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The Search for Water

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by Sergio PALUMBO

Scale: 1/72

In the second episode of the First Season of the new edition of

Battlestar Galactica

we see Sharon (Boomer, as her colleagues call her. . . ) who wakes up in her bunk dripping wet, looks into her duffel bag, finds a C4 detonator and then panics. . . She goes to the small arms locker on deck 15, pulls out the C4 case, returns the detonator, and discovers six of the twelve devices still missing. . .

As we discover in the afterwhile during the episode, some bombs have been placed inside the spaceship itself. After the subsequent explosion, the ship drops in space almost 40% of the total potable water reserves and so now Galactica has about six days water supplies left. As the entire ( little. . . ) human fleet saved from the recent Cylons' attack is depending mainly on it for replenishment, the facts are simple: if they don't find as soon as possible new supplies, they'll run out of water in two days!

But there's a good hope: five planetary systems within jump range seem to possess the potential for finding water. The captain soon orders a search by means of all available Raptors aboard to scout each star system nearby. A fleet of small crafts soon departs from the ship to begin their duty.

And so our mission had begun. . .

There were three of us aboard our space vehicle: the two pilots, Pat Cowgill, Andrew Laing and me ( Frank ). In brief, Pat is a veteran, very experienced and with a taste for jesting, while Andrew is -in his own words - an explorer and scientist( he is also the medic of our team, if it urges so, as a patch on his shoulder shows clearly. . . ) , we call him "The Technician. . . ".

About me, I'm the "gunner" of the group, more apt to fire against an opponent space vehicle or an adversary advancing on the terrain than reasoning and thinking of something to do with calm. That's my fault, I know. . .

Raptors are perfect crafts for such a task assigned to us: they are usually operated by a crew of two, have synthetic gravity on board, and are controlled by means of a fly-by-wire system. They are also capable of atmospheric flight and are also equipped with a short-range FTL engine, allowing them to make short faster-than-light hops (that means at least 20 FTL jumps before refueling. . . ). Other than that, they can undertake short and medium-range scans to detect electromagnetic, heat or other signatures from other vessels and scan planetary surfaces to locate and assess mineral deposits. They are also capable of operating independently, or in concert with other Raptors if necessary. Other than that, every Raptor may take on board around eight to ten adults in addition to the two-person crew, but in those days there was really a shortage of personnel to put such a big crew only on one small craft. . . The main flight deck of a Raptor is fully pressurized. However, crews operate in flight suits and helmets to help protect them against any hull breach. The cabin can also be depressurized and used in space operations. Re-pressurization takes at least 10 seconds.

So, apart the urging of our mission and the lack of time, we were forced to stay all the day in our suits, and the flight was a long and difficult task, searching through all that planetary system assigned to our craft, full of moons,asteroids and small rocks in space, all potentially capable of cotaining small water in ice form very useful for our fleet. . . well, all of us were used to such duties, but it was not easy at all anyway. . . But our search seemed to be full of great efforts and without results by now. . . Too many the dispersed rocks, the planets and their moons in that huge expanse covered by that system- and with four asteroids belts too. . . - to evaluate all of them thoroughly in a few hours. . . Andrew had been so long on the videos and the display of the instrumentation, whose lights continuously reflected on his visor, that I thought he could have given some signal of histeria soon or after. . . when even Pat, usually calm during the longest recon missions we did together before in the worst conditions, at one point hit one console with his right hand, in an evident show of disbelief and exhaustion, we all understood that we had been at work too long in that little Raptor flying in space.

. .

"Sorry about that. . . "Pat gestured impatiently, without looking at us "Simply it's too long that I had this suit on. . . I only need to have a shower when back on the ship. . . ". And, after those words, all of us looked at each other and our minds came back to our present concern: water and the need to find that as soon as possible. . .

When finally the instrumentation started lightning to indicate the possibility of water on one little moon in the outer space of that system, all of us boomped on our positions. A desolate moon withouth atmosphere and full of rocks, seemingly. . . But it was enough. . . At last!

After a brief change of our course, we landed on the moon,in an area full of craters, a sign that this side of its surface had been hit in the past by a strong rain of asteroids leaving it like a dead desert. . . All of us kept on the common flight suit, instead of the white suit used for the longest missions on the surface of a planet- adding only a jet pack for manouvering- just to save time. . . we had not enough of it, cause the urgence of the supplies for our fleet, as I said.

"Just landed on Gruyere Sea. . . "Pat told us as our Raptor touched the plain terrain. The phrase was meant to cheer ourselves up, but as soon as we got off on the surface we noticed that the reality was not too far from that image. . . we were forced to pay double attention to where we had to put our feet, or we could have fallen all in a sudden and damaged seriously our instruments. . .

No atmosphere, no air,no plant or vegetation in that wasteland surrounded by the clear black sky pointed with a huge red nebula, galaxies and many stars, but maybe the water we were searching for was there, nearby one crater or a rock!

After we had put on the terrain our boxes and the bags with the instruments and began going around in our flight suits trying to get accustomized to that terrain, an alarm on our craft flight deck started and all of us were aware that - unfortunately. . . - we were not alone on that little moon. . .

The gunfire was quite immediate and everything became problematic. Before one of us could activate the external cannons of the craft, we were quite in the middle of a hard gunfight. One of the polished metal armors of the Cylons ( impressive for their height, more powerful and faster than the ones pictured in the old albums of the last past war. . . even if we have been trained for that occurrence during the voyage of the fleet in case of such circumstances, we were probably not prepared for that case in real life, I must admit. . . ) came out of a rock formation starting a continue fire against us that hit the ground- sending everywhere some parts of soil and little rocks in the air. . . - and the craft, damaging its armor and several instruments. Soon after, another Cylon emerged from the darkness of the surroundings of that area and followed his fellow attacker, going the same direction and throwing at us a series of stalwart shots that made we run for protection and cover nearby around.

I fired twice trying to keep in the distance the attackers, but no shot really reached the target. I fired another time,trying to find the correct angle to have a good visual, but it was Pat the only one among us that stroke a powerful hit at the first advancing Cylon, slicing it in two, the legs still up on the ground while the bust and an arm had been tossed away on the ground. But soon the other opponent fired and fired again, and our hopes of victory went soon away. . .

Pat was hit several times, his pressure suit opened in many points and the air from inside went free in space, while the rest of his body start flying in circles in the low gravity of the moon. Andrew emerged from the interior of the craft aiming at the Cylon, but he was not fast enough. . . the rest followed even too faster soon after. . .

So, this is the story of one of the many Raptors and recon Crafts that were sent from Galactica to explore the nearby planets and moons in search of water those days. One of the many that did not succeed and never returned back. As it happened to us. . .

The main feature of the diorama is the Raptor recon craft in 1/72 in resin, one of my preferred vehicles from this series- with wonderfuls parts for the inside instrumentations- whose cockpit I've customized adding the names of the fictious two pilots of this brief story and some decals, instruments and bags inside. Some little weathering was necessary on the craft to show a certain use before in atmospheric conditions. The main basement is from wargames accessories modified with milliput and with several drybrush on it.

The figures of the diorama come from various box kits or remaining parts: the Cylons are two miniatures for wargames from Star Wars- Episode II ( incredible how similar they appear in many ways! )- just modified repositioning their heads, adding some milliput to create an higher structure near them- making the two figures look more like the new Centurions from BSG. . . - and for the feets, while the cannons on the arms come from some parts of old Games Workshop kits. The pilots/space warriors come from a little 1/72 box called Space Battles I bought several year ago ( and that I luckily re- discovered one day on a forgotten shelf of my lab. . . ) and have been largely modified and highlighted to show their flights suits. Probably the resulting colour doesn't fit exactly the scheme of the flight suits of the new BSG, but anyway I liked to show them that way. . .

All is painted mainly with acrylics, leaving oils and inks only for the weathering.

Image: Attacking Cylon

Image: Cockpit, left side

Image: Right side

Image: Cylons, from above

Image: Details

Image: front view

Image: Shine on

Image: From behind

Image: Right side

Image: Looking in

Image: Cyulons - WIP

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This page was last updated 6 January 2009. © 2009 Starship Modeler