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 Post subject: Re: Pilgrimage to Earth
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:27 am 
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 5:39 am
Posts: 389
Location: The Planet Terra
Pilgrimage to Earth Episode 12 – For those we left behind

May 21st 7027

Scene 1 – The ties that bind

Admirals personal log and interim status report.....

“It's been nine months since work began on our new Super Battlestar, a sister ship to the new Pegasus, I have asked Starbuck for a progress report on her and the newest recruits to bolster our air wing.

He reports she is now around sixty percent complete, a great achievement in just nine months, our construction crews have been working around the clock to get her structurally complete by late October in order for the fit out and space trials to be commence by December.

I have been busying myself overseeing the final stages of our new 'Ring Of Steel' defence systems down on the surface, these include rolling out the new electronic defence shields to cover an ever greater land mass in order for us to begin in earnest our colonisation of the planet Terra, together with the completion of the last of the nuclear silos.

We expect to have all these tasks complete by years end and therefore can look toward next year with renewed optimism.

I am also relieved to report, the entire 'Rag Tag Fleet' has has now been completely refitted with new armour plating, strengthened bulkheads and most importantly, new F.T.L drives, and to that end, should the worst case scenario ensue where we have to leave here in haste, we will not have to leave any slower vessels behind! We have also began construction on our new 'Ship of Learning' a de facto university campus in space, the final ship in the 'core four' and another promise kept to our civilians.

There is however some sobering news, we are rapidly depleting our stock of raw materials, we will have enough to complete the new ships, plus the two scheduled Battlecruisers but will then have to search for other sources of materials in earnest.

We have though, just received some positive news from Dr. Allam and Cassiopeia over on Genesis One, they have just completed our latest census and report our numbers have for the first time swelled to just over three hundred thousand due to their new batch of embryos having fully matured into infants inside their fluid filled cryo tanks.

I have also instructed Starbuck to gather some intelligence on this matter, and as I write, he is on board Genesis One speaking to them, it will give him a chance to see Cassiopeia in order to resolve the situation with Dhillon as I know it's been playing on his mind and I need him to focus on his duties.
In point of fact he has kept to his word and not approached Dhillon or spoke of the matter, however it has come to my attention that his son has been asking questions about his lineage to some of our elders over on the Ship of Worship and has even accompanied Starbuck on sermons. I have therefore decided to summon both him and Troy to my quarters to discuss military matters, and then have a private conversation with him, he has a right to know the truth about his parents.

I dare not mention a great deal of Starbucks anguish to Athena as I know she still finds his contacting Cassie uncomfortable, even though their relationship is now purely professional, but as Cassie is mother to his son I decided to afford him the opportunity to keep her up to speed on his career development, he has turned into a fine warrior and Viper pilot, I am thinking of promoting him to C.A.G for the new Battlestar, I have to say he is much more mature than his father ever was!”

I hope this will ease their worries somewhat whilst keeping him busy, in any case he has earned it, as has my own son Troy whom I've pencilled in for C.A.G on the Pegasus, although this may seem like favouritism I believe my son Boxey is by far the best man for the job, I am so proud of him.

Moving to other matters, our recruitment drive has seen a massive influx of cadets to help crew our new warships and our fledgling Terran defence force is beginning to take shape down on the surface.
The second squadron of our new atmospheric fighter/bombers has been delivered down on the surface and soon we will begin with full production on our advanced dropships, troop transport ships and super shuttles in readiness for the mapping out and colonisation of Terra more fully.
So in summery, notwithstanding the lack of raw materials, we are in a good position moving forward.

Finally, Cassie and Dr. Allam have prepared a full report on the infants, once Starbuck returns I will present it to the full council and parliament after presidents question time later this afternoon....”

Meanwhile on Genesis One,

Starbuck looked intensely at the thousands of cryo chambers containing the fully formed infants whilst recording a full update as provided by Dr. Allam.

Dr. Allam concludes....

“Finally and most pertinently I can report the full size cryo chambers have at last been fully repaired and tested, the new seals are of a much sturdier compound than used before. We are confident that, should the time and need arise, they will provide life support to eighty thousand human beings”.

Starbuck looked on somewhat bemused as to the perceived importance the professor was affording these chambers, surely they had done their job delivering the volunteers safely he pondered, so asked the question, to which the professor replied;

“My dear Starbuck” he mumbled sarcastically, “it must have occurred to you on many occasion that we may yet have to leave this place in haste if the Cylons find us again, although your Admiral has done a sterling job in bolstering the military, we still need a contingency plan should they return, and to that end we may yet be forced to pack thousands of civilians into those chambers and jump out of this quadrant and away to safety”.

“Add to that, the still as yet unfulfilled promise of approaching Earth”, he added wearily, “we may need them to transport volunteers from Earth to bolster our own numbers here on Terra, you see we have the technology, but we are still coming up woefully short on numbers, albeit Cassie and I have just released our census figures reporting three hundred thousand souls now with us here”..
He added proudly.

“I see you have acquired the acerbic whit of your predecessor”, Starbuck replied mockingly, “Be careful not to trip up on your own words, we all know you are far more intelligent than most of us mere mortals, but unlike my Admiral I don't suffer fools gladly.” snarled Starbuck to the amazement of Cassiopeia.

After a somewhat awkward silence the two men with huge ego's made their excuses, the professor returned to his lab and Starbuck headed for the shuttle bay accompanied by Cassie

“What the hell is wrong with you Starbuck”, retorted Cassiopeia, “Are you deliberately trying to bait him, after you leave I have to work with him and I would Appreciate it if you would lay of with the machismo shit OK!”

“I'm sorry Cassie it's just.... well I can't help but worry about you and Dhillon, now I know he's my, I mean our son, I keep wondering what might have been if things had turned out different and.....

His voice trailed off as Cassie snapped back at him.

“You have no right Starbuck, and no right to take it out on others, you made your choice and so did I, you to continue being a hotshot pilot, and I to pursue my dream of being a leading medical scientist here in the fleet”

We both gave up our rights to a say in the parenting of Dhillon, you when you walked away from me, and I, when I put him up for the academy, they have been his parents since he was a baby, he is our son in name only Starbuck, now let it go, if only for the sake of Athena who doesn't deserve the mental torture of knowing you are still holding a candle for me!”

“Do you think she's stupid, she will know full well you could have delegated anyone to come over here to get this report, oh and before you go I think you should apologise to Dr. Allam, he is nothing like Dr. Coulson by the way, you accused him of sarcasm, well it's you that has the attitude Starbuck, and if what we had together means anything to you, if I mean anything to you now please, let me do my job and forget about me, and as for Dhillon, he's doing fine without us, and if he asks, one day perhaps we can tell him the truth if Adama permits it.”

“But Cassie I had no idea you were pregnant back then, if I had I would....”

Again Cassie stopped him in his tracks, “Yea and if I had told you what then? You would have felt duty bound to stay with me and do the so called honourable thing, well forget it Starbuck, I don't need you or your pity, I didn't then and I certainly don't now OK!”

“Now please go and deliver your report to our Admiral, he's waiting” added Cassiopeia.

“I'm sorry Cassie your right as usual, I hate it when your always gods damn right” sighed Starbuck.

Cassie's mood softened and she held his face in the palms of her hands and planted a tender kiss on his lips, “I am fine Starbuck don't worry about me, and if it makes you feel any better I'm not or ever will be seeing anyone again, I'm happy and content with the life choices I've made, I had enough men back then in the colonies to last a lifetime! I have dedicated my remaining years to the health and well being of our people, so go with my blessing and be happy with Athena, get those new pilots up to speed for the new Battlestar and make us all proud.”

For once Starbuck didn't get the last word, and as he turned to say a final farewell, Cassie was already several yards away and disappearing down a long corridor, he had his answer and his closure.

Report safely filed away he was about to enter his shuttle when Dr. Allam approached him once more.....

“Look Starbuck, I didn't mean to embarrass you in front of Cassie, I know she once meant a great deal to you.....” “Still does!” replied Starbuck.

“Well it's just that we are all very proud of the work we have done here in the science vessels and just feel sometimes that you warriors get all the plaudits whilst we are doing just as important a job for the colonies over here unnoticed”.

“Well I promise you one thing professor”, replied Starbuck, “your efforts will not go unnoticed this time, I am about to head over to the ship of Governance to file my report to the council, I will tell them of the wonderful work you are doing for us all, and I too am sorry for my outburst, I came for my answers and I got them, both from you and Cassie, thank you Professor”.

Starbuck quickly entered his shuttle and was on his way.

Scene 2 - The Briefing of the Council

Meanwhile on the Ship of Governance;

The patience of the council and politicians was wearing thin waiting for Starbuck to arrive with his report. Dr. Markham was as usual providing opposition to every motion put forward by Sire Dmitri and his council as Admiral Adama looked on pensively.

Finally Starbuck arrived and not a moment too soon, Adama was hoping for some positive news from his report, before entering his own on all things military.....

Starbuck made his apologies for his late arrival and Apollo began to address the full parliament.

“My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to offer my full report henceforth...

Concerning the new Battlestar, my Air Chief Marshall now present, has been extremely busy checking her over and has reported she is approximately sixty percent complete, our construction crews should be able to commence fit out by late December, we are simultaneously recruiting and training more warriors to crew her.
Furthermore, we have all but completed our new ring of silo's posted at the outer rim of our new city, to which I understand you have given a new name?”

“Indeed we have” replied Sire Dmitri, the newly discovered land is to be known as Zelandia, and the capital city is henceforth to be known as Zelan City after Dr. Zelan who discovered her.”

“Yes, yes I like them both, a fitting tribute, young Dr. Zee would have been proud.” replied Adama.

After presentations by Adama and Starbuck, followed by more questions from parliament and the council, the two warriors received a message on their headsets from the Galactica.....

“Admiral, Starbuck, It's Boomer, you'd better get over here right away, we have received a message from the garrison on Gamoray!”

The stunned Admiral and his Air Chief Marshall made their excuses and hurried back to the Galactica.

Scene 3 – A Cry For Help?

The two men arrived in the C.I.C of the Galactica to a flurry of activity, they weren't expecting a message from Gamoray from the garrison of some five hundred marines, and this was no routine message, something was wrong!

“Admiral, the message has now been decoded and is available to view”. Said the communications officer.

“Beam it up to the bridge, I will view it from there.” “Aye sir” came the reply.

The typed garbled message spewed out of a printer and read as follows....

“Garrison to Galactica, General Dean reporting, we have finally after several months completed a recon of the entire surface of Gamoray - no signs of Cylon activity in the Kryllian System - they have fully vacated the planet and quadrant – Delphians extinction confirmed – we have uncovered vast amounts of steel, copper, manganese, iron ore, cement, wood, plastics, and huge amounts of tylium reserves.
To our complete surprise the Delphian moon Amilon has hidden under her gas cloud around twenty four massive container ships of some description – we surmise the Delphians were planning to vacate this planet and start afresh but were ambushed by the Cylons before they had chance to escape – we have no way of knowing your status as we write – a treasure trove of equipment and materials are here if needed - however we have no way of leaving Gamoray - stocks of food running out rapidly - no sources of new food found – we anticipate our life expectancy to be around six months before we deplete our reserves – we are all in agreement - we will not - repeat not expect a rescue mission – we all expected to perish here – it was our decision to remain.

The materials are here if you need them - you should have a clear path – no - repeat no Cylon activity in this Quadrant – we have no means of refining the raw tylium into fuel and are unable to continue our patrols – this will be our only transmission – we expect our lives to be extinct before you arrive – long live the fleet and the colonies – General Dean out”.

“Can you believe this Boomer?”enquired Adama, to which Boomer shook his head.

“What do you make of it?

“Well on the one hand they say they don't expect a rescue mission, but then say “we will be dead by the time you arrive” it's almost as if they are pleading for help without actually saying it Apollo”.

“Yes that's the way I'm reading it as well, and if we could mount a mission we could in theory get to them in time, we could certainly use all that equipment and those raw materials if they are really there, we are fast running out here, I estimate from what the construction teams have said by the time all the new warships are complete we will have used around eighty percent of our raw materials, it's getting critical!” replied an anguished Adama.

Boomer added, “But did you notice, he said twice “The materials are here if you need them” and twice “No Cylon activity” well if that's not a come and get us I don't know what is?”

“This all seems like a set up to me” countered Starbuck, “Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, we have been conned too many times by the Cylons before.”

“Indeed” replied Adama, my father would have called this a trap, it smells and feels like one, but what if it's genuine and we pass up an opportunity to not only re-stock on vital raw materials, do a recon of Gamoray and check our back door, and at the same time rescue our marines from a would be famine and certain death!”

“One other thing though, I don't remember a General Dean, do either of you?”

The two men shook their heads in unison.

“Gentlemen, we need to consult with the council, comms get me the Ship of Governance right away, with a bit of luck they are all still in session and we can talk to them all together.” he added.

Fortunately parliament was still in session and Adama broke in to send a message;

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the senate, if you would please all indulge me, I have received a message from Gamoray and request an emergency session immediately, something's wrong, I will explain when I arrive if you would all be kind enough to remain in session, Adama out.”

Scene 4 – Trick or Treat

Upon returning to the council chambers Adama immediately read out the printed message to the astonished parliament members.

A tangible sense of unease engulfed the chambers as a loud hum of voices blended into an indecipherable din, the Speaker of the house slammed his gavel onto it's sound block to bring the meeting once more to order.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the house, you have all heard the message, now we must decide what to do about it, my first thoughts are to proceed with extreme caution, I will hand the floor to our president to add his observations, Mr. president?”

“Well I think I can already guess what the military are thinking....” looking over to Adama, who was already nodding.

“They would see this as nothing more than an elaborate trap set by the Cylons to lure us into approaching Gamoray, to flush us out and give away our position. At best it would be extremely risky to go back there and at worst suicidal!” exclaimed Sire Dmitri.

“I would advise extreme caution in approaching that planet, I fear the Cylons will be lying in wait to finish the job they started at the armistice some thirty five years ago.”

The speaker then offered the floor to the leader of the opposition to make his observations....

The much maligned Dr. Markham rose to address the house;

“My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, we have received a cry for help from our comrades on Gamoray, we simply cannot turn our backs on them in their hour of need, they were brave enough to volunteer to stay on that desolate rock and watch over our escape, we owe them a debt of gratitude, we must send a rescue mission.”

“That's one opinion, it does not happen to be mine, doing so could lead to utter disaster, I say we disregard this message and treat it with the contempt it deserves.” snapped Adama.

“I will play devils advocate then” replied Sire Dmitri, “There is merit to every argument, and to every argument a counter argument, we must not enter into a verbal joust here, we need to remember, on the one hand there are some five hundred lives back there on Gamoray we left behind to fend for themselves, albeit of there own volition, but on the other, if we return to that place we could in theory be risking everything we have achieved here on Terra.

One could argue they made their choice, to stop running and take their chances on that gods forbidden rock, their decision yes, but our comrades nonetheless!”

Then there is the other issue, I understand from reports coming in from our engineers we have come to a critical point, we are fast running out of raw materials to complete our battle fleet to circumscribe our new home Terra!”

What if telemetry coming in is true, that the message is authentic and those reserves, ships, raw materials, tylium, are all there. I have to say dear comrades I am torn....” Sire Dmitri's voice trailed off as a cackle of chatter rose up from the floor once again.

The speaker of the house called order and urged the members to come to a conclusion, then offered a compromise....

“My dear friends, if I may be so bold, I have a possible solution to this impasse, I propose we send a small scouting party to reconnoitre the planet Gamoray, to fact find and report back, I feel without enough information we may repeat the mistakes of thirty five years ago and be too trusting, I propose we send ahead a small away team to scan the planet and then at least we can make an informed decision and not an estimation based on a garbled text message that may or may not be authentic!”

After a further hour of debate a vote was called, finally it was agreed to send a modified S.T.R.I.X craft with stealth capabilities to recon Gamoray, work would start immediately on reconfiguring the craft in preparation for the perilous journey into the unknown.

Scene 5 – A dangerous mission

After two weeks work the craft was ready, capable of carrying eight, the S.T.R.I.X would have to be crewed by hand picked volunteers willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in what could prove to be a one way mission.
Adama began checking the records of likely candidates from both the Galactica and Pegasus. He then decided to call a council of war in his wardroom with all senior officers present to assess the candidates.

He began to address his senior officers.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a situation that requires a great deal of thought and planning, I will offer my observations then throw it open for your views.
Thanks to the pressure of Dr. Markham we have been put in a difficult situation, going back to Gamoray, even with just one stealth craft flies in the face of everything we have learned, to never go back and never look back, to me this has all the hallmarks of a Cylon ambush and I urge you all to treat it as such, thoughts?......

Boomer rose the address the wardroom,

“I agree in principle with Adama, if we go at all it should be one craft, and with the utmost of care, we still have in place our markers so finding Gamoray won't be a problem, however getting back may well be, I suggest we recon not only Gamoray but her moon Amilon as well, she would be the perfect place for the extinct Delphians to have hidden their stockpile of supplies in readiness for their doomed escape, and may prove to be a fertile source of supplies for us, and subsequently the very place I would hide a base star if I was a Cylon, especially with a layer of thick gas around her!”

Athena then stood to add her thoughts....

Although I agree with everything Boomer says I think we owe it to those we left behind to investigate further, the S.T.R.I.X is ready to go, we just need the volunteers.......

Starbuck immediately raised his hand but was rebuffed by Adama, “No Starbuck, thank you but I need you here to get the new nuggets up to speed, besides I don't think you are in the right frame of mind at the moment, I will bear you in mind next time, you have my word on it my old friend.”

Starbuck looked almost relieved, he felt duty bound to volunteer for his oldest friend, but knew Apollo was right.

“Then I will be the first to volunteer” said wing commander Andrew 'Jolly' Johnson.

“I have the experience of not only flying over Gamoray, but landing on her too, I remember enough about the layout of that old Delphian city to perform an extensive recon, I would gladly put my name forward to head the team Admiral.... and yes I know full well the risks, but unlike many in this room I have no kin to mourn me,” he said looking at Starbuck with a knowing smile.

Although nothing had been said, Jolly was a very perceptive man, he had guessed Starbuck was Dhillon's father years before even Starbuck himself, he knew the resemblance was more than just a coincidence.

Adama replied, “Then it is settled, thank you Jolly, I will give you a free hand to name your own crew, good luck and gods speed to you and whoever you choose.”

The wardroom was cleared save for Adama and Jolly to discuss further the plans before heading back to their quarters for the night.

Scene 6 – Jolly's Gamble

Andrew 'Jolly' Johnson had seen it all, done it all and had been at the side of Adama, Starbuck and Boomer throughout their most difficult times. He took everything in his stride and wasn't easily fazed by anything, he was, as his nickname suggested a very cheerful and positive person and at one time or another, saved the lives of his fellow senior warriors whilst in the seat of his viper.

Never one to court the limelight or take unnecessary risks, his volunteering for the mission surprised all, but it shouldn't have, one thing Jolly possessed in spades was courage, and an unwavering loyalty to his comrades.

However, there was method to his madness, having taken centre stage in the recent battle simulations taking the helm of the battlecruiser Zeus, something had stirred within him, a desire to lead a warship of his own, and in order to achieve this he knew he had to put himself at the forefront of Adama's mind, besides which, he knew he had less to lose than most in the fleet having no surviving family.

What he did next however, stunned even those that thought they knew him the most....

He opened a communications channel to the ship of justice to speak to it's commander and chief warden, the handsome and imposing Jordan Hunter.

“Mr. Hunter, thank you for your time, I wish to come over to your ship to interview the I.L series Cylon, I wish to interrogate him as a matter of urgency, I believe he has information that may prove vital to me on a forthcoming mission,” enquired Jolly.

“By all means”, replied the charming prison warden,” I warn you though, he can be a rather challenging character to interview, I have tried on many occasions to extract information for the good of the colonies, it won't be easy I can tell you that!”

“Well be that as it may, I have to try, and besides I can offer him a trade, you cannot, I can't elaborate further but I would appreciate it if you could have him ready, I will be over within the hour if you can spare me the time?”

“Absolutely sir, anything to help the colonies, you will be made most welcome, I will prepare one of my best fish dishes for your lunch, I look forward to meeting you wing commander, Hunter out...”

Jolly hastily commandeered a shuttle and headed over to the ship of justice to interview the Cylon, upon arriving at the shuttle bay he was greeted by a young prison officer who escorted him to the maximum security block to the awaiting Mr. Hunter and the ultra advanced I.L series Cylon.

Upon arriving at the cell holding the Cylon, he was greeted by a surprisingly eloquent and self confident machine.
Jolly was fully expecting the monotone robotic voice he had heard many times from the centurions he encountered many times during skirmishes back on Caprica, but what greeted him was a polite, softly spoken voice, perfect grammar and a slightly regal, almost royal tone.

“You are the Cylon known as Lucifer, am I correct?” barked Jolly with an unusually stern tone.

“I am indeed, and you are?” “My name is unimportant, but the the sake of clarity you will address me as commander Johnson”, replied Jolly.

“A pleasure indeed commander, as you can guess I don' get many visitors over here, and apart from the charming Mr. Hunter, I only have my moronic mechanical subordinates for company, anyhow I guess you need something from me or you wouldn't have come over here, from the Galactica I presume?”

“Yes from the Galactica and yes, I need some information from you, I will get straight to the point, in exchange for your help I will see to it you get an opportunity to have an audience with my Admiral, you will be allowed to make one request, I......”

Before Jolly could even finish his sentence the Cylon already knew what he wanted.

“Well I guess you aren't going to grant my freedom so I will ask for something you can provide, an audience with your chief science officer, I wish to be able to assimilate further into your people, I wish to appear to humans as one of them, to have a skin, to consume food, to have emotion like a human, and yes ultimately I wish to be considered for, parole I think you humans call it.

You see, when your late Dr. Zee reprogrammed me he made it impossible for me to see humans as enemies, it was one of his last wishes to learn more about the Cylon race and culture, by knowing his adversaries, be in a better position to defeat them, or at least give you warriors the means to do so, what is it you humans say, know your enemy?”

“Very well Lucifer” replied Jolly, “I will speak to Dr. Wilker, he is our most senior science officer, if anyone can grant your wish he can, and as for parole, it will take more than this for you to gain your freedom, but I will of course pass on to my Admiral your willingness to help, it will go in your favour, I can promise you that, now about that information?”

“Yes of course commander, what is it you wish to know?” replied the Cylon as commander Hunter looked on in amazement, he had tried countless times to extract information without success, and Lucifer was about to cough up some vital intel on the Cylons....

“I wish to know everything you have on the planet Gamoray and the Delphians, I wish to know about the Kryllian star system, the quadrant containing Gamoray, what the Cylons plan for that planet and what forces you left behind there?”

Lucifer raised his mechanical eyebrows as if he were already human, “You aren't seriously considering going back there are you, you do realise there will be a base ship hiding in wait for you, it will destroy whatever you send to that planet, you don't have anything in your fleet that can destroy a base star, or do you?”

“That is for me to know and you to wonder, I will deal with whatever I find when I get there, I just need you to tell me what I will find, how many ships, how many squadrons of raiders?”

Lucifer countered, “Well you must be very desperate to have to go back to that place, but very well I will divulge what I know in exchange for that meeting with your science officer, first of all, there will be one full sized base star, probably under a gas cloud surrounding Gamoray's moon Amilon.”

“A base star typically has four complete squadrons of raiders within it, that's around 300 raiders, but be warned a Cylon base star is considerably more powerful than the Galactica, she will be armed with four mega pulsars atop and four at her base, she also has secondary laser turrets and missile turrets. Her control centre will be at the base of the central core, it is this area that you should concentrate your firepower on. By destroying the core you will cause a chain reaction and destroy the entire base star, now I have given you enough information to give you a fighting chance, now for you to keep your side of the bargain commander?”

“Very well Lucifer, I will forward your request to my Admiral, you will be hearing from me in due course, thank you Lucifer....”

“Can't believe I just thanked a Cylon” mused Jolly to commander Hunter, “now I must get back to the Galactica and consult my Admiral, sorry Mr. Hunter, no time for the fish lunch, maybe next time, but thank you, and thanks for your help, this intel will prove invaluable, but time is of the essence.”

“Of course commander, I understand, you are welcome to return any time, good day to you”, replied Jordan Hunter as he left the shuttle bay.

Jolly raced back to the Galactica to address the senior officers in the wardroom....

“Admiral, I can report the Cylon was willing to provide intel on Gamoray and the Kryllian system, he said I am to expect a base star in hiding under the gas cloud surrounding Amilon, Gamoray's moon, I feel he is hiding as much as he's saying however , I got the impression he was almost expecting a visit!

“The message?” enquired Adama looking at his officers do you suspect as I do, that it was the Cylons who sent that message and not the garrison?”

“Yes I do for sure, agreed Boomer, because that's just the sort of trick they're good at, Jolly, do you still want to go knowing that killing machine is out there?”

“Yes I do, if I just do as Apollo says and just reconnoitre, investigate the reports of ships under the cloud over Amilon, check for the Cylons and of course check for the remains of the garrison and make contact with them before returning, at least we will then know if it's worth risking sending ships on a rescue mission.

“Agreed” added Adama, we will stick to the plan, just one S.T.R.I.X for now, then we will have a council of war on your return to discuss our next move!”

Scene 7 – A prayer for our boys

After a haunted and restless nights sleep, Jolly decided to visit the ship of worship to receive a blessing for his crew from father Louis Deveraux and his son Lucien. Upon arriving he was distracted by the huge crowds of people straining to hear the sermon of the two pastors.
He noticed how the crowds began to push and shove, not out of malice, but sheer eagerness to see and hear the words of the two impressive men as they had the congregation spellbound, just as Dr. Zee had before them.

It quickly became apparent to Jolly, this ship was potentially a death trap, and needed a major upgrade of its fire escapes, it no longer had the capacity to cater for the huge numbers trying to see the sermons, one worshipper commented this was a regular occurrence, and so Jolly made a point to bring this matter to the attention of the council on his return, at least writing the report on the way to Gamoray would give him a much needed distraction from the impending dangers of his mission.

After the service he approached the two pastors and asked them to pray for him and his team on their mission, like Starbuck a surprisingly religious man though not outwardly so, preferring to use humour to mask his real emotions. His courage had enabled him to volunteer for the mission, yet his fear had brought him before the father and son pastors.

Though the two men played down the importance of the situation on the ship of worship, he could tell it was of great concern to them and promised to put pressure on the council to upgrade the ship once time and funds allowed. He spent an hour in the company of the two pastors and the Deveraux family, a much more devoted family one would be hard pushed to find, proud yet humble and modest, too modest to air their difficulties to the council knowing others in the fleet had their own problems, some of which were more pressing than theirs!

The next morning, Jolly began selecting his volunteer crew for the fateful journey, first on his list was the young pilot who accompanied Apollo on his 'day off' aboard the pleasure liner 'Lady Serina', captain Marc Jansen, the young man who bravely confronted his admiral and got a promotion for his trouble, next up was Bojay for his expertise in decoding, followed by a medical technician and four marines, all with specific skills.

Finally the day arrived with the words of Admiral Adama resonating in his head “Just get back here safely my old friend, find out what you can but get back safely”.

The eight men climbed aboard the modified stealth craft as the countdown began....

“Launch control to S.T.R.I.X craft, all codes entered and functioning, all systems nominal, you are green across the board, transferring control to probe craft, launch when ready”.

With that, the S.T.R.I.X fired her thrusters and was gone within seconds,

The Galactica crew had calculated it would take around fifty hours and some 230 jumps for the craft to arrive at the Kryllian system and Gamoray, all they could do now was wait!

Scene 8 – Journey into Hell

As the craft sped on it's way, jump after perilous jump, hour after agonising hour, Jolly had watched over half his crew taking a rest period, only when he was satisfied the craft was on course and behaving perfectly did he decide to get some well earned rest himself.

However as he tried to switch off he could hear voices in his head, was he dreaming or hallucinating, he could hear the voice of the young pastor Lucien Deveraux in his head...

“Commander Jolly, fear not, your instinct and wisdom will guide you, be prepared to witness death and starvation but do not falter, be aware, your enemies lie in wait, do not attempt to engage them or you will surely perish, stick to your mission and you will return to Terra safely, may the lords of Kobol watch over you and your crew, Lucien.”

Never in his entire life had Jolly had such a vivid dream, he didn't believe his senses, but the dream had the desired effect, upon awakening he felt a calm wash over him, he was ready to face whatever was out there.

Finally after some fifty hours, Gamoray was in sight and he woke those on rest, they would have their answers soon enough.

“OK listen up everyone” ordered Jolly with stern conviction, “Our objective is in sight, Marc, take us down to one quarter sub-light and scan the surface, I want a thorough scan of that Delphian capital before we land.”

“Aye sir one quarter sub-light and scanning..... nothing on screen sir, seems dead quiet, no life signs whatsoever, no wait! a very faint heat signature from directly below us, seems to be underground but not hot enough to be a living human!”

“Very well, let's find a suitable landing zone – wait! over there,” exclaimed Jolly, “that's the exact place we parachuted down on all those years ago, I recognise those huge silos, and that huge rectangular building, this is the place, set us down there Marc”.

“Aye sir vectoring for landing now, gear down, landing in 50,40,30,20,10 nine, eight, seven,six,five... then a gentle thud and the modified S.T.R.I.X was down.

“Well done captain Jansen, the Admiral said you were good, but if anyone had told me I would ever return to this shithole I would have had them certified!” laughed Jolly, at which the whole crew laughed along, more in relief at a safe landing than amusement at the joke!

Jolly had a strange feeling, those voices from his haunted sleep, he wondered how in the name of Kobol could he have found the exact spot from thirty five years ago with such ease, it was as if something, or someone was guiding him!

Upon checking readouts from the atmosphere it became apparent the air was unclean, there were large traces of radiation and they would need to don their protective suits to recon the city, the skilled pilot captain Jansen together with the med tech were ordered to stay behind whilst Jolly took two marines with him and split from the other three in two teams to sweep over the immediate area looking for the source of the heat signature.

Whilst separate from the other team Jolly scanned the area but could see no signs of life, and no trace of the source of heat, but then was stunned to hear from the other patrol....”Commander, It's corporal parks, you'd better get over here stat, I'm just one and a half clicks south east of your position, we have found something and brace yourselves, you ain't gonna like what you see!”

Jolly and the two marines with him hurried to corporal Park's position and within minutes they had arrived, Jolly walked over to where the other three marines were standing over a huge pit in the ground covered by a massive concrete slab.

“There commander, over there” as the corporal pointed to a chilling sight, just visible from under the edge of the slab was a lifeless human hand, the six men instinctively raced toward the slab and pulled at it with all their might, just moving it enough to crawl under to investigate further.

They in turn crawled under the slab, to their stunned horror what they saw was a gut wrenching sight, even through their protective suits they could smell the stench of rotting corpses, they had found their comrades, most if not all the five hundred brave marines!

Perhaps the most chilling thing of all, after seven years how was it the bodies had not fully decomposed?, it was almost as if they had only just been slaughtered!

They had to steel themselves to investigate further the horror they were witnessing, some bodies had their throats cut, while others had been burned alive, the scorched faces frozen in pain where they perished.

The men instinctively knelt as one to offer fervent prayers for their fallen comrades, as one the men collapsed in anguish to the ground and wept.

It was painfully obvious what had ensued, the Cylons had returned some time after the Galactica had departed to finish of the marines, the merciless Cylons had butchered the entire garrison with machine efficiency.

Then to their collective astonishment, a small group of emaciated men approached them, their faces blackened and skin gnarled and blistered.

These few men had managed to hide and had been overlooked by the treacherous machines, they approached the men to impart a message to the rag tag fleet and Galactica.

One man walked over to Jolly and stood before him....

“Are you from the Galactica and fleeing colonial fleet?” the man asked with a gravelly croaky voice.

“We are” replied Jolly to the obvious relief of the stricken marine, to which he replied,

“They came back, after you had left the Kryllian system, they returned, they wiped us out, save for us five, we managed to elude them till they left”.

…..”But how did you manage to survive all these seven years with all this radiation?” asked Jolly.

“Well for the majority of the time we holed up in a bunker, only coming out to scout for food, then when we saw your ship land we decided it was time to take a chance and deliver a message they pinned to one of the bodies down there in that pit”.

“But why have you come out without your protective suits, you must know the consequences?” asked an anguished Jolly.

“We have very little food left, we are done for my friend, anyway, we all decided if we were to encounter any of our people we would face them without our suits and face them as people and not through glass, and we wanted you to see our eyes as we gave you the message we saw pinned to one of our comrades!”

The marine held out his hand to give the message to Jolly, it read as follows

“To those that escaped this planet, those from the trailing human fleet, tell the commander of the Battlestar Galactica, we the supreme Cylon race will hunt you down through every corner of the universe, we will search every quadrant, every planet, every moon until we find you, and we will complete our destiny and destroy you, we will not rest until every sentient being, human or other, is wiped from the galaxy, long live the Cylon race....”

“Have you recorded all of this?” asked the marine, “I have, and images of the dead, how is it they are not just skeletons, can you answer, we are at a loss?” retorted Jolly.

“Simple, those bastards sprayed some kind of mist over the bodies just after they killed them, it's my guess they wanted to reinforce their message, to let you see for yourself what they were capable of, obviously that mist contained preservatives in order for you to see them with flesh and get the maximum effect!”

“Oh my good gods!” exclaimed a distraught commander Jolly, yes that is a particular skill of the Cylons, rest assured I will deliver your message and, thank you for staying alive long enough to deliver it”. Added Jolly.

“One more thing before you go sir,” added the marine, “The moon Amilon, she has something, we don't know what, something hidden, we managed to intercept a Cylon signal before they left, they mentioned that planet, you may want to take a look before you head back to your fleet.

Oh I must ask before you go, the fleet, they prevail, have you found Earth or a new home?”

“The fleet prevails yes” answered Jolly, we have not found Earth yet, but we have an inkling as to her whereabouts from a probe we found. We have however found a new home within striking distance of Earth, a beautiful planet remarkably similar to Caprica, we have called her Terra, which means Earth, well she isn't Earth but she is ours and she is home”.

The man let go the feelings he had bottled up for almost seven years and knelt in a flood of tears before speaking his last words as he collapsed to the ground in front of them!

“Go now with the memories of our fallen comrades, tell the people in the fleet of the bravery of these marines, and give them that message, tell your people to prepare for the Cylons, they WILL find you, I can't tell you when but be ready, they will not rest until they are all that is left in the stars....”

The man turned one more time to face his four comrades and smiled before closing his eyes for the last time, then he died!

Jolly ordered his team to leave all spare rations of food and water for the four marines, and as they
were heading away, Jolly shouted to them, “One more thing before you go, we received a distress call from this garrison, you didn't send it did you?”

“Of course not sir” replied one of the men, we would never reveal our position, and we would never expect a rescue mission, if you received a message it certainly wasn't from us”, with that the four men faded into the distance and were gone.

Commander Jolly ordered his men back to the S.T.R.I.X and radioed ahead to captain Jansen to have her prepped for take off, the six men not uttering a single word on their way back to their craft, all too stunned at what they had witnessed to speak.

Scene 9 – The Secrets of Amilon

The six men finally arrived back at the S.T.R.I.X where captain Jansen and the med tech were waiting, Jansen was about to speak when Jolly held his hand to stop him and shook his head, “Not now Marc, just get us out of here and head for the moon Amilon, I want to take a good look before we head back to the fleet”.

“Aye sir, entering the co-ordinates now, we will there in fifteen minutes” added Jansen.

Exactly fifteen minutes later and they were orbiting Amilon, slowly they began to penetrate it's thick gas cloud scanning for any hostile signals or ships, whilst at the same time, scanning for the massive container ships mentioned in the rogue message, Jolly had to be sure they weren't missing anything, it was likely they would never return, but knew the fleet desperately needed those supplies and raw materials if they were indeed there at all.

Just when they were concluding their sweep of the moon, appearing on their scanners were 24 huge red dots on the screen in front of them, they had found the fleet of ships left by the Delphians, then as they were beginning to believe the message could have been sent by one of the marines after all.......

Commander, Cylon Base Star dead ahead, just tucked in neatly behind those Delphian ships!”

“Are we still cloaked” asked an anguished Jolly, “Aye sir we cannot be scanned, we are in full stealth mode”. Replied Jansen.

“Then take us closer, I want to have a good look at that base ship before we head out”.

“But sir, if they detect us...”

“I said closer, are we fracking cloaked or not damn it?”

“Yes we are sir, we aren't detected, I will take us in further sir, replied an admonished captain Jansen.

“It's alright son I know your frightened, it's OK to be scared, it takes guts to overcome it though” added Jolly with a reassuring wink.

For whatever reason, Jolly knew they were safe, he knew they would not be detected, the words of pastor Lucian Deveraux ringing in his ears, “Stick to your mission and you will return safely”

commander Jolly knew he had to get as much intel as possible, but what he saw was no ordinary base ship, this one looked different, still the usual twin saucers with a central core, but more, three large arms spreading out from the saucers, it was obviously a more advanced base star than the ones they encountered during the first Cylon war and the armistice, the Cylons had clearly not been idle in the absence of the colonies, this was the most advanced base ship ever built!

Jolly realised the stakes had just been upped, would the new super Battlestars be a match for this giant monster, they would surely find out soon enough!.

There was only one thing to do now, get back to the fleet as soon as possible, warn them and deliver the fateful news.

Scene 10 – The dead don't lie

The journey back to the fleet seemed to take an eternity, though only the same 50 hours it took to get to Gamoray, and as the fleet began to appear on their scanners, the men all hugged each other in sheer relief at getting home safely.

They had wanted to warn the fleet and Terra before they arrived but had been ordered to maintain strict radio silence, and although Jolly knew this was the right course of action he also knew he would have to face the council to present his report in person and in full, and as he approached the fleet his relief at arriving changed to trepidation at being the bearer of the terrible news, a body blow to his people!

Slowly the S.T.R.I.X entered the air space of the colonial fleet and was vectored in for a direct approach to the Galactica and the awaiting Admiral Adama.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity to Jolly and his brave crew, they arrived in Alpha bay to a phalanx of deck hands and waiting to greet them with Adama was president Sire Dmitri.

The normally calm and positive commander Johnson lost his composure at seeing his admiral and began to break down, Adama looked him in the eyes and the pain on Jolly's face told it's own story, Adama and Sire Dmitri guessed the garrison had perished, at this point Adama reached out and hugged Jolly, who was unable to speak for several moments.

Finally he spoke, “Admiral, Mr. President, may I please have some rest before delivering my full report, my team are desperately tired and hungry, we left our remaining rations behind for the last surviving members of the garrison.....”

“So it's true then, the garrison, gone?”asked Adama,

“Yes sir but not from starvation, from annihilation at the hands of the Cylons!” replied Jolly.

The president and Admiral looked at each other, the president stunned in stupefying silence at the terrible news, the Admiral on the other hand in resignation at confirmation of his worst fears.

In gratitude for the deadly risk Jolly and his crew had taken, the Admiral granted his friends wish and allowed Jolly and his team time to rest and recover from their ordeal before submitting their report.

However, the magnitude of the situation called for urgent action and 24 hours later a full emergency session of parliament was called, due to the sensitivity of the material in Jolly's footage, no press or media were allowed to enter the chambers until a full assessment of the situation had been conducted.

Council chambers, ship of governance....

The speaker of the house arose to introduce Admiral Adama;

“My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, please pray silence for Admiral Adama, the floor is yours sir”.

“My dear friends, we made a critical decision some weeks ago, to send out a reconnaissance patrol to fact find on a message we received, presumably from the garrison of some 500 marines we left on the planet Gamoray.
We needed to ascertain if the message was a genuine distress call from our comrades, a message from the Delphians or, as I suspected, a ruse to lure us into a deadly trap by our sworn enemies the Cylons, I have to tell you all now, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the latter that has proved to be the case”.

With that a loud groan could be heard resonating the walls of the council chambers, the stunned politicians visibly shaken.

Adama continued,

“Without pre-empting my colleagues findings, I will hand you over to the leader of the recon patrol to deliver his full report, Ladies and Gentlemen, a finer and braver warrior you will not find anywhere in the colonies, the man who together with his hand picked team, risked their lives to bring us this information, commander Andrew Johnson....”

As one, the entire attending parliament and council rose to give a full five minute standing ovation to commander Andrew 'Jolly' Johnson, much to his embarrassment and pride.

As their applause began to fade he rose to speak,

“Thank you very much for your kind reception, I am not as eloquent as my Admiral so please bear with me as I explain my findings.....

I have taken as much footage as time and risk would allow but I have to warn you all of the graphic nature of its content, it may be prudent for you all to view it first and then ask your questions after, most of which I feel will be explained by the film, which is self evident.
Please remember Ladies and Gentlemen, the few surviving marines you will see in the footage will by now have all perished, we left them what we could, but their food supplies have by now fully depleted, please brace yourselves as we run the footage......”

As the footage began to run, several of the assembled parliament began to weep, one even vomited at the sight of the remains of the charred bodies of the stricken marines, but the footage continued to run until every member of the senate had broken down, it proving too much to bear for two of the younger politicians who were too young to have witnessed the fall of the colonies, as for the older members, it brought back all too vivid memories of seeing their cities burn back at the ill fated armistice thirty five years prior.

Finally and mercifully the footage ended as Commander Johnson began to address the full senate once more.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the senate, I have brought you this information without prejudice, it is for you and our military leaders to decide our next move, all I can say is this, I will volunteer right now to go back to that system with whatever means necessary to dispatch that base ship for good and cut off any remaining hope of the Cylons detecting us, if that is what it takes and is your wish.

I would respectfully ask you all to address all remaining questions to my commanding officer, Admiral Adama”. With that, Jolly quickly took his seat to a rousing round of applause once more.

The vast majority of the senate called for immediate action, to send a task force of warships to destroy the Cylon Base Star, but Adama was too pragmatic, too old and too wise to risk the lives of his warriors at such a sensitive time and called for patience....

“My dear comrades, this is not the time for knee jerk reactions, believe me no-one is more angry than I, it was my suggestion to leave a garrison back on Gamoray after all, but remember, to a man they all volunteered to stay behind, they knew the risks, but did it for the good of the colonies.

In any event we are not ready, but we soon will be!

I promise you all now, when the new Super Battlestar is fully operational and the two new cruisers complete, we will have a strong enough force to send ships to destroy that base ship without leaving our fleet and Terra unguarded.

As my father once said all those years ago after the massacre at the hands of the Cylons, we will have our revenge, but not here and not now, but soon, very soon my dear friends.

I make you all this pledge here today, when we are ready, when our new ships are operational, I will send a task force to destroy that ship, and bring back those Delphian ships and slam shut our back door, we will rise from this body blow and come back stronger than ever, you have my word, so say we all?”

As one the entire senate exulted “SO SAY WE ALL, SO SAY WE ALL”.

To be continued......

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