Chain of Command
The Day The Bombs Fell
Location: Battlestar Solaria
Timeline: Day 1 at 1158 Hours
Thaddeus sat in his office, his pen dancing artfully over the log book in front of him. His handwriting was masterfully even and indicated an attention to detail that was unique. His eyes were swollen and red from crying, yet he kept working. He had taken the time upon getting back to his own quarters to shower and change into a fresh uniform considering the blood of not just himself, but also the CO and the XO, had ruined the one he had been wearing. But, right after he changed, he was back to work. Everyone on the ship lost someone; he was no different. His work was interrupted by the sound of the telephone on his desk. He reached over, picked it up, and placed it against his ear.
“This is the commander.” he said, rather uncomfortably. H still sat in his quarters, but that was mostly because there hadn’t been time for him to move and, even if there had, it wouldn’t have been good for his cold-hearted practical front to work in the CO's office.
“XO here sir,” the woman on the other end of the phone spoke quickly. “DRADIS has detected two Colonial signals on the edge of the system, headed our way,” the voice revealed.
“On my way, Lieutenant,” he said evenly, placing the phone back on the receiver and standing up to walk to CIC. Within a few seconds, he had arrived and stepped over the threshold of the airlock, walking toward the command table. All of the bodies had been removed from the CIC and the commander’s blood had even been cleaned up. He suspected Lieutenant Garcia had made that a pretty high priority. Nothing eroded hope like your leader’s blood splattered all over the command center.
“Open a channel," he said, turning to the communications officer with a nod and then fixing the headset to one of his ears, holding it with her hand. “Colonial vessels, this is Solaria Actual. Identify yourselves.” he said quickly and seriously. His voice held the tension of the day, but still expressed a patience and calmness.
“Solaria, this is Colonial Raptor 4-9er. Ulysses Actual was expecting Commander West,” the unknown female voice spoke over the communications channel. Naturally, no one outside of the Solaria had any idea that the Commander had been killed.
“Commander West is dead.” Thaddeus relayed coldly, resenting the woman a small amount for making him say it. “This is Captain Thaddeus Scott, former Tactical Officer.”
“Captain, this is Ulysses Actual,” a deeper male voice called out. “We’ve got two Raptors of survivors. Request permission to dock,” the man spoke.
Thaddeus paused and raised an eyebrow. He met eyes with Lieutenant Garcia, his eyes direct and holding a deep significance of thought. His finger slid over to the mute button on the headset and, after it was pressed, he spoke to her. “Full service record, XO.” he said clearly.
After his words were finished, he unmuted the call and spoke again. “Ulysses Actual?” he said clearly. “Is the Ulysses close by?”
“We were travelling from Picon Fleet Headquarters back to the Ulysses when the Cylon’s struck. Ulysses was caught in the initial attacks,” the older male replied over the communications array.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Garcia had stepped away to get the information the Captain had requested. It wasn’t going to be easy.
Thaddeus looked around the room at the many faces looking at him. They were all wondering what was going on; none of them knew the debate that was going on in his head. “Permission granted. Dock in the port flight pod and I’ll meet you on the hanger deck.”
He hung up and put the headset back on the hook. Walking over to the Lieutenant, he leaned in. “He’s going to want Solaria.” he said simply.
“He’s a veteran,” Garcia began as she slid the file over towards the Captain. “He’s only been in command for a few months himself but it is his years of experience. Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel for a while before then. He’s got a spotless record. No infractions, no demerits, not so much as a warning,” she concluded with a smirk. “If he does want the ship, we could have been lumbered with someone far worse,” she added quickly
Thaddeus scanned the file quickly, not indicating any feeling whatsoever. He looked over at the new XO and nodded his silent thanks. “I’m going to meet them. You have the conn.” With that, he turned and walked at his usual brisk pace out of the CIC.
[Port Flight Pod Hangar Deck]
The hangar deck was a hive of activity in stark contrast to much of the rest of the Solaria, with enlisted crewmembers of many different ranks, positions and departments joining together to prepare for the arrival of the two Raptors. The two Colonial craft had arrived on the ship seamlessly so far and the movement from the Pod to the Hangar was well underway. What marines were aboard arrived swiftly to secure the area and be present at the Commander’s arrival.
Thaddeus entered the Hanger Deck and walked past the throngs of people, many of whom were standing and waiting for the new arrivals. While he understood the excitement of it all, he knew he needed to break it up.
“Everyone here who has a job to do needs to get to it.” he said loudly. “This Battlestar isn’t battle-ready and a war is on.”
People disappointedly sprang into action, some leaving the area completely, others merely pretending to be doing something productive. As the doors to the Raptors opened, the CO took several steps in front of the Marines and placed his arms behind his back.
The Raptors finally came to a standstill and the occupants of the lead craft began to vacate. First, two Lieutenant’s departed and stood on the hangar deck, swiftly followed by a female in a Major’s uniform. Then another figure appeared. Significantly older than the others in the craft, the man made his way to the deck and then fired a salute to the Captain who had greeted them. It was unusual for a superior to salute first, but Hanson was conscious that the Solaria was not his ship and as such, opted to give the gesture first.
Behind them, the occupants of the second raptor made their way around the side of their craft and joined the collective as the Commander gave his salute.
As the colonial officers filed out of the Raptors, Thaddeus took careful note of their dispositions, ranks, and appearances. In particular, his attention rested on the female Major stepping out of the first raptor, then the Commander himself. When it came down to it, he knew that he would either hand command over to this new man willingly, or they would fight over it, or he would be a very strange commander indeed and relent. He saw the first option as being the most favorable, but he wasn’t going to vacate the XO role without considerable thought and assurances.
He forced his attention back to Hanson and, as he saluted, he lifted his own hand crisply to his brow.
“Welcome to the Solaria.” Thaddeus said clearly, his eyes locked on the Commander. “We’re glad to see survivors in the middle of this hell. Mr. Watson will take down each of your information and put you to work,” he said, gesturing toward a nearby man with a clipboard. “At present we’re not yet battle-ready and it seems there’s a lot more fighting to be done.”
There were no questions in his words. He had taken note that the commander had saluted first, but he was not simply accepting that as a gesture of respect. In the younger Captain's mind, he was in command until he said otherwise, not the commander of the Ulysses. He had to get to know this man first; his file checked out perfectly, but the Captain had to know their fighting spirit. Would this crew be safer under Hanson's command, that of a stranger, compared to his, someone who had been with the ship for a substantial amount of time?
Hanson watched and waited as the Captain gave his orders and then looked at those who had accompanied him, giving a nod for them to progress as instructed. He then looked at the man from Solaria again. “Captain Scott, this is my XO, Major Catherine Wolf,” he revealed as he gestured for the two to meet.
Wolf nodded in respect to the Captain and smiled. “Captain,” was all she said as she looked Scott over. She could sense some tension in the small group, no doubt because of the proverbial elephant in the room.
“Why don’t you show me to the CIC?” Hanson suggested as he held out a hand and gestured in the direction of the hangar bay exit. He knew exactly how to get there, but he wanted to take the opportunity to discuss matters with the younger officer.
Captain Scott didn’t offer the courteous smiles that were expected of him in the moment. He simply looked on evenly. When the Commander requested to be taken to the CIC, he wondered if he had intended for Wolf to come along as well. His eyes looked from the woman back to Hanson.
“We should take the long route, sir," he said simply. From many others, such a phrase would have been a joke; he did not feel very much in a playful mood today.
“As you wish,” the Commander nodded and began to walk alongside the subordinate, a single hand gesture indicating that Wolf was to remain on the hangar deck for now. He wanted to talk with the Captain from the Solaria alone.
Once they had made their way through the nearest door and it closed behind them, the Commander let out a sigh. “I know what you are thinking Captain, and I don’t blame you. I would be thinking it myself if I were in your position,” the Commander spoke as he slipped his hands behind his back and grasped one inside the other.
“Anyone with sense would, sir.” the Captain said directly. “Let me just get right to the point. You’re miles more experienced than me, your service record is flawless, and you outrank me. I am fiercely capable, well adjusted to command roles, and I know this ship and crew.”
He folded her arms across his chest and looked up at him, pursing his lips. “How do you propose we fight this war, sir?”
“Probably not the way you would fight it,” he told bluntly as they walked. “Nor the way your father would I am sure,” he spoke without looking at him. He wasn’t stupid. He had been around the fleet long enough to know who to look out for, who to watch and who to respect. “Former Vice Admiral Tobias Scott, right? Not exactly known for being… cautious?” he asked rhetorically, wondering what reaction his comment might elicit from Thaddeus. “My experience tells me that we are done here. The Cylons have us out matched and outgunned. This ship is in no shape to fight and what would we even achieve if we did so? Where would we go? Back to the colonies?” he mused, his gaze always focused on the steps he was taking and the direction they proceeded in.
The Captain nodded, not surprised by the much older gentleman's response. “You’re right, you know. If I retained command, I would scuttle the small fleet you're drawing in for parts and able men, and I would do everything in my power to destroy the enemy. Do you know why, sir?” he asked, walking calmly beside him. “Because the Cylons will never let us go. They will hunt us around the galaxy, they will corner us, and they will kill us.”
He cleared his throat, turning to the left into a stairwell alcove. He climbed up to the next level. When he was there, he turned around and waited for the Commander to catch up. “I don’t want to give them an option. I believe we should always be ready for these bastards and look for any chance we can get to put them down.”
Once at the top of the steel steps, the Commander tugged on the bottom of his uniform jack and stood still, looking the Captain over in much more detail than he had so far. “Do not mistake my reluctance to stay here as cowardice or an unwillingness to fight. I’m ready to fight them any day of the week, but we’ll do it on my terms, not theirs. We’ll do it when I know we can win,” the aging Libran told bluntly. “One more ship in the here and now makes no difference. You could scuttle the entire civilian fleet for parts and this Battlestar would still be destroyed. Instead, if we leave, we buy ourselves time to regroup and potentially even the odds at the next encounter.” He had begun to sound like he was pitching some sort of action plan to the admiralty, and he almost was. If Thaddeus was anything like his father had been, the younger officer would take some persuading. He stepped closer to him and lowered his voice. “They don’t know we are here. We have the element of surprise and can use that to get out of here. We need to be the spark that starts the flames and by gods, if you are with me Captain, I swear we will burn the Cylons to the ground. But not here, and not on their terms.”
Thaddeus watched him as he spoke, his own brown eyes flashing over the older gents features and his mind racing to process what the Commander was saying. On the inside, he was a raging inferno of discernment, but on the outside, he was calm as still-water; yet another thing he’d learned from his father. When Hanson had finished speaking, Scott looked at him for several moments longer. He wasn’t uncomfortable with the silence, and he knew that thinking in this moment was crucial. Suddenly, he turned and continued to his right down the corridor. After a few seconds, he paused and looked behind, an expressionless face somehow encouraging the Commander to follow.
The Commander followed him with a raised eyebrow, but instead of continuing to speak, he opted to follow suit and walked in silence. He swiftly caught up with the Solaria native and walked by his side. He hadn’t needed to justify his thoughts or his opinions, he didn’t need to tell Scott his potential plan, but if he hoped to get the Solaria CO on side, it was probably crucial to any future success. He had to have him on side. One thing was certain though, Scott's whole demeanour gave nothing away and that unnerved him somewhat. Wolf was like a book; he could read her easily and that made working with her incredibly easy. This man though, son of a revered Admiral, was giving no clues away.
Scott took a right into CIC, which was now a hive of activity. He looked over at Lieutenant Garcia and gave a courteous nod as she moved to join Hanson and Scott at the command table. The Captain situated himself on the CO's side of the table and picked up the telephone. The chime rang out as he lifted the phone from the receiver. He looked at Commander Hanson as he raised the phone to his lips. “All hands hear this. All hands hear this.” Scott's eyes locked on the Commander's, very seriously, yet much more gently than before. “This is Captain Scott. As of this moment, I am transfering command of the Solaria to Commander Mitchell Hanson, formally of the Battlestar Solaria. Standby for a greeting from your new commander,” he lowered the phone back onto its holder and gave him a nod.
Mitch acknowledged the Captain with a smile and a nod as he lifted the receiver nearest to him on the opposite side of the command table. “This is the Commander,” he declared proudly over the comm. “Today has been a trying one for us all. You would be forgiven for thinking the gods had abandoned us, but it is not us they have abandoned. We are the lucky ones, we have survived. Together, we will continue to survive for many days to come. It won’t be easy, and we won’t be able to do it here. We’re going to have to flee our homeworlds, our home system. We’re going to have to find somewhere new to call home. But, at the same time, we mount our resistance against our common enemy. We harras, we annoy, we hijack and we destroy any Cylon force we come across. We let them know in no uncertain terms that the human race lives on, because we are the lucky ones and they…” he looked around the room at those that were listening to him as he spoke, “they have failed. They have destroyed our homes, killed countless millions, but so long as a single human draws breath, there is hope.”
He took a breath for a minute and considered his next words. They would be important, they would have to be effective and they would have to galvanise his new crew. “In the coming days, people will join us here. They will join this family. That’s what we are now; not just a Battlestar, but a home and those of us that live and work aboard her are a family that depend on one another. I expect to be able to rely on you to do your duty with dedication and a great sense of pride. In return, you can expect me to guide you to the safety of a new home – for that is our mission now; to seek out and colonize a new home. Whether that be planets described in the ancient scroll of Pythia, such as Kobol or Earth, or if it is a new world we come across on our travels. Solaria may be old, she may be damaged, but she is one hell of a fighting machine. She is an angel of mercy in a time of great sorrow and we, her crew, are the guardians of the human race. Mourn your losses, but be sure to celebrate your triumphs. They will keep you alive on the dark days when it seems all is lost. So say we all!” he declared, almost in a sense of triumph as he put the receiver back in its holder.
“So say we all.” Thaddeus repeated after him, a small smile on his face. Around CIC, the Solaria’s officers were repeating the chant over and over again. He didn’t join in, but his smile did broaden considerably as he organized the papers on the command table. He slid them toward the older man and looked at him with a strong sense that he had made the right decision. Only time would tell, of course. Anyone could make promises. He was usually very cynical and didn’t believe in much of anything except himself and, perhaps, his father. But in this man, even if just for a few seconds, he chose to believe. A little hope was much needed. “So say we all.” he said again, nodding.
Deep down, the Commander was rejoicing at the positive impact his speech had already shown, even if only for the remarkable smile on the face of the man opposite him as he slid across some documents. He slid them back in to the middle of the table and shook his head slowly. “I don’t need paper and reports,” he commented. “What I need are people. Paper tells me facts, data, statistics. What I need is the gut feelings of my people; their ideas and their suggestions. We are in uncharted waters now. Facts and data only gets us so far,” he told. He hated paperwork, it was no secret, but he was a firm believer that it certainly restricted people at times. It was time for orders, time for action. “Captain Scott,” he beckoned, more to get the attention of everyone else in the room rather than the man across from him. “A Captain Kilmartin was on the second Raptor. Contact the flight deck and give him carte blanche. I want an Air Group that is prepared to defend us and I want a CAP in the air yesterday. There were some other officers with us. Get them up here so we can put them to work. Then, gather together whatever marines we have and some non-coms. Get them to the depot and scrounge whatever supplies and ammo they can,” he instructed with a nod, “then you, me and Major Wolf need a chat in private.”
Thaddeus made a mental note of everything the Commander said. Not many people would have been able to retain it well, but he already had a game-plan. “Aye, sir.” with a business-like expression as he reached for the telephone again. He keyed in the number for the hanger bay and lifted the phone. After several seconds, he heard a gruff and tired-sounding voice pick-up on the other end.”
“Port Hangar.” he said dryly.
“This is Scott. Do you have a Captain Kilmartin down there with you?”
The man immediately cleared his voice when he’d realized who had called. He spoke again, this time more clearly. “Yes, sir. Would you like me to get him for you?”
“Please.” Thaddeus replied simply as he turned around and leaned on the command table slightly. His eyes roamed around the CIC at people working. They were all sad, to be sure, but there was definitely more energy in the room.
“Kilmartin,” came the previously unheard voice on the end of the line, a slight tinge of hesitation audible.
“Mr. Kilmartin,” he addressed the man simply. “Congratulations. You’re the new acting CAG. Put together a full roster of pilots and coordinate with the deck crew to get those vipers repaired. We need a CAP in the air as soon as humanly possible.” he ordered, then corrected himself. “Faster, than humanly possible..” he spoke evenly, aware that the news he was relaying was heavy. As was her style, she gave the orders plainly.
There was a sigh on the other end of the line. “I have enough Vipers to launch a single CAP, with no reserves. I can shrink the CAP somewhat and hold back some reserves if we need them. We don’t want to be caught with our pants round our ankles if the Cylons show up,” the man told. It was a case of too many pilots and not enough birds right now, but if they put all their birds in the air they would be hamstrung if the enemy came calling.
By his reply, Thaddeus could already tell that he was the right man for the job at the moment. Making wise, snap decisions was very important at a time like this, and he was glad to see evidence that the new Commander was making the right ones at the moment.
“Our pants are already around our ankles. Put a full CAP out and stay aboard to lean on the Deck Crew, Captain,” he said simply. “Everything you need will be at your disposal. Scott out.” With that, he put the phone back, turning to face the command table again. He input a new code for shipwide and spoke. “This is Captain Scott. All unassigned officers who have already signed in at Port Hanger, report to CIC immediately for assignment.”
This time, when he hung up the phone, he didn’t pick it up again, but looked across the table at Hanson. “I’ll get the marines together by your order sir and we’ll take Raptors over to the Depot.” he said calmly, then leaning forward and lowering his voice. “These forms are on ship and personnel readiness, sir.”
It had been a subtle “do your paperwork” from a subordinate to a superior. His eyes held no apology, but there was also no disapproval or amusement. Just a neutral gaze. There would be time for warming up later. For now, the war was on and he knew that the Commander needed the information he’d placed on the table.
Hanson had been watching, observing during the man's recent conversation and so far was quietly impressed. Clearly competent, he now faced a dilemma that he had only a short time to resolve. Wolf or Kendall? Better the devil you know or someone new? “Officer of the Deck,” he called out, still oblivious as to who most in the room were.
"Sir,” Garcia called out from the upper Communications station, automatically reverting herself a role or two once Scott had demoted himself.
“Have Major Wolf meet the Captain and I in the Wardroom immediately,” the Commander ordered as he stepped around the table and headed for the pressurised door that looked more like it should have been on a submarine than a ship of the heavens.
“Aye sir,” the Lieutenant nodded and picked up the nearest telephone to make the arrangements.
“Ok Captain,” the old man smiled, “lead the way.”
Once Thaddeus had recognized that the Commander intended for them to meet before he went over to the Depot, he walked over to Zaira and slid a note under her hand. It held orders to organize the marines and go over to the depot. It also suggested he would be over as soon as possible.
With that out of the way, he nodded to Hanson and lead the way out of the CIC.