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Thursday, December 12, 2019

CONTEST OVER - "Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica"

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who entered.  See below for the answer.

OK, here's the deal.

If you've watched Galactica, Caprica, and Blood & Chrome, you'll like this part of the Colonies of Kobol saga.  (Also, it'll help if you liked Lords of Kobol, too.)

To be one of the five people who get a PDF of the first draft, you first need to read this excerpt:

After a moment, the ensign said, "Stand by for Galactica actual," and she nodded at the commander.

Silas Nash picked up the handset and said, "Jaws, take Primus squadron and enter the atmo.  Target the Cylon shuttles approaching the surface."

The interference broke up her reply, but the speakers squeaked, "Yes sir."

Jordan Duram stepped away from the tactical table and said, "Commander, if there are Cylons attempting to land on Caprica, I would like to be there with my Legionnaires to greet them."

Nash nodded and gave a quick salute, "Good hunting, colonel."

"Thank you, sir."  Duram saluted, turned, and left CIC.

Now.  Here's the question:

Why is the above scene potentially amusing?

UPDATE: The answer, of course, is Brian Markinson.

He played both roles.

Thanks again.  I hope you final five enjoy the book.  Meanwhile, I'll be writing ...

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Free Books for Halloween

Just because I'm a good guy, I wanted to hand out some treats for Halloween.  In this case, my pair of "scary" books.  These will be free and all I ask in return is that you rate and review them.  And maybe share them with people you think will like them.  OK?

First up, my "teen road trip zombie novel":

Three hundred years after the end of the world as we know it, young Wess Marin feels compelled to leave his insular community and strike out in hopeful desperation on his own. He aims to stop the menace that still ravages mankind, but on his way, he will encounter terror, both from the living and the dead. Wess finds a gleaming city, but will they help him realize his goal?

Join this young adult on an adventure of self discovery. Armed only with a blade and his wits, Wess must traverse many wild miles to bring about an end to the Darkness.

The persistence of hope, the triumph of will over adversity, the denial of superstition ... to achieve these things, Wess must fight the inhumanity of some, the horror of others and his own doubts.

Find it HERE and use code "SU98T" to get it for FREE.

Next, my "balls-out monster bash":

Dr. Mason Karlow is a distinguished art museum director and curator with decades of experience around the globe. He's entering his twilight years as he prepares to open his latest and greatest facility. He's also quite evil.

In a bid for eternal life, Karlow has found a Babylonian artifact and must perform an ancient ceremony in the light of a Blood Moon. He needs sacrifices, lots of sacrifices, and he gathers monsters from the world's folklore to do his bidding.

Follow Karlow's victims as they fight for their lives in one hellish night at the museum. Vampires, werewolves, mummies, and more await you in The Art of Death!

Find it HERE and use code "XY29Z" to get it for FREE.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Writing Colonies, Part V: Battlestars, Weapons, and the Military

I'm nearing the end of Book Thirteen: Caprica.  As I stated before, I consider this portion of Colonies of Kobol to be "seasons two and three" of the unfortunately short-lived series; the first half took us from season one until the outbreak of the Cylon War and the second half has been all Cylon War.

Now, that doesn't mean I'm doing a blow-by-blow account of the war.  Frak, the thing was twelve years long and I would like to finish this book before I have grandchildren of my own.  Still, I focused on the start of the war, the formation of the federal government of the Twelve Colonies, the building & launching of the battlestars, and the ramping up of violence and the technology on both sides.

Since so much of the last half of the book is about the military, I had to give real thought to its structure, the hardware they use, and how it might evolve into what we see in the 2003 series itself.  Then I had to do the same kind of thing on the Cylon side to some extent.

Colonial Fleet

Established by the Articles of Colonization, the book goes into fair detail about the early days of the organization, such as why the headquarters are located on Picon, how the promise of a battlestar for each colony was used to get signees on board, etc.  One of my concerns regarded how the Colonial Fleet would deal with the pre-existing forces on each world.  Meaning, for example, would the Caprican Army become part of the Fleet?  Without stating it plainly, I decided that the planet-bound forces of each world (army, sea-going navy, etc.) would remain separate from the Fleet, but any space force would be joined together.  We know the Colonial Fleet has Marines, analogous to the US Navy and the Marines, so I decided that each world would retain their own (mostly) ground forces sorta like how each state has their own National Guard.  I figure the president of the Colonies, or the Fleet's admiralty, could call up X-number of soldiers from a colony or two to be stationed at a particular location, for example.  Not a perfect analogy, but it was enough to make sense in my mind.


"Battlestar."  Such a cool and evocative name, huh?  I knew needed to have a reason for it.  Here's a brief snippet of dialogue between the first president of the Colonies and the Secretary of Defense:

Sir William leaned forward and removed the cigar from his mouth.  "Our Jupiter-class carriers."

"Yes sir."  Nerus' eyes drifted down the front of the president's desk.

"Oh, I don't like that look."

"Sorry, sir."  The admiral straightened in his chair.  "Continued Cylon attacks have hampered our ability to keep up with the schedules.  Multiple strikes on our shipyards both in orbit and planetside.  We've moved operations away from the main shipyards and spread them out.  It's harder for the Cylons to track what's being built where.  But that slows us down more, too."  He saw George's scowl and said, "Mr. President, we're building the largest ships in the history of the colonies.  Twelve of them.  At once."

"I understand, admiral, but they must be completed."  Sir William dipped his cigar into the brandy again.  "Which ones are furthest along?"

"The two battlestars at Caprica …"

"Sorry, what?"

Nerus grinned and said, "I thought you were a fan of the old battle starship groups and fleet wars?"

The president nodded and said, "Yes, I was.  As a boy.  I don't think I need say aloud how many years ago that was."

The admiral laughed, "The Leonans called their battleship-carrier hybrids at the center of their groups 'bataille-├ętoile.'"

"Sounds nice."

"It translates to 'battlestar.'"  George nodded and Tom cocked his head, "That doesn't sound familiar?"

"As a good little Virgan boy, I paid little mind to what the Leos did."  He stirred the drink with his cigar.  "'Battlestar.'  I like that.  A lot."

Nerus folded his arms over his chest.  "It's strong and hopeful at the same time."

"Yes."  After Sir William returned the soaked tip to his mouth, he said, "Let's look at resurrecting that name, shall we?"

Why Jupiter-class?  That was the designation given to the group by visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel.  It's also been used by the video game Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock.

Now, it was stated on screen by tour guide Doral in the miniseries that each world had its own representative battlestar at the beginning of the Cylon War.  Since I would be depicting elements of the war, I knew I would need to have more than a couple of names.

Here are the four canon battlestar names:

Galactica.  Represents Caprica.  Obvs.  But why that name?  Is it a nod to "Galatia," the main continent on Kobol in Lords of Kobol?  Well, I wrote this paragraph from the commissioning ceremony:

"More than seventeen hundred years ago, Marcella Bale explored the vast virgin wilderness of Capricorn.  She traversed the continent with only a few people and came upon the North Coast Mountains.  She climbed the highest peak and looked west toward the ocean and there she spied a great land.  A fertile land by the bay.  She knew it would be a wonderful place for a settlement, one that she decided to name Capricoria because, to her, it embodied the beauty and glory of her world.  Of course, Capricoria was established a few years later and it is now Caprica City.  But that night, the night that she looked out on the land below, they camped on that mountain peak and saw the clearest sky of their journey.  They beheld the expanse of the galaxy across the heavens and they were all moved to thank the Lords of Kobol for the gift of that land and that sight.  Bale had named the mountain after her brother, but, to his likely dismay," the crowd chuckled, "she decided that night to change it and name it for the wonder they saw.  The reverence they felt.  Mount Galactica still overlooks Caprica City.  It stands guard as a shield against storms that sweep west across the plains.  And now, today, this Galactica shall stand guard over Caprica and protect this world from our foe."

One down.  Eleven to go.

Columbia.  Oof.  This one's tough because the name itself is an inescapable reference to Christopher Columbus.  Maybe there's a guy named "Columbus" who did something cool in the colonies.  Or, maybe it's a reference to the etymology of the name itself (in Latin, "columba" means "dove").  So maybe they named the ship after a bird of peace in hopes that it would bring peace.  Sure.  Let's go with that.  Which colony?  Uh.  Tauron.  Let's say Tauron.

Athena.  Saul Tigh "served" on this battlestar during the war.  We don't have on-screen verification that this was a Jupiter-class vessel, but we don't have information that contradicts that, either.  As for which colony it represents, I chose Libran because Libran selected Athena as their patron god, as she's the goddess of wisdom and they're the colony known for their courts and justice system.

Archeron.  Oof, again.  You see, this is a mistake.  In Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the river of woe and it's a real Greek river, too.  On the QMx map and in the book Beyond Caprica, the Acheron River is specifically mentioned as being on Sagittaron.  Not Archeron.  But, on screen in Blood & Chrome, as big as life, we see the error:

So ... now what?  Well, I'm obviously going to say that this ship represents Sagittaron.  But why the misspelling?  Mmm.  Since the Sagittarans are a religious people, many of whom oppose fighting, perhaps they saw the naming of a warship after a sacred river as blasphemy.  But not all Sagittarans are pacifists.  A faction in the government and among the people who support the war effort decided to submit a new name to the Colonial Fleet for their ship; a name that unmistakably is tied to Sagittaron but also conveys force, thanks to the word "archer."  It wouldn't please the pacifists, but they wouldn't get much to say about it.

There.  That's why.  I just made it up so it's head canon now.

Those are the canon-canon battlestars, but there are eight other worlds.  Here are the names I went with, informed by the names of other ships in the series and Greek mythology:

Jupiter.  Since the class is named after a ship, I knew one of them would have to be named Jupiter.  I decided to have this one represent Gemenon, given their devout religious population.

Triton.  Named for a son of Poseidon, this one makes sense as the battlestar for the ocean world Picon.  Also, there was a Battlestar Triton at the time of the Fall of the Colonies, so perhaps it was named for this one.

Bellerophon.  Obviously named for the Greek hero and slayer of monsters.  I decided to have this represent Virgon since the name Bellerophon has such a grand history with the British Royal Navy (and since Virgon is a stand-in for the Brits).  I originally wanted to go with a more ostentatious name, as befitting pompous Virgans, and I thought of using a play on Brittanic ... but Virgannic or Virgannia don't look or sound right.  Then I thought of Monarch, a name to just thumb their nose at the rest of the Colonies, given their imperial history.  But Bellerophon works best.

Sphinx.  Despite our recognition of that word as "a big monument in Egypt," it actually is far older than that and is seen in art throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, including Greece.  For my purposes, it is also a name used for battleships throughout France's history and thus suits as a name for Leonis' battlestar (since the Leonans are the French analogues).

Atlantia.  Yes, there was a later battlestar with that name, but nothing precludes an earlier one.  In Greek myth, "Atlantia" was a nymph that lived in forests.  Since Scorpia is renowned for their massive forests and jungles, Scorpia it is.

Arion.  In Greek myth, Arion was a divine horse imbued with the power of speech, incredible speed, etc.  Arion was also sired by Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest, and since Aerilon is the "Bread Basket of the Colonies" and Demeter is their patron god, it makes sense.  Plus, horses will be integral to the early years of Aerilon (which will be included in the as-yet-unbegun Volume Two of Colonies of Kobol), so that's what I went with.

Scratch all that.  On Facebook, someone provided a list of battlestar names from original series-books, comics, etc.  One of the prominent names on the list is Cerberus, the mythical "hound of Hades."  As a badass battlestar, that name works very well and I now prefer it over Arion for Aerilon.

Acropolis.  We all know that "acropolis" is a Greek word for "high city," usually a citadel on a hill, with the Acropolis of Athens being the most famous.  According to both the QMx map and the Beyond Caprica book, Canceron takes great pride in being the largest and oldest continuous democracy in the four systems (democracy itself dates back to ancient Greece, of course).  With that being the case, I decided that Canceron would honor their legacy by naming their battlestar after the first site of their first democratic government more than a thousand years prior.  Also, Acropolis was the name of a battlestar in the original Battlestar Galactica series.

Rycon.  Aquaria.  I don't have a good reason for this one.  Rycon is another battlestar namedropped in the original series and I like the name, so here you go.  Maybe it's the name of a prominent river on Aquaria or something.  I don't have to explain everything to you people.  Jeez.

Since you might be curious, here are the battlestars mentioned in the original series: Pegasus (I didn't use this one solely because I didn't want people to either get confused or immediately start thinking about Cain, etc.  Too much baggage.), Atlantia, Columbia, Pacifica (kinda has the same problem as Columbia for me; "Pacific" is Spanish for "peace" and there's no real Spanish analogue in the Colonies, plus having a warship named "peace" seems strange), Rycon, and Triton.

Now.  How do the battlestars behave in battle?

Thankfully, there are four seasons of a pretty good show all about that.  It's called Battlestar Galactica.

That's my wiseass way of saying that I didn't feel the need to go into crazy amounts of detail to illustrate life aboard a battlestar, war maneuvers, etc.  There are a some examples and some cool battle scenes, but nothing extensive.  I did, however, tackle one of the biggest problems in continuity that we've seen in the recent universe.

That's a shot from Blood & Chrome, and in that show, we see an almost absurd number of Vipers in the Galactica's flight deck.  They looked like they were stacked three and four Vipers tall in some places with the ceilings raised way up and the sets extended beyond where they were before.  Contrast that with Razor and its flashbacks and the show itself where it seems that the limit is two in each bay.  For simplicity's sake, I went with the more manageable and realistic two-per-bay.  (If you want to think they could expand the hangar deck later in the war to accommodate more Vipers, go ahead.)

In my battle scenes, we get to see both flight pods in operation with a full contingent of Vipers.  There are forty Viper launch tubes in each pod (that's eighty total) and with two Vipers per launch bay, that's one hundred sixty.  I then added another twenty per flight pod as reserves so that gives us an even two hundred Vipers on the Galactica at the start of her service.  (As a specific number was never given for how many a battlestar can carry, I felt free to wing it, so to speak.)

I also show you a battlestar group in action.  Meaning, an analogue to today's carrier group, with destroyers, cruisers, escorts, support ships, and more.


You may notice throughout Lords of Kobol and Colonies of Kobol that I use a single, simple system when it comes to calibers of weapons.  In the real world, the number you hear around bullets are a mixture of both metric and imperial measurements.  I dispense with that and just use millimeters in my books.  A .50 caliber round is thirteen millimeters in diameter; the "Cylon-killer" bullets that the soldiers use in the book are twenty millimeters at the start of the war and go down to sixteen later on.  I don't get into the "grain" (weight/mass) of the rounds being used; I just wanted to convey the general size.

I also reference various weapons emplacements, most often derived from real World War II weapons, including one of my favorites, the Quick Firing 2-Pounder anti-aircraft naval gun.  In the book, it's just called a QF AA gun.

Vehicles ... yes, there are vehicles.

Recognize that?  It's a LandRam, a kind of Armored Personnel Carrier used in the original series and, yes, seen occasionally in the newer series, too.  I use them in the book.

But what about tanks?  Well, sure, you've got a big war, so why not tanks?  But I didn't want to call them "tanks."  Why not?  Because the reason why we call them tanks is so specific to our world that having characters in the Cyrannus System calling them "tanks" doesn't feel right.

In World War I, Great Britain was working on armored "landships," but they feared espionage.  Initially, to cover their tracks, they called their plans for these vehicles "water carriers" but that later became "tanks."  For much of the Western world, the name stuck.

So, yeah.  I didn't want to call Colonial tanks "tanks."  I decided to play off the already established "LandRam" name, so I went with "GunRam."  In descriptions, I will sometimes use "tank" just for the readers' clarity, but in dialogue, it will only be "GunRam."

I talked about other vehicles like battlestars above, but I'll make a note here about Vipers and Raptors.  Pre-war, Caprica uses Hawks (fighters) and Ravens (all-purpose recon craft).  Like our world, I envision the Colonial Fleet putting out contracts for companies to bid on and then make the new vehicles.  So, the contract for a new fighter that can handle both atmospheric and space combat goes to "General Aerodyne," and they call their plane the "Viper Mark One."  ("Vipers" as fighter planes existed on Caprica before the Cylon War, so I just imagine that General Aerodyne had that contract, too.)  The updated Raven contract goes to a different company and they call them "Raptors."

Worldbuilding is fun.

The Painting

You know that.  Seen in Adama's quarters, Baltar marvels at his exquisite taste by asking, "Is this a Monclair original?"

While we got to see four years of a battlestar at a time of war, we never got to see what it might have been like for soldiers on the ground.  So I decided to tell the story behind that painting.

It takes place during the "Second Siege of Tauron" and follows a small squad of Marines and their division as they defend this position from repeated yet sporadic Cylon attack.  There's a dread over the Colonial Warriors as they know the Cylons could wipe them out with a single missile strike ... yet they don't.  Why?  The chapter is currently twenty-five pages long and will probably double by the time it's done.  I'm enjoying writing it.

I think that's about it for this blog post.  I hope you liked reading it.

Also, coming in December, I will be giving away first drafts of Book Thirteen: Caprica ... so stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

New-New BSG and Colonies of Kobol

Like many of you, I was surprised by the news last week that there would be a new Battlestar Galactica series coming to NBC-Universal's upcoming streaming service, Peacock.  Since so little was released about it, I didn't have much of an opinion.  I just thought, "Feels a little soon," and, "ANOTHER streaming service?!"

Then the producer of the new show, Sam Esmail tweeted.  You might know him.  He created Mr. Robot.


Anyway, he tweeted, "BSG fans, this will NOT be a remake of the amazing series @RonDMoore launched because... why mess with perfection? Instead, we’ll explore a new story within the mythology while staying true to the spirit of Battlestar. So say we all!"

At first, I read this as somehow being a third iteration of the broader concept that wouldn't touch on Ronald D. Moore's version.  After all, the press articles kept saying "reboot," so why wouldn't I think that?  But ... "a new story within the mythology" ... within the broader mythology/concept of the shows or within the specific mythology established by Moore's version?  Since the tweet, most people have settled on the latter interpretation.

Well, this had a surprising effect on me.  My mind spiraled; I contemplated putting Colonies of Kobol on the back burner; I felt like I had wasted so much godsdamned time ... because if they're adding to the canon of BSG, I would have to incorporate it.

I made a mental list of possibilities, assuming that new-new BSG is, indeed, set in the RDM universe (as my books are).  I categorized the possibilities according to A) how likely they were and B) how much impact they would have on my writing, both what I have finished and what I have not.

Here we go:

I.  New-new BSG is all about the Lords of Kobol.  This is the one that would cause me to throw my hands in the air and walk away.  So much is predicated on my first four books (get them here for free) that there would be no way to recover, no way to incorporate the new canon, and have it all make sense.  HOWEVER, I feel that the likelihood of this is very, very low.  One reason: if the show is called Battlestar Galactica, being on stuck on a planet, even if it's Kobol, doesn't make much sense.  (Unless we're supposed to believe that Pythia's cycle is so ridiculously literal that Kobollians had a battlestar named Galactica, too.  Well, I hope not.)

II.  New-new BSG is set right after the Colonials settle on Earth II.  Maybe Cylons commandeered Galactica and the rag-tag fleet before Sam could fly them into the sun!  Now Adama, Tigh, and the gang have to get into space to stop the Cylons ...  Nah.  It would undo too much of the finale.  Not very likely, and even if they didn't do that specific plot for the series, setting a show named Battlestar Galactica on Earth as people try to learn how to farm doesn't strike me as thrilling.  Still, if they found a way to do it, it would have a substantial impact on my conclusion to Colonies of Kobol.

III.  New-new BSG is set in our own future.  Maybe we jump ahead several decades or so, see Earth II Cylons, and we have our own battlestar named Galactica.  (Again, a bit too literal reading of "all of this will happen again," but maybe.)  Likelihood?  I'm going to say somewhat likely.  I can see it happening, though I feel it would undermine the finale as well ("Does all of this have to happen again?"  "This time, I bet no.").  Impact on my writing?  Substantial.  It would necessitate a complete rethinking of the ending I have in mind for the entire saga; not just the Earth II book, but Colonies of Kobol and Lords of Kobol, too.  That would ... not be good.

IV.  New-new BSG is set during the First Cylon War.  Ronald D. Moore once said he felt that another spinoff show could be sustained if it were set during the Cylon War and lived with the crew of the Galactica at various points during that twelve-year-long conflict.  We ended up with the (in my opinion, mediocre) one-off, Blood & Chrome.  I think it's very likely that Esmail sees the rich narrative possibilities in this ... plenty of built-in action, plus great stories to tell with two thousand people cooped up on a ship at a time of war.  So, if I had to put money on it, this is what I would bet on.  How will it impact my writing?  Well, it's hard to say at this point.  Right now, I'm wrapping up work on Book Thirteen: Caprica which includes the beginning of the Cylon War, the founding of the unified federal government of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, the launch of Galactica, etc.  If the new show is comprehensive and includes some of that foundational material, then I'll have to chuck a couple hundred pages of stuff that I've written (of which I'm rather fond).  If the new show picks up in medias res ("in the middle of things"), then I might not have to worry.  If the series is laser-focused on the ship/crew/war, maybe I can keep some of it intact.  The impact is potentially substantial (but localized to one or two parts of CoK) and also potentially minimal.

CONCLUSION: to quote Douglas Adams, don't panic.  I can't do anything about it (unless they want to hire me as a writer for the show, in which case, email me, Sam).  I just have to wait for more news and for the series itself.  In the meantime, I'll keep writing Colonies of Kobol and I'll make whatever changes I have to when the time comes.

(To be clear, I want the show to be good and I want it to be successful.  And to those of you who may be saying, "Screw new-new BSG!  Write your thing and ignore it!"  I can't do that.  I can't ignore substantive canon of the show just because it inconveniences me [looking at you again, Blood & Chrome].  Thank you for your confidence in me, but I'd rather try to find a way to make it all work.)

Now, as a treat for my readers who have been so supportive, here's a fun chapter from Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica.  I hope you like it.

Day 458 of the First Cylon War

The Vipers aligned in the black sky and swept as a single unit over the rim of the asteroid.  They were pristine white ships with red stripes and their fins created visual triangles astride blue flames no matter the viewer's perspective.  Behind them came the contingent of Raptors.  Dark gray and brown blocks with the corners hewn away.  Tall tails at the rear on either side of a large cannon.  Some carried at least one battery of missiles but their most important tasks were to monitor communications and jam Cylon signals.

"Keep it tight," the CAG radioed.

Ahead they saw their target.  An oblong brown rock, nearly two kilometers across.  Cylon machinery worked on its surface and below even now, ferrying tons of tylium away and to the enemy.  The Colonial Fleet Headquarters, now functioning from their new permanent home on Picon, had their eyes on this location for some time.  It was heavily defended and the admirals knew they would have to wait for the arrival of the battlestars to take it on.

In the Combat Information Center of the Battlestar Galactica, Commander Silas Nash stared at the DRADIS screen that hung from the ceiling.  A line swept this part of the Erebos Belt and the tylium base was between the carrier and her birds.  Several hours ago, the Galactica launched these squadrons and then jumped to a sensor blind spot on the opposite side; another asteroid almost a thousand kilometers away from the base.  It was a precise jump and the new ship maintained a dangerous dance with the rotation of that rock.  They couldn't move for fear of showing up on the Cylon's DRADIS.  Most of their systems were powered down.  They sent no signals.  There was no active DRADIS pulse.  Every contact they had came from the Cylons' own signals.

The presence of the eighty Vipers and twelve Raptors was quickly detected by the machines.  Their Raiders launched from the surface of the asteroid and screamed toward the fighter craft.  A Cylon cruiser stationed close to the base came to life, too, and rose up from its shadow.

"Standby action stations," Nash said.  On the screen, the four Colonial squadrons approached the base from the top.  More than sixty Raiders departed the asteroid at the center and moved up to meet them.  Galactica sat still at the bottom of the screen and waited for its cue.

"Bandits inbound!" the CAG said.  "Red and blue squadrons, break off and attack."  The Vipers and Raiders began their dances.  In the opening moments, the rapid cannon fire destroyed eight of the oval Cylon craft and seven of the triangular fighters.  Soon, the remaining fighters of those two squadrons were fully engaged with the first wave of Raiders, and the second wave was almost upon them.  "Yellow and green squadrons, break off and attack!"  All four Colonial groups swarmed around the enemy and the battle, though hard fought, seemed in their favor.  Then the third and final wave approached.

Nash held his breath.  He stared at the mass of green triangles and red circles with another line of red moving up the screen.  He waited to see what that third line would do.  Then, as they had hoped and planned, the third group of Cylons flew past the battle and into the empty space beyond.

"Galactica!" the CAG signaled.  "A wave of Raiders has broken through!  Inbound to you!"

The commander nodded at the lie and said, "Action stations.  Condition one."  After the first bleats of the alert klaxons sounded and the lights shifted to red, he felt an electricity move over his skin.  He looked at his executive officer and said, "Stand by to launch silver and gold squadrons."

"Sir."  Colonel Manden picked up the receiver and said, "Stand by silver and gold squadrons.  Stand by silver and gold.  Reserve squadrons one and two, on deck."

"Sir," the DRADIS officer said, "the Cylon cruiser is moving away from the target."  Nash looked at the screen and waited to see which way the large red dot moved.  When it ticked a step up toward the bait and away from Galactica, the officer said, "We've got them."

"Helm, push off from the rock."  The battlestar moved away from their cover and into the open.  He watched the movement of the Cylon vessel away from the tylium asteroid.  Once it was more than five hundred kilometers out and moving at full speed, Nash said, "Come about, three-one-zero carom one-seven-five.  Ahead flank speed."  The helm officers did their work and the deckplates rumbled as the six sublight engines engaged at full power.

The battlestar crossed the space between their hiding spot and the asteroid.  The tension was palpable in CIC.  Young officers stared wide-eyed at their screens and occasionally glanced at their commander.  Nash, for his part, stood still under the command and control screens and watched the moving icons with his characteristic eager smirk.  Colonel Manden towered over the shorter commander and he held the receiver in his hand, ready to bark orders.

"The cruiser has spotted us," the DRADIS officer said.  "They're coming about."  He shook his head and said, "They won't get here in time."

"Distance to target?"

"Two hundred kilometers."

"Helm, begin braking and reduce speed to one quarter."  Nash looked at the XO.  "Launch silver and gold." 

Manden said, "Launch silver and gold.  Launch silver and gold.  Reserve one and two in the tubes."
Nash turned to the tactical station, "All batteries forward.  Salvo fire on the base.  Missile batteries on standby."  The lieutenant nodded and communicated with the appropriate crews. 

In the blackness, the long, gray battlestar bore down on the tylium asteroid.  From both flight pods, forty Vipers launched and symmetrical streams of fighters bent away from the ship and toward the rock.

The forty heavy batteries along Galactica's dorsal and ventral spines began to fire and heavy cannon bursts poured across space and splashed on the rock with fire and metal.  Shockwaves rippled over the surface and destroyed the structures within reach.  Soon, the salvos dug into the planetoid and exposed the Cylon infrastructure below.  Holding tanks of unstable tylium precursor ruptured and blew apart even more of the mining operation.

"Cylon wave three is coming back," a lieutenant said.

The enemy only now realized that they were tricked into going the wrong way, thinking the battlestar had launched the Vipers from behind their approach.  Nash nodded and said, "Helm, begin braking and turn to port, five hundred.  Starboard broadsides on the base.  Comms, signal Smokehouse.  Tell him to bring the squadrons back."

The crew swooned with the inertia of the turn and the comms officer said, "Sir, the CAG is gone."  Nash and Manden shared a look. 

Before they could say anything, the DRADIS lieutenant interjected, "Cylon cruiser is launching Raiders."

Nash's smirk was gone.  "Silver and gold are to maintain their runs on the base.  Tactical, turn batteries toward the cruiser and stand by.  Set close-in weapons to auto fire.  Comms, get me Lieutenant Stentz."  As the various officers complied, he turned to the helm station, "Turn us away from the base and toward the cruiser."

"Stentz on the line."

The commander picked up the receiver and said, "Jaws, this is actual."

"Go ahead, actual."

"You're my CAG now."

Pause.  "Sir?"

"Jaws, you're the CAG.  Bring the squadrons back home."

Her loud exhale was followed by a subdued, "Yes, sir."

"What do you hear, Jaws?"

"Nothin' but the rain."

"Grab your gun and bring in the cat."

"Boom, boom, boom."  There was an obvious smile in her voice and he hung up the receiver.

"Cylon Raiders on top of us," a lieutenant said.

There was a slight shudder as small missiles from the enemy fighters hit the hardened hull of the vessel.  Nash looked toward the screen and saw the CIWS take out four of the enemy icons.  "Tactical, batteries on the cruiser.  Fire at will."

The ship withered under the heavy fire from a battlestar's primary offensive weapons.  The Cylons attempted to shield themselves with short-range flak fire, but it was of little use.  Its small hangar was destroyed and a sublight engine ruptured.  Most of the cannon went still and fuel lines along the rear of the craft blew apart.  Then, the other three engines exploded and the ship had become a flaming burst of light.

"Helm, get us some distance."

"Cylon virus detected," the electronics warfare officer said.  "Isolated in primary fire control.  Auxilliary and backup systems unaffected."

"Sir, new DRADIS contacts."  The commander looked at the lieutenant and saw his worried face.  "Cylon light cruiser.  Cylon carrier.  Two Cylon destroyers."

Nash grabbed the front of his uniform and pulled it down to flatten any wrinkles.  He looked up at the screen and saw that the four squadrons were almost near Galactica.  "Signal Jaws.  Tell her to keep her birds back until they launch Raiders."

Manden stepped closer and lowered his head next to the commander's bald pate.  "Four ships?"

Without taking his eyes off the combat screens, Nash said, "It's almost unfair."

The Sagittaran smiled.  "For them."

"Raiders launching from the carrier and cruiser."

The commander tilted his head.  He looked at the four ships lined up on the screen.  He reached for the monitor and pressed a button.  The DRADIS angle shifted and he saw the Cylons from a head-on perspective instead of top-down.  His smirk returned when he saw that the vessels were truly in a straight line.

"Helm, change bearing to eight-eight-zero carom two hundred.  Ahead one-half."

The colonel looked at the screen and said, "Between them?"

"Hoping for a little crossfire."

The Galactica leapt away from what remained of the cruiser.  Being such a large ship, her movements were slow, but the engines could accelerate Galactica to great speeds.  The newcomers began to fire missiles but their positions did not change.

"Odd batteries, change to flak fire and surround us.  Fire now.  Even batteries through twenty, target the two ships to port.  Even batteries to forty, target the two to starboard.  Evens are to standby."

Manden looked over the command table and asked, "Missiles?"

Nash immediately knew that his XO was asking about Galactica's own.  "Won't need them."

With a bloom of light and fire around the perimeter, the battlestar closed on the enemy.  The missiles were easily dispatched before they reached their targets.  When the Colonial ship was barely fifty kilometers away, the Cylons saw their tactical error and began to spread their vessels out.  It was too late.

The flak shield tore across the hull of a destroyer on the port side.  The designated batteries fired at their targets and hit them all.  The destroyer on the starboard was immediately split in half.  The single flight pod of the carrier shattered and fell away from the bulk of the ship.  Cylon battery and missile fire became a confused mess, and though the enemy missiles were destroyed in the flak, half of the Cylon shells hit other Cylon ships.  When Galactica emerged on the other side of the group, the second destroyer exploded, sending parts of its hull into the light cruiser.

"Helm, slow to one quarter and come about.  Tactical, all batteries fire at will."  The flak shield faded and the main guns targeted the two remaining capital ships.  By the time the battlestar was facing its opponents again head-on, the cruiser and carrier were also aflame and adrift.  "Finish them off."  Moments later, the enemy was gone.

Manden looked toward the DRADIS officer.  "Anything new?"


"Status of the base?"

"Silver and gold squadrons report that the target is destroyed."  The comms officer then pressed the earpiece against her head and said, "Message from Jaws, sir.  She reports, 'We're bingo bandits.'"

Nash smiled and said, "Commence landings.  Keep silver and gold in CAP, just in case any more toasters decide to stage a rescue op."  He glanced toward the LSO captain and nodded.  "It's all you."  The commander turned and saw his XO's extended hand.  "Good work, colonel."

"Thank you, sir.  Congratulations."

He looked around the CIC and then up into the core.  "Good work, all of you."  There was some applause and Nash walked toward the air traffic stations on the far wall behind the landing signal officer.  He saw a young woman writing in a log book.  "Ensign," he asked quietly.  "How many did we lose?"

She nodded and flipped a page.  "None from silver and gold squadrons, commander.  We lost nineteen Vipers and four Raptors from the other squadrons, altogether."

"Too many."  Slowly, he moved toward the damage control station and he looked at the schematic of Galactica.  There were a few yellow lights along the perimeter of the ship but no red ones.  One main battery was offline.  That was it.

Nash nodded and walked back to the command and control area where he stood and listened to the LSO coordinate the landings of their squadrons.

On Gamoray, the Cylon War Council sat on their platform and looked at the projection against the wall.  A gold-armored commander was standing beneath them and pressing buttons on a device.

"Tylium base in the Erebos Belt of Alpha.  Five ships, an estimated one hundred Raiders.  Mobile shipyard station in orbit of Styx in Delta.  Two ships, twenty Raiders.  Strike group assault number three on Scorpion Shipyards.  Seven ships, one hundred-fifty Raiders."

"Halt."  The operations commander looked at the other units on the dais and said, "Have there been no successful campaigns since the battlestars were launched?"  It knew the answer.


The Alpha commander said, "We should pull back our mining operations and shift combat tactics to small groups and quick strikes."

The leader paused and thought.  Finally, it said, "Agreed."

The platinum-armored council looked down at the commander.  Gamma said, "We need a vessel to match the Colonial battlestars." 

The leader concurred, "Begin planning immediately."

"By your command."

That is all.  More to come.

Friday, August 9, 2019

"Colonies of Kobol - Book Sixteen: EARTH"

Yes, I'm still writing Book Thirteen: Caprica, but since this is the eighth anniversary of my publishing of the Lords of Kobol series, I thought I'd share a little treat.

The below is the first chapter that I wrote for Colonies of Kobol nearly two years ago.  The idea wasn't mine ... it was Edward James Olmos'.

I saw him at Dragon*Con in Atlanta several years ago and he was asked at a panel about continuing the show in a series of movies beyond The Plan.  He said he had an idea for how such a continuation would start, and what he said is exactly what I did.

Read it after the JUMP.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Chapter from "Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica"

I'm most of the way finished with Colonies of Kobol - Book Thirteen: Caprica ...

I've said before that I'm regarding this particular entry as seasons two and three of the TV series.  "Season two" is the first half of the book, filling in the time between the end of season one and the events seen in the epilogue of the finale episode, "Apotheosis," and then a bit more to get us to the start of the First Cylon War.  "Season three" is the second half of the book, which is about the beginning of the Cylon War, with primary focus on the formation of the Colonial government, the rise of the Cylons, etc.  At this point in time, I don't intend to do a blow-by-blow account of the war ... I mean, the damned thing lasts twelve years and this book is already longer than any book in the Lords of Kobol series and I'm not finished yet.

I did, however, just finish an action-packed chapter that I thought was pretty cool.  Not every chapter in the book will be like this, but there are several action beats.  Still ... I hope you enjoy it.

You can read it after the JUMP.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Update on "Colonies," plus FLAGS

I know it's been a while and I apologize for that.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you'll see that I've been writing for most of the last year.

Someone around here (me) may have stated a while ago that Colonies of Kobol would be released in 2019 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the show's ending.  Well, needless to say, that was a damn dirty lie.  To paraphrase Dr. Malcolm, "Life, uh, got in the way."

Writing continues apace on the Caprica portion of the series (with Earth I and The Colony largely finished), but that still leaves about thirteen sections untouched.  Perhaps I should use the tenth anniversary of the publication of Lords of Kobol as my new goal, which would be summer of 2021.  That's a nice target, but I won't be planting any more flags on the calendar because I don't want to disappoint you guys again.


As I'm writing about the pre-federal days of the Colonies (meaning, before they united against the Cylons), I've been using the cool little book Beyond Caprica: A Visitor's Pocket Guide to the Twelve Colonies.  Written by Bob Harris, this book (and the QMX map) was also worked on by people behind the scenes of Caprica as they fleshed out the worlds of the Colonies for the show.  It's considered "quasi-canon," which basically means that any detail in it could be contradicted by something in the show if they thought of something better for a storyline.

Regardless, we're all aware of the federal-style flags for each of the Twelve Colonies:

These are the banners seen hanging behind Adama or Roslin at a big event or funeral, etc.  Naturally, one would assume that each individual colony had their own flags before the Cylon revolt.  Beyond Caprica helps illuminate this.


Well, not for Caprica.  No specific symbols or flags are mentioned in the book, BUT, in the show Caprica, we can see a banner-like flag on the stage behind Agent Duram in the pilot episode and it looks exactly like the federal-version of the Caprican flag seen above, but without the federal "eagle/phoenix" emblem that we've come to recognize as the Colonial seal.  This leads me to believe that -- since Caprica was the seat of federal power for the Colonies -- they must have designed the flags for the other worlds, too (given their similar style).

Just for kicks, I made a rectangular version of the Caprican flag:


Beyond Caprica states that "the informal symbol is the numeral 'two.'"  OK, sure.  To make it into a flag, I chose a similar style and colors used in some eastern European nations, since Gemenese cities, names, and language are modeled on Romanian, largely.


I think you'll be able to sense a pattern, because the book reads, "You probably know Tauron by its symbol, the bull."  The zodiac plays a big role, unsurprisingly.  For the flag, I went with a color to match the all-important soil of Tauron, and I made the bull large and aggressive.  (It was hard to find one that didn't look like a sports logo or a malt liquor mascot.)


"The informal Pican symbol is two stylized fish circling each other."  I wanted to evoke the simplicity of the Japanese flag (with maybe a little of the South Korean flag, too).


If you don't know, Virgon is known as "The Blue Colony," because the plant life contains oils that evaporate and cast a blue tinge everywhere.  The book states that the Virgan symbol is "simply the pale electric blue known as 'Virgan blue.'"  Perhaps they had a more complex flag during their imperial days, but for just prior to the Cylon War, we're just going with a blue flag (and I like the longer dimensions for it, too).


Here the book gets specific: "The Leonan symbol is the Leonis royal crest: a lion in profile wearing an ermine-and-silk cape, set on a golden shield, surrounded by royal purple.  The shield is topped with a large nine-pointed mural crown."  Unfortunately, I couldn't draw an ermine cape to save my life, so I just left it off.


"The informal Sagittarian symbol is a simple outline of a drawn bow, its arrow poised to spring forward."  Since Sagittaron is also the most exploited of the Colonies, I went with an African color scheme for its flag.

Revision suggested by Chris Dykes

Also, in searching for clip art for a drawn bow, I came across a great, evocative image that made me think this could be the flag for Tom Zarek's "SFM."  (Sagittaran Freedom Movement?  The show never said.)


Beyond Caprica made this one easy for me: "The symbol of Scorpia is a red scorpion curled to strike, on a black-white-black tricolor."  Done and done.


"A set of scales set in a pale blue circle on a deep blue field."


"A silver crab on a red field."


"A blood-red pair of ram's horns on a white field, between a pair of red horizontal stripes."


This is another flag that was explicitly described in the book.  (Even down to the "asterisk" and the "star" in the corners.  I'm not sure I get it, but there you go.)

And that's that.

No more dilly-dallying.  Back to writing for me.