The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

UF: Stories written by users, both fanfics and original.

Moderator: LadyTevar

Post Reply
User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9965
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-12-14 12:06pm

Hello everyone. For those who follow The Thirteenth Tribe you will note that I've hit a wall on the second book (damnit) but I've had this idea rolling around for a while so I'm writing it out to hopefully kickstart my brain for the main story. You can think of this as something akin to Rogue One, it's in the same universe but isn't part of the main story...and the end is pre-ordained. Anyway, enjoy:

The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

“The Fall of the Twelve Colonies was the single most devastating event in the history of humanity, no matter which branch of humanity you consider. Nothing else can compare to it and, Lords willing, nothing ever will. The First Cylon War, the Inter-Colonial Conflicts that preceded it, the exodus from Kobol, the various wars of Earth, the Goa’uld occupations and enslavements, the Wraith cullings, none of them were as singularly destructive as this. The only thing that comes close is the Alliance-Covenant War and that, while it approximately equals the Fall in terms of casualties, was drawn out over a twenty-seven year period.

In a single day the Cylon onslaught destroyed the Twelve Colonies utterly, snuffing out cities and culture in nuclear infernos with reckless abandon. We still do not know, and may never know, exactly how many perished in this holocaust, but the figure of thirty billion souls is the best estimate currently available. The Colonial Fleet found itself powerless against their old enemies, their ships disabled and destroyed with contemptuous ease with only a handful of survivors able to fight back or escape.

I am eternal thankful to the Lords that I was among those few that managed to resist the End of the Worlds, and it is only right that were learn about these events, that our children and their children know how they came to live on Terra. We know the legends of the
Galactica, the serendipitous survival of the Warspite and the dark, troubled tale of the Pegasus. But as important as it is to remember the stories and the actions of those that survived, we cannot forget those who perished. For all the darkness and horror that that day brought, it also contained some of the finest moments, from some of the finest men and women that our civilisation may ever know.

This is the story of one ship and one crew that gave their last full measure of devotion to their fellow human beings. It is easy to find works that tell the tale of Admiral Nagaala’s doomed counter-offensive over Virgon, or the tragic fate of the Eridanus, but this is the first work that tells an equally important story, about the Battlestar
Constellation and Vice-Admiral Magnus Corwin, that allowed some seven thousand people to, ultimately, find a new home on Terra.

It is a short tale, and it does not end happily for the ship or her crew. But had I been in Corwin’s place, I would have done the same thing.”

-Admiral Mikhail Kirov’s foreword to Doctor Eric Strickland’s new book, “The Burning of Picon.”

Gastineau Field, Adjacent to Picon Fleet Headquarters
Two Days before the Fall


Picon Fleet Headquarters was a sprawling facility. Dozens of buildings housed tens of thousands of men and women, officers and enlisted, who handled everything to do with the Colonial Fleet from the grand strategic deployments to the minutiae of distributing rations to Marines at the boneyard on Saggitaron. Next to it was Gastineau Field, the airbase that was larger than most interplanetary spaceports on other colonies and was named after one of the greatest heroes of the Cylon War. It served as a hub for virtually all official Fleet traffic, including personnel transfers from Fleet Headquarters to the vast structure of Picon Anchorage in orbit high above.

In one small corner of the field sat a standard shuttle with its engines at high idle, waiting for the last of its passengers to arrive. The cabin was a riot of noise as a bunch of new crewmen, fresh out of basic training, were heading up to their ships for the first time. Scattered here and there was a handful of more experienced spacers, chiefs and Captains mostly, returning from leave and cursing their misfortune to have their furloughs end before Armistice Day.

In the second row was Crewman Alec Martel and beside him was the only empty seat on the shuttle. Alec was staring out the window, still unable to comprehend the vastness of the spaceport. So many people and so much concrete, it was a far cry from the quiet, isolated farm where he had grown up on the far side of Picon. Basic training had opened his eyes to the wider Colonies – before he joined up he’d never even been to the big cities, never mind a different world – and convinced him this was the best thing he could have done. He was going to see the stars; all he had to do was get over the creeping anxiety of being so many strangers.

Alec was so focused on dreams of the stars that he failed to notice that an officer had stopped at the empty seat next to him and was slinging his carryall into the overhead rack. Alec only noticed what was happening when he heard a voice that was unambiguously directed at him:

“Crewman, do me a favour and move your arm, I’d like to sit down before this crate takes off.” The tone was gruff, deep and could probably be very intimidating, but at present it carried a tone of amusement rather than rebuke.

Alec’s head snapped around and he found himself staring at an older man, with a close-cropped head of steel-grey hair and a lined, beaten face. The eyes were likewise the colour of steel and looked like their stare could double as an armour-piercing weapon in a tight spot. The face was marred by a long scar running from just above the left jaw, up the cheek, past the left eye and along part of the forehead. This was an officer who had clearly seen action.

Alec then dimly realised that the ambient noise had fallen to zero, that everyone else was standing rigidly to attention, and that this steel-haired warrior was wearing senior pilot wings, gold trim on his duty uniform and Vice-Admiral insignia on his collar. The teenager’s brain finally caught up with the situation and he jumped to his feet and stood to attention – or tried to. He got most of the way upright before smacking his head on the overhead rack.

The resounding crack was heard throughout the silent shuttle and brought a wince to everyone’s face. Alec staggered sideways, only for the Admiral to grab his arm and hold him steady, the expression on his face morphing from wry amusement to concern in a fraction of a second.

“Easy there son, take a seat. That goes for the rest of you as well, sit your butts down.” The latter was directed at the other passengers, who promptly did so with the exception of a corpsman who hurried over to see if Alec was injured. A few moments examination resulted in the corpsman pronouncing Alec wasn’t badly hurt but he’d probably have a pretty fierce headache for a while.

With the initial excitement passed, the Admiral took his seat besides Alec and one again looked at the young man, the boy, sitting beside him.

“Breathe deeply son and don’t worry about this. I’m pretty sure everyone aboard has done that at some point or another, I sure as hell have. What ship are you heading for?”

Alec winced at the thought that this would be everyone’s first memory of his Fleet career but relaxed at the Admirals words, although the painkillers the corpsman had given him probably helped with that. He got his brain back into gear in time to answer his unexpected travelling companion.

“I’m…uh, I’m supposed to report to the Constellation once we reach the Anchorage.”

The Admiral smiled. “Well good news Crewman, I can help you with that. That’s where I’m headed too. Pilot!” This was said somewhat louder but directed elsewhere, so Alec’s head didn’t protest too much. “Get us in the air and headed for the Constellation, on my authority. Sorry everyone, but if you ain’t going there you’ll have a short delay before reaching the Anchorage.”

There were a few silent groans at that announcement, but no one was going to argue with a Vice-Admiral over a change to a shuttle flight plan, especially not this Vice-Admiral going to that ship. Alec had no idea of the significance but he did know enough to know this was a considerable detour. His parents had raised him with good manners so he stammered out his thanks.

“Th…that’s very kind of you Sir, but you really didn’t need to do that. I’m sure I could have gotten another shuttle to my ship…” The Admiral interrupted gently.

“Don’t sweat it son. Like I said, I was going their anyway, she’s my ship too.”

Alec finally put two and two together and realised just who this was and his brain came to a shuddering halt, even as the shuttle’s engines powered up and the craft almost leapt into the sky.

“You’re Admiral Magnus Corwin? The Picon Fleet Commander? This is not the first impression I hoped to make…” The newly-introduced Admiral just laughed gently.

“If it makes you feel better Crewman, forty-four years ago I made my first impression on my first ship’s CO by hurling my lunch all over him on a shuttle ride like this.” At Alec’s incredulous stare, Magnus continued with a wistful expression; “Of course, I had a good excuse that the shuttle got jumped by a pair of Raiders on a hit-and-run on the Anchorage…hopefully that won’t happen this time. I’m guessing this is your first deployment? Probably your first time away from home as well?”

“Yes Sir. I grew up on a farm on the far side of Picon, never even saw the big city before Basic. It’s all…pretty overwhelming. At least it gets me away from the family’s Armistice Day party.”

This piqued Magnus’ interest. “I would’ve thought you’d like a day off and a party. Usually it’s just us old timers that don’t like the celebrations.”

Alec smiled. “It’s not the day itself Sir. The whole family gathers at my Great-Uncle’s place and everyone insists on him telling his war stories. Everyone else loves them but..” He trailed off.

“But?” Magnus prompted him.

“But…every time his tells those stories, I see the look in his eyes. Like he’s remembering something horrible. Tears him up worse than his late wife’s birthday. I just think it’s wrong to keep asking Uncle Freddy to relive something like that.”

Magnus smiled. “You’re a very perceptive young man, Crewman…?”

“Oh, sorry sir, Crewman Alec Martel sir.”

Something clicked in Magnus’s memory. “Martel? Uncle Freddy? Did anyone else in your family serve in the war?”

Alec noticed the Admiral was suddenly looking at him very intently. “Only my grandfather sir, Ricardo Martel, he died at the end of the war on the Columbia, a few months before my father was born.”

Magnus leaned back in his seat as memories flashed through his mind. “Ricardo Martel’s grandson, assigned to my ship, what are the odds...” he muttered.

Alec was now curious. “Did you know him sir?”

The Admiral smiled softly, a strange expression on his scarred and beaten face. “Yeah. At the end of the war I was a newly-minted Viper pilot on the Columbia, Ricardo was the deck chief who kept my plane flying. I was looking right at her when the ship blew…and I remember him saying his brother was on the Galactica at the time. I know what your Uncle Freddy means, I don’t much like Armistice Day either.”

The young Martel was sorting through that and decided to change the subject as the Admiral was clearly not comfortable with it.

“Sir, if you met your first CO forty-four years ago but were a new pilot forty years ago…” he trailed off as the old man laughed.

“Yeah, if you’re wondering Crewman, I started out as enlisted just like you. Got myself an officer’s commission late in the war and just kept going.” Martel was surprised at that.

“I didn’t think that was possible Sir, going from enlisted to commissioned like that.” There was a hopeful look in the young man’s eyes.

“It’s possible all right son. Doesn’t happen much these days but there’s a few of us old hands still around. Work hard and in forty years you could be where I am.”

Alec couldn’t help but smile at the idea of that. Admiral Martel…that has a nice ring to it, he thought.

================

The rest of the trip passed in companionable silence. As the conversation had tailed off, Magnus had taken some reports from his carry-on and started reading while Alec had returned to staring out the window, there was a lot to see now that the shuttle was out of the atmosphere. Off to one side floated the mammoth structure of Picon Anchorage, kilometre after kilometre of docking bays, hanger decks, armour plates, fuelling depots and gun emplacements that collectively made up the most heavily-defended position in Colonial space. The Anchorage was busy at the moment, four Battlestar Groups were currently moored for refits and re-supply. Magnus knew this without looking, those four groups represented two-thirds of the Picon Fleet, his command.

With a hundred and twenty Battlestar Groups in service, the Admiralty had decided several years ago to change their deployments somewhat. Each Colony had a permanent garrison Fleet of six groups, the remaining forty-eight groups collectively formed the Rapid Reaction Fleet, the force that was, supposedly, the best ships available and able to swing into action to reinforce any Colony under assault or launch offensive strikes.

That was the theory and the public-relations angle, but Admiral Corwin knew it was much more complicated than that. Not all of the Colonies had the orbital infrastructure to support six Battlestars and their escorting Gunstars so groups had to be regularly shuffled around to allow for refits, refuelling and resupply. This mostly meant moving groups into and out of the Rapid Reaction Fleet to avoid visibly weakening any of the garrison Fleets, even temporarily.

Magnus heard a soft gasp from his new friend Martel and looked up from the reports. He quickly saw just what Martel had and smirked.

“There she is Alec, your new home. That’s my flagship, the brand-new Heavy Battlestar Constellation.”

She was truly a magnificent ship. Twenty-two hundred metres from bow to stern, longer and sleeker looking than the previous gold standard of the Fleet, the Mercury class, but visibly more heavily armed. KEW turrets, missile clusters and point-defence mounts lined the hull while the longer and wider flight pods were a hub of activity as Vipers and Raptors on patrol took off and landed. The massive Battlestar before them was the pinnacle of the Colonial shipbuilder’s art and was expected to be able to fight multiple Cylon Basestars at once and come out on top.

Alec could only say one thing to that: “She’s beautiful…”

Magnus smiled like a proud parent. “Yes, yes she is. I think the Lords were smiling on you when you drew her as your first assignment. Might want to head for the Chapel and say a few prayers when you get a chance.”

Martel nodded, not wanting to take his eyes off of his new home. “I’ll be sure to do that Admiral.”

The shuttle quickly lined up for approach to the port flight pod and came to rest on Pad C. An umbilical quickly extended to meet the shuttle’s hatch and Magnus stood to grab his carry-on, even as his aide was grabbing the Admiral’s other bag. Magnus nudged Martel, reminding him to grab his own kitbag.

“Anyone else for the Constellation? This is your stop.” There were a few chuckles at that and half a dozen others grabbed their own bags and headed for the hatch. Magnus was in front, followed by Martel and the Admiral’s aide.

The Admiral looked back at the young Crewman and decided to spare the young man the embarrassment of technically pushing ahead of the Lieutenant and Captain behind him, who had moderately annoyed looks on their faces.

“Crewman Martel, you stick with me. Can’t have my new crew getting lost on their first day.” Alec just nodded while his aide Lieutenant Carstairs smiled in amusement. Captain Roccoco still didn’t look happy, but the Admiral frankly didn’t care. Roccoco was a fine pilot and squadron leader, but he was a stuffy, by-the-book ass. Magnus smirked again before leading the group down the umbilical to the VIP receiving gallery and the waiting Marine honour guard, something that the Admiral accepted as a reality of his rank and position but he nonetheless detested the formality of it. The Marines snapped to attention as the hatch opened and a waiting Chief raised his whistle and piped him aboard, while the ship’s CO, Benjamin Raphaelson, spoke clearly.

“Attention on Deck! Picon Actual, arriving!” He and everyone else present saluted smartly, which the Admiral returned. “At ease!”

Magnus stepped forward and shook Raphaelson’s hand. “Good to be back Benny, how’s my baby?”

The Commander laughed, well acquainted with the Admiral’s antics over the last year.

“I’ll have you know Admiral that my Battlestar is 100% ready to kick ass and take names from here to Hades and back…though since you’re here early we haven’t had time to clean up the card game in the Wardroom yet.” The two officers shared a laugh before Benjamin noticed the fresh-faced kid standing behind the Admiral looking around in wonderment.

“And who is this Admiral? You pick up another stray on the shuttle?” Benjamin saw a twinkle in Magnus’ eye before he answered.

“Not so much Benny. Come on son, do your thing. Proud moment for you” he said to Alec with an encouraging smile.

Martel stepped forward nervously and saluted the Commander, which Raphaelson returned, before handing over his orders.

“Crewmen Alec Martel, reporting for duty Commander.”

Raphaelson looked over the orders, saw they were correct and reached to shake Martel’s hand. “Welcome aboard Crewman. Chief Johan? Please take the Crewman to his assigned berth and get him squared away. Admiral, I’ve got the full set of readiness reports and some eyes-only comms traffic waiting in your office. Oh, and a Doctor Wilker from Picon Aerospace is aboard and wants to speak to you at some point today, something about the new CNP. Or something. She started getting very technical and I kinda tuned out.”

Magnus laughed. “Ok Benny, let’s head up to Flag Country and see what the good Doctor wants. Oh, Crewman Martel?” he called out as Alec was about to follow Chief Johan out of the hatch. The young man turned back.

“Yes Admiral?”

“Welcome to the Constellation son. If you turn out to be half the man your grandfather was, we’ll be lucky to have you.” The Admiral said with genuine warmth in his voice and a smile on his face.

Alec Martel could only nod at that. “I’ll do my best Admiral, thank you.”

As the young man turned and followed the Chief and Magnus and Raphaelson turned and left in a different direction, the Admiral’s thoughts were once again on the past and just how good a friend Ricardo Martel had been to a twenty-two year old Viper jock.

“I know you will son, I know you will.”

========

Here we go. Don't get attached to these characters, they don't have long. I don't know how long this story is going to run in terms of word-count, but the in-universe timescale shouldn't be more than two or perhaps three days.

Admiral Magnus Corwin is entirely my own creation. Given that the only pre-Fall canon example of a Colonial Admiral we have is Helena Cain who jumped off the slippery slope pretty quick, I wanted to create a different character. Someone likeable, capable and nevertheless a born leader. He's seen the fires of war, and as he started out as a Crewman he takes a good deal of care over his enlisted crews.

Basically, I'm writing him as what I think Ben Sisko would have been like as a flag officer. THe Battlestar Constellation is also my own creation, but I'm basing the look/role of it on the Nike class ships from the "Lady Hecate" story by Kurt Feltenburger, with a visual appearance based on this design by Canis D. Credit for the design belongs to them.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

User avatar
LadyTevar
White Mage
White Mage
Posts: 20369
Joined: 2003-02-12 10:59pm

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-12-14 07:17pm

Nice start. I know it'll end in tragedy, but like with "Rogue One" I want to see how it unfolds.
Image
Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9965
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-12-14 08:59pm

Thanks. It's actually a lot more fun than I expected to write Colonial characters before everything went to shit. There's this whole setting of billions of people with events barely touched on in the main series, and pretty much all we know about it is "oh yeah, they all went boom, now we're running."

There's also something great about writing a conversation between the slightly lost young guy away from home for the first time with the grizzled veteran. That's another reason I'm starting this where I have, the first few chapters focus a lot on character interactions, dialogue and internal thoughts/debates rather than action scenes (though those are coming) - as these are things I've struggled with in the past, writing chapters focused almost entirely on these helps me polish those skills for the main story.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

User avatar
InsaneTD
Jedi Knight
Posts: 651
Joined: 2010-07-13 12:10am
Location: South Australia

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by InsaneTD » 2019-12-20 03:10am

Great chapter. I look forward to seeing these characters interact. I like the young crewman and is gonna be a shame to see him pass.

Only error I spotted was a missing word. "He was going to see the stars; all he had to do was get over the creeping anxiety of being around so many strangers."

fnord
Jedi Knight
Posts: 922
Joined: 2005-09-18 08:09am
Location: You're not cleared for that

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by fnord » 2019-12-20 06:17am

It only showed up on a re-read, and is a nit anyway:
Eternal_Freedom wrote: There were a few silent groans at that announcement, but no one was going to argue with a Vice-Admiral over a change to a shuttle flight plan, especially not this Vice-Admiral going to that ship.
There were a few silent groans at that announcement, but no one was going to argue with a Vice-Admiral over a change to a shuttle flight plan, especially not this Vice-Admiral going to that ship.
Italics added for emphasis.
A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on. - CaptainChewbacca

User avatar
Eternal_Freedom
Castellan
Posts: 9965
Joined: 2010-03-09 02:16pm
Location: Bound in a nutshell

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2019-12-20 01:08pm

Thanks for the catches. Not sure the italics thing is needed but it has been noted.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

User avatar
InsaneTD
Jedi Knight
Posts: 651
Joined: 2010-07-13 12:10am
Location: South Australia

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by InsaneTD » 2019-12-20 11:51pm

I think if you emphasised that it would seem more that the ship had a reputation, rather just being the newest in the fleet. How I'd read it anyway.

fnord
Jedi Knight
Posts: 922
Joined: 2005-09-18 08:09am
Location: You're not cleared for that

Re: The 13th Tribe: The Burning of Picon

Post by fnord » 2019-12-26 08:59pm

Fair enough - maybe dial it back to "this Vice-Admiral" ?
A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on. - CaptainChewbacca

Post Reply