Harry had ran straight out of his quarters and was trying to make his way towards the bridge. Several more explosions rocked Ascension, throwing Harry against the bulkheads. Lily appeared next to him, looking completely unaffected by the sudden shift in the deck. The look on her face however was one of pain and shock. The damage must have been extensive to be affecting her like this.
"Multiple explosions all over the ship, mostly non-critical systems. Hull integrity is holding, and we haven't lost main life-support. However, with the amount of damage to the non-critical areas we've lost primary FTL and sub-light. We're on emergency propulsion enchantments. Main sensors are online and fire suppression wards have activated," Lily said.
Harry was thrown hard to the deck as another explosion, much stronger then the last ran through the ship. Harry pushed himself off the floor and said, "What was that?"
"Massive explosion on the Bridge. Ten people were on duty in there," Lily reported. Harry quickly made his way to the bridge quickly. Usually he'd simply have Lily re-link a corridor or hatch to get there, but that was just too dangerous at the moment.
"What about the Automatic repair charms?"
Several people raced around Harry trying to get help where it needed to be. Harry pulled a headset out of his pocket and pushed it into his right ear. He had been meaning to hand some off in order to keep in contact, but he hadn't had time just yet. Lily disappeared but her voice was still filtered through the headset.
"We're getting casualty reports from all over the ship. Sickbay is almost completely full now," Lily reported.
Harry nodded as he bent down and checked someone laying on the deck, he checked for a pulse and found none, it was when he took a closer look he saw who it was. John was on the deck dead. Harry closed his eyes and gave him a moment of silence. He got back on his feet and kept trying to get to the bridge. He noticed the carbon scoring on the bulkhead nearby. John must have been passing here when it went off.
Harry tapped the headset as he went and said, "Castleman, report."
"We're trying to help the medical crew get all the wounded treated. I've got all my people down here trying to maintain some control over the situation," Castleman reported.
"Where are you?"
"World room, we had at least five major explosions in here. All of them in crowded areas, including the temple," Castleman answered.
Harry closed his eyes and stopped shortly. Elara was a priestess, a woman of peace, she wouldn't have ever hurt anyone. He bottled that up and would deal with it later, there was no confirmation that she was dead, but he had a feeling she had passed beyond the veil. He thought for a moment and then said, "I want you to scramble all vipers. I want them out there and in the air right now."
"Are we under attack?"
"No, but I've got a bad feeling about this. We've lost FTL and primary sub-light propulsion. Even with the backup flying enchantments we're pretty much a sitting duck," Harry said.
"Understood," was all Castleman said before disconnecting.
Harry got to the bridge and threw his hands in front of his face as fire lashed out at him. He could see several bodies on the deck, some draped over a rail or two. Harry could hear some of them moaning in pain. Some of them were still alive. Harry could hear some of the crew come racing down the corridor. A quick glance behind him was enough to see it was medics and other volunteers.
Without a second glance he pulled out his wand and cast a flame freezing charm on himself. The lead medic saw him and yelled out for him not to go in there. He didn't listen. The medics were shocked when the fire seemed to leave him untouched. Harry started casting flame suppression charms all along the path he walked. The medics were able to start moving onto the bridge and start checking the injured. Harry walked to the helm and navigation consoles and found Rose laying face down on the deck. A check of her pulse showed that she too had passed.
Harry started levitating debris off of the injured, and did what he could to respect the dead. Harry sighed as he noticed the scorch marks on the deck, near the helm controls where Rose would have been seated, same as John and that bulkhead. Once was chance, twice coincidence that was all it was at the moment. Still, it was strange but Harry filed it away for later. Right now he was checking one of the last casualties of the explosion. Harry shook his head and nodded to the medics who took the body away. Harry immediately started trying to pull together as much information and control over the ship as he could.
"Lily, do we still have sensors?"
"Short-range only. Long-range sensors are offline. I've been able to get sub-light back to fifty percent."
"Keep an eye on those sensors. We don't want to be caught with our pants down. Focus on propulsion and navigation as it relates to repairs, we need to be able to get out of here as soon as possible. Are there any habitable planets in the local area?"
"None that I'd recommend. Hull integrity should hold until repairs are completed. I've also got the atmospheric containment fields on standby," Lily reported. The Atmospheric Containment field was really a modified bubble-head charm that Harry had had designed for large areas and space travel. Just in case.
Leoben ran onto the bridge at the point as consoles and control panels slowly regenerated. Harry nodded to him as he raced from console to console trying to identify what happened. Leoben slid up beside him and said, "It looks like someone might have broken into one of the armory storage units. Seven detonators and a couple pounds of high explosive are missing."
"We have either a traitor or a spy on board," Harry said, his face setting into a hard line.
Leoben looked at Harry, worried at this shift in behavior. Before he could say anything an alarm sounded from the short-range sensors. The radio burst from the combat air patrol said it all.
"Incoming Cylon raiders bearing 314 karum 229!"
"Who told you to set those explosives?" Cavil shouted as he dried the fluid from the resurrection tub from his hair. He was pissed, mostly because three, four, and five had acted unilaterally. He was sort of pissed that he had taken an explosion to the face. Blast waves hurt.
"We managed to get a fix on their location. We got a signal through to the basestar that was undetected. This was the perfect time to strike," Three pushed.
"It was logical to strike them with the opportunity that presented itself. If they reach the Galactica fleet they will be harder to strike," Five said in a dull voice.
"We cannot allow a ship as powerful as Ascension to fall into Colonial hands," Four offered.
The red hair of Rose practically flashed past Cavil as she grabbed five by his collar and pushed him against the wall. She snarled, "Did you have to put the bomb under my seat?"
"Were you in on this Six?" Cavil asked?
"No, it was a shock when I got a pressure wave where the sun doesn't shine," Six snarled, then slammed her knee into Five's crotch.
Cavil winced, he at least got it in the face. He shook his head and said, "Since you three decided to make a preemptive strike, we will take the opportunity and strike now. Ascension is crippled, a better opportunity will not present itself in the near future. Either we'll eliminate a threat, or have a better understanding of how Potter reacts."
"I don't see two, he must still be over there," Six noticed.
"At least for now we'll still have someone on board, if Potter somehow survives," Cavil mentioned.
The group moved into the basestar's control room and gave the order to jump.
"Castleman! I need you on the bridge ASAP!" Harry yelled over the comm system.
Harry raced over to the Command Chair and sat down in it. As he did he ordered, "Lily, activate all available weapons systems. Charge the main cannons and set all rail guns to auto fire. Reroute all repair charms to propulsion, we need to get that Jump Drive back online. Leoben, bring us about. If we can't run we'll face them until we can make a run for it. Lily, open a channel to the vipers.
"All Vipers, this is Commander Potter. Do not fire unless fired upon. Repeat, do not fire unless fired upon first."
Leoben had rushed to the helm and was carrying out Harry's orders. He was in the dark but he could figure out what happened. Some of the others had decided to act without a consensus. His best option was to continue on at this moment as if nothing was different. Also, he could watch Potter and have more to report if and when he was resurrected with the others.
Harry stood from the Command Chair as Castleman arrived. Harry looked at the approaching fleet as two basestar's jumped right in front of them. Harry could hear the major cursing under his breath. After a moment of thought Harry ordered, "Lily, hail them, all frequencies and translations."
"What are you doing?" Castleman asked.
"Testing them," was all Harry said.
"Cylon basestars, this is Commander Harry Potter of the Terran Starship Ascension. Currently, there is no state of hostilities between the Terran people and the Cylon Collective. That can change very quickly. Right now this ship is engaged in humanitarian operations. I've heard a lot about you and yours. That you are all just malfunctioning machines. And a machine cannot go against it's programming. I'd like to believe that you are more then that, that you are capable of more complex thought then just logic and coded responses.
"Do not mistake this as weakness on our part. If you open fire I will unleash every weapons system I have available and destroy your ships. We will defend ourselves and the civilians under our protection. However, we will not fire unless fired upon. Understand though that if there should be war today, it will be on your own heads." Harry made a cutting motion with his hand to his neck to end the transmission.
Castleman slid up to his side and said in a low voice, "Diplomacy with Cylons?"
Harry shot him a sideways glance, "Let's be honest with ourselves. We're severally crippled and we don't even know how well Ascension will stand up against one basestar let alone two. I only managed to survive the first encounter by luck. No, we give them the first shot, buy ourselves some time to get FTL back online."
Castleman shook his head, "You are acting as if you are dealing with a human commander over there. Cylons don't do diplomacy, even when it is offered or attempted."
"Maybe, but we don't have a choice. And giving them the choice might force them to consider things first. Even if it's a few seconds, it works in our favor. I'm not going to start a fight, but I will damned sure finish it." There was nothing anyone could say to that. They all knew his priority was keeping them all alive, even if it meant running.
On board the lead basestar, the Cylons recently of Ascension were debating their next course of action.
"He's bluffing," Three said,
"He can't possibly survive against two basestars and full compliments of raiders. He's buying time to repair his ship," Five said.
Cavil shook his head, "We don't know that. We have no idea what kind of weapons he has on that ship. Have you looked at the Dradis readings? We can't even get a target lock because of that energy shield of his."
"He doesn't know that. He is just as blind to us as we are to him. We have superior firepower, regardless of the type of weapons," Four said.
"No, this is more then that. He's testing us, trying to see what we'll do if the flag or truce is offered," Six stated.
"We can't know that. He could just as easily turn on us once he reaches the Colonials," an Eight offered back.
"Humans can't be trusted, no matter where they are from," Five said.
Six just shook her head, "He's not going to open fire until we do. After that he will only be our enemy because we made him."
"This isn't just a test by Potter. God is testing us, our resolve to carry out his will," A random two said.
"We vote," Cavil said. For a few moments the Cylons connected with their breathern and came to a consensus.
Three turned to another control and placed her hand in the data-stream.
"They are trying to hack our systems!" Lily reported. Harry shook his head in disappointment. He turned to Lily and saw her face set in deep concentration. Harry ran over to his command chair and turned to Castleman.
"I was hoping to buy a bit more time with that. Castleman, take tactical and coordinate the Vipers and Fire systems. Leo, evasive maneuvers, keep the main canons lined up with the lead basestar," Harry ordered.
The scene on the view screen glided as Ascension turned into the battle. The chemical exhaust of several warheads was already visible on a trajectory towards them. The streaks of railgun and particle beam fire soon joined the sight as Castleman fired the guns to intercept. Vipers and Raiders could be seen exploding as their fuel ignited and were shot down. Harry brought up the display and assessed the battle space.
He turned to Lily and asked, "How many Ravens have we been able to build?"
"We have one full squadron, however we have no pilots capable of flying them," Lily reported.
Harry thought for a moment and check the status of the Jump Drive repairs. With all the energy refocused on to those areas for the repair charms the system was back to eighty percent. It would have to do for the time being. They could make a short jump away from the battlefield, but that would assume the fighters had a chance to get back. He checked his calculations and turned to Castleman. "Launch the new warheads I developed. Good time to see if they were worth the material."
From outside it appeared as if a swarm of fireflies had just flown out of the ships launch tubes. The weapon Harry had developed was based on the idea of an exploding hex combined with a magical core overload. They flew faster then the missiles the Colonials and Cylons preferred. The small explosions as the raiders were thinned out proved their effectiveness against smaller craft, however due to the Raiders and interceptor fire only a fraction of the weapons launched actually struck one of the basestars. It wasn't enough to destroy it, but they could see parts of the hull exposed to space. Harry shook his head, that had not worked as he had hoped, but the fighter screen coupled with the Cylon's firing solution was effective.
Harry turned to Castleman and asked, "Any suggestions?"
Castleman had been trained in this theater of combat. Harry was more then willing to admit that when it came to this sort of thing he was out of his depth. He could handle ground tactics and fighting wand to wand. He was not however versed in navel combat, on the water or in space. All he had was years of intuition and luck on his side. Harry waited for a moment as Castleman arranged the fighters. FTL was online, shields were holding for the moment, nothing major had gotten through just yet.
"RADIOLOGICAL ALARM!" Castleman called out. A pair of Raiders had launched a total of six nuclear war heads at them. The vipers had managed to get two of them, but the rest were inbound. Interceptor fire cleared out another three, leaving one that seemed to not want to go down.
Harry hit a control on his chair to connect him to the rest of the ship, "All hands brace for impact!" A moment later Ascension rocked hard from the force of the explosion. Across the ships fires broke out as circuits over loaded and relays failed.
"Shields are at sixty percent. Most of the hard radiation was blocked however some got through, it's being absorbed by the hull plating. Structural integrity is compromised on deck twenty-one section ten, eleven, and twelve!"
"Evacuate that area and seal it off. Do we still have jump capability?" Harry asked.
"The Jump Drive is barely holding on as it is, if we are going to run we need to do it now!"
After thinking for a moment Harry turned to Castleman, "I'm ordering a launch on all Ravens. Lily, tie their guidance and weapons control systems into primary control. Major, order the Vipers to prepare for immediate landing. We've got one chance at this, if this doesn't work we're screwed."
"What are you going to do?" Castleman demanded. He didn't like the idea of sending out a flight of fighters with no pilots, it seemed to easy for the Cylons to take them over.
"It's time I show them the error of their decision," Harry said and sat in the Command Chair. Castleman watched as the chair leaned back, bright light from above illuminating it, almost casting the rest of the bridge in shadow. Castleman noticed on his tactical screen that all the Raven immediately assumed formation and broke to attack the Raiders. The Viper Pilots were shocked at the skill of the unmanned craft that started clearing out their enemies.
"I've lost helm control," Leoben reported.
"Because I have it now," Harry quietly responded. Leoben watched him closely as Ascension suddenly jumped.
It's came out of the jump only 50 kilometers above one of the basestars. The energy canons opened fire, burning through the heavy armor and metal and igniting the internal atmosphere of the command ship. The basestar exploded in a massive fireball as it's reactors were breached. Ascension was for a moment lost in the fireball, only to fly out the other side of the now dissipating explosion.
While this was happening, another aspect of Harry's mind was attacking the remaining basestars data network. He broke in and copied their star charts, technical data, information on their cyber attack tactics, and intelligence on the location of the Galactica.
The Cylons that had made the decision to attack were still in their CIC, watching as Potter's forces seemed to suddenly decimate their ships. Suddenly, the three that had started the attack screamed and grabbed her head, falling to the floor.
The disembodied voice of Harry Potter came through the ship, "I gave you a chance, I gave you a choice. We could have been friends, and if the possibility exists in the future we may still be able to come to an accord. You however decided to attack me and those under my protection. You would murder innocents, commit genocide against an entire race. I warned you, you did this."
Screams of panic filled the ship as Centurions turned on the human form Cylons and themselves. The hybrid screamed as systems were stripped of her control, FTL drives overloaded and became useless scrap. Cavil tried to maintain control, to order an immediate retreat.
Before the atmosphere of the bridge was lost he heard a final message, "I am the Master of Death, destroyer of worlds. Welcome to my war."
It was the last thing Cavil would hear before he resurrected again.
"Recall all fighters!" Harry suddenly ordered. Castleman was knocked out of his stupor and gave the order, authorizing combat landings for all Vipers as the Ravens stuck it out and kept the raiders at bay. Once the last viper was aboard the bay sealed and the Raven all turned and flew towards the final basestar. The Raiders tried to stop them but were unable to prevent the kamikaze run that would destroy the second of their basestars. Ascension turned and started to move quickly away from the battle zone. Before the Raiders could do anything, the strange vessel disappeared in a blink of light.