High above the rural side of the planet Caprica, the Hercules-class Battlestar Sleipnir cruised through space.
"Sitrep!" the Commander called out to his XO as he entered the bridge. It was a hive of activity. Ensignes constantly moved texts from station to station in a carefully coordinated pattern that seemed to the untrained eye like clear chaos. The Sleipnir's bridge more closely resembled the original Battlestars and lacked the full automation of the newest Mercury-class. Externally it packed a punch far greater than its older brothers but only almost as potent as its newer siblings. Rushed into production at a time following the first Cylon War when invasion was considered a real possibility, the Sleipnir's design had been meant to be a remedy for the fears of old.
"Sir!" the XO responded. "Reports are coming in from all over the fleet. Reports of strange new ships appearing throughout the Colonies. The Admiralty is preparing to issue a statement. Sources close to them are saying it's the Cylons."
"All right," the Commander said. "Spin up the FTL drives. Prepare to jump once we've received our orders. Comm, request orders from HQ if you haven't already. XO, bring the ship ready for combat."
"Yes, sir," the XO responded. He picked up the handset. The ship's intercom buzzed. "Action stations, action stations. Set Condition One throughout the ship. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill!"
The XO dropped the handset back into its cradle to find the Commander staring at him.
"What's going on, Henry?"
Henry paused a moment. "We don't know, sir. We just started getting reports less than five minutes ago. We already started getting some strange messages right before you came in."
"Sir!" the ship's comm officer called out. "HQ is not responding. Wireless is being flooded with multiple reports of power-"
"Commander!" a voice interrupted. "A bogey just appeared on DRADIS! It's a big one!"
The Commander silently ignored the officer's momentary lapse from excitement and read the position and bearing off the central bridge's repeaters.
"Helm," he ordered, "roll us thirty degrees to starboard. Continue present orbit with Caprica to port." He turned to the XO. "How long until the crew is ready?"
"Well," the XO mused. "Our last drill put us at four minutes thirty-five seconds. For the real thing? Only the Gods can tell."
"Sir! We just lost the wireless!"
Commander David Hallbrook blinked. "What?"
"The wireless, sir!" The comm officer was practically frantic. "It's down and I can't get it back up! Nothing I've tried has worked!"
"Try the backups!" The XO called out.
"I did! They're down too!"
"Trent, get someone to take your place and do whatever you have to to get us some kind of contact with the Fleet," commanded David.
"Are any other systems affected?" David demanded.
There was a momentary pause as the ensigns circulated through the bridge and swiftly and efficiently learned the readiness of all bridge stations."
"Nossir!" reported Ops as the reports came in. "All other systems reading as online and operational."
David turned to his XO. "What in the Gods' name is going on?" Henry shrugged.
"Commander, all decks report ready and all crew accounted for." called out the new Comm officer.
"Three minutes, thirty-five seconds," the XO reported.
"Good work!" the Commander said. "Henry, we don't have time for a speech. Get the men ready for battle."
"Yessir." The XO picked up the handset and started giving orders.
"Sir, we have a visual and DRADIS scan of the incoming vessel. It matches the reports that were coming in from the Fleet."
"Sir, the enemy ship is altering course and accelerating away from us and the planet. Beginning to launch smaller ships. Its momentum is still carrying it towards us."
"Bring us to three-quarters military thrust. Bring us as humanly close to that ship."
"Sir, enemy ship is launching missiles!"
"Brace for impact. Begin salvo fire from turrets ten through twenty-five. All other turrets concentrate on point defense. Launch the alert Vipers."
The XO had replaced the handset in its cradle. "What are you doing, David?"
The Commander's gaze was fixed upon the bridge repeater displays. "I don't think this is going as they planned."
The first volley of missiles rocked the ship.
"Sir, enemy ship is decelerating relative to us. Increasing speed upwards relative to the planet. Second missile flare! Impact in thirty seconds!"
"Full military thrust!"
"Those missiles are nukes, sir!"
"All turrets concentrate fire on those nukes. Continue full military thrust! Prepare our own ordinance. Load heavy missiles into bays two through five and instruct the forward cannons to fire on my command."
The nukes flared brightly on the DRADIS. Interference washed out the displays.
"Dammit! We're deaf and blind!"
"Sir, flight crews are reporting the first flight of Vipers are in the tubes," Henry stated.
"Launch them!" ordered David.
"Sir, the enemy fighters are coming within range. They are not attempting to approach Sleipnir."
"Order the Vipers to engage any fighters that approach us. Otherwise hang back. Instruct all turrets to concentrate fire on the enemy's capital ship. Fire forward cannons and missile bays two through five at the enemy ship the moment DRADIS has a lock."
In the darkness of space, tiny projectiles whizzed past the flimsy enemy vanguard. The fighters spun and wheeled, attempting to dodge the oncoming streams of fire as they came. Then, as if a switch was flipped, the moment the last enemy fighter was clear of the mothership, the entire swarm thrust forward.
"Sir! DRADIS has locked on! Main guns are firing!"
As the fighters surged forward, the front end of the oncoming Battlestar erupted in fire. Missiles and projectiles shot past most of the ship. One fighter was struck by one of the shells launched by the heavy guns. The Raider was effortlessly disintegrated. What was left of its mass was carried off by the projectile with nary a hitch in its course.
Then the shells and missiles struck. Explosions erupted all over the ship. On one side of the Baseship's central core, the next salvo of nuclear missiles was ready to launch. Armed and ready. That's when the missile struck.
"Sir! We're registering a massive spike-"
The shockwave hit. The explosion's shockwave washed across the ship like a cleansing fire, searing the markings from the side of the ship. The oncoming Raiders, caught in the middle of the explosion, were vaporized.
The bridge was a mess. Station officers attempted to restore their systems to working order. The ensigns' operations had finally been disrupted.
"Damage report!" called out the Commander to anyone who was listening. The XO listened to the handset.
"Reports coming in from all over the ship. Damage was minimal, considering. We've got a fire on the upper starboard decks, but damage control crews are already containing it."
"Good," stated the Commander.
"Sir," noted the weapons officer. "The nuclear missiles are ready. Weapons crews are standing by to load them in the tubes on your order."
"Do it." ordered the Commander. "Sensors, check the long-range DRADIS network. Find us the nearest enemy capital ship. Navigation, plot us an FTL jump immediately outside the safe detonation range for our nukes."
He turned to Henry. "These ships clearly aren't built for slugging matches. They're launching platforms. We need to hit them hard, fast, and up close, or they'll pummel us to death from long range."
Henry returned his Commander's gaze. "Even so, there's no way they could hope to wear us down with that kind of armanment. If you're right and we aren't what they were expecting, then what did they think they were going to find?"
"Contact!" cried out the sensor officer. "Three enemy bogeys, all the same size as the first."
"Weapons!" called out the Commander. "Fire the first two nukes at the closest enemy ship. Concentrate all other weapons on the next closest ship. Bring the Vipers into a defensive formation and keep them out of our weapons path."
The three Baseships had just responded to the distress call of the now-dead Baseship - tasked with the easy job of wiping the Sleipnir out from orbit. Now, suddenly, they had entered into an active warzone with an armed and very operational Battlestar. Two nukes burst forth just as the Basestars started deploying Raiders. Caught completely off-guard, the first Baseship desperately targeted and fired missiles at the oncoming ordinance.
The nukes bore forward, oblivious to the oncoming guided missiles from the enemy Basestar. As the guided missiles approached their targets, their fine control systems were not quite fine enough. They missed their intended targets by a fair margin, reacquired them, and lazily spun around in a wide arc to pursue.
The Basestar's Raiders turned and opened fire, but their inexperienced and barely-trained organic brains were too slow. The nukes got through - and to add insult to injury, the guided missiles earnestly sped after them.
"Enemy ship breaking apart! We got 'em!"
"Don't smoke 'em just yet!" the Commander cautioned. "There are still two more out there, and it's a fair fight now." The second ship was taking a heavy beating, but was maneuvering to shield its fighters from the deadly salvo. And the third ship, relatively unmolested, had launched its fighters in a swarm.
"Commander, I can't see any other Colonial ships on long-range DRADIS."
"Can you see the enemy ships?"
"Yessir." the sensor officer's dread was spreading like an infectious disease. "The friendly network is broadcasting. All friendly ships ceased transmitting a few minutes ago."
There was a pause as he checked other displays.
"Sir," he said slowly, carefully, sadly, and fearfully. "I'm reading heavy radiation spikes from the inhabited side of Caprica," he said.
"The planet's being wiped out."
The bridge was silent. A missile blast rocked the side of the ship as the battle raged on in the vacuum of space. The forgotten handset in the XO's hand squawked with demands for instructions, for guidance.
"My Gods," Henry gasped. "It's an extermination."
The sensor officer's console chirped, uncomfortably loud.
"Two more enemy contacts," reported the sensor officer without any enthusiasm.
"That's it." said the Commander. "We need to go."
"Go? Go where?" said a voice.
"Anywhere!" snarled David. "Get us the hell out of here. Order the Vipers to withdraw NOW. As soon as they're aboard, we need to leave."
"Sir," said the comm officer. "None of the fighters are reporting wireless trouble. We can piggyback a message on our pulse-laser transmission to the Vipers and redirect it to...well, anyone who's out there."
"No." said the Commander. "We have to go now. Whatever happened, we're outnumbered."
"Take us to Ragnar."