The low rumble of the Galactica's engines provided a background noise that the crews had grown accustomed to over the yahrens. The viper crews rushed around the two vipers making sure that they were indeed ready for launch. Fueling tubes were unscrewed and the viper's tanks were closed to make sure none of the precious fuel leaked out into space. In a few minutes the two vipers would be launched and the crews wanted to make sure that the vipers preformed flawlessly. The crews had done a remarkable job in keeping the compliment of vipers operating at almost full strength, considering that supplies were scarce. Keeping the vipers and the Galactica fully operational was a primary concern for the entire fleet, if anything went wrong and the Cylons appeared, the fleet would be in great trouble.
Adama stood on the bridge watching the preparations for the viper launching. Viper patrols were considered as one of the most important missions for the fleet, along with conserving supplies, including food and fuel. The fleet had been fortunate so far; ever since the Galactica destroyed the basestar with Baltar's help a yaharn ago there had been no contact with their enemies. The patrols had been stepped up because the fleet had been forced to slow down because of repairs that had to be made to keep several of the older ships operating.
"Patrol Alpha to Core Command requesting permission to launch." The voice of Apollo said to his sister Athena, who was manning the controls.
"Core Command switching control over to Patrol Alpha, launch when ready." Athena replied.
Within seconds two vipers shot out of the Galactica's launch tubes. The turned to patrol ahead of the fleet to make sure no Cylons were ahead of them yet. The prevailing attitude was that the Cylons would show up not form behind the, but from in front of them.
"Well let's hope they find nothing." Colonel Tigh said to Adama. "I don't know if it's just me or what, but whenever those two go out on patrol together trouble seems to find them. No offence Commander."
"None taken Tigh," Adama sighed, "but you are right, they attract trouble, maybe I should split them up."
"I don't think that would work either, they have both gotten in trouble with other pilots." Tigh responded then continued, "Keep them together, that way we only have to worry about one patrol."
Both men laughed at that comment.
"I guess we could keep them on board?" Adama said.
"No, then we would have to contend with their antics, let them get out."
"Do you remember patrolling for Cylons?" Adama asked his friend.
"Some days it's like it was yesterday, and other days I can't even remember flying one patrol." Tigh answered. "It was a long time ago."
"Yes it was, our weapons got better over the yahrens, but we still lost."
"They haven't beaten us yet commander."
"One battlestar isn't enough to protect the fleet." Adama said. "I sometimes wish Cain and the Pegasus were still here."
"You would have to put up with his attitude and ego." Tigh said, remembering when their paths had crossed last.
"He did raise moral, even though we did clash."
"Clash!" Tigh said a bit sarcastically. "How about all out war?"
"Yeah." Adama said laughing a bit. "Still the Pegasus would have made a nice addition to the fleet."
"Your right, she would have."
"Hey Starbuck?" Apollo said to his wingman.
"What's up Apollo?" Starbuck replied glancing over to Apollo's viper.
"Are you gonna do it?" Apollo asked.
"Well, I not sure about it, what if she says no?" Starbuck said, doubt coloring his voice.
"We all know that Cassiopeia is in love with you Starbuck, I don't think she'll say no."
"You're still afraid of a commitment."
"I guess so?" Starbuck said. "Were you this way when you asked Serina?"
"You don't remember me walking up and down the corridors of the Galactica at night because I was so worried that she would say no?" Apollo replied.
"Yeah, I thought you had insomnia."
"No, I was like a daggit on a hot tin roof."
"So that explains;" Starbuck's comment was cut off by a message from his scanners. "Hey Apollo, are you reading what I'm, reading?"
"Some sort of signal." Apollo replied messing with his computer to see if he could get a better reading. "My scanners are saying its coming from the asteroid belt just ahead."
"Cylon?" Starbuck asked, hoping that's what it would not be.
"It's pretty weak and I don't think its Cylon, but definitely coming from the asteroid belt." Apollo said. "I suggest we report back to the Galactica."
"Come on Apollo." Starbuck said. "We could be in and out in seconds."
"No, if it is a trap, the Galactica needs to be warned right away." Apollo said.
"Ok, you win this time Apollo."
The two vipers turned around and their thrusters lit up accelerating the ships to their maximum speed back toward the Galactica.
"Commander, I'm picking up our patrol inbound at high speed." Athena reported to her father.
"Apollo and Starbuck?" He replied with a bit of urgency in his voice.
"Yes!" She replied.
"Expand scanning range to the maximum and see if anything is following them or any jamming is detected." Tigh commanded.
"Scans indicate nothing out of the ordinary." Omega replied.
"Something has them running back to the fleet at top speed." Adama mused to himself. "Sound red alert, and have Apollo and Starbuck meet me in my ready room the moment they land." Adama ordered then motioned Tigh to follow him. "Omega, you have the bridge."
"A few minutes later both vipers had touched down on the landing bays and the pilots were on their way to Adama's ready room. The Galactica was still on red alert and the familiar red lighting bathed the corridors and rooms. Apollo and Starbuck found both Adama and Tigh waiting for them.
"So what's so important that you two had to ride turbos all the way back to the Galactica?" Adama asked both of them.
"We didn't want to run the risk of being overheard if we sent out a communications to you, but we picked up some sort of weak signal coming from the asteroid belt." Apollo explained to his father.
"Cylons?" Adama asked fearing the answer.
"We don't know, the war book couldn't identify the signal, it was either too weak or it wasn't Cylon in origin." Apollo answered.
"It could be a new code that the Cylons developed?" Tigh said.
"Or it could be a different race altogether." Adama said sitting back into his chair. "Ready Blue squadron for launch, and keep all others ready for immediately launch."
Starbuck and Apollo got up and left the room leaving Tigh and Adama behind.
"What do you think Adama?" Tigh asked him after several minutes of silence.
"I don't know Tigh?" Adama said with a worrying frown on his face. "I just don't know!"
Both men then got up and walked toward the bridge to what looked like an uncertain future, would they find Cylons waiting in ambush in the asteroid fields, Adama did not even want to think about that possibility, yet he had to. Everyone would be looking to him for a plan in case this was a trap; the only problem was he did not have any idea what to do if it was. The fleet moved to slow to avoid any trap and the Galactica was only one ship and could fight only one basestar at a time. Before entering the bridge he replaced his worried, self-doubting face be replaced with the confident face he usually wore. He knew that how his crew perceived him could make a big difference in battle.
"Status report, Omega?" Adama asked his officer who was looking over the shoulder of an officer.
"Blue squadron is almost ready for launch commander; the other squadrons are on stand by." Omega replied looking over at Adama. "Scanners still don't indicate anything." Omega continued anticipating Adama's next question.
"Let's get this operation going, tell blue squadron to launch when ready." Adama told his bridge crew.
"Core command transferring launch control to blue squadron." Rigel said. "Launch when ready."
"Blue leader to core command, roger." Apollo replied as he pressed his thumb down on the thrust button. He felt the familiar g-forces push him back into his seat as the viper accelerated down the launch tube then out into space. A quick glance around confirmed that the rest of his squadron had finished their launch and were beginning to form up on him.
"Blue squadron launched commander." The female operator informed Adama.
"Well, we should know real quick if this is a trap." Tigh said a bit nervously. He hoped that they would not encounter any Cylons; however he also hoped that whatever was out there was not even more dangerous.
Adama nodded his agreement and would not have been startled to know that his thoughts were running along the same path that Tigh's were. Adama had trained Tigh to be his second in command and tried to instill in Tigh everything that he knew.
"Everyone keep a heads up on your scanners and let me know the second anything unusual appears on it. We don't know what we are going to encounter out here so let's be on our guard." Apollo said to his squadron.
"Are we going to go into the belt Apollo?" Starbuck asked him, as they got closer to the belt.
"Depends on what happens on the way there Starbuck." Apollo answered him.
"I'm picking up a faint signal coming form the belt Apollo." Boomer said interrupting Apollo and Starbuck. "No identity of the sender yet."
"Can you get a fix on the location in the belt?" Apollo asked Boomer.
"No, too much interference to scan through." Boomer replied a bit frustrated.
"Apollo, lets split up and see if we can home in on the signal." Starbuck stated.
"Ok, but stay on guard." Apollo said as the group spilt up into two fighter groups. Starbuck stayed on Apollo's wing. All the vipers were concentrating on the signal.
"Apollo." Starbuck said gaining his friend's attention. "I'm going to boast the signal and sent it back to the Galactica to see if they can break the code."
"Sounds like a good idea." Apollo said agreeing with his friend's idea. "Go on ahead."
The viper squadron now was reaching the edge of the asteroid belt and there was still no sign of any impending attack. Slowly the pilots were starting to relax, but just a bit, for they all knew that whatever was in the asteroid belt could just be staying real patient allowing their prey to get closer.
"Boomer, you and Jolly see if you can find the source of the signal, the rest of us will wait outside the asteroid belt." Apollo said to his squadron. "I don't want all of us to be in there, there is not much room for fighting in there, so let's minimize the risk. Ok Boomer."
"Gotcha ya." Boomer replied steering his fighter into the belt with Jolly right behind him. They both reduced their speed to get better reading and so they could avoid the asteroids better. With their scanners on wide range they were able to pick up the signal a bit better and it was getting stronger. Avoiding asteroids and keeping an eye on their scanners made for slow going. 'So far so good' Boomer thought to himself, as they had not encountered any Cylons, for that he was thankful. They both maneuvered around several very large asteroids, the larger ones could have fit several battlestars if they had been hollowed out.
"Boomer, the signal seems to be coming from this asteroid." Jolly said orbiting around one of the larger asteroids. The signal was strongest around the asteroid, even though they still could not figure who was sending it.
"Apollo, the signal seems to be coming from one of the larger asteroid in the belt." Boomer said reporting back to Apollo. "There doesn't appear to be any structures on the surface or any signs of an entrance into the asteroid." Boomer said as they continued to circle around the asteroid.
"Anything unusual about the asteroid?" Starbuck asked as he continued to watch for anything coming out of the asteroid belt that might threaten him or the Galactica and the fleet.
Boomer looked closely at the asteroid, but all he could see was the bumpy, rocky surface of a typical asteroid. There appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary at all about the asteroid.
"Boomer, check your scanner." Jolly said to Boomer bringing him out of his visual scan of the asteroid.
"Well I'll be!" Boomer exclaimed a bit shocked at the find. "What about the other asteroids?"
"I'll check out a few of them." Jolly said turning his viper away from the asteroid they had been scanning to a couple of other large nearby asteroids.
"What did you find Boomer?" Apollo asked, wondering what was going on.
"I think we found out why there are signals coming from this asteroid, its rich in tylium, and other resources." Boomer exclaimed. "It was probably an old abandoned mine."
"We could send an exploration team and maybe mine a bit of it for the fleet to use." Starbuck commented.
"Any sign of defensive weapons?" Apollo asked the Boomer and Jolly.
"I haven't picked up anything threatening at all." Jolly replied.
"Well, let's go back to the Galactica and report our findings to the commander." Apollo said as Boomer and Jolly came out of the asteroid belt.
A bit later Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer stood in front of the council of twelve to make a report of their findings. It seemed that they were always in this position of reporting things to the council.
"We are told that you have found something quite exciting Captain Apollo." One of them said. "We are quite interested in learning what you found."
"Council members." Apollo said while nodding his head in their direction before continuing. "I think you all will find this very interesting and an opportunity for the fleet." Several council members' interest went up with his comment and they listened intently to what he said next. "As many of you know our supply of materials and fuel has not run out, nor is it low yet, but we found what appears to be an abandoned mining facility located in the asteroid belt in front of us."
Adama looked intrigued at the prospect of gaining more fuel and supplies, but he chose to say nothing at this time allowing his son to voice what he thought.
"It is my belief that we could send a team to mine the tylium and other supplies while we transfer supplies from half full tankers to other ships and then use the mine to refill our tankers." Apollo said stating the major part of the plan that he and his father had come up with. "It would give us a new supply of fuel and we could even gain some other raw materials that would be critical to repairing our transports later on."
"I don't think that stopping for any period of time, however small, is wise." Another council member said standing up. "We are still within reach of the Cylons, and even though we haven't had any contact with them they could be right behind us. I vote no to this course of action."
As he sat back down Adama stood up. "The fleet will not be stopping. Instead we plan to send the teams ahead of us to start mining and transfer of materials to holding ships. We will empty the faster tankers, this way all we have to do is reduce our speed a little allowing more time to resupply."
"It is a risk Adama, I don't know if we are willing to take that risk." The council member said replying to Adama's plan.
"I agree that it is a risk, however, we do not know when we may run across a supply of fuel and other materials. It could be a long time." Another council member said. "We will discuss this matter." He said to the pilots.
Apollo and Starbuck looked to commander Adama who just nodded his head and gave them a wave of his hand assuring them that everything would work out. They both left the council room and headed down the corridor.
"What do you think?" Starbuck asked his two friends.
"It would be a shame to pass up on these supplies, I think they'll vote to go ahead with the plan." Apollo said looking at Starbuck. "Come on!" He said clasping each of them on the shoulder, "let's go get something to drink."
"Sounds good to me." Boomer said agreeing with him.
"I can try out my new system." Starbuck said getting a smile on his face. "This one is totally fool proof." He said looking at his two friends. "What do you say?"
"No thanks," Boomer said. "Last time I lost a secton's pay."
"I've fixed that small fault in my last plan, this one you can't miss." Starbuck pressed on. Apollo just laughed to himself as they continued on their way.
Back in the council room a debate was raging that would change the course of every refugee in the fleet. Two sides had clearly broken out among the council members. Those who back Adama's plan and those who did not want to slow the fleet down for fear that the Cylons would catch them.
"I will not approve this plan Commander Adama!" Council member Uviris said standing up as to challenge Adama. "It is too risky to slow down."
"I must agree with Uviris, Commander." Another member said while remaining seated. He did not want to further aggravate the situation by standing up also as he realized tempers were starting to rear up. "I thought that you said not to long ago that we had sufficient fuel and supplies to last us at least another yahren, or were you mistaken?"
Adama recognized the challenging tone of the council member and responded. "No, you are correct, however, with additional supplies we could go much further for a longer period of time."
"So every time we encounter supplies we should fill up, is that what you're saying." Uviris said sensing some momentum on his side. He was not fond of Adama, and tried his hardest to beat Adama at the political game they played.
"No, but this is the richest supply of tylium since Gamoray." Adama said.
"Yes and we lost the Battlestar Pegasus and Commander Cain there as well," Uviris stated, "or don't you remember Commander Adama?"
"I remember Uviris, but at Gamoray we were up against three basestars and a Cylon capital city." Adama said. "As of yet no Cylon transmissions had been intercepted and it's not like the Cylons to wait so long before springing a trap."
"Well, I think we should vote on it and take the majority vote." One older council member said, hoping to resolve the issue quickly before things got out of hand. He looked around at the other members to see most nodding approval to his suggestion.
"Very well, any problems Uviris?" Adama said gesturing to Uviris.
Uviris looked around the room and realized that to fight this suggestion would discredit his viewpoint. "No Mr. President." He said giving a fake smile.
"All those in favor raise your hands." Adama said.
Starbuck looked down at his hand, so far his system was not working as well as he had planned, on the plus side he had won some credits. With this hand he would be a lock to win. "I raise you!" He said to the two other who were playing with him. They appeared to be indecisive about if they were going to match him or not.
"Starbuck come on!" Apollo said tapping him on his shoulder. Boomer stood close by waiting to go.
"Apollo! Just look at this hand." Starbuck said showing his friend the hand. "Just wait a little bit longer, please!"
Apollo was impressed with the hand but did not relent. "Come on, Commander Adama said it was urgent."
"But!" He protested pointing at his hand.
"Come on Starbuck, let's not keep the commander waiting." Boomer said seeing the protesting Starbuck. Starbuck finally conceded defeat and left the table much to the delight of his two opponents.
Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer once again stood in front of the council of twelve, this time they were awaiting the decision.
"The council has decided to go ahead with the plan to gain some materials from the asteroids." Adama said. All three warriors felt relief at the news. "First of all," Adama continued, "we are going to sent you three along with a med tech, and Dr. Wilker along with you to check out the mine."
The three pilots looked at each other to make sure that they heard correctly what Adama had just said. They were to go to the mine to check it out before they committed to the plan, it sounded reasonable enough to each of them. All three accepted the council's decision and let the council know.
"We're in Commander." Apollo said relaying their decision to go.
"You better get started then, the quicker we scout the asteroid the sooner the mining operations can begin." Adama said "Good luck gentlemen."
A little bit later all three were walking toward the shuttle they were to take when Cassiopeia joined the group.
"Starbuck!" She called out. "Wait up."
"Hey Cass!" He said giving her a hug. "What are you doing here? Wait, don't tell me." He said raising a hand to hush her. "You're our med tech, right!"
"Yes, and I am going and don't try to talk me out of it. Remember I went with you and Apollo down to Gamoray and it was a good thing to." Cassiopeia said to him reminding him that she probably helped save Bojay's life.
"I know." Starbuck said with a slight shake of his head. "But doesn't mean I have to like it."
"Of course not!" She replied smiling at him. "Dr Wilker will be here in just a minute."
Apollo and Boomer watched as Starbuck and Cassiopeia talked. They heard that Dr. Wilker would be delayed a bit so they turned around and looked at the flight deck.
"So what do you think Apollo, does he have the guts to ask her?" Boomer asked his friend.
"He loves her, that much is certain." Apollo said glancing at the couple in question. "I think he will, it's only a mater of time."
Apollo looked back at the deck and saw Sheba, Bojay and Jolly descending down the elevator to the flight deck with their flight helmets in their arms.
"Wonder what's up with them?" Boomer said to Apollo as he spotted the two heading toward them. "You're not all on this mission, are you?" He asked as the group came near them.
"Yes we are, Bojay and Jolly volunteered to escort your shuttle to the asteroid and I'm part of your crew." Sheba said explaining their presence.
"Part of our crew?" Apollo asked her.
"Yes, your crew." She replied back to him.
"Sorry I'm late everybody." Wilker said as he walked onto the flight deck and everyone turned to look at him.
"We shouldn't waste much time Captain." Sheba said trying to end the argument she and Apollo were having. "Hello Cassiopeia."
"Sheba." Cassiopeia said, since Cain and the Pegasus had been presumed lost they had managed to become friends, bound by the love they both had for Cain.
"Well let's go, if everyone's ready?" Apollo said looking at everyone. No one said anything and they went and boarded the shuttle while Jolly and Bojay went to their vipers to get ready to launch.
"Core command transferring launch control over to Shuttle Delta, launch when ready." Boomer and Apollo heard Rigel's familiar voice giving launch instructions.
"Roger Core command." Boomer said as Apollo thumbed the thruster button and the shuttle left the Galactica and turned towards the asteroid belt.
A bit later two vipers pulled up alongside the shuttle and the three ships made their way to the asteroid to check it out.
"Bojay." Apollo said as they approached the asteroid belt.
"Go ahead Apollo." He replied.
"Would you stay out here and keep an eye on things while we are in the asteroid belt. Our scanning range is limited inside the belt." Apollo asked him.
"Sure." He responded. "Have a safe trip, and watch out for the asteroids."
"You bet we will," Apollo said heading into the belt. "Jolly, you're with us."
"Will do boss." Jolly said angling his viper into the belt right behind the shuttle.
It did not take long for the two ships to arrive at the asteroid in question. The scanners still read tylium deposits beneath the surface of the asteroid.
"See if you can find an entrance or some sort of indention or flat surface that could be used to land a craft." Apollo said as Boomer piloted the craft around the asteroid.
"I don't know, I'm not seeing anything." Boomer said after a few centons of looking.
"What's that?" Sheba exclaimed pointing at a small hump on the asteroid's surface next to a very flat area. Both men looked at where she was pointing.
"Let's give it a try Boomer." He said as they piloted the ship towards it. Next to the hump there appeared to be a small flat landing surface for craft to land on. The 'landing pad' was barely big enough for the shuttle to land on, but Boomer and Apollo were able to land the shuttle. They donned some space suits and slowly walked out of the shuttle. There was some gravity on the asteroid and it kept either of them from floating away. Apollo and Starbuck walked out of the shuttle to take a look around. Apollo walked towards the small hump and noticed that it seemed to be manufactured, not natural. The two looked around the hump for any sign of a way to get in.
"Apollo!" Starbuck said over the intercom system.
"Did you find something Starbuck?" Apollo asked him walking around to join Starbuck.
"I think so." Starbuck said as Apollo joined him. "What do you make of this?" He said pointing to a small crack that appeared to glow slightly from the inside.
"Let's see if we can open it." Apollo said as they both started to intently study the surrounding surface around the crack. Just below the crack Apollo found what appeared to be a button, pushing it, a panel slid open to reveal a small instrument panel with only two buttons.
"Try one." Starbuck said to Apollo, who pushed the bottom button. For several microns nothing happened, and then the entire landing area started to descend into the asteroid. "Looks like we found the way in." Starbuck commented.
"It appears so; let's just hope that if anyone is down there that they are friendly." Apollo said as they could now see the bottom of the small cavern that they were descending into.
The cavern could easily hold four or five shuttles or about eight vipers. The interior was dimly lit from a few small lights hanging on the wall. On the far wall was a door that obviously led out of the hanger area. More controls were beside the door, apparently for operating the lift back up to the surface of the asteroid. 'Whoever built this didn't want any visitors' thought Starbuck as he looked around. They felt a slight bump as they reached the ground floor of the hanger and Starbuck and Apollo both slowly walked around.
"I see you two found the way in." Sheba voice said over the intercom. "So is it safe yet for the rest of us to come out of hiding?"
Before either could answer the roof of the hanger swung shut, sealing the shuttle and its occupants inside the asteroid. New opening appeared along the walls of the hanger and a gas could be seen coming out of what they could now see as vents.
"You might want to stay inside a little bit longer, Sheba." Apollo said raising his blaster from its holster. He looked over and saw that Starbuck had now also drawn his blaster. After a few microns and nothing had happened Starbuck and Apollo had started to relax a little bit.
"Apollo." Wilker's voice said. "I think I know what just happened, they pressurized the hanger."
"Can you confirm this Wilker?" Apollo asked him.
"It will take a few microns." He replied, "but yes I can."
"Do so, Starbuck and I will continue to look around." Apollo said as the two of them started toward the wall with the control panels on it. The panels were simple to understand, there were some cranes that operated overhead to move heavy objects and closer inspection of the wall reviled a larger door to move things through.
"Captain," Wilker said, "it appears that the atmosphere that has been pumped into the area is very similar to our own, we should be able to breathe it without any problems. I also ran a bacterial analysis and found it to be clean."
"That's good news." Apollo said as he cautiously took off his helmet and took a small breath. Noticing nothing different he took a couple of more. "It seems fine." He said as he started to take off the rest of his suit. The shuttle's doors opened before Starbuck finished taking off his helmet. Cassiopeia took the helmet from his hands and helped him out of his suit.
Sheba, Boomer and Wilker started to explore while Starbuck and Apollo took off the space suits, but they did promise to maintain radio contact.
"Who do you think could have created this Starbuck?" Cassiopeia asked him.
"I'm not sure, we are quite far away from any know civilization, the closest being the Delphian civilization, but that's still kinda far away." Starbuck said looking at Apollo for conformation.
Apollo just shrugged his shoulders in agreement with Starbuck. "Sounds about right to me, but it could be a mining operation for the Delphians, one operation far enough away from the approaching Cylons would be an advantage if they had to retreat quickly."
They headed through the doorway that the other three had gone through only centons before. The corridor was smooth, not rough like they were expecting a mine to be. There also did not appear to be any dust on the floors, almost like someone was still here. It struck Apollo odd that the hanger area was so small for a mine.
"Starbuck, is it just me, or doesn't this area seem to be too small to be a mine, that hanger wouldn't have allowed much tylium to be transported out of the asteroid." Apollo stated, starting to wonder about the asteroid they were on.
"Now that you mention it, it did seem small, perhaps the main filling area is in a different place." Starbuck replied pondering Apollo's comment. It could only mean that something was not right about the mine, but what. "I've got a bad feeling about this!"
"I think we better find the others pretty quick." Apollo said quickening his pace and Starbuck and Cassiopeia matched his pace. They hurried down the corridor stopping only when they reached a branch in the corridor.
"Now which way?" Cassiopeia asked them as they stood there for a couple of microns.
"There's more light coming from the right tunnel." Apollo stated, "Let's take that one."
"Sounds good to me lets go these abandoned corridors are starting to give me the creeps." Starbuck said as he looked around.
The walked down the corridor, which had a bit of a downward slope. At the end of the slope there was a sharp left turn, and the lighting seemed to be getting brighter. As they made the turn they saw Boomer, Sheba and Wilker just standing there in what was a large room, along one side of the wall there was monitors and controls, there some seats in the middle of the room, but everyone seem to be staring out the window that took up most of the other wall.
"Hey, there you are." Apollo said as he walked into the room. "What are you looking," Apollo voice faded out as he looked out the window and he could not believe what he was seeing.
Starbuck and Cassiopeia seeing his reaction moved up beside them and also looked out the window and just stared in shock at what was out the window.
There in the middle of the asteroid a huge, gigantic cavern had been hollowed out. Floating motionless in the void was something all six of them had thought they would never see, at least never in their lifetimes, but there it was. Sitting there silent and without any interior lights on, giving an appearance like a ghost ship, was a brand new battlestar, its armor was gleaming white, unlike the gray battle scarred armor of the Galactica and she was larger than the Galactica herself. The landing bays were connected to the main body of the ship not by three pillars, but by four, and they could make out the name of the battlestar: Agamemnon.
It was at least ten centons before anyone could finally overcome their shock and say something.
"Ah, am I missing something here Apollo?" Starbuck said not taking his eyes off the battlestar.
"Not that I know of." Apollo replied. "Anyone know anything about this, or who built it?"
"Perhaps I can answer your questions." A metallic voice said from behind them.
All six spun around and four blasters were drawn. Behind them was a wall filled with computer screens that showed different angles of the battlestar. They ignored the screens and concentrated on the robot that was behind them. It did not look like any Cylon they had ever encountered; in fact it did not even look human. It looked like a bunch of stacked cans.
"You're not Cylon are you?" Wilker asked the robot already knowing the answer.
"No I'm not." It replied. "I was created by the Delphians to construct this battlestar for the human war machine." It maneuvered around to the glass window. "I have been waiting for you to come and collect the Agamemnon, that is why you are here, right."
"You constructed that battlestar?" Starbuck asked.
"Yes, this entire asteroid was constructed to be a construction yard for the battlestar. The construction yard is fully automated." It replied. "How do you like her?" It asked them with a little bit of pride.
"She's beautiful!" Apollo replied taking another look at the battlestar then turned to the robot. "You're a construction robot?"
"Yes, my entire programming is to construct battlestars."
"The Delphians were more advanced when it came to robotics then we were Captain." Wilker said intrigued by the robot standing in front of them. "What is your programming in regard to organic life?"
"To serve and protect." It answered automatically.
"How long did it take you to build this battlestar?" Wilker asked it.
"Two point three six of your yahrens." It answered.
"And how long has it been sitting here?" Starbuck asked the robot.
"The Agamemnon has been waiting for one point nine eight yahrens."
"Over four yaherns ago." Apollo said amazed at the construction time.
"If I may ask, what happened to my creators?"
"They were destroyed by the Cylons." Boomer said.
"That is unfortunate." It said. "But obviously the Human race has survived."
"Barely." Cassiopeia said.
"Our worlds were destroyed three yaherns ago by the Cylons." Boomer said
"Then my work has been for nothing." The robot said in a voice that was as close to sadness as it could get.
"No we can use the Agamemnon, we will always welcome another battlestar." Apollo said.
"No, I mean the Hyperion." It said shocking its visitors.
"Hyperion?" They all seemed to ask at once.
"Yes, after the Agamemnon was completed I studied the records of your war against the Cylons and modified the designed given to me and started work on another battlestar, which I named the Kobal, after your home world." The robot explained. "It is behind the Agamemnon, work is almost complete, and it should be ready in two sectons."
"Three battlestars, Apollo think about it." Boomer said.
"We could protect the fleet and allow for more scouting without endangering the fleet." Apollo said.
"How operational is the Agamemnon?" Sheba asked the robot.
"All it lacks is a crew, otherwise she is fully operational and already carries a complete compliment of vipers, would you like to go on board?" It asked to which they all said yes.
A couple of centons later they were on their way toward the Agamemnon they caught their first glimpse of the Hyperion. She was smaller than the Agamemnon and her armor was gold in color instead of white. Their robot companion told them that the armor was of a different composite material, one that was stronger. There was a second flight deck on each of the landing bays enabling the Hyperion to carry twice as many fighters and she was more heavily armed than either the Galactica or the Agamemnon. In essence, the Hyperion was the most powerful battlestar ever constructed. They could see drones running around completing the battlestar, but she appeared to almost be complete.
Landing in a darkened landing bay felt a bit strange to everybody but they quickly disembarked and found the power switches and brought the landing bay lights up. It was decided to bring the main power supply up and they split up into two groups, Boomer, Sheba and Wilker went with the robot to bring the main engines on line while Apollo, Starbuck and Cassiopeia went to the bridge.
"Can you believe this Apollo, its like living in a dream." Starbuck said as they approached the bridge.
"If it is, don't wake me up, hopefully line comm. Alpha One is working on this battlestar." Apollo said.
"The computer did say it was fully functional." Cassiopeia said as the stepped onto the bridge. The Agamemnon's bridge was identical to the Galactica's except that there was no one else on board.
As they wondered around the power came on and the Agamemnon's computer systems booted up for the first time. The computers quickly booted up and everything seemed to be in working order.
"What do you say that we contact the Galactica?" Starbuck said with a grin.
"You read my mind." Apollo said as he headed to communications console.
On board the Galactica Adama waited nervously awaiting word from the scout team. He hoped that it would be good news, and that it would not take a lot of resources to start mining. The council vote had been quite close and any type of setback could shut down the operation. The last report from Jolly had been that they had made it inside the asteroid, but since then no communications had been heard.
"Has there been any word yet?" Adama asked while still standing near the command chair.
"Nothing yet father!" Athena replied from her communications station.
"Commander!" Omega said with a little bit of excitement in his voice. "I'm receiving a communication over fleet line alpha one."
"The Pegasus?" Tigh whispered, but his comment floated across the entire bridge. The atmosphere on the bridge seemed move up a level and take on some new excitement.
'Could it be possible, the Pegasus surviving its last encounter with the Cylons?' Adama did not think that Cain had survived, however the moral boost would be quite significant. He turned toward the monitor and told Omega to put it through fully expecting to see Cain's face staring back at him. What he actually saw surprised him and Tigh who was looking over Adama's shoulder. "Apollo?"
"Hello father, this is probably a shock to see?" Apollo said with a grin. Adama could see Starbuck standing behind his son and the top of Cassiopeia's head.
"You found the Pegasus, is Cain there?" Adama asked and saw the confused expressions on his son's face. "You are on the Pegasus aren't you?"
"Actually father, we're not aboard the Pegasus." Apollo said stunning everyone on the Galactica's bridge. "We're aboard the battlestar Agamemnon."
Stunned silence reigned over everything on the Galactica's bridge as Apollo made his statement. Apollo knew that he had just shocked everybody, much like he felt when he first saw the Agamemnon himself.
"Could you repeat that Apollo?" Tigh said not believing what he had just heard.
"I'm aboard the new battlestar Agamemnon." Apollo repeated before continuing. "This asteroid isn't a mine, but a hidden Delphian construction yard."
"Another battlestar." Adama said. "How operational is she?"
"Fully armed and operational, she even has a full compliment of vipers, all that's missing is a crew." Apollo said.
"A fully armed battlestar just waiting for a crew, incredible!" Adama said. "Recall the escorts, they are probably starting to run low on fuel." He said turning to Rigel.
"Yes commander." She said giving the recall order to Jolly and Bojay.
Adama then turned back to the screen. "So the tylium the scanners picked up were the full fuel tanks of the battlestar?"
"No, there is a large storage of tylium here, and we can fully rearm the Galactica, and bring all fighter squadrons up to full strength for the first time since Cimtar." Apollo said.
"So we can still refuel the fleet." Tigh said making sure that the fuel status was correct.
"That's correct, and I've got another surprise." Apollo said. Adama, Tigh and the rest on board the Galactica could image what else there could be. "If we wait long enough the battlestar Hyperion will be complete."
"Are you telling me that there is not one, but two battlestars in that asteroid?" Adama asked not believing the luck that they had fallen into.
"The Hyperion isn't complete yet but very close father." Apollo said.
"I suggest we inform the council at one, they will want to know what's going on." Tigh suggested.
"I believe you're right." Adama said. "Apollo, check out both battlestars and give me a report as soon as you can, we are going to continue with the transfer of fuel to bring the fleet's fuel up to maximum capacity."
"When can we expect the first tankers to arrive?" Starbuck asked.
"In about half a day." Adama replied. "Galactica out." The screen went blank and Adama still could not believe what he had just heard. If anyone else had told him this he would not have believed him.
"Tigh, you've got the bridge." Adama said walking towards the exit of the bridge. There was a lot to think about, and even more to tell the council about. Two new battlestars just needing crews, and to be able to bring the Galactica up to full fighting strength, he wondered if there was time for a refit for the Galactica. She had been scheduled for a refit just before Cimtar, but the peace conference delayed the refit. Since then the crew had managed to keep the Galactica running, but she had suffered some damage to her landing bays that only a repair dock could fully repair, as repairing it while moving proved to be difficult. He stopped just before reaching the door and turned back to Tigh. "Tigh, see if there is the facilities to refit the Galactica."
"I'll ask him." Tigh said watching Adama turn back around and head out the door.
Adama wonder how this news would be accepted by the council, waiting for either the Hyperion to finish construction or the Galactica to be repaired probably would not be accepted very well, depending on the amount of time required. He did not think that there would be any resistance to the plan of training new recruits to help man the Agamemnon, even the council would not be able to resist adding an additional battlestar to the fleet. There were a lot of questions that even he, as the last remaining original council member before Cimtar could not answer. He did not remember any discussions involving talks to fund another battlestar, let alone two. No, that he definitely would have remembered.
He walked in as several other council members were arriving. They had to wait for bit longer to allow the last of the council members to arrive. The last member to arrive was Uviris.
"Well Adama, I hope you have good news for us." He said. The tone in his voice leaving no doubt about how he felt about the scouting report. "Or didn't your plan work?" He said a bit mockingly.
Adama smiled at his rival on the council before answering. "No, you are correct in that the plan won't be like we had planned it."
Uviris smirked sensing an easy victory was in his grasp pressed on. "Then you have wasted our time and the fuel that was required to undertake your little mission."
"I did not say the plan failed, it just turned up something different." Adama said interrupting Uviris and his tirade.
"Then what did you and your warriors find Adama?" Uviris challenged.
"They did find a large deposit of tylium, and we can start to fill our tankers right away." Adama said keeping the really big news just a bit longer.
"Then what was so important that you summoned us here." Another council member said.
"Actually the tylium is a minor find compared to what the scouting team found." Adama said pausing dramatically. "What we thought was an abandoned mine was actually a construction yard, with a complete battlestar, just waiting for a crew." Stunned silence met his statement.
"What are you talking about?"
"Inside the asteroid is a complete battlestar, called Agamemnon, and a second battlestar approaching completion called the Hyperion." Adama said answering the question. "We can fill up the tankers and at least double our protection for the fleet, possible more."
"Something tells me that you've got a plan Adama." A council member sitting next to Adama said.
"You're quite right Lyces." Adama said pausing to look at all the council members in the eye before continuing. "The Hyperion is not yet completed, but I propose to man the Agamemnon, something we should do regardless of anything else we decide, and see if how long it would take to complete the Kobal. If she can be completed soon, I propose to slow the fleet down until the Hyperion is complete." He held up his hand to forestall any interruptions and continued. "If completion is a bit longer than we should leave behind a crew for the Hyperion and have her catch up to us, we could allow for more tankers to be fully loaded as the Hyperion could escort the tankers back to the fleet. Also I have Colonel Tigh and Captain Apollo inquiring about having the Galactica repaired and brought up to peak fighting effectiveness. This can all be done without sacrificing the protection of the fleet."
Many in the council sat back to ponder what Adama had proposed. The plan seemed to be well thought out and even Uviris could not effectively counter Adama's plan. Uviris knew enough to not challenge the training of a crew for the battlestar Agamemnon, to do so would be political suicide. He could remember the brief time when the Pegasus had joined the fleet and the boost in moral it gave to the fleet, even though he knew part of that was from its commander, Cain.
"A complete battlestar, just ready for a crew, I find it a bit hard to believe." One member said. "I thought that only twelve battlestars were commissioned Adama."
"I do not remember any council talks about adding another battlestar, let alone two of them." Adama replied. "The only thing I can think of is this was done without consent of the council, the construction computer will probably have some answers that we are looking for."
"Who built them?" An older member said.
"The Delphians built the construction yard and someone from the colonies gave them the design specs for a battlestar." Adama told the council. "My hypothesis is that a group of commanders, like Commander Cain, saw that the council would not allow anymore battlestars to be build took it upon themselves to construct the ships. Using the Delphians avoided any suspicion by the council who wouldn't notice the ship in the budget because it would have been funded by other programs. As many of you know the council was against building any more battlestars."
"So you want to start training a crew for the Agamemnon?"
"Yes, the sooner we can man the Agamemnon the sooner we can, hopefully, refit the Galactica. The Agamemnon will serve as fleet flagship until the Galactica completes its refit." Adama calmly replied. "I called this council meeting to notify the council what was found in the asteroid, and I should have a more detailed plan later today. I will need to discuss with those at the asteroid about how much time would be required for this plan, but I would like to begin recruitment now."
"I must reluctantly agree with you Adama." Uviris said uncharacteristically said agreeing with Adama. "The ability to add another battlestar to our fleet is something we cannot, and must not, pass up. My vote is to start the recruitment right away." He said giving Adama a nod of his head. "Does anyone have any arguments against this course of action?"
Several heartbeats passed without anyone saying anything before Adama spoke. "Then the council has decided to begin recruitment for the battlestar Agamemnon."
On board the Agamemnon Starbuck and Apollo were waiting for the others to join them on the bridge. They had already looked around to see if they could find any differences between the Galactica and the Agamemnon. So far the only differences that they had found were the larger landing bay, which allowed the Agamemnon to carry more fighters, and a slight increase in firepower.
"Apollo, how long do you think it will take to man this battlestar?" Cassiopeia asked.
"Not long, they'll probably split the Galactica's crew to form a nuclease to which the new recruits can be trained. The issue I'm more interested in is whether or not we'll wait for the Kobal to be completed or not, or if we can get the Galactica refitted." Apollo replied looking at the control panels. "She needs a refit really badly, her engines need a complete overhaul which is hard to do while we are traveling. There has been talk by the engineers of turning off one engine at a time, theoretically the Galactica's remaining engines should be able to provide enough power to keep up with the fleet and still function properly, however her combat effectiveness would be limited."
"Let's hope that there are the facilities here to refit the Galactica." Starbuck said looking at the commander's chair. "I would love to be the commander someday."
"You may get that wish someday, especially if the fleet has three battlestars." Apollo replied.
"It would probably split us up." Starbuck said.
"They will probably keep the fighter squadrons intact, but some of us may get promotions." Apollo commented. "I think they'll make you a fighter squadron leader, and you may have a choice of commands."
"What about you?" Cassiopeia asked.
"I don't know for sure, my flying days might be over, they might promote me to a command level." Apollo said.
Before Starbuck could reply the door to the bridge opened and the rest of the group came aboard. The robot was the last one on in.
"Did you get in touch with the Galactica?" Sheba asked Apollo.
"Yes and I've got a question, how long would it take to refit a battlestar?" Apollo asked the robot. It took a few seconds while it computed the time.
"Depending on the status of the ship, but probably a couple of weeks." The robot replied.
"What's up?" Boomer asked.
"Commander Adama wants to know how long it would take to refit the Galactica." Starbuck replied to Boomer. "He also said that the first of the tankers would be arriving soon."
"What about the Agamemnon, when is she to be manned?" Boomer asked.
"I imagine real soon, some techs from the Galactica will are probably already on their way here." Apollo said.
"How are they going to get in?" Sheba said having been listening to the conversation. "It sounds like there is going to be a lot of traffic coming in here."
"Is there a way to open this cavern?" Apollo asked the robot as he turned to it.
"Yes, would you like for me to open it now?" The robot said.
"No, we'll wait for a bit." Apollo said shaking his head. "Is there a way for us to open the doors?"
"Yes, at the control station, where we met."
"Is there an easy was to refill tankers in here?" Starbuck asked.
"Yes, unfortunately the Agamemnon is in the way, she would have to be moved." The robot relied.
All of them studied the layout of the cavern. The asteroid was large and they probably could have fit the Galactica in here as well and still have a bit of room left over. The solution was simple, just move the Agamemnon, the only problem was none of them had ever piloted a battlestar before.
The communications line opened up and the screen showed Commander Adama. "Apollo, have you got the information I requested yet?"
"Yes, depending on how serious the refit is, it should only take a couple of weeks." Apollo replied. "The computer was not able to give us an exact figure because it doesn't know the condition of the Galactica."
"What about starting to refuel the tankers?"
"We will need to move the Agamemnon, she's in the way and none of us know how to operate a battlestar." Apollo said stating everything they had learned about the fueling process.
"That can be fixed." Adama said. "We are starting a recruitment process and will probably split the Galactica's crew up between the battlestars, it just depends on whether it will be two or three."
"The council hasn't decided on the Hyperion yet?" Starbuck asked.
"No, I am hoping that they decide to slow down long enough, or keep a crew aboard to allow the Hyperion to catch up with the fleet." Adama said. "Personally, the Kobal is to close to completion to not do anything about her."
"Who is going to be the commander of the Agamemnon?" Apollo asked curiously.
"It will probably be Tigh, as for the Hyperion, I'll wait to see what the council says." Adama said. "Now that I have all the necessary information, I'll head back to the council, we'll need a decision soon! Tigh will start to send some of the Galactica's crew over to the Agamemnon to get her ready to sail."
With that Adama signed off leaving the scout team to look around some more.
Adama strolled off the bridge knowing that Tigh would get right on his assignment of splitting up the crew to help man the Agamemnon, now all Adama had to do was convince the council to adopt his course of action. He walked into the council room and sat down at his seat.
"Gentlemen, the transfer of men to the Agamemnon is already underway." Adama said to the council members. "We need to move the battlestar in order to get to the docking bay for the tylium. What we need to discuss is the Battlestar Hyperion and a refit for the Galactica."
"How long would this take Adama?" Uviris asked.
""The Galactica and Hyperion would be ready in about the same time." Adama said, and then continued. "Gentlemen, the Galactica needs this refit, her weapons and armor could use an overhaul that we cannot do while the ship is traveling with the fleet. Even at out current speed the Kobal and Galactica would catch up with us in a matter of days."
"And if we slow down the fleet, it would shorten the amount of time for the battlestars to catch up." One council member said.
The member next to him brought up a question. "What about the tylium, the main reason we scouted the asteroid? Are not the tankers slower than a battlestar?"
"Yes, but the faster ones can be escorted by one of the battlestars, while the other battlestar escorts fleet." Adama replied. "If we hold back the fastest tankers it would not be much longer before they caught up with the fleet."
""We would be fools to not take this opportunity to increase the protection and resources of the fleet, I say we do it." The council member sitting next to Uviris told the council. "I say we vote on it."
Light years away a single Cylon basestar picked up a faint signal coming from the planet that the basestar was approaching.
This story continues in The Rescue.