"ONE OF THE OLDEST IF NOT ALREADY THE OLDEST ORGANIZATION FOR BATTLESTAR GALACTICA"
KEEPING THE FAITH ALIVE
BEFORE THE WAR - Part I
Data File – History of the STO/The Reformation of the Church/The Hibernian Alliance
The original Celtan settlers came to Hibernia, Virgon’s moon, hundreds of years ago seeking independence from the Virgoan monarchy. For most of those centuries they were ignored because despite its breathable atmosphere, Hibernia is a harsh, cold moon. The Celtan people live in large extended families, known as clans. Each clan tends small herds of sheep or cattle, and grows herbs and vegetables. Although they live simply, they are not anti-technology like the Sagittarians. There were a number of Virgoan monarchs over the years who sought conflict with the Celtan settlers. The Virgoan military, known as Redshirts for their scarlet uniforms, were always met with the same steely resistance by the Celtans. However, the tribes knew that they could not resist the invading Redshirts with a few guns and farming tools forever.
Like most of the Colonies, Celtan people believe in a polytheistic pantheon, however they see each of these deities as an expression of a particular set of qualities found within the Divine. This shared belief in monotheism led to an alliance between the Church and the Celtan people. The chieftains of the clans reached a desperate agreement with the STO shortly after the Reformation; the STO would provide the Celtans with Cylon warriors who could hunt indefinitely through the freezing Hibernian nights and never feel the cold, and in return the Hibernians would send the eldest child from each family to join the STO training camps on Gemenon. Similar alliances were struck with resistance groups on Sagittaron, Scorpia and Canceron, greatly swelling the ranks of the STO, and leading to the creation of the STO boarding School on Gemenon.
The bright, red eye flashes back and forth in the darkness of the freezing Hibernian night. The machines body armour is the dappled white and grey of snow camouflage, perfect for blending into the Hibernian wilderness. The STO agent gestures at the sleek machine, addressing the chieftains of the clans he says, ‘A Cylon Commando typically operates alone or in a small group. It has all the assault capability of the earlier Cylon Marine model; however it is also a surveillance and reconnaissance unit. They have proven capable of covering large distances in jungle and desert terrain, and have been specially modified for deployment on a frozen moon, such as Hibernia.’ The machine performs a demonstration; attacking a series of moving robotic targets on a rocky hillock just outside the town.
The chieftains watch the demonstration with awe, murmuring amongst themselves. The mobility, accuracy and intelligence of these killing machines will surely give the Celtan resistance the advantage over the Virgoan invaders. Although they all agree the price is too expensive by far, they know that this is the only future for their people. ‘We thank ye for this little demonstration Mr Sinclair,’ says the spokesperson, a large dark haired Celtan chieftain, ‘You’ll forgive me for saying so, but the price you ask is extortionate. No, don’t mistake me Mr Sinclair, you’ll get our youngens for your training camps,’ the chieftain says, his anger plain. ‘Their sacrifice will protect our way of life, they understand what will become of them, and have all sworn an oath to fight for the One. My son, Rónán, is the eldest, he will look after them.’
The group of children are bought to the old transport starship docked on the edge of the town near the demonstration site. Odin watches them approach, steeling himself to stoically meet the gaze of the chieftain, Owain. The man’s anger is a palpable thing, but his restraint is admirable – Odin respects him greatly. These Celtans will be a valuable addition to the growing ranks of the STO training camps. Odin personally recommended the Celtans to the Blessed Mother, his own Father had once told him stories of their ferocity in battle and that they were stout believers in monotheism. Through the time he had spent in negotiations with the chieftains of the clans his respect for these proud, independent people had grown enormously, and he smiles now as he watches the quiet efficiency with which the older children herd the younger ones into the transport, stowing them and their gear safely, before taking their own seats. The naturally charismatic and friendly Hibernians would also help to mediate between the now diverse membership of the STO. Similar deals had been struck with peoples on Gemenon, Sagittaron, Canceron, and Scorpion. The alliances were so successful that the Church had created a school to house and train all of the children too young to enlist. He faces the Chieftain, ‘Thankyou Owain, your people will not regret this.’
‘Take your hostages and been gone, lad. Leave us to our grief,’ he spits at Odin’s feet, turns and walks over to the waiting Cylons. Owain begins to give instructions to the Cylons about their mission to hunt down the Redshirts and to protect the Celtan settlers. The transport takes off and is soon lost in the stormy Hibernian night.
The Cylons listen to their orders and respond in unison, ‘By your Command,’ before also disappearing into the darkness.
As Owain approaches the town hall, the sound of the howling wind is replaced by the wailing of the women. The price of their freedom will forever change the Celtan people; he hopes that the other chieftains were right.
Odin gives the order and the pilot engages the engines for take off. Despite the age of the transport it flies relatively smoothly through Hibernia’s stormy atmosphere. Once the ship has cleared the storm clouds and levelled off the pilot begins the FTL drive preparations for the jump to Gemenon. Odin decides to go and check on the children, unsure if they have experienced a FTL jump before. He sees the boy Rónán sitting at the front of the group of children, he looks young for sixteen, but Odin is pleased to see that he is putting up a brave front for the younger ones. ‘Listen up children! Can anyone tell me what an FTL jump is?’ he asks them. After a moment’s hesitation, a number of the children raise their hands tentatively. Odin points at one of them.
The young boy answers eagerly, ‘FTL stands for Faster Than Light; an FTL jump allows a starship to travel really, really long distances through space, just like that,’ he says as he snaps his fingers. The other children nod in agreement with the boy’s response.
‘Excellent answer, very well said. Well we are about to make an FTL jump to Gemenon in a few moments, its perfectly safe, but can be a little bit scary at first. Just stay in your seats and relax, we will be at the Sanctuary on Gemenon before you know it,’ he says with what he hopes is a reassuring smile. He takes his own seat next to the boy Rónán as the pilot’s voice announces the jump. There is the familiar, yet disconcerting sensation of space folding and then it is over, they should now be in orbit far above Gemenon. ‘This is it children, your new home, Gemenon.’ The children murmur their excitement at seeing the beautiful, red planet as night steals across the visible surface. ‘We are now entering Gemenon’s orbit, and will be landing near the Sanctuary soon. Most of you will be going to the Revered Mother’s school, however,’ he pauses as he reads from the list he holds, ‘Rónán, Micheál, Hannah and Áron will be coming with me to the Pustiu Training Camp. I want everyone to grab their bag now and be ready to fall out when we touch down on Gemenon’. The children quickly grab their meagre possessions and return quietly to their seats.
Returning to his seat Rónán takes a deep breathe and lets it out slowly in an effort to calm down. Got to be strong he chides himself, although he can feel the sting of tears in his eyes. He glances furtively around at the other children to see if anyone saw his moment of weakness, but realises that they are too caught up in their own grief to notice his. He remembers his Father’s words in the moments before they left Hibernia, ‘Rónán, you’re the eldest lad amongst them, if you’re strong, they will feel safer. It’s time for you to be a man now.’ Rónán steels himself to set an example for the others, and to show this man Odin what it means to be a Celtan.
Odin leans in and says to him quietly, ‘When we dock on Gemenon there will be a bus waiting for the children to take them up the mountain to the School. I need you and the other three to organise the children like you did back on Hibernia. The Blessed Mother will have sent one of her Holy Sisters to take charge of them.’
Rónán nods his head, ‘Yes, sir’.
‘Good, once we have seen the children off, the five of us will hike into the desert to the Training Camp. It will be night, so the temperature drops pretty low, however I can’t see you kids having any trouble with even the coldest nights here on Gemenon.’
‘No, sir,’ Rónán says with a shake of his head.
‘Just call me Odin, kid,’ he says and claps him on the shoulder.
The transport lands at a remote airstrip in the foothills where they are met by a school bus. Waiting there is a young woman wearing the habit and veil of a Holy Sister, her pretty face and hands the only visible parts of her body.
Once the ship has landed and the airlock is open, the children are ready in a double file line, boys and girls paired roughly by age, each holding a small bag. They exit in an orderly fashion and reform in front of the Holy Sister. Under the spot lights the sister’s eyes gleam, they are an unusual shade of blue, so dark that they look purple. Rónán meets her gaze, remembering the words his mother instructed him to say, ‘Good evening Holy Sister, these are the children of Hibernia, come to dedicate their lives to the service of the One’. Rónán is captivated by her extraordinary eyes; he feels an image building in his mind, but tries not to be distracted by his ‘imagination’ on this important occasion.
‘Welcome children, I am Mother Aurelia, the Principle of the Sanctuary of Artemis,’ more quietly, she says to Rónán, ‘Close your mouth boy or you are liable to start catching flies in there.’ Addressing the assembled children again she says, ‘Please climb on the bus over there and we will drive up the mountain to the Sanctuary.’
As the children climb into bus, Rónán makes a hasty retreat, embarrassed at being caught daydreaming already.
Odin passes him on his way over to speak to Mother Aurelia, ‘They’re a good bunch, guess there is something to be said for bringing kids up in the country. Send my thanks to the Blessed Mother Aurelia.’
Aurelia draws a sealed letter from her robes for him, ‘Her Blessed Reverence also sends her thanks to you Odin,’ she says with a smile as she turns and climbs onto the bus. The engine coughs into life, and the bus has soon disappeared in a cloud of red Gemonese dust into the darkness beyond the airstrip’s lights.
Odin gathers the small group together to brief them on the next leg of their journey. He lights a joint, takes a few liberal puffs, before passing it to Rónán, ‘OK recruits, we hike into the desert now, it’s roughly 4 hours from here to the current location of the Training Camp. This is known as the Pustiu Desert, it is a vast trackless waste, riddled with caves and full of poisonous or otherwise hostile creatures. If you survive ten weeks of basic training here, you will go on to become STO. Your training begins now!’ The transport ship has also taken off by the time the small group are ready to head out into the eerie dark of the desert, silent now except for the howl of the wind.