"There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive, somewhere beyond the heavens."

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After the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, the fate of humanity rests with the Exodus Fleets of the survivors. They fight for the continued survival of humanity, to preserve civilization and to someday overcome the looming threat of the Cylon.


Within these fleets of civilian and military vessels, each and every ship has its own unique story. An unlikely veil of survival through the nuclear hellfire of the Fall.


The stories of their fate will be told in this series of one-off chapters and artworks, exploring many different ships and offering decisions on how to integrate them to the fleet and how to bring their stories to an end.


All members of the fan club are welcome to participate in the polls posted with each newly added ship and to suggest future vessels which we might find roaming the Cyrannus System.

SO SAY WE ALL

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File #001 Eurynome, Flight 213
The Forlorn Passenger Cruiser

A lone ship drifting aimlessly is met by a harsh beam of light. It reveals white letters spelling out Eurynome Interplanetary – a passenger cruiser marked in red and blue. Its windows are dark.

Above it looms the silhouette of the seeking survey cruiser, dispatched from the Raven's Fleet to seek out survivors anywhere. But this meeting was not planned. Halfway between Canceron and the Aeolus Belt, in an otherwise completely empty sector, the two vessels have met by chance.


The drifting ship Eurynome has no fleet, no beacon, it transmits no distress call or any kind of signal. There's nothing but faint residual heat along the keel of the vessel, where the heated modules are. On its starboard side, an airlock has been torn open where the passenger cruiser pulled away from its terminal to jump. Besides that, the damage seems almost superficial. Scorch-marks and chipped paint, signs of an older vessel, not one which escaped Armageddon.

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A gruesome display awaits the first valiant rescuers to go aboard. Inside the forlorn passenger cruiser, they step into a metal tomb. The images they transmit to the CIC look as though the gates to Tartaros itself were thrown open and spilled out those torn and burned bodies, lying still in their seats, along with the aisles and corridors of the passenger room. They all face away from their windows, some cover their faces, others are slumped to the floor.
More horrid still are only the signs of life among them, the choir of voices rising, scurrying now toward the light, where they seem to see the coming of salvation.


Amid the moaning and grasping bodies, the sergeant manages to retrieve the flight recorder. From its data, the fate of the Eurynome can be roughly reconstructed:


The Eurynome was among the last to flee from the dying world of Aerilon when the great battle of vengeance raged and the bombs of the Cylon fell in retaliation. As fire fell from the sky and blinded them, the crew managed a miraculous escape, jumping just as the pressure wave hit them. But not before micro fractures compromised the radiation shields of the entire vessel.
The pilots were killed outright by the raging radiation storm and heat enveloping the ship. Of over two thousand and five hundred souls aboard, half succumbed to the effects of radiation within hours. All remaining showed symptoms of the rapidly developing sickness. By the time the vessel reached deep space, no-one left was in any condition to seek out help anymore.


Choice:
VOTE HERE: https://www.strawpoll.me/17040298

Almost a thousand souls are left barely alive aboard the ship, but their lives hang from a tearing thread. For most, there is no hope for recovery at this late stage. Anti-Radiation medicine may prolong their lives, but it is irreplaceable to the fleet.
The rescuing crew stands to decide: What is to be done about those destined to die?


1. Life above all

A human life cannot be weighed. The survivors will be brought back to the fleet, where any and all efforts will be made to prolong their lives as long as possible at all, for as long as it is the patient's wish.
This will prolong the lives of the Eurynome's survivors for a few weeks, but strain the medication reserves of the fleet severely.

2. A dignified end

Facing extinction, humanity cannot enjoy the luxury of prolonging lives already lost. Every effort to ease the pain of the victims will be made and they will unite with the fleet, where they'll be looked after by all – but the Fleet cannot afford to spend vital medication assets on those who will die regardless soon.
This will preserve the medication reserves of the Fleet but strain the morale considerably.

File #001 Eurynome, Flight 213

The Forlorn Passenger Cruiser

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Seventeen days go by before the last of the forlorn survivors meets their end.
Seventeen days spent to allow them a dignified farewell, to ease their pain and give them peace. Days of desperate final hours, of wistful, unlikely reunions followed by a bitter loss. Some were brought aboard the Raven, to receive the best care the fleet can give. Others went to the last botanical domes, to smell the earth and blooming life for one last time. A few never awake, caught in fever dreams for the last long night. 

Seventeen days in vain, none could be saved. One by one, each of the nine hundred and twenty-eight souls have perished, the last victims of the Fall of Aerilon. Every death was reported directly to the officers in command, each body laid out upon the deck of the Raven. 
On the eighteenth day, all priests came together and prayed – no longer for the many lives but for the salvation of their souls, so they may rest by the side of the Lords of Kobol and find peace beyond a world where there is none.

Some were overwhelmed. For some, neither words no silence could quell the desperation. Too much had been lost to them, their worlds, everyone they knew and all remaining hope at last. Some have lost their faith in the fleet, in the future, in the survival of humanity. Their voices remain not unheard. 
In an attempt to cope with the loss of life and mark a new beginning, the forlorn passenger liner is painted white, a monument to all those lost to the Cylon Invasion. It will serve as a shrine to the dead, as a silent place for remembrance. Nobody could bear to have it any other way. 

Thus, the fate of this forlorn ship is sealed. A white grave among the Raven`s Fleet.

                                                           BATTLESTAR    THEMISTOCLES

The Themistocles was one of the 'Light' Battlestars built in large numbers after the first cylon war; It was intended to be A patrol type ship,cruising the borders of colonial space,responding to 'Hot Spots' as they flared up,Deterring smugglers and pirates,and performing special operations and covert surveillance missions; As other ship types began to take over those specific duties,these ships began to be integrated into the standard fleet battlegroups; They have been given upgraded refits over the past 35 years to keep them in front-line fleet service,including upgraded CNP software,which, for many of these ships, would be their downfall.

As the cylons commenced the first wave of their assault,they used A 'Back Door' in the CNP software to literally shut down those ships that had fully downloaded and activated their new CNP,making them dead in space,and sitting targets,which the cylons destroyed with great ease.

The ships that were spared,and able to fight back,or escape, were the ones that did not network their computers with the CNP;Many did not even download the program; Themistocles was one of them.

Themistocles was the first posting of A young viper pilot known as Leonidas;Graduating in the top 5 in his class from the fleet academy on picon,He made his mark almost immediately after earning his wings; His leadership inspired his fellow pilots to excel;And his combat skill netted his first 17 confirmed kills; When the Battlestar Raven needed A new CAG to help build it's air wing,He was the first choice;He left behind A motivated cadre of viper pilots on the Themistocles.

Now....with the Colonies turned into radioactive wastelands,and over 3/4 of the fleet gone,the Themistocles unites with the Raven,along with other survivors of the fleet,to defend what remains of humanity...

Every available ship is needed now;Obviously, Cassius must be neutralized to prevent any brisk to other lives.

File #002 Valinor, Unregistered

Princess Valinor

The Princess Valinor is an old luxury liner privately owned by Anselm Cassius, the founder of Erinyes Industries which served as a prime supplier of small arms during the First Cylon War. The war and his business made Cassius one of the richest men of the Twelve Colonies but left his mind forever scarred with the underlying fear that the Cylon would one day return and wreak vengeance upon him and his family for the destruction their weapons had brought upon the machines.

Following the war, he grew increasingly reclusive, living upon his private ship far from the trading routes of the Helios Delta System. There it was found by a scouting raptor squadron and led to Raven's fleet at first. But the Princess Valinor didn't stay for long.

Seeing the worlds burning took a serious toll on the sanity of Cassius and fed his paranoia. When he heard rumors of an investigation into Cylon agents among the humans of the fleet, the old man took his own crew hostage and jumped his ship far from the survivors fleet.

The lone ship was soon found but answered to any attempt at communication only with threats. The Princess Valinor, so old Cassius said, is armed with a hidden weapons system and will protect itself against any threat. None are allowed to approach the vessel, let alone lead it to the fleet.

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Choice
VOTE HERE: https://www.strawpoll.me/17390677
Not only for the old man's sake it must be decided how to defuse the situation. Whether or not the threat of arms is a bluff is hard to say, but a rogue ship cannot be allowed to roam space alone. It would kill him and his crew before long. The Princess Valinor cannot survive alone. Within a few weeks time, it's fuel reserves will leave it drifting – if it does remain undetected for so long.


1. Send a strike team
The fleet cannot afford to lose this ship or its crew. A strike team of the colonial marines will be delivered to the Princess Valinor via raptor. If any weapons system does exist, a Viper escort will deal with it accordingly. Once aboard, the team will press to take control of the ship and return it to the fleet. Cassius will be taken into custody.

2. Indulge his paranoia
Any attempt to take the ship by force risks disastrous results. If the man cannot be reasoned with, perhaps it is best to indulge him. A small escort of raptors will be dispatched for his "protection" – in truth, to monitor him. In a few weeks time, the vessel must either return to the fleet or it will be left adrift and then overtaken. This way, we expend some resources, but we buy Cassius time to come to his senses.

3. Attempt to reason
Early attempts at reasoning with Cassius have been unsuccessful, but perhaps the man can still be persuaded. A veteran officer of the fleet, who once knew Cassius as a friend during the war, survived the Fall and is aboard one of our vessels. He could be brought in to try and talk sense into his friend.
This is a risky option. It may also backfire and be interpreted by the paranoid man to be a Cylon ploy, causing a violent reaction.

4. Abandon the cause
Cruel as it is, the Princess Valinor has no vital role within the fleet yet. The Raven cannot afford to spend time and resources on the illusions of one man. The crew of the Princess Valinor will have to fend for themselves and find a way to overtake him. Either the ship returns on its own or it is lost forever.

File #002 Valinor, Unregistered

Death of Valinor

In the midst of his wilting garden under a dome of glowing glass, a desperate man awaits the end of his world. Around him, the colonies have fallen, the humankind is no more. Every last hope was lost, every trust he had betrayed. In his mind, he stands as the last, alone in all the universe, where none exist who could help him. 

The mind of Anselm Cassius is finally gone, pushed beyond recovery by terror and fear. Never could he believe for the last of humanity to turn against him, and in the action of the fleet, he saw his worst suspicions confirmed. Not Raptors and Vipers he sees approaching through his dome of glass, but the forces of Cylons who finally found him after all this time.

In his fear, he made an attempt to fire at the oncoming ships, trying to fire weapons the Princess of Valinor never possessed. At last, the crew made an attempt to put an end to his ravings and retake the ship on their own accord, so the lone man fled, suspecting Cylons in human form to have replaced everyone he ever knew. In the central pavilion of his garden, he sat to await his doom and for a time it looked as though there would be no more harm. Without resistance, the strike teams were let aboard, surrounding the garden. The desperate man saw them just approaching and on the green mound of the Princess Valinor, he made his last stand. 

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It is suspected the caches were hidden under the hill, small bundles of explosive material gathered and arranged perhaps for months since the insanity of Cassius began. In the end, they detonated with just enough force to pierce the dome of the Princess Valinor, sending himself and two-thirds of the strike team to their doom. 

...

The casualties of the Valinor incident include eight marines, two members of the Valinor's crew and its owner himself. The vessel itself has left adrift in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, but its energy could be quickly restored and the ship was safely returned to the fleet, where its crew left the craft and it was commandeered by the Colonial Fleet for repairs and repurposing. 

Whatever purpose it will serve in the future should be in service to the souls lost in this tragedy. The garden of this craft, a little world resembling the lost beauty of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, will be forever tainted by the blood spilled. Morale in the fleet has suffered from these events and some voices will be raised, critics of the immediate military action.

File #002 Valinor, SAR op.43

The last guard of Aegis

"Status update: Seekers Squadron, SAR Operation #43.
Approaching colonial transponder coordinates. Bearing 005, twenty clicks out. Dradis contact negative, scanner range minimal. You can't see for frak out there." 

"I've never seen a collision site as dense as this. If this is a civi captain, it's a good one. You could hide an entire convoy out there." 

"Or half the Cylon fleet. Eyes on the screen, ECO, this is a perfect ambush point." 

"FTL drives are spooled up and ready. Let's just hope there is anything worth finding here."


Debris drums like rain against the hull, idly drifting pieces of rock and stone. The two asteroids colliding are tightly bound in their dance of gravity, slowly moving against one another, producing ever new avalanches of weightless gravel. Fine dust clogs up weapon's ports and engines, and the Raptor crews grow weary quickly. Outside, only a dim star shines, but in the mist, there are shadows moving. 

"Lead, we have two blips here, coming in fast from behind, attack formation."

"Where? Turn her around, all callsigns, make ready for a jump." 

"Receiving colonial transponders, civilian. FF codes confirmed." 

"Then who the frak are..."


Before the last word is spoken, a new voice crackles from the open channel. 

"...repeat, identify yourself or be fired upon. This Aegis Intercolonial vessel 'Nereid 23'..."

"We've got them confirmed, registering Mark IV specs. Transmitting identification code. We've found them!" 


Two rocks part, as though the gods want to celebrate a glimpse of hope in the night. A bright light shines on the two oncoming vipers in Aegis colors. They escort the SAR teams to the mothership, an ancient beauty no-one had suspected. From the mist of the collision-site emerges the bulky form of a light picon carrier, likely the last since the first Cylon War. The ship is beaten and damaged by the hailstorm of rock and splinters, but unseen by the Cylon, it survived. 

Ship designs by Kelso323


Colonial Codex Entry #CCE214

Aegis Intercolonial was a large security firm with strong ties to the Tauron military-industrial sector. Maintaining a sizable fleet of decommissioned assets of the Colonial Fleet and modified civilian craft, the company offered escort- and protection services as well as Search & Rescue insurance contracts to multi-colonial corporations. 
Aegis was most often contracted to deter smuggling and outright raids by criminal syndicates and, increasingly during the late inter-war period, para-militant separatist groups. Ironically, many professionals serving with Aegis Intercolonial shared a skeptical sentiment towards the Caprican-dominated unity of the colonies. There exist well-documented cases of Aegis Intercolonial advertising itself as an alternative to the 'inefficient' official protection of the United Colonial Fleet, invoking rather the imagery of pre-Cylon War militaries tied to their respective colony. Allegations of the company's ties to militant independence movements on Sagittaron under the leadership of Tom Zarek could never be proven, however. 

...

The SAR teams are welcome aboard the 'Nereid 23', in a battered old hangar in surprisingly good shape. A deck crew stands ready, some civilians but most are veterans, and so is the captain in a black-orange company uniform, who has come to greet the rescue party in person. 
Within four hours, the 'Nereid 23' can be made fit to jump by the Raptor crews and ready to join the fleet. For this, the captain is thankful enough, but he eyes the colonial officers with some suspicion. 

Choice:
VOTE HERE: www.strawpoll.me/17563846
The Nereid's captain appears to have been a strong supporter of colonial independence. He demands that his ship and crew will be allowed to continue operating as an independent entity in service to the civilian fleet, not the colonial military. Accepting his wish may strengthen voices for independence, which have been divisive in the past. However, denying this wish may only aggravate them. 
The decision lies with the Admiralty: 

1.) Draft ship and crew
These are times of war and if all of humanity stands not united, it stands no chance at all. The Nereid and its crew will serve the Colonial Fleet. They can make demands when the Cylons are defeated. 

2.) Requisition just the vessel
As citizens of the colonies, the Nereid's crew is free to demand what they want, but the fleet cannot afford to leave a military ship, old as it may be, in the hands of civilians. The Nereid will be requisitioned, but the crew may go freely into the fleet. 

3.) Leave the Nereid independent
It may be best to let the Nereid operate independently with the civilian fleet. Not only would it spare the Admiralty a potential conflict with the crew, but it could also relieve the Colonial Fleet by taking over protection duties for the civilians.  

With the colonies gone, they have two choices: Either join and fight with the rest of the surviving human race,or go their way and eventually perish.

File #002 Aegis Nereid, SAR op.43

Watchmen of the Fleet

Seeker Raptors escort the Aegis vessel back to the Raven's Fleet. In a series of short jumps they make their way across Helios Delta, each, within the blink of an eye, edging them closer to the surviving Battlestar and its flock of scant survivors lost in the depth between stars. Their comm channels remain silent, as do marines and representatives in the Nereid's CIC, watching closely the captain who has yet to receive word regarding his demand for independence.

The Nereid's fate is hotly debated aboard Battlestar Raven still, even as the convoy arrives with one last jump close by the fleet. Its heavy escort sets the Nereid easily apart and remains not unnoticed by the ship's masters and civilian captains. The arrival of a warship, old but capable nonetheless, sends ripples of rumors and questions through the fleet. For many, the old world is still alive in their mind, even as the colonies crumbled before their very eyes. For many, the issues of colonial oppression and imperialist Caprica still ring true, even as the rich worlds burn just like the poor.
Before the long, the first tauronese captain, feeling kinship to the Nereid, veers from the fleet formation to join the Nereid on her path, whatever it will be. Tensions rise for as long as the Raven is silent, the admiral's verdict eagerly awaited by the fleet.

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"People of the Fleet – Survivors of the Twelve Colonies, this is the Admiral.
You all know of the arrival of a new ship in our midst, and we all are thankful to have found more survivors of the cataclysm, which has befallen our worlds. And by now, you will all have heard rumors about demands of independence, even secession from the fleet. Voices we all heard before the attack of the Cylon, demands which divided us before the colonies fell.
But in this time of dire circumstance, we cannot allow division, cannot allow ourselves to fight over questions from before the war. We are no longer survivors of Aerilon, of Canceron, of Aquaria, Tauron or Caprica. We are survivors of the human race. And as such, we must stand together, united. 

Nonetheless, in the interest of this very unity, I have sworn to protect, I cannot allow to let a voice remain unheard. For this reason, I hereby announce the reactivation of the Colonial Civil Defence Force under command of the CFDV Nereid. In recognition of the demands for independent action, the CCDF will conduct operations in direct service to the people of this fleet and outside the command chain of the Colonial Fleet. But, under any circumstance, they will remain part of this fleet, part of the unity upon which our survival depends."

The silence remains for a minute longer after the admiral has spoken. For some, these are moments of disbelief, for others hope, anger but for most, relief. Many don't even await the captain's answer, and it remains almost unheard when the Nereid's captain agrees and the CCDF is re-created. Much work lies ahead of the Nereid's crew and those within the fleet who will decide to join the force and bear the burden of protecting, organizing and preparing the civilian fleet for life in a new world, life aboard ships and on the run, a life of war against the Cylon.
The voices who sought independence may thrive in this task, or be kept busy at the least. The unity of the Fleet will stand.



From now on, the CCDF will prepare and coordinate operations conducted by the Civilian Fleet. Its tasks will include disaster mitigation and response, limited recon for civilian operations and the establishment of early warning systems against Cylon raids. Regular maneuver training, jump exercises and the training of civilians, including basic flight training for select candidates, will increase the emergency response times of the fleet, limit civilian casualties and provide the Raven with a greater pool of civilian competence and resources to draw from.

To facilitate all this, however, the Raven will have to expend a portion of materials, shuttles and limited personnel to reinforce and oversee the progress made by the CCDF.

File #004 FLTR, SAR op.521
The Massacred Fleet

Helios Delta burns alone in the night.
One by one, the myriad signals of its countless ships and stations, and even those on the three colonies in its inner system are falling silent. Once at the heart of colonial civilization, the sun of Aerilon, Canceron, and Aquaria will soon be merely one star among the many, a speck of light on a still sky full of demons waiting to vanquish the last remnants of humanity. Never before has the night sky been such a fearsome sight to anyone aboard Gunstar Eusebeia.

Returning from a fruitless rescue mission at Styx, officers and crew are gathered at their stations, waiting. In the observation dome, they gaze at the stars, others listen, hopeful, for signs to come. Ever since the first onslaught of the Cylon Invasion, the aether has been filled with the voices of ghosts. Automated messages still play, emergency systems warning of a cataclysm which is already over. Voice recordings of survivors flare up and are silenced just as quickly. Few hold out hope for rescue, more send one last goodbye to loved ones, curses at the gods or the Cylon. A few seem to seek other survivors for a last moment of comfort before the end.
At lightspeed, the last wave of communications travels outward from the epicenter of the colony's end. Out there, among the stars, the last cries of Kobol will be heard for as long as the radio signals and light transmissions travel, haunting the constellations of the gods.

...

The command crew startles as the ghostly voices are suddenly interrupted by a panicked cry for help. An active beacon, mere light seconds away, has suddenly flared up and called out for help from all vessels in the sector. It's a colonial signal, authenticated, and without hesitation, the Eusebia sets a course for the interception.

Before long, signatures of at least two nuclear detonations are detected. The ship is set to condition one and prepared to return enemy fire. At full thrust, the Eusebeia presses on. The aether is no longer empty. On all frequencies and channels, the call for assistance is repeated. Whoever is calling has given up on concealing their sector, frantically hoping for some sort of salvation. Soon after, DRADIS reveals the first contact to the oncoming Gunstar. Unidentified debris, mangled masses of metal, spinning out of control among the system's outer nebulae.

(full sized image)

In the light of distant Helios, the Eusebeia finds the remnants of a one-sided battle. Her sensors reveal the transmitters of the massacred fleet, twenty-one colonial craft are among the wreckage, all of them civilian as far as the specialist can tell. One or two of them must have been armed, or perhaps rammed the enemy in a desperate attempt of vengeance. A single piece of Cylon wreckage, part of a Baseship hull, drifts amid the remnants of its prey. From the Cylon carcass spills organic residue and bloody matter, leaving a trail of red across the sky.

Whatever battle took place is not long over, and the survivors still cry out. Their ships are dying – all but one. A lone flat-top repair vessel remained operational. Scarred and beaten, yet not dead, it has attached itself to a leaking thylium tanker, rapidly trying to seal off the leaks before the explosion rips all the fleet apart. No other ship seems to have retained functional engines, but there are still survivors aboard, trapped in broken and leaking compartments, aboard shuttles without jump capable drives. It is impossible to ascertain their number, and impossible to render them silent.

Recognizing the oncoming ship, the Flattop's captain calls for assistance in its rescue operations and perhaps aid in jamming the dangerous colonial transmissions. But it is as clear to him as to anyone else aboard Gunstar Eusebeia: The damaged Baseship might have retreated, but the Cylon will return with doubled numbers to finish what they have begun.

Choice:
VOTE HERE: https://www.strawpoll.me/17639871

Time is running out for the massacred fleet. On at least seven of the heavily damaged ships, survivors are still trapped on board. They must number hundreds, cramped into the last pressurized compartments, with no hope of escaping the final Cylon strike. How long it will take the Cylon to rally a force and how big it will, no-one can say. The Eusebeia must decide how to prepare.

1.Rescue as many as possible and flee
The Eusebeia is capable of taking several hundred survivors on board. The issue is how to transfer the people from their wreckages to the Gunstar. Perhaps a few shuttles of the fleet could be mobilized, whilst specialist teams and the flat-top attempt to restore jump-capability in at least a few of the damaged ships.
How successful this attempt will depend wholly on the response time of the Cylon. They could jump in within minutes and everything will be lost – or they may take hours, leaving enough time for the Eusebeia and most survivors to get away.

By choosing this option, the Eusebeia will rescue as many survivors and civilian vessels as possible without risking the Gunstar. As soon as the Cylons arrive, the Eusebeia will give the jump-capable civilian craft covering fire and retreat.

2. Stand and fight alone
Abandoning the massacred fleet as soon as Cylons arrive is just too great a sacrifice. Some of these vessels could be restored if only enough time was given. Should the Cylon arrive before rescue operations are concluded, Gunstar Eusebeia will engage whatever force is fielded by the Cylon in direct combat, buying the Civilians as much time as possible – even at the expense of the Gunstar.

Choosing this option will increase the likelihood of most civilians being rescued. However, there's a chance the Cylon will send a force capable of overwhelming the Eusebeia and destroying it in this fight.

3. Call in reinforcements
If the full potential of this massacred fleet is to be taken advantage of, the Eusebeia will need reinforcements – both to fight off the next Cylon Strike and to restore as many ships as possible to a jump-capable state to utilize them for Raven's fleet.
The fleet found by the Eusebeia is an asset large enough to justify calling in the Raven Battle Group itself, which will likely be able to easily dispatch any Cylon force sent to deal with the crippled civilians.

However, this option will reveal to the Cylon that the Raven Battle Group is still operational and active in the Helios Delta System. So far, the Cylon have spread their forces out wide, expecting any colonial survivors to have fled the system entirely. Upon learning that the Raven is still in the system, the Cylon will likely engage in a much more active hunt, putting more pressure on the Raven's Fleet in the future.

In that case, Cylon Model Zero and her fleet might pop up...



Alexander Falkberg said:

File #004 FLTR, SAR op.521
The Massacred Fleet

Helios Delta burns alone in the night.
One by one, the myriad signals of its countless ships and stations, and even those on the three colonies in its inner system are falling silent. Once at the heart of colonial civilization, the sun of Aerilon, Canceron, and Aquaria will soon be merely one star among the many, a speck of light on a still sky full of demons waiting to vanquish the last remnants of humanity. Never before has the night sky been such a fearsome sight to anyone aboard Gunstar Eusebeia.

Returning from a fruitless rescue mission at Styx, officers and crew are gathered at their stations, waiting. In the observation dome, they gaze at the stars, others listen, hopeful, for signs to come. Ever since the first onslaught of the Cylon Invasion, the aether has been filled with the voices of ghosts. Automated messages still play, emergency systems warning of a cataclysm which is already over. Voice recordings of survivors flare up and are silenced just as quickly. Few hold out hope for rescue, more send one last goodbye to loved ones, curses at the gods or the Cylon. A few seem to seek other survivors for a last moment of comfort before the end.
At lightspeed, the last wave of communications travels outward from the epicenter of the colony's end. Out there, among the stars, the last cries of Kobol will be heard for as long as the radio signals and light transmissions travel, haunting the constellations of the gods.

...

The command crew startles as the ghostly voices are suddenly interrupted by a panicked cry for help. An active beacon, mere light seconds away, has suddenly flared up and called out for help from all vessels in the sector. It's a colonial signal, authenticated, and without hesitation, the Eusebia sets a course for the interception.

Before long, signatures of at least two nuclear detonations are detected. The ship is set to condition one and prepared to return enemy fire. At full thrust, the Eusebeia presses on. The aether is no longer empty. On all frequencies and channels, the call for assistance is repeated. Whoever is calling has given up on concealing their sector, frantically hoping for some sort of salvation. Soon after, DRADIS reveals the first contact to the oncoming Gunstar. Unidentified debris, mangled masses of metal, spinning out of control among the system's outer nebulae.

(full sized image)

In the light of distant Helios, the Eusebeia finds the remnants of a one-sided battle. Her sensors reveal the transmitters of the massacred fleet, twenty-one colonial craft are among the wreckage, all of them civilian as far as the specialist can tell. One or two of them must have been armed, or perhaps rammed the enemy in a desperate attempt of vengeance. A single piece of Cylon wreckage, part of a Baseship hull, drifts amid the remnants of its prey. From the Cylon carcass spills organic residue and bloody matter, leaving a trail of red across the sky.

Whatever battle took place is not long over, and the survivors still cry out. Their ships are dying – all but one. A lone flat-top repair vessel remained operational. Scarred and beaten, yet not dead, it has attached itself to a leaking thylium tanker, rapidly trying to seal off the leaks before the explosion rips all the fleet apart. No other ship seems to have retained functional engines, but there are still survivors aboard, trapped in broken and leaking compartments, aboard shuttles without jump capable drives. It is impossible to ascertain their number, and impossible to render them silent.

Recognizing the oncoming ship, the Flattop's captain calls for assistance in its rescue operations and perhaps aid in jamming the dangerous colonial transmissions. But it is as clear to him as to anyone else aboard Gunstar Eusebeia: The damaged Baseship might have retreated, but the Cylon will return with doubled numbers to finish what they have begun.

Choice:
VOTE HERE: https://www.strawpoll.me/17639871

Time is running out for the massacred fleet. On at least seven of the heavily damaged ships, survivors are still trapped on board. They must number hundreds, cramped into the last pressurized compartments, with no hope of escaping the final Cylon strike. How long it will take the Cylon to rally a force and how big it will, no-one can say. The Eusebeia must decide how to prepare.

1.Rescue as many as possible and flee
The Eusebeia is capable of taking several hundred survivors on board. The issue is how to transfer the people from their wreckages to the Gunstar. Perhaps a few shuttles of the fleet could be mobilized, whilst specialist teams and the flat-top attempt to restore jump-capability in at least a few of the damaged ships.
How successful this attempt will depend wholly on the response time of the Cylon. They could jump in within minutes and everything will be lost – or they may take hours, leaving enough time for the Eusebeia and most survivors to get away.

By choosing this option, the Eusebeia will rescue as many survivors and civilian vessels as possible without risking the Gunstar. As soon as the Cylons arrive, the Eusebeia will give the jump-capable civilian craft covering fire and retreat.

2. Stand and fight alone
Abandoning the massacred fleet as soon as Cylons arrive is just too great a sacrifice. Some of these vessels could be restored if only enough time was given. Should the Cylon arrive before rescue operations are concluded, Gunstar Eusebeia will engage whatever force is fielded by the Cylon in direct combat, buying the Civilians as much time as possible – even at the expense of the Gunstar.

Choosing this option will increase the likelihood of most civilians being rescued. However, there's a chance the Cylon will send a force capable of overwhelming the Eusebeia and destroying it in this fight.

3. Call in reinforcements
If the full potential of this massacred fleet is to be taken advantage of, the Eusebeia will need reinforcements – both to fight off the next Cylon Strike and to restore as many ships as possible to a jump-capable state to utilize them for Raven's fleet.
The fleet found by the Eusebeia is an asset large enough to justify calling in the Raven Battle Group itself, which will likely be able to easily dispatch any Cylon force sent to deal with the crippled civilians.

However, this option will reveal to the Cylon that the Raven Battle Group is still operational and active in the Helios Delta System. So far, the Cylon have spread their forces out wide, expecting any colonial survivors to have fled the system entirely. Upon learning that the Raven is still in the system, the Cylon will likely engage in a much more active hunt, putting more pressure on the Raven's Fleet in the future.

File #004 FLTR, SAR op.521
The Massacred Fleet

For just a brief time the dying fleet becomes alive once more, jubilations erupting at the arrival of the Eusebeia. The Gunstar is reached by no less than a dozen colonial hails, pleas for help, questions and the voices of people who deemed themselves doomed. 

Wrecks set adrift are pulled back into loose formation and thrusters flicker aboard metallic hulks cold and torn. The debris fields surrounding the massacred field are glowing soon with the flickering lights of stuttering engines, and the burns of transport shuttles going back and forth between the heavily damaged ships. Vipers dispatched to observe the progress illuminate the broken ships with searchlights along the way. Further out the Gunstar's raptors are on the constant lookout for unsuspected Dradis contacts. Their warning will give the fleets no more than a few minutes time before a Cylon force rapidly deployed would reach and destroy the bulk of the fleet. 
Looming, the dark form of the Gunstar lies in the midst among civilian craft, a lone protector far from the might of any Battlestar Battle Group.
The truth of the matter remains unspoken between the ships. Of course, the captains must expect the military to protect them. Of course, the Gunstar will have to save whoever they can, as soon as the Cylon force arrives. 
Tensions run high among all survivors. Reports of fights erupting aboard some of the damaged ships are no surprise to the commanding officer. But besides a few hot-spots, the fleet is surprisingly calm. It is, as though the souls aboard these dying vessels already resigned themselves to a dire fate and they dare not grasp for hope. Their desperation rises as minutes pass and minutes torn into half an hour, an hour, one and a half. 

Eventually, the first begin to risk hope for their brethren. One after another, the first three damaged ships are cleared in record time. Marines from Gunstar Eusebeia are deployed with the shuttles to ensure the smooth transfer of refugees and their presence alone reassures the survivors. Just enough time passes for the frantic rescue to develop something of a calm routine. It barely begins to settle in, when the claxons aboard the Gunstar howl. 

"Three, negative four Baseship contacts, bearing 65 degrees. Raiders launching." 

The harsh sound of automatic orders cuts short the last discussion about rapid rescue operations. The commanding officer has all civilian captains on communication lines when the order is given for all shuttles, vipers, and raptors to return to base. 
The many lights illuminating the wreckage of the massacred fleet converge on a single point. Taking on all craft as quickly as it can manage, the Gunstar turns about, presenting heavily armored top and prow to the foe, readying kinetic energy weapons and flak screens to intercept the enemy. 


On the dark sky erupts a wave of white lights, flaring up and into existence are the Baseships jumping in. Raiders launching are seen on the Dradis Screen and the first missiles fire, even before the Eusebeia flak jumps into action. 
Sirens sound throughout the ship, muting the cries of refugees cramped onto the landing deck. Escorted by marines they are herded into secure sections, whilst the craft's main batteries turn and send the first volley thundering against the oncoming foe. The whole ship shakes as the cannons speak, rows of Flak and point defense cannons, intercepting warheads and raider squadrons, heavy gunships bearing down on them, seeking to take out the main batteries. Right next to the Eusebeia, a piece of wreckage is hit, a glaring white like foretelling the explosion of a nuke. Other damaged vessels struggle, try to veer away, but their flight with sub-light engines is futile and ends in sure destruction. 
Over comms, the Eusebeias CIC listens to the survivors die, a harrowing echo of their voice remaining in the aether even after the explosions. Debris and wreckage are too easily swept aside and soon, the full brunt of the attack first hits the Gunstar directly.

The detonation shakes the ship with violent tremors, bulkheads buckling, walls and beams breaking. In several compartments the lights go out, in others, fire sends a red shine paints darker shadows. 
One damaged vessel manages to jump away, a second makes a blind jump into the unknown. The sudden blips on Dradis are all that indicates Eusebeia's success in the rescue of at least some. The commander has no more time to spend. The jump-drives are spooled up, all stations make ready. 

The shock is unexpected when the Flat-Top jumps. Still attached via scaffolding to the damaged tanker ship, the captain does the unthinkable and commences to jump. A ripple in space and time immediately tears the repair ship apart, but at the same time, sends out a wave of shock through the damaged ship. 
All sensors are blinded by an all-encompassing explosion, as enriched Tylium is sent exploding in a wave across the sky. Even the Cylon appear stunned in this split seconds, no less than a hundred raiders caught in the scattering debris and shards. Chunks of the ship, mere centimeters wide, are turned into deadly ordinance as they are flung from the scene at relativistic speed, tearing not only through a Basestar's hull but also through the main section of the fighting Eusebeia. 

Struck with sudden debris and the explosion from the flank, the vessel buckles, and turns. A red light blares in CIC where there was once the Hangar Deck, the entire section perforated now by shrapnel of the tanker's detonation. Just a second later, the Eusebeia jumps away. 

...

Six days later, Raven's fleet is reached by a burnt and creaking wreck, found finally by the rescue raptors sent to look for Gunstar Eusebeia. The craft is bent and broken, flying with just one of the stuttering sublight engines. But no less than six hundred rescued survivors are still aboard, injured and nearly starving, but alive. 

The Eusebeia returns to the fleet, bringing the last remnants of the massacred fleet. One passenger liner making the unplotted jump is still missing, presumed stranded somewhere on the Cyrannus rim. One grain freighter made it, eternally grateful to the Eusebeias sacrifices. Of the Flat-Top, the Gunstar brings nothing but a tale of bitter victory. At least two Base-Ships and their raider squadrons were heavily damaged in the suicidal jump. The Cylon fleet has been dealt a considerable blow, and Raven's presence in the system remains a closely guarded secret still.

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