Story and Groups
The Original Celestra Crew
Three days ago, the crew of The Monitor Celestra was quietly going about its business. This didn’t stop crew members from grumbling about shitty air-scrubbers and long shifts, or from frakking around in general out of pure boredom. Three straight months of silent observation on the outer borders of colonial space had awakened a particular eagerness to return to Minos Spaceport, and deliver Project HERMES data-drives to their employers in the Vergis Corporation. Even more important, docking would allow them to shuttle planetside and plant their feet firmly on the ground again.
The Celestra could not only accommodate a core staff, but also scientists. The HERMES researchers were hired by Vergis Corp to gather and analyze anomalies in electromagnetic radiation. To most outsiders, the project would seem like a routine operation. There were even crew jokes circulating about Vergis investing a considerable amount of time, cubits and effort into merely listening to random space noise. Only egghead physicists and computer scientists might possibly feel any sort of enthusiasm for such a project.
The single break in the unrelenting routine of the mission happened en route back to Tauron. Something unforeseen arose from out of the static. A message.
“Humanity’s children are returning home.”
Captain Polos with officers, navigation, mechanics, engineers and most of the members of the FTL and sublight crews were a close knit team. They had been shipping out on The Celestra on a variety of missions long before being tasked with taking the HERMES scientists on their snail-pace tour of the Red Line. Polos and crew knew their ship as well as anyone could, and had formed strong bonds as well as festering enmities among themselves.
During the most recent trip, Project HERMES evolved into gathering dirtside radiation data in complement to deep space findings. To manage the increased workload, fresh talent was employed just before the departure, eight months ago. The new recruits would run shuttle and exo operations.
The Celestra is primarily crewed by Taurons. A few off-worlders belong to the science department, headhunted by Vergis Corp for their specialist skills.
The Vergis Corporation
Vergis Astrophysics Researchers
On approach, The Celestra docked at Vergis 73, a corporate spacedock in geosynchronous orbit over Tauron. Only hours before the Cylon attack on The Twelve Colonies, a group of high ranking members of Vergis Corporation boarded The Celestra for an unannounced inspection. To most of the crew, the incident was no big surprise. One or two may have raised an eyebrow when recognizing high-ranking board members in the boarding party. Bringing a team of armed security guards could be explained by their prominence alone, but the destruction of The Twelve Colonies carries its own legacy and it may be more than a coincidence that these movers and shakers happened to end up in charge of a Monitor-class ship of their own - a ship also carrying secrets highly relevant to the entire war effort.
From Galactica’s point of view, integrating The Celestra into what remained of the fleet was of utmost importance. The ship would simply have to comply with Commander Adama’s orders. There could be no exception to his rule. Vergis, and its hold over The Celestra, was a serious threat to this military necessity. Simultaneously, some felt that uncovering the possibly dangerous secrets of Project HERMES was an objective worth pursuing in itself. Regardless, The Vergis Corporation had a way of bending Caprican laws to their own ends, no matter what the competition may have been. They would rarely walk into a conflict without a card, or gun, up their sleeves.
Vergis Corporate Executive
War hit Vergis 73 hard and fast. The Monitor Celestra was saved by not having docked when raiders blew the station out of the sky. Despite direct orders to abort from Vergis board members, the Captain and the crew of The Celestra did the only decent thing as the attack escalated into nuclear holocaust. They tried to pick up as many refugees as they could find, and fit, into the ship before the Cylons burned Tauron to cinders. Some of these refugees were picked up from surviving vessels in low orbit, but one desperate run was also made to Minos (a.k.a. ”Tauron City”, as Capricans say), where many a clan member lived before the attack. This heroic effort was full of hellish decisions. Two members of the original crew were lost during the rescue mission. Adria was killed by falling debris, and Jane decided to turn her place over to a civilian.
Almost the entire population of Minos was wiped out as the first bombs fell. When The Monitor arrived, most of their loved ones could only be assumed to be dead or dying of radiation poisoning. And most of them were. Still, after searching through the debris with the Monitor-ship’s hyper-effective thermal and bio-sign scanners, trawling all radio frequencies for signs of survivors, the crew managed to find a few pockets within the city where the screens showed the flickering signs of life. The Cylons used Neutron bombs, apparently planning to repopulate the devastated planet, so radiation was quickly dropping to survivable levels. The first survivors were found in a nuclear bomb shelter reserved for high ranking members of the Tauron government. Since many went missing, some spots had been given to the best minds of Tauron which could be reached and saved during the few minutes passing between the first warning and the attack itself. The second pocket of survivors was located in the vast and ancient underground maze beneath The Temple of Taurus. When the bombs fell, the upper levels served as a place of refuge, while the lower levels remained what they always had been - a meeting place for religious sects. A place of death and shadowy dealings, where the criminal syndicate Ha’la’tha could work undisturbed by the watchful eye of Tauron authorities.
In the end, the people who found a haven in Monitor’s cramped crawl spaces were a disparate lot. Some were clan members. Some foreigners. Some were people who used to hold political, religious, or clan based office, wile some were just trying to disappear. Some survived thanks to their exceptional skills, while some made it thanks to exceptional luck. Or, as some might call it, by the grace of the Lords of Kobol. And while a Caprican might easily have taken a look at this group of Tauron refugees and thought that they must be useless and lost, any Tauron would know that true power would not be found in crude material possessions, but rather in bonds of loyalty. Even among strangers, the strings tying a person to clan and religion would remain strong among the Taurons. Both the crew from Galactica and the Vergis board members would find that they weren’t the only forces at hand to be reckoned with, when it came to deciding the fate of The Monitor Celestra.
Just as the last civilians tore each other to pieces, in the vain hope of boarding The Celestra, Captain Polos received news of the total destruction the main Colonial Fleet in the battle of Virgon, including the destruction of Admiral Nagala’s flagship, Atlantia. Hope was lost.
Refugees, lining up for new duties!
Shortly after the first wave of attacks, Commander Adama assumed complete command of the remains of the fleet. President Laura Roslin ordered all surviving ships to organize and flee the war zone. Since The Monitor Celestra was FTL - equipped, it was ordered to take passengers from other surviving ships which could not make the jump themselves. This was the first of several events which would strain the Tauron/Caprican relationships onboard. Instead of being allowed to pick up Tauron clan members, the crew of The Celestra was forced to open their airlocks to Capricans.
Sure, several of them were VIP’s, of some sort, but in no way important to the survival of the human race. Nor were they family or clan, like many of the Taurons left behind would have been. Among the people who came in by shuttle were some well known Caprican pop culture celebrities, along with family members of high ranking politicians and wealthy industrialists. It didn’t take long before the rumors started, that these new Caprican refugees paid their way to safety.
Along the rest, a group of pencil-pushers sent out by the Roslin administration arrived. They had been tasked to take stock of supplies, people, skills and defensive capabilities onboard The Celestra. Their purpose was to redistribute such resources within the fleet, a fact which made their presence less than appreciated. Plenty of resources simply vanished before them. While the old world burned and fell to ruin, many argued that all available assets would have to be shared, that the concept of ownership did not apply anymore. What humanity needed, it would have to take - from the keeping of the few, to sate the need of the many. Others sought the opportunity to claim as much personal wealth as possible. Yet others were just desperately trying to cling to whatever they happened to grab, in fear of losing everything.
A few members of what used to be Vergis Corporation’s worst rival - Greystone Industries - seized the opportunity to join Roslin’s redistribution effort. Whatever the HERMES research project was all about, the competition was dead set to steal and profit from it. Among the Vergis board members, and even among the scientists, the whole scheme was like an old, festering wound. It wouldn’t be the first time Capricans would have made cubits off of Tauron innovativeness and entrepeneurship, and in fact a very similar incident had resulted in the creation of the enemy, the Cylons, destroyers of humankind.
The Galactica Crew
How the frak can we make this into a warship?
With tensions rising both within and outside The Celestra, Galactica’s XO Saul Tigh convinced Commander Adama to seize military command of the ship. While most of their crew was busy with stocking ammunition at the Ragnar station, a Special Operations team was briefed in one of the back rooms of the Galactica. A Captain, bridge officers and a flight-crew capable of operating The Monitor without any aid from its original crew were tasked with remodeling The Celestra into the warship she once was. They were given marines, Viper pilots and engineers to help accomplish their goal. At this point, no one was talking about a hostile takeover, but when the fleet left Ragnar Station, the inherent conflict between The Celestra and the Galactica started growing ugly.
Commander Adama ordered Captain Polos of The Celestra to hold off the Cylons, while the civilian (and for the most part, Caprican) ships made the jump to safety. This order was intended to be followed through, even if it effectively meant to sacrifice their own sorry Tauron butts. Captain Polos responded that The Celestra was, itself, a civilian ship - and even though they would agree to target the Cylons in the beginning of the battle, they’d definitely refuse to put themselves in the frontline or risk sustaining heavy damage. In the end, they would jump before all other civilian ships were out of the thick, something which would be interpreted as a blatant disregard for standing orders.
After making the jump, the order came down: The Celestra was to send a shuttle to the Galactica to receive their part of the weapons and ammunitions from Ragnar Station. When the shuttle operators arrived on the hangar deck - along with the promised arms and supplies - an armed Special Ops team from the Galactica waited for them with orders to take the shuttle back to The Celestra, and assume control over the remilitarization of the ship.
The message they were sending was clear: This Tauron vessel would be under strict Caprican superveillance, and anyone who started giving orders contrary to the will of the military command could potentially be relieved of duty.
The network and hardware engineers were set to go to work on the interior of the ship, cutting cables and shutting down networked computer systems to avoid a Cylon virus from infiltrating the ancient and powerful mainframe. The original crew members were naturally outraged, claiming they had already taken ample precautions to make sure an infection would be impossible. The Monitor Celestra was, after all, a warship build during the First Cylon War, and especially designed to play a deadly game of hide and seek with the enemy. She would not even have survived the initial attack, had she been vulnerable to the same digital weapons which rendered most of the fleet helpless through Baltar’s Command Navigation Program.
And then, exactly 33 minutes after leaving the Ragnar Station, the Cylons attacked.