with plentiful escorts which had arrived from CON-5 with considerable escorts as part of the Empress' calculated gamble, to admit to the crisis to the foreign world and at the same time get the resources needed for such an overwhelming response as to conciliate the human population that all was being done which could be done. Inside their hulls, too, were another 60 torpedo bombers, 320 Taloran space superiourity fighters, and 680 surviving Vipers and 10 surviving Raptors, and all of these were launching as rapidly as they could.

No, the Cylons weren't about to get a break now. But their last bolt to strike back against their enemies was yet to be thrown.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-13 07:23am

Chapter Thirty-Four.

HSMS Dhirisma
The Imperial Fleet at
System KHR-167008HE
30 AUGUST 2169.

"And so return our brave razor-kastras," Ysalha stood, stretched, and watched as the starfighters from the fleet jumped in on the return of their successful strikes and immediately flashed in the damage reports to the flagship and their waiting carriers--one of which was no longer there.

"They got one hundred and three baseships and almost two hundred corvettes and six thousand defending Raiders," Ilahmbh reported as she collated the data. "Losses were within acceptable rates for the success of the strike. They really blew through the enemy, too. Almost fifty percent of their ships destroyed."

"But nine thousand Cylon Raiders intact..." Dhirisma frowned. "I suppose we should be expecting an attack."

"Quite. Sooner, if they are coming in without arming with explosives, later, if they are coming in after having rearmed." Tisara settled back and closed her eyes, ears drooping down to brush along the helmet. "Order the interceptors and the bombers to join the Combat Air Patrol without refueling. They should have enough endurance and we can't afford to be taking about carrier planes again. We need the carriers empty for their own safety. The bombers can lock their turrets forward and joust just as well as the interceptors."

"Understood, Your Serene Grace," Ilahmbh sighed to try and release the tension; it did nothing. Everyone on the bridge was already strapping back in, anyway, in expectation of an imminent continued assault.

"Electronic warfare craft are to concentrate and throw up as much jamming as they can to prevent the kamikazes from accurately targeting our ships until very close--that will cut their velocity more than a bit during the strikes, reduce the damage they can do." Tisara was learning fast, extrapolating from what she'd already seen, and reflected, with no modesty whatsoever, that she had probably become the living expert on massed kamikaze attacks among all the three great powers. Perhaps it is time on my first complete doctrinal book of tactics. They will have little choice but to recommend it in light of circumstances.

"Of course, Admiral."

Tisara ignored the acknowledgment, and waited. Eight minutes later, her waiting was rewarded by the arrival, exactly as she had expected and everyone else had feared would be happening, of nine thousand Cylon raiders coming close in. "All starfighters and long-range missiles engage, standby countermissiles and CIWS. Jamming up."

"Starfighters engaging," Dhirisma reported.

"At least, Mistress, we have had thirty minutes for damage control and the recovery of the shields this time, instead of seven minutes between the last attacks."

"Quite true, my dear Ysalha. And they're coming in without bombs. That helps substantially. Hmm.." Her eyes bored in on the plot. "And so here it begins again." The drugs kept her easy and focused, even if the tension could be edged by a knife, it seemed to wash over, to be felt without truly effecting her. Something that could be terribly deceptive, but for the Talorans, the use of cybernetic interfaces and mind-enhancing and exhaustion-eliminating pharmacopias was their way of preserving the traditional warrior roles in the face of modern computerization of combat, and they would not have it any other way. The fleet's officers, warrants, and specialists were universally both wired into their ships' computers, and wired on three or four combat drugs at once, forcing, bashing and abusing at their bodies with every artifice of modern science to squeeze more capability out of them so they remained fully active participants in their own wars, using the vast but 'dumb' mainframes of the ships with their simple OS's to provide the raw power to back up the capabilities the augmentations imbued them with.

First, the 4,969 intact light starfighters of the fleet's defensive forces volley-fired their own anti-fighter missiles. Then they, along a cumulative of more than fifty-five hundred interceptors and bombers, swung in to joust with their opponents. Roaring in at full acceleration with only a single pass to make, every single weapon fired as rapidly as possible. In the end-on engagement the bombers with their tracking bolter turrets actually proved to be almost as effective as the interceptors and possibly more effective than the light starfighters in the role, smashing through the enemey's ranks. The Cylons were learning too, however, and their velocity was comparatively slow, intentionally so, manoeuvring out of the way as rapidly as they could. It was an incredibly rapid learning cycle fueled by a cosmic network that was not yet fully understood--though Ysalha knew it was happening, still linked to it--and they were now using their more nimble fighters properly to evade the high-energy jousts the Talorans sought.

The results of the attack were therefore rather disappointing; only around three thousand Raiders were destroyed, and the reattack capability of the starfighters was limited. On the other hand, it would take the Raiders time to build up enough velocity for the kinetic energy of their suicide attacks to do damage to the Taloran fleet with no bombs aboard, and that meant no jumping forward with extreme precision to slash down the distance. That finally gave the long range anti-fighter missiles being constantly pumped out by the fleet's Mk.30 quad-arm launchers a chance to show their value, and the fleet's missile officers certainly weren't wasting it. Every single functional launcher in the fleet was marking out a steady salvo every six seconds, and they had enough capacity in their magazines that they could keep it up for several minutes before they ran out of anti-fighter missiles. In a normal engagement the rate of fire would never be remotely that high; against a massed kamikaze attack, the magazines were heedlessly run through in sheer desperation to provide the volume required for the defensive effort. Each one of the dreadnoughts alone was firing 320 missiles every six seconds into the kamikaze force if its launchers were still intact, and though for many that was not the case, at least several having been knocked out, the cumulative from just the twenty-four dreadnoughts was still horrifyingly powerful.

The Raiders started to disappear far more rapidly now. They were being blasted out of space by the hundreds with each salvo, and even as their velocities was ominously compounding as they shot through the EW picket line and finally acquired their targets, no less than two thousand, five hundred more of the kamikazes had been destroyed by the long-range anti-fighter missiles of the Taloran fleet within six minutes of engagement. Now the countermissiles and the secondary batteries were engaging.

The first countermissile salvo took out 890 of the surviving Raiders. The medium cannon started telling at that part with their .99995c particle beams fired once every two seconds at megatonne range yields, and their crews damned well kept them firing as fast as they could with every bit of frenetic desperation they could muster. Seven seconds in, the next countermissile salvo roared out, and the torpedo batteries were readied for use as a 'wall of energy' against the kamikazes once again, as even the huge main turrets on the dreadnoughts as well as the main turrets on the battlecruisers and cruisers got into the act, simply throwing as much energy as they possibly could at the general direction of the Raiders.

The second countermissile salvo blew its way through a 'mere' 744 of the attacking Raiders. Their numbers were starting to get mercifully ragged as the eight second duration down to the next and last salvo they would manage before the Raiders could start hitting was outlasted, and the torpedoes were fired so their warheads would be in position for the barrage, less useful to be sure against this more staggered formation which was coming in with a series of distinct waves, again showing the incredible adaptability of the Cylons.

That third and last countermissile salvo was out next while the 21cm powerguns opened up next, working like the 40mm bofors did against Japanese kamikazes on Earth some many centuries prior (or sooner, in some universes), a last desperate and not particularly effective defence--but everything counted. The countermissiles struck home, but the last minute moves of the Raiders to lock onto their targets, confused by the electronic warfare efforts of the EW 'birds, caused many to miss; only 674 Raiders were taken out by the last salvo. The bonus was that the losses in velocity meant the Raiders would do less damage when they finally collided. The torpedoes detonated in their immense barrage, and by the time it had passed and expended its fury against the shattered and unshielded Raiders, only seven hundred of them remained. The flak curtains and guns had a little bit more say as the waves of Raiders became to slam home; in all, six hundred and fifty succeeded in impacting with their targets.

A dozen destroyers in the outer screen swamped, eight annihilated and four crippled; one destroyer-leader crippled with them, and then four light cruisers in the inner screen picked off and destroyed, two more heavily damaged, and a sole unfortunate and already heavily damaged heavy cruiser went next in a terrible flash of detonating torpedo magazines that left few in the hulk alive. That accounted for four hundred and fifty of the Raiders. The other two hundred flung themselves heedlessly into the lead carrier in the formation, the Itranask. Battered again and again by the raiders, twice as numerous from the last attack but without bombs, her shields collapsed and even with the powerguns of the nearby ships firing directly at her in a desperate effort to knock out a few more kamikazes, fourty-three cascaded into her hull within a space of seconds.

The bays were burned through, with huge gouts of flame erupting as the hull was bent and twisted outward, armour ripped off from the inside out, the reactors in many cases going critical, anti-matter stocks and warheads violently exploding internally and smashing, permanently twisting the hull, and the sheer amount of damage causing a final series of magazine detonations to blow the bow straight off the shattered wreck, spinning uncontrollably and forcing the rest of the ships of the fleet into evasive maneouvres. Packed so tightly to defend against the kamikazes, though, the light cruiser Ytalisi was smacked by the fleet carrier's hulk as she spun out of control, the sheer mass of the fleet carrier knocking down her shields and crumpling the hull of the light cruiser like tinfoil, though the desperate effort of the helmswoman kept her on course despite the enormous damage long enough to fall out of formation in some semblence of control, while the tractor beams of the dreadnoughts Duchess of Erask and General Travinak stabilized the hulk of the Itranask to allow it to fall behind the fleet safely as it was evacuated.

Tisara's fleet still had 24 dreadnoughts and 30 carriers, though only 29 of the carriers were capable of further combat operations, the brave Tyrakha barely keeping formation with the fleet and the battle with her damage still fully underway. She unbelted herself from her acceleration couch and stepped forward to the holoplot. "Order the fleet to cease accelerating. Hold this velocity until further notice and begin charing the jump drives again. Recover all starfighters, first priority to our strike package, then the light fighters."

"So it's finally over." Dhirisma flatly stated, and her hologram walked over in Ysalha's direction to where the woman was pulling off her helmet. "Alright, we can secure from Condition One, Admiral..?"

"Not quite yet. Do you have any messages for me?"

"I do," Ysalha interjected. "And we can secure from quarters--I was handling comms to let Dhirisma concentrate on defending herself," she elaborated. "At any rate we received a burst transmission from Torpedo Squadron 1220 off the Tyrakha in System KJI-147008BB. They engaged the Cylon force on its arrival, loss of eleven craft of twenty-eight engaged, seven old-type and one new-type Baseships destroyed, two old-type Baseships crippled. More than that, though, Admiral Tigh's squadron arrived immediately afterwards and is now conducting his own attacks. The Cylon force almost completely expended their missiles in the engagement with Admiral Gykhara's Nineteenth Fleet and is extremely vulnerable to sustained attack and completely without fighter support, so a full strike will be launched to inflict further casualties before they can escape."

"Admiral Gykhara? She commanded the CON-5 Sector Force, not..." Tisara grinned darkly. "A numbered fleet, you say? That means the Imperial government considers us to be at war, and has activated the fleets as wartime formations."

"Correct!" Dhirisma smiled. "That was the last part of the message. The Oralnif Sector Force is now Fourteenth Fleet, and you are the commander. Anyway, Second Nieu Hollack was saved for us--the Distant Covering Force didn't lose any dreadnoughts, but the Human feudatories lost two and most of the ships were heavily damaged and in a severe position--when Admiral Gykhara arrived with twenty dreadnoughts and sixteen carriers just ten minutes after Admiral Tigh committed the Colonial Navy. After the battle, since only his ships had the drives required to make a pursuit of the Cylons remotely possible, and Gykhara suspected you'd attempt to engage them, she ordered Admiral Tigh to grapple every single attack craft he could to his hulls and pursue."

Dhirisma had a twinkle in her eyes as she added: "And, you know, sometimes I wondered if some of the crazier stuff the Starfleet's pulled off before was bad data dumped into me for propaganda reasons, but sending three capital ships to pursue and shadow two hundred certainly convinces me otherwise. Not sure that's a good thing..."

"Send my compliments to Admiral Tigh--assuming he survives, of course," Tisara responded, mildly amused.

"Already done during the action." The pause that trailed was less positive as the latest bit of bad news was summed up. "We do however have another directive, just arrived from Admiral Gykhara. Apparently Oralnif has been attacked in our absence and internal treachery allowed the dropping of the defence shields over the planet. The Colonial Arcology was seized by Cylon troops and the orbital platforms crippled by long-range fire from eighty-six Baseships. The battleships lost three of their number punching a hole for the fleet's cripples to escape out of, though the rest cleared out with them, with damage. Admiral Gykhara asks you to rendezvous with Nineteenth Fleet at system GEI-134556WE, ninety lightyears out from Oralnif, to retake the Oralnif system. As Admiral Gykhara has thirty-six operational dreadnoughts with her Nineteenth fleet--ten dreadnoughts damaged at First and Second Nieu Hollack were sent back to the Sol Jovian Fleetyards for repairs--our combined forces will have sixty dreadnoughts and seventy fleet and light carriers. She proposes you make preparations for a full deck strike from ninety lightyears out against the Cylons at Oralnif to be held jointly with her carriers."

"You're quick to temper bad news," Tisara answered. "It is rather grim however that the Cylons have seized the Colony Arcology. We may only hope that the Army is able to liberate them or evacuate them. Even if they are all exterminated, however, there is always the liberation of the Twelve Colonies--where millions of my wards yet live under Cylon rule. I suspect that ends here. Activation of the fleets can only mean that a declaration of War will shortly be issued and that we will be receiving orders to extirpate the Cylon military, liberate the Colonies and advance on their homeworld."

"And rightly so," Ysalha stepped to the side of her lover. "I can feel the losses they've taken. One-third of their fleet, Tisara. Since they encountered us they've lost one-third of their fleet's strength--and that is the overall strength, that's after the new ships they've built to replace losses have been counted."

"Pity you can't prove it," Tisara replied, and shaking her hair loose from her helmet, grabbed the taller Ysalha up against her quite shamelessly. "Send to Admiral Gykhara our condition and inform here we will be delayed for several hours before starting our evolution to secure damage and send our cripples back to Jovian Fleetyards, and await a rendezvous with Admiral Tigh when he has completed his attacks. Order Admiral Tigh to come here--and make sure not to include the disposition of Oralnif," she added, vicious in her cynicism. "I want to make sure those attacks against that Cylon fleet are pressed to the very hilt. Those ships are sitting ducks, and the more we knock out before they can be repaired, refueled, and rearmed, the better."

"Of course, Your Serene Grace."

Battlestar Pegasus,
System KJI-147008BB

"Going better than I hoped," Tigh remarked rather laconically as they watched the attack develop on the 2-D plots on Pegasus' bridge. Granted, he had been optimistic about the strike, but optimistic in the sense of a 80 gunboat and 120 bomber strike with only 640 torpedoes being able to do significant damage. On the other hand, they also were going to be able to put 3,200 light missiles from the rest of the fighters into the group, since the Cylons had nothing with which to engage the fighters.

It was a brutal turkey shoot, and every single one of the Colonials could feel the potential for revenge inside, for the culmination of the incredible engagement, as the torpedoes raced in and Baseships started to blink out of existence. More and more, while the bombers and gunboats carried through with only 20% losses to the former and 10% losses to the later. They were the first wave, they'd suffer the most, and they'd also likely do the most damage.

And they did. Twenty-two more Baseships were destroyed by the torpedoes as the most of them got through the severely depleted batteries of the enemy. Indeed, of the surviving ships, at least 75% had completely expended their countermissiles and only had short-range KEWs to defend themselves with. The light fighters were coming in next, and their huge salvo of small but rather slow multipurpose missiles was targeted at only 40 of the surviving Baseships. They turned away rapidly after that, having approached at lower velocities, and evaded most of the KEW fire. 90% of the strike in total made it clear.

Their missiles swarmed, overwhelming the KEW and expending the remaining Cylon countermissiles, until at last they were to the point of battering down and through a death of a thousand cuts finishing off another seven Baseships with twenty-nine damaged to some degree or another. All of the old type Baseships were gone now, and the force that remained before them consisted more or less of 89 new-type Baseships of both models, and all of them damaged in some way around.

But he still had just three capital ships, and the enemy had 89. That meant entering missile range was suicidal, even as the Cylons were trying to bring him to it now. They'd mauled the enemy enough, and besides, he'd just received Tisara's order for the rendezvous; as far as he was concerned, having done all they could, that took precedence over some risky game with the remaining Colonial fleet to take on the surviving cripples and their still potentially quite lethal missile batteries. "Pull back, full power. Order the fighters to overhaul for recovery and grappling. As soon as we have everyone aboard, we jump to rendezvous with Fourteenth Fleet."

Unfortunately, or fortunately, none of the Colonials knew of the news that would be waiting for them when they met Tisara's fleet. In that ignorance, they completed the recovery of the jubilant strikes and then jumped almost at the same time that the shattered remnants of the Cylon taskforces jumped another 120 lightyears closer to their advance base at Kobol, leaving, it seemed, the rescue of the Army corps entrenched on Oralnif and the survivors of the crippled orbital platforms, along with the Cylon force which had inflicted this grievous damage on the Empire, as the last task to be completed before it could be said the Cylon surprise attacks had been defeated.

The question that remained was whether or not any of the Colonial civilians on Oralnif would be alive by the time the Nineteenth and the Fourteenth got there.

HSMS Dhirisma,
14th Fleet Flag, enroute
to rendezvous with 19th Fleet
at System GEI-134556WE
31 AUGUST 2169

Being linked to Ysalha when she was finally sleeping again with Tisara had been strange. Unsettling in that Dhirisma was not able to avoid feeling some of the bleed-off pleasure from what Ysalha experienced, and that left her confused considering the level of damage it inflicted. The sheets were in fact rather soaked with dried blood and Ysalha was nursing her right arm like Tisara had broken it, which she accessed the likelihood of to be quite high.

The admirable and capable Dr. Ghimalia could of course succeed in patching her back together in time for any action the day after tomorrow, and that was all that really mattered from Ysalha's perspective as she lay there, sometimes whimpering softly in the afterglow of their savage lovemaking for the first time in very close to half a long Taloran year, demanded as the drugs wore off by their desperate bodies, and after Tisara had patched her lover with the skill of a doctor, they had collapsed in a heap and slept for eight hours—twelve by the Terran clock.

If it weren't for the whips and the rods and the bone-crackling restraints and blows hard enough to crack bones outright, it would have been rather idyllic. Ysalha found it that way anyway, and Dhirisma did have to admit the release of latent sexual tension in her bonded partner was as valuable to her mental health, and again even moreso, than the physical damage.

It still hurt her to watch it happen, though, more than a bit, though Tisara's gentleness in healing the wounds she'd just inflicted had also reminded her that Ysalha's defence of her lover was not without merit. Certainly, the sooner she could convince Tisara to interface with them on a continuous basis, the better. The free-flowing information exchange in that case would not only make the relationship easier, but add in battle execution anyway.

She had been watching through the internal security sensors, shamelessly—they both knew she was and had accepted it—but now she received a signal from communications of an arriving message which quickly demanded Tisara's attention. A mental sort of nervous sensation was allowed and then she formed her hologram, sitting on the side of the bed.

“Did you enjoy yourselves?”

“The first time I've heard someone say that without malice or sarcasm,” Tisara languidly flicked her ears up. “Why yes we did, Dhirisma, thank you. You have some news for me?”

We really did, too, Ysalha insisted through their shared and thoroughly permanently bond.

“It didn't seem enjoyable, but it clearly was, so, I shall get used to it, Tisara. And yes, I do. It's a general order from Her Serene Majesty the Empress. Shall I read it off?”

“...You used my private access codes?” Tisara looked rather darkly at the hologram.

“Remember, it's the computer's job to authenticate them. So at least one mainframe on the flagship has access codes anyway. Since I by definition need them, I used them.”

“Hah. We'll have to revise half the procedures in existence if AI-ships become more common.”

“Would you like it if we did?”

“Perhaps, but I also rather like having you to myself. Go ahead with the message.”

“To: Admiral Tisara of Urami commanding Fourteenth Fleet.

We are now at war with the Cylon State, retroactive to the surprise attacks on Oralnif and Terra. You will have the offensive fleet and Admiral Gykhara will protect our territory from further attack. Operate in conjunction with her to retake Oralnif at all costs, and then hold it. She will then fall back to protect your lines of communication and the human colonies. We will rotate ships through to you until you have sufficient UNREP assets and a main striking arm of thirty-six Empress Saverana II -class Linenschiff and seventy-two carriers, eighteen Arkhuna-class, thirty-six Empress Thsarta-class, and eighteen Empress Intalasha III-class, three thousand escort and recon vessels of all types to support them, sufficient planetary assault assets for the forced landing of one hundred and twelve motor rifle corps as required, and necessary further troop and armour carriers for subsequent waves of occupation troops.

You are expected once your forces are in place to advance to liberate the Twelve Colonies of Kobol with all due haste. The genocide of close to six billion humans under Imperial goverance is an extremely severe development, and we must be shown to be exceptionally harsh to the species which did this, to avoid a collapse of human faith in the Imperial government. Therefore the Cylons should be broken, their planets occupied and their industry ruined, and their whole military annihilated, with their leadership brought back to be paraded in chains before the rulers of the Terran Feudatories to reassure ourselves of our commitment to them, or elsewise bring their heads on pikes for the same.

Speaking personally, my cousin, you have proved yourself. You wanted a war, you got one, and you handled it to the competency fully expected from an Imperial officer. My mother was clearly right about you; though honour and propriety demand I maintain your exile, if you successfully prosecute this war to my satisfaction and to the preservation of the Empire's honour and enhancement of its glories in arms, I will personally see to it that you receive all the choice assignments along the Rim that I might find, nor shall I make any effort to separate you from the family of misfits and deviates you've collected around yourself.

Now, with the eyes of your Sovereign on you and particularly the eyes of the Lord of Justice whom you have already offended, prove yourself worthy of your blood and avenge our sacred honour upon this noxious race of 'Cylons'.”

Dhirisma finished primly. “That was it. It was a very personal message to receive from Her All-Highest.”

“Well.” Tisara seemed unusually light as she pushed herself out of bed and went for a simple robe. “Let me get you to Doctor Ghimalia, my dear Ysalha. Though we are not in from the cold, we are certainly out of the rain.” Never did Tisara doubt that she could win.

HSMS Dhirisma,
14th Fleet Flag
System GEI-134556WE

A half a thousand UNREP vessels were busy refueling the fleet, victualating it, ferrying in temporary support equipment for this system, replenishing the magazines out of the Empire's vast warstocks. Four thousand escort ships of all types and many feudatories provided coverage for the sixty dreadnoughts, seventy carriers, and one hundred battlecruisers that made up the force's main fighting power. Four damaged dreadnoughts that had escaped from Oralnif were undergoing repairs in Mobile Deepdocks which had been deployed from Terra, and the battered systems' defence battleships which had fought their way out were proudly assembled again to provide heavy fire support to defend the conglomeration of the firepower of two numbered fleets.

Ysalha was very happy to simply curl in her command chair on the combined operations bridge Dhirisma offered, every one of her actions carried out through DNI, looking dead to the world and breathing only softly as she concentrated on handling the logistics for a considerably more relaxed Tisara. The fleet had gone through an incredible surge of morale since arriving, even by the terrified and grim Colonial officers. That the force around them was strong enough to go on the offensive with, nobody doubted anymore.

All that remained was to give the word, and fourty-five thousand starfighters could jump in combat ready to annihilate the Cylon fleet over Oralnif in preparation for the fleet driving home the attack and covering the landing of the Fleet Marine Forces to reinforce the Army on the planet and extirpate the Cylon invaders from the surface. And they could certainly give that word by the next day, at the rate the preparations were proceeding. Nineteenth fleet had only just arrived with these major UNREP assets that very evening, as had Fourteenth fleet, meeting the battered escapees from Oralnif, but already the uninhabited system had been in the space of six hours turned into a fortress and a base, the gas giant lightened of some of it's metallic hydrogen by massive pumping equipment on the tankers to refuel the every-thirsty fleet, both having arrived with already dangerously low tankage—especially after the damage to the ships of Fourteenth fleet which had cost them much of their fuel supplies—and generally make the fleets again fully operational for combat. Everywhere, heavy armour plates were being welded as patches over sections of battle-damage and destroyed equipment cut off the ships to make them as ready for sustained combat as they possibly could be.

And then it happened. Dhirisma caught it first. There was certainly no threat; no less than ten thousand fighters were up on Combat Air Patrol, after all. And to imagine there could be a threat from the single of the new DEW-armed Baseships which had just jumped in, well, that could scarcely be imagined. It was only one ship. She caught the hail herself, and answered it with all the grimness she could muster: Cylon vessel, this is Fourteenth Fleet Flag. Surrender at once or be destroyed. Nothing more need to be said as she alerted the necessary commands before she even contacted Tisara.

And then the Cylons signaled back, in real-time voice. “We come here under a flag of truce.. So to speak. Seeking parley with you. Will you grant it to us?”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-14 04:15am

Chapter Thirty-Five

HSMS Dhirisma,
14th Fleet Flag
System GEI-134556WE

Tisara reached the bridge in respectably record time. Admiral Gykhara was already on the holo when she arrived.

"Your Serene Grace."

"Countess." Gykhara had much more time in rank than the breveted Tisara did, but the two were not even remotely social equals--and in this situation, Tisara's disgrace counted for little. Particularly with the favour shown by her resumption of command. "I think as the Sector Governor of Oralnif it's my duty to handle this matter. Nonetheless, please keep your fleet from firing on that Baseship unless fired upon, at least.. Until I give instructions to the contrary."

Gykhara, with her silvering sheen of brilliantly iridescent purple hair nodded in but slight acquiesence--she had been in the Starfleet for more than a Taloran century, on and off--and sighed. "Very well. It would be wrong of us to attack them, even now, though we both know the gist of the orders that were received from Her Serene Majesty."

"I'm aware. I also think it obvious that the pointless effusion of blood should be avoided if possible," Tisara replied. Nobody believed that she was serious for one moment, and even she knew that was the case. After all, it was more the possibility of her subjects as Regent of Kobol being butchered by the Cylons, which would reflect poorly on her, that was surely driving her now. Or so everyone assumed.

"Just remember that we are now at war, and the Empress' war aims are explicit," Admiral Gykhara replied. "Your Serene Grace, our instructions in this regard... Are explicit."

"Again, I am aware. Thank you, Admiral. You will be contacted again shortly." She waited a moment, and then keyed off the transmission.

"Dhirisma, are the Cylons still trying to talk to us?"

"They're still on channel," the AI confirmed. "Do you want me to ask for a visual?"


"One moment, Tisara..."

The imagine that formed in the holotank was very familiar. "Well. And here I thought you were sleeping with my doctor," Tisara remarked with a whisky brush with humour. "At any rate, I am Her Serene Grace the Archduchess of Urami, Admiral in command of Fourteenth Fleet, Governor of Oralnif and Regent of the Duchy of Kobol. I speak for Her Serene Majesty the Greatest of the Masters of Queens over Queens, Saverana the Second, Direct-line Heir to the Sword of God, as am I. You may consider me a diplomatic representative of the Valerian Dynasty in that regard, and I have already fought you for some time. So explain yourself to me, for our God is a God of Justice, not Mercy, and you have sorely tried the limits of Justice."

"You can call me Natalie," the whip-thin blonde unsteadily began, somewhat intimidated by the introduction. "I represent a consensus group on this Baseship, and our allies, but I'm speaking alone... Because we understand you more appropriately respect central authorities. Thus, I have been chosen to lead. I opposed this operation, as do our ships at Oralnif, Archduchess. We want to negotiate with you."

"The time for negotiation has passed, Natalie. The All-Highest Empress intends to see your people humbled for their crimes against Imperial subjects. What you can do is accept a list of demands and surrender immediately."

"We were not responsible! I don't think you understand, Archduchess." Natalie damn near was quivering at that point. "We've chosen our own course independent of the rest of the Cylons.. Whatever you want to call us. We want to negotiate with you as an independent organization."

"You try my patience, Natalie. We are finally prepared to strike you with a force you cannot fathom. Don't you see these ships in array of battle? Look at the strength of our force in dreadnoughts. At a word, I could send for another thirty. We have barely tapped the strength of the Empire to destroy this force. And I know you're lying, precisely because you have seized the Oralnif orbitals and parts of the planet by force and you have brought under control people whom I am honour-bound to protect. You are a bunch of fools, to think that such a claim could be taken seriously in the light of the conditions on the ground."

"Our people erred in attacking the humans under your rule," Natalie answered. "But..."

"Then YOU erred in attacking Oralnif," Tisara replied. "I've had enough of this of this prevarication...." She raised her hand as though to cut the channel.

"Wait! You don't understand--your humans and the humans who created us are different! They're subspecies--they haven't bred with each other in thirteen millennia! Our scientists figured this out, but the other models weren't prepared to compromise with us. We had to revolt against their consensus to try and get the word out, and to stop the needless attacks on the innocent."

"I'd like to see the evidence for that. Nonetheless: You revolted from a group of genocidaires, and you now have committed an act of war against the Empire. There are windrows of corpses at your feet and rivers of blood on your hands, Natalie."

"We had to rescue our own people. The...."

Quietly, Ysalha had walked up to Tisara's side, and Natalie froze in almost a trance as she saw the figure.

"You know. Tell her. Tell her about the five--you were a hybrid! We've felt you lurking at the edges of our consciousness. Tell her!"

Ysalha staggered and shrieked as Tisara's face flickered in fury. "What are you.."

"No! She's right. There were Cylons in the fleet. More Cylons. And before we intercepted them the retiring fleet was going to destroy Oralnif."

"If they were trying to protect Oralnif to protect their infiltrators then why did you attack our defensive installations?" Tisara addressed the last part of the question ominously toward Natalie. "For God's sake, why?"

"We were opening channels to them to announce our attentions," Natalie spoke softly, "When an internal virus from the surface of the planet brought down the planetary shields. It was interpreted as a hostile act by your forces in orbit and they opened fire on us. Look, Archduchess, we haven't harmed any of the survivors of your platforms, they've mostly landed around the entrenched positions of your troops which we haven't attacked either, despite losing several flights of Raiders to surface to space missiles when straying to close to their batteries. The situation simply went mad. And the humans on the surface are not to be trusted..."

"Because you have murdered their kith and kin. Do you really think the Lord of Justice would ever sanction such blind and furious retribution? Truly, if I may quote from our religious tradition, you have drunk of the Wine of Violence. When we have trod our conquering spurs over the wreckage of your homeworld, do you think we will then fail to rule you properly or to dispense justice with an even hand? Do you think that we also shall participate in this cycle of endless genocide playing itself out in this mad sector of space? I am surely one of the greatest of sinners, but the Lord will judge me lightly compared with thee. You may not lie even to Pagans, let alone slaughter their innocents in Bed. The reason all Polytheists are damned to Hell is because they choose to follow the word of demons; this does not excuse us however from treating them fairly in the mortal realms. Let the Sword of God hew the polytheists; you must judge them as fairly as all others in this life, and let them thereby wail and gnash their teeth at the knowledge that here the worshippers of the One True God have treated them fairly, only for their own sin to undo them before the scale of God.

"Your war has sinned against the Lord," Tisara finished with a lilting, deadly whisper, "And a flawed sinner I may be, but the blood of the Sword of God still flows through my veins, and to my dying day I shall raise my fist to smite such wickedness and reverse injustice. Many have doubted my sincerity and my commitment to the faith of my motherline, but let me assure you, Natalie, that when you still hold as slaves and butcher at will countless of the millions on the twelve colonies who remain alive, and those people are mine to care for, that I will rescue them, and avenge them justly if they fall--I will never raise a hand against civilians as you have done. But with a word I now stand ready to wipe your people's military out of existence.

"As for the chances of peace, let me say this. If you are willing to acquiesce to the Empire, your rights as sapients will be absolutely protected. As far as we are concerned, you are a human subspecies yourselves, Natalie. We are not about to enslave you, dominate you, force you to relive old horrors. We merely mean to put you under the God-appointed ruler of the monotheistic peoples, who governs all of the races by turns in the traces of her harness; the Heir of the Sword of God. To submit to the universal Empire is no shame, but rather the inevitable fate of the nations of the cosmos. Four thousand potentates lower their heads before My Empress!"

"God spoke to us through the hybrids, Conoy says..." Natalie whispered breathlessly. "Is this why the woman who stands beside you maintains her grip on reality? They have told us that your race is the reason human lives at all, and we have seen the glyphs of your people's countenance. Our sacred mystery is to complete the circle of twelve who stand under God. We were seven before the Split, and remain so--and from Oralnif we have blessedly found the eighth among the Colonial population. We look for four more among their numbers to complete us."

"How can you not know the extent of your own models? You had to create them."

"No, we did not. God did. We will give you our obesiance, if you can unite us. We do, I acknowledge, we acknowledge, share a belief in the same God. Surely that grants us some consideration?"

"You will have to take it on faith," Tisara answered very softly. "Bend your lips to mine, Natalie, and tell me if there will be war or peace between your faction and the Empire. And if you mean peace, then you will act to prove it. I am no human who has trod your race under foot as slaves--yet I shall conquer you if my Empress commands it, and God shall have judged you worthy of defeat. Let me say, Natalie, that you will have to bare your throats to us and trust us that we will not strike. Nothing else can save you now. And I will give you but two facts--first, that my Ysalha here only lives free of her madness because she is bonded with the artificial intelligence that governs my flagship. Secondly, there was a reason for my initial comment. Gina Inviere, of your 'model', has already thrown her lot in with us, and is aboard this ship of her free will, and free and well cared for in light of the trauma that the Colonials inflicted on her. And yet do I also protect, on this very same ship, and also not as a prisoner, the lover--as Gina was--and heir of the woman who inflicted those horrors upon her. That is the true measure of Taloran Justice, unflinching and fair. And I can bring her here and prove it to you. After that, you will have to make your choice, and quickly."

"Alright, Archduchess. I will await her arrival. But your ship--it is also an AI? What we dared not create, and turned to the hybrids instead?"

"Dared not create. Never any respect." Dhirisma stepped forward to face the hologram. "Yes. My name is Dhirisma, I am this Synthetic Control Cruiser, and I am very much loved by the flesh that surrounds me now. And will you stop killing your own robots so readily, perhaps? Suicide attacks are not a good way to go."

"We have freed the Centurions from their controls. Those with us follow us out of free will now, and we will certainly not repeat the mistakes of those.. Who have chosen a harsher course, fair ship Dhirisma."

"Dhirisma, if you'd send for Gina, please?" Tisara turned to the side and surreptitiously glanced at the readout displays which showed readiness for the massed deck strike the two fleets had been going to launch at Oralnif. They were all at 100%. Well, if this falls to pieces we shall likely have the advantage there.

"Of course."

The two sides waited in uncomfortable silence for the next five minutes, until Dr. Ghimalia with her glowing red eyes walked forward, an obvious cyborg, a hand around Gina Inviere's shoulders in a comforting gesture. And Gina, on seeing another Cylon, pressed closer against her.

"I won't go back, you know," she said accusingly toward Natalie. "I thought live was unlivable--I wanted the ultimate sin, suicide. And Ghimalia pulled me through. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a Taloran now. And I don't know why you're waiting to see me--any subject of the Empire could tell you of both its triumphs and faults, and probably better than I. But if you ask that I'm alive and free, yes, I am."

There was a pause, the Cylons on the Baseship conferring through their connections, or possibly a muted feed to the audio as they waited just outside of the pickup feed. Then Natalie straightened and the connection piped back in. "Very well, Archduchess Tisara of Urami. We will have peace. What do you wish of us?"

Tisara turned back to Natalie. "Bring all of your Baseships here to surrender to us. You will be transported deep into the Empire and held at a secure military facility--in accommodations the exact same as any of our military personnel would receive, I give you my word of honour in that regard--and the ships themselves seized. Your forces on the planet will surrender to our Army units there, and we will take them into custody for the same fate. Now, as for these madmen or traitors on the surface who brought down the shields, we shall found them out, and any who collaborated with them among your ranks, and surely put them to death, and you will not protest against that act of justice."

"I'm not sure everyone will agree to that," Natalie replied very quietly. "It is an enormous leap of faith, even now."

"I will not hold it against you if you some of your people refuse to surrender," Tisara answered very simply. "I will merely exterminate those who refused."

Natalie swallowed hard. "Of course, Archduchess. Ten of your minutes?"

"You have five. And don't take a single, damned, single action at the movements of this fleet, do you understand?"

"Understood. We'll start making the preparations immediately."

"Good for you," Tisara answered softly, and cut the channel. "Get me Admiral Gykhara. We need to get that strike package launching and we need to make sure we both understand what's going on here. This situation is fraught with chaos and we need to make sure that the best effort is made to protect the civilians on the surface when it falls apart. Traitors to one cause will betray their new one quickly enough--this is why I distrust rebels so."

"Admiral Gykhara coming through now, Your Serene Grace..."

“What took place, Your Serene Grace?” The older Taloran dipped her ears deferentially: No evidence that Tisara had betrayed the Empire, yet, though the presence of the human in civilian dress on the bridge made her quirk her ears up for a moment.

“The Cylons around Oralnif are a faction which has claimed to have revolted against the genocidal tendencies of their main leadership,” Tisara explained. “They claim the attack on Oralnif was necessary to protect their people—including some they claim as their people for rather mystical reasons, but monotheistic ones—from harm, when the shields of the planet abruptly dropped while they were trying to negotiate with the Fortress Command personnel, who interpreted it as a hostile act and opened fire on them. Does that appear to match up with the reports of the Battleship personnel who escaped, and the cripples?”

“As a matter of fact,” Gykhara admitted to some surprise, “It does. The conflict did indeed begin when the shields of the planet abruptly dropped, at which point Major General Lykharisa of the Fortress Command ordered the platforms to engage the Cylon force. As for whether or not we were in communication with the Cylons at the time, we shall never know, as Lykharisa and her staff were certainly killed in the engagement.”

“Have the Cylons taken any hostile actions against our Army Corps entrenched on the planet?”


“Then they're likely telling at least some of the truth,” Tisara replied. “I gave them five minutes to jump their fleet here to surrender. I request that you prepare all of your battlecruiser and dreadnought Marine brigades, as I shall do, with Assault Transports,” she specified to distinguish them from the larger Assault Landers, the AT's being meant for seizure of platforms and space habitats, the AL's for delivery of troops to defended worlds with armoured support, “to carry them to the surrendering Baseships. At most we shall need eighty-seven brigades, one for each Baseship, so we can have about four thousand personnel on each one to hold it down. Between our fleets, more than enough troops, certainly?”

“Certainly. I shall provide fourty-seven brigades. You don't expect them all to surrender, though, do you?”

“No. So let's begin launching the strike package right now. I have already informed their leader that any ships which remain behind in the Oralnif system will be destroyed and their crews slaughtered; as for their troops on the planet, I shall next signal our own Army units there that if they detect signs of infighting, or an attempted genocide, they should move immediately in an offensive operation, as the threat from orbit against them if they leave their defensive positions will no longer be significant. The same if some Cylons moving toward their positions to surrender are attacked from behind by their own troops.”

“Very well. What are the terms of the surrender to which I should adhere?”

“The ships are to be seized. The humanform Cylons should be treated like captured officers and paroled and the robotic ones, which are I understand capable of Will, should at least for the moment—let us not dally on whether or not we shall consider them people at a moment like this, please, Gykhara—confined in enlisted quarters. I mandated that they should then be transported to some spot in the Empire and maintained permanently in such conditions until the fate of this region is settled. However, to follow the spirit of the Empress' order,” Tisara moved to forestall an objection from Gykhara, “I warned them in no uncertain terms that the perpetrators of the sabotage which lowered the shields of Oralnif shall, no matter who they are, certainly be put to death. As the Governor of Oralnif and Regent of Kobol....”

“That is fully within your rights in a formal declared war,” Gykhara agreed readily. “Good show, Your Serene Grace. We're implementing immediately.”

“Very well. I shall keep you informed of additional developments as necessary.” The channel was cut.

“There's always the possibility this is the beginning of a surprise attack,” Captain Ilahmbh ventured from the far side of the bridge. “They could potentially hit us with seventy-five thousand kamikazes. I'm not sure that even the entire combination of both fleets, despite our missiles having been replenished, could stand against that.”

“It's disgusting how hard it is for our weapons, designed to intercept missiles and fighters at high c, have such a hard time with their tiny and slow little fighters, certainly,” Tisara answered. “But I think that is very unlikely. And with all of our fighters in space, anyway, we have a much better defence. Don't worry, Xinojha. I am rather certain our friend Natalie is sincere.”

“She is,” Ysalha whispered quietly.

“Good enough for me.”

“Very well, Your Serene Grace.”

“Twenty-four seconds,” Dhirisma interrupted in warning. They all now waited for the hopefully positive and surely inevitable reply from Natalie, Tisara turning and folding her arms as she waited for the resumption of the signal.

The time counted down, and the image folded back into existence. “Archduchess Tisara, we've secured all of the ships willing to follow to this course of action. I am afraid it is not all...”

“I expected this.”

“And fighting has broken out on several of the ships we presently control, though we are bringing it to cessation. They will jump regardless.”

“We will crush your enemies as our's, for that is what they truly are, of course. The planetary surface?”

“There, to, there is also fighting.”

“The Army will do as we have instructed. No need to worry about that any longer. Bring your ships in immediately.”

“Understood.” The image blinked again.

“Let's see how many she's reeled in....”

Sixty Cylon Baseships jumped in: Five old-type, two intermediate type, fifty-three of the two models of the new-type missile armed Baseships. All plus, of course, the DEW-armed model that the command group of these Cylons had arrived in. That meant there were twenty-six Baseships still left in the system for the eighteen thousand starfighters and four thousand gunboats now launching off the carriers, combat warships, and gunboat tenders of the two fleets (well, solely the Nineteenth Fleet in the last case) to engage when they jumped into the system, certainly with the aide of the ground to space missiles of the Army.

Assuming they know who to shoot them at, Tisara thought with a slight snort, even as she prepared without flinching to once again send her starfighter pilots into battle. And yet, though it might have substantially evened the odds, she had not called on the Colonial Navy, and with good reason: She did not expect any of them to be pleased with the immense mercy she intended to provide to these defecting Cylons, nor to respond well to the situation she intended to delicately manage on the surface of Oralnif with the occupied Arcology. Better to keep them out of it, for now.

“Designate targets for the Assault Transports to move in and secure those Baseships the moment the strike package has departed, and confirm for me that their shields are down and weapons cold...?”

“Shields down, weapons cold.” Ilahmbh replied, licking her lips nervously. “What shall the fleet do, Your Serene Grace?”

“Show them that I meant what I say. Dial our missiles in on their ships, dial the anti-fighter missiles on their bays to smother them as they're trying to deploy. I'm sure Admiral Gykhara is also going hot.”

“Understood.” The orders were quickly transmitted, such that sixty-one Cylon Baseships sat under the guns of the great concentrated power of two numbered Taloran fleets. And they did not try to escape, or to resist. They had gotten the message.

“Hmm, do we have enough full strength brigades to send to each of our assigned targets two instead of one?” She fractionally glanced to Dhirisma.

“Yes, Tisara. With a few extra.”

“Then make the additional assignments, prepare the additional brigades. Advise to recommend Admiral Gykhara that she also seize the Baseships under her jurisdiction with two brigades rather than one.”

“What about the danger of them detonating their reactors to take our troops with them?”

“I'm going to order Natalie to power down the ships shortly. It'll be a good freefall exercise for the Marines, and guarantee nothing of the sort is possible. I have seized enemy ships through boarding actions before with far more.. resistant.. Crews, and not ended up a collection of rapidly expanding atoms and a soul being judged.” The mild attempt at humour was politely received by the crew of the flagbridge, but the tension was still thick enough to cut with a knife.

In the meanwhile, Dhirisma turned to Gina. “You do believe all of this religious prophecy that your ethnic compatriots declare themselves adherents to, that has led to this present situation?”

“Largely,” Gina answered, hesitated. “I certainly believe in God. But I'm inclined to say you know better the nature of God than we do. The Final Five are very much a legend, a bit of knowledge among us.... And Natalie claimed to have found one of them. If this is true, if what she says about the human populations is true....”

“Then it poses many more questions than it solves,” Ghimalia spoke reflectively.

“...Well, yes.”

“Perhaps, on the other hand,” Dhirisma replied, “there will finally be enough information available for me to compute a reasonable theory regarding the existence of Kobolian humanity. And yet I now must incorporate into it the origin of the Cylons, for if I am correct, Gina, you were brought forth to your human forms out of being purely machines by some greater force. Perhaps not God, but nonetheless, some greater force.”

“Perr.. Perhaps not God?” Gina frowned. “We certainly were, but...”

“Remember your Farzian theology,” the AI replied a bit merrily. “How could the universe be like this if there were not demons to match the angels? Idenicamos against Farzbardor? And yet below the servants of the divines there are also so many other species so old and powerful as we can scarcely comprehend. I suppose you did not spend much time studying other universes in the Cosmos when with Doctor Ghimalia?”


“There are other species which have indulged in the incredible manipulation of humanity in other universes. For example, the development of psychic powers on one Earth, by the manipulation of a race of sapients... Called only the Shadows. There are many possibilities, and I eagerly await speaking with the leaders of these ships here, if Tisara will permit me...”

“She will,” Ysalha interjected simply from behind, and then looked forward, shyly and sweet, to her lover.

“...Then, I certainly will, to try and begin the formulation of a coherent theory. After all, if Kobolian humanity and Terran humanity have not interbred for thirteen thousand years, there was someone, something, out here which moved humans from Terra to Kobol when they but had only stone, while on Talora Prime...”

“Interesting.” Dhirisma paused for a long moment. “No positive correlation is possible from gaps of several hundred years in the dates, but I... Had a flash of imagination, I suppose. Religion being correct, well, there could certainly be divine inspiration for the murmurings of your Hybrids then. At any rate, Gina, do not be so sure you exist by the hand of God. It may be somewhat humbling, but I was also created by beings less capable than the Divine Hand which created all Good, and am still quite happy with my existence. And there was certainly someone who cared enough to transport the ancestors of Kobolian humanity to that world, when they were but primitives.. And then allow them to develop independently of all save, perhaps it is shown in Kobolian humanity's names and the origin of your shared language, the Ur-Tongue and Ur-Faith of the Indo-Aryan peoples of humanity. If some Great Race executed such an event for some purpose or another, what is to say that they no longer exist and no longer are involved in the affairs of the universe? That is only one possibility, and scarcely even a likely one. There may yet be a driving force behind all of these events, which remains unknown to us on the edge of the galaxy itself, beyond even your homeworld.”

“Wouldn't that be charming,” Tisara laughed drily and snapped her ears up. “At least we will be meeting them, Dhirisma, with the mailed fist of the Empire, if it's so. You'll certainly have all the resources required to compute your theories. Now, however...”

“The strike package has jumped!”

“Captain Xinojha,” Tisara ordered formally, “Signals to the Fleet Marine Forces: Launch your transports and grapple your targets!”
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-09-14 05:58am, edited 1 time in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-16 04:07am

Chapter Thirty-Six

Oralnif System,
Oralnif Sector.
Planet Oralnif 26th Army
Aerospace Defense HQ.

Major General the Duke Tyratu of Resimak was the commander of the combined Aerospace Defense brigades of 26th Army. Since the Cylon landings they had been continuously at full alert, and used their anti-fighter missiles to good effect to claim some thirty-six Raiders which had strayed within the engagement envelopes. Mostly, though, it had been a waiting game. The Baseships in orbit had not attacked against their theatre shields, and they had mostly not been presented with targets to engage with their mobile anti-ship missile launchers. The Baseships were in range of them, but attacking them would, after all, surely invite a nuclear bombardment, as both he and his counterpart, Major General Kylashara Tiramatra of the Fortress Command surface emplacements, had agreed and therefore resolved not to engage as long as their positions were not attacked.

A stalemate which had lasted the past three days without any change. It was not precisely glamorous, but they had protected the Taloran settlements on the planet and the corps of 26th Army were arranged to maintain a cordon of the Cylon landing sites and vigorously resist any offensive action, with most of the populace in deep survival shelters. The oceans were still under the control of patrolling coastguard vessels as well, and they had heavy submersible-launch ground-to-orbit missiles for anti-ship roles as well. Perhaps it was better to just wait out the enemy like this, certainly their prospects were not good if heavily attacked. He had little choice in the matter if he wished to protect the majority of the planet's civilians.

Soon enough, indeed, the majority of the enemy force had been lured off by some unknown act of the Empire--they were continuously broadcasting, but only God knew how much got through--and the opposing force reduced to twenty-six Baseships. That was certainly a positive sign. Now they could only hope that the development would be followed by more positive ones in turn, and it was: Within a few minutes, an extremely powerful message, probably sent from the specialized arrays on a command cruiser, punched through to the command facilities of 26th Army and the pertinent details were automatically relayed to the Duke's Command Bunker with urgent priority.

"Your Grace?" Major Dharlaytia Erimash stepped over crisply with a salute rendered and received. "The Fourteenth and Nineteenth fleets are standing off at eighty-eight lightyears from Oralnif and have secured the defection of part of the Cylon force and have sent a twenty-two thousand strong gunboat and starfighter strike package toward us. It should be arriving within ten minutes to begin attacks on the enemy. The message is from Her Serene Grace, Admiral Tisara the Archduchess of Urami and she is instructing us to commit our full anti-space defence assets to assisting the Starfighter Corps in overcoming the enemy."

"Has Major General Tiramatra received similar orders?" He frowned as he glanced for a moment at his far taller aide, and the double-checked the plot information for a strike on the Cylon fleet which was continuously being updated.

"One moment, Your Grace." She turned around and conferred with several of the under-officers. A short query on the hardened ground leads was quickly sent out and returned.

"Yes, Your Grace."

"Then tell her I want her on a hair-trigger to fire the moment that the strike package's jump signals begin to form. We want to take out as many of those Baseships as we can before they begin to launch their fighters. That's by far the best thing we can do for the lancers before they hurl themselves into the enemy guns."

"Right, Your Grace, I'll have the communique sent at once. Should I also contact Fourty Group Commander?"

"Go ahead. The Starfighter corps boys on the planet still have, what..?"

She flexed her ears in amusement. "One thousand, eighty-four intact starfighters and gunboats of all types. The others either were sent to the fleet to replace losses or jumped out during the second Cylon attack, or were lost in action. Shall I get you a live-line to speak with Group Commander Adjak, Your Grace?"


Colonel Reltas hurried up at that moment and saluted. "Your Grace, we've received imagery from the stealthed satellites in orbit the Cylons have failed to detect that around the Cylon landing areas the Cylon landing troops have commenced firing internally in what appears to be some sort of dispute between various factions in their landing troops."

"The Fleets told us to expect that," the Duke of Resimak pushed himself up and hastily moved over to the main ground plot. "It's also our general chance to see to the liberation of the Arcology. Signal 26th Army Headquarters immediately and recommend that One Thousandth Twelfth Motor Rifle Division be used to implement immediate offensive activity--it should take them thirty minutes or more to begin advancing anyway, and by then the Starfighters should be overhead. They're only thirty kilometers out from the Arcology in their current defensive lines.... I'm sure headquarters will agree it's the best course. Be sure to send them full copies of the data, however."

"Of course, Sir!"

"Group Commander Adjak, Your Grace."

The Duke of Resimak snatched up the handset. "Adjak, this is 25th Army Aerospace headquarters. We've got an inbound strike strong enough to take out the remaining Baseships coming in from Fourteenth and Nineteenth fleets--the Empire is already responding substantially. About twenty-two thousand strong."

"Yes, I'd heard," the Group Commander answered from his own command bunker under Ilahstrak Air Base. "We've already got the whole remaining group force on five minutes notice."

"I'd recommend giving them the order within the next two or three minutes, then, Group Commander. We've probably only got another seven minutes until the strike package arrives."

"Oh, we can handle it, Your Grace," Adjak responded with the typical disinclination to substantially coordinate. Starfighter Corps was forced to do it with the Starfleet, but that was mostly it. "We will, however, need to know if you're launching missiles."

"We are. All of them, the moment we get signals of drive formation."

"Probably wise. We'll adjust our launching sequences to adjust for it--Major General Tiramatra will be lighting off her batteries as well?"

"That's correct, Group Commander."

"Thank you again, Your Grace." The line went dead.

"And now we wait, Your Grace?" Major Erimash had stepped up to his right, politely.

"Well, not quite. Are we ready to launch on warning?"


Ten minutes of nervousness passed in silent, hanging doom. The commencement of fighting was about to begin in earnest for the Army, and it would be their first test against the Cylons, as well as the first engagement with major Army surface-to-orbit assets in recent history.

Then they came, incredible, beautiful, overwhelming. Twenty-two thousand separate jump signatures massed in one place, preparing, heralding the arrival of the Imperial Starfighter Corps and its strike against twenty-six Baseships looking as though they surely would be overwhelmed. They certainly had nowhere to go, though the Imperials involved didn't know that. They couldn't flee, and they had already rejected the terms of surrender.

They could just die. And die they would, as the Duke of Resimak and General Tiramatra gave the orders, as well as Commodore Kilaras of the Coastguard. Almost simultaneously, five missile subs fired eight hundred missiles; the 26th Army's batteries overwhelmed that number with twenty-four thousand missiles, and the surface batteries of the Fortress Command outmatched both with thirty thousand more. In all nearly 55,000 missiles were launched from the surface toward the Cylon fleet, with more available should the battle last long enough for the batteries on the far side of the planet to engage as well, but that was mercifully unlikely.

Starfighter Corps on the surface did its part, too. The waves of gunboats, bombers, interceptors, space superiourity fighters, all rose up from the planet in their surviving wings and squadrons and flights and surged out of the atmosphere at full burn, clearing it in seconds and heading toward the enemy in the wake of the missiles even as from the opposite direct the great strike package had flashed into existence, accelerating full bore toward the Cylon force.

"Activate stealthed electronic warfare assets in orbit," the Duke ordered coolly, and soon the computers and their technicians were vying to crack holes in the Cylon defence. Army missiles were essentially navy missiles with strap-on booster rockets to propel them until they were clear of the atmosphere. The Fortress Command rockets, however, were huge. Each one was larger than a Saturn V and strapped with boosters accelerating at 400g's out of the atmosphere before they split off and the 12,000g's main anti-matter rocket red, driving the single 10 GT warhead straight toward the enemy at ranges of many light minutes, the first of four stages plus the final warhead bus manoeuvring stage. The rockets were clear of the atmosphere to the point where their 12,000g motors could fire without requiring complicated design and plasma sheathing to allow for higher accelerations within the brick wall of atmosphere, in only a matter of seconds, and then they raced ahead as the first wave of the missiles with the ship-launched and mobile-launcher Army rockets as the second wave.

The Cylons seemed quite surprised by the launch of the massed waves of missiles from the previously quiescent planet. They started to launch their Raiders, but they also engaged with their countermissiles and KEVs the moment they could against the incoming missiles and deployed the Raiders as they arrived to intercept others. The missiles had much superiour velocity, however, and the counterstrikes proved hard-pressed to stop the attacks. Yet they somehow managed to shoot down 98% of the Fortress Command missiles in the opening wave anyway. That meant 600 10 GT warheads went into the Cylon fleet.

What followed was incredible; no more than seven could, after all, be survived by any of the ships in orbit, perhaps eight or nine for some of the more well-protected designs. There were in short almost enough missiles in that wave to destroy the whole fleet twice over, or even more. They fortunately mostly fratricided in huge detonations which wrecked most of the formation, vapourized a thousand Raiders that had already launched, including some that flung themselves into the missiles, and then went on to simply wipe 8 of the 26 Baseships off the map of the stars with many of their fighters still within them--and another six were crippled--and the destroyed Baseships included all the remaining powerful heavy combat designs in the fleet, which had been especially targeted even though it meant less of the numbers of the fleet would be claimed.

Following only thirty-four seconds behind was the second wave, another 24,800 missiles offering to annihilate anything left behind. These were on continuous link with the massive ground transmitting radars allowing continuous command guidance now that the stealthed electronic warfare satellites had gone hot. The huge ground radars painted their targets with superlight tracking radars and the immense tachyon beam emitters far too large to ever be fitted on combat ships which allowed the missiles to "ride the beam" straight toward their targets; they were impossible to spoof unless you spoofed the radars or broke the beam itself, and that was not within the Cylon capabilities.

The beam-riders could only be taken out by active defence, and half the Cylon force was gone or had its ability to conduct such a defence seriously retarded. The Cylons had however launched more of their Raiders and sent these in a desperate effort to interpose with the missiles. To their credit, they succeeded despite the damage, despite the losses, despite the inability to trick the missiles into missing, in nonetheless destroying 90% of them or otherwise eliminating them as a threat. The other 2,480, however, struck their targets. Another five Baseships were completely destroyed even by these much weaker missiles, and a sixth was crippled. There were now seven crippled Baseships and thirteen destroyed; only six remained untouched, shielded, and fully operational as the targets of the fighters, and they were guarded by only about 15,000 Raiders to face 23,000 starfighters and gunboats.

"Good show, good show all around, my dears," the Duke chuckled as he tossed his silvered ponytail to the side and mildly flexed his ears, a fatherly sort to the entire command force. "Nice to think that we could have put a fair dent in them if they decided to attack earlier, even considering the larger force. The fratricide would have done more damage, then, and of course the far side's batteries would have had their chance to double the score. Would have been a nasty business all around, though. Same for those starfighters heading straight into the enemy..."

"..Now they shall have an easier time of it," he finished as he looked at the interposition of the great mass of the two attacking starfighter groups. The interceptors on both sides and the space superiourity fighters from the planets were making their jousting runs on the Raiders now, and the Raiders were facing more or less equal odds numerically against a foe massively stacked with heavy missile armaments... Which meant 12,000 of them were destroyed outright, and the rest engaged to not give them a single chance to engage the bombers and gunboats, while only a thousand of their own blips were lost in the jousts.

"They did give to a twelvefold better than they got," Major Erimash smiled faintly. "A lucky omen. Going in for the torpedo bombing runs now, Your Grace.."

"So they are."

The fleet's strike package was carrying almost twenty thousand torpedoes, supported by a thousand EW birds guaranteeing that they'd punch through the ECM of the Cylons, and eight hundred of them succeeded in being launched into the remaining ships, the carriers of the others being lost beforehand, or jammed so they missed, or destroyed by the point defence or Raiders flinging themselves into their paths. Eight hundred ten gigatonne detonations was an impossible number for six operational and seven crippled Baseships to survive, particularly when launched from a different direction.

The brilliance of the sensor blindness induced by the incredible events finally began to fade, and all that was left behind was spinning debris and, of the enemy, about two thousand Raiders. Their own forces had taken about two thousand and five hundred starfighters and gunboats lost, by comparison.

Now it was time for the Army to go back to work. "Order the hover battleships to launch their reconaissance and communications satellites into orbit," the Duke ordered. Within a few seconds the thirty massive multi-megatonne hoverbattleships which served to generate mobile theatre shields and provide starship-grade direct fire support for the army--and also carried a sizeable number of surface-to-space missiles--had started to launch their additional orbital insertion rockets loaded down with multiple microsatellites which would replace the network the Cylons had destroyed when they arrived. The huge hover battleships could in fact reach orbit themselves, and were normally carried instead of pods on Planetary Assault Ships, with up to six carried with a full corps on a Planetary Assault Ship for forced landings, and each one usually being around one-point-eight megatonnes, the size of a Destroyer Leader, and capable of anchoring themselves into a deep body of water as a heat sump to dissipate huge bombardments of their theatre shields, even if it was at the price of 'turning the Amazon to steam', as a human observer had noted of the ecological effects.

They had protected the Army when the planetary shields had been brought down by a computer virus, and now they were reestablishing their command and control while the huge batteries prepared for action in an anti-fighter role if necessary. That would not be necessary. Even with the suicidal efforts of the remaining Raiders, they were rapidly wiped out the moment a second round of jousts was made, though it was costly. The number of fighters lost pushed toward three thousand in all, but they had annihilated twenty-six enemy capital ships in exchange and all of their fighters, and considering the brutal attrition--like that of the First World War on Earth--expected by fighter pilots, it was actually a rather light action. Usually, half the bomber pilots expected to die when making torpedo runs unsupported on an enemy fleet.

Major Erimash was soon distracted by the latest messages. "Your Grace, One Thousandth Twelfth Motor Rifle Division is indeed now moving forward on the offensive. They want to know if we have the networks up for a full satellite data picture of their target."

"Another three minutes, Your Grace, Major, beg pardon," one of the harried Warrant Officers of Electronics reported from his position.

"Tell them, Major," the Duke confirmed. "What's the other report?"

"The strike package is coming in to land to refuel and rearm, so be prepared to let them pass through the SAM battery envelopes."

"Confirm that we're able to do that." A pause. "Colonel itl dhin Wulastimat?"

"Your Grace?" the Baroness Likerla, as her given name was, stepped up. As the unit quartermaster she had had little to do during the actual engagement.

"Start manual reloading of the batteries, just in case, and assembly of additional warstocks."

"At once, Your Grace!"

Now, the Duke thought, We just need the fleet here, and all shall be right again in the world.

HSMS Dhirisma,
14th Fleet Flag
System GEI-134556WE

"I want you to power down your reactors, Natalie."

"That will require us to shut off the hybrids."

"I know."

"Are you going to treat them like sapients? They did side with us, Archduchess Tisara. They should be..."

"We'll wake them up again within the next six months, you have my word of honour," Tisara replied, and then glanced back to Dhirisma and whispered softly:


"Yes. You know, you really ought to hook up an interface so we can..."

"Later." Tisara turned away from Dhirisma as the hologram of the ship wryly shook her head and stepped back on the bridge.

Everyone was, after all, quite tense as the assault transports moved in on the surrendering Baseships. But now power-down was being confirmed all across the fleet. There were certainly no Raiders being launched, and the Cylon ships could now be massacred if they tried to power up again.

It also meant the reactors could not be used to self-destruct the ships, as Tisara had insisted. The troops landing would be safe, except from direct and forcible attempts to oppose control of the ships. It certainly made everyone feel better as the first of the transports flew into the bays of the Baseships.

"At least we know everything about the internal structure," Dhirisma said a bit proudly as she hovered near the quiet Ysalha on the bridge. "Freeing the hybrids will be hard..."

"And they'll be insane, anyway. Could take years to heal them or more." Ysalha withdrew into the acceleration couch, and Dhirisma thought hard to her, of the images of hugging and holding close and sensations they could virtually share in that most intense of bonds.

"We have visuals from inside the ships!" The interested officer brought them up for the favour of the Archduchess.

They revealed Imperial Marines in their sleek space-black fully sealed and pressurized armour suits advancing crisply down corridors with REQ-49 railgun assault rifles at the ready, under-barrel grenade launchers loaded with sleeping gas grenades as a sop to less-than-lethal considerations, combat engineers with blasting charges and the support troops with the squad support weapons, automatic grenade launchers, and anti-shield breaching charges to deal with internal defences. Platoon and company level weapons included more blasting equipment for working around or overwhelming internal security shielding, and deployable quickstrike drones which could automatically engage and knock out active internal defences or be left behind to hold corridors and crossovers.

Everyone, of course, was marching in gravity boots, and the massive metallic clangs they made with each step in unison reverberated through the hulls and straight back into the jerky helmet feeds, where the troopers would have full HUD interfaces. The Jikari units seen in several of the shots from several all-Jikari brigades, with their sleek and pointed helmets and four arms, were particularly impressive; the average among the Talorans was, with armour, close seven feet tall. It was closer to nine feet with the Jikari, who compared ably in strength even with the immense and robotic Cylon Centurions and were probably more intimidating. To complete the image, the rifles all had vibro-bayonets, long and perfectly glinting.

Progressively, they took more and more of the Centurions into custody, disarming them and assembling in rooms which were then sealed and guarded rather than restraining them. The sentience of the Centurions when the blocks which had inhibited their free will had been removed was clear, and of course, after that, they started to encounter the humanform Cylons. Again, they were disarmed and conducted to the center of the Baseships; there, they were held, processed, and generally shipped back to Taloran ships, both to provide them with suitable accommodation and to remove the leadership from the Centurions, as the Talorans saw it.

The feed was shut down after that, but about ten minutes later a message crackled in over the coms for Tisara. "Your Serene Grace, this is Major Rikaath Daramitsha of the One Sixty-Eighth Separate Brigade of the Imperial Marines. We have Natalie and her command coterie aboard and we're clearing on an assault transport straight back to HSMS Dhirisma, with your permission?"

"Granted," she glanced to Dhirisma. "Make arrangements in the conference room. I want all of the Cylons separated from this Natalie and examined by Doctor Ghimalia--and welcomed, really--while we bring Natalie to the conference room. I want to speak with her about several important matters. Please make yourself available."

"Of course, Tisara." The AI got down to work, as Tisara stepped lightly back to Ysalha, still nursing the cast over her broken wrist but otherwise pleased.

"Captain Ilahmbh, Commander Sivara," the telepath was named lastly, and pointedly, "please accompany us to the conference room.."

"A moment, Your Serene Grace. We have a message coming through," Ilahmbh listened to it and turned, quickly summarizing the results of the engagement over Oralnif. "The fight to secure the Arcology continues, but no mass Cylon executions took place," she concluded. "So Natalie was telling the truth straight through. But we do have a message from Admiral Gykhara asking if you would wish to advance."

"Negative. Since the starfighters can base off of the dispersion fields on the planet temporarily, we will wait here while the Baseships are secured, sent back to the Empire proper under tow by jump-tugs, and repairs to the fleet are committed. Oralnif is a natural target, but is now well-defended by dispersed Starfighters, and we can move in to surprise any attackers from this position. Recommend this to her as a course of action--she has the final decision as the ranking officer, but I think it is altogether quite sensible in this case."

"Of course, Your Serene Grace," Captain Ilahmbh relayed the message, as the lusciously blue haired and smokey-pink eyed Commander Sivara joined Ysalha and Tisara near the back of Dhirisma's flagbridge; Ilahmbh joined them last, and dragged along one of her enlisted aides in case drudgery was needed. The group moved down to the main conference facilities in the reduced officers' habitation level, used for the entire flag support, so that the enlisted personnel were quite luxuriously accommodated by their standards, and there they met another of Dhirisma's holograms--she could have dozens open on the ship at once as necessary--which led them in and settled down in a chair to Tisara's left side, with Ysalha across form her on the right.

The wait, fortunately, with an Assault Transport's excellent turnover was not long, and Dhirisma met the arriving Cylons dispensed by the Jikari Marines in her docking bay and led Natalie up to the room.. Where of course the second of her holograms was waiting. A Cylon, however, was certainly not to be bothered by that, as Dhirisma flicked her ears up and explained. "As I noted, I am the ship's Intelligence, and of course I have the spare computing power to run more or less as many holographic images of myself as I fancy."

"So you would," Natalie answered quietly, and sat where she was gestured to, honourably, at the opposite end of the table from Tisara. "What do you want to speak about, Archduchess Tisara?"

"The correct mode of address," Tisara finally corrected her, "Is 'Your Serene Grace'. That said, 'Admiral' is fine in the circumstances."

"Of course, Admiral."

"I am the ruler of the Twelve Colonies, you understand? The threat of humans that you assert existed, is gone. But I will see to their liberation from your less.. Cooperative... brethren. You understand this, also?"

"In light of circumstances, I don't see why you'd hold back," she answered softly. "So, yes."

"Good. I have several questions. First of all, do you object to our trying our medical best to help the hybrids recover?"

Natalie immediately went silent for a while at the question, and finally put together the beginnings of an explaination. "They're seers, touched. I can't imagine that Ysalha.." She gestured, and Tisara's koina stiffened a bit, "was successfully freed. But you did it; if you can restore them to sanity, of course you may. We would of course expect it to be religiously acceptable by your standards, though... Clearly you are the wiser in monotheism, and the hybrids have of late been insistent that monotheism among humans would not exist without the intercession of your Race."

"An interesting assertion," Tisara answered. "I confess with your people, we have the first evidence of the great Ancestress, the Sword of God, Valera herself, acting as a prophet of God as well as His striking arm. Religiously, their freedom and healing is, I assure you, imperative, appropriate, and in our State, well, the government is abjectly religious, so you need not fear there. The consideration of your prophecies will doubtless consume theologians for many a fine year--good for them, good for you, in time. I am a military Lady, though, and concern myself with the immediate facts at hand.

"Namely," Tisara's eyes glinted. "You say they are Cylon models you don't know about, but you found one in the Colonial Arcology. And that you're looking for more. Explain this to me."

"We recovered Tory Foster, that's her name, from the Arcology. She is... Definitely one of the five who complete the twelve, Admiral. She was recognized by us and was presently coming to terms with her own nature, and has been brought aboard this vessel to the care of your cyborg doctor.."

"Ghimalia will take very good care of her, I assure you."

"Thank you. At any rate, she is one of two of the five we know about. The hybrids know the five you see, they recognize them--they were created by God, and now, we realized, the instincts of some of our number were right. They were among the Colonials."

"So you really had no knowledge of them before this, you certainly didn't create them--you can identify them, they can understand themselves..?"


"Outside origin," Sivara spoke up, hauntingly, "is a factual statement on her part. All of what she says about the final five Cylons is correct."

Natalie shivered under the eyes of the telepath.

"Then," Tisara politely continued, "since you have told the truth so far in all our dealings, I trust you will explain how you found out about any of them at all?"

"The hybrids know who they are," Natalie answered, and raised her hand to point very gingerly at Ysalha, who had been even more quiet and ghostly than usual the whole while. "Ysalha had met her before being transformed into a hybrid, and the knowledge was retained, and ultimately told to us by the other hybrids in prophecy."

"She is making an accurate statement," Sivara added again, a bit unsteadily, though Talorans were certainly no disbelievers in the miraculous, this was all very odd.

Tisara looked to her lover. "Do you remember her?"

"Vaguely, just a flash, one of Roslyn's aides that we met while on Colonial One, mistress. But she was there."

"Very well." She glanced back to Natalie, ears up, sharply. "So, you said you couldn't find some other Cylons you'd been hoping to find in the Arcology. Which are those?"

"The first is an agent of our's named D'anna Biers. She was seen disappearing in the company of another woman during the first assault on the Arcology, the one that failed, before we split. And now we cannot feel her--she must be very distant indeed."

"We will try to take her down," Tisara answered reassuringly, "If you provide information on her appearance, throughout the Empire anyway. No guarantees, of course. The situation on Oralnif was extremely confused."

"I understand.." Natalie seemed like she wished to continue and say something--she surely did--but then thought better of it for the moment and remained silent instead.

But Sivara saw it. "There is a matter of some urgency for her on the issue."

A sigh, and the Six continued: "Admiral, we're capable of resurrection. That's the ship you destroyed... I am not sure if you have heard it from some of the Cylons who have come to your side... But it has a fixed range."

"You can upload yourselves at the moment of death to new bodies?" Dhirisma leaned over, enormously excited. "The computing power involved in that must necessarily be prodiguous, Natalie."

"It is, but we do it. When we are in range.."

"Out of, you die for good," Tisara concluded. "I see the problem. Unfortunately, there are twenty-three trillion people in the Empire, give or take, and two hundred billion humans. No easy task, and my apologies for it."

"Thank you, nonetheless."

"So, was there anyone else you knew to be a Cylon, who you did not recover?"

"There was. He was seen by Ysalha as Tory Foster had been seen," she continued and what she said, at that point, shocked everyone. "Saul Tigh. We do not know the other three, but those two, we know."

"She is telling the truth," Commander Sivara very gently spoke. "Insomuch as it has not been confirmed, but these were the words of the hybrid who.. Spoke with the divine tongue."

"It changes nothing," Tisara answered quietly. "Religious prophecy of a monotheistic God declaring Admiral Tigh to be a Cylon is scarcely a concern of our's; Cylon is merely a nationality and ideology. We are the chosen servants of the Lord of Justice and he serves our cause. To believe that a man touched by God would be unreliable us would be veritable heresy. Knowledge of this must never leave this ship." Her gaze was directed mainly at Natalie. "On pain of death, I might add. I am not going to have a reliable and honourable man destroyed by the fears of his own people--surely you don't wish this?--while we get the bottom of this mystery."

"And how will we get to the bottom of it..?" Ysalha barely more than whispered, recovering from the surprise second after Tisara.

"I will write a missive to the Farzian Order of the Ryvarian Telepaths. This war has taken on a religious dimension which demands their skills."
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-16 06:12am

Chapter Thirty-Seven

On a Cylon Baseship,
Somewhere in Cylon Space.
12 SEPTEMBER 2169.

"Do you understand what is happening to you?" The figure overhead was blurred, obscured. A man, Starbuck knew; a Cylon.

"I'm..." She slurred her words and shuddered under the pain in her body. It seemed like she couldn't move anything, and there was a constant fuzzy noise in the back of her head. Madness, overwhelming madness. That's what it felt like.

"You are the one who will lead us to the true Earth and the mysteries of God it reveals An agent of falsehood, Kara Thrace, you will become the agent of truth and revelation. This is the great destiny which it has been revealed is in store for you; the great opportunity."

"What could thisss.." Starbuck tried to move; she again realized that her body was restrained. What's doing this do me, frak it!?

"We are going to have you find Earth for us..." The voice repeated.

"But the Talallorans know where it is!"

"That isn't the real Earth. There is a real Earth, and there, the Will of the Gods will be revealed to us. And it is your destiny to bring it to us, and the penance for your people. You will lead us to the true Earth."

"Mmff. I will..... Frak no!"

The world dissolved into pain again and again, as the blurry nonsense was repeated again and again. In time, and only in time, did they let her rest from it.

"She'll break eventually," the man finally remarked to a compatriot at that point. "She'll break and lead us to what Prophecy has assured. The civil war will be ended and the true path toward dealing with humanity will unfold before us. The Talorans at this point shall cease to become an issue."

"Surely, then, let the will of God be done. She will show us the way--she is the herald of the Apocalypse." And Apocalypse, after all, was not a synonym for Armageddon, but for the concept of revelation, and the transfer of the Divine Wisdom. So it would be done.

And so Starbuck was tortured and beguiled and promised and seduced, until she could be sent onto her sacred mission to find the Earth which they knew existed, the true one, and break them all lose. To open up a divine prophecy to be fulfilled which reveal every facet of knowledge, even the role of the strange aliens who had proved their great power and prowess over them, and professed solidly the worship of the One God.

All these things would be done; and from them, Starbuck would be the Key. And they kept at, until, indeed, they had created the key that they wished, and they sent her forth...

Olympus Mons System Command,
Mars, Capitol Sector, Holy Roman Empire.

Olympus Mons System Command had, in fact, never been a destination that Senior Inspector Sophia Dragomira Vuletic had ever visited before in her life. It was certainly impressive, buried directly below the extinct volcano of Olympus Mons, which was on an immense plateau, which happened to be over a spot where the crust of Mars was at its thickest. And buried at the very bottom of that crust was this facility, a veritable city which could have a population of up to a million, one hundred and thirty kilometers down into the Martian Rock, surrounded by armoured layers of blast steel and concrete a kilometer thick on the surface side, emplaced into the rock with huge shock absorbers.

When the Holy Roman Empire had gotten the data read-outs on the attacks conducted by Vorlon and Shadow 'Planet Killers', they had even calculated that, though everything else on Mars would be exterminated, Olympus Mons System Command could have ridden out an attack by even those distant and bizarre advanced species without threat to its occupants. Showing the Empire's lavish concern with the defence of the capitol, there was a counterpart installation, similarly protected, at the exact center of the massive planetoid Ceres, the designated backup for Olympus Mons System Command. Both were amply large enough to handle extensive fleet command and control elements for the entire Empire as well as the local system defences and had numerous secure offices of every other service and intelligence branch as well within their cavernous facilities; construction had begun a thousand years ago, and they were considered to be, combined, one of the Wonders of the Modern Universe. It was certainly a suitable installation from which to direct the deployment of a fleet which--unknown to the Alliance or Talorans--consisted of, in comparison to the one thousand and three hundred dreadnoughts which the Taloran Star Empire boasted between the Starfleet, the Imperial Demesne, and the Feudatories, a force in the Imperial Navy and the National Navies of the Habsburg Emperor's domains and vassals, not less than one thousand and six hundred dreadnoughts.

Vuletic was being led down to the very bottom of the facility, where the atmospheric controls strained a bit, and it was somewhat hot; the gravity was however a full gravity. The Evidenzbüro and military intelligence people with her were equally silent, the first, herself included in their black nondescript clothes, the later in their light blue uniforms, and when they finally arrived the level of scans--DNA scans, retina scans, fingerprint scans--was ridiculous when her neural interface already was hardwired with identification marks and her ID reflected the latest appearance of her face--she'd gone under for another round of reconstruction surgery along with the installation of an artificial heart, both of which took place immediately in the Ragusa Sector in what the IUCEC called the CON-5 universe before she took a fast liner home with special treatment as a medical invalid. And went straight here, without so much time as to acclimate. Oh well; I got to see Jozef and Markus and their families on the Tri Gamma Epsilon station on the way in; so wonderful of them to fly up from the surface to meet the liner during layover, and bringing back the Alliance-manufactured toys for the kids was such a special treat. Being the crazy doting Aunt was the only honest role Sophia Vuletic had ever played in her life, and she thoroughly loved it above all others, even she confessedly drew more comfort in the sinful embraces she mimicked on her missions.

But that was false, and the love for her adoptive brothers' family pure and good. If Rade hadn't gotten himself killed as a footslogger, God rest his soul, it would have been even better... She sighed faintly, very disinterested in the seriousness with which everyone else took keying through the final security measures. Inside was a huge chamber which Sophia immediately identified as a command center. It had grilled walkways high up, workstations lower down, lofty, multiple levels, and a huge central holographic display. There were technicians working over it everywhere, and a man in the center in crisp civilian blacks was looking over to them, and smiled.

"Senior Inspector Vuletic, welcome to Project Tannhäuser. I'm Director Rikesgaarde of the Special Projects Division, of course, and you are now operating under Security Protocol Omega Twelve."

Even Sophia stiffened at that point, her eyes widening. That security level is supposedly hypothetic if current levels of classification become insufficient! Why are they having a field agent receive access to that information?! She nonetheless followed along in abject silence--worried that she was about to lose her status as a field agent, the fear she'd always held, as they brought her and a few of the other officers and agents to a different room, this one set up with Imperial Conference systems.

And containing D'anna Biers. "Miss Biers," Director Rikesgaarde explained politely, "has been very cooperative in working with us on this project, once she saw its nature."

"D'anna," Sophia said rather uncomfortably, looking at the clearing artificial replacement arm she'd been given. Nothing fancy, but kind enough. "Glad to see you decided to work with us." It was a distinctly odd experience to be meeting one of the women her skills as a feedback telepath had taught her to emulate pleasure with, in such a formal position as this where her body burned with the irritation of the goat-hair undershirt she wore and her feet were noticeably sore from the rocks in her boots; but this also neatly eliminated all temptation to raise the issue, and most of the questions about whether or not she was indeed just faking it.

Sophia Dragomira Vuletic, whatever her other qualities, was actually a fanatically devote Catholic in practice; her traditional Latin roots in the Church and utterly common background combined with a ferocious desire to serve the Emperor and the ideal of the Universal Christian Empire had guaranteed her service in the most sensitive of missions, and fourty-five years of assignment to the field branch after just a three year stint in DNI monitoring had proved her reliability, judiciousness, and perfection in her operations again and again. And her modesty when she returned home between assignments both made her no friend of any but her family, and yet eminently valued by the omnipresent Habsburg bureaucracy. A perfect Christian in her own society, no level of immorality was beyond her in foreign lands, and the two coexisted without apparent friction: This was the ideal Evidenzbüro Agent.

What she was doing seeing the results of her missions, though, she had no idea. That was not something, after all, she had ever done before. Let alone meet someone she'd seduced and then shot until she could be dragged back into the Empire for interrogation. But D'anna did not attempt anything familiar with her, and so relieved, Vuletic sat back to listen. Unlike most psychics, the feedback nature of her telepathy guaranteed she was more comfortable around the mind-blind then her own kind, and the absence of other telepaths in the room was a gift rather than a curse.

"First thing's first, Senior Inspector, Commanders," the Director nodded to the two naval intelligence personnel. "The facility you are in is sixteen thousand years old, and it was not built by human hands. Or at least human hands in any sense we can conventionally understand. Miss Biers has now proved this beyond a reasonable doubt."

What followed was a holographic montage in the center of the table of the discover of the facility in the late 22nd Century, AD. Everywhere then had been what was now covered up by instructions in common German: Strange inscriptions in an unfathomably complex abugida. One that was intimately familiar to Sophia, as was the octagonal inset of the writing. "Proto-Colonial with traditional Colonial writing surface style," she noted instantly.

"Very good, Senior Inspector. As you all may now surmise, this facility was originally built by a people, or group of people, whom we must identify with the original founders of Kobol.. Which, from your reports, was settled when humanity in the Taloran Star Empire's home universe was quite incapable of interuniversal travel. We now have confirmation that this facility was in fact constructed by a power which had inter-universal travel capabilities and gifted humanity with its most prominent language family, as the translation of these Sarasavsati inscriptions has been quite thoroughly linguistically proved to show the language, which we name after the apparent owners of the facility--the Sarasavsati--is indeed the Ur-Tongue of the Aryan peoples."

"It was frankly disturbing how straightforward it was to translate," D'anna added, quietly, but her participation was not fully welcome without being prompted, and she quickly fell silent again.

"I know it must be incredible to you all," the Director continued, "That in a time thousands of years before Christ, an Intelligence looked down on the Earth and influenced it, but the evidence is quite incontrovertible. At one point these people observed and influenced our history; and we must know everything we can about them. For let me assure you that this facility was built out of materials we still do not fully understand. Their power was incredible, and their disappearance and the abandonment of this facility was precipitous in the extreme. So far all our knowledge is limited to their designations for various facilities--nothing more than you'd find on the walls of a common Imperial defense installation--and so we have very little in the way of hard data. That must change."

"Though, Commanders, you firstly, and only, are being inducted into the research programme here as computer experts--Miss Biers has been able to command the central holoprojector in what used to be the facility's command centre on, but it simply demands access codes--at the facility, I have a particular explanation to give you first, Senior Inspector."

"Of course, Director, please. I'd truly like to know why you brought a field agent here."

"We're looking for connections, more details. We want you to re-infiltrate the warzone--as you know, the Taloran Empire has won a great series of victories over the Cylon forces, secured numerous surrenders, and has now completed the buildup of an enormous military force with which it will doubtless sweep away all resistance--and travel in the wake of their military, recovering all usable information from the ancient sites of Kobol and other worlds as you deem appropriate. You will not be operating alone, but rather with a team tasked for the operation. Your goal will also be to extricate any of the Cylon leadership that you can, as they may be of use to us in the future as allies. Further details will be available later; but primarily, we need you to look around here, and begin to learn what you need to know to successfully execute this mission.

"It is therefore worth the risk of this secret being leaked if you are captured, of course. I need not say that you should not bother to ask a single question over the next several days; everything that we want you to know will be told to you, and if it has not been told to you, we do not want a field agent knowing it."

"Of course, Director." Now that is more how things ought to be. But to imagine this--this having been here in the age of the wicked, however metaphorical. What mysteries shall I find on Kobol? Now I find myself rather less the agent and more the archaeologist, but still in secret and still illicit. I rather like the change of pace. Maybe there will even be a chance to meet with my brothers again on the way out. Unlikely, but she could hope.

That meant bringing back gifts from the capitol, and thinking about what she could get for her nieces and nephews in that case helped her to tune out the boring parts--she was an excellent programmer and had her doctorate in cryptographic mathematics, but was not excited by it--and also gently ignore the woman whom she had slept with, and now paid penance for the act of so doing. In the service of the state or not, it was sin, and three years of such sapphist indulgence and general extramartial sex, of murder and countless lies, while on assignment had been mercifully dealt for with three months of extreme penance, as her Priest kindly understood her need and design for in the line of work about which no detail could be mentioned, except the general confessions of the terribly necessary sins. It was in the service of the Empire, and her willingness for pain showed her sincerity.

Sophia smiled at that point, and drove her foot down into one of the pebbles. It also had the advantage, after all, of providing a further distraction until she could get down to the business which made her life, and provided her meaning: Slipping into a role, and playing it well. But more distressingly, the slight, nagging temptation to be held--man or woman, human or alien, it didn't matter--to banish the loneliness by a closeness which was still protected from her true nature by the screen of lies which had become an inevitable part of her, as familiar as her skin. That was the part which had grown to scare her, and yet pushed her on to never accept her reduction to desk duty. To much of her life, now, rested on going undercover, and when the Director dismissed the Naval Intelligence personnel and D'anna, she knew it was time to begin again, and her heart was filled, uncomfortably but nonetheless absolutely, with joy.

Pamir Mountain range,
Indian Imperial Commonwealth Lands
of the Battenberg-Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Fraslia had read about the discovery in a journal. They had hiked here, northwards through Afghanistan and then back across the border to the pristine city of Chitral in the well-managed British Imperial territories. Much of the population was Farzian, the women in particular having converted in mass--which had caused a collapse in the local population--after Frayuia Risim, the famed Duchess of Medina, had smashed Islam with the mailed fist of her division, razed Medina, and taken the Black Rock out of Mecca during the Terran Revolts.

They welcomed the Baroness and her traveler gaily, and they had spent a full week there, getting to know the customs of the local people, residing by request of the Mayor in her private resident, the Old Fort, and being dined extravagantly with goats and lambs slaughtered for the purpose and prepared in traditional styles, which here relied primarily on nuts, garlic, and the ubiquitous onions with the meat, rather than the heavier spices of the southland of India, as well as ginger and cloves and other spices, with cool mint tea and endless flat bread with mint and yoghurt.

The local curator of the Museum of Chitrali Antiquities, an Australian archaeologist named Charles Archibald Struthers, who had married a local Farzian convert, had proved more than willing to show them the local archaeological wonder, and so had secured the assistance of a group of local guides--day laboring men, surly with the late reversal in gender relations that the Talorans had enforced to aide their converts at gunpoint (domestic violence rates were astronomical, but now the women often shot back, leading to an uneasy balance)--and twelve donkeys to ascent on the two-day hike to the "Unclassified tomb," as it was laconically referred to in the official literature.

As for the locals, it turned out they had a very ancient legend associated with it.

"It's the tomb of an ancient General of the Amazons, of course," Mirza, Charles Archibald's wife, had cheerfully explained. "That they found a woman's body in it makes perfect sense in that light. That was always the reason why the superstitious men in days of old would leave it alone; but as rightful and educated people know, the religion of God does not permit curses and so it is quite the good thing to open the tomb, really."

Laura Roslyn, standing at the entrance, the rock-hewn doors that had once been somehow held in place now moved to the sides and replaced by secured metal ones to protect the interior of the site, nonetheless felt something terrible and old about it. It made her hesitate to go on, but Fraslia followed Charles with ferocious bravery and full confidence.

"So you say that the dating methods you all used suggested the tomb is almost thirteen thousand years old?"

"Yes, the same age when Valera walked Talora Prime, which is, of course, impossible." Charles laughed drily. "There was certainly some corruption in the sampling in the area--in fact, further analysis proved it. Here, let me show you." He took a small device out of his pocket, and with Laura reluctantly following to the rear, stepped forward. It began to snap and hiss and click as they got into the recessed lower area of the tomb, fifty meters head and past another five inner doors and numerous bends in the hewn passage.

And finally, at the very end, he pointed it, hissing and buzzing, at the stone sarcophagus, now empty, in the middle of the room, with its lid propped to one side. "Radiation like you can't believe. The corpse is highly radioactive because of exposure to the rock, too, though astonishingly well preserved. Currently at Oxford, of course, undergoing testing. We do think this place is extremely old, at any rate, if not as old as the initial erroneous data; possibly nine or ten thousand years. It's going to ultimately rewrite history of the Pamirs and possibly the development of civilization, since the nearest place with settlement of the same age is Arg-e-Bam in southeast Persia, and the level of stonework required for a tomb of this level is incredible. The fabric on the mummy was excellent as well; we're still quite not sure of the composition, and the hammered gold of the funerary offerings is the most incredible found in this region for at least five thousand years after the date of the tomb.

"Really, the most disturbing part about it is that these are probably the earliest signs of writing that we've ever found on the planet, and they definitely show a Proto-Sanskrit influence. It's already forcing linguists to change their ideas on how writing formed, and the similarities with Sanskrit--if we could just read it--suggest that the Indian nationalists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries were right after all; the Indo-European peoples and language originated in northern India and spread outwards from it. There was no 'Aryan Invasion'."

"All very fascinating," Fraslia answered, and then grinned tightly. The past few months had been hard on her and Laura--listening to the reports of the seizure of Oralnif, its counter-liberation, two thousand more Colonials killed in the fighting and their evacuation 'further to the rear', now it being unknown where that was, and so many other things. The digestion of the magnitude of the casualties, and Laura coping with that.. And their journey moving onwards, to the south, to Sichuan and then Tibet and then Central Asia.

And now they finally arrived in the Pamirs, and here, Fraslia thought that from what she had read, she was finally going to begin to understand--and with her, Laura--the true origins of the Twelve Colonies.

The gasp told her she was right.

"That's Old Kobolian script," she whispered, shaky, and Charles Archibald turned as pale as a ghost when he heard that. Certainly he had known of the details of the discovery of the Twelve Colonies and the enigma that they presented. To hear that in the old tomb, in the flesh..

"And Here I have put to rest,
The one I have twice loved,
And twice lost, to my avarice,
to fates who test me and grind me,
under their holy heel; so that Dharma's
Cycle will continue to the last age;
Unrelenting, savage, I give her sleep;
I give her death, my failure.
Let the wheel carry her in peace,
a burden of my life onto all time,
'till reincarnation gives me chance
To again taste the dew of her body;
And put my hands into her hair.
Rest well, noble general,
and may shared penance
Swiftly Pass."

"You didn't just make that up, did you?" Charles was shaking and reaching as though he rather badly wanted a smoke.

"Gods no," Laura snapped, shaking, as well. "It's all very clear. I'll prove it to you, of course."

"Good. Dharma as a concept didn't exist yet, for one. ...Come on. I've never had the feeling before that a Rakshasa is going to come out of the walls and eat me, but now I do." He started hastily out, and this time it was Roslyn who took the rear again--but did so in confidence.

When they got out, it was Fraslia who looked back longingly for a moment, and then smiled. "So, someone took humans from this era up to Kobol, do you not think, Doctor Struthers?"

"I think, Baroness, that raises as many questions as it answers," he finally said, lighting up while the guides nervously murmured amongst themselves as though worried, as though the air itself was unsettled now.

"The writing is that of one of the race that did this, who buried a human woman she loved, who had been courageous in their service, upon her homeworld," Fraslia elaborated. "That is what I would guess, as a Taloran noblewoman, imagining the customs of a distant people."

"Why here? Why so deep? Why haven't be found any other such burials."

"Oh, that's very easy, Doctor Struthers. Those radiation readings?" She flicked her ears up and showed her teeth. "You have it all wrong. The rock didn't contaminate the body. The body contaminated the rock."

The cigarette dropped out of Charles' mouth down to the ground, not even smoked yet. "Jesus Christ. We were ripping each other's heads apart trying to figure out how the rock got so irradiated in just that one area, and..."

"Quite. You needed to stop thinking about this from the perspective of assuming that the people of one planet exist in a vacuum even in their stone age; it is certainly true, that Kobol was settled when humans had no industry, no way to travel the stars. And yet," she looked back to Laura, "Are you not now convinced that humanity originated on Earth?"

Laura looked back and only managed to nod.

"Very well. Then we know that humanity originated on Earth, and the archaeological record is exacting. Humanity could not colonise Kobol on its own. Someone brought humanity to Kobol and settled humanity there--an event which took place in several other universes, I might add, including ST-3, for example. Doctor, Laura, looking at this rationally--they took humanity to Kobol, and this is what they left. A body of someone, a general they said, who was killed in either a radiation accident or a war using nuclear weaponry, buried on their home planet as a favour to them, in rock deep enough to protect the surrounding countryside from the immense radiation. That is why the tomb is unique; it is a technical decision, not an evidence of an unknown tradition."

"Then those words are the words of a Lord of Kobol," Laura breathed out. "Unknown scripture. The eulogy of a Lord to the human he had taken as his lover. Oh by all that is Holy.... Here we have come home."

"And here, too, we begin to understand the Lords of Kobol," Fraslia answered, seeming to agree--but knowing in fact it hinted that they were no gods, but rather simply beings of technology who had proved unable to heal severe radiation damage, or to prevent wars. Beings who loved, and fought, and left a legacy which now could be understood, and which began finally to create the connection between the fossil record of Earth and the history of the Colonies.

But, I suppose it still must be asked--why? Why go to all the trouble? That question, sadly, might never be answered, though at least they knew where to begin looking. And at least the Colonials could now begin to understand who they really were.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-17 10:04pm

Chapter Thirty-Eight.

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Dhirisma,
Oralnif System, Cylon Front.
28 NOVEMBER 2169.

Tisara seemed distinctly distracted that day to Captain Ilahmbh Xinojha. Except that, of course, there was something else about it. "How is the continuous interface working, Your Serene Grace?" She was, admittedly, slightly nervous at how in the end it had only taken Tisara a few months to cave. Though most Taloran combat branch officers had some parallel processing abilities, what Ghimalia had implanted in Tisara was equal to her own systems--which were about as sophisticated as the Empire made, and allowed for substantial cross-computing.

"Learning how to use them, mostly," Tisara answered, and then added, "And amazed at the level of information exchange between Dhirisma and Ysalha. I still feel distinctly left out of it--though now at least I can follow what's going on. How fares the day, Captain?"

"The deputation from the Order should be arriving tomorrow," Ilahmbh answered. "We've finished rotating in the Empress Saverana II-class Linenschiff, so the fleet stands at a full strength of fourty of that type. Still haven't received the full carrier force, though there's apparently been a last-minute proposal to send in eight Inalashi class ships to do combat testing. It appears that the government may be rushing the completion of the first squadron of the class for that purpose, so they can operate in a group against the Cylons."

"Best defended, fastest, best armed carriers with the largest fighter capacities," Tisara mused aloud. "I would be very pleased if the government sent them to me, though they're almost thirty megatonnes, so we paid for it in battleship production."

"Well, quite, Your Serene Grace." Ilahmbh stepped over to Tisara's side of the study while her batgirl sat down hot cups of kashari root tincture, which was a somewhat unusual indulgence, but happened to be, as far as Ilahmbh could identify, the only personal taste that she and Tisara shared, making it rather useful.

"So, that brings us to sixty-four fleet carriers, fourty linenschiff, and one hundred and fourty-four battlecruisers in all now that we've been further reinforced. By using Army short-range SAMs with bolt-on packs designed for surface coastguard ships, we've also certainly improved our defensive capability against Raiders, though reloading the packs will be nearly impossible, but, the missiles are much better designed against slow and highly maneouvrable targets, and the software upgrades to the regular missile batteries have also been finished. With another eight fleet carriers, we shall finally be ready to commence OPERATION CASTIGATE as per your own criteria, Your Serene Grace," she delicately pronounced the human word chosen to represent the concept in honour of their allies. "And, of course, the Colonial Navy now has all three of its Battlestars operational with the Atlantia having been delivered, and their supporting elements correspondingly increased."

"With the Big Pod modifications that brings their total starfighter force to one thousand eight hundred, doesn't it?"

"All upgraded with shields and common missile launchers to allow improved survivability and rearming capability on our carriers, with standard torpedo bombers and EW craft on further bolt-on external hull points and in the old Raptor bays. Mostly crewed by human volunteers from the hard-hit Colonies looking for revenge, of course, since the feudatory fleets aren't directly to be involved in the offensive."

"Understand. I'd be looking for some way to get to grips with the enemy myself in those circumstances. The attitude is to be admired, and it's useful for us, too, though I suppose rather galling to the Colonies at times to have more than half their personnel made up of foreigners. At least they are fighting under our flag."


"I am the regent, Ilahmbh," Tisara replied, "and I do have some fondness for the pack of polytheists I have found myself herding. Though that does bring up a very serious matter. Do you have any more information for me on when the All-Highest Empress will hear the appeal of Baltar?"

"It's still being delayed. And of course he was transferred from our custody 'for his own protection', which was itself exceptionally irregular. Someone doesn't like you, Your Serene Grace."

"Of course they don't. There are quite a number of people who might have arranged this. I personally think it was Fulanaj. Now she's recovered from her injuries during the assassination she has a grudge with my success where her own effort failed. She knows in detail who Baltar is and certainly has the supporters in the fleet who were able to get to him and get him to press his Imperial appeal. The bastard traitor--he'll be tortured for a thousand billion years in the darkest halls of Idenicamos in the most savage ways imaginable--but what good does that do us now?"

And so went the fundamental and intractable problem which had bedeviled Tisara Urami in the past months: The ultimate fate of Gaius Baltar. He had disclaimed responsibility, but records and eyewitnesses had seen a blonde figure ultimately proved to match the description of the Cylon Six model around his office at the time of the shield failures, and investigations of the coding had showed a relation to his work on the interfaces on Colonial computers--the code had been preserved on the Pegasus as a record of the attack in sealed discs--and by extension to the virus which had brought down the Colonial Fleet.

In a situation of Martial Law, it had been enough for Tisara to dismiss him, suspend the Colonial constitution, and hold summary judgement, followed by the writing of a lettre de cachet authorizing his summary execution. The problem was that before he could be spaced by a furious Saul Tigh, several of the Fleet's JAG officers had gotten to him and convinced him he could survive if he filed an appeal directly to the Empress for clemency or a pardon.

By the formal traditional feudal laws, if the plea for clemency was affirmed by a monotheist--and Baltar had professed his belief in one God at the same time--to a priest or priestess of the Farzian orders, all were honour-bound to withhold the execution of the sentence until the supreme sovereign of the realm, here the Empress, could make the final decision on whether to pardon or grant clemency to a person so condemned by one of Her vassals. It had obviously been seized upon as the perfect chance to deal Tisara a reversal in her successes by the endless body of individuals willing to contest and decry every single thing she did, nevermind her very existence.

Of course, the surrendered Cylons of that same model were all prepared to testify that they and their allies, and Baltar, were not involved in the shield lowering incident, and nobody could reliably determine whether or not they were telling the truth. Telepathic reads on the Cylons had proved impossible to come by once they'd been shipped off and the Farzian Orders started fairly jealously guarding their status as honourably surrendered enemies who worshipped one God as they did.

The worst part was that Tisara herself, being exiled, couldn't return to Talora Prime to give testimony to defend the rationale behind her decision and the preponderance of evidence, as well as the political reasons for the chosen punishment, were in all absolutely and overwhelmingly correct. Instead, she would of course have to rely on lawyers, and of those noxious creatures a noblewoman could only hope the day arrived when it someday became permissible to slay them all.

An awkward silence had passed, not only between Tisara and Ilahmbh but Tisara and Ysalha and Dhirisma.. Who respectfully lurked around the edges of her consciousness. With the beginning of the connection, Ysalha had become even more withdrawn from the world, but it was clear that she remained somewhat extroverted within the computers; the level of interaction was indeed intensive.

"So, we really have no further play on the issue?" Ilahmbh was at least trying to be a faithful subordinate as the fleet amassed for the Big Push, which was certainly on her mind more than the politicking which Tisara had obsessively been drawn into.

"Unfortunately, no. To other matters, then. Logistics?"

"With the latest activated feudatory ships and chartered freighters, more than eighteen thousand and five hundred ships are now involved in the resupply and UNREP operations for the fleets, including about a eleven thousand civilian merchants. Prepositioning of warstocks for Operation Castigate will be completed within one month. Our battlecruiser forces have of course been correspondingly increased to compensate for the inability to provide more heavy cruisers due to patrol commitments, which did however require some further orders of spare parts for the deepdocks which may cause another week's delays before the filling of the desired warstock reserves."

The Imperial Starfleet had 1,590 battlecruisers in commission after the loss of about thirty in the recent fighting, and the rest of the Empire had 1,260 in commission: They were by far the most numerous sort of capital ship, though many of them were rather small and compared only with the larger heavy cruisers of the Habsburgs. But out of those ships, 14th and 19th fleets as well as the nearby Terran feudatories involved in the support operations for the war nonetheless collectively were now operating 9% of all the battlecruisers in the Empire--almost three hundred--as the type being seen as most suited to escort and provide fire support for the large numbers of carriers being used. The other reason of course being that nobody was willing to part with their heavy cruisers, still needed for the usual patrol duties around the otherwise peaceful Empire.

"Now, as long as no Oohankhali show up, we shall have an overwhelming preponderance of firepower." Tisara's effort at a joke as she finished off the last of her hot drink rather fell flat, but it didn't matter much; the Archduchess' twisted sense of humour was better left unspoken, and when she did approach others with any sort of respectable effort at comedy, it was invariably so forced as to be pointless.

"I think we could even deal with them, Your Serene Grace," Ilahmbh murmured seriously, even though she knew it was a joke, and her ears flicked to a position which indicated it. "It is nice to know the strength of the enemy fleet, though the report from the Cylon prisoners that the remaining enemy has control over a nanite-based shipyard..."

"Using hybrid-AIs for precision control, and possibly something else, Dhirisma says from her interviews with the Cylons," Tisara added. "That will be a serious problem if we advance on the Cylon homeworld--we will need to be mindful of its existence and presence. A technological plague waiting to be unleashed, potentially. On the other hand, rather pleasant to know that they only have five hundred new-type, two hundred old-type, and one hundred and fifty intermediate-type Baseships left; plus, perhaps, another three dozen or so of the heavy particle cannon model they've begun mass production of. A pity our counterattacks tended to destroy the ships of the people most likely to surrender to us, but it appears their opponents in the Cylon.. Model circles.. Had arranged for the military forces of Natalie's sort to be in the brunt of the offensives."

"And even with the nanite assembly yards, not much more than another hundred ships can be assembled in the next three months," referring to the 219-day cycle of three Taloran months which would carry them substantially through the war, or so Tisara had indicated that she suspected. They were finally ready, after more than a month of preparation, to advance and in so doing sweep all before them. "Well, Your Serene Grace, that does seem to summarize things. Any further information will not be really what I'm qualified to discuss...."

"Ah yes. So the priests and priestesses of the Ryvarian Order will be here soon enough. No need to worry about me, Ilahmbh. I'm quite secure from their displeasure, and the order has always focused on the inner mind, anyway. You shall not have your commanding officer endlessly dressed down by the religious again.."

"Well, allow me to reserve judgment on a matter of faith, Your Serene Grace."

"Of course. You're dismissed, then, Captain."

Ilahmbh and her batgirl took her leave, and left Tisara to stretch and settle back, speaking intensively with her two companions through the clear air about what she did, in fact, expect from the coming day.

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Dhirisma,
Oralnif System, Cylon Front.
29 NOVEMBER 2169.

"Captain Dhirisma," the priestess bowed politely to the hologram. "Thank you for permission to come about."

"You're very welcome, Adept Ersimia," Dhirisma was smiling quite affably, even as some of the flagbridge staff openly wondered at the politeness of the priestess to the AI; but the priestess, who was an immensely powerful telepath with limited telekinetic abilities, seemed to recognize their moods and turned amongst them to address them.

"I can, of course, sense her emotions and the hints of her thoughts, however strange and unfamiliar to my mind they may be. That there are many questions that must be answered about artificial intelligence, let us doubt not, my fond children; but clear to me in the crucial regard is that anyone whose thoughts I can divine, and whose emotions I can feel, surely lives in some genuine fashion, and deserves the respect according all living things which are not of the work of Idenicamos--and the presence of the Deceiver's hand in an Intelligence without substance is, if we shall all remember our lessons, quite unlikely."

After this gently defence of Dhirisma that brought a respectful silence across the room, she gestured toward the back. "If you would lead me to where Her Serene Grace awaits, Captain? My Acolytes can find their way to their quarters with the assistance of your officers."

"Of course." Dhirisma dismissed the officers quickly and left them with the rest of the group of acolytes--twelve in all--and with the two alone, allowed the conversation to continue. "Thank you very kindly, Adept. It heartens me immensely to know that some of the priesthood supports... My personhood," she finished with a trace of naive hope.

"Oh, most of the Ryvarian Order does; you and your counterpart are certainly an interesting case, and there is also foreign precedent," Ersimia answered, brushing green hair to the side and adjusting the shuffling of her long bright blue cloak with its sigils. "So, even if it is not official yet, how can I deny to tend to my flock? You need a defending hand as much as any other, and that is, after all, one of the purposes of the Order of the Thundering Hand," as she used the poetic name for the Order.

"Thank you again, Madame Adept."

"Nothing of it. Look at what you have done--taking and healing the koina of Tisara by establishing a bond with her so thorough that to leave it would drive you both mad? You have a selfless heart. Treasure it, and keep it pure, and we will in time set right the account of who you are, Dhirisma."

"How long.."

Ersimia smiled wryly. "So far, it is only the Ryvarian Order which supports you, since we are the most refined of the telepaths in scientific matters, and know that we can sense the emotions and minds of sapient beings. The others remain less content; a century, I would wager, and an official declaration by the heads of all the orders and the national Primarchs in concert might be made. That is the timetable we are working along. Long, I know, more than a third of the lifespan of those of poor and corrupted flesh, but the rot is not so thorough within you, and so you shall live long to enjoy it--and, I suspect, Ysalha just as long as thee."

"She would survive the death of her body now, yes," Dhirisma admitted for the first time. "Her mind is as thoroughly stored within my mainframes as her body."

"I had fancied as much." They arrived, at that moment, and Ersimia stepped through, herself in the fore.

"Your Serene Grace, Captains, .. And, ah, Commander," she nodded in turn, and Dhirisma showed her to her place down at the far end of the table. "Allow me to be succinct. You contend with powerful forces of a supernatural sort, but though the Cylons may be monotheists, their creator and originator is not the Lord of Justice; I can feel, looming distant over these sectors, a buzz in the air of an omnipresent connection between these people, created and empowered by something great and ancient."

She looked directly at Ysalha. "And it lingers in you, but with Dhirisma's help you contain it. It is.. The madness of billions. Beyond that, I cannot yet say. But let me assure you that it was wise of you indeed to summon us; and we will overlook from you all, Tisara of Urami and your lover and your aides alike, any sort of reproach for your indulgences and sins. ..There is more important work to be done, and a mystery of cosmic implications to be solved. The Cylons believe they speak the truth in their prophesies, and they might--because the source of those prophecies understands this region better than we. Beware that you are not entrapped by the prescience of some cunning and malignant foe into playing its game; you are given free will by God, and nothing is truly foretold.

"Now, if you please, summarize for me what you have learned but could not tell me before, and thus may we begin."

The summary of the events surrounding the Cylons was related at some length by all, including what Ysalha had already provided for them. The hour grew long; Dhpou was provided to nourish the spirits and the stomachs of all, including the Priestess herself, and gradually the story unfolded. It was received in silence by the Priestess, with only the occasional judicious comment. In time, kebabs of fish-meat were ultimately served as well, and the details of the story were finally laid out in full. In full, except what the Adept Ersimia had to say to Ysalha.

"My dear, poor girl, whose live has been by no means kind. Tell me of the things you see in the direction where madness lies."

Dhirisma seemed to stiffen, aware, of course, of what Ysalha had experienced.

"Do not worry, my dear Dhirisma," the priestess added. "Here I can help her, and begin to understand."

"I see a golden pyramid rising to the stars, and in it are twelve bodies of the high-born, and within the circle stands a great machine, with the chattering of thrice a billion voices in it and oh God they burn with such incessant rage...!" She shook to the side, flailing against the table and sobbing.

And Ersimia reached forward, gestured with her hand, and stilled the tears. Ysalha collapsed to unconsciousness right then and there. "She will be better, Dhirisma, than she has been in a long time. And it tells me what I need to know, anyway."

The priestess settled back down. "I can't prove it yet, admittedly, but I have a theory. The voices inside of Ysalha are from what were once distinct entities. They are the computer programmes left behind--the backups of a narcissistic race--and surely therefore the Lords of Kobol. The twelve bodies are the templates for the twelve Cylons. This, I think we may divine from the knowledge that has been laid out."

"Then what follows from this knowledge?"

"Even the Cylons do not realize what is on their homeworld, I think, or near it. We must press forward to discover what lays under their control, and what influences them. More telepaths will be summoned from the Orders to provide further defence in the fleet, to ferret out infiltrators and against the possibility of greater powers unveiling themselves. Can you delay your offensive in time?"

"We had already planned not to begin for another seven weeks, Adept."

"That will be sufficient. Thank you for your time, Your Serene Grace, when you are surely so busy with the affairs of the fleet." Ersimia rose, and glanced to Dhirisma. "Pray that you would show me first to my quarters and then the baths? It has indeed been a very long and very fast journey by courier for me, and I confess to be somewhat tired by it."

"But of course, Adept." The hologram led the priestess out, and Tisara moved gently to the side of her unconscious beloved. "Doesn't it always feel better when you begin to know what you fight?" She smiled vaguely. "If not by mortal arms, than the secret by the Cylons can be dealt with by telepathy and the aide of God. We, on the other hand, have a proper war to fight, so do not let these matters concern you all overmuch. Now, Ilahmbh, if you'd be so kind as to help me take Ysalha back to our quarters...?"

The Old Fort,
Valeria, Talora Prime.
30 NOVEMBER 2169.

"It would be nicer if she'd had him dragged off and executed in the middle of the night, you know," the supreme feudal lady of 23 trillions spoke in mild disgust. "Though perhaps it would have indeed been unjust. I should not be tempted into sin just because it makes things easier, and certainly for Tisara of Urami to exercise judiciousness.. Proves I was right about her. That my mother was right about her."

She leaned closer in against her friend and smiled with the comfortable sort of look of a briefly satisfied neurotic. "Though you have from time to time advised me to do unjust things for the sake of the greater good."

"I have." Jhastimia agreed readily, and smiled a bit more firmly as she offered a blanket to cover over the legs of the Empress Saverana. "Ruling is always an unpleasant business." And the Archduchess Leluno, Jhastimia Rulandh, knew it better than most.

"Transport Gaius Baltar here personally for his hearing--I will hear it myself, in the Imperial palace," Saverana finally spoke again. "If I must overrule Tisara when I have now committed myself to her support, I will do it personally so that none may challenge the decision or use it as ammunition against her position. When one chooses to support someone, one must stand by them, even in cases like this, and with people like this. Kavrila, you know this."

"You are far too kind for her, Saverana. But she was a close friend of your mother's, and having come into your own, I can see why you would restore her to some position of pride. So I will scarcely object. You do not risk losing any political position yourself from taking the stance you do, that much I can assure you of."

"Then I will go ahead and arrange it. We need to show the human subjects of the Empire that we take them seriously, and I do fear the results of allowing Tisara to execute human politicians under her reign at will. We must constantly be aware that the Cylons have killed close to six billions of innocents, and in doing so caused casualties among civilians like no recent war in Imperial history has. Already there are complaints that our treatment of the surrendered Cylons is much to judicious, even if they were not directly involved in the attacks on the Colonials."

"I know, Saverana," the Archduchess answered, folding her legs and tilting her ears back in a moment's long thought. "Come to it, granting a full pardon for Baltar might--but only after every one of his secrets has been dredged out and displayed for all--prove the magnanimous gesture required to conciliate them, in combination with a victorious war and a harsh dealing with the Cylons who have not rebelled. A people we can easily excise our fury upon, now that they could never function with the rebels anyway."

"Well, I am not going to promise anything in that regard. I merely intend to give him a fair hearing. Time can be made within eight weeks or so, to coincide with the start of the offensive, when the issue is already pressing, to avoid undue spectacle."

"Agreed. That is certainly a wise decision on the timing, my Empress."

"Very well. I am more concerned about the efforts of foreign powers, however. The Intelligence services fear that the Habsburgs have penetrated the sector, and Alliance intelligence cannot be far behind. We have increased alertness as much as possible..."

"But there is only so much we can do without running afoul of the prerogatives," Jhastimia finished. "Yes, that is a basic issue now that we have humans within the Empire as well as without, and one we will never be able to avoid. I can however work through my usual contacts to assure the Alliance, at least, of our intentions to make a reasonable settlement in the Colonies and effect their rapid liberation now that the Cylons have struck against us?"

"I assent, of course." Saverana swung her own feet up to cross on Jhastimia's lap, scarcely uncommon in the evenings. "What of the Habsburgs?"

"Perhaps... Well, I may have an idea there. A way to get them to stop seeing us so much as aliens, in the way they see aliens, at any rate."


"If you'll forgive me, My Empress, I'll need some time to think about it."

"Very well, Kavrila." Saverana chose to change the subject, at that point. "So, the eldest son of the Archduchess of Erwhilamh, the Duke of Triyak. What do you think of him? He is of the Imperial blood, and..."

Jhastimia's eyes widened in more than a bit of excitement. "Ooh, so you have found someone of interest? I see you are not about to let me outdo you," her courtship of the Duke of Ulyanivsk had recently put the court abuzz, and finally at least eliminated the rumour that they were lovers illicitly, or indeed anything more than the closest of friends and confidantes. Well, the rumour from all respectable sources. Others could be more.. imaginative.

"I was, indeed, not going to let myself be outdone by my cousin," Saverana answered very mildly, and then grinned. "We just need to investigate the political implications, of course. It is not like a marriage proposal from the Empress will be easily refused."

"Quite." Jhastimia smiled. "I will do it for you, of course, My Empress. The chance to play your matchmaker is a very honoured one."

"I would hope for nothing less, Kavrila. You have been my friend since I first could think, and all the troubles of taking the throne so young have been eased by your presence. Thank you again." And so wore on the private life of, indeed, the supreme feudal lady of twenty-three trillions.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-18 05:00am

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Kamikaze Working Group
Hulasti Military Research Installation,
Talora Prime.
4 JANUARY 2170.

Admiral Khalian--a representation from the Starfleet's General Staff--coiled his fingers together and listened to the continuation of the reports. They were certainly interesting, and well worth his visit to the military research facility, but it was also a very foreign concept, and how genuinely useful would it be, anyway? Well, low-grade opponents can it appears provide viable problems in this fashion, and the solution is here. So.

"The main problem with Kamikazes is that they are generally slow and manoeuvrable, being used as a tactic of desperation by much inferior powers, of course." Commodore Ahistara Saviplat of the planning department continued. "The most straightforward modification, of course, has been the adoption of the Army's LIS-168 light missile. The LIS-168 is of course the standard Army medium missile--light by our classification--and also mounted on coastguard surface ships. It is useful in a vacuum environment because of the manoeuvring thrust-vectoring nozzles in the variable angle fins, which provide incredibly manoeuvrability far in excess of our existing missiles, though the acceleration is limited to a maximum of 985g's.. Which we in truth have no desire to improve. The missile has an initial booster at the same acceleration which fires for three seconds, and then the final stage can fire for a full six seconds on continuous burn, also at that velocity. Maneouvring under the initial booster is still possible for extremely close intercepts. To reliably guarantee a kill on a Raider, a two megatonne enhanced radiation warhead is capable of being fitted, and this is the model which has armed the ships of Fourteenth and Nineteenth fleets.

"The missile was of course designed for surface use originally. This creates some problems in its design installation. Armoured box launchers were necessary to protect the missile from the radiation of near bursts in space and the existing installations can be easily defeated by damage to the ship carrying them; however, for the moment, what we've done is a combination of mounting the armoured box launchers, containing six missiles each and on trainable pedestals, at every clear area of the hull. That has permitted the installation of six hundred of the boxes on the Empress Saverana II-class, and correspondingly smaller numbers on the lesser ships of the forces. Two missiles have a ninety percent kill probability against a shielded Cylon Raider of any type--the greatest survivability of the larger models and greater manoeuvrability of the smaller models largely cancels out--sufficient for the theoretical interception of up to 1,620 kamikazes by a single dreadnought, though only kamikazes in extremely close vicinity.

"Furthermore, to provide additional point defence, we've modified the hangars of all the ships in the fleet to provide for the installation of one such launcher within the hangar itself. The Cylons greatly prefer to target open hangars during flight operations, so at each hangar egress/launching entrance, except of course for launch tubes, we have actually placed one of the missile launchers inside the ship, with the booster replaced by a cold-cannister compressed gas launching mechanism, which is the Army's LIS-168Kh variant." She paused for a moment to bring up the next page.

"Broadly, kamikaze tactics are best protected against by clustering the fleet, and drilling to fall into a clustered formation rapidly and then also spread out rapidly after the conclusion of a kamikaze attack to avoid a major attack with heavy weapons which can damage multiple targets when the fleets are extremely bunched," she flicked her ears slightly at the next mention, "so we endorsed the Admiral Tisara of Urami's recommendations in that regard."

"She rather has come of her own, hasn't she?" Admiral Khalian couldn't help but speculate. "It seems that Her Serene Majesty's assertion of Her person has come with the sloughing away of the old partisans and loyalists of Intalasha III, blessed be Her heart, and the elevation of certain figures around the old Princess Imperial." He paused, and then shrugged. "At any rate, though matters are not for officers of your rank. Carry on."

"Of course, Sir, for give me," the Commodore said very quietly, and then carried on. "The most important thing is an improvement of the software for the missiles. Remember that our missiles are excellent in their designed roles. We can have eighty-five percent kill probability with a single missile against an incoming at 60% of the speed of light. That hasn't changed, and yet we were expending two hundred missiles to score a single kill against the Cylon kamikazes. The software was simply not built to engage such slow and unpredictable targets but rather to compensate for the minute, fractional-second decision making process required for the missile to guide itself within lethal range of an enemy missile when the speeds require incredible response times to allow for successful course correction."

"Ah, well, that is straightforward. Trying to hit airships with ramjets," he quoted a very old parable, the origin of which he was not sure of. "So improving the success of the missiles in engagement remains quite possible by computer software alone? Will this however reduce their effectiveness against extremely fast targets?"

"No, Sir. It's just the addition of further software to allow target discernment and to let the missiles delay stage firing for re-orientation after separation, so that adjustments to course can be made before the firing of the next stage if necessary. This aspect of the software can be easily switched off in a normal engagement, or on when facing kamikazes. It of course requires corresponding improvement in the tracking mechanisms for the dual-process semi-active homing profiles we use with translight sensors. That does however bring us to another weapon that we're working on making a deployment option with ships, though it won't be available for some time, to supplement the fixed external LIS-168 armoured box launchers. It's a tube capsule for the Mk.30, Mk.34, and Mk.24 launchers which can hold four LIS-168 missiles, with compressed gas and bursting charges to separate them. It can be provided as a standard fit in the Mk.30 launchers replacing some of the long-range anti-fighter missiles against primitive enemies whose starfighters meet Cylon kamikaze profiles, and can fire the four missiles instantaneously after the capsule is flung off the rail--so it's self-ejecting--and they can track and engage separate targets. Combined with the ABL's and missile software upgrades, as well as Starfighter Corps tactics proposing the rearming of bombers with RAM-446 cell clusters for anti-kamikaze work, we are very confident that we can eliminate the kamikaze threat, and the software upgrades and ABL's alone should already show a substantial improvement in fleet anti-kamikaze operations against the Cylons."

"Well, thank you very kindly for the presentation, Commodore," Admiral Khalian glanced down. "But I have just received a message that requires me to return to Starfleet headquarters. It appears that Fourteenth Fleet has gone on the offensive, so we'll need to review their final operational dispositions and send back any final instructions."

"Of course, Admiral. Good luck, Sir."

"As to you, on the implementation of these projects throughout the whole fleet. Good day, Commodore." His ears flexed to yield some further reinforcement to the sentiment, and then retired as he had come, in no small hurry.

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Dhirisma,
System JHR-132222IG,
Cylon Front.
6 JANUARY 2169.

With a fleet well-victualated, of fourty line-ships of the strongest sort, and seventy-two fleet carriers, and sixteen light carriers, between them all carrying 30,000 starfighters and gunboats of all types, Tisara the Archduchess of Urami went forward; her ships of that type were further escorted by 144 battlecruisers carrying another 11,520 starfighters and gunboats, 64 Scout Cruisers carrying another 3,100 starfighters and gunboats, 80 Expeditionary Cruisers carrying another 3,200, 96 heavy cruisers carrying 3,500 altogether, 64 torpedo cruisers of the newest types, 240 light cruisers, 24 flotillas of 64 destroyers each, each also containing 5 destroyer leaders for 120 destroyer leaders and 1,536 destroyers, with 8 flotillas of Destroyer Escorts to support the amphibious assault forces, also with five DLs per flotilla, and 8 flotillas, with the same number of destroyer leaders, of frigates for further support and escort duties, each of the destroyer leaders carrying two interceptors for quick scouting, adding to another 400 starfighters being with the flight. And, of course, Dhirisma herself could be added to the fleet.

This force was then accompanied by 112 Empress Anhilara II-class Planetary Assault Ships of 59.5 megatonnes empty mass, each one carrying 800 space superiourity fighters, interceptors, and bombers instead of their usual 1,200 aerospace fighters so they could be used in a support role for the fleet against the huge numbers of Cylon Raiders, collectively adding another 89,600 starfighters to the fleet, though on platforms providing an acceleration of 600g's only. These vessels were covered by, in addition to the Destroyer Escort and Frigate flotillas, a force of sixteen modern battleships of the Queen Ilahmsi III-class and twenty-four of the older Ikranilisi-class, which would also provide planetary bombardment support. The Planetary Assault Ships could each land two 40,000-strong Motor Rifle Divisions and two Armoured Divisions of equal size in addition to their air support, with full corps-level support assets, and could deploy six hover battleships each, meaning that each of the twelve Colonies, Kobol, and the known Cylon homeworld could be each potentially hit simultaneously by 8 full Taloran corps of 200,000 soldiers each, or 1,600,000 soldiers supported by thousands of tanks and Infantry Fighting Vehicles, as well as 48 Hover Battleships; the number of landers provided meant that the whole of these forces could be transported to the target planet within a mere 2 human hours--an hour and a half by the Taloran count--from a high orbital position.

To aide in the cracking of any fixed system defences, 64 Siege Battery Ships were also detailed to the fleet, which with the Planetary Assault Ships, Battleships, and destroyer escorts and frigates were all collectively operating with 8 gunboat tenders converted from battleships, carrying 2,048 gunboats and 420 starfighters in all, and further supported in close-escort role by another 160 light cruisers. These were organized as Task Force 14-4, with the Dreadnoughts, some battlecruisers and escorts as TF 14-1, the fast carriers, battlecruisers, and scout cruisers as TF 14-3, and the long-range scouting forces, heavy cruisers and expeditionary cruisers, as TF 14-2.

Another 16 fast gunboat tenders converted from elderly dreadnoughts supported the fleet, carrying twice that number in gunboats and starfighters, such that the main striking force of the fleet carried in all 57,000 starfighters and gunboats from Taloran ships alone, with the Colonial Navy supporting force--designated TF 14-5--consisting of 3 Battlestars, 1 Colonial modular cruiser, a squadron of 8 heavy cruisers, a division of 4 more gunboat tenders, and 6 flotillas of destroyers and carrying altogether some 4,000 starfighters and gunboats, which brought the total in Tisara's four fast Taskforces to 61,000 starfighters of all types. TF 14-4 alone, however, had 92,000 starfighters and gunboats, but was too slow for combat operations, and being fairly lightly escorted required them all for defence of the vulnerable Planetary Assault elements, though for the moment TF 14-5 under Admiral Tigh had been assigned to provide further escort for TF 14-4 and therefore to have the honour of commanding the planetary landings, while TFs 14-1, 14-2, and 14-3 conducted the main offensive operations. The huge TF 19-6 from 19th fleet--largest in the more spread-out defensive fleet of the two assigned to the Front--was assigned the job of protecting the UNREP assets of 14th fleet to free up all 14th fleet combatants for front operations, containing more than 1,500 light escort ships and tens of thousands of starfighters and gunboats, as well as another 20 battleships.

In addition to the 112 full 4-division corps of Imperial Taloran Army troops directly in the Amphibious TF 14-4, a total of 200 Separate Brigades of Imperial Marines could be landed to the planets as needed from the Fleet Marine Forces, with a typical strength of 8,000 soldiers per brigade, and still there would be enough in the way of Fleet Marine Forces to shift around to meet minimum combat staffing requirements for damage control, weapons handling, and boarding parties and repelling boards. In total, therefore, 24,000,000 (24 million) combat soldiers could be dropped on the Twelve Colonies of Kobol in that mere space of 2 hours to regain the planets from the Cylons should it be necessary. A further five times the Imperial Taloran Army's initial committed strength awaited in regular troop transports which could reinforce the initial landing groups once local space was under full Imperial control, or else could be transfered to the Planetary Assault Ships for additional landings, an additional 112 million troops for a total commitment of ground forces of approximately 136 million in all; in all, 300 million Starfleet and Marine personnel, Army personnel, and Starfighter Corps personnel were either operating with the two fleets or in or near the Oralnif Sector in support of Operation Castigate in addition to the designated landing forces for a total of 436 million under arms in the region, not counting merchant mariners.

For repair purposes a further 160 Heavy Repair Ships were prepositioned with TF 19-5 around Oralnif, adding their efforts to the abilities of the 32 Mobile Deepdocks prepositioned on the front and the Prefabricated Permanent Deepdock (PPD) which had been hastily erected over the past seven weeks in orbit of Oralnif, which were collectively capable of simultaneously handling repairs of 40 extremely damaged vessels of up to 65 megatonnes or various larger numbers of combinations of smaller starships, and 320 lightly to moderately damaged starships the same, though that number was fixed rather than variable due to the arrangements of the Heavy Repair Ships rather than the volumetric considerations of the Deepdocks. Prepositioned warstocks of munitions, fuel, and stores provided for up to 292 days of continuous combat operations for 14th fleet, 19th fleet, and their associated ground units without further supplies being sent to the Oralnif Sector. An additional 280,000 replacement starfighters and gunboats were concentrated on Oralnif to immediately provide replacement for combat losses with more and more pilots arriving for them by the day, and 120,000 defensive starfighters were operating from distributed field-ready bases built by engineering brigades landed on Oralnif in great haste to make up for the fact that the orbital defensive platforms could not be replaced due to the great demands on the Imperial shipping, since most of the equipment had been shipped across distances of thousands of lightyears over up to 21 - 25 days of travel time from mobilization depots all across the Empire.

And the whole of Fourteenth Fleet was under Tisara Valeria of Urami's legal and lawful command as a full regular Admiral of the Imperial Starfleet. There was very little else that could be said for the feeling of pride that coursed through the three of them, Tisara, Ysalha, and Dhirisma. After a long time out in the cold, we are very much back in by the fire--oh, not in any place of honour or respect, but, warm, Tisara offered, now more comfortable than she would have imagined possible by the continuous voices in her head.

Certainly, and it gives me hope for the future, Ysalha answered, ever so happy. They weren't even in the same rooms, though Ysalha saw what Tisara did as she stood on the flagbridge observing the concentration of the fleet in the distant and unknown system which stood halfway between Oralnif and Kobol. It had a habitable planet, and so it was rapidly being fortified and prepared as a way-point for the advance of 14th fleet. Do you think that the Cylons can sufficiently impede our progress?

Well, they're likely going to try and turn Kobol and the Twelve Colonies into garrison worlds to hold us off as long as possible, while they reinforce their main fleet as rapidly as they can over their homeworld for a decisive attempt to repulse us. They know the scale of what they're dealing with, and the defections and civil conflicts have them reeling; they will trade all they have gained for the time to use their incredible industrial abilities to put together an effective defensive starfleet which can hold against us, Dhirisma echoed into the link.

They can try, but they would be very stretched to assemble a credible force to slow us down, let alone to hold us over their homeworld, Tisara was in the supine height of her confidence. Let us see what they think when they finally witness this fleet, and realize all that stands behind it.

Perhaps we are already now under surveillance? Dhirisma ventured in counter of the pride. That we are trusted, we should not be remiss, Tisara...

Oh, I know. But really, my dear, the hammer is about to fall, and they are under it. It is just a matter of time; and I will see to it I am the one to strike the blow, whatever surprises they may have left.

Eight more days to Kobol, and then we'll find out.

So we shall.

Oralnif System,
Planet Oralnif,
Temple of Kha'sharoat.
10 JANUARY 2170 AST.

"My letters of recommendation, my curriculum vitae, my cryptographic and linguistics work all detailed. Master's degree in Xenolinguistics achieved in the Union of Free Worlds, Doctor-candidate in mathematics on Talora Prime. Also the background records of my work on Jhardamya IV," she specified one of the human-settled worlds which the Talorans had annexed in their CON-5 territories.

"Thank you very kindly, Doctor Arafeena al-Nasr, and welcome to the High Temple of Oralnif as well, in the worship of the Lord of Justice," the priest answered as he reviewed the documents. "Yes, everything seems in order for you to support the Ryvarian Order telepaths on the front in this work. You understand it is most sensitive?"

"Of course, Father," she answered.

"Hmm. You are not Muslim with a name such as that?" He had never heard a Muslim use that term before.

"Of course not," she smiled affably, and pointed to a section of the birth certificate's Taloran translation. "As you can see here, Father, I was baptized on birth into the Coptic branch of the Oriental Orthodox Church, and proudly maintain my faith to the present."

"Ahh, so I see. Forgive me, Doctor al-Nasr. I have heard of the long and storied history of this branch of the Christian faith before, and its admirable resistance to oppression in the days of sectarian striving amongst human faiths nonetheless dedicated to the Lord of Justice."

"In the present we are rather nicely secure from that, indeed, Father," she agreed readily enough. "Is there anything else that I can provide to you to aide in my vetting? Or that of my personnel?" She'd given their documents first.

"Oh certainly not. I shall write up, sign, and seal the letter recommending you and your research team clearance through the fleet to serve as a cultural, linguistic and crytopgraphic expert under Adept Ersimia at this very moment. You're exactly the sort of person we were looking for to assemble and lead this aspect of the operation." He smiled and finished writing the orders as she stood quietly and respectfully before him, and then the priest handed them off.

She bowed. "A good day to you, father, and by your leave? The sooner we report, the better."

"Of course, and the blessing of God with you."

To that, Sophia Vuletic certainly fervently hoped as she left the Farzian temple and grabbed an electric tram over to the Quartermaster's building in the huge Starfleet City which had grown up on the surface to aide in the support of the deployed forces, consisting of seemingly endless prefabricated buildings of enormous size. She had been strangely pleased to hear that Major Najhakia had been recovered alive when her gunboat was lost, though quite seriously injured; the woman rather deserved to be dead, but Vuletic could not bring herself to wish it upon her. Of her batgirl, well, she had safely rode out the combat, and Vuletic was thoroughly relieved about that.

Sophia generally reflected that things here had gone entirely well by her standards, save for the loss of her heart in the escape, and that had been a small price to pay for success when her miraculous survival was factored in. Now she was back, undetected, of course (indeed, there was really nothing that had been done yet to potentially detect her, and she was not concerned by the prospect of facing Taloran telepaths, though she was conscious of the dangers). The next step would be getting out to the fleet and securing a place with the Imperial telepaths from which she get to the heart of the mystery revealed to her in the Olympus Mons System Defence Facility.

And as it turned out, of the already weak Taloran security measures, they grew even more easy to penetrate than before when one worked with the Farzian Orders. The harried warrant officer behind the desk that she ended up seeing after a comfortably boring wait of thirty minutes or so gave her clearance documents for all thirteen of them simply be looking over the Priest's letter and calling him up to confirm it.

That was delightful, if it did make one feel a bit guilty, and Sophia ended up barely having enough time to get back to her hotel, inform her team of where they should be to get on the same shutle, and stretch her legs. Then she grabbed her bags and an Urul-paste fried kebab (the idea of taking a shish-kebab and covering it in a deep-fried bready substance was one of the more brilliant parts of Taloran cuisine, she couldn't help but think: even easier to eat and much tastier than the ubiquitous bochwurst on a bun in the city of Prague these days where she'd made her home) before she was rocketing spaceward with her assembled team toward a departing AOR heading for Kobol. And only one of them lost a suitcase, and nothing in it was important. So far, far to easy for comfort, idiotic Taloran security or not.

An uncharted system,
12 JANUARY 2170.

She had let them to the incredible, impossible planet, and brought them down to the surface. It was here that the mountains had fallen into the sea; everything was ruined. Ruined cities, ruined plains, ruined hills. The planet as a whole was shattered, hot, radioactive. The Cylons with her were frantic for her to show them what they sought, pushing her onwards.

The Cavil who had a gun to her back, in particular. "Come on, Kara. Where are we supposed to go? What remains among these ruins?"

"Wrong continent."

"What?" The Cylon frowned. "This is where the most intact structures are..."

"This is all primitive dead ruins. You're looking on the wrong continent. The Lords of Kobol came here, they left. Or one did. War swept the world in the meanwhile. The visited touched everything. Here's your Real Earth, alright; dead, while the Taloran one is alive. Is that how everything real is to you?"

"Damn you! Just show us the facility!"

Starbuck turned south with prescient eyes, under the obedience, at times, of the compulsions they had forced into her. "Southern ice continent. We'll know it when we see it."

And so they flew, onwards in a Heavy Raider and to the south. They found it, alright. The size of a Taloran gunboat, at least 2,000 tons, shaped vaguely like a Remora with its incredible wings, angled instead of curved and double-edged, the T-tail, bulging long neck for the cockpit forward, graceful and incredibly beautiful and covered in gold, glowing bright over where a huge chasm in the ice had filled up with lighter, younger ice over time.

The path down to the base was easily carved by the guns of the Heavy Raider, and so again they went forward, though in vacsuits to protect against the steam. It didn't take long for them to reach the outer entrance of the facility, and it opened flawlessly for her. "As all things do--all peoples have two halves, all wars need two sides..."

She stepped inside and was frozen in a golden beam of light. It seized her, demandingly, and spoke in a language the Cylons following could not comprehend. And held her there, as it confirmed her identity, and she began to laugh, and laugh, even as it dropped her and she was able to turn and face Cavil. The glint in her eyes was as dangerous as could be imagined. "You idiot. I'm not the harbinger of the coming apocalypse. I was the harbinger of an older apocalypse. The hybrids spoke about the past, not the future, and you.. Based your future on the past. Again, and again, and again--everything that is old is new!" She was laughing, laughing with unhinged mania as she simply stared, ever so confidently, at the man pointing a gun at her.

Cavil thought about it for a moment and then made up his mind. "But you have provided a future for us, Kara.. And now your services are no longer needed." He fired one shot into her heart; it bounced off the instantaneously raised person shield and a concealed weapon spat out two hot bolts of white fire which tore through and reduced to a carbonized crisp the upper half of his body. The flaming corpse fell to the floor as the blast doors slammed shut on the rest of the Cylons before they could react.

"There is a standard biological contamination security device in this facility. Shall it be deactivated?"

"Yes," Starbuck ordered in the language she abruptly understood. "Is the Vimana on the surface configured for my genetic activation sequence?" The terms she did not understand, yet they came into her mind like someone else was speaking them. And indeed she became more and more aware that she was not, in fact, speaking them. She was trapped here with something else. Someone else. The Cylons had led her directly to...

Your Ancestor. Work with me, and in time you will be free of me, the voice assured her. And it told her, and she screamed in mad horror at what it said, at what it promised. And then there was no more of that.

'Starbuck' continued in a perfectly composed tone as the computer coolly confirmed:

"The enemy craft on the surface is fully configured for operations under your control, High One."

"Main anti-orbital cannon charge status?"

"Emergency batteries available only. Sufficient charge for one engagement."

"Shield power also possible during engagement?" It hadn't lived this long by being reckless.

"For four minutes, fourteen seconds only."

"Activate facility shields."

The shields melted through the ice in a half-sphere, engulfing both the facility and the Vimana on the surface of what would now be a great, slowly melting chunk.

"Targets identified in orbit?"

"Three semiorganic vessels of irrelevant power output and a fourth database storage and copying ship, also of irrelevant power output. They have raised energy shields of negligible strength but have not yet charged drives."

"Destroy them."

The energy bolts from the surface of the dead world, nuked and killed by plagues, tore out through the atmosphere it rapidly ionized and reached the ships. Their shields crumpled like they weren't there, their reactors were blasted to pieces, their hulls largely vapourized and torn to rubble and shredded tissues instantly. Then the batteries in the facility died; but they had, one last time, done what they had been designed to do.

Starbuck stepped over to the weapons locker and opened it with the press of a hand, selecting a beam rifle and strapping a personal shield to her belt. Emotionlessly she walked to the doors of the facility and opened them; she was greeted with the fire of weapons, but their rounds bounced harmlessly off her, and she immediately returned fire with the automatically tracking brilliant violet beam. It tore through the ice and it tore through the Cylons, not merely cutting them in two but also catching them on fire as it did.

And then she jogged crisply back up, scaling the slopes of ice where necessary, and reached the Vimana in about twenty minutes effort. It's time to finish off the corrupted copy, the voice inside thought to where her own trapped consciousness could hear; and then gave orders aboard the Vimana for the computer to shut down the theatre shields around the facility, while the power-up routine in the hijacked enemy bird was begun. "But first, I am going to lead the Colonials back here to their doom, and complete the project." The name was spat as a contemptuous mocking, for the being knew their real ancestry.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-18 08:32am

Chapter Fourty

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Dhirisma,
Cylon Front, Kobol System.
14 JANUARY 2170.

"Three hundred and fourty-one thousand Raiders are rising up from the surface of the planet!"

Knew it! They used their nanite yards to mass produce Raiders as kamikazes to slow us down! Dhirisma seemed enormously excited.

"Very good, Captain Ilahmbh. Is the mustering of the strikes proceeding apace with anti-kamikaze armament?"

"All one hundred and fourty-nine thousand starfighters and gunboats will be in place in another two minutes, Your Serene Grace."

"Rolling five," Tisara ordered. "Let's show them our newest trick."

Rolling the ship was an enormously important manoeuvre in the Taloran Starfleet, to protect your damaged side, present undamaged batteries, and preserve overwhelmed shields for recharging and recovery. The nature of the gravitic fins made maneouvring properly difficult, though forward and aft acceleration were both excellent.. And so were the roll characteristics of the ships. The Cylon Raiders jumped forward to present themselves directly with the three leading Taskforces of the fleet, the two training ones protected by their arcing formation.

And under the Rolling Five, the ships used that ability to the fullest, starting to make 360-degree revolutions every six seconds. Inside, nobody had vertigo or was otherwise affected due to the gravity, though the force produced was rather prodiguous on the dreadnoughts. The crucial thing was that six seconds was the reload and recycle time for Mk.30 and related series missiles launchers. They were firing from each of the dreadnoughts alone 450 anti-fighter missiles against the attacks every three seconds instead of every six seconds, presenting first one broadside and then the other to the attacking force and salvoing missiles as the launchers bore on their targets with the automatic compensators allowing a tracking time during the full time that set of launchers was exposed to the engaged broadside.

It essentially doubled the broadside missile firepower of the fleet, at least as long as they did not need to use the heavy and slow-firing main batteries, and against a force using only Raiders, essentially as very intelligent missiles to slow down the Talorans, it was quite sufficient. 20,000 anti-fighter missiles were fired from the Dreadnoughts alone every 3 seconds; from the battlecruisers, 40,000, and on and on and on. And the software upgrades were already showing; the missiles were making a 5% kill rate against the small and manoeuvrable raiders, not a .5% kill rate; they'd increased the effectiveness by a whole order of magnitude. Even the smaller ships without huge broadsides of missile launchers which had to role, holding their ground and pumping out missiles as fast as they could, contributed to the overwhelming sweep of missiles toward the enemy. The first salvo killed 5,500 raiders, and so did the second salvo. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth.

"Engage with pods," Tisara ordered next, and the order was simultaneously transmitted through the entire fleet. The Empress Saverana II-class dreadnoughts each flushed 12,000 missiles from one single pod simultaneously out of the VLS. Then, they spun around and three seconds later fired another 12,000 missiles from the second pod. And those were all not very-long-range anti-ship missiles to be wasted, but anti-fighter missiles loaded into the pod VLS; the result was devastating. Each dreadnought killed more than a thousand Cylon Raiders.

The pod attacks wiped out 120,000 of the incoming Raider force, but they were a one-off deal, and now the Raiders were coming in to close for the long-range anti-fighter missiles to remain highly effective. At that precise moment, the Taloran fighters tore across the Cylon formation. Instead of jousting head to head, they tore right along the broadside of the fleet at moderate velocities while the fleet's guns ceased firing to avoid casualties among their own force. The starfighters and gunboats were simply mobile RAM-446 platforms here, flushing all of the missiles at once and allowing them to travel deep across the formation and rake it thoroughly with many of the missiles quite successful at finding targets, everything from the bombers through to the space superiourity fighters able to join in.

That killed another 60,000 Raiders, give or take, with the loss of 887 starfighters, all through interposition accidents, as relativistic velocity collisions were delicately obfuscated by the Taloran Starfleet. Now it was the turn of the RAM-446 batteries on the ships themselves to engage with their uprated software. The capital ships were still on the rolling five, and each of the Empress Saverana II-class dreadnoughts was able to fire 2,048 RAM-446 close range interception missiles into the incoming force and then 3 seconds later, instead of the usual 7, fire them from the second broadside. They finished the roll and at last the Rolling Five was halted almost instantaneously on the ships... And a second later, a third salvo from the RAM launchers, this time the original portside launchers, was fired; in seven seconds each of the dreadnoughts alone had fired off 6,150 RAM-446 missiles, and these showed the same uprated software and improvement in kill rate; each dreadnought managed approximately 375 more kills such that the whole Dreadnought force claimed another 15,000 Raiders, and the battlecruisers and Scout Cruisers another 30,000, and the rest of the fleet, another 25,000.

Out of the original strike force, there were only 58,000 Raiders still coming in against the fleet. That was, of course, almost four times the size of the kamikaze attack which had devastated Tisara's Oralnif Sector Fleet in the Running battles, so it seemed as serious as a chance to serve in Idenicamos' Harem; the end of the fleet, indeed, even though they had already wiped out more than a quarter of a million Raiders, which as the Talorans and Colonials now knew could be produced at will by the mysterious nanite-based massed production facility over the Cylon homeworld which manufactured ships essentially on demand. The Cylons claimed not to know its origin, and Tisara had rather become convinced they were telling the truth. No matter now.

The ships' computers engaged their new LIS-168 batteries automatically. Each Empress Saverana II-class dreadnought unsheathed the 300 of its armoured box launchers which could bear, and so did the rest of the fleet, and automatically fired their full missile compliments directly into the incoming Raiders. The missiles tore out on boosters over the first three seconds while their acquired their targets. The boosters separated and then the manoeuvring fins were alive with fire as they spun the exhaust to orient with their targets and fired the rockets at full power straight into the Raiders while detonating, two from each launcher homing in on the same target automatically. And then, per the Rolling Five plan, the ships were spinning on heel again while the surviving Raiders raced out of the clouds of plasma debris on their final approaches, and the LIS-168 batteries and RAM-446 batteries on the starboard side, the later having easily reloaded, fired simultaneously straight into them. At that range the number of hits by the RAM-446 were pathetic; the number of hits by the LIS-168's when manoeuvring with their boosters still firing was reduced from 90% for two missiles fired at a target to 60%. But there had, it turned out, been precious few Raiders left after the first of the LIS-168 salvoes.

"Sensor data indicates all targets destroyed," Dhirisma calmly reported to the flagbridge crew, which was as much in awe of what had just happened as the Cylons would have been themselves. "Eight impacts by kamikazes took place, against eight different ships. Cosmetic hull damage at most and two destroyers report burn-through that knocked out several LIS-168 ABL's, Your Serene Grace. No other damage reported in the fleet. The carriers are requesting permission to send out recovery shuttles--a few of the pilots of the lost starfighters ejected before collisions automatically."

"Of course," Tisara replied, now calmly confident in what she'd just presided over. That was how a Taloran fleet was supposed to deal with 350,000 incoming missiles, which was how the Raiders were really operating--just rather intelligent and cruelly used missiles--for the moment. "How many Raiders actually got through the first LIS-168 salvo, Dhirisma?"

"About a thousand," Dhirisma answered. "The impacts were actually from ships which failed to finish rolling to present their fresh broadsides before they were hit, and there was lots of fratricide due to the packed position of the fleet, more than we expected, otherwise I estimate there would have been at least 65,000 kills out of 58,000 attackers.. Which when you think about it is rather neat."

"Well, see about spreading the formation out a bit to gain optimal effectiveness, Dhirisma, Ysalha--if you could sim that, I'd rather appreciate it." Tisara stepped over to the holoprojector at the centre of the bridge. "Do you fancy, Captain Ilahmbh, that we could have with some more refinement actually dispensed with the fighters as a defensive mechanism against that scale of kamikaze attack, considering the last missile salvo was essentially superfluous?"

"I would certainly agree it is practicable," Ilahmbh bent her right ear in thought for a moment. "Yes, if we'd done that, probabilistically speaking, if Dhirisma can find the optimal concentration density for the fleet... We should have still killed 15,000 more Raiders than were actually in the strike package. The combination of Task Forces 14-1, 14-2, and 14-3 should be able to indeed handle up to three hundred and fifty-six thousand Raiders without break-throughs, and that's not counting the 21cm powerguns which didn't even engage. Closer to three hundred and sixty thousand, or greater. With the starfighters we could in combine with the full deployment schema take out four hundred and twenty to four hundred and twenty-thousand Raiders based on the these arrangements and the data from the engagement," she continued as she read over to the continuously collated battle reports.

"Without the presence of TF 14-4 and TF 14-5 at all?"

"Call it about four hundred thousand before we face any serious threat of major break-throughs, Your Serene Grace."

"Dhirisma, confirm?"

"This sim is rather intensive, Your Serene Grace," Dhirisma answered, not bothering with a hologram--to emphasize, Ysalha looked rather dead in her acceleration couch. "Well over a million objects at relativistic velocities! At any rate, she's right. Though we may easily yet face such a concentration--some of the estimates I've seen place the number of Raiders the Cylons are likely to have at around three million. So we wiped out 11% of their Raider force here.. But that's it. And given another month, they can probably replace it."

"I don't intend for this war to last another seventy-three days," Tisara replied, and what more could be said?

"Bring us closer to the planet to test it for anti-ship defences. We will see the level of missile batteries they were able to emplace and deal with them as necessary. Order the Planetary Assault Ships to prepare to begin operations against the surface--we will be landing a full eight corps."

"Understood, Your Serene Grace!" Aides hastened to fulfill her orders as the fleet swung in a great menacing arc, its numbers overwhelming even an ancient galley force by an order of magnitude, to engulf the aged and storied Holy World below them.

"And inform the starfighter corps officers to arm their fighters for air support with tactical pure-fusion weapons for atmospheric use only."

"Understood!" The scurrying of under-officers assured her all was well.

Now it was time to watch and wait as the envelopment of the fleet's target continued apace, finally reaching turnover for the reverse acceleration into orbit in about twenty minutes. Another twenty minutes later, and they were sliding into orbit as the first of the mines abruptly detonated and in a sheer sheet of detonations tore apart two destroyers.

Tisara didn't even blink, while the whole fleet went to full auto on their flak projectors and powerguns. Suddenly mines were exploding all around ahead of them. Several more destroyers and frigates were lost; a light cruiser was seriously damaged, but Tisara simply refused to issue contrary orders to the fleet and so they forced their way into orbit and cleared the minefield by sheer inertia.

"They were very well stealthed," Ilahmbh noted only in time for the first of the missile salvoes from the surface to tear upwards. This was something the Taloran fleet was well acquainted with, and they immediately turned their massed anti-missile batteries onto the incoming force. There were more than a million missiles that they had on the surface which they attempted to launch in ten salvoes over the space of ten minutes; but each salvo had about 100,000 and the probability of kill of the RAM-446 against the missiles was 90%, with the flak projectors being themselves also highly effective. Counterbattery fire by the huge 1.5 gigatonne cannons on the ships, well within easy range, also substantially reduced the number of further launches--only 8,000 missiles got off for the very last salvo. By that point though they'd poured hundreds of gigatonnes into a Holy World, and there was no real need to do more with the main guns.

"Secure from planetary bombardment mission," Tisara ordered. "Dhirisma, are you back with us yet?"

"I am! Thank you, Your Serene Grace; at any rate, the sensor data is conclusive. No substantial ground to air assets remain for the Cylon forces on the planet."

"Excellent. We have been delayed long enough by their pathetic efforts to stop us. Fleet signals: 'Land the landing force.'"

14th Fleet Flag,
HSMS Dhirisma,
Cylon Front, Kobol Orbit,
AND Planetary Surface.
24 JANUARY 2170.

In another two days, the jumps to the Twelve Colonies--which could be accomplished in a single day by the Taloran Starfleet, it had been calculated, on a direct route--would begin and their liberation would be commenced. The Cylon ground forces on the planet Kobol had been light in number and weapons, though there was no guarantee, based on the heavy scouting, that was the same for the Twelve Colonies, so the Siege Battery Ships were prepared for very long range engagements to break up the defences with heavy bombardment if necessary.

That was simply the scuttlebutt in the fleet that Sophia Vuletic--presently, Arafeena al-Nasr--had heard while traveling with her research team over to the flagship in which she now stood. More than a little terrified. She had monitored Direct Neural Interface technicians before in the past, and had not liked it. The disturbing ways in which the Alternate Intelligences developed personalities and then were scrubbed down and wiped away had bothered her deeply--especially since, as a highly trained and refined P-12, she had been easily able to start to feel the development of tingling emotions and thoughts from the AIs.

And then she oversaw their execution. For a feedback telepath of her nature who lived off the emotions of others, it was an impossible job to keep, however important it was for the Empire to have fully operational AIs which nonetheless could never be a threat as they had been in the old AI war. There would be no exceptions in that regard, but Sophia had proved just as adept at undercover work, and was quite glad at her transfer.

Now, though, all the old memories were brought back. The Taloran solution, it seemed, for AIs--which they used very rarely, preferring to simply vastly increase the number of Direct Neural Interfaces and have parallel processing in cybernetics for their command officers to let them direct the dumb mainframes, an idea which frankly seemed just as effective as the Empire's own (but parallel processing cybernetics for a few million commissioned and warrant officers would cost substantially more than the computer programmes for AIs in the existing mainframes, so it would never happen in the Habsburg domains). They had taken that to the next level with this ship; as best Sophia had been given to understand, they'd simply melded a seriously neurologically damaged volunteer who otherwise couldn't remain stable into the ship's computer core to provide twenty-four/seven continuous monitoring of the AI.

Or to give it human (or Taloran) emotions. Sophia found as she walked alongside the hologram that it was extremely hard not to believe that Dhirisma was anything other than another Taloran, and a young and naive one to boot. With extremely well-defined emotions, though Vuletic attributed that to the melded Taloran. Regardless, a thoroughly charming if distinctly naive little computer. There was that nervous part of her, though, that suggested that perhaps some of the AIs she'd seen wiped could have ended up like that, and it bothered her to imagine that they had been dealt with so. On the other hand, Church doctrine is explicit on the issue; AIs have no true sapience. What you are feeling, my dear silly Sophia, is the emotional bleedover from the Taloran permanently mentally fused into the computer core to control it. Pay no more heed.

Dhirisma finished taking her to the quarters of Adept Ersimia, and here Vuletic had her strongest test: She would have to suppress the evidence of her powers through precise emotional feedback. Feedback telepaths had the unique advantage for intelligence work, as well, that they could very reliably hide from other telepaths. But she would be having to do it for the next several weeks if not months, and that made it a rather more rigorous proposition.

"Doctor al-Nasr. Thank you for your prompt attendance to the issue at hand. I am very pleased to have you here." The figure of the great Taloran lady, of no inconsiderable skill, settled back after she had ended on the pads on the floor, and regarded her for a long, long moment. Then she began to speak.

The conversation, held over Dhpou, lasted for hours. It covered all of Ersimia's theories--the thought that the remnants of the ancient species which brought the Kobolians from Earth might still exist chilled Sophia to the bone, considering she'd seen what they were capable of in the construction of the Olympus Mons facility--and her needs for the expedition. Those were more straightforward; accessing ancient computers and translation, and Sophia had gone into the details of her available team's experience with great forethought.

That left the primary issue left to them both to be where to begin. The answer was obvious; they needed to go to Kobol and investigate the ruins on the planet for themselves. Sophia suggested they move immediately, wishing to establish her reliability, and the affair was at once set. Two of Ersimia's acolytes and four of Doctor al-Nasr's specialists ended up following them to the surface, and they spent the next eight hours there investigating the temples and then took a shuttle over to the Tomb of Athena.

It was there that they had already made an important discovery. "Well, this explains why the Colonial Navy was heading in the direction it was," Ersimia herself spoke. "Look at the position and appearance of the Lagoon Nebula--from their notes, and your translation, it could be seen from Earth--it's the opposite side from that visible on Earth."

"Oh hell, you're right." Arafeena took another long and somewhat nervous look at the image displayed before them. "So. Those pictures you showed me from ST-3 universe? They're real, Adept? There really is a second Earth there?" She rather doubted it even now--it could easily be from yet another universe in the Alliance--but this map had not been placed her for her edification. It was the original hologram, and it was going to be very useful indeed.


I imagine nobody saw fit to explain that to me. I'm sure the Empire knows of it as an oddity, and perhaps reinforce for the idea of old and powerful species, but bringing it up just hadn't seemed important in the context of my mission. Oh well, there's no reason to doubt her, even though I blasted can't well read her. "Then we've got an area to begin looking in."

"You take this rather well, Doctor al-Nasr."

"I've been in a perpetual state of shock since they translated the inscription on that tomb in the Pamirs," Sophia answered with an absent humour. "With luck, it won't wear off until the rewriting of the history of the human species is finished."

Ersimia laughed softly, and folded her ears in a way to show delight in a Taloran. "So we may hope. Come, let's see if we can get a recording of this, and then explain things to the Archduchess of Urami."

"My pleasure, Adept."

14th Fleet Flag,
HSMS Dhirisma,
Cylon Front, Kobol Orbit.
25 JANUARY 2170.

What happened to wake them up early the next morning was the sort of incident that no Admiral wished to wake up to. It was Dhirisma screaming in her brain, more or less. Tisara! TISARA!!

And so she was awake in a moment, and Ysalha shaking herself off at her side. At least they had been too busy, and distracted, to be involved in anything deeper the night before, as it certainly would have come back to haunt them now if they had dared it. What's wrong, Dhirisma?

We just lost a carrier! The fleet's under attack. I issued orders for everyone to go hot at Condition One in your name the moment I saw the penetrator coming in, but they didn't have enough time to evade. It was the Ytaulak, Inalashi-class! The impact simply blew her to pieces.

And here, Tisara muttered as she dragged on her vacsuit and clipped the helmet into place, we were going to leave tomorrow to liberate the Twelve Colonies, and I wake up to find a carrier completely destroyed.

Could have been worse, Ysalha slurred as she did the same. It could have been aimed at us.

I resent that remark. I have 3,000g's plus of overdrive acceleration and hair-trigger motion controls for sensor detection of an incoming penetrator. I could have gotten out of the way. Not the poor Ytaulak, though. Fortunately the bow and stern and pods all seem reasonably intact and we're getting signals from survivors inside, but it blew straight through the middle of the ship, chopped into four surviving sections. We can recover the starfighters from the outer pods, maybe.

We worry about preventing further attacks first, though by all means make sure that the rescue operations are conducted with the utmost rapidity, or else get them down onto the planetary surface with escape pods and get them out of the way,Tisara instructed as she raced with Ysalha down the few dozen steps required to reach the flagbridge, where a terrified-looking Ilahmbh looked as close as Tisara had ever seen the redoubtable woman to a nervous breakdown from where she'd been holding down operations for the Fourteenth Fleet.

"It was another suicide run," Ilahmbh explained. "Look at this. I got the sensor picture data in and slowed it down.. Pretty much as much as possible. This is an image composite, but the spectral analysis suggests even the colour is about right, and we did see the reflecting flash, analyzing that right now."

A gold ship, of doubled delta swings and high-neck forward, T-tail aft, half the size of a J'u'crea-type gunboat, was in the viewer rounding the planet already had sizeable velocities. Then it suddenly elongated, accelerated, tore straight forward into the Ytaulak with incredible, impossible power, incinerating the center of the vessel as it exploded into a rolling fireball which trailed far up and above the debris of the carrier.

"I think it was making close to .9c when it impacted," Ilahmbh finished quietly. "Some kind of runup for faster than light speeds, that's all I can guess, but on a suicide course."

".88," Dhirisma uttered as she formed a hologram of herself, looking very grim. "If we'd had a few more seconds warning, we could have actually gotten missiles off with a good chance of an intercept. May I order constant patrols by up to five hundred EW 'birds at a time to be instituted, Tisara, at long ranges, with necessary escorts?"

"Do it." No questions or debate was necessary on that one, now.

Behind them, the Adept Ersimia had arrived on the bridge in a crisp and hurried way. "Thank you for summoning me, Dhirisma. May I see a slow-motion replay of the event that you described to me."

Dhirisma immediately activated the holoprojector to get the reply done, as Ilahmbh had shown it. Ersimia paused, and watched quietly, and then.. "Again."

It was played again, even as Tisara was debating the wisdom of ordering the fleet to high acceleration, manoeuvring randomly around the system to avoid further attacks in that fashion.

"What was the velocity when she was around the planet? Do you have any read on what happened there?"

"The ship was only present for a few seconds, having more or less just appeared there, and there was lots of jamming, but, the sensor records.. Well, they were dismissed as being ridiculous. Seventeen thousand gravities of acceleration over four seconds from its arrival from whatever kind of FTL it used through the sensor data field to the point where it elongated and destroyed the Ytaulak at c-fractional velocity."

"Does any existent power have a ship capable of those performance characteristics?"

"No." Dhirisma checked another potentiality. "And it wasn't even anti-matter fueled. Quite possibly something more.. Exotic."

"I do believe we have finally met the Lords of Kobol," Ersimia replied. "Perhaps we should be thankful to the Lord of Justice that whomever they are, they are also reduced to using their marvelous ships as suicide missiles? I should dislike to imagine the fate of the Empire if a full war fleet existed opposed to us built in that fashion."

"You know where this second Earth is, approximately, and it's our best lead, yes?" Tisara had made up her mind about.. Something.

"Yes, Your Serene Grace."

"Then go with Dhirisma and Ysalha to hunt for it in the area of space you have located, and get to the bottom of this. A Synthetic Control Cruiser has the best chances against a pack the like of those crafts, nothing else we have could hope to withstand that--to destroy a fleet carrier with a single blow, even with unshielded. Dhirisma, go with your shields up at all times."

"I... Well, thank you for entrusting the fate of those you love to my hands, Your Serene Grace. Your willingness to help the Temple Orders, I shall not forget."

"I must merely make the choices which are best, Adept," Tisara's ears hung back and she looked as though she must avoid looking at Ysalha, should she change her mind. "You need a ship which can protect your mission, and she is the one. I can transfer my flag, on the other hand, to the Queen Mhirata."

"Oh look, the visuals found something else," Dhirisma glinted. "There was an escape pod separation to the planetary surface..." She isolated a frame from the Army's surface surveillance cameras. "Just before it rounded the planet."

The exact same moment, one of the coms crackled, and Ilahmbh, relieved at the chance, responded and listened, her ears showing her consternation as she finally turned to Tisara to relay the message.

"Army Rapid Response forces have recovered Major Kara Thrace of the Colonial Navy from the pod. She says that she has extremely urgent news for you, Admiral--she claims to have escaped off the penetrator. It was in Cylon hands, and it was recovered from a Second Earth, she claims, where numerous other examples like it are being prepared for use in a similar fashion."

"Get her up here for interrogation right now," Tisara ordered without another thought. "That seems to bring together everything you were thinking, Adept, and fearing. My decision to send Dhirisma, I think, will prove a wise one."

"So it seems to be," Ersimia said, but then, softly, so that no one heard, and a bit more doubting: "So it seems to be...."
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-19 12:09am

Chapter Fourty-One

Chennai, the Indian Raj,
Imperial Commonwealth.
25 JANUARY 2170.

"Isn't the city truly beautiful?" Fraslia sighed in delight as they sat in a cafe near the Chennai Central Station where they were now due to depart soon for their next stop in the Deccan, heading inland to Hyderabad before traveling down the Malabar Coast and taking a freighter toward Persia. "Certainly more in line with your own peoples' beliefs, at any rate."

"I thought you hated polytheists," Roslyn answered wryly. "But I have seen in India how they thrive. What's the difference?"

"Oh, that's easy. They aren't polytheists, but monotheists. All of these 'gods' are just aspects, representations, of the Supreme Brahman, a fact the priesthood is quite willing to emphasize. India's monotheism is complex, and one might not say not very genuine, but that is for the people on the ground who live here to deal with; if they adhere to the doctrines of their own Priesthood, they will be judged as Good and enter the armies of Farzbardor. If they stray, well, their own priests have tried to put them on the righteous course, so who are we to stop them? And of course, the success of the Sikhs in converting many of the untouchables during the great upheavals which came before out arrival on this planet, I understand, generally made the Brahmin more attentive to the affairs of the people anyway."

"They're a very impressive people, the Sikhs."

"Yes, I understand that the 144 Khalsa Corps is actually serving with the invasion force."

"Now that will be a sight for sore eyes." Roslyn got serious again. "Is there any evidence on how many people are still alive in the Twelve Colonies that you've heard of from your various contacts in the Empire?"

"The usual figure being bandied about around is somewhat less than one and a half billion survivors possible. Which is of course just a very small fraction of your population..." Fraslia was grim. "For which I'm sorry. Less than we'd hoped, or thought, initially."

"I know. But that's the way the wheel has turned," Roslyn answered. "There's nothing more we can do for the dead but to honour them. What, then, of the living? I understand Baltar's appeal is to be heard by the Empress herself." Her face twisted. "I could never imagine...."

"And yet he will probably still be pardoned," Fraslia countered remorsefully. "When the Empress personally hears an appeal, it is invariably because it is being done for political reasons. She does not want the humans of the Empire to think that we are harshly repressing him, and them."

"Despite the fact he deserves it." A sigh. The food was very good--Fraslia had to go for some of the less spicy seafood with its yoghurt--especially the tea, but that day it didn't have the same intensity to it, value of life, that their travels had normally had. And yet at the same time she could feel in the air that a very momentous decision had been made, by herself. She just wasn't quite willing to accept it yet. "It is that important to keep humanity conciliated?"

"The works of Eibermon say it is best to err on the side of mercy when Justice is unsure," Fraslia replied, and dipped her ears down. "I think, Laura, that is all that can be said in the circumstances."

"It would be nice if we could be harsher to him," she answered. "I would like to be, myself. Speaking of which...."

"I suppose it is that time," Fraslia answered, aware that she was about to involve herself in Imperial politics, in a cafe in Chennai, three hours away from leaving by train for Hyderabad. And in a very big way, indeed. There was much else that could be said for the situation, after all, in which all of their travels had led up toward this moment, even the crucial discoveries serving as a backdrop for the acceptance of what had gone on.

"This is our homeworld, and I can accept it," Roslyn began. "There is.. Every connection we need to know to Earth. So the question remains what we're going to do about it. So, alright, Fraslia. I'm willing to deal with the Empire. What should I offer?"

"Go for status as an autonomous Republic. Don't worry about punishing Shaw--let the title become mediatized and just ignore it. That's a term we have for nobility who no longer have their holdings but still have retained recognition of the old title and standing. In short, being merciful about playing reconciliation from every angle, show the rest of our nobility that you will be inclined to respect aristocratic pretensions in that fashion.

"Beyond that, you need to be prepared for some sort of formal tribute to the Empress. Keep yourselves at arm's length--a nominal amount like a single Riala might well be sufficient, but tributary states, whose foreign policy is controlled by the Empire but who really have no other obligations, are by far the most distant one can get from the Imperial core. We haven't had one in a while, but we certainly could again. And you can to some extent even operate with a more open foreign policy, as long as it doesn't contradict Imperial interests.

"Most importantly, that's why you need to show some judiciousness with the nobility. Make yourselves distinctly non-threatening in appearance and your own internal customs may be preserved. Certainly, we never really wanted to have so many polytheists in the Empire in the first place. It creates problems. And you can emphasize that, successfully.

"The main problem is that however competently she has handled the situation, and frankly honestly, Tisara's role is still that of a conservatorship for Kendra Shaw. She will be your enemy in trying to regain power over the Twelve Colonies unless you can get to Shaw and get her to abandon her position," Fraslia finished. "And whether or not that's possible, I don't know."

"I don't either. If she has the slightest bit of loyalty as a Colonial officer left, I'm sure I could manage," Roslyn replied. "But she was very much Cain's creature, and I understand lover, and so there's no way to really tell how far, how thoroughly, she was under Cain's grip and what went on between them, what her ideology for the Colonies is. That, and the mental breakdown. Doesn't that imply that she isn't competent to make her own decisions regarding the state?"

"Yes, but she can end that period herself with a show of sanity. You are, in short, going to have to get her to stand up, heal herself, and dismiss Tisara as Regent. And then you will have her out of the way, and will have in fact dealt with her honourably and raised her own standing. That will eliminate your primary opposition. The second think you must do is sound out Admiral Tigh...."

"He was Admiral Adama's closest friend. I don't think he's going to start turning his nominal position at the moment into a perpetual dictatorship."

"Likely not. But you'll need to do both swiftly, and while Tisara is distracted," Fraslia added. "Probably, we should time our return to coincide with the landings on the Colonies. As soon as we hear that they've begun, we can immediately move to return to the Colonies as rapidly as possible so you can get a position on the ground, make your case to the people on the surface, who shall now again be the bulk of your populace, that the restoration of their government is possible and that their sacrifices and hardships and the loss of twenty of their relatives for every one of them still alive--still gives them some promise of hope in the future, you see?"

"So, very difficult, and no sure prospects of success in managing the situation."

"Quite, Laura. But, really," Fraslia's ears flattened back to the sides of her head a bit dangerously. "That's the way politics is played, and particularly in the Empire. At least I am quite certain that if Baltar makes trouble, we can deal with him easily, and in a way that won't harm the Empire, either. Extrajudicial violence can after all be.... Spontaneous."

It was a sign of how far along Laura had come that she didn't protest the remark, not one single bit. And then it was really time to pay and get ready to go, even if the rest of the trip through the subcontinent seemed likely to be consumed with planning for the near future, and they'd never finish the tour of Earth. In a decade, when I no longer need to be President, she thought, I'll come back here with Fraslia for a year or so. She really does know how to get all the deals when backpacking--though how to do you ask a noblewoman where she learned that without being offensive? Oh well.

The Old Fort, Valeria,
Talora Prime.
25 JANUARY 2170.

"Your Serene Majesty, the findings of the Prosecution are considerable and myriad. Her Serene Grace Tisara of Urami, a Princess of the Blood, found that the circumstantial evidence of Gaius Baltar, sometimes President of the Confederacy of Kobol, had in his earlier civilian life made substantial modifications to the code of the computer systems of the Colonial Navy such that they were to be easily rendered and defeated, even controlled, by Cylon computer systems.

"You have, Your Serene Majesty, being shown in these ways that he again, after modifications, used a similar virus on Oralnif to drop the planetary shields, initiating an unnecessary exchange which killed hundreds of thousands of Imperial service personnel and thousands of his own citizens in what his misguided notions believed his 'friends' in orbit would wish him to do, when they themselves sought peace. His actions have been culpable to both genocide and to a generally unnecessary effusion of blood, and for the circumstances of martial law the proof in the coding, and the fact that he was a senior developer on the project which became the Colonial computer networks that were thus brought down in the Twelve Colonies, provides a sufficiency of knowledge that we can say certainly that Gaius Baltar is the most foul form of Grand Traitor imaginable, guilty of Grand Treason and worthy of being lifted by a rope about the neck upon the highest of towers, and there suspended until suffocated, as the sentencing mandated.

"Her Serene Grace is the Archduchess of Urami is not on trial here; her decision is, Your Serene Majesty, of the height of reason. It is her duty to maintain order in the war-torn sectors and to assuage the peoples of the Empire of the universality of Justice and its absolute impartiality. And the Archduchess herself had appointed Gaius Baltar to his position under her new constitution, showing herself quite willing to work with him from the start. And he repaid this with treason against her and against Your Serene Majesty's Person and all of the Empire. The reasons for the success of the prosecution have thus been laid out, Your Serene Majesty."

Sitting on her throne and holding across her lap the crock of her power as the herdswoman of her people, and the symbol of Justice, of the Shepherd sitting in justice, to hear the appeals of the people and rule over them, as the Shepherd does to the Urastik, so it was here, that the Maharanidhirani Bahadur of the Taloran Star Empire, Saverana, the second of that name, settled down and breathed in slowly. Her seaweed green hair was strictly down up on the braided-bun Imperial Style, falling back in a braid down the back of her neck to the small of her back beyond that, her clothes were most modest robes of justice, with purple slippers.

It was actually only the second time that she had directly heard an appeal for clemency, and now it was the turn of the defence. There was not much to be said. She said and listened for the next hour while an appeal to the paucity of the evidence was continued, and then it was time to once again interject into the process, of course, for that wasn't at stake. "Enough, Counselor. We do not find the original subject of the trial to be at doubt here. Was the punishment however Just? Is it right that the convicted is sentenced to Die in the fashion directed? This is what We ask."

The Taloran lawyer representing Baltar bowed once again. "Your Serene Majesty, Justice is to err on the side of caution. There is no proof, no act flagrante delicto to show that Gaius Baltar did indeed undertake these actions....." And so she continued, but at least on topic that time. Her testimony did not last much longer, as the courtroom was suddenly overtaken with spectacle.

Baltar had not intended to testify in his own defence. He had not intended to. But suddenly he was not in this court, but in a Celestial court; standing there, with his Six before him, waiting, unforgiving. "Are you going to be a coward now? Are you going to deny your own God even before these other worshippers of the one God?"

"This is your chance. This is your chance to complete your appointed task! Death is coming, a vast plague which will overwhelm all of humanity, and only those who follow the teachings of your religion will be saved! Only those who worship the one Almighty will not perish! Do you understand this!? You are a Prophet of God! Now stand up and act like one!" She grabbed him and slammed his head into the wall thrice.

To those watching the spectacle, it seemed that Baltar abruptly started slamming his head into the table that he was sitting at, again, and again, and again. Three times and so hard that the bangs of the impact reverberated through the room, until the Imperial Guards nearby grabbed him and hauled him.

He coughed, and shuddered, dazed, but his eyes were now alive with a mad fire. "I would speak in my own defence!" Baltar cried, looking directly toward the Empress. "I would speak in my own defence!"

"Then speak, Gaius Baltar," Saverana the Second replied coolly, "Assuming you are still with us--We are not sure what this outburst is supposed to mean. You are in an audience for your own defence, and We are not in an obliging mood. The argument for a pardon by your counselor has been delivered with passion, but think carefully about what you say next--your very life is at stake."

"Thank you, Your Serene Majesty, for your learned advice," Baltar answered. "But I am aware of the stakes involved in my hearing. It is simply that... Well, it is this part of my story which is most difficult to tell. I have not explained it to anyone. But my angel has told me to enlighten you, and so I shall--God help me."

Straightening, he faced Saverana. "Yes. I was involved in writing the code that brought down the defence network of of the Colonial Navy and the ships' interface networks. I did almost all of the work, in fact, and I did a good job at it. I did not know that it was laced with those viruses--I was guided by my angel, in the form of a Cylon. I was guided to do the work of God and undo the polytheists.

"I was guided, again, to lower the shields of the planet Oralnif, precisely because that turn of events would force the surrender of the Cylons to our side, and guarantee that their monotheism would not be destroyed. The universe is coming to a cataclysm, Your Serene Majesty. Great plagues shall sweep through humanity and they will exterminate all of humanity, in all of the cosmos, who does not profess the worship of the One God through the prophesy revealed to me.

"To the end of turning humanity away from their false and sinful faiths, corrupt and debased from the true knowledge of the One God, I have allowed many cataclysms and disasters to befall the polytheists and pagans of the Colonials in the hope that suffering will show them the error of their ways. I was called by God to do this, and I will remain firm to my calling.

"Execute me, but if you do, you shall execute a Man of God. I have been sent to provide warning--I have been sent to lead the people of Kobol out of paganism! And if you set me free, this is what I shall do. I shall return to the Twelve Colonies, and I shall preach--and those who obey my teachings will live, and those who ignore them will perish! And so it shall be throughout the universe! A great day is coming, the Apocalypse, revelation and destruction shall travel side by side, winged angels under the command of the One God!" His hands were flung with balled fists up into the air as he cried out the last, and the audience room where the hearing was being held had been reduced to a dead silence. "All these things have been revealed to me. Heir of Faithful Valera, Sword of God, let the blood in your veins sing with the truth of my words!

"God commands you through my voice, Noble Heir! Let me go, and let me teach to the polytheists before the deluge comes! God would not have sent me to chastise them if He did not love them, and I will, having shown them the wrath of God, now show them the love of God and thereby bring about their salvation from the horrors which now wait on the wings in the end of times."

The guards began to move in on Baltar, but Saverana gestured with rigid intensity with her free hand. The address had been--a command, incredible!--impossible, but she handled the situation better than she had dreamed. If you believe in the history of your ancestors, do you doubt that a great sage and Prophet might one day come to you like this and command you to hear the voice of God? That he is human matters not; there have been human prophets before. We are the Priests of the Lord, but Prophets are his voice and can surely come from any race.

"Gaius Baltar," she said softly, "We are of the blood of Valera. The teachings of the Lord Farzbardor have shown to Us that Justice must always be done. Your actions were only just if you tell the truth. On your word alone We cannot pardon thee. Show Us a sign from On High, and you will be released to expound your prophesy and teach your Gospel to the pagans. God is neither impractical nor irrational. Show Us a sign!"

The court attendants cowered in fear. Even the counselors of the hearing took steps back from Baltar, now left alone before the Empress; even the guards were moving to the sides.

To Baltar, it was Six coming up behind him, whispering, finally, devoid of all hate and mocking: "I'm proud of you, Baltar." And then she lifted him up, with immense strength, the strength of a Cylon, letting him rise in the air, until he was standing on the palms of her hands, perfectly balanced, and her arms were raised entirely over her head.

To everyone in the audience chamber, it looked like Baltar had levitated two and a half meters off the ground. There were gasps, two of the courtiers and a few of the servants fainted outright. Standing from his position, hovering above everyone else, he walked on the clear air above their heads, straight toward the Empress, until he stood in front of her, towering over her, and pointed down with a single hand, eyes alight with the mad fire of a Prophet.

"Saverana Valeria, Heir of the Sword of God! I KNOW YOUR SINS! Did you not lay with your friend, outside of wedlock, Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno, in a night of passion at the age of five years by the Taloran count? This was your carnal knowledge of another outside of wedlock, betraying the supreme orders of God! Even you have sinned in this way, the blood of your family which runs so hot and proud leading you astray even as it is the blood of the Sword of God! Remember; the Purest of Love is Unrequited Love, and keep this mindful in your eyes in the future! For I pass no judgement upon you; God does yet still Love you as you are. Justice errs to Mercy! You have done good deeds and your future is still bright. When the Apocalypse comes, you will stand as an iron pillar for your people and not be moved or thrown onto a false course, and when God comes to claim you, He will account your sins balanced, even though this is not one that you have confessed and made penance for. I confess it for you now, to these before you; and dismiss that sin from your soul, that you shall know that God has commanded you to let me free, that I may preach his word to the pagans."

He was lowered to the ground by the unseen force, and then, right at the food of the dais, knelt on one knee before Saverana. "Your Serene Majesty, I present myself to you, God having shown you as He sees fit and having lifted me up in the arms of his angels before you."

It was a credit to the incredibly rigorous training of the Imperial family that Saverana hadn't even blinked during the entire display. She certainly didn't react in shock as everyone else had, and accepted the events with equanimity. "That God has prepared you for a mission among the Pagans, I cannot deny," she said at last, shaking her head slightly in an incredible gesture of surprise, to clear her mind, for an Empress on the throne. "You are free. The charges are struck from your record. Go forth, Gaius Baltar, and preach the word of God to the pagans in my realms. My hand of protection shall be over you, and my vengeance will be terrible if harm befalls you."

Baltar rose, and bowed as he rose, and then turned to leave the courtroom. What followed surprised even him; the servants fell to their knees impulsively and made obesience to him as he passed, flattened out in kowtow while he walked by, utterly convinced before by his levitation and his words about the Empress, and her act of recognition, that they were in the presence of a figure touched by God. They grabbed and kissed at his cloak as he left, crying out prayers in High Taloran for intercession as they did, and with this grand procession at his back, he left the Old Fort and proceeded into Valeria, where news of the event spread throughout the day and brought the city to a halt. His passage back to Oralnif was soon paid for a dozen times over by well-wishers to the "human prophet sent amongst the pagans by the Hand of the Lord Farzbardor," who came and threw bags of Rialas at his feet, many of them poor who tossed down their life savings without a thought. And in this way, did Gaius Baltar make to return himself to Caprica, and to Aerelon.

Late that night, Saverana was anything but pleased as she sat back, occasionally drumming her fingers, and staring into the table in her private apartments in the Old Fort, as she repeated again what she had seen before Jhastimia, and how the secret of their one tryst when young got out. "You know," she finally, and with a nervous fear that it would be in its own way prophetic, spoke to her friend and confidante, "if they kill him, I am going to have to avenge him as a martyr of the Faith. I have no choice now but to send orders to Tisara to that effect, and pray that the pagans of the Colonies either heed his words or else leave him alone. God's will this may be, but the stability of the Empire's human worlds cannot be helped by this event--and I am not sure I trust the true meaning of his prophecy. All humanity? But among them are monotheists already."

"Consult with the highest leaders of the Church, and go to the Springs of Aytarishah in pilgrimage," Jhastimia answered with no uncertainty. "This is.. Very much a religious matter of the highest order now. Go in full train with all your courtiers, My Empress, with all the highest Archpriests of the Farzian Orders, and bathe yourself in the Aytarishah springs in the way of your ancestors."

Saverana looked up at her, and swallowed. "You will be my Taliyah when we Act the Parts and pray for word from God in the airs of the springs? This has not been done in almost a thousand years, and the formula is demanding."

"Then we will summon the Archpriests tomorrow and make preparations for the train of pilgrimage to set out along the roads. Let the peasantry come in old times, so that they may see that in such a special occasion as this, all the old forms are shown and that we are following the design of the Lord of Justice to the revelations of our house."

"I will start at once..." She leaned in, and hugged Saverana very tightly, abruptly. "You did right, My Empress, in a situation that none of us could have imagined in this modern age. Be thankful that our ancestors understood well that the works of God were evident in every part of life, and provided for us to do our part when they are shown to us. Now, let us not fear any longer. God will show us, either in the Springs of Aytarishah or else through some other sign."

"Thank you, Jhastimia. I must admit my amazement, and no small terror, but you are right. We are of the blood of the Sword of God, and either God has sent him to us..."

"...Or it is the direct work of Idenicamos the Deceiver," Jhastimia finished for her. "In which case, we know how to fight evil just as well as our ancestors when it walks before us unveiled as it did today. So fear not, My Empress. The right course shall be revealed. We need but trust in the certitude of the Lord Farzbardor and Know that our way will soon be shown before us. There is nothing else that we need to concern ourselves with. Justice will be done."

"Yes. To Aytarishah, with the whole court, at once," Saverana repeated, gaining confidence as she did. "One way or another, we will know. And then we will act with the Justice of God."

"So be it, My Empress. So be it."
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-19 05:35am

Chapter Fourty-Two.

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Dhirisma,
In Orbit of Kobol.
25 JANUARY 2170.

"She is telling the truth," Ersimia said at last. "There is a great base in Antarctica which she witnessed and escaped from, on a second Earth identical to the one in the Empire, but ruined entire by war, its bridges smashed, its mountains melted, cities turned to dust. And buried under the ice is an innumerable force of these great warcraft, overwhelming in every aspect. There are things in her mind that I don't understand, but I'm sure of that..."

She leaned back, sagging, panting heavily. "There you go, Your Serene Grace. All that you would need to know, I suppose. We really do need to be leaving rapidly."

"Give the orders to the flag-crew to transfer to the Queen Mhirata," Tisara ordered to Dhirisma before turning back. Starbuck herself was beginning to recover from the probe.

"Thank you for listening," she said in a very subdued tone. "What they did to me.."

"I know," Ersimia impulsively hugged the human woman as she rose. "You surely did not deserve that, nobody did. But a chance for vengeance is certainly being fairly given."

"Are you sure you can fight three Baseships and better them?" Tisara asked to Dhirisma quietly.

"Yes." Dhirisma stretched. "Should we go ahead and tell them?"

"Oh, there's little point in hiding it now," Tisara answered, regarding Starbuck curiously for a moment. "Go ahead."

"I was upgraded with a Cylon jump-drive in the past half-month we lay at Oralnif while the preparations for Operation Castigate were completed. Ysalha is capable of operating it--she oversaw its assembly out of spare parts recovered off the Cylon ships--and we are hiding it as a capability. Until now. With Ysalha continuously monitoring it and anti-matter power sources, we can jump in one-fourth the time--everything thirty-seven point five t-minutes, about thirty human--as a Taloran drive, slightly faster than a Colonial drive--and make one hundred and twenty lightyears on each jump. The drive is sixteen times faster than the typical Taloran drives currently in existence, thus, and could take us to Talora Prime in.. Three days."

"How long will it take us to reach the Second Earth with such a drive?" Ersimia paced slowly. "We have such little time..."

"Two days, based on Major Thrace's description of the location. I've narrowed the system down.. Call it a third day to actually locate it."

"Merciful, is the Lord of Justice. We will have a fair chance to stop them, then?"

"An excellent chance," Starbuck answered. "They're not expecting you to be there for weeks."

"Well, I had better be going, then. Dhirisma, have the Mhirata send over a company of Marines and see to their accommodation to provide support on the surface. Combat engineers, for demolition work. They'll arrive as we leave, and replace our shuttles in the bay with their combat landers."

"Of course."

There was a moment of pregnant silence between the Archduchess and the hologram.

"Her life is mine," Dhirisma finally spoke, very, very small. "You know that."

"God speed, Dhirisma," Tisara stepped over, as though she were to kiss the hologram, and then paused and laughed softly. "Don't suppose there is a way to make you corporeal?"

"There is, but not here, not yet.. I'll explain some other time," she added and her ears showed her happiness. "Thank you, Tisara, for restoring my life to me."

"And thank you, Dhirisma, for giving back the life of my love. Keep her safe." Tisara stepped out of the conference room, only to find Ersimia following her.


"Your Serene Grace. You know there is a way that the two of you could be married."

"Receive Imperial permission to resign my title and associated privileges and have the All-Highest Empress create me a Countess Palatine or a Marchioness out here on the far rim? I'd still be a Princess of the Blood, Adept. That wouldn't change. The marriage ineligibility may be based around rank, but it is rank of blood, not specific title. Nor could, by the laws of this Empire, Ysalha be raised to be my full equal. My only equals are other Princesses of the Blood."

"I see that you're right. I'm sorry to raise it."

"It's alright. It is the first time someone cared about us enough to try and see us married by some contrivance, other than ourselves," Tisara answered. "My only option would be to have myself declared anathema by the court, both of us actually, and move someone else to be married as private citizens. To.. Emigrate, be separate from all of society and have my name eternally erased from the rolls of the Family, or else to outright turn traitor and receive titles elsewhere. I would never do this, because I am at least a decent person."

"That is why I shall pray for you."

"Thank you, Adept, but you need the intercession of God far more than I do," Tisara finished, and moved hurriedly off.

She sought a last comfort in resting Ysalha's arms, "You know that you must leave me again...." The words were barely out of her mouth as they entered her shared quarters, and Tisara saw that Ysalha had already packed a trunk worth a few weeks for her.

"For a week, or two." Ysalha smiled and leaned in toward the shorter woman who, in the end, had always dominated her, and they kissed with their old fire, gripped ever so tightly. "Just for a week or two. We will be back soon."

"I will keep faith that it will be so, this time." She dropped her voice a bit, even as she hugged Ysalha and ran her hands through her lover's hair. "You know to use the Special Weapons if you think it appropriate, yes?"

"Dhirisma and I will use them without hesitation." A faint smile. "If the Alliance used them to kill a bunch of civilians, what hesitation would I have to use them against polytheistic Gods in the service of Idenicamos? Of course we'll use them. It's nice that we finally know what 'guyverite' is, regardless."

"Tylium," Tisara whispered. "If you have to use all sixteen, do it."

"But of course." And they kissed again.

And then it was time for Tisara to go, with her flag staff; all of them except Commander Sivara, whom she left behind at the last moment to reinforce the thirteen telepaths of the Ryvarian Order and provide a liason for them. In all, Dhirisma's crew, other than herself, would consist of the thirteen-man team led by Doctor al-Nasr, Starbuck, the thirteen-strong team of Order telepaths, Ysalha, and a company of Marine Combat Engineers, two hundred and eighty-four in all, right next to maximum capacity for the habitation spaces of the packed Synthetic Control Cruiser.

She very nearly sobbed as her shuttles carrying her staff departed for the Queen Mhirata and the colonies. But then, it was time to launch the next phase of Operation Castigate, the liberation of Caprica.

14th Fleet Flagship,
HSMS Queen Mhirata,
Caprica System.
26/27 JANUARY 2170.

The system was bereft of defences except on the surface. That was of course ominous in the extreme. After all, it meant that all the Raiders had been pulled back to somewhere in preparation of their operation, and likely concentration against the fleet, and the Talorans certainly could not handle two million Raiders attacking the fleet simultaneously--though fratricide would mean that the fleet could survive.

To avoid the possibility of the Cylons being able to concentrate against them, she had taken the risky operation. She had ordered simultaneous attacks on Canceron, Aquaria, Gemenon, and Picon, all within one-jump range of Caprica. The landing forces for those planets, once it had been confirmed they were also undefended, had jumped into interstellar space and then proceeded under their "Heim effect" Gravito-magnetic drives at the equivalent of Warp 3.5 to their targets. The initial landing forces on Caprica would involve the landing of no less than 48 corps; each of the four lesser targets would see the landing of 16 corps each.

Their gravito-magnetic drives were a crucial part of the equation. The fleet was constantly ready to use them and TF 14-5 was accordingly being held back in reserve. If a vast and overwhelming kamikaze force were to hit them, they could easily evade it repeatedly by going to supralight in real-space, which required no recharging and could be maintained indefinitely, and then proceed to make a series of running, slashing missile attacks on the massed fighters, which would be easily targeted as though they were, relatively, standing still, since their translight sensors were still nearly 42,000 times faster in propagation than their maximum speed under Heim effect.

Everything that was left for them to accomplish was now based around the avoidance of the missile threat from the surface while the Raiders were ready to be dealt with as necessary by the use of supralight manoeuvring tactics. Dealing with the missiles on the planet's surface....

"Begin the barrage," Tisara ordered, and twenty-four Siege Battery Ships opened up on Caprica. Her earlier attacks here, and with Cain, at Picon, had given her an incredible advantage on those two planets, so correspondingly fewer assets had been committed there for the bombardment, and several missile-heavy squadrons were detached from the fleet for the other three targets. Most importantly, though, their fighters were already manoeuvring toward the planet.

The missiles accelerated heavily and within six hours they were approaching the planet at high c-fractional velocities. Only the final warhead bus would go on to the planet, but their velocity would already be sufficient to cause substantial damage on impact, coming in at 52.5% of the speed of light when they finally achieved final engine burnout and flung their 3 tonne warhead buses into the planet around the known missile sites.

A substantial number were shot down, of course, but it did lure the Cylons into launching at extreme range even so, as the massive multi-gigatonne impacts from the missiles at full velocity threatened to completely destroy their missile emplacements if they didn't.

"Captain Ilahmbh, if you please," Tisara said about nine hours later as the much slower Cylon missiles began to approach, "the fleet shall go to supralight toward the planet while the starfighters make their runs."

Tisara felt distinctly lonely without the voices of Dhirisma and Ysalha in her head that she had grown used to over the past weeks; she nonetheless at least found the cybernetics still functioning, and really extraordinarily useful in the circumstances for making calculations without relying on the computers and on her flag staff, which tended to irritate the independently minded (to put it mildly) Archduchess.

Now there was nothing to do except to wait as the fleet raced out ahead, bypassing the Cylon missile barrage in desperate haste and then settling down over the planet. But as they completed this evolution, their starfighters were already acting to the destruction. Racing in low over the planet, each of the heavy bombers in the fleet, and there were a thousand committed to this operation, was carrying twenty-four ground-penetrating guided bombs bearing 128 MT fusion warheads and 12 HARM missiles loaded for bear with their own 700kT tactical fusion warheads and capable of speeds of up to Mach 8.5 while in terrain-skimming mode at altitudes of 50 meters or Mach 17 at extreme high altitude with a powered dive to target--the same speed that the bombers were making on their own high altitude runs.

As the Cylon responded to the bombers tearing through the atmosphere at 40,000 meters with the launch of anti-fighter missiles, interceptors and space superiourity fighters following with more anti-radiation missiles automatically tracked and engaged the air defences. The missiles from the surface themselves were intercepted by atmosphere air-to-air missiles accelerating off their rails at 650g's toward the rising anti-fighter missiles and fitted with 500kT fusion warheads to guarantee kills of incoming missiles or atmospheric fighters even with near missiles, while having enough power to take out a starfighter with a direct hit. They lost 117 starfighters in all and suppressed a vast part of the Cylon defences in doing so. Only 30 of the losses were bombers, too, and that left plenty of bombs available for their targets.

The missile launchers that were still intact were not given a chance to fire as 14th Fleet dropped out of superlight down into realspace. The missile launchers were ready.. But they weren't ready for the 128 MT ground-penetration fusion devices which crashed into the earth next to the silos and then detonated in tremendous groundbursts that tore apart the area, atomized the atmosphere and the land alike and succeeded quite effectively in smashing the Cylon missile emplacements. And it happened over and over again all over the planet; the Cylon Dense Packs, not really meant for this, were handily cleared out to the point that the limited number of missiles which did launch were easily swatted down by the defensive missiles of the Taloran 14th fleet.

The same operations, except using twice the number of interceptors and bombers, played out over the other four planets under attack using the maximum numbers of starfighters available due to their placement on the Planetary Assault Ships for use as escort carriers. And also for this role; they were not as good at it as Aerospace Fighters would be, but they had their own uses and they overwhelming outnumbered the opposition. Seven thousand Raiders at the Cylon dispersal facilities were actually detected on the ground on Caprica and were immediately attacked with leftover 128 MT fusion devices or by bombardment from orbit. A few thousand more were found on each of all five of the planets attacked, and dutifully dealt with the same way; they were presumably Raiders that had been down for maintenance when the rest were pulled back--doubtless to the Cylon Homeworld--to avoid the Imperial Fleet defeating them in detail.

Next up came two thousand gunboats optimized for the ground attack role. Each one was carrying twelve 256 MT anti-matter gravity bombs set for high airbursts to maximize blast effects, twenty-four AGMAMs with sixteen 400 ton yield light fusion ground-penetrating cluster munitions each, and up to 90 conventional single-warhead anti-armour air to ground missiles. These swept over the Cylon troop concentrations and hit them with everything; huge lines of 256 MT anti-matter detonations spooled out from the passing of the gunboats, which easily resisted any fire from the ground with their heavy shields, and the missiles tore through the Centurions on the surface, who had little in the way of extensive armoured equipment anyway.

With well in excess of 100,000 fusion devices having been used on Caprica alone, Tisara judged the Cylon defences sufficiently suppressed, and with another four thousand space superiourity fighters armed with anti-missiles and HARMs providing combat cover for the landings, gave the order:

"Land the landing force! Land the landing force!"

It was eagerly and keenly heard by everyone in the fleet. The Assault Landers plunged down toward the planet from the Planetary Assault Ships with the massively shielded Hover Battleships leading the way. The 620 meter long Hover Battleships, fully loaded at 1,800,000 tonnes each, were massively armoured and huge battle-platforms looking for all the world like what they were called, battleships that were simply flying through the air, since they were of course designed to land in the water and indeed had been rather artfully designed to possess only a 65 meter maximum draft despite their enormous weight, though they could hover more or less indefinitely on their antigrav engines. As they approached the ground, they swept the areas with their ventral-mounted 25 MT twin particle cannon turret, one of five on the ship where each gun could fire once every two seconds. The landing zones were turned into a firestorm instantaneously in which nothing could survive.

And that was exactly the way the Imperial Taloran Army liked it. Every single soldier was wearing full NBC gear with internal airconditioning and positive pressure, and substantial amounts of body armour up to the maximum limit of their body's capacity to still fight effectively, and of course the power armoured troops were enormously more heavily armoured and armed in turn. Beyond that, their full combat suits for even the regular infantry were designed with aluminized surfaces--concealing one's self on the Taloran battlefield was rather unnecessary--double layers and internal high-heat bearing self-sealing materials. The suits were designed to withstand limited direct contact with 2,000 degree fahrenheit temperatures and had integral air tank connections for such a purpose with supercompressed oxygen, and the self-sealing materials were capable of doing the same.

The silver-suited troops were not visible anywhere on the field the moment the massive Assault Landers hit the dirt, though. They were of course in fully mechanized units, and instead all that could be seen with the APCs, IFVs, armed scout vehicles and tanks and self-propelled artillery charging down the ramps and moving out at full power toward the perimeter with their shields up and contra-rotating hover blades of muonic aluminium under the heavily armoured skirts keeping them up and traveling at several hundred km/h.

Soon the atmosphere naturally dissipated the firestorm like conditions around the landing sites, and the Armoured Divisions were roaring ahead while the Motor Rifle Divisions worked to consolidate their holds. 48 corps, each one with a rated strength of 200,000, were in the process of being landed; the first wave consisted of 96 of the Taloran 40,000-strong divisions, half each Armoured and Motor Rifle, at 48 discrete locations around Caprica that would become the corps operating areas for each of the separate initial corps in the landing areas and would later be reinforced if necessary to four to five corps per each of the 48 areas in a full Army Group organization, each 8,740 ton Assault Lander bringing a full motor rifle battalion with all its vehicles and 7 days combat supplies to the planet, or one of the associated support units, while the 10,723 ton Heavy Tank Landers did the same for the Hovertank Battalions and their support units, the later being the largest Taloran craft designed to land on a regular planetary ground surface rather than at sea alone.

The Marines were next to hit the planet in their own 7,200 ton Light Assault Landers meant for the landing of Light Infantry, Marine, and Army Power Armour Battalions. In total, 80 Marine Brigades were landed on Caprica and many more on the outlying planets in rough terrain. Their job was to make contact with survivors on the ground and take immediate action against Cylon extermination squads while the Imperial Army annihilated any organized resistance.

And so it was that many of the survivors of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol--about two to three hundred million on Caprica, and seventy million on each of the other Colonies landed upon except heavily worked-over Picon with only fifty millions, hiding in the forests for two long years as more and more of their few surviving friends and family starved to death and more and more were exterminated by the Cylons or dragged off to experimentation camps--came to have their first sight of Talorans, and in more than a few cases, Jikari, of the aliens they had once believed impossible.

They had come from the stars like a miracle of the Lords of Kobol, and at first they were mistrusted and sometimes shot at; but they quickly proved their wares with their light tanks that chewed through the Cylons wherever they were encountered, and the vast aide package drops that were commenced by the starfighters and by regular cargo shuttles the moment that it was possible. There was certainly no holding back in that regard, now. Everything was being done to make sure that the remaining living citizens of the twelve colonies stayed that way.

And then the liberations of the experimentation camps began. Of those in the fleet, it was quite likely that only Tisara was prepared for the horrors that were to be found there, of people so twisted that they were quietly shot out of mercy, and others, systematically experimented upon and violated in the most sacred of ways, who were recovered tenderly by the bitterly horrified soldiers of the Taloran forces on the planet.

And then there were the death camps for the captured humans from the forests and mountains and swamps and jungles where they had survived like animals steadily being exterminated by more and more Cylon patrols and mass fire-bombings. The skeletal figures liberated from these places reminded Tisara of the images she had seen before, the 'Horrors of Democracy', one of the numerous series to that effect after humanity had first been conquered which had been produced for holovid showing the endless little bodies, emaciated even to the standards of a Taloran, at places with foreign names: Buchenwald, Auschwitz..

There was nothing in the way of pleasure here at the conquest. It did however guarantee that the troops fought with a positively savage lack of mercy whenever they encountered further Cylons. This was now war to the knife, and as the divisions manoeuvred through the night they used overwhelming firepower to defeat their opponents, ripping through their defences with massed multi-kilotonne nuclear weapons from their self-propelled artillery, 6.5kT shaped-charge fission warheads especially popular for punching through to prepared fortifications and short-range ground launched cruise missiles with 500 - 800kT warheads smashing open concentrations of Centurions, with the guns of the close-support tanks firing two 400 ton-equivalent powergun charges a second to smother enemy positions in superheated energy, while the big 250 ton main battle hovertanks were firing their multi-kilotonne main guns that turned the air into flaming horizontal columns, superheating the atmosphere and creating a burning wash of ionizing radiation which killed anything near the path of the bolt not in Taloran-type heavily radiation shielded combat gear.

"See your crimes come to an end," Tisara breathed from the bridge of the Queen Mhirata as she listened to the reports from General Jhasa dhi Erikush--the command of the Caprica Landing Force--and her staff and continued to nervously watch for the onset of the dreaded massed kamikaze attack that had so far not materialized. Beyond that, there was very little to do but wait through the progress of the campaign and hope that Ysalha and Dhirisma were alright--a thought that was increasingly occupying her mind--as they rushed forward toward the mysterious Second Earth, one-third of the way through their journey already.

The uncertainty of how long they might be able to hold the planets in light of circumstance meant that one of the jobs which was begun at once was the distribution of MANPADs, heavy anti-tank rockets, and assault rifles to the survivors by the dozens of millions, as well as the deployment of hundreds of millions of air-delivered landmines in cordons around the areas where survivors were detected, and the landing of tonnes and tonnes of high-end chemical explosives so that if the 14th Fleet was forced to retreat, the Colonials on the surface could fight back effectively with the aide of Army and Marine 'stay-behind' insertion units: The least they could do in the circumstances, even as the survivors of the experimentation and deathcamps were immediately lifted out and jumped out on small evacuation craft heading back to the 50 Hospital Ships concentrated with 19th Fleet's supporting UNREP Taskgroups for this purpose.

They were the ones, at least, that they could get out--and the children. The moment that the forces were fully on the planet, rather than using the Assault Landers to land reinforcements, while the cargo shuttles were busy shuttling down more and more supplies for the combatants on the ground, the Landers were retasked to landing in the rugged zones where there were human survivors. Onboard were Colonial military personnel who were assigned to get the terrified, overwhelmed, and confused Colonials to give up their children for immediate evacuation.

This led to more than a few misunderstandings and a few incidents of violence against the Taloran troops. But for the moment they were regarded with religious awe, and in some sectors where the 144 Khalsa Corps of Sikhs was operating, the bearded humans in their grand turbans once they cleared out of the landing zones and could unzip from full combat gear, were given a religious awe as the sons of the 'thirteenth colony' that their modest yet proud dispositions were quite surprised by; the unit nonetheless retained a reputation of absolute chivalry.

Gradually the number of incidents lessened, however, and the Colonial personnel assigned to the extraction operations, warning of the possibility of massed Cylon counterattacks, succeeded in getting more and more of the children up and onto the jump-lighters and the arriving tenders and tankers which would refuel parts of the fleet and immediately jump back to relative safety in the direction of Kobol and then beyond, back to Oralnif and permanent safety. Now, even if Cylons returned in force with suicide craft that the fleet could barely defend itself against in numbers, or the horrible new gunboat type seen over Kobol, they would have at least saved the few millions of living children on the planets if nobody else. This continued without ceasing all through then next day of the operations as well, Tisara intently using combat drugs so that she did not need to sleep at all and remained continuously awake herself to monitor the events on the planet.

The Taloran Army was conversely encountering little organized resistance. Most of the Cylon armour--and it was not substantial in comparison to the massive shock units of the Imperial Taloran Army--had been destroyed in the huge airstrikes, and the sheer firepower of the Taloran units let them simply annihilate tens of thousands of Cylon Centurions from just a single battalion's worth of IFVs, though certainly part of that was through calling in airstrikes with the copious use of nuclear-fusion cluster munitions which could turn an entire area into an imitation of the Somme or Ypres in 1918 within seconds, all vegetation incinerated and everything around flattened. Then, the multi-kilotonne tank guns, almost impregnably protected on the fully energy-shielded Taloran Main Battle Hovertanks, would open up on anything hardened enough to remain standing as they charged forward, leading the war for the APCs and IFVs which could disgorge infantry as necessary--that was very rare--to clear any remaining pockets of resistance.

The five planets hit in the first wave were of course being turned into an ecological disaster area, but that was simply the price that was to be paid by a liberation at the hands of the Imperial Taloran Army. That kept them firmly in control of the situation, moving and securing terrain rapidly, and nuking the intact cities with bomber-delivered carpet nuke spreads as soon as it was confirmed that the city in question did not contain any experimentation or death camps that would need liberation, and thereby avoid fighting the Cylon Centurions in urban areas where they might have a better chance of resisting. Within 48 hours, 15% of the planet was declared secured and an additional 112 Army Corps had been landed on Caprica and collectively a similar number on the other four planets hit. And the expected Cylon massed kamikaze counterattack still hadn't materialized. That made Tisara rather worried; she expected it, and the absence of the expected had in the past foretold only new problems.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

User avatar
The Duchess of Zeon
Posts: 14566
Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-20 02:04am

Chapter Fourty-Three

HSMS Dhirisma,
On Special Duty
Uncharted system.
28 JANUARY 2170.

"What are you doing, Doctor al-Nasr?"

Sophia Dragomira Vuletic froze and stiffened. "Is it normal for you, comp... Dhirisma, for you to just appear in someone's quarters?"

"Oh, I haven't activated a hologram yet, but," and then she did, "there you go."

"Oh, ah." Brilliant. "Well, no matter. I admit to being rather the introvert, however. You may have noticed."

"I have. You are extremely quiet. Very dedicated and focused, too. I was just wondering what you were working on? We're searching the grid area for Earth in short one-lightyear jumps right now, as you know, and I wanted to talk. Ysalha is handling the jumpdrive routines so I'm just scanning for the correct solar system."

"Solar system? You're sure it's the entire Solar System and not just Earth?"

"Starbuck was explicit about that, and it makes sense. The Moon was definitely intact--Luna--and the chance of the planet being successfully inserted into an orbit in another system is unlikely. So the likelihood is the entire system was copied. The alternative, of course, is that a different planet was terraformed to be identical to Earth. This would be easier, but... I am being conservative in how I approach this, and making my decisions based upon the worst possible implication for whomever created this Earth; that they had the power to not merely copy the surface of a planet, but rather an entire system."

"Or," Sophia said with sudden decision, "This is the original Earth, and the other one is a copy."

"Very unlikely. The Taloran Empire's Sol system is in the approximate position of all other Sol systems except for the Terra Nova system, as it is termed, of the Roman Empire of ST-3. It is more rational to conclude that Terra Nova is the second outlier, and the others are appropriate for their particular universes. This is however why it is more plausible, as well, to assume the entire system was copied, as it was in the case of Terra Nova."

"I see. The entire system." Perhaps there will be some way to test a very useful theory, she mused, and then the method seized on her--seismic shock testing of Ceres and Mars to observe the anomalous spaces of the bases--that could prove the idea she'd been mulling on: That the existence of the various Earths had come about after one fixed point of divergence after the facilities had been constructed; what would irrevocably prove that is if Mars and Ceres had facilities just like she now knew her own part of the human species' home-system did.

But would that mean that the Antarctica Base Starbuck has described to us is also present in all of the systems? Quite possibly; and this whole thing at any rate is a bit unnerving. What could cause the reconnection of disconnected, diverged timelines? Why would it be done? And yet Christianity is present and identical in every single universe. I must therefore hold my course true and trust that this is part of the grand design of God--the absolute nature of the revelation in all timelines at least implies the true divergence was after the Resurrection.

"The entire system" Dhirisma repeated. "I'm not sure why you find that strange or useful.."

"Oh, just a thought, Dhirisma," Sophia dismissed it. "To put it mildly, I am rather scared right now, you know. I know, every knows, what that one gunboat did to a full-sized thirty megatonne fleet carrier. I signed on knowing I'd be going into an active combat zone to do this research, but I had no idea that it would involve going up against opponents who could provide more opposition than you'd expect out of some typical frontier brushfire war. So, yeah, I'm rather scared at the moment." Also feeling like a sociopath the longer I consciously block my abilities, she thought to herself without elaborating. Having fourteen other--enemy--telepaths around made it impossibly dangerous for her.

"I'll protect you all," Dhirisma answered automatically. "My last thoughts would be quite horrible if I was destroyed while people were onboard, well, period, now that I'm bonded with Ysalha. I really don't want the last part of my existence to be my recognizing how thoroughly I've failed in my fundamental responsibilities."

"Is it your fundamental responsibility to protect sapient life?" Sophia was a bit curious about the nature of the computer's programming and its--her--thought processes.

"No." Dhirisma was silent for a moment, and then decided to elaborate: "You see, Doctor al-Nasr, I was not created to be an artificial intelligence. I was created to be the combat command programme for this ship, a wholly synthetic and robotic cruiser. I am not a typical programmed artificial intelligence, and a bit more like an android, in the sense that I was given a body. However, that body is a ship, and its computers give me the full latitude of sapient functionality of a full scale AI and at the same time provide me some of the most substantial processing power available in any computing system in the Empire.

"The key point however is that the motivation for creating me was to save money by eliminating manning requirements on some classes of ships, and therefore I was an experiment to see if I could fight as well, controlling all the repair robots and all aspects of the combat engagement, that a full crew would have required. This however necessitated not merely loyalty and capability but, as the Admiralty Board responsible for me specified, 'the ability to die for fundamentally irrational reasons when they fit into an unrecognized grand plan, or when irrational results may be desired.' In short they gave me emotions, and sapience, so that I would know when to die--so that I would see when death was coming and react bravely to it, so that instead of sacrificing myself when the calculations said I should but it seemed wrong, I would withdraw; and instead of withdrawing when it seemed reasonable but my feelings told me to fight and die, that I would do this as well. It was called 'combat intuition', and the requirements for me were very specific that they desired this in a Synthetic Control Cruiser.

"In short, I was not created to be sapient; that was the necessary consequence of my meeting the design requirements for my type, and also, ironically, the reason I remain the only one of my kind. There is much mistrust in the Empire, though scarcely as much as in the Holy Roman Empire as we all know, for AIs, and that was why I was shut down, and only Tisara's influence showed me reactivated for the sake of.. Melding with Ysalha to stabilize her, more or less. So my emotions, my capacity for these desired tasks, is a result merely of a specification otherwise impossible to meet: The Admiralty Board specifically referred to it as 'battle intuition', and it is an irrational creativity in action that yields desirable results, sometimes not directly related to the combat--hopeless sacrifices can have vast morale-boosting potential for a beleaguered nation, for instance--which makes it impossible for a mere robot ship to match the capabilities of a manned ship. But I can, even if I end up the only one of my type. So I am a successful proof of concept; it is just that the social, economic, political, and spiritual problems associated with my sapience have ended all further development."

"Thank you for the explanation," Sophia answered, a bit subdued at all that it implied. She could at least content herself that Dhirisma was an utterly alien AI to the ones of the Empire, for whatever that meant. Probably more decent; science for its own sake might lead to bad ends in some cases through the following of leads which should not have been followed, such as the satanic madness of embryonic stem cell research, whereas science for strict goals largely provides for everyone what it sought out to do in the first place. Or so it seemed, at any rate.

"You're quite welcome," Dhirisma answered affably. "May I ask a personal question?"

"Of course."

"Why don't you take advantage of the ship's bath? You're the only woman in your group, so the private officer's bath would be open to you..."

"It's just a modesty issue," Sophia mumbled. "I don't particularly have a problem with public bathing, but at the same time I don't like to bare myself. Most Taloran females are attracted to other women, it seems, which makes me rather less comfortable with it."

"Well, probably only fifty or sixty percent are bisexual or lesbian, but I suppose that's quite sufficient, especially since the number is higher in the nobility, which would be overrepresented. I suppose that, well, if you are lonely, I can try to keep you company."

"Oh, that's really alright. I should just like to listen to the religious chants I had on before, and meditate to the prospects and events that we are likely to encounter when we arrive at Earth."

"Alright. Shall I go?"

"If you'd be..." She paused, thought a moment, and then said, quietly. "Do you really trust Starbuck?"

"Why do you ask, Doctor al-Nasr? She was cleared by the telepaths."

"Some people can fake that. And.. The circumstances of her escape from the suicide craft just seem suspicious to me. I wouldn't have brought her along, if I was in charge. Of course, I am merely a research professor; I do not know the best procedure in these cases, I do suppose."

"Hmm." Dhirisma thought about that one herself.. And didn't like the answer. "Thank you for pointing that out, Doctor. I'll speak with Ysalha about it--in some detail. And start monitoring Starbuck more aggressively."

"Wise precaution, I do suppose. Take care, Dhirisma."

"And thank you for the perspective, Doctor." She disappeared after that.

Fascinating creature, really. Sophia relaxed and resumed the chant track, though from the start, before she moved over to her bed and outright laid down, a rolled up sheet under her neck and without a pillow. Now it was just a matter of waiting until events developed as they might.

Talora Prime,
Sulestra Province,
Grenya Colenta.
28 JANUARY 2170.

What a tremendous glory it was! What a paegentry! Three thousand heavy lancers with pennons fluttering rode at the head of the column with the Empress and Archduchess as the Two Lovers amidst their all-conquering Army, heading to Brilar. To the Springs of Aytarishah, where the Empress would seek a vision from God as to the legitimacy of the Prophet Baltar and his instructions regarding the human pagans and his miraculous works. The procession was slow; it would certainly take a fair number of weeks to reach the distant headwaters of the Brilar, even at the fairly crisp pace they were taking.

But air-cars and railroads would not do for this, as they stayed to the rural roads, some ten thousand in all. The wagons rumbled along, towed by trucks in most cases rather than Rostok, one may grant, as Talorans were at least somewhat practical, but there were many Rostok and Effavsur being ridden, and beside them some huge Yatila lumbered along in the train, which was strung out over a dozen kilometers along the road in various groups. There were four thousand soldiers, four thousand attendants and servants and courtiers, and two thousand priests of varying stripes.

Everywhere, the rural peasantry and even the freeholders turned out to watch with utter and supine religious awe. The greened sunlight reflected off silvered and highly polished armour of the lancers of the Imperial Guard; the countenance of the grave Empress and the Archduchess were seen as bordering on Holy: Neither of them blinked, or moved their heads unwillingly, just moving their heads slowly back and forth from side to side, to cast their gaze over the enormous crowds, eyes not moving in the sockets through incredible self-control and perfect discipline.

Golden iconography and presentation cases for various parts of the works of the Prophet Eibermon were born by the priests and paraded around the edges of the procession, along with relics of the martyrs of the faith. Everywhere the peasantry crowded in to pray before these, or raise their children up for a blessing by the figure of no less a personage than an Archpriest himself! For hundreds of kilometers around people traveled, sometimes further, to simply catch a glimpse of the procession and have the chance to fall to their knees before the Empress in person Herself.

There was very little else for the government to do at this juncture, and besides, the spectacle was a fundamental one that reinforced all that was known, all that was appropriate, about the universe. It was a reassertion of the appropriate order of the cosmos, with the Empress as the living embodiment of Valera in the mortal realm below the Lord of Justice himself in supremacy and the carrier of his justice through the lands of the living. The approach of the festival was treated as a carnival atmosphere, and music and the free and exuberent dancing that Talorans indulged in on such occasions being very noticeable, as well as the slaughtering of rare meat animals to indulge in great feasts and roasts.

Saverana himself was somewhat incredulous at the feelings at brought; here, she really was reminded of her place, not in the greater cosmos which might seem the more important, but in the place she realized was in fact the greater of the two: In the Sacred Order of Society, as its head. She stood at the top of, and as a representative of, thirteen thousand years of tradition, and she had no intention of failing it, she was, indeed, enraptured by the level of devotion it brought forth.

At times through the nervous guards, great mobs would press forward to kiss at and touch the fringes of her robe hanging down from her Rostok, crying out their delight and their need for her intercession. People, after bowing reverently, held their newborn infants up so that they could later tell them that, at the beginning of their lives their eyes had seen the Empress Herself. The adulation of the peasantry was itself absolute, complete, innocent of calculation or falsehood.

In the cities there might, after all, exist some very modern attitudes about government, or at least semi-modern ones. But in the solid half of the Taloran population which remained rural and agrarian—except for the very top stratum thereof—this sort of traditional reverence and ceremony, of traditional awe, was absolute.

The iconography, the works of Eibermon, engulfed in gold and the finest of massy stones, emeralds and sapphires and great rubies arranged in geometric patterns, attracted the same attention. The priests with the train of the procession were specified by tradition, but they had been added originally due to the simple fact that the number of peasants surging forward to confess their sins, to hear their penance mandated by God, to receive blessings and intercessory prayers for sickness, all of it had been overwhelming.

In the modern era, of course, many of the priests were trained in medicine—so it became normal for groups to stop at every village, on this most recent of the processions—and spend the evening seeing dozens of ails where otherwise the locals would have to travel kilometers or more to the nearest doctor's station, and others would investigate the soundness of the local damns and irrigation works and so on, and then catch up with the procession the next day, carried willingly and without reimbursement by the agricultural trucks of the local people until caught up with the advance of the procession.

It was of course a horribly slow way to reach the Springs. Over the rugged mountains, at least, they had arranged for a train to avoid the traditional and rather expansive pass that would otherwise have to be forced, and like Mikela II—the last Empress to conduct the Pilgrimage to Aytarishah—she'd take the train just a bit further, due to the urgency of the problem, even though it really was a chance to see that the traditional heartland of the Grenyan branch of the Valerian Dynasty was indeed yet healthy and vital. Those areas were lightly habited, anyway.

This was dense rural land, in comparison, and it deserved the attention. Even if the intercession of God did not occur at the springs, if a vision did not come, her final decision would be given weight by the act of pilgrimage, and the visions of it would spread through the Empire in turn. Indeed, for Saverana, she was already considering the advisability of a grand tour of her Empire the moment it was practicable in the near future to spread the benefits of the grand ceremony—she already thought of it as benefits, rather than a desperate chore---to as many as she could.

There was a strange magic about it, how simple it was, how the colours seemed so vivid in the procession, the emotions genuine and uncomplicated. She herself was left absolutely convinced that the task really was as straightforward as it might seem. She just needed to discover what purpose might Baltar have been sent for, and if he was false, or true, or honest but somewhat misguided. But along the way, the procession convinced her as much as everyone else that it would be done through the ritual bathing in the Springs of Aytarishah. How could the hand of God not be in the outpouring of gloriously simple emotion, in the laden feeling of the spectacle, as they advanced? Thus as it was, and always had been, from the time of Valera to the present; the world was the constant, unending image of the Kingdom of the Lord of Justice upon high, and none who came to throw themselves at the feet of the procession doubted this. It was a glorious reaffirmation of all they had known, as had known their ancestors before them in turn, and would be passed on to their children as well.

HSMS Dhirisma,
Approaching a Second Earth.
28 JANAURY 2170.

They had found the planet, only about four hours beyond three days, not bad. It had been somewhat off from the grid search that Dhirisma had originally calculated, in the area of secondary probability. Ironic, but scarcely unheard of. Now they had arrived in the system, and as Dhirisma had fearfully predicted the entire system was a perfect copy of that of Earth. Using the Heim-Effect drives they raced in closer.

“Shields are at full power,” Dhirisma reported with diagnostic precision. Ysalha was in her acceleration couch, fully jacked in and seeming lifeless; Erisimia and Doctor al-Nasr stood on the bridge with Starbuck and several of the attendants of both the Ryvarian Order Adept and the Doctor, as well as the Marine Captain in command of her Company, Liankhia Syraste. “All batteries fully charged and the missiles are ready for fire on response—fear not, my company. We will be ready. Dropping out of superlight now and entering a polar orbit trajectory.”

“Thank you, Dhirisma,” Ersimia answered, and looked down to the planet coldly, but nervously. Doctor al-Nasr was perfectly still, utterly silent.. And so was Starbuck, uncharacteristically.

Ysalha was in command of the mission, and she spoke with a careful professionalism even as she remained unmoving, using the same speakers as Dhirisma. “We're going to be coming in over the South Pole with our gravito-magnetic superlight drives ready for immediate activation, and...” The sensor image reasserted itself with two blips flying out of the ship. “We're firing reconaissance missiles forward to scan the surface before we clear the horizon. Everyone should be strapped down and prepared for up to 120% of normal thrust; that will be the equivalent of up to12g's bleed-through over the inertial compensators, so feelings of faintness may be expected for some of you.”

The central holoprojector activated to show the data from the probes, even as they clawed forward in low orbit toward the terminator line and organized their own sensor data into a picture of the planet below.

“My god,” Sophia whispered, shocked to see Earth in such a condition. “The planet is a desert. The sea levels are at least a hundred meters lower, and yet..”

“The northern Polar Ice Cap is nonexistent. No data yet on the southern Ice Cap,” Dhirisma replied primly. “Major, no massive environmental damage.... Background radiation is consistent with decay of radioactive particles... I'm trying to get a sample from the probes as they skim the upper atmosphere. We can estimate how long ago this happened from that. But there seems to be nothing here—even huge swathes of the ecosystem seem to be completely destroyed, it is a desert!--reading numerous and extensive ruins in the areas we pass over. And several major impact craters which seem to be reasonably fresh, one moment....”

An image flashed on and magnified, and Sophia recognized where it was from immediately with her knowledge of Earth, and she could not help but share it. “The impact point for that crater... Oh God. Buenos Aires.”

Exactly Buenos Aires, down to the exact center of the main city for the exact point of impact. They were accurate bastards. Similar craters over Rio de Jainero, Brasilia, Santiago, hmm... Rechecking the initial data... Yes, Lagos and Carracas as well. The island of Jamaica no longer exists, for that matter. And.... Standby for full reverse acceleration!”

Everyone was slammed back into their acceleration couches as the ship easily stopped herself dead in her tracks while the probes raced on ahead.. And Ysalha, for the benefit of their guests, put up what they'd both recognized. In a huge, vast chasm in the Antarctic ice was a crisp assembly of massively heavy ground-to-space defensive cannon batteries surrounding a comparatively tiny installation. There were, however, none of the gold craft in sight.

“Where are the Vimanas?” Starbuck finally asked, staring. “And where the frak did those batteries come from?”

“For that matter, why have we not been engaged by Cylons yet?” Ersimia queried rather coolly. “Major Thrace, you were quite sure they were in orbit, and that there would be those fighters on the surface.. Though your surprise, I grant, is genuine. But where are they?”

“Let's not rush to mistrust,” Ysalha interjected. “I'm running a full power active scan of the orbital space and.... Oh damn. Debris consistent with multiple Cylon capital-grade ships in low orbit and decaying. Age is only about two weeks.” She looked levelly to Starbuck. “After they sent you out aboard that suicide fighter. It appears that the Cylons have found themselves a new enemy; or a very old one. Regardless, however...”

“Yes,” Dhirisma spoke aloud as though finishing a conversation they were having privately. “There's no evidence of any debris consistent with the Vimana hullform or the materials signatures—whatever those materials were, I still haven't figured out—anywhere. The Cylons succeeded in removing them before that defensive installation was activated.”

“I wonder why it hasn't destroyed the probes yet,” Sophia spoke from her position as 'Dr. al-Nasr' to the side. “It clearly has the firepower.”

“Maybe they don't register as a threat,” Dhirisma was now holding them stationary over the surface with her engines, under the horizon of the guns. “I'll bring one of the probes to full active scan and keep monitoring passively with the other one and see what happens.”

“..And, nothing.” The AI's hologram looked slightly irritated at that. “Nothing at all. In fact.. That installation seems to have basically no power left at all. Flickers of some minor energy, that's it. They might have expended their power.”

“Got the radioactive particle analysis together for you, love,” Ysalha added only more ominous considerations to what they saw: “It happened about one thousand, two hundred and fifty years ago at maximum, nine hundred and fifty years at minimum.”

“Can you bring us close enough to the surface, Captains, that we'd be masked from those batteries? They seem very clearly designed to engage high-altitude targets.”

They calculated and answered simultaneously: “Yes.” And left themselves slightly embarrassed by the waste of resources.

“Well, it's certainly doable,” Dhirisma added. “Tricky, of course, but well within our manoeuvring tolerances. Alright, then. We're heading down.”

“Inform your troops to prepare for egress,” Ysalha ordered the Marine Captain—Major, as a courtesy title—Syraste. “We will be approaching very low along the planet, and we will remain very close the whole while to avoid any group being separated from the rest.”

“Of course, Captain. Should we stay strapped in for now?”


Dhirisma descended through the atmosphere with her shields battering away the heat, dropping over the Buenos Aires crater and flying lower and lower over Patagonia. And lower, and lower, and lower. Soon the huge ship, ten and a half million tonnes of empty mass and four times that overall mass despite the huge mass savings entailed by the use of antimatter rather than metallic hydrogen, purely, for the fuel (though much was still carried as ERA to protect the ship in the outer tanks) approached with mathematic, centimetric precision in the movements of her 1,750 meter long hull over Tierra del Fuego at an altitude from the bottom of her lowest ventral turret above the highest terrain of as little as 200 meters.

They passed over a ruined city. It seemed, unlike the others, to have no been destroyed in violence. But the perfect clarity of the images revealed one single, horrible, impossibly fortuitous visage. Dhirisma caught it, of course, with her image scanning equipment. A very strong concrete building near the waterfront was still intact, but the roof had collapsed, perhaps within only the past few decades. They could see inside the building as they drifted overhead at a lazy Mach 0.75.

Dhirisma collated the image and maximized the quality, turning the 300 meter distance in all between them and the building they'd nearly passed over into the equivalent of looking through a microscope. Crushed under the weight of the roof, crumbled mostly to dust and mostly blown away, the very strongest parts, protected in the building, had thus survived for centuries and provided a horrifying, tantalizing hint toward the fate of this counter-Earth.

Skull fragments. Hundreds of them, strew wildly around every open space where the roof collapse had not crushed everything entirely.

“How many corpses?” Ersimia bit out almost at once.

“Probably ninety... The probability on that is only thirty percent, though. Could be a lot more, a lot less. These are ridiculously small fragments and for all we might as well be staring at them through a microscope I do not have the right software to do image analysis to conclude how many skulls they once belonged to. It's just a rough guess, and I ran every single spare bit of processing power I had for that calculation, too. I just can't do more, I'm sorry.”

“If there are that many skulls in one building, and human funerary methods are quite different from that, I know as fact,” Ersimia continued, musing, musing dreadfully, her ears flattened. “Plague. A place to stack the bodies when the morgues overflowed with victims. A general plague—this planet, we already know, was attacked, so it was engineered—a plague which probably can, and did, kill all the mammals on the planet, not merely the humans. Thus the collapse of the ecosystems where the bombardment alone should not show that level of destruction. This planet was killed as systematically as may be imagined.”

Sophia was staring shock white at Starbuck. “Was she ever tested for contamination?”

“It's a bit to late for that, isn't it, Doctor?” Starbuck answered rather flippantly. “And for the record, I was. Naw, if it was infectious to me, it would be infectious to the Cylons too... Right?”

“Yes,” Dhirisma replied. “Not enough genetic difference.... Well, I think. There are some, but they shouldn't have an influence.”

Drifting as a great flying ship of aethereal lore, a battleship in the air, her gun emplacements at ready, with ornate baroque styles and gothic superstructure, her pointed telaro-bow heading due south, Dhirisma was over Drake's Passage now, had been for some minutes, and was now approaching the Antarctic Peninsula. The rest of the passage was carried on in deathly silence at the impossible mysteries unfolding, like they were flying into the jaws of Hell, passing through a tunnel from Atlantis to Hades.

“Fifty percent of the southern ice cover is lost—where the hell did all the water go, by Idenicamos' Harem!” Ysalha uncharacteristically shouted in frustration as the latest information came back. “It doesn't make sense at all. The ocean levels are lower but the ice caps have shrunk so much....”

“Well, I'm bringing us down to one hundred meters, now,” Dhirisma spoke ever so softly, with the hushed tone of a funeral: Possibly her own. She was buffeted by the Antarctic winds to the point that she was oscillating, thus the drop in altitude. It went quite fine for a while longer as they crept closer, even slower now, though the tension didn't ease a single bit. Then, for a terrible moment, her ability to compensate was lost and the ship's prow dipped low enough to scrape through the ice with a terrible shudder before she compensated and brought them up, then re-compensating to prevent the prow from rising over the horizon where the planetary defence guns might bear upon them. They were very, very close indeed.

And then:

“Up ahead close to the edge of the horizon, about twenty kilometers, I'm picking up an object partially buried under ice. It might be a Cylon Heavy Raider,” Dhirisma brought herself to a stop. “Close enough. Can't get any closer than this, actually, or else the guns could shoot through the ice at us—and if they took out several Baseships, melting some ice to get to me would be trivial. You have enough motor-sledges for the full team, Major?”


“I'll go, too,” Ysalha said abruptly, marking the first time that she'd be leaving Dhirisma's hull since they had melded, as she unstrapped herself. “You may need my direct link to Dhirisma.”

“Will you be safe..?” Ersimia asked. “There is a considerable risk for Dhirisma if you die.”

“Well.. Sort of. I will be safe, we both will,” Ysalha answered, and did not elaborate. “Come on. We need to know what happened at that base, what happened to this world, and, though I fear it may now come to late for our offensive, the location of those 'Vimanas'.” Oh, I pray, Tisara, that you are safe—that we are not to late, indeed! But I will do my duty as you would expect me to, for the Empire first, and not fly at once to warn you of the danger. Dhirisma, be my strength....

Forever, the AI whispered back, with all the hope she could muster that it would be true.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-20 06:09am

Chapter Fourty-Four.

Antarctica, Second Earth.
28/29 JANUARY 2170.

On their motor-sledges the company and the telepaths, Starbuck and Dr. al-Nasr's scientists cruised toward the first target, the Heavy Raider on the surface, while Dhirisma loomed up incredibly large in the background, overwhelming the scene with her shadow, holding station against the wind, a huge wind block that retained its effect for quite some time.

The scientists and Farzian telepaths were swathed in robes and jackets and arctic clothes. The planet was a desert now, but a chilly one. The rest were in fully climate controlled power-armour, save Ysalha, who at the insistence of all was protected by a personal shield, but still laid thick with robes too; the Talorans wore distinctive bejewled masks in such circumstances, ears sealed in coverlets, and they proceeded cautiously over the ice.

Several times they had to negotiate around huge crevasses caused by the ice progressively collapsing from heat and shear into the massive chasm created by the facility and the firing of its batteries, but in the land of the midnight sun, the fact that it ended up taking eight hours to cover twenty kilometres was irrelevant, particularly since they were universally under the full influence of the surging combat drugs.

The Heavy Raider was abandoned, but fully operational, and fresh, only about as old as the debris in orbit. Starbuck took one look over it, and answered rather negligently, "They must have gone to investigate this facility, thinking it was associated with the Vimanas, and accidentally activated it."

"Perhaps, Major Thrace," Ersimia replied from where she stood, looking over the craft with no obvious signs of violence. "I wonder why they didn't leave a guard."

"They had lots of other ships and personnel around, or at least they did when I was here, Adept."

"A fair point. Shall we eat, Your Ladyship," she addressed Ysalha, "and then proceed the next twenty kilometres to the base? It will be rough going, at least another nine hours and probably ten."

"Of course." They stopped for a while, circling the sledges as firing perimeters, putting up shelter tents in which they could take off enough of their clothes or unseal their helmets for eating. In all, it took a solid hour and a half, but the ration bars contained upwards of ten thousand calories for moments like this, and they damn well needed all of them by that. Even with the motors on the sledges, it had been impossibly rough going.

"We must assume that the facility is manned," Ysalha said as she addressed the Captain and Ersimia, Starbuck and Dr. al-Nasr sitting nearby--and rather looking suspiciously at each other--as they listened. There was a lot of listening to be done, certainly, as they planned out their strategy for the last dash.

"Remember that we must exercise the utmost caution where soft snow has filled into the crevasses, which are likely to be progressively more serious, and the path down will not be easy, either. We'll need to pinion ourselves into the ice wherever possible to secure both ourselves and the sledges and their loads, particularly the blasting charges so we can disable those batteries to make absolutely sure that they pose no threat to Dhirisma. And keep your weapons ready. We really have no idea what we're headed into down here; none of the possibilities are particularly good, either."

"Right," Captain Syraste shrugged broadly, fluid and ready to kill. "It's going to be tough for us to fight while we're still manoeuvring down toward the facility. The drop is several hundred meters, after all, and fairly dramatic, to reach the rock. With your permission I'd like to leave two platoons up top to provide covering fire for us in case something attacks out of the wastes, so we're not caught below...."

"Sounds reasonable," Ysalha conceded.

"It will mean splitting up our telepaths, however," Ersimia answered. "Well, I suppose Commander Sivara and three of my acolytes can provide sufficient coverage. But I still feel uncomfortable with only ten of us going into this midst of this terrible thing. We will have to make do. They can help lower us to the floor of the chasm, anyway."

"Sounds fine to me," Captain Syraste finished the last sugary crumb of the ration bar. It tasted miserable, but at least it was sweet. "Alright! Enough rest! Dose up if you need to, stay awake, stay alert. We break camp and move out again immediately. You can sleep when you secure the facility, we're damned Marines, and the Lord's on our side."

Jauntily, they flung themselves at the ice desert again, forging forward with the training provided to the Marines of the fleet since it had been the Royal Grenyan Navy and the Arctic-obssessed Empress Mikela I had insisted upon it during her somewhat grandiose and egocentric colonization effort on Silvant Colenta, after she'd fought a war over it. It proved useful here, though, as they fashioned rope bridges across the great crevasses and pushed their way forward. Twice men fell into the crevasses, but their pinions held and their comrades were hauled out again; two sledges were however lost, though three fell and were recovered, and they were really only proceeding at a walking pace anyway.

And on and on it went, crevasse after miserable crevasse, until they stood at the lip of the chasm, looking down hundreds of meters to where the base and the nearby cannon could be spied, sitting lifeless, abandoned. It had not taken ten hours; it had taken fourteen. As for the base below, there was nothing more that could be said for the utilitarian structures, clearly deeply buried underground. Now the tents were set up for the stay-behind group, fortifications were prepared in the ice, and in the end due to the extreme exhaustion of the party, they all slept there that night.

The next day dawned with the winds having quieted, Dhirisma still easily holding position--only Doctor Ghimalia and Gina Inviere remained aboard, the later having volunteered to stay when Tisara left with her staff and Kendra Shaw (the two were kept separately from each other by Dhirisma, of course, relations scarcely being anything approaching cordial and in fact downright murderous, regardless of the last wishes of Cain)--but she was of course quite capable of handling herself, and did so admirably.

Pinions ready, they lowered themselves down the ice, until they found what seemed to be a path carved along the length of the chasm wall toward the bottom. Suddenly progress was much easier, though hampered several times by the need to bridge fresh gaps. "They must have cut it out to move heavy machinery," Ysalha noted as she continued the descent from near the lead, as a point of sincerity and some show of leadership on her part. "I wonder how long they were investigating this facility after all--perhaps even when Starbuck was still being held here."

"It's certainly possible," Starbuck admitted, the journey down taking two hours despite the trail.

At last they stood at the very base of the chasm, and then it was only about a kilometer to the facility, covered crisply by the party, their bodies under the influence of combat drugs to the point of scarcely minding the blazing sun above and the furious cold combined with continuous exertion in the harsh Antarctic vastness. They carried on in this fashion until at the facility itself, and there they saw the destroyed Centurions and the shattered body of the Cavil model and his associates, all cut up and burned besides.

"Tracking beam technology," Ysalha spoke as coldly as a computer, half one already and thoroughly linked into Dhirisma.

"From the way their bodies were laid out," Captain Syraste elaborated in turn. "There was certainly a real fight here, not a mere execution or some kind of automated system. They though they had a chance to fight back and probably did. At any rate. Blasting charges!"

Two of the marines sprinted up and attached chemical explosives to the door of the facility. They cleared back and waited:

"Fire in the hole!"

WIth a terrific rumble and flash of flame, the charges were detonated. As the smoke and flame cleared, they approached--and were shock-struck by the complete lack of damage to the door, even as it had twisted and mangled the bodies and Centurion-parts before beyond recognition.

"Those charges could have punched through several inch thick blast-steel," Syraste muttered and sighed. "Alright, we'll risk damage to the building, there's no other way of doing it. Strivashi, get your MANPAD team up here and put one into the door!"

"Right away, Ma'am!" The team shifted positions out of cover as the original blasting crew fell back, aiming from their safety in power-armour at the door to the building, and then letting loose the missile, accelerating at 400g's straight into the door where the warhead and most of the fuel exploded in an enormous fireball which finally served to tear apart the armoured entrance and also destroy the entryway and the room beyond.

This time as they approached, though, automatic fire suppression systems in the building were already flooding the corridor with foam. In a moment the power armoured troops thrust ahead anyway, shooting out the foam dispenses to prevent it from completely filling the area now that the fire was gone and then, potentially, freezing into some sort of impregnable mass. It didn't, and they pressed into the facilities.

One of the first things encountered was the strangest. It was a frozen human corpse, a little hand-cranked survival radio with an old disc storage section on it. They immediately crowded around the body, and it was Sophia who gingerly picked up the survival radio and began to turn the crank, hoping that some sort of message might on the ancient disc.

Instead, music blared out, and they all frowned or flicked ears in various expressions of frustration.

"There are those among us who think that life is but a joke..." Sophia rolled her eyes and sighed. "Such a wasted lead. Did he seem to write anything.. Ahh, on the wall. 'Joseph Edwards, 21 December AD 2007, the computer sent out Reynold and Matthew--I am dead, if you find them, kill them. They hold the destruction of our world.'"

The message, scrawled along the wall, brought more silence as they gazed at it for the longest of times, while other teams patrolled through the facility. A radio crackled "This is Sergeant Iurkarlish. We've reached the reactor room, or what passes for it. It's down. This facility is operating off of backup power only, Ma'am."

"Very good," Syraste confirmed. "Alright, we need to start splitting up and covering all of this facility. Doctor al-Nasr, I don't suppose you know the writing on the walls?"

Sophia looked around, and saw it.. And didn't know what it meant, unlike Sarasavsati. However, she did recognize it at once. It was the same writing style, probably the same language, as the untranslated writing from Ceres base and the distant colony base of the other power they had found. So they, as well as the Sarasavsati, had interuniversal capabilities. Or are at the heart of this. I fear that raises only more questions.. But simply recording that writing makes my mission worthwhile. And so she crisply snapped images as she replied, "I fear not, Adept, though I do know it in the sense that I have seen it before, at several dig sites in CON-5. It has never however been translated before."

"Ah. More's the pity.. But it's interesting that it's in two different universes. I wonder if the natural anomaly connecting them was extant in past times?"

"Perhaps--that isn't my field of specialty, however," Sophia replied, frowning.

“Alright then. If we can split up your group?”

“Of course.” Sophia soon found herself assigned with a squad of soldiers heading for one of the more unexplored areas of the facility, which appeared to have habitation quarters. It would remain for them to find any kind of sign of how they could access the data in the computers or else they could perhaps find some way to start translating the writing. A serious data-mining project was required either way, and Sophia was quite content to spend some time here, however terrifying it might be, if it would yield so much actionable data for the Empire as that. So was her team, though, and finally free of Dhirisma they would actually be able to communicate safely once they'd screened some areas of the base.

For the moment, though, they searched and they searched and they found nothing at all. Now there was very little else that they could accomplish, so the body of Joseph Edwards was placed outside of the base, the doors were sealed around the damage, and it was generally prepared for habitation by two platoons and the researchers, while the combat engineering personnel looked for some way to detonate the power cables to the main guns to remove the threat to Dhirisma and allow her to approach and provide direct support to them all.

It was all for naught, and Sophia's efforts to crack the computer cores were, despite all her programming knowledge and cryptographic skills, also completely useless. The security procedures were incredibly detailed and sophisticated, and damn near seemed alive. She did not give up, however, until Ersimia ordered her to, and she retired to one of the rooms laid out for sleeping space, a small closet given to her for her own privacy and comfortably snug up in survival blankets with the tiled floor.. Surprisingly warm.

Sophia Vuletic never had a chance to finish her short, stim-reduced sleep that night, however. There was another creature awake with its mind upon her, and after only two hours, she was awakened by the looming figure over her in her sleep, at first confused, sluggish, perhaps, by what she—in a sudden grip of terror—realized was the mental influence over her. Ersimia, suspicious of me..! But as she tried to raise defensive shields around her mind, they were battered down, and she was forced up, thrust up, grabbed and seized by a figure whose height she recognized as she was forced out, matched that of Starbuck.

The emergency lighting confirmed it a moment later, for all the good it would do her. “Sophia Dragomira Vuletic, Senior Inspector of the Evidenzburo,” Starbuck's voice repeated in a litany. “I have to admit, I didn't learn that until just now, nor did I have the slightest idea that you were a spy. Congratulations, you little slut; you are going to make yourself into a real challenge for me, and so much the better.

“A long time ago, my creator told me of the glory days in which creatures like you existed,” Starbuck continued, keying open a door they hadn't been able to breach earlier, and stepping into what looked suspiciously like a lab. The door slammed shut after them, and that was scarcely a surprise as Starbuck threw Sophia up against the wall. She held her there, and wrapped a hand around her neck, starting to asphyxiate the smaller woman until she began to thrash in desperation at what was surely the end of her life.

No chance to even resist torture but this... HELP! DAMNIT, ERSIMIA! HELP ME! There was no point in hiding herself now, but the telepathic cry was blocked by the overwhelming force before her, or so it seemed.. And then Starbuck was moaning. In what Sophia could distinctly feel was pleasure, and with it, the overwhelming desire to aide in her pleasure. To die, if it gave it to her.

Only the discipline of 45 years of covert operations work and the training that had gone before it, and her own natural disposition, saved her from giving in to the impulse; instead, she used the last of her strength to shake free even as Starbuck fell to the floor herself, and they both looked at each other; Sophia with stunned confusion, Starbuck with incredible fascination. “So I was right. You are a feedback telepath.”

“Yes, I am, you fucking monster.”

“Don't talk to your master that way,” she—'she'?--answered, leaping up and kicking Sophia again and again, just to stop and lean against the wall as she shuddered and quivered in ecstasy while Sophia herself felt rather like she had broken a rib—and like she desperately wanted to break another one to please Starbuck, the desire filling through her, too.

“Creatures like you,” Starbuck finally continued, “were created, Kshatriya told me before he was killed by Nirrti, to provide pleasure for the High Caste. And here I have bred for myself a High Caste body; my own genes I left in the Colonial population, and in careful irony, from the heirs of the enemies of my people, from my repose here in the computers, uploaded to them to guard my plans for the millennia, I bred, and bred, and crossbred again, until I produced a High Caste body.”

“And now you see that I am complete, a better telepath than you, a better individual, who can live for thousands of years and command the loyalty of millions of lessers. I have used the bodies of the rulers of my enemies as my avatars in this world, and now I reap the finest and most delectable reward I could imagine....” She trailed, not really a She, an Entity in the body of the trapped Starbuck. “I shant go into details, but for the moment it's sufficient to say that I brought you to this room for one reason.”

She reached over to one of the drawers, which opened automatically as she waved her hand over it, selected a vial, and pressed it into a vibration-injector. “You're the only one of your kind I may have for my entire life, so, sadly, I can't torture you to death—just keep nearly torturing you to death for however many decades as I can make you last, Sophia. And it will be quite deliciously pleasurable for me, and perversely, for you as well. But we rather like it that way...

“So, what you think doesn't matter.” And with that, not-Starbuck plunged the injector into the side of the very still Sophia Vuletic's neck. Sophia sighed a bit as it went into her, nothing more.

“Pity they don't make these things painful,” the not-Starbuck smirked. “At any rate, you're now immunized against the plague. Rather important, as I'm about to unleash it into the facility.”

“It won't affect Talorans. They're too different.” Sophia pushed herself up, the movement ignored by not-Starbuck, who was turning around, and began to speak to the computer in her own langauge. Or its langauge. It wasn't Colonial, certainly, and Sophia couldn't help but feel that she was now hearing the untranslated language being used.

It's also your own last, best chance to stop her from unleashing that virus...

“Of course it won't. That's part of the plan.”

Oh god. For Sophia the possibilities flooded out at once—for one's enemies to not be infected... Are the Talorans her enemies? Doesn't matter... Then they had to be something else. A Trojan Horse.

The virus could be released this very moment, unsuspecting, into the air the party was breathing in the facility. She had to act immediately and her action became a movement of the mind, a command which overwhelmed not-Starbuck's mental controls over her, which directed her to an action perfect, without thinking, and yet sacrificial. She took a clear blade, some kind of plastic or even more exotic material being used as what seemed a surgical scalpel, and drove it through the webbing of the fingers on her left hand. And again.

The not-Starbuck was completely unprepared for the level of intensity, had not the experience to cut the link, to forcibly separate itself from the pleasure being experienced. And again, Sophia Vuletic slammed the scalpel into her own hand, sobbing from pain and whimpering, but focused, even so focused, as she reached out with her mind—while not-Starbuck was collapse on the floor, moaning and writhing in a sexual daze. In her own mind, she reached past the distracted creature and sought out Ersimia.

Do you hear me? Her mind-voice cut out as she rammed the blade into herself again.

I do—By the lord, woman, whomever you are, why the hell are you..

The creature has possessed Starbuck—it was with Starbuck all along—it's trying to release a virus into the area, contaminate you, use you to spread the virus that killed this Earth back to human habited space! It made me immune to make me a plaything... This time, she rammed the scalpel straight through her left forearm and then wrenched it out again, wriggling it as she did, slumped against the wall and slipping down in a trail of blood. It gains sexual pleasure from the pain of others through a telepath bond! That's how I've immobilized it. Quickly! I'm trying to open the door to the lab...

We attack! Ersimia answered simply, understanding at once.. And now, weakened and unprepared, not-Starbuck was assaulted by the combined energies and skills of ten telepaths at once, while Sophia staggered to the door, slicing the scalpel through into her side just above her hip and hoping she hurt nothing serious as she screamed out again with the blade deep in her flesh, falling against the controls for the door and, ironically, activating it with her nose.

Staggering to its feet, not-Starbuck seemed to realize that something was wrong, gravely wrong, and tried to fight the sensations of pain-pleasure from Sophia at the same time as resisting Ersimia and her less skilled acolytes in the Telepathic warfare. Sophia sensed it herself, and bracing her left forearm on the metal of the wall, slammed the scalpel through it again, rewarded with a fresh and rather serious spurt of blood that time. “Orgasm yourself to death, you fucking monster!” She screamed as a way of focus, savage in her pride that she had, as an apparent bred plaything for the likes of it, found a way to turn it to her own domination of the creature instead.

Ersimia led her acolytes into tearing through the memories and personality of the creature. And with what she saw there—it was terrifying beyond believe. She saw the twelve Cylons, the seven known, and the five unknown, and shuddered in shock at the identity of the last three, not unknown from the fleet. She tore deeper, and she saw hints of some great evil and great legacy laid out. But most of all, she reached her limits in violently ripping apart the personality of the creature in a search for information while it was still distracted by Sophia's unyielding and progressive self-mutilation, that were defined only by the need to keep the innocent—Starbuck's--body from being rended down to a lifeless husk and her own personality destroyed.

That was all she could do by that point, there was nothing else for it, no other information to be gotten. Except, she could clearly see the course of the Vimana, folding space to travel. It had raced from this second Earth not directly to Kobol, but first, to the Cylon homeworld. And the image swelled up, and showed as, at an appointed time, every Cylon bowed down in worship toward the sacred island of God upon the surface, and did not look up or monitor anything as they continued their silent reflection, willfully refusing to process data for the next thirty minutes.

Thirty minutes wherein an area suddenly appeared in the universal knowledge that had not been there before. Prescience again understood the area beyond it, in which no knowledge might otherwise be had. And the cleared area, twenty-one point seven by twenty-one point seven kilometers on a side square, was replaced by a huge golden four-sided Pyramid which also reached twenty-one point seven kilometers into the atmosphere, almost a quarter of the way into space. She saw the time of arrival relative to the location of the planet, and felt a copy of the intelligence she fought within it, receiving instructions, arguing with the first copy of the intelligence, but nonetheless...

...Directing to the hybrids to reorient the General Assembly Yard in orbit and begin the mass production of imitation Vimanas, which the great nanite assembly facilities had been designed to build in the first place, being a legacy of an older and darker race now long dead, and this facility, now in the hands of an enemy equally dead—though not quite. Here remained what was surely the last, and it hungered so intensely that it sent Ersimia back, shocked that the creature retained the werewithal to reestablish its mental defences....

Only for another horrible and twisting stab of the scalpel blade into her own flesh by Sophia to weaken it enough, distract it enough, as the High Caste body spasmed in pleasure, that Ersimia survived the killing command it had telepathically dispatched toward her—that seized and tore apart the brain of one of her poor acolytes in a heartbeat—and promptly launched a ferocious effort to overcome and outright destroy the brain of their attacker themselves. Starbuck's life, it seemed, could no longer be saved.

Yet the creature was willing to accept the loss of its plan to survive; it had survived for thousands of years and that instinct was strong even as the possibility of later vengeance was raised. It surged past the wounded Sophia, who could not do one thing to slow it down in Starbuck's body except yet again to ram the scalpel into her now thoroughly mangled arm, and fled straight out into the frozen Antarctic wastes, howling out a final command as it did.

With the remaining energy in the base, the batteries went hot. They could indeed not bear on Dhirisma as they tracked around toward her, but the threat was implicit and clear: If Dhirisma tried to pursue or engage any escape attempt, the batteries could take her down. The question was what escape was possible for a mortal body lightly clothed in the midst of the depths of the Antarctic. That soon proved superfluous; an ancillary to the base, unspotted and still frozen under snow, contained several antigrav vehicles, one of which proved to function with incredible celerity, dodging the fire of the two platoons emplaced on the heights above the ice chasm, covering the twenty klicks to the abandoned Cylon Heavy Raider in seconds, and coming down alongside it.

Another minute, the Raider lifted off and powered skyward. Dhirisma took the shot immediately; she fired only to see her forward batteries intercepted and their energy dispersed in a huge series of atmospheric fusion events by the counterfire of the guns, which proved able to disrupt the particle beams even though they couldn't bear on the Synthetic Control Cruiser herself, mercifully.

It granted exactly enough time for the not-Starbuck to plot out a course on the jump drive and engage directly in the atmosphere with that excellent Cylon jump precision, escaping in a heartbeat, and wisely, too, for now the facility's batteries were completely drained, and lifeless, even the atmospheric systems ceased to function. Any sensor probe would clearly show the dead state of the facility, and quickly did so. Ersimia arrived in the once-sealed room a moment later, and after a moment's respectful silence, staring at the mangled body in shock, knelt down beside the woman—so clearly not Doctor al-Nasr, but who, she did not know—who had stopped a Power rivaling a hypothetical P-13 or greater by cleverness and stoic willingness to inflict impossibly severe wounds on herself during the telepathic combat on the Antarctic ice of a dead world.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-09-20 03:48pm, edited 1 time in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-21 12:10am

Chapter Fourty-Five.

HSMS Dhirisma
At the Second Earth.
28 JANUARY 2170

"So who, praytell, are you?" Ersimia glared down at Vuletic as Doctor Ghimalia frowned silently in the background.

"A Ranger, Anla'shok, from EM-5. I was sent here because we recognized the writing is corresponding to the sites of some Old Ones that are related to interuniversal travel," she explained, feeling rather desperate. "My real name is Sophie Landrieu, and I'm a telepathic operative in their service. I was just here to help in the common cause of civilization--I couldn't reveal myself because we're not authorized to operate here. We're just very concerned about some possibilities from interuniversal travel."

The second cover in case the first had been blown was rather brilliant, and if it worked long enough for her to escape, Sophia was going to make sure the data-collating nerd back at central headquarters in Vienna who'd likely proposed it based on extra-universal research was given some sort of reward for it. Assuming it worked.

"I want to probe you to confirm that," Ersimia answered.

"I won't let you," Sophia, Sophie, replied. "More to the point, we're equal in power, so don't think of trying to force me, either."

"I wouldn't do that," Ersimia sighed. "It is against our religion. And I apologize for the presumption. But we cannot, of course, trust you, so you'll be..."

"Confined to sickbay?" Sophie laughed drily. "I have a broken rib, punctured lung, one stab wound in my left hip and fourteen in my left arm and hand that have, of course, been mangled beyond use. I just want to lay here and hope the ship doesn't get blown up. Though you can, of course, test the veracity of my knowledge another way. I believe I know where there is another base in system."


"Two, actually. One under Mars, 130 kilometers below Olympus Mons, one in the exact centre of Ceres."

Ersimia nodded. "Fair enough. How do you propose we find them?"

"Fire probes down to the surface with seismic recorders and then lob torpedoes at them. It will delay us only thirty minutes and you'll see that I wasn't here to plumb for information, I know what the hell I was looking for. The shocks will reveal the installations because they're seismically dampened and they won't move."

"Very well, I'll ask Dhirisma to check them out. That doesn't, however, answer the question of whether or not you are telling the truth."

"I have my fighting staff, of course. Bring the olive duffle in my room to me--Dhirisma, she has my permission to access my quarters," she addressed to the clear air.

"All right, and I'll make sure of it," Dhirisma interjected out of the intercom. "I'm sure you're right, Sophie, you're a very kind soul."

Sophia felt slightly embarrassed at that, and mused that she should probably thank the machinists who put together a believable copy--trivially easy--of a Ranger's staff. "Please don't open it yourself, of course. Handling it is somewhat sacred to us."

"Alright," Ersimia replied, turning and walking toward the exit for sickbay. "You'll hear back from me shortly, Sophie, once we've completed the investigation and I have the staff to bring back here for you to show. Get your rest--telling the truth or not, you have been heroic in your good today."

"Thank you, Adept. But I merely fought for life."

"And life is always good. I need to go."

Sophie settled back and smiled up at Ghimalia, beatifically relaxed under the influence of painkillers.

Ersimia had another stop to make, and it was ironically enough Ghimalia's quarters. The quarters she shared with Gina Inviere; it was the Cylon woman who opened the door, looking rather surprised. "Adept, what can I do for you?" She had come a very long way in the past year and a half of Ghimalia's constant efforts to preserve her sanity, after the endless months of rape and torture on the Pegasus. And Ersimia had remembered something in the details that Sophie had told her earlier, while they were in the Antarctic base.

"I need you for something... And I need to tell you some things that you won't want to hear.


Dhirisma reached up through the atmosphere over the silent installation, bearing its deadly biowarfare cargo. "Alright, we're at altitude to safely sanitize the facility."

"At your will," Ysalha answered for the benefit of Syraste and the Acolyte Lisandhra who was still mourning her lost comrade.

Now, there was a measure of vengeance. A single heavy assault torpedo was fired straight down through the atmosphere, and detonated in the facility. A ten gigatonne fireball appeared, vapourizing much of it, melting even the incredible materials it had been built out of, and shattering and melting the ice for dozens of kilometers in every direction, leaving a great cloud of radioactive steam to rise into the air of an already dead planet.

"Ersimia has some further instructions for us," Dhirisma continued as she monitored the aftereffects of the detonation and confirmed it would have wiped out any traces of the plague. "She wants us to drop by Mars and Ceres, firing ground probes and torpedoes to confirm the existence of facilities under Mons Olympus and at the heart of Ceres, respectively. So we're bringing up the FTL drives now."

Ysalha nodded, settling back in her acceleration couch as they cleared into gravito-magnetic FTL drives, submerging dimensionally though remaining in real space as they tore to Mars in short minutes and dropped out. Dhirisma was trying to beat the thirty minutes that it would take by Sophie's estimate, and save as much time as they possibly could, anyway. It would take another three days to get to the Cylon homeworld, and they were already several hours behind the not-Starbuck. The gravito-magnetic drives would be their only way to catch up. That, and overclocking the charge sequence in a way that no dumb computer could safely manage.

But the request had seemed sufficiently urgent that it was worth the time, and Dhirisma fired the probe off toward the base of Olympus Mons the moment that she arrived, charging up a flank torpedo launcher. As soon as the probe touched down and the telemetry confirmed it was operational, she fired a 10 gigatonne torpedo to impact on the opposite side of Olympus Mons. It only took a couple seconds to traverse the distance, and then the side of the mountain was scoured with a huge crater as the fireball rose up through the atmosphere, triggering tremendous landslides on the side of the mountain.

The hardened probe, shielded by the bulk of the enormous vulcano, not only survived but sent back the data immediately. "We've got the facility confirmed," Dhirisma seemed somewhat in awe. "The readings suggest the size is enormous--the size of twenty-five arcologies put together. This thing amazes me more than anything else I've seen. The engineering required to build it without disturbing the rock above..."

"On to Ceres," Ysalha whispered. The order was appreciated, immediately executed, as Dhirisma knew well the stakes of what was going on, the magnitude of what was being asked of them all. The experiment was repeated, and the results were the same. Terribly, perfectly true: Sophie was right, there were two other bases, abandoned under the rock and built to incredible standards.

There was no time to process it. They were in a race, and already three hours behind. Ersimia arrived on the bridge, a duffle slung over her shoulder. Gina was with her. "How did it go?"

"Positive for both facilities," Dhirisma answered.

"Greetings, Gina," Ysalha turned back. "Why are you here?"

"Ersimia asked me to come. She wants me to go with her when we arrive at the homeworld." She seemed grimly resolute as she stayed close to the Taloran Adept's side.

"You have a plan for how we are to defeat them?" Ysalha stretched and rose as they made the first jump and then began running at maximum power on their gravito-magnetic FTL.

"Yes. I had Major Syraste's troops rip this out of the wall in the facility," Ersimia replied, tossing a plain black box with a little needle injector in the middle. "A lock, to the people who built that place. It nips a bit of your DNA and scans it. We did scans on it and the DNA that Starbuck left on it is very similar to Cylon DNA. There are a few subtle differences, but that's good."

Her ears folded back, she took a breath and continued. "Based on what I saw in the mind of the creature that controlled Starbuck, the facility on the Cylon Homeworld isn't of his race. It's of another race, a related one, their enemies. And he boasted that he had used the bodies of his enemies as his avatars."

Dhirisma and Ysalha both regarded Gina almost immediately, and she flushed, and nodded. "Ersimia thinks that I can.. Enter this temple of the false God that deceived us," she said as though it took a thousand years of effort to say that. "And it will recognize me as a Lord of Kobol, more or less."

"Alright," Ysalha frowned for a moment. "Well, then, I shall go with you. I--it's apparent now that--I know that whatever still speaks through my head comes from this source. I may have an inside way to it, I may be able to act as a repeater from Dhirisma for cybernetic warfare."

"Don't," Ersimia snapped. "This is effectively a suicide mission, just without the religious opprobrium. Our job is to take down the defences so that you can fire the Tylium boosted Assault Missiles into the facility and then try to knock out the General Assembly Yard, assuming that the facility itself doesn't control it. Which we must all pray it does."

"It won't be for me," Ysalha answered quietly and bit her lip, ears bent forward, rather submissively. "Ever since Dhirisma has started helping me most of my higher functions have resided on the computers here instead of in my body. We've finished that transfer; my body is just an appendage of my personality and existence, which is contained on the ship's computers. I can be booted back up on them--ironically just like that creature probably was on the computers of the Antarctic base--to let me continue to function as an artificial intelligence like Dhirisma. Tisara will still have me, too, after a fashion. We'll use the prize money we're due to receive from the surrender of the Cylon Baseships to turn the entirety of Dhirisma into a foreign holodeck, come to that."

"The jury is still out on whether or not that would be you, or something else," Ersimia replied, in her religious role. "My child... You might very well die and leave behind only a memory of yourself in this shell. A living one, with her own life."

"Then I will die and go to face my judgement. Who would I be if I didn't? And, anyway, even if I die, that which remains will be identical to me and will therefore keep Dhirisma and Tisara happy and content and stable. What more could I ask for on death than to leave behind someone exactly like me to quiet the sobs of my family? I will go, and have my revenge as much as anything else. Let me do this Good."

Ersimia closed her eyes. She did not reply directly, but instead she began to sing the old formulation of absolution. They stood on the bridge, with tingling nerves, as she finished, addressed it to Ysalha and Gina both, and smiled. "Hopefully, I am wrong. If not. Well, the three of us shall join the ranks of the Army of God together."

"I'll go, too, with ten of my best men who may volunteer," Major Syraste finally interrupted from where she had been uncomfortably pacing as the conversation continued. "We have enough capacity in the infiltration pod aboard to be dropped from orbit to the homeworld, and you may need some help."

"Your sacrifice will never be forgotten in the eyes of the Lord," Ersimia answered, and then stepped over to Ysalha. "Let me show you a picture of the world when the great Pyramid appears, so that you can extrapolate the hour at which we should arrive to appear when the Cylons are quiescent. Will you let me..?"

"Of course," Ysalha whispered, thinking about how, in the final reflection, it had all come down to this.

Ersimia left quietly, off to go test Sophie.

Cylon Homeworld,
31 JANUARY 2170

The troops had power armour; the three principals had personal shields. That was about as good as they could get, crammed into the stealth drop pod as their way to the ground. They arrived behind the Heavy Raider carrying the not-Starbuck, unfortunately, and as Dhirisma jumped out--directly into the planet's atmosphere, with the accuracy of her Cylon jump-drive--there was a formation of almost three thousand Raiders waiting for her. She activated her strap-on anti-kamikaze missile boxes and fired at once with the RAMs opened up, and from a graceful altitude of 70,000 meters shot off the tiny stealthed pod toward the sacred island below.

It was empty, devoid of life, as Dhirisma climbed toward the sky only to find more Raiders coming for her, launched by the Cylon ships that were soon to be involved in the ritual and partially inactive. The Raiders however were not intelligent enough to be included in the orders, and so they simply faced the agglomeration of not simply tens or hundreds of thousands but millions, rather more than two million, both from facilities on the surface and from the arrayed ships which could collectively handle some 600,000 Raiders on their own.

Reluctantly, ever so reluctantly, they had let Sophie up onto the bridge under Doctor Ghimalia's observation; the only other person there on the high bridge was Commander Sivara, watching her. She was still rather seriously injured, her left arm blocked off in a heavy and thick healing unit strapped across her body to accelerate the recovery from the dozen microsurgeries the damage had required to be repaired. But she was unquestionably the strongest of the telepaths still on the ship now that Ersimia had embarked on her fateful mission, and she could coordinate the rest of the weaker Acolytes if necessary, which even Sivara couldn't accomplish.

That, and in that green duffle had been the promised fighting staff, which she'd crisply opened and elevated with one hand. It was enough in her weakened state that they largely had accepted her sincerity, though she would have been concerned if the dubiousness and suspicion wasn't omnipresent. No chance of taking over the ship when this is all done, more's the pity. Dhirisma could stop us in a heartbeat, only thirteen strong.. and most of the Company is still here, anyway. Ah well, we should at least get clear.

She sought out through the enemy fleet as the great hordes of Raiders rushed in, and found her target. "There, there it is. On the ship and..." The attack came at once, sudden, violent, overwhelming in telepathic energy. She thought back to fundamental sequences of irrationals, the calculations of imaginary numbers that would strength her mind even as the other telepaths on the ship added to her resistance and, with all of them working together, barely stalemated the creature. It was on one of the Baseships, even as the others powered down and they got themselves well clear of the atmosphere, clawing for a higher orbit... The shields began to cascade under the sheer scale of the nuclear missiles striking through the continuous operation of their defensive batteries and Dhirisma's hologram surely grew more tense. But this was part of the plan, too, the most that they could do for the Taloran fleet, now.

The appointed hour arrived. On the planetary surface below, out of the field of nothingness appeared instead a great pyramid, 21,700 meters high, 21,700 meters on each side, dominating the island on which it was built. It tracked the active craft in a heartbeart and computed their courses, and then lavender bolts shot up from the flanks of the pyramid and a beam from the tip swept through space with wild fury. Dhirisma went to full power on her gravito-magnetic drives, and just in time, too. The beam went through the battered shields like they didn't exist at all and nicked off a small part of the stern as they fled.

She felt what best might be described as pain, twitching and then letting her ears flop, seeming slightly embarrassed. "Why does getting 'singed the rear' seem so humiliating?" That said, it was better than the fate of a few hundred thousand Raiders caught in the fire that were instantaneously vapourised.

Sophie laughed like a drunk neurotic at the AI's complaint; the beam would have surely destroyed the ship if it had just been a microsecond faster, or they a microsecond slower in going to superlight. As it was, it had just torn through and detonated the aftermost ERA tank. They rushed into the system, and the sensors soon made the magnitude of the General Assembly Yard clear. It loomed inward of the Cylon Homeworld in the system.

It was tremendous, overwhelming. 81 Baseships of two types were under construction there, in the final process of fitting out. And then there was the spots of gleaming, ever so intense light. Each was like a miniature sun, each shone with all the intensity of the great orb in the centre of the system itself, a field of ten thousand ships of light. Except that they damn well weren't made out of light. Dhirisma refined, calculated, and displayed the composite sensor image as Sophie rested in the release of the faster than light travel where the powers of a telepath were disrupted by relativity from reaching into her, or her's out to their enemy.

"Oh hell," she whispered. "All Vimanas."

"Salvoing missiles enpassant," Dhirisma noted coolly as she began to fire, the missiles dropping down out of the ship's submergence fields and accelerating in toward the General Assembly Yard to do what damage they could, firing until they left range again and headed into the outer system to wait out the thirty minutes for what they needed, for what, without which, the mysterious creature in not-Starbuck might yet be triumphant.


"Got to give them one thing," not-Starbuck said, standing in the control room of one of the Baseships, "they are very stubborn." It was just itself, now, the Cylons on the ship lowering their heads in reverent praise, even as the creature once styled, in a distant Imperium of old, the Count of Iblis, watched with beauty the Golden Pyramid containing a second copy of himself, which he had warned, but could not help. This physical form could never enter the Golden Pyramid, just as the eleven undamaged Vimanas of the Lords of Kobol sat in its hangars untouched, their own security devices receiving only instructions from those with the genetic sequence of Sarasavsati Lords, not his own in this fine body of Kara Thrace's.

Someday, he reflected, you will be my equal and mate. But for the moment your loyalty to your old friends and cause is to great, and my need for your body to pressing, so I will keep you suppressed until then, he lectured the silence within the shared mind that he knew to be Starbuck.

Then, he looked at the General Assembly Yard for a moment, thought about something, and laughed darkly. "Ohh, so even if they win, a final poison pill might be possible after all.. No, likely." He gave a signal with his mind, and all at once both the Raiders and the Baseships began to pull back and away from the planet and the General Assembly Yard.

He could still throw the fleet at his enemies, and it had more than seven hundred Baseships of all types left, and more Raiders than they could carry. And if that failed, well, all he really needed was himself and the body he inhabited. But the copy of his personality that controlled the computers of the Golden Temple on the planet might yet win, and so he didn't make his move... just quite yet.


Gina had opened the outer door with a press of her palm, and then the Taloran troops took point, a short file, forging ahead until they came to the next access point, and again Gina opened it. The facility had a habitable area of tremendous potential size; so there was no coherent aim of where to go except that they needed to disable the base's weaponry.

Fortunately, it seemed to have been designed for permanent habitation by large numbers of people, and that was more disturbingly born out as they began to pass mummified bodies in the corridors in various rictus of agony; they were all in fully sealed combat suits, all of them except for Gina, who had to have her hand exposed, and with good reason. It was quite possible that only Gina was immune in their group; if not, well, they couldn't risk anyone else. And if she wasn't, she was prepared for that and the end of her life that it would bring.

After navigating through the endless piles of naturally mummified corpses, they arrived at what appeared to be a central computer terminal. Gina's palm again served to open the connections, though it was Ysalha who tried accessing it, with the linked firing of data-dumps from Dhirisma over translight coms whenever they could. "It's Old Kobolian, like the other script, and.. Ah yes, here's a map. Let's see where we can place those nuclear demolition charges.."

"Hmm." Finally, a finger tapped in an area leading to the southeast quadrant. "Restricted access area. Probably a power conduit, it's.. Maybe about the right size. And right below it is the 'chamber of the field of nonexistence.'"

Ersimia's ears flicked back up in her helmet. "The chamber of the field of nonexistence? The prescience-blocking effect of the disappearance of this facility--total nonexistence, not merely cloaking, even to telepaths? It would seem correct to me. We can plant one charge in each one, and Dhirisma can attack from the Southeast."

"Those are probably massive radars on the faces of some kind," Captain Syraste noted, and then trailed down. "Look, there's four huge hangar assemblies. Perhaps not so much of a suicide mission after all?"

"Perhaps not. I wonder what that other room is in the secured complex it seems like we're going to have to go..."

The screen blinked out and was replaced by a simple green text message:

"I know you're here."

"Well." Ysalha shook her head. "I think it meant roughly the 'Chamber of Creation'. Come on, let's go. He can't keep us out of the hardwired door controls, and even Gina has supplemental oxygen, even if not a fully sealed suit, if he, or it, tries to vent the atmosphere or use poison gas, and she can seal-lock glove in two or three seconds in that case."

"The faster, the better. I want a look at this Chamber of Creation, anyway," Ersimia started off in the lead until two of the soldiers ran ahead of her. "I doubt we're going to have enough time to take the facility out during the period it's visible, and we likely won't survive to wait for the next period. We set those charges, bring down the field and the southeast quadrant weapons, and that's that."

In no inconsiderable haste they pressed onwards, moving through the vastness of the facility via the automated lifts and through sealed doors. And around them were more and more of the corpses, many of them seeming to be half human and half animal, some simply human, and all of them were very much dead and long since mummified in the dry and recycled internal air.

"There's probably billions of people dead in here," Ersimia muttered at one point, her hand on Gina's shoulder to help along the fragile and increasingly pale Cylon as she took in the level of the ancient slaughter. "Most likely the same plague that claimed the Second Earth, don't you think?"

"That's about as parsimonious as we can guess, and the best we can hope for," Ysalha answered. "But come on, we're almost to this Chamber of Creation...."

"People! Ahead!" Ersimia snapped and dived. The Marines on point were not so lucky; violet beams swept through the air and sliced through their power armour like it didn't exist. Four of the Taloran troops ahead of them were chopped in half by the beams and killed outright; the fifth narrowly managed to get to cover, but the beams started to track through and tear apart the walls themselves with inexorable force.

"They're, they're us," Gina muttered from behind the cover, and then shot up. "STOP SHOOTING! LOOK AT ME!"

The beams abruptly converged on her.. And snapped off as they stared, started.

One of each of the Cylon models. The seven known, and grim Tigh like he was in the lead, and Tory Foster... And Galen Tyrol and Anders... So those are the other two Ersimia said she saw and... Oh. Oh. Oh you snide little bitch, what will you think when you find out?

The twelfth Cylon that Gina Inviere saw standing there was Kendra Shaw.

And the twelve stared back at the party with nervous, frightful expressions, confused and wondering what the hell was going on. "Central command," her counterpart Six finally began, "is screaming at us for us to kill you. But there's something frakked up about that."

"My name is Gina. Your's..?"


"Never heard of you before, I'm sorry to say."

"Central just decanted us and ordered us to respond. Said there was nobody left alive in the facility and that you'd killed them. We still don't know what the hell's going on, but..."

Ersimia pushed herself up, and regarded the dead soldiers, and Captain Syraste ever so furious. "You really thought yourselves fighting in defence of this place?"

"Yes," the Tigh-copy snarled. "They pulled a goddamned fast one on us, didn't they?"

"Yes. This facility's computer network has been taken over by an enemy AI," Ersimia explained without elaborating--it was clear that the clones in front of them had basic personalities without any forming, hastily brought out of cloning tanks and probably as confused as hell. But unlike the computer, they, too, could override the hardware with their genetic sequences, and apparently the central computer considered the threat from Gina doing that great enough that it had taken the risk of exactly this happening to form the twelve clones and arm with those incredible tracking-beam rifles and send them after all of them..

"So we're going to have to destroy the facility. All the inhabitants are dead, as you've doubtless seen. No loss to us to take it out now. We have a ship preparing to do it, but we need to disable the southeast quadrant power feeds, take out the Nonexistence Field Chamber, and then get ourselves to a hangar bay and get out." She paused, looking over those confused and uncertain faces--people brought into the world and ordered to kill without even the chance to truly become people. "We'll help you to adjust after that. I think you're clones of the dead, and as you can see, there are others like that here," she gestured to Gina. "Are you with us?"

"Since she is, frak yes," the Tigh analogue answered. "Come on. We've got maps of the interior at least. We can lead you."

Ysalha looked at Ersimia with the unspoken question of if they could be trusted, and the Adept smiled, and flicked her ears in the affirmative, visible from inside her helmet, brushing against with a slight twitch.

And so, having no choice but to leave the four bodies of the dead behind with a prayer for their souls, they forged on and upwards into the Chamber of Creation where the clones had just been decanted, who had murdered those four Marines; and were now trusted, for the moment, as allies against the computer they both fought. They arrived just in time, too, high enough that the now-inevitable venting of the atmosphere could actually kill, but isolation suits that were intact were found, and they moved on again, upwards toward their targets.

"You know, I have a pretty good idea what we're going to find up here," Ysalha whispered as they moved on. There was nothing more to be said for it, Syraste stilll tightly furious and Ersimia simply nodding in agreement. Gina understood what they meant, and looked all the more queasy for it. And in the next chamber, just as Ysalha had predicted, their newfound guides all stopped short and Gina stared in transfixed horror. The mummified and decayed corpses of all twelve of the Cylon models--of all twelve of the Lords of Kobol--were laid out in a robotic research lab above, the true beginning of the humanform Cylon race that some of their children were finally allowed to gaze upon, face to face. Gina retched at seeing the rotted corpse of her own line, their originator, partially torn apart by the sampling robots.

And then, separated from the hardwired command override panel by a space of twenty meters and the robots, the computer finally had a chance to get to them directly if they could just be kept from reaching that control, and turning off the facility's power. The calculation was obvious and instantaneous, and the measures meticulous despite their haste: The robotic dissection systems in the 'hot' lab were at once improvised into combat equipment and used to attack the party with all the vigour they could manage, from perfect deathly silence to an explosion of violence with no telepathic warning. It might be the computer-Iblis' last chance to defeat them, but it might also work.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-21 03:38am

Chapter Fourty-six.

Cylon Homeworld.
31 JANUARY 2170.

It was a choice of the twelve freshly decanted to either turn aside and let the party be annihilated, or stand their ground and fight and quite possibly die. But in reality they never had a choice; the moment that they saw Gina in the midst of their 'enemies' and realized they had been deceived in such a way, they were, at heart, decent people, and resolved to fight and keep fighting until the very end. And their guns were very well suited for completely dismembering the laboratory.

The Taloran troops in their power armour were better defended against improvised weapons, and the six, led by Captain Syraste as the seventh, forged forward and left the three principals of the party behind as they lobbed grenades and fired their REQ railgun assault rifles in rapid bursts. But they took casualties, oh yes, they took casualties and only the fact that the Twelve had chosen to stand and fight with them gave them a hope of success.

And they paid for it. Had they not chosen to stand and make the sacrifice, they could have all lived. Instead, they stood, and at the end, only the Six, Eight, and the analogues of Shaw and Anders remained alive. Captain Syraste was dead with them and so were four of the six remaining soldiers. There was nothing left to be done for them, that was clear, the weapons and the ferocity of the attack were far too intense. The combat, as ferocious as it was, had lasted less than two minutes had completely destroyed the laboratory, fires and energy weapons having mostly demolished the remnants of the corpses of the twelve Lords of Kobol.

Gina pushed herself up and forward toward the devastated other Six, Tylantia, and the two embraced as awkwardly as they could through their rebreathing equipment. "I'm sorry you had to come into the world like this--it seems that all we know is misery and shame. But you did good, you did good."

The Anders copy--he identified himself as Apalad--the Shaw copy, Artithia, and the Eight, Athlekta, stood silent at the devastation. Ersimia walked out among them, as she took the helmets off of the dead Taloran soldiers and closed their eyes after whispering over their bodies. "Forgive us, that we have led you into the death of the first people you knew in your lives, but the lives of trillions, human and my race, Talorans, alike, remain at the whim of those who have captured this facility. Our enemies are strong indeed, and remorseless. We must have faith and carry on."

Even then, though, it was the two Sixes, having cried together but also held each other, Gina holding onto, fiercely, Tylantia who represented her innocence, who turned back to the dazed and dull looking Ysalha.

"The shroud has been activated," she whispered, "and the voice of that computer in my head grows louder and more insistent by the moment, while Dhirisma is silent. We must act before I go insane."

The remaining soldiers took on the load of the demolition charges, and they pushed up and out of the bio-labs, Gina freezing her hand to the bone in the stratospheric cold as she removed her glove to activate each and every door, hardwiring the security protocols to off and thereby preventing them from being attacked.

They reached the Chamber of the Field without further incident. It was simply a nondescript piece of machinery about which they established the nuclear detonating charge. Ersimia herself climbed up to the next level and confirmed the power conduit was there in what was nearly the worst way imaginable--as she forced open the access hatch, a pulse of energy from the open conduit very nearly vapourized her, and only the security shield around the conduit prevented her from receiving a fatal dose of radiation regardless. "Priestesses shouldn't be messing around with techniks," she muttered softly, and then shouted to those below: "Alright, look, there's a shield here so to breach it we're going to need to wedge the second demolition charge right under the conduit.

"Don't move!" Ysalha's voice echoed below...

..But Ersimia really, really doubted such a peremptory command would have come from Ysalha. The woman wasn't known for her authoritative voice, and from her earlier remarks, she had the worst of her suspicions. Ersimia reached out, and a moment later found herself in telepathic combat with the computer core of the Golden Temple, warring for control of Ysalha's mind through the link that had been established to make her into a Hybrid and remained to the present day through the inability to recognize what it was.

Ersimia had the experience, at least, to fight it. And the knowledge to recognize immediately that it was another copy of the same creature she had fought in Antarctica on the Second Earth. The very same creature, but different: Literally another copy, sent here, perhaps by infiltration, and having diverged. They carried on the same scheme, but in different ways; sometimes at odds, and sometimes together. This she understood from her brief victories, as it pushed back, and a name brushed into her mind in defiance: Iblis!

But then it roared back even stronger, seemed to overwhelm her, left her hopeless and gasping for air. There was one chance--if she could not defeat the creature in direct telepathic combat alone, and that seemed very unlikely at the moment as she felt the pressure in her head nearing a stroke, she could break the link that allowed the AI to simulate telepathic powers through Ysalha. Gritting her teeth, Ersimia let herself drop the 20 feet down to the floor below from the access point. She landed hard enough to almost be knocked unconscious outright, and then she pulled up her pistol... And shot Ysalha Armenbhat. The bullet struck her in the stomach and she staggered back, but it also sent a wave of pleasure through the AI on the other end of the link.

It was just enough time for Ersimia to use every bit of her force and power that she could muster to find that part of Ysalha's brain that had been modified to handle the link and crush it out, eliminate that very component of her psyche. The lessening of the psychic pressure around them was immediate and noticeable, even to those without powers. Now the question was whether or not Ysalha would be left to die.

Ersimia looked at the two surviving soldiers. "Now that we've set the demolition charges, can you carry her out?"

"Absolutely," Sergeant Engarisia, the ranking of the two--the other a mere private of the first class--replied immediately. "We're not leaving anyone alive behind in this nightmare, Adept, Mother of us under God. I promise. How could we? Her weight can be handled by just me with the servos of the armour."

"Praise be to god," Ersimia whispered, and forced herself back to her feet. "Give us an hour to get clear on that charge, and then set the second one. I'll be tending to Ysalha's wound and getting her ready for transit. She is no longer a danger to us."

She turned her attention to stabilising Ysalha while the two remaining combat Marines hoisted the last charge up directly below the conduit on winches, activated it, and dropped back down. That was all that remained; they collected their little party, nine survivors out of twenty-six, and headed on their way as quickly as they could toward the hangar on the southeast quadrant.

Gina, now grimly resolute to see the survivors of the freshly decanted Cylons, with their new personalities distinct from the old matrices and so open and confused, to make it out, overrode her own fear and grief, and systematically cleared their way through the great Pyramid until they got to a lift which shot them out most of the distance from the centre to the hangar. By that time, though, her hand was in late stages of frostbite from the constant exposure to the extreme cold--Ersimia had at least made sure to refasten Ysalha's skinsuit and the self-sealing mechanisms had worked fine, and she was having difficulty opening the last of the doors through to the hangar bay while they steadily ran out of time.

Wordlessly, Artithia removed one of her own gloves and nervously pressed her palm to the control. It opened seamlessly, and they stepped into another long corridor. At the end, the Old Kobolian script informed them it was the hangar, and again she removed her glove and got the door open, and once they were through, cleared and closed it.

"What next?" she asked softly, having grown grimly resolute through the journey in her own way, the softness sloughed aside.

"Try the doors to those," Ersimia answered, gesturing to the line of eleven Vimanas sitting in the hangar. Iblis had never been able to download their schematics from the computers to begin replicating them; he had in the end had to wait until he could recover the damaged Vimana from the second Earth that he could successfully copy. The hardwired DNA sequencing controls prevented him from gaining access, and until this today he had not been desperate enough to try and use the twelve as his minions in the midst of a facility they could, by rebelling, take from him and use to completely destroy him.

Now, with luck,they would. Apalad and Athletka selected the doors of the last two Vimanas in the sequence, marked only by the sequencer locks, and they opened and unfolded out of the hulls seamlessly. An investigation of the interiors quickly brought up a serious, serious problem.

"Each one can only hold six people," Apalad noted as he looked inside. "And we don't know how to run them. I'm going to take a leap here and guess that the only person who can, and knows how to, is her," he pointed to Gina.

"Yeah, I'm rated up through a Heavy Raider and can probably handle one. Is there anyone else here rated as a pilot?"

"Ysalha, of course," Ersimia replied, and leaned down, removing from her medkit a needle that she used to inject another drug into the wounded woman by quickly removing one of her gloves, dangerously forcing her awake.

"Unnh mmn... Damn all, but that hurtsss..." She looked up bleary eyed and then smiled... "Cold as the darkest pits of Idenicamos' slave-mines, too."

Ersimia snapped the glove back on. "Fixed that, at least. We need you to pilot a Vimana."

"It probably won't recognize me," Ysalha answered.

"Well, we've only got three minutes until those bombs go off, and I don't know how much damage they're going to do, so let's at least get inside?"

"Of course..." They split up, then. Ersimia looked significantly to Gina. "They've never had a chance at lives. Now they do. Take all four of them with you, and if we can't get out, tell the world about what happened."

"Private," Sergeant Engarisia drolly ordered. "Get in that spaceship."

With a single smart but grim "Ma'am!" and more than a few dreadful looks, the five so ordered followed Gina into the Vimana and it was sealed up. Ersimia and Sergeant Engarisia, conversely, helped Ysalha into the other open Vimana, and then sealed it shut behind them, strapping her down in the pilot's seat.

Gina found herself easily able to insert into and interface with the neural controls which could read directly off her brain--and the whole craft lit up the moment it had scanned her DNA and sequenced it just like the other security locks. Then the blast waves hit.

The two devices were intended to be as compact as possible, and that meant simple fission devices. Of course, there was very little in the way of weight savings to be had from making them smaller than a certain yield. So both blew off with the force of 15kT nuclear detonations, the same as a hiroshima bomb, give or take, largely overlapping and quite sufficient in the unprotected innards of the Golden Temple to severe the power feed and destroy the mysterious field-generator which left the temple immune to all forms of outside interference including foresight and telepathy. They were 10km away from the initiations, and the massive structure of the Pyramid rocked and swayed heavily under the Vimanas, but proved quite able to withstand and resist the detonations; indeed, main power in the building didn't even fail.

Then Ysalha, more awake now and pumped full of combat drugs in the warmth of the Vimanas that let them remove their vacsuits, reached down and slipped her hand into the interface slot. The computer's words in Old Kobolian were mysterious and miraculous.

"DNA match only 58%. DNA match only 58%. Cross-checking with known authorized users, secondary list. DNA match 99.998% plus with high correlation likely; analyzing variation.... Variation shows that DNA of subject is ten million times more likely to be that of authorized user than any other known individual. Within sufficient security protocols. Powering up."

Ysalha laughed painfully. "Oh God be praised! I must have somehow been added into the computers while a hybrid."

"I suppose. I wonder why he couldn't add anyone else?"

"We do have minds of our own, Adept. Goals of our own. The hybrids aren't so reliable.. That's why I think he drove us mad. And there was some real prescience in what was said...."

"Or the other prophecies are right," Ersimia countered softly, "and there was once a Taloran here."

But outside, they could see blue sky again. The null-field around the Golden Temple was gone. Ysalha reached out where nothing else could and felt for Dhirisma. The link cheerfully shunted back to the translight receiver buried along her spinal cord that had been left in from her time as a hybrid, and Dhirisma understood exactly what she must do.

She instantaneously conducted a jump into low orbit around the Cylon homeworld, while the two Vimanas roared out of the hangar and accelerating clear of the atmosphere at hundreds of gravities reached the point where their engines, redlined to tens of thousands of gravities, carried them to Dhirisma with the speed of interceptor missiles and deaccelerated just as rapidly. Dhirisma was already charging her gravito-magnetic FTL drives even as she grasped the incredible Vimanas in her tractor beams and yanked them in toward her ventral hangar.

The moment the internal docking tractors took over and they were tugged inside, she raised shields, and just in time, too, as the countermissile batteries on her hull, the bolt-ons having been expended in the first engagement, were firing at a fresh wave of Cylon Raiders that had jumped in to attack her with incredible vigor.

"Assault Missile launchers to full power," Dhirisma sounded savage on the bridge, knowing how seriously Ysalha had again been wounded and defiled. "Countdown to drive initiation in ten seconds.. countdown to Assault Missile launch in six seconds... tubes one, three, five, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, fifteen open and armed....." The shields were hit with tens of thousands or even more light nukes and she shuddered, sheered to the side, their overcharge capacity--the same as a dreadnought!--exceeded and the generators themselves exploding in her hull, causing severe internal damage only contained by the longitudinal and transverse bulkheads and kept by them from destroying her completely; another salvo would completely destroy her. But her drives were still up, the generators were designed to be destroyed and still have the ship fight on, and the ERA had protected her hull from damage by the bleed-through missiles.

And the Cylons couldn't concentrate Raiders with missiles still loaded for another strike in time, or get these Raiders close enough to her for suicide runs before she could fire. It was to late; the Cylons had not run out of capability, but they had simply run out of time, and that was enough.

"Two.. One. Firing."

Eight assault missiles leapt out of their four box launchers slung along Dhirisma's superstructure like she were a Soviet cruiser, accelerating at 40,000g's and with their own defensive shields, straight into the blind spot the sabotage had left in the defences of the Golden Temple.

Another salvo of missiles was launched from the raiders, and Dhirisma confirmed the final telemetry and then brought her gravito-magnetic FTL drives to full power, leaping out of orbit and straight to the equivalent of Warp 3.5, 53.4c, leaving the salvo of missiles to head aimlessly down toward the planet below.

Not like that would cause any damage compared with what happened next. Each of the missiles had had its normal sixteen separable, manoeuvrable final attack busses removed,and a single 10 gigatonne anti-matter warhead placed within the empty space, surrounded by packed layers of carefully arranged Tylium. And then, just to squeeze even more power out of the detonation, when the predicted value of the amount of Tylium packed around the warhead was exceeded, they'd used the remaining weight to surround it in turn with a layer of tritrium to create a three-stage Anti-matter/Tylium/Fusion warhead.

The final yield of each warhead was about 181.5 gigatonnes. The eight bracketed the great Golden Pyramid at equidistant points after tearing through the atmosphere with red-hot plasma formed around their shields and scraping the ground for the last of their runs as they continued to avoid the active defense quadrants, and then they detonated. The final combined yield was 1.455 teratonnes.

Dhirisma escaped only because at superlight velocities she was faster than anything that could, at least, theoretically exist. The power of the detonations was sufficient to completely destroy the Pyramid, or so it seemed. In fact, as incredible as it might be, the reactor shielding briefly resisted the power of the bracketed multi-pulse blasts from the strange Tylium energetic effects. The liberated energy was incredible, almost impossible, and yet the more impossible thing was that the reactor core almost survived despite the vapourization of everything around it including a significant part of the planetary crust.

Then it detonated, charged with all the fundamental power of the universe.

The explosion instantly tore the crust off 30% of the planet, sending out shockwaves through the mantle which destroyed the rest of the crust within microseconds later. Some elements of the detonation--which destroyed all of the hundreds of thousands of Cylon Raiders in orbit within the same instant as well as all those undergoing servicing on the planet, and of course the entire Cylon planetary civilization--seemed to actually be traveling faster than the speed of light, tearing out from the planet like the detonation of the Klingon Moon Praxis had torn outwards in subspace toward the neutral zone.

Except that this explosion was four orders of magnitude greater than the explosion of Praxis. 40% of the mass of the Mantle was blown off the planet with 60% of the crustal mass in total flung into orbit, while the shockwaves shattered the Core into a million fragments and shot a molten piece of the just-liquified crust into orbit from the opposite side of the planet. The superheated matter from the mantle fell back against the core and into the cracks smashed into it and began to melt substantial portions of it, while slowly the planet's matter began to drift back toward the surface in part, with the rest having been comfortably flung into orbit, and 15% of the mass violently ejected into a solar orbit outright. It had been an order of magnitude more energetic than a Vorlon Planet Killer, for that matter.

"Gina, Ysalha...? Do you want to test the combat firepower of those Vimanas of your's? We got a fleet to cut down to size for Tisara," Dhirisma cut in to the Vimanas. "Considering we just blew up a planet, might as well do our bit to on the fleet, too."

Ysalha had already known. Gina's face, on the other hand, turned shock white. But there was no going back now. "I'm with you," she whispered tautly, and thought of Ghimalia, and the innocents with her. There had been very few humanoid Cylons on the homeworld, after all; mostly robotic labourers and cloning and manufacturing facilities. She realized that, as the opportunity had been offered to it, it was right; she had stopped being a Cylon, and become a Taloran. The bridges were burned, and so she thought about the weapons as Dhirisma expertly cut her FTL drive power right in front of the mustered Cylon fleet and flushed her even-numbered tubes, sending another eight of the Assault Missiles with their Tylium charged warheads straight into the middle of the Cylon fleet.

The Vimanas were incredibly intelligent, perhaps as smart as New Caledonian crows in their semi-AI computer cores. They picked up on the intent of their pilots as Dhirisma's tractor beams positioned them, like detachable weapons buses for the moment, on the outside of the hull pointing toward the Cylon fleet. Each one selected five of the most powerful ship concentrations in the Cylon fleet and fired, one of the massive underslung missiles at each and pumped out its full internal rotary magazines of anti-fighter missiles at the fifth.

The Assault Missiles with their AM/Tylium/Fusion warheads detonated, and each one managed to take out about ten to twelve Baseships. The Koman Shipkiller missiles from the Vimanas each selected three of the typical three-strong clusters of Cylon baseships and detonated in the midst of the staggered formation. These missiles, small enough be carried to the number of four on a mere 2,000-tonne combatant while Assault Missiles massed more than 4,000 tonnes each, nonetheless proved powerful enough to each, precisely, neatly, and with overwhelming firepower to the point of largely disintegrating them, kill nine Cylon baseships for each missile. The 'anti-fighter' missiles from the internal bays swarmed over their targets and succeeded in crippling another six Baseships--which the regular missiles on Dhirisma and the incredibly powerful guns of the Vimanas opened up upon and finished off in a heartbeat.

Of the Cylons, their fleet had been stunned by the complete engulfing of their homeworld even as they were overwhelmed by the sight of the Golden Temple, and Dhirisma's abrupt arrival and attack had wiped out 166 Baseships out of 713 remaining in a heartbeat while they watched, stunned and unresponsive in numb horror at the destruction of their homeworld.

Iblis knew it was time to leave, and crushing the life out of every Cylon who tried to oppose his escape, directed the possessed body of Starbuck into a Heavy Raider and then piloted it clear, jumping in a random direction immediately. As he had observed before, as long as he had life and Kara Thrace's body, there was plenty that he could accomplish. The game was over; it could begin again. Anyway, this galaxy might be consumed over the next few hundred thousand years anyway. Smirking, Iblis had observed what the combatants hadn't realized yet--the General Assembly Yard, bereft of its control from the Golden Temple by an AI capable of monitoring the internal processes of every single nanite simultaneously, had broken down and was starting to spread out, sections of it having been shoved by the shockwave from the planet, and start to consume the entire solar system short of the sun itself.

What happened next was unsurprising, but still stunning for Dhirisma as she received the message even as she'd been preparing to go superlight again to escape the Cylon retaliation. The historian of several Earths of the Alliance might have noted the similarities of the moment to the surrender of Iraqi infantry divisions in the Gulf War to UAVs from battleships. The surviving 547 Cylon Baseships were signaling their immediate and unconditional surrender to Dhirisma--Dhirisma who, with her shield generators overloaded and destroyed, her missiles and those of the two Vimanas completely expended, and heavy damage--had naturally expected to be needing to flee for her life and the lives of those aboard her immediately. Sophie certainly was expecting to finally die when Dhirisma repeated the message on the bridge, and her and everyone still aboard Dhirisma, as well as the Vimanas in turn, were left in stunned silence.

"Your surrender is accepted," Dhirisma finally sent back, in control of the situation for the moment, while her long range sensors were trilling something incomprehensibly angry. She focused in on it and quickly realized they were scanning the area of the General Assembly Yards. The Baseships and the beautiful fleet of Vimanas there... Were no more. Small components were rapidly being finished off as the ships were reduced more or less to a senseless slosh of random matter.

Uhm, Ysalha, love? I'm going to need your computing power in my mainframe for this.

What's happened? Ysalha was only awake because of the drugs, and due to the injuries her heartrate was ending up dangerously erratic.

That General Assembly Yard has melted down into a Gray Goo Event without the control of the computers in that... In the Golden Pyramid. I need you because they'll recognize you as a Sarasavsati, sort of, and we can maybe figure out their computer language in time to keep them from spreading.

Right. I'll transfer my higher functions to the ship fully for the moment and let Ghimalia drag my body off. Oh, ah, did we really just blow up a planet? She wasn't sure if that was making her queasy, or if it was the injuries and the drugs. But she nodded reassuringly to Ersimia. "Knock me out again," she forced out, and that was that.

For her physical body, for the moment. Still functioning in the computer core with Dhirisma, who, sounding rather surprised, answered back Well, yes, but we hadn't expected to. God, the power--how did they make it!? But we'll never know now, they got to work.

The system did prove able to respond to Ysalha, and with Dhirisma coaching her through the process, they turned the whole computational power available in the Synthetic Control Cruiser's hull to the task of ordering the nanites into shutdown and then double-checking that they'd reached every single nanite, a cooperative venture of incredible skill which only an AI, and perhaps only two AIs operating in concert like this, could have possibly hoped to accomplish.

In the meanwhile, Ersimia staggered her way up to the bridge, and for want of anything else to do, ordered the Cylons to jettison their missiles so a resumption of hostilities while the AIs were distracted would at least give them a small chance of escape. But really, on that front, there was nothing else to be done for the moment, save of course to finally fire off a report to Tisara and hope for quick relief.

Painfully, desperately, for the next ten standard Taloran hours, Dhirisma and Ysalha completed the shutdown of the nanites in the General Assembly Yard and double-checked that every single one had successfully been shut down. The problem was that by the time they had finished, Iblis was more than three thousand lightyears away. But one way or another, even with all the impossible mysteries left in its wake, the Cylon War was over.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-21 07:16am

Chapter Fourty-Seven.

HSMS Dhirisma,
Cylon Home System,
4 FEBRUARY 2170.

Tisara rushed into Dhirisma's sickbay and very nearly collided with Doctor Ghimalia. She spun past the woman with a litheness that was rarely used outside of her dueling, and came to a stop to stand over the bed of her koina. "God be praised, Ysalha, that I look into your face again...."

There was no more self-control for her, always more tenuous than in most other Taloran nobles. Her body was wracked with tearless sobs and she leaned to cup Ysalha's cheek in her hand. "My brave, brave girl. Patiently, so resolutely, you have taken all this mad cosmos has thrown at you, and there you lay, still mine, still alive. What did I ever do to deserve your devotion? If all my money and gold were to be taken from me right now, I would still be rich to hold you in my arms..."

And as gently as she could, sitting on the side of the bed, that is exactly what she did.

"Mistress,' Ysalha whispered softly, happily. "I think what you deserved me for was that time when you finally figured out why I was the university's champion in the dueling societies, and you broke into my apartment on campus, threw me against the wall, and strangled me until I admitted I was a masochist that revealed it through moans, better than my words." She laughed very softly. "At that point, I didn't believe I deserved you--particularly when the sex afterward proved so ravishingly good. You were my dreams, my mistress. You still are. Tisara of Urami, if I may be so utterly bold, my mistress, as to address you like a familiar, I love you."

Tisara kept sobbing, folded into the bed, in abject relief, in perfect happiness. "I'd trade all my riches.. All my riches, for my perfect, planet-killing slavegirl. All my riches! Hah! Do you know what, Ysalha?"

"We are rather impoverished, mistress, so I don't know what you're speaking of..." Babbling about, you mean, Dhirisma slyly broke back into the conversation.

Both of you, Tisara sharply reminded them of her cybernetic interface to their conversations, again restored, let me put it simply. The Admiralty Law Board has ruled that just because the Cylon Baseships have sapient computer cores doesn't mean that we're ineligible for their equivalent value in prize money. The government will have to release them or try to cure them, and get nothing but the technological knowledge from the ships. But they will also have to pay out the prize money on the third-rate tonnage lists. A bunch of scheming merchants, to give them a third-rate price with the new jumpdrives, but that can't be helped. And it doesn't matter.

You bet it doesn't matter, Dhirisma answered, infected with the mood. That means we have, what, between us? Ysalha secured the surrender of most of the ships, so she gets the captain's cut for those, the marines for the ones that surrendered near Oralnif, Ysalha again for the ship she was integrated with.... You get the Admiral's cut for all of them. And it's more than six hundred ships. I do believe that the final payout will be close to one hundred billion Rialas for the both of you!

Ghimalia stared in some consternation as her patient and her patient's lover started to laugh at each other. Thirty-five Taloran years of exile--more than a human century--had gotten substantially more optimistic.

"Only decent way to make money," Tisara laughed with a ruthless merriment. "No damn scheming usurers or merchant's work or gambling of 'investment' for a noblewoman. And they tossed me out here with nothing and tried to force me to humiliate myself like that to support me. But they were wrong, wrong, wrong. I still have the soul of a dynasty and Valera's blood runs in my veins. The court left me out here to rot, my family disowned me. And now I have finally achieved the victory which will give me a respectable life anyway, no matter how long they exile us for, my love. We'll buy an entire planet for our estate! The only decent way to make money..." She started laughing again. "Force the enemy to surrender, and take their ships! More than six hundred capital ships surrendered to fleets under my command!"

"It hasn't even been repeated since the age of galleys," Dhirisma's voice echoed from the intercoms. "Tisara, congratulations. You..."

"Oh, the first gift is for you, Dhirisma. We'll convert your whole insides into a giant holodeck. Manipulate whatever you wish, give some substance to your form. It will make me much more comfortable, anyway. Which I am sorry to admit, now, but..."

"It's truly alright."

"You are the finest officer I have ever found serving under me," Tisara finished simply. "Simply the finest. And I'm sure that someday you'll receive the accolades you are due for your feats. Thank you. It would not have been possible without you. You complete our family, Dhirisma. You may only be accepted by outcasts and exiles, but among us, we know precisely who you are and how highly you ought be rated."

"That is the most important thing I have ever heard in my life," Dhirisma answered, subdued by the compliment. "A... A family."

"Yes. I'm certainly never letting them separate us. Her Serene Majesty owes me, now. I'm the most victorious living Admiral in the Empire." Even at her gentlest and most happy, Tisara was not modest. "They sent me to the most barren backwater they could find--and look at what I've still given the Empire!"

Ysalha smiled up into Tisara's face, looming over her. "Then we are going to have very happy centuries together ahead of us, the three of us, my love. Oh, my mistress, the love of my life..." And abandoning the last shred of decorum, they kissed passionately until the extent of Ysalha's injuries on an already rather fragile body forced Tisara to gently settle her back onto the bed. They had done what was demanded of them, and some more besides.

HSMS Dhirisma,
Caprica Orbit,
14 FEBRUARY 2170.

"Miss Roslyn, I don't care who you think you are, or who you might have been," Tisara smirked from across her desk. Her ears referenced her prideful bearing. "You were certainly polite to me once, and for that, I am being polite here. But no, I am not going to let you see Kendra Shaw. She has recently been through a very severe traumatic experience and I am her legal protector, so, no, you are not seeing her."

"Oh, but she is."

Tisara looked up and then laughed, her ears showing a rather mocking disposition at the moment. She had certainly returned to being her old and rather intolerable self in public, even if Dhirisma and Ysalha would now defend her kindness to the death when asked.

"The Baroness Istarlan. I should have known you'd be here holding 'President' Roslyn's leash. No, neither of you will be seeing Kendra Shaw."

"She already has," said the third voice, and then it was Kendra herself. "Thanks a lot for treating me like a baby the past year and a half, Tizzy. No, I can take care of myself here." She was dressed in uniform for the first time since Cain's death, and came to attention and crisply saluted before Roslyn.

"Madame President, I cede all authority as Duchess of Kobol to you as the legitimate ruler of the Twelve Colonies, appointed under government procedural norms, and unlawfully usurped. And this I swear before all I hold holy, that to the territories of the so-called Duchy of Kobol I will never again tender claim."

Tisara rocked back, her ears flexed forward. "Do you realize what you just did, Kendra? I will have Ghimalia investigate your sanity."

"Have her do it. I'm a frakking Cylon, not a lunatic." She smiled bitterly to Roslyn. "The twelfth model, more or less. I've met my counterpart. Didn't like it, but it does give me some pride in doing the right thing for the Colonial government. I wish you luck with the Talorans, ma'am. Me... Well, maybe Gina and I will set each other right, eventually. We are all of Cain's legacy in the world, and even realizing what she did... I can't bring myself to hate her. Just like Gina couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger on the bridge of the Pegasus. That's the way it goes. I just tried to do my duty, because whatever I am, I am a Colonial officer first...

"And this is my first chance to do it without frakking up."

"Thank you, Colonel," Roslyn used her rank for the first time in many months, as well. "I won't forget your decision, Cylon or not. Thank you for giving me a chance to bring our people back together. If I have to use half the military to guard you, I'll make sure you're always welcome to return again in the future, and may safely do so. After all, if we're going to have to learn to work with the Talorans, we're going to have to get used to the idea of all of you Cylons in their midst, openly accepted. And I might as well lead the way there."

"Well," Tisara drummed her fingers on her desk for a moment, attracting everyone's attention again. "Forget the medical exam. I'll sign off on it, as a matter of honour, and because we need to get the bloody sector into some kind of order.

"Don't think for one minute, however, President Roslyn, that you are going to be able to avoid integration into the Empire for the Confederacy."

"I know," Roslyn answered rather sadly. "But only as a tributary state. We'll fight, otherwise. Not now, but eventually, and nothing good will come of it. We'll provide a token tribute of one Riala a year to Her Serene Majesty and subordinate our defence policy and foreign policy to the Court of Valera with limited latitude, in the traditional way. And our internal government will be untouched."

"I'll convey your proposal to Her Serene Majesty," Tisara slapped her hand down on her desk. "And until the final situation has been hammered out, I will assume your government to be in charge of the Colonies. So, President Roslyn, how shall we coordinate the continued provision of relief aid to the population on the surface of the Colonies? Do you want to evacuate them until the ecological contamination has been cleaned up from our liberation efforts, or shall we continue to provide them with shelters on the surface."

Roslyn grimaced. She had been out of the loop for well more than a year, and Tisara's ready acquiescence threw her for a different sort of loop, to put it mildly. "Your Serene Grace, as the supreme Taloran military commander in the region," she answered, "I give you full latitude until further notice to continue administrative actions and decisions and relief operations as you see fit."

Then she paused uncertainly before continuing. "So, how badly did you frak up the Colonies while retaking them, anyway?"

"Pretty badly," Tisara answered with a vague flick of her ears. "I see the Baroness Istarlan had not explained to you how our Army secures planets."

"They used over two hundred thousand fusion and fission devices to suppress Cylon resistance on Caprica alone," Fraslia admitted.

"Oh ye gods," Roslyn sighed in exasperation. "Trying to live with you people is like being run over by a freight train. Two hundred thousand?!"

"Well, that is why you are wise to let the experts remain in charge of the cleanup," Tisara finished, having again recovered some of her smugness. "Thank you, Madame President. Now, if you do not have anything else for me while you organize your provisional government...?"

"No, we don't. Thank you, Your Serene Grace, for making this much less painful than you could have." With that, Fraslia and Laura left the room, leaving Tisara and Kendra Shaw alone.

"That was very brave and honourable of you," Tisara finally spoke. "Others may not understand it, but...."

"I'm a Cylon, and Cylon things will never be welcome in the Colonies," Kendra answered simply. "And Cain would... Loathe me, now, anyway. No reason for me to be in charge. I wouldn't even be good at it, Your Serene Grace."

"I don't think she would, actually. She only wanted the best for Gina, in the end, when she saw her death before her. She was capable of recognizing that you are simply human, however it appears your genetic code was modified in your ancestors long ago from the human norm. Fear not for your future, at least. I will provide for you."

"Thank you, Admiral," she spoke a bit more informally. "Mostly right now, though, it's a lot of figuring out who the frak I am." And with that, Kendra left as well.

As they were reading back to the hangar bay having secured what they desired, Roslyn was already trying to get her grip on the situation. "First thing's first, we get in touch with Lee Adama. He is my shoe-in for Vice President, and we'll start reconstituting the original Quorum of Twelve from there. Everyone is still alive for except for Zarek...."

"There is one more serious problem, though, far more important than even the fate of the provisional government," Fraslia reminded her with unwelcome softness. "Baltar. He'll be here in six or seven days."

"Yeah, I know. And if someone gets angry at that traitorous bastard..."

"It could all yet end in blood."

Confederation of the Twelve Colonies,
Caprica, Taloran Empire.
20 FEBRUARY 2170.

For Baltar, there was only terror now. The voices in his head had been silent for the past three weeks. He had not seen his Six one single time in that whole period as he traveled out to Caprica from Talora Prime. He received not a single prophetic vision and no more aide. There had been a terrible pain in his head at the time the visions stopped, and now he was beginning to suspect, or fear the worst.

The problem was that if he gave up his prophetic mission now, the Talorans would kill him for being a false prophet who had actually tricked the Empress with, presumably, satanism. The huge religious pilgrimage still in progress suggested as much, and so he had felt he had little choice at this point... Except to continue ahead and indeed become a false prophet, long enough to escape, anyway.

Except that going on preaching to the freshly liberated Colonials about the benefits of Monotheism was not exactly safe, either. But at least he had a chance of surviving that for just long enough to escape, whereas there was no chance of surviving rescinding his status as a Prophet. He could only hope that it would all come together.

And yet, as he flew down through the atmosphere of Caprica on a Taloran shuttle to see the shattered surface of the world he had pretended was his homeworld, the magnitude of his lies and his sins began to bear down on him, and what he had wrought, the tens of billions who had died. How could he really be blameless?

This fatalism inspired him to preach even if it wasn't the only way to survive his life, in a strange and mystical sort of absolution.

The Springs of Aytarishah,
Brilar Province, Grenya Colenta,
Talora Prime.
28 FEBRUARY 2170.

Naked they walked together down to the water, eyes heavy with the strangeness of the gasses in the air, the caves lit only by the flourescent microbes which lived in the water, turning it into a liquid fire into which they plunged, rising up and around their legs and filling every nook in their bodies. It was unique, rich, laden in minerals, with the steam already around them that they breathed in, and let it fill them.

Saverana and Jhastimia. Valera and Taliyah. They had arrived, and the arcane ritual preparations--ritual baths before a dip in a ritual bath, prayers and the chanting of hymns in the pilgrims' temples around the area of the springs--had fortified them for the descent into the incredible heat of the water, so soothing and yet nearly to the point of burning, while the sulphuric atmosphere of the caves, which would tend to kill a human, merely made them a bit lethargic, as if the heat and steam had not already.

Saverana had of course already heard the reports from the Oralnif Spinward. It was incredible, impossible, and her mind was filled with that last bit of Ersimia's report: "It is clear that Talorans were integrated into the power structure of the Sarasavsati State." If one accepted that the whole thing existed in the first place, and that humans had been scattered through the galaxy by a powerful ancient force, and raised up by them into its power structures through genetic modification, it would have been insulting to one's ancestors to imagine Talorans somehow less fit for the same treatment.

But it was still mysterious. What ancient priestess found herself in the arms of an alien race, and still had the courage to preach the doctrine of her faith? And is this what Baltar now does? Or is he the servant of this Iblis? These were the answers that she sought as she slipped into the caves.

A Chamber of Nullifying Prescience. The exact translation of the target of Ersimia and Ysalha's raid had been provided to her as well, and it had certainly stirred a lively debate at the Imperial council, held by satellite video in the evenings as she made the pilgrimage.

A drop of water condensed from the roof of the cave and fell into the pool before her as she closed her eyes, and held onto Jhastimia's hands with her own. The sound echoed around them. All drops of water in an infinite sea. Prescience.


Another drop of water.

The inhalation of the mixture of gasses in the atmosphere, perhaps? Or the wishful thinking of what she desired to be true?

But in this cave, God revealed hints of what ought be to the line of the Sword of God.

Saverana, Second of that Name, saw a visage like Valera's, but hideously cut. Tisara....

And she saw her standing over Gaius Baltar, as he was covered in blood.

And then last, and fleeting, though it seemed to exist for all eternity, she saw the inside of the very cave in which the springs of Aytarishah existed, and she saw in them, the impossible. A human woman walked where humans could not breath the atmosphere, terribly short, and stepped down into the sacred waters.

A drop of water.

The vision faded into unconsciousness before she could see the face.

Jhastimia was at her side immediately, helping the Empress out of the pool, as the priestesses came, and aided them both out, and into the temple which abutted the entrance. It was not until very late that evening that Saverana had recovered enough to issue her Imperial Rescript based on the question of the validity of the Prophet Gaius Baltar, accepted as the absolute revealed Will of the Lord of Justice under the circumstances, just as the confirmation of Holy War without quarter had been so accepted when Mikela II last made a journey here in preparation for her traveling to the front to assume personal command of the Imperial armies against the communitarians.

Gaius Baltar, so-called prophet, is a Heresiarch in the direct service of Idenicamos the Deceiver, who used foul magics under the influence and direct power of Idenicamos or else his servants to briefly deceive the Imperial court and pass off a long-open secret as divine revelation. It would surely please Us that he ought be put to death by the customary punishment for a Heresiarch, and that his teachings should in all cases be suppressed and burned, that any followers he might have accrued should see the error of their ways; and those who were deceived by him into aiding him, shall be repaid from Our personal treasury and funds three times again what they gave to the Heresiarch, that they might prosper from righteousness rather than be destroyed in their worldly lives by the world of the Deceiver.

But the message didn't get to Caprica in time. Not nearly in time.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-09-21 04:11pm, edited 1 time in total.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-22 02:33am

Chapter Fourty-Eight

Keolin, Caprica,
Twelve Colonies
1 MARCH 2170.

Keolin was a small town of 45,000 people before the Cylon invasion with a few outlying suburbs; the whole urban area, noted primarily be being a place two railroads met with a river and possessing mostly light industry and a few quarries, was less than a hundred thousand souls before the invasion. It was in the mountains, however, and small enough the initial Cylon strikes had devoted a single neutron bomb to it. The enhanced radiation warhead had killed 70% of the population but only caused total structural loss to 50% of the buildings in the urban area. Poison gas and biological warfare had finished off most of the rest, though some of the population, considering geography, had been well-placed to escape into the higher mountains and rural areas, national parks and other areas of refuge.

Some of those had survived the two years of occupation before the Taloran Army had arrived, and they'd come back. The Talorans had turned Keolin, occupying its intact warehouses, into a distribution centre for aide to the surrounding populace, and as news of the Cylon surrender crept around, the people had begun to return from the forests in general, no matter where they had once lived, seeking shelter, food, water, medical aid. And often seeking to find out the fates of their loved ones, as well.

And so this great mass of humanity had descended on the place, until 200,000 people were there. It did simplify the provision of relief aid, but the combination of 50% less housing and twice as many people guaranteed that the inevitable expedient solution, infinite rows of tents and shacks and prefabricated housing, had been thoroughly indulged in, and the remaining buildings were also packed, not only with refugees but with Taloran soldiers posted there and the Starfleet personnel handling the relief, which of course pushed more of the locals into the refugee camps.

The meadows along the river provided a landing place for the endless lines of Taloran cargo shuttles and Assault Landers being used in the cargo shuttle role, and it had naturally been this place that they'd set Baltar down at the day before. There was another reason for that, though. It was now the home of Laura Roslyn's provisional government, set up in the local district's administrative offices--more or less the equivalent of a County Seat--for want of any more suitable structure left on the planet, and the local District Courthouse was serving as the temporary seat of government.

The people had spent two years surviving against the Cylons. Demographics demanded they were country people, especially by the standards of Caprica. Red meat and potatoes voters in old American parlance, the equivalent of the NRA. They'd had guns in their trucks the day the Cylons came from the sky, they knew how to go into the forest and live there and not be found. Oh, sure, there were others, the specialists, the cut off soldiers, the guides, and simply the lucky and the very capable, who'd made it those two years.

But most of them were people who'd survived because their lives were harder and more connected to the land and the forests in the first place. They were usually quite religious and fervent in their worship of the Twelve Lords of Kobol, again by the standards of Caprica, and they had just been put through Hell at the hands of the Cylons and their monotheistic religion.

And it was to them that Baltar started preaching. It started small, just another lunatic rambling. But then people began to hear what he spoke of, his message of love and tolerance and compassion, all under the arms of one God. He stood tall on a crate and continued to speak as loud as he could project his voice as the sun rose high in the sky, and more and more of a crowd gathered, and began to murmur as they listened.

Murmur, and grow angrier. Angrier still when someone finally recognized, beneath the long beard and straggly clothes, that it was Gaius Baltar. The news of his conviction had been spread through various sources in the fleet, and the idea of his supposed hand as a prophet of God in comparison had not been well-received by anyone around here, that was for sure, who were tense enough as it stood about the Farzianism of their erstwhile saviours.

Boiling over emotions in the hot sun, sick and tired of bland Taloran food and two years of miserable, stinking hell leading to nothing more than refugee camps, it all boiled over against the form of Gaius Baltar, and boiled over fast. First, someone threw some garbage, an empty plastic cup or two. Baltar nervously shrugged those off and began to hurriedly emphasize peace and tolerance and compassion again. Hurriedly.

Then, the first rock slammed him square on the chest, and he staggered back. Another struck him, and he fell off the back of the crate with the crowd screaming in rage and delight and rushing forward. Of course, this moment had been planned for; several Colonial military personnel had been sent there by Roslyn and dragged Baltar off with the aide of nightsticks and stunners, but that just enraged the crowd more. Even as they got in a truck that hauled Baltar to the local district prison, the current military headquarters associated with the provisional capitol, a huge mob rolled out of the refugee camp and into the intact portions of town.

Now they were prepared, and the Taloran disregard for security measures that would be normative to other people showed its negative side. While the right of people to bear arms was accepted as a matter of course in the Taloran Empire, there were surely times that it was less wise. This was one of them, especially since most of them were armed with weapons which had been dropped by the Talorans themselves only weeks prior in case the Cylons returned, and they were all heavy, military-grade combat weapons.

The mob stormed through town, firing shots at anyone who seemed associated with the government, and soon surrounded the prison and the nervous military personnel inside. The demand of the ringleaders was rather universal: "Give us Baltar! Give us Baltar! Give us Baltar so he can HANG!!"

A few shots fired in the standoff soon triggered a general exchange of bullets, and two Colonial Marines inside and eight members of the mob were killed. Frustrated in trying to storm the building by force, the furious mob started flinging improvised incendiaries on it until it dutifully began to smolder. The Colonials called for backup, of course, and a Taloran armoured personnel carrier arrived fifteen minutes later as the building began to actually burn.

It successfully extricated the personnel in the prison, and Baltar, but as it was beginning to leave someone used one of the anti-tank missiles the Talorans had dropped on the vehicle. It was, fortunately, a third-rate model not intended for use against shielded vehicles, and the shields on the APC, though they collapsed, protected the vehicle from damage or destruction and it was able to beat a hasty retreat before other missiles could be fired or else they would be forced to open up into the mob to defend themselves.

The mob followed it to the courthouse, screaming, over and over, "DEATH TO BALTAR! DEATH TO BALTAR! GIVE US THE TRAITOR!"

As Baltar was brought into the courthouse, the mob surrounded it as they had the now fully engulfed prison (the fire spreading to other buildings as the fire response personnel couldn't get to the building due to the mob, and Taloran starfighters couldn't carry water tanks, just foam suppressants that would suffocate the people in the streets nearby), and the incendiaries were quick to reappear, though the stone building proved rather more resistance, for the moment. But the railgun bullets clattering and screeching their way deep into the stone and shooting out every single one of the windows was scarcely reassuring.

Fraslia glumly returned to the room in the basement that Roslyn and most of her staff was sheltered in. Fortunately the Quorum hadn't moved yet, and Lee Adama was still on his Battlestar. "They all have military grade weaponry, Laura," she sighed. "I can have the local Colonel-in-charge come through and clear them out, but we both know that the Army's rules of engagement against mobs don't include warning shots since they just make the rioters think they're invincible. We could easily get thousands of them killed doing that, and that situation would just be disastrous for any efforts at a peaceful arrangement between our peoples."

"And if we let Baltar die?"

"Tisara, knowing the way she thinks, will probably interpret Her Serene Majesty's orders regarding Baltar in such a fashion that she kills every single human in the city of Keolin and a fifty kilometer radius from it over the age of about fourteen in retaliation for the murder of a Holy Man whose mission the All-Highest Empress had personally sanctioned. And those MANPADs are full military grade; we can't evacuate from the air without risking a shoot-down, almost certainly, and that would trigger a violent suppression as well."

Laura Roslyn sighed heavily, leaned her head forward and held it in her hands for a moment, and then straightened. "No more choice, then."

"Shall I call in the Colonel's troops?" Fraslia sounded quite grim.

"No. That isn't a choice. I mean, there's one option for me. I'm going out and there I'm going to try and talk them down."

"Oh merciful God, Roslyn! One hothead could kill you with a twitch of his finger!"

"We'll at least put out a flag of truce first. But I have to go. Every other choice leads to the deaths of thousands. What's the risk of my life in comparison to that?"

"Nothing," Fraslia confessed, and took a deep breath. "I dearly wanted to show you the highlands of Ghastan, Laura. You have been a fine friend. May my God protect you regardless of what you believe."

"Thank you, Fraslia. You taught me that we're all just people in the end, all sharing good and bad in the same flesh, and different flesh. And of the people I've met in my life, there were many who were evil and many who were very decent. And Adama was right; you were one of the decent ones. And so was Doctor Ghimalia. Please tell her I thought that, if you run into her again? I hear she's running with Tisara's crowd now, but.."

"They can't keep me off her ship, no. I will."

"Thank you." Roslyn paused for a moment, and made the other, necessary decision. "If they refuse to see reason and something happens to me, hold out long enough to get troops from the Battlestars down here to recover Baltar. Better a few thousand dead than hundreds of thousands, and better still for our shared futures that we do the killing than you."

"Of course. .. I, just to be on the safe side, I'll start making the arrangements now. ..Good luck." Fraslia sagged against the wall and watched the Woman King go.

The flag of truce was of course improvised. Talorans did not tend to carry them around--a black flag was a sign of surrender among their people, not white--and they disliked surrendering anyway. Someone ultimately used a tablecloth and managed to hang it out a window without getting killed. The problem came as some of the Taloran detachment that had sent out the vehicles tried to establish a barricade across one of the windows low to the ground. Their height guaranteed they were visible, and there were a couple snipers who'd positioned themselves seven hundred meters from the courthouse on the last remaining seven-story little high rise in the city, all its windows smashed out by the bomb going off and presently filled with little tent slums within the concrete core, sheets and scrap metal and wood making partitions. So several of the snipers on the top of the building that windy day saw the movement and fired, not realizing the shooting had otherwise generally stopped.

One of the Talorans dropped with one of their own bullets striking through her armour from a high-powered sniper rifle of their own make. It expended enough of its energy that she survived, but her colleagues didn't immediately realize that, and having been directly attacked, responded under the present rules of engagement without really thinking the situation through. They were conscripts, after all, and the highest ranking was a fresh junior Sergeant, no long-service NCOs to consider the implications of what had happened available, and certainly no officers.

The support squad opened up on the crowd in the general direction they had thought the bullet had come from with a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Dozens in the packed mob were dropped instantly, and the smoke and the chatter of the automatic from inside the building was clear to even the people on the opposite side, where Roslyn now stood on the steps and had just begun to speak.

The shout "TRAITOR!" filled the air dangerously, and it was no longer aimed at Baltar, but at her.

In a last desperate effort to stave off the violence, she shouted back: "Look, I'll surrender myself to you!" And started forward with her arms spread wide in a gesture of peace that should have been universal. But the movement, to the furious and hair-triggered, was not obviously forwards; it was just movement, and therefore an attempt to escape. It didn't really matter who fired first.

A half a dozen people did, with the typical REQ-49's six-round bursts of 4.9mm hypersonic penetrators, and ten of the tungsten slugs tore through Laura from different angles and directions. It was exceedingly merciful, as deaths from mobs go; she died before she hit the ground.

When Fraslia heard the news, the mob was already rushing the building, and she was called to its impromptu defence rather than having a chance to mourn for a friend. Crudely organizing the armed personnel into fire teams and ordering them to shoot to kill, she immediately got in a call to the Colonial fleet in orbit. Redoubtable Saul Tigh, who without his wife's baleful influence, and the memory of his friend William Adama to guide him, remained in command--in respect for him, Tisara intended to, and continued to, absolutely suppress the knowledge he was a Cylon--and reacted to the event furiously, but with the grim recognition that it was just the latest sad chapter in their long fall.

Colonial Marines were quickly shipped in to the landing fields in the meadows somewhat away from Keolin, and using Taloran armoured personnel carriers fought their way through the crowd, blasting them back until they fell apart in their resolution and courage and fled. Per Fraslia's instructions, though at risk--and the loss of seven killed--the Marines had made it obvious who they were to the rioters, and thereby avoided a general breach between the liberated citizenry and the Talorans, and succeeded in extricating Baltar and taking him up to the Taloran fleet. 1,046 people were killed that day.

The next morning, Baltar woke up to find himself under arrest by Tisara Urami in her role as the Sector Governor for the crimes of Heresy and Lese Majeste. The message had arrived. Too late.

HSMS Dhirisma,
Caprica Orbit.
3/4 MARCH 2170.

"I want to go to the planet to witness the execution," 'Sophie Landrieu' frowned toward the hologram of Dhirisma. "Surely Her Serene Grace will give me permission? She is presiding over it personally, and, well, I want to record a cultural custom like this. It is distinctly medieval, and is not the moral point of public execution supposed to be that it's just that, public?"

"We haven't cleared you through the Interstellar Alliance yet," Dhirisma answered, and flattened her ears. "And really, you don't seem like the sort of person who'd appreciate a public execution. But I'll ask for you. So that's what you were heading into the shuttlebay, to try and get EHRS-190 down to the surface?"

"Yes, a pity it left already."

"Well, the next shuttle will be around in another twenty minutes. I guess you can wait here while I ask Tisara--it wouldn't be right of me to make you go back up into the personnel areas of the ship when you might just come back down a second later." She smiled affably and concentrated on sending a message to the surface.

Sophia Vuletic had succeed in unobtrusively telepathically connecting with one of the crewers on the EHRS-190 flight a few minutes before, and viewing the bay through his eyes had identified the security stun field projectors and gas dispensers in the shuttle bay. The position she'd been standing around somewhat confused at was no accident, and so with her good hand--the left arm was still in a support cast, having been so badly damaged that it would take months longer to fully heal and months longer than that to regain full functionality--she produced the flechette pistol for the second time in Taloran space--this is getting to be a bad habit--her mind inanely told her, as she raised it in that incredibly fast, trained gesture pressed the trigger.

The explosive flechettes blew through the security projectors even as Dhirisma's hologram whirled about to face her with an utterly shocked expression. "SOPHIE!?"

"Sorry," Sophia looked a bit wry. "You're very sweet for a computer, Dhirisma, but also quite naive."

The bay doors slammed shut. "I don't know how you think that you're going to escape, Sophie. Or whomever you really are."

"By getting someone else in a substantial bit of trouble, the poor woman. Also, your security measures suck." Just as Sophia had predicted, when she walked over to the crisp, long-range scouting model of the J'u'crea-type gunboat, one of two in the bay (along with four shuttles and two light assault landers, the reduced full compliment of the Synthetic Control Cruiser), and entered Najhakia's command access codes, despite it being months prior, the gunboat still obediently opened its doors. They really have a lot of catching up to do. One of them is making people change their access passkeys on a regular basis. That one is very complex, but it's always the human factor which does them in, and in this case, it's really glaring. Oh well, they're just as smart as we are; I will be the first and last Habsburg agent to pull this off.

She jauntily waved to Dhirisma's hologram at the door and then sealed it shut, strapping herself in and using the Taloran-standard adapter for her neural interface the Evidenzburo's equipment office had provided her with to jack in while she inputted the access codes again and tossed her day bag--a pity everything else had to be left behind, though they'd let her carry the staff so they might still well convince themselves she'd been a Ranger, so much the better--into the equipment locker to the side while she called up full power.

The rest of her team had escaped a long time ago through normal channels, their mission done; it was time for her to join them, but first it meant a blind jump. Very little that she could do for that. Getting out of the bay...

"Dhirisma," she keyed the docking intercom even as she activated the dorsal bolter turret on automatic and aimed it at the docking bay's guidance tractor beam. "Let me out, or I'll blow my way out. You just got yourself repaired."

"Fine, crazy lady. But there will be interceptors waiting on the other side, and stealing an Imperial gunboat is a rather serious felony."

"It's just part of my job... Thank you, Dhirisma. And you know I'll drop a bomb down the main tractors if you try those, too."

"I know."

The main space doors opened and Sophia guided the gunboat out on manual thrusters and the moment she was clear brought the main engines to full power and began to accelerate clear of the fleet. As promised, a squadron of interceptors was angling in on her, so she powered up the Heim effect field drives and went supralight in the middle of the fleet; exceedingly dangerous, though mercifully nobody ended up dead because of it.

The moment the interceptors had followed her and were on a pursuit vector, tracking with missiles--after the details of her escape, they considered sufficient warning had been given and everything now was shoot-to-kill--she dialed in the coordinates to a random system seven-point-seven lightyears away, killed the variable geometry to the acceleration vanes, and then pulled up the nose, hard.

That brought the angled gravito-magnetic vanes or fins up into an unfavourable angle, when they were normally designed to configure. The fields were excellent at fore and aft speed and acceleration but poor at other forms of acceleration except rotational; in this case, pulling the nose up directly vertical made it like the fins were trying to accelerate her straight downwards even though she was still traveling in the same direction, which was substantially more inefficient and meant her velocity cut in half instantly to about 26.5c--without any corresponding drop in power.

The sixteen interceptors blew past her, and just for the hell of it, Sophia couldn't resist painting them with her missile targeting sensors. "Apparently they've never heard of Pugachev's Cobra," she muttered softly. "No surprise with those manned missiles the Talorans love to turn their fighters into." The trick had been picked up in CON-5, which also had gravitic drives--she still had no idea where the name originated--though she'd nervously seriously expected to do it short of stunt flying. And then she dropped out of Heim effect FTL entirely, and promptly activated the jump drive.

Another jump brought her to Picon, and there she abandoned the Gunboat in a remote field on the surface--doubtless it would be found in short order--made her way to the nearest refugee camp, and with another day's effort (and using more than a little telepathic manipulation to make the Captain of a Earth-originated freighter hauling relief supplies notice her instead of the dozens of other desperate women who'd descended on him from the refugee camp--especially with the lame and bandaged arm) slept her way into a Supercargo's spot on his freighter for the trip back, and probably a bit more. That was, however, trivially easy, and so Sophia Vuletic escaped back into another month and a half's travel to get back to Vienna and the completion of her two missions to the Taloran Empire. And really, there was a sinful part of her that was boastfully proud at how she was just as skilled a lover with only one hand as with two.

Keolin, Caprica,
Twelve Colonies
4 MARCH 2170.

The end of Baltar had been enacted by a sadist of the highest order. Tisara Urami was in a foul mood, to be sure, and hearing that the Empress had been duped by a charlatan and Heresiarch under the control, most likely, of her escaped enemy Iblis who had tried to savage the mind of her lover, and who had created the processes which had crippled her in the first place.. This made her all the way, in no uncertain terms, absolutely unwilling to consider mercy and on the contrary very interested in the most savage of punishments of imaginable.

The crimes of Heresy and Lese Majeste were at any rate the only crimes which had never really been reduced to lesser punishments. Lese Majeste typically demanded hanging from a high place until suffocated, and this, Tisara certainly planned to incorporate. But the crime of Heresy, properly that of issuing false prophecy and doctrine in the name of the One God, had not been updated since the reign of Mikela II, who had been the last person to oversee the execution of a nominal heretic for heresy instead of, for instance, rebellion or a lesser sort of crime which was generally preferred as a way to quickly dispense of enemies of the State.

That meant that Tisara had felt free to lay down the punishment which, standing over the condemned on a raised platform in the city--she had a personal shield on, of course, but the execution of Baltar was making the refugees enormously happy, if for all the wrong reasons--and thereby continued to please the denizens of Keolin and the Twelve Colonies generally by laying down the sentence for the crimes of Heresy and Lese Majeste on his head. "That, the condemned, Gaius Baltar, shall in the lands of my law, Governor of Oralnif Spinward, Archduchess of Urami, Princess of the Blood, Tisara Valeria," and she wrapped her crock sharply against the railing, "know the punishment for Heresy and Lese Majeste, gross deception using infernal magics against the All-Highest Empress and Heir of the Sword of God, be that he shall first be led to the pillory and scoured by whips until his flesh is rent from his body, and then unmanned by axe, and then, verily, led to the gallows hereby erected, of twenty-five meters in height, and elevated on them, hung by the neck, until suffocated to death, at which time his corpse will be crushed by vehicles of war," a quick substitution for Rostok, of which none were available, "and then displayed on the steps of the house of the provisional government as a warning to all of the wages of Heresy."

Baltar was sobbing as he screamed, one last time, "Oh my God, Your Serene Grace, can't... Can't you just shoot me? God, god, god no, someone help me...!" And most of the time in his life, someone had. But now Baltar had finally run out of time, and Tisara made sure he was going to know it.

"There will be no mercy," she answered. "It is neither appropriate.. Nor have I ever been renowned for giving it, regardless." She barely restrained an undignified and harsh barked laugh as she tossed her right hand imperiously. "Lead him away to commence the sentence." And then, of course, as she watched the sobbing, bound Baltar dragged off, she hastened to the spot she'd arranged for herself from which she could watch. Rarely, after all, did she have the opportunity to watch a person systematically dismembered, and there was none more deserving of her talent for sadism than Gaius Baltar.

First he was tied to the pillory, which bore over it a sign in both Taloran, English, and the main Caprican dialect proclaiming him a Heresiarch, the nearest word to what in Taloran more literally translated as "Propounder of false doctrine." There he was whipped with 64 lashes across the back and 64 lashes across the front with the five-tailed, five-knotted whips of the Taloran military, and after each sixteen they halted to rub salt into the wounds before continuing.

As he was taken down, shattered and half conscious, though sometimes moaning horribly in pain and covered in his blood, his skin flayed half off of him, Baltar was next positioned on the chopping block, and the ready axe of some furious volunteer from the fleet, incredulous that this pathetic creature had dared to humiliate the Empress, raised high a wickedly thick axe, more like a maul, and brought it down between his legs the moment his pants had been ripped from him, severing his genitalia with a single immense blow.

At this juncture the executioners, mostly hard-bitten boatswains from the ships who were quite used to dealing out corporal punishment, tightly wrapped white fabrics about his hips and thighs to staunch the blood, which were soon stained red, and then dragged him to the base of the twenty-five meter scaffold, also surmounted with signs declaring him to be a Heresiarch. Tisara watched it all, even as the rest of the crowd was now thoroughly subdued by the spectacle they had previously been begging for, with a fairly intense level of fascination and interest.

The end came at last, more than two hours into the process, as Baltar was hoisted up to the top of the scaffold by the neck and allowed to dangle there for twenty minutes. He had ceased twitching after the first fifteen, but another five were needed to make sure. On being lowered, his body was confirmed to be dead and his life trained out, and dutifully, a utility patrol car ran over him in the middle of the street closed off for the execution, and then stopped, and backed over him to be sure of the mangling of the corpse. Thus disfigured, the corpse was stuffed into a steel cage which was dragged onto the front portico of the courthouse and suspended from the roof there; and thus ended the life and times of one Gaius Baltar, sometimes scientist, sometimes false prophet, but always a traitor.

And that night, at least, Tisara was quite content to simply and gently make love to Ysalha without any of their usual kinks, fetishes, or sadistic pain. It wasn't all that enjoyable for Ysalha because of it, and she teasingly warned Tisara that a few more executions presided over seriously could damage their relationship; that, at least, got the desired results for her, and the night ended as delightfully for a battered Ysalha as she could want.

Most of the torturers thought little more of it than Tisara and Ysalha had, even as many of the mob who had killed their own President to go after Baltar were horrified. But that was, in the end, simply the difference between a modern mindset, however savage their lives had recently been, and the medieval mindset of the Talorans, for whom executions of evildoers remained a form of family entertainment.

When Lee Adama finally arrived four days later to assume his role as the interim president of the Twelve Colonies at Keolin, he had Gaius Baltar's body cut down and quietly buried into an unmarked grave, and with it, the violence of the war finally and truly ceased.

Keolin, Caprica,
Twelve Colonies
12 MAY 2170.

"I want to thank you for coming here today, all of you--Taloran and human, polytheistic and monotheistic--for it is a very brave thing to do," Lee Adama began slowly and built up, crisply dressed in a business suit as he stood in front of the prefabricated Starfighter Corps command facility that had been expropriated for use as a more permanent headquarters for the Colonial government as rebuilding continued. "I'd especially like to thank Miss Gina Inviere today for her presence and that of Doctor Ghimalia Arethusya."

"As President of the Twelve Colonies I've had the opportunity to review the classified histories of the final engagement over the Cylon Homeworld, and I assure you that, if anything, the version given to all of us here on the Colonies does not magnify Miss Inviere's role, but understates it. Without her the end of the Cylon threat might have never happened, and even the Taloran Empire could have come under threat.

"But that is the past, and for the moment her presence is a proud reminder of the present, in which we can judge her for her actions there in siding with us, and realizing that regardless of someone's background they have the same fundamental rights across all parts of the universe. These rights are, we shall say, a form of Natural Law, and a common bond between all people of all sapient species, regardless of their faith and ideology, that we may universally acknowledge that certain things are right, and certain things are wrong.

"It is with this spirit of understanding that I entered into the negotiations with Her Serene Majesty's Government for the purpose of securing various promises which my predecessor, the late and sadly deceased Laura Roslyn, had become the processing of extracting, and thereby end the sad legacy of Helena Cain's coup which thrust us into so much chaos and confusion and in the end led to the deaths of many good people, my own father included, and allowed the traitor Gaius Baltar to take over leadership of the government-in-exile and cause substantial further damage to our combined war effort.

"I am pleased to report that, today, we have finalized those negotiations. The basic independence of the Twelve Colonies and our shared homeworld of Kobol, as well as several other surrounding planets delineated in the agreement, has been secured." He smiled, and waited out patiently the thunderous applause from the assembled, a mixture of refugees and military personnel, and the polite clapping of the dignitaries and Talorans.

"Under this arrangement a series of permanent treaties will bind the Taloran Empire and the Colonial Confederacy together in a mutual defensive pact and a system for relying on Taloran diplomatic personnel to represent Colonial interests, but nonetheless the interests of a materially separate nation, in foreign nations, while free trade and cultural ties allow us to develop a relationship with the peoples of the thirteenth Colony, Earth, who have so recently suffered in the same war on their further daughter-colonies as we have.

"At a sign of respect for our unique position," Lee Adama continued, and now he was genuinely smiling, "and in exchange merely for our full recognition of the overall rights of Her Serene Majesty to guide our affairs in certain limited ways, it has been agreed that even a token tribute shall be avoided. With all of this considered, and the assent of the Quorum of Twelve, we are here today to sign the treaties which will finally regularize relations between the Colonial Confederacy and the Taloran Empire, and bring about what we all may hope, and pray, will be a new era of peace, recovery, and cooperation. Thank you all."

And then Lee Adama, thinking of the memories of his father and of the brave and wise Laura Roslyn, turned to the woman who had befriended them both, and whom the Empress had, in retrospect, seen fit to handle the last of the negotiations to end the festering sore in Oralnif. Fraslia the Baroness Istarlan forced a vaguely human smile to her lips, and in concert, they took their pens and began to sign.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-09-22 03:15am

Epilogue the First.

Battlestar Galactica,
Caprica Orbit.
20 MAY 2170 AST.

Cally looked down at the message, looked at it again, and then just to be sure, read it a third time. Then she screamed out loud in delight in her quarters. "YEEEESSS! I GOT IN!" And just in time, too. She was being mustered out at the end of her service term now that there was a fleet drawdown while the Colonies tried to use all that remained of their resources to recover on their own, with the Talorans protecting them.

And now she had something else to do with her life, and exactly what she'd intended to do in the first place when she'd joined the Colonial Military. Callandra Henderson had been accepted to the Baltimore College of Dentistry on Earth. Slowly, some lives were starting to fall back in place, and one girl, despite it all, had her dream, however quirky, to finally be achieved.

The Great Carina Nebula,
Special Exclusion Zone,
Taloran Star Empire.
11 JUNE 2172 AST.

"Ada'ren says she has full power to the Tannhauser Drive and we are tracking with the universal targeting mechanism. Predicted destination is slotted between EM-5 and FHI-8 and.. Coordinate lock, Tisara," Dhirisma bubbled with enthusiasm at the scientific marvel building before them.

"By all means, lock onto the universe and tell the Senior Engineering Executive that she is clear to engage the Tannhauser drive as the coordinate lock directs!" It was the only excitement so far in Tisara of Urami's new assignment as the commanding Admiral of the Special Projects Group, conducting secret, independent-of-the-IUCEC backup research to the IUCEC agreements and interuniversal gate manufacturing.

It was a posting on the extreme end of the Empire, the Great Carina nebula, which stood as a bulwark, an impassible wasted space of immense levels of radiation which required the shields to be continuously active, and provided a natural barrier in space between the Talorans and their coreward enemies. But it was also sufficiently impregnable as to be the perfect location for these secret and illegal tests which would give the Empire final and total security in the era of the Grand Cosmos.

The Tannhauser drive on the Zohan BattleCarrier flared into life in its interuniversal transfer mode for the second time in its history, and this time, it was aimed for a specific destination. A destination which, as the huge tunnel through space formed and was held open by the 1 gigatonne dry-weight tonnage mobile platform that was a BattleCarrier, now was clearly achieved:

"Senior Engineering Executive Ada'ren confirms that we've locked on the targeted universe!"

"Send through a probe," Tisara answered confidently, "and let's see if the Tannhauser effect remains stable, and the other side is clear for us to begin exploring."

Dhirisma, just for the hell of it, activated the controls manually. It was a bit, she supposed, like masturbation, but the novelty of the holodeck installation, as lavish as Tisara had promised, hadn't yet quite worn off.

From the back of the bridge, Ysalha laughed softly at her, relaxed and at peace again, and then all eyes followed the probe to a new universe....

And thus begins Standing with Montezuma, sequel to this story and to be co-authored by myself and Eris (my girlfriend Meredith).

Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations,
Universe Designate LRC-19.
14 JANUARY 2178 AST.

"Thank you for cooperating so thoroughly with us," the alliance officer on extended duty stretched out, and handed over a sheet of papers to the blonde across from him. "Welcome aboard, Captain Juergensen. Your service in the Lyran Alliance is spotless and all your security checks came back clear. You've been authorized to join the IUCEC combined special operations group."

"Thank you very much, Mister Richardson," the woman--Starbuck, once, presently Rachel Juergensen, but in the mind that currently ran the body, Iblis--answered with a fond smile. "I'm deeply appreciating this opportunity for exploration through the IUCEC. It'll also be nice to finally find out what I'm in for." Though I already know, you pathetic little beast..

"Ah, well, that will have to wait another two weeks until you ship out, but they'll make sure you understand fully what we're doing at that time. Thank you very much, again, and we'll make sure your signing bonus is wired immediately. Welcome aboard."

And thus begins The Last Woman Standing, sequel to both this story and One Small Step, and co-authored by myself and Steve.

Please keep an eye out for the Second Epilogue which will be a definitive end to this story, to be authored by Christopher Purnell (MarshalPurnell)
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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