DISCLAIMER: I don't own the show or any part(s) of it. Though I have taken some direct dialogue and such, so please, please, please don't sue me, I'm just a poor college student. The character Alexa Nyx does however belong to me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to individual_68 for the beta. Any mistakes are mine.
FEEDBACK: Please! I have more stories on the way, but feedback helps get them faster.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Anything in Season one.
SEQUEL: To Epoch of Night.
33 Minutes till Hell
By Aeryn Ryker
The woman jettisoned out of the launch tube and into empty space. Around her flew other Vipers, all flying in formation with Captain Alexa Nyx at their lead. As they sped up, rushing out towards the vastness of space in order to meet the Cylons head on, Nyx said a prayer to Artemis and Athena.
"Lords, once again, I ask that you keep Laura safe. And if you could let me live to see her again that would be really great." She whispered into the nothingness of the space.
"One minute to mark, everyone OK out there?" Nyx asked over the wireless.
"Never been better, Captain. I'm just out here living the dream," Starbuck replied.
"Well that's good to hear; now everyone stay sharp. I know you're tired, but we've got a job to do. DRADIS contact!" She announced. Her screen showed multiple bleeps.
"Copy that, Artemis, you know what to do," Dualla replied.
"Alright, break formation; protect the civilians at all costs. Don't stray behind the recovery line!"
She looked ahead as a Cylon Basestar launched hordes of Raiders. Nyx blinked her eyes, trying to clear the severe lack of sleep from them.
For the two-hundred and thirty-seventh time in five days, Nyx shot at the incoming Raiders. She took out a few here and there, but it never seemed to suppress the on coming storm.
Flipping her ship around to go after a Cylon that had gotten past and there, just behind the Galactica, Colonial one was still clearly visible.
"Get out of there, Laura!" She whispered desperately. She gave a relieved sigh as she finally saw Colonial One jump away; later than usual. Everyone was getting slower.
"Last ship has jumped, Artemis." Dualla announced.
"Alright Vipers, Combat landings. Let's head home."
She threw the throttle of her Viper and headed towards the landing bay, dodging fire all the way.
But she made it.
"You have 32 minutes, people." Chief Tyrol said, walking away from an exhausted crew. Young Cally rubbed her temples and groaned as she got back up to work.
"Captain Nyx, back to the ready room?" Lee Adama asked.
"Where else would we go?" She winced at being so short with him.
"Yes, sir." He nodded in understanding and headed off.
"Cap'n, how are my ships doing?" Chief asked.
"Great. They're doing great, Chief." She said rubbing her own temples as she walked out of the deck and down a hallway. Every step she took became harder than the last; but she kept moving. Five days with out more than a few minutes sleep at a time. All her training had not prepared her for this.
She entered the ready room and walked to the podium. She stared blankly at her pilots, each one slumped over.
"Alright," she began, clearing her throat to get the attention of everyone. "Combat landings expected again to be the order of the day, so double-check your undercarriage before... Look, you've all done this 237 times. You know what to do. No mistakes, and let's make it to 2-3-8. And good luck, and be careful out there." She walked out of the room, not giving anymore encouragement than that; not figuring anyone cared anyway. 237 times of saying the same frakking thing didn't matter.
She forced herself to keep walking; hoping it would help her stay awake. She didn't know where she was going but when she walked past Commander Adama she stopped.
"Commander, do we have a plan?" Nyx asked, knowing she was out of line.
"I have an idea, yes." He said slowly; sleep deprivation effecting even the highest in command.
"It's been 130 hours, Sir. How much more are my pilots expected to take?" Again, Nyx knew she was out of line.
"Whatever it takes, Captain." He said, leaving no room for argument.
Nyx didn't pay attention to his tone of voice, though. "Are you trying to kill my pilots?" She asked, irritated. "Do you actually have a plan, or are we just going to play this game till we all get shot down?"
"This is not my fault, Captain." He emphasized her rank. His voice was raised, and the people walking down the gang ways turned to watch. "I did not ask for this to keep happening. I have 61 members of crew in sick bay due to exhaustion; what would you have me do differently?" He yelled gruffly.
"Nothing, Sir." She slumped her shoulders, truly apologetic.
"Good; one out of every three of your pilots is to start taking stems, every third cycle. That's the best I can do for now, so please, do your job and let me do mine." He walked away; Nyx had her orders.
"Pilots, listen up!" She called out in the hanger deck. She walked into the middle of the room and the group surrounded her; forming a circle. The deck hands continued working, fixing and refueling as fast as they could, so Nyx had to yell to be heard. "One in three, step forward." She ordered. It was a random drawing; as fair as could be.
Starbuck, Apollo, and a hand full of others stepped closer to their CAG.
"Everyone else is dismissed; you know your orders." The remaining saluted and returned to their Vipers. "The rest of you; I have orders directly from the Commander. This was not my decision, I cannot control it." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a metal tube. Popping open the top, she poured tiny white pills out onto her hand. "You know what these are; every third cycle everyone will take turns taking stems. It's an order, not a suggestion."
Slowly the pilots took the pills from her hands and went back to their Vipers. She looked at her hand and saw one remaining pill. She knew who it belonged to.
"Starbuck!" She called out as loud as she could. She walked towards the blonde girl, who ignored her until she reached her Viper.
"Did you forget something?" Nyx asked, showing her the pill in her hand.
"Maybe you miscounted." She offered.
"No, Starbuck, I didn't miss count. Why? Because I'm wide awake; I already took mine." She replied sarcastically.
"Good for you; I don't fly with stems." She stated. "They frak up your head and your ability to fly. NO."
"I don't care; it's an order. From both me and the Old Man."
"Why are we arguing about this?" She raised a challenging eyebrow.
"Because you're a pain in my ass, what other reason would there be?" Annoyance clipped every word.
"I don't know, you're the CAG, start acting like one." Starbuck replied sharply.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Nyx asked angrily.
"We all know you don't want to be CAG; it's a well known fact you are going to step down; fine, go! But don't give piss poor orders and expect the squad to follow them to the letter when we know you don't want to be here. Give it to Lee and back the frak down!" She pushed Nyx in the chest with her index finger; getting in her face.
"My not wanting to be CAG permanently does not shadow the fact that I am the CAG now!" She stood up straight, using her extra few inches to look down on Starbuck.
"'Be careful out there?' Our job isn't to be careful; it's to shoot Cylons out of the frakking sky! 'Good hunting' is what you say; and now one of your idiot pilots is acting like a child and refusing to take her pills. So she either says 'yes, Sir' and obeys a direct order, or you smack her in the mouth, and you drag her sorry ass down to sick bay, and you make her take those pills." She stares Nyx in the eyes, not backing down.
Nyx laughed at the outrageous situation playing out; Starbuck followed suit. "I'm really glad you're not my replacement."
"Aren't you, though?" she laughed.
"Am I going to have to smack you in the mouth, Lieutenant? I'm really in the mood to hit someone right now; and I'd love for it to be you." Starbuck rolled her eyes.
"No, Sir. I will take my pills, Sir." Starbuck took the pill from her hand and crunched it.
"Carry on." Nyx said, rolling her eyes right back.
She got a mock salute from Starbuck. "Yes, sir."
"Captain Nyx, report to the CIC." Came the PA.
Nyx ran as fast as she could; hyped up on the stems.
"Captain, report!" Adama ordered.
"All pilots safe and accounted for, Sir. We are however, damaging Vipers faster than we can fix them." She answered, jogging towards the commander and Tigh.
"We have a bigger situation, Captain. We're missing a ship from that last jump."
"Sir?" She asked, not sure what was going on.
"The Olympic Carrier. It's a passenger liner; 1,345 passengers." Tigh explained.
"Yes, sir." She understood. This was bad.
"We're not entirely sure what happened. But that's the news for the moment. The plan, however, is a different story. What we're going to do is split the fleet up into three groups. Gaeta thinks they might be tracking a specific ship and we have no way of knowing what ship that might be. Each group will jump to three different locations, wait 33 minutes and jump to a common location. Which ever group gets attacked during the first cycle will have to be weeded out further. " He explained.
"Weeded out, Sir?" Nyx asked, disliking the words intensely.
"Is there a better term?" Tigh answered sarcastically.
"Not off the top of my head." She admitted.
"The Vipers are going to stay with Galactica which is going to stay with Colonial One, obviously. Keep in mind your pilots will get a lot of flak for 'abandoning' the other ships. You understand your squads roll, don't you?"
"Protect Colonial One; Protect Galactica." She saluted.
"Alright, pilots. Here we are again, lovely day for a fight, wouldn't you agree?" Nyx made light conversation.
"Of course, Captain, but if you start seeing things, don't say I didn't warn you." Starbuck called out.
"Starbuck, you took stimulants, not a hallucinogen." Apollo laughed.
"Focus guys!" Nyx ordered. "Five seconds. Three, two, one. All fighters prepare for combat."
Nyx looked at her DRADIS. Nothing.
"Galactica, Artemis. I'm not picking up any contacts on DRADIS, copy?"
"Copy that, Artemis, clear on our end as well. Stand by for orders."
She waited, and as always her thoughts drifted to Roslin. It had been five days since they had seen each other. Nyx was sure Roslin would be exhausted; stressed from her new found roll in the fleet.
"Artemis, Galactica. We are now at Condition Two through out the fleet. Return home."
"You heard the order, get some sleep. Starbuck, Boomer, Apollo; you guys are sticking with me. We'll fly the first CAP. Three hour rotations." She ordered and she watched as all but three ships landed.
"So, Artemis, not that I'm not thrilled at the aspect of flying next to you for the next three hours, cooped up in my cockpit, but why are we so lucky?" Starbuck asked.
"Take a guess." She laughed.
"Cause, we're on drugs?" she asked, but knew the answer.
"You hit the Cylon on the head. This patrol is 100 percent stimulated. How's everyone doing?" Nyx looked over to see Boomer's Raptor flying in formation with her.
"Other than the ants crawling behind my eyes?" Asked Boomer's ECO. Everyone laughed.
"Besides that, Boomer, how about you. Doc says you holding up better than everyone."
"I'm tired like everyone else." She replied, and Nyx caught a hint of aggravation.
"You just never seem it " Nyx started, but was interrupted by Starbuck.
"Cause she's a Cylon!"
"You gonna make me come over there and kick your ass, aren't you?" Boomer asked, and Nyx laughed.
"My money's on Boomer, Apollo, how 'bout you?" Nyx asked, jokingly.
"I don't know, they're both kinda small and scrawny, it would be a pretty even match." Apollo laughed back.
"Hay!" The two girls yelled.
"Watch it Apollo, those two against each other might be a fair match up, but both against you; you'd be dead before you could say 'frak.'"
"That's right!" Boomer laughed.
"Ok, pilots. Lets set up a patrol before you guys start shooting at each other." She laughed. "Starbuck, you'll be Apollo's wing; Boomer, you're on me." She ordered and flew away.
"DRADIS contact!" Dualla shouted in her ear, scaring the frak out of Nyx who had been zoned out during the patrol.
"Got it, Galactica!" She looked at the bleep on her screen, and raised an eyebrow at just seeing one.
"It's the Olympic Carrier, Artemis. Confirmed; stand down." Dualla said, sounding relieved.
"You heard her; stand down everyone. Everyone get over to that ship; investigate the extent of damage it must have taken." Nyx ordered, flipping her Viper around and rushing towards the gigantic passenger ship.
"Got it!" Apollo replied, and Nyx saw him and Starbuck racing towards the ship as well.
"Olympic Carrier, this is Viper 4212, call sign 'Artemis,' do you copy?"
"Artemis, Galactica Actual; we are at Condition One, Captain. The clock is reset. Do not let that ship near the rest of the fleet until the clock has passed the 33 minute mark, do you understand? And find out how the hell they survived while you're at it." Adama ordered privately.
"Aye, Commander. Olympic Carrier, do you read?" Nyx asked, again calling to the liner. She had reached it and had started circling it before she got any response.
"Viper 4212, this is the Olympic Carrier; thank the Lords of Kobol we found you!" Came a male reply, relief thick in his voice.
"Where did you go?"
"We had a problem with our FTL drive; we never thought we'd find the fleet again; figured you would have made several more jumps since the time we disappeared."
"Sir, I've been directed to ask you how you escaped the Cylon's." And the answer better be a good one, she thought.
"Your guess is as good as mine. They were closing in on us when the rest of you were jumping. I thought we were goners for sure. After you jumped, they broke away. Someone must've been looking out for us." His answer, for whatever reason, sounded forced to Nyx.
Bad answer, she thought. "Roger that, Olympic Carrier; please hold your position for the time being."
"Copy that, but one other thing, Artemis; I've got a Dr. Amarak onboard. He claims he has an urgent matter to discuss with the President. He's been driving me crazy."
Nyx raised an eyebrow, "Could you be more specific about the subject matter?"
"I'm afraid I can't. He says he knows something about a traitor in our midst; he won't give the details to anyone but the president."
"I'll let Galactica know; it's their decision, not mine." she replied, flipping a switch to cut off communications with the ship.
"Artemis requesting Galactica Actual." She said flipping another switch so she could speak privately to the Battlestar.
"Galactica Actual, you've got a private line with me and the president, Artemis." Adama said and Nyx held her breath.
It had been five days since she had heard Roslin's low, sweet voice. Nyx longed to be on the Colonial One with her, by her side. As it should be.
"Madam President, did you happen to listen in on the Carrier's explanation?"
"I did, Captain Artemis, what are your thoughts?" Nyx cracked a wide smile at the sound of Roslin's voice.
"I don't buy it, it was the tone of voice, and the fact that the Cylons just left them alone is way too weird. There's got to be a catch."
"I agree." Both Roslin and Adama replied at the same time.
"Commander and Madam President, with all due respect, I suggest we cut off all communications with the Olympic Carrier until the 33 minutes is up."
"Agreed, Captain; Order Boomer to jam all transmissions until further notice." Adama ordered.
"Yes, Sir." Nyx opened up her wireless to her pilots. "Boomer, Artemis; you are ordered to jam the transmissions of the Olympic Carrier."
"Captain?" Nyx could hear the question in the young pilot's voice.
"Straight from the Commander, Lieutenant, and straight from me." Nyx ordered.
"Boomer, Galactica; you are also ordered to send a message by signal light to the Olympic Carrier." Dualla's voice cracked as it came over the wireless.
"In position now, Galactica." Nyx could see Boomer's Raptor fly in front of the Carrier's cockpit.
"The message is as follows: Maintain present position. Do not, repeat; do not approach the fleet until further notice."
Nyx watched as the Raptor blinked its message to the offending ship.
"Message delivered." Nyx said, after the blinking had stopped. Nyx once again flipped the switch to have a private conversation with the president and commander.
"Galactica Actual, the message has been delivered and their course has not been halted. Requesting instructions."
"I'm getting a bad feeling about the direction this is going." She heard Roslin say, and Nyx sighed, knowing the older woman was right.
"So am I, if that ship possesses a threat to this fleet, we will have to eliminate it."
"I understand, Commander." Nyx closed her eyes and sighed again, praying it wouldn't come to that.
"I don't think they got the message, Artemis." Starbuck called.
"I see it, Starbuck." She said opening up her wireless "Boomer, break wireless silence on my authority."
"Copy that, connection is free." Boomer replied, swinging her Raptor around and flying to line up behind the small squad of Vipers.
"Olympic Carrier, you are ordered to stop your engines immediately!" Nyx raised her voice to give the commanding order.
"I suggest we evacuate the passengers and eliminate the ship." She heard Adama say.
"That's all fine unless they're tracking one of the passengers." Roslin argued.
Gods, don't make me have to kill any innocent people! Nyx prayed.
"Olympic Carrier, this is Captain Nyx. You are ordered to stop your engines immediately or face the consequences." She couldn't believe the words had come out of her mouth, but she had no choice.
There was no reply from the approaching vessel.
"Galactica, Artemis. No response, no reaction."
"Are you using the same channel?" Adama asked, already knowing the answer.
"Yeah, but it seems nobody's home all of a sudden. Starbuck, fire a burst across their bow."
"Copy that." She said kicking in her throttle and firing the warning shots.
"Galactica, we have a problem." Nyx said. "The ship is headed right for you. No signs of slowing, and no directional change."
"We see it, Artemis." Dualla said.
"Galactica, they are refusing all orders and heading directly towards the fleet. We are awaiting instructions."
"We have ordered the fleet to commence jump 240. Get us between that ship and the flee-" Adama started.
"DRADIS contact, Commander! Strike that, multiple contacts; visual confirmed."
"Radiological alarm; Cylon's are on a two minute intercept course!" Boomer's ECO called out.
"Copy that, Crashdown." Dualla replied.
"Crashdown, where's the alarm coming from?" Nyx asked.
"The Olympic Carrier, Sir. The signature is coming from the Olympic Carrier; they've got nukes on board."
"We have to destroy the Olympic Carrier immediately, Madam President." Adama said.
"There are 1,300 lives aboard that ship!" Roslin argued.
"We don't know that. The Cylons may have captured them already. We don't know what happened." Adama argued back.
Gods forgive me for what I'm about to do. Nyx prayed.
"It's them or us, Madam President!" Adama argued.
"Do it." Roslin replied softly.
"We are ordered to destroy the Olympic Carrier and return to Galactica."
"It's a civilian ship!" Starbuck argued.
"It's a civilian ship with nukes. Look in the windows, Starbuck. I can't see anyone in there, can you? The Cylon's will be here any second. We have to do this, let's just do it. Apollo, Starbuck; form up with me, we'll make one pass from astern."
"What if we're wrong, Alexa! What if " Apollo started but Nyx ignored him.
"Fire on my mark."
"No frakkin' way, Nyx! Come on!" Starbuck called back.
"Mark!" Nyx yells and begins to fire alone. Moments later, the two others join her.
Nyx sat alone in the Galactica ready room. She stared at the podium that she had stood at 238 times. She had ordered her pilots to do many things over the past few days. Always reminding them of their jobs. Giving them encouragement, and keeping them going. She was good at what she did.
"Are you just going to sit there, because it feels like forever since I've seen you." She heard a raspy, tired voice whisper from a few feet away. Nyx looked up and let out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
"Laura." Nyx sighed getting up.
"I gave the order, Lex. This is my responsibility." Roslin said taking a step towards the younger woman, pulling her into a tight hug.
Nyx felt the tears start their trek down her face. "I pulled the trigger, Laura. That responsibility is mine."
"It will be OK, Lex." Roslin hugging her harder.
"It's been hours. I couldn't have imagined what it was like not to have to jump every 33 minutes."
"Why aren't you sleeping then?" Roslin murmured into her hair before pulling back to look Nyx in the eyes.
"I'm on drugs, what's your excuse?" Nyx smirked.
"It's been five days since I kissed you. And now Adama has informed me that you are no longer in command, so I hopped on the first Raptor over here."
"To ask you one last time: Are you sure that this is what you want? From what I hear you did a fine job doing whatever the frak it is that CAG's do."
Nyx laughed. "I'm good at everything I do, Madam President, but mostly I just want to be able to boss you around."
"Oh, you think I'm going to let you boss me around do you?" quirking an eyebrow.
"Oh, I think you'll happily hang on every work I say."
"Captain Artemis?" Roslin asked.
"What?" She said impolitely with a smile.
"Did your smart ass miss something when I said it's been five days since I kissed you?"
"Because, Captain Atermis, you haven't kissed me yet."
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