You might be Caprican, Sagittaron, Aerelon, or Libran, but when you join the colonial military, you’re all the same. You wear that uniform and you take the fleet’s survival into your hands. You hear Action Stations and it’s go time. There’s no room for hesitation or debate. You question an order and people die. It’s that simple.
The Cylons did some a favor. They gave everyone a fresh start. Before the bombs, you might have been a world-class screwup. You might have gotten lazy. Comfortable. You might even have been considering the virtues of civilian life. Now you can get past all that. Now you get to prove that you’re worth risking the gear you carry. How? That’s easy. Do every frakking thing you’re told. Without question. The alert sounds and you grab your knickers and get running. The CO says shoot, you pull the trigger. The mission is everything. What you want is unimportant. What you need is unimportant. All that is important is that you follow orders. You hear me? Sound off like you have a pair!
That’s better Now. Let’s take a look at what you maggots have gotten yourselves into ….
The Colonial Fleet and Marines
Before the bombs, the Colonial Fleet was the pinnacle of the colonial war machine and the last word on all matters military. Its job was to patrol and defend the Twelve Colonies. It was commanded by the Admiral of the Fleet and the Fleet Command Staff, and ran dozens of installations, institutions, outposts, and facilities throughout the colonial system. Its crown jewels were the battlestars, each a small city with the firepower to devastate an entire planet’s surface.
Attended by gun platforms, support ships, tankers, tenders, and a full complement of fast-strike fighters, these behemoths anchored a full 120 battlestar groups. Hear the lifers tell it, the Fleet was second to none in power, prestige, and—mostly—bureaucracy. Had to belay that talk around the marines though. Technically, the Colonial Marine Corp was a branch of the Colonial Fleet, commanded by the Chief of Marine Corp Operations (CMCO). But jarheads don’t appreciate playing second fiddle to anyone. They had their own ball and played their own game—separate officers, enlisted, and chains of command. About the only time marines didn’t do what they pleased was when a small detachment was assigned to a battlestar or other major Fleet vessel. In that case, the grunts followed orders from the boat’s commanders just like everyone else.
The Colonial Marines were trained extensively in personal and ground combat. There never were many of them, but they made up for it in balls-out ferocity. They were the toughest sons of bitches around. Some smartasses claim that’s because they were too stupid to lay down and die. Didn’t say that much around the marines though. That was a sure fire way to the infirmary. Jarheads don’t take guff from anyone.
The Fleet and Marines maintained separate reserve commands that stayed in fighting shape, but kept out of day-to-day operations. Rank in the reserves was the same, but reservists minded their Ps and Qs around active duty folk.
Course, after the Cylon holocaust, a lot of this stuff stopped being important. Fleet and Marines command—hell, the fleet and the marines—largely ceased to exist. All members of the reserves were called to active duty and every able body, military or not, was pressed into service. Still, lots of traditions remain—the ranks are the same, the basic command structure survives, and training still has to be done.
The Post-Invasion Fleet
Post bombing, the “fleet” is a collection of military, public, and private vessels huddled together and scared out of their wits. The “Fleet” is the Olympia, and those who serve onboard her. Fleet personnel keep the Olympia going and the rest of the fleet alive. The pilots take on the enemy, the deck hands keep them in the air, and the snipes keep the pilot light on.
Top of the Fleet is the brass. For now, that means Colonia Natalie Frost and Executive Officer Karl Valerii. Time may come for others to take over. Command has perks—a little more rack space, a bit better food and drink—but there’s a price to pay. You gotta keep your head at all times. Never forget that every godsforsaken bastard who salutes you is counting on your sorry ass to get them through alive. Surviving when men who followed your orders didn’t is not a pleasant experience.
The Fleets Vipers, Raptors, and support ships are manned by her Air Group. The head honcho is the Commander, Air Group, or CAG. That’s Karl Valerii these days. Generally, flight orders come across the wireless from the LSO, or Landing Signal Officer, but in the event that the CAG is around, his word is law.
Nuggets spend several weeks in the motherly care of an experienced pilot. Used to be simulators kept the screw-ups from ever climbing in a pilot’s seat. Sadly, the Olympia doesn’t have them, so nuggets take the stick of a live Viper. That can be a problem. If you haven’t noticed, we’re a little low on hardware.
Can’t afford to lose any planes every time a nervous stick cracks up out there. It’s worse in Mark VIIs. The new Vipers were designed for computer-assisted flight, but they’ve all been retrograded to avoid Cylon manipulation. Now they buck like a frakking bronco! Fight that stick at the wrong moment and you’ll wind up one of those pretty flares we see outside the porthole every so often.
At one point or another, all pilots get a call sign. Want to avoid living out your days as “Weinner” or “Whiplash?” Then show us you’re worth better. Track kill tallies on the ready room wall and make sure you get some rack time between flights. You’ll need it.
All landings on Olympia are manual—autolanding systems require a computer network. Always confirm the ball with the LSO and keep your distance from other planes on approach. If you find yourself in a combat landing, and you will, try not to approach too hot, keep your bird level, and pray.
The most common pilot duty assignment is the CAP, or Combat Air Patrol. Each CAP consists of two Vipers scouting the edge of the fleet, sometimes with a Raptor if trouble’s brewing. These days at least one CAP is in the air at all times with additional alert fighters standing by in the tubes.
Other pilot assignments include setting up a DRADIS picket to hunt for hostiles and salvaging wreckage we stumble across. Ambush and assault missions are less common, but sometimes unavoidable. Raptors fly med-evac and handle most of the search and rescue missions.
The most experienced pilots are sent on advance recon. This usually involves a Raptor jumping ahead of the fleet to investigate possible destinations. Get in, get the coordinates, get back. Some recon flights drop beacons to throw the Cylons off the fleet’s trail. It isn’t always that easy, of course, which is where the experience comes in.
The hotshots like to talk big, but don’t think the Fleet is just about pilots. Hundreds of men and women work their butts off keeping the Olympia and her birds flying. Chief Petty Officer Jamal Kenner the Olympia’s deck crew, which has the “enviable” job of salvaging the planes that make it back from battle. With limited time and parts, these folks do things with machinery that would make your hair stand on end and salute. They’re the real reason the Cylons haven’t punched our ticket yet.
And you can’t talk about the Fleet without mentioning all the people who on a good day never see a Viper or a Raptor. The command strategists, who plan the Fleet’s missions. The nav specialists, who make sure we don’t jump into a sun. The damage control teams, who bravely run into parts of the ship that everyone else is breaking their necks to get out of At any time, there’s about a dozen people in anyone’s line of sight that never get mentioned, but without them this bucket of bolts wouldn’t make it another week. The Fleet’s pilots might be its fist, but the rest of the crew is its lifeblood.
The Post-Invasion Corps
Since the bombs fell, not much is left of the colonies’ police or local military forces. Cylons made sure of that. A few of those poor slobs made their way onto ships. That’s where all the different patches on the soldiers come from. It’s their right to remember their former units and comrades. Whether they were grunts, cops, deputies, bounty hunters, clerks, cooks, or water boys, they are all Colonial Marines now. Just like the flyboys welcomed pilots from the Triton, the Columbia, and other ships, every fighting man and woman in this gods-lovin’ Corps should be treated with the respect due their rank and duty, regardless of where they come from.
The Colonial Marine Corps owns the ground now. If the threat’s on its feet, it belongs to the marines. Before the clouds, the marines were generally only used for the really sticky situations—the quick assaults, the raptor drops, the hot dust-offs. Those days are long gone now. Marines are the ground pounders now.
Each Marine is assigned to a Senior Marine Commander or the Master-at-Arms, who handles ship security. It’s a privilege to do whatever these fine marines ask, up to and including walking into the path of enemy fire. In the Corps, the Commander is Mother, the Master is Father, and both are gods. Like gods, their ways are mysterious. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, as long as you obey them, you’ll get along fine.
There’s always something for the grunts to do. Not much time for training, though; everyone’s got to pick it up as they go. Brass always needs updated inventory. Some troops are assigned to different ships to sweep every inch for anything suspicious. Anything that remotely looks like it’s toaster-made gets handed over to Dr. ????. Everything else gets catalogued.
Cylon detail never ends. The latest intel on the human models is updated regularly and everyone has to stay on top of it. The marines routinely sweep the fleet. Get in every passenger’s face. Skinjobs get tossed in the brig and the Master-at-Arms gets informed immediately.
Police rosters are posted daily. MPs have to be prepared for anything. Unrest among the civvies, bar fights, another prison riot on the Astral Queen . .
Damn near anything’s possible in the fleet these days A precious few Marines see special duty. The Master-at-Arms picks the best and brightest to be examiners. They report to Sergeant April Wilcott’s, who always seems to have some mess to clean up. Could be a murder, but it’s mostly theft or suspicious activity. Could be some nugget gone missing on the Prometheus. He probably just paid one of Phelan’s girls a visit and got himself rolled. Whatever the mystery, it’s the examiner’s job to get to the bottom of it.
The rest of the marines who aren’t off-shift are on guard duty—the Armory, Fire Control, CIC. Some take the Old Man his food and guard his quarters. Others are on the President’s duty team. Any of them frak up and we’re all in the crapper.