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The Rescue

By Battlestar Galactica 2003 RPG

Word Count: 11,712
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: T
Category: Action
Pairing/Focus: Kara, Zak, Tigh
BSG03Fanfic Management Note: These stories are taken from the Battlestar Galactica 2003 RPG website maintained by Kimberly Amyotte. They have been formatted for ease of reading, not to take away from the story itself. If you are unfamiliar with RPGs, you may want to check out her site prior to reading.

Part 1

For Commander William ‘Husker’ Adama it had been another quiet day, one in a long string. At his age he should love quiet but it never seemed quite right to him. A soldier should be busy with something other than paperwork. As always, a mound of it waited on the desk for his examination and/or signature, but first he’d read a hard copy letter he’d just received from his wife. He’d just opened it up and read, “Dear Bill” when a knock sounded at the hatch. “Come in!” he said loudly.

Kara slowly opened up the hatch, trying to summon up her courage. She had known this man most of her life, and he was practically a father to her. Delivering the news of recent events was not something she was looking forward to. Her legs were shaking so badly she could barely move, but she managed to come through the door, holding Panther tight under one arm.

"Commander Adama, Sir," she said, hoping her voice didn't betray how torn up she was feeling. "I... brought your cat..."

He and Kara had always been close, but she looked positively terrified. Putting that fact together with her disheveled appearance and the fact that it was Lee – not Kara – who had borrowed the frakking house cat for Lords knew what nefarious spying scheme, he knew that this meant trouble. After all, why else would Lee have ‘borrowed’ the cat except for spying? It wasn’t as though Lee had a house that needed de-mousing. Adama had thought it was probably some Academy prank, but this looked more serious. Much more serious, especially if Kara was up here on the Galactica.

Making one of the intuitive leaps that his younger officers always said seemed to consider psychic, Adama picked up the ship phone, dialed CIC and said, “Lieutenant Gaeta, prepare to break orbit. Stand by for destination.” He looked directly at Kara. “Alright, where is he? Where’s Lee?”

"A salvage vessel," she sighed, putting the cat down on the deck and extending Lee’s PDA to the eldest Adama. “I recorded the flight path from there with the onboard computer for the craft we… um… borrowed." Kara smirked a little. She was still pretty shaky, but starting to feel a little better. "Sir, I have a young rook who arrived with me. She's down on the flight deck. We need to get her home. I think she's pretty shaken up." Kara thought for a moment. "And I should contact Zak; he'll be worried."

Taking the proffered PDA, the Commander quickly read off the coordinates and relayed them into the ship phone so that Lieutenant Gaeta could begin plotting a course. Then he ordered an immediate departure before putting the phone back on its cradle.

"I've just ordered the Galactica away on an official mission, Lieutenant Thrace; I'm going to need a little explanation. In the meantime, I can send your rook down to Caprica if you insist, but I'm sure she'll be safe here if you want to check her into the Life Station. And Zak is onboard the Galactica. He came up here for a quick visit while we were in docking orbit."

"It was supposed to be a simple recon mission, Sir,” Kara said quickly. “We walked into a trap.” She sighed and shook her head, giving Adama the information that wouldn’t be in the PDA. "Lee created a distraction so I could get the information and Carrie out. I didn't see him after that. We barely made it out…" She took a deep breath, regaining her composure before she continued. "I need to go check on Carrie," she said thoughtfully before pausing for a moment, only now realizing what Adama had said. "Zak is on board? Where?"

The Commander paused a second, frozen with fear. His oldest son was in trouble – serious trouble judging from Kara's reluctance to elaborate. Lee had always tried to prove himself against every obstacle, but the man was only that… a man. What would he tell his wife if anything had happened to him? "I'm sorry, darling, but bad things sometimes happen to soldiers.” Adama sighed . At least Zak was safe, and right now that was what Kara needed to know. "He's in the pilots' recreation hall, visiting. It will be about ten minutes before the Galactica can leave orbit. We have to collect the Viper pilots and notify Caprica’s traffic control before we can go anywhere. Here, let me have the cat. He's looking a little restless there."

Kara looked down to where Panther was making figure-eights around her legs, and picked up the cat to hand him to Adama. Then she paused for a moment before excusing herself and walking back down to the flight deck to check on Carrie.

Adama watched her go, and then he turned back to the ship phone picked it up. “Dualla? Get me a ground line, then see if you can run down Captain Spencer and Colonel Tigh and send them to my quarters.”

Upon arriving at the flight deck, Kara watched the young pilot for a while. She noticed that Carrie was talking with the crew chief, and decided that she would be okay for a few minutes while she tracked down Zak. Heading back up towards the Rec hall, her steps slowed a little. She was thinking about Lee – praying for his safety – when she entered the hall. She saw Zak almost immediately, across the room and talking to some of the other young pilots.

Leaning against the door jam, she watched him for a moment before standing and walking over to say something. “Hey,” she finally said with a smirk.

Zak had been goofing around with two of his former buddies from high school. They had been a year ahead of him at the Academy, and were now assigned to the Galactica to finish their training. They had been ribbing him about being engaged to Kara Thrace – the notorious Starbuck. He really didn’t care. He was so proud of her that he could burst, but since she had disappeared a few days before, he had been worried. She hadn’t left any note or explanation. So when he heard the familiar “Hey,” and saw that smirky smile, he felt a big weight slide off him. He left his friends without even a farewell, and hurried to her side.

“Kara!” he cried, and then stopped to check himself. It was a very public place, and he was still a student… she was still a superior officer and his teacher. “Lieutenant Thrace, Sir,” he said more formally, his smile at odds with his words. “What are you doing here?”

Kara laughed. “You can relax, Zak,” she told him. “I’m not on duty at the moment, and quite frankly I don’t give a damn about protocol either. You should know that by now. She smiled slightly as she looked over Zak’s shoulder, spotting the two pilots he had been talking to earlier. Both were looking at her as though she might explode at any minute. Stifling a laugh, she looked back to Zak. “Care to walk?” she asked earnestly. “It’s a little crowded here.”

He smiled broadly. “Yes, Sir!” he replied. “I know just the place!” He then led her out of the Rec room, down the passageway, and into an exercise room. It was deserted. Once inside, he quickly closed the hatch, took her in his arms, and kissed her until they were both out of breath. “Kara-mia,” he said softly. “I was so worried about you!”

Kara just sighed. That crazy name Zak had for her almost always made her laugh, but right now it just wasn’t enough. She pulled him close and held tight, closed her eyes, and said another silent prayer.

While he loved having her with him again, the warm armful that was Kara did not feel happy to Zak. He’d assumed that she’d been on holiday – doing something fun and exciting – but from her disheveled appearance and sad eyes, he had to assume that something was very wrong. He’d always wanted to protect her, but it never seemed to work out that way. Kara could be quite a handful in more ways than one. “Alright, Darling,” he said softly. Tell me what’s going on.”

Kara sighed. She knew how much Zak cared about her, but she also knew how much he struggled to compete with his brother. How could she tell him that it was his brother on her mind right now? That she was terribly afraid for Lee’s safety? She stayed silent for a long while before she eventually spoke, revealing only a part of the truth.

“Just a mission gone wrong,” she said softly. “Had to leave a man behind. I really don’t want to think too much about it right now.” She looked up at Zak, hoping that her eyes wouldn’t betray her.

Zak knew that Kara wasn’t telling him everything, but he also knew the futility of pressing her for more than what she wanted to say. Still, it hurt his feelings that she was shutting him out. When were Kara and Lee going to admit that he was a grown-up? He was practically a full-fledged Viper pilot; just one more flight would prove it.

Maybe his father would know what was bothering Kara. The eldest Adama always seemed to know everything. Before he could pursue the thought, the overhead speakers made an announcement. “All Viper pilots report immediately to the briefing room. Repeat, all Viper pilots report immediately to the briefing room. Viper wing Red will launch in one half hour.

“Wow!” Zak exclaimed. “Sounds like the Galactica’s heading into some real action.” He turned back to the hatch and said, “Come on! Let’s go! I don’t want to miss this.”

Kara was thankful that Zak hadn’t pressed her. She knew that if she told him she was worried about Lee, he would take it the wrong way. The diversion was lso welcome. It meant that she would not have to talk about it in the near future, and that they were on their way to get Lee.

Kara pushed past Zak at the hatch. “Head for the read room and wait there,” she told him firmly. “You’re not a pilot yet, and I have a feeling that things could get a little out of your league very fast out there. I know you have only your solo flight left, but you still need a lot of time in the simulators to perfect your landings.” Pausing for a moment, she took a deep breath and concluded, “Maybe you can go see if Tyrol has anything for you to do on the deck.”

Leaving him behind, Kara headed for the briefing room. There was a frenzy of activity as the pilots came pouring in. She took a seat in the back row even as Carrie walked into the room and looked for a spare seat. Seeing the one next to Starbuck, Carrie walked over and plopped herself down into it, grinning. “Yeah, I know,” she said. “I’m too inexperienced to do this, yadda, yadda. But you know what? I don’t care. And if I have to, I’ll be insubordinate!”

With that, Carrie’s attention went back to the room once again as she scanned it for anyone from flight school whom she might know. “So,” she said as she looked about. “I’m guessing Adama didn’t take it to well.” Her eyes flicked back to Kara. “Are you sure you want to go back? You look tired…”

“Don’t worry about me,” Kara said, perhaps a little more firmly than she would have liked. “I have no intention of trying to talk you out of this. You’re involved as deep as I am. I didn’t even have to say anything… he just knew. He always does.” Kara sighed. She was tired. She looked back at Carrie. “But as tired as I feel, it doesn’t matter. I have to go.” She stared towards the front of the room for a moment and contemplated telling Carrie everything, but the younger woman seemed to notice the look on her face and turn away.

Carrie felt like she was intruding, if the emotion revealed in Kara’s expression was an indication of what she was going through. Kara liked Lee; it was as plain as day. “Thanks for not trying to send me back to Caprica,” she said quietly. “If you had, I would have had to do some serious defying. I kept getting told in flight school that I was too much like you for my own good.” She shrugged and gave Kara a grin. “Except I didn’t get in as much brig time.” With a laugh, she looked at everyone in their flight suits. “Is this briefing gonna take long, ‘cause I’m itching to get into my gear.”

Kara laughed in reply. “Trust me, the brig isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” she admitted. She looked back over at Carrie then. “I did think of sending you back, but when I checked in on you earlier, you seemed to be holding together damned well,” Kara sighed. “Besides, you’re pretty handy to have around.” Kara gave a wink and nudged Carrie with a smile. “Hopefully this briefing won’t be too long. They usually aren’t.” Kara paused for a long moment. “You’ve been great to work with, Kid. Maybe someday we’ll get posted together; then we can really shake things up.”

“Shaking things up is my hobby,” Carrie said simply. “I’d like to work with you, too. And Lee…” She trailed off and looked around again, as though trying to commit every detail to memory. “I’ve always loved the Galactica,” she said almost reverently. “It always seemed so much more regal than the other ships. During flight school, I bucked up my grades just so I could get posted here, but the rumor is that when Commander Adama retires, this place is gonna be a museum.” She gave a small, sad sigh. “This is gonna be the only time I fly out from the Galactica. I’m ashamed to say that I spent the whole time in the landing bay thinking about that rather than Lee.” She gave a self-depreciating laugh and shook her head. “Guess I’m not like you at all. I’ll bet that’s all you were thinking about: Helping Lee.”

Kara smiled at Carrie. “I hope to get in some time here before the Galactica is decommissioned. It’s a great place. It’s the only ship in the fleet that has no auto-landings,” Kara added with a sigh. “I wish I could say that I was only thinking about Lee this whole time, but I was a little distracted. Zak is on board…” Kara looked down, staring at the deck for a moment. Right now, she wished so much that things were different. “He was worried…” She let her voice trail off as her thoughts did. Closing her eyes, she fought to keep her emotions in check. If she could just get through this, she would figure out a way to fix things.

“Worried,” Carrie said thoughtfully. “No doubt. I’d be worried if my brother was on a Cylon ship. But then again, the little frak would probably see it as a holiday,” she grinned. “You’d like my brother. He’s a brig-lover, too.” Looking around, Carrie started to get annoyed. “Okay, I’m officially sick of these coveralls. If no one comes soon, I’m gonna go find a flight suit myself!”

Zak watched Kara trot off. There she was, treating him like a kid again. Go help out in the hangar deck, my frakking ass, he thought! And he had to assume that Kara was part of whatever was happening on the Galactica; why else would she attend a pilots’ briefing?

There were times when it paid to be an Adama, as well as the son of the Commander of the Galactica. This was one of them. He left for his father’s office hoping that when he got there, his dad would give him the straight dope. When he arrived, he could hear his father’s voice from outside the open hatch.

“So, that’s it, gentlemen,” the commander finished. He was talking to Captain Spencer and Colonel Tigh. “It looks like the Cylons have made some kind of aggressive move, and we have to deal with it while preventing an all-out war. Lieutenant Thrace says that my son is aboard the Smuggler, dead or alive. She’s not sure which. From that pile of bodies you see here on the PDA, he could very well be dead.” That was the truth, Adama though, although it hurt to say it aloud; almost as though he was giving the thought validity. He’d carefully avoided telling his wife anything except that Lee was in trouble, and that he intended to go to him. Tigh and Spencer were both studying the PDA’s tiny screen, and the disgusting display of what had used to be human beings.

He heard the knock at the hatch, followed by its opening further. Only one person on board would dare to enter the Commander’s quarters without an invitation, and that was his son, Zak. The dark head poked through. “Dad, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Zak’s father seldom – if ever – looked upset. At the moment though, he looked concerned. When Zak had asked if he could talk to him, he had received a “Not right now, Zak,” that had allowed for no argument. True to form, Zak had argued anyway. “I just wanted to know what’s going on with the alert.”

His father had picked up a PDA from the table and handed it to him. It showed a scan over a pile of decaying human bodies. Behind them stood a blindingly shiny figure that could only be a Cylon. “Your brother has gotten himself into trouble,” the commander said. “We’re on our way to get him out of it.”

“Sweet Jesus!” Zak exclaimed. “I want to help! What can I do?”

“Nothing at the moment, Zak,” his father said gently. “You’re not certified yet. But you can come with me to the pilots’ briefing if you like.”

As Kara had, his father was treating him like a child, but Zak refused to be a child just because they thought he was. He took his father up on the offer, and moments later they were in the briefing room and Captain Spencer was explaining their battle plan.

When he’d arrived, Zak had seen Carrie and Kara and had gone to sit with them. “Don’t think you’re going to leave me out of this,” he whispered tightly to Kara. “I’m coming along.”

Kara looked at Zak. Damn! He couldn’t come; it was too dangerous. “No frakking way, Zak. You’re not ready. I’m not going to let you get caught up int his…” Kara gave a sigh, muttering something to herself.

Zak wasn’t going to dignify that with a reply. Besides, he had no intention of following Kara’s instructions. In any case, he was missing what Captain Spencer was saying…

“So, once again, here is the basic plan,” the Captain said clearly as he illustrated his words with gestures to a vertical glass board before him. “We’re after a smuggler suspected of slave running. We’ll deploy twelve Vipers, but only two – Jolly and myself – will accompany the boarding shuttle. The shuttle will have four marines, as well as Lieutenant Thrace and Ensign Diarta, who have just returned from the ship and know its layout. Captain Kelly is briefing the marines right now.”

Zak’s father stood to the left of Captain Spencer, looking very serious. The pilots would know something was up. The commander never attended pilot briefings without a good reason, but neither of them had mentioned that Lee Adama was also on the vessel.

Captain Spencer was looking at Kara. "Is there anything you want to add, Lieutenant Thrace?"

Kara stood up, her legs shaking. “We’re dealing with a pretty ruthless arms dealer,” she said, and Zak didn’t think anyone who didn’t know her well would catch the tremor in her voice, but it was there. “He’s suspected of dealing in Cylon technology as well. I wouldn’t put anything past this guy.” She paused before continuing. “We didn’t see any accompanying fighters; just the smuggler’s vessel and two single-man crafts in its bay, one of which we used to get back here. But I would advise caution nonetheless.” Kara sat back down between Carrie and Zak. Her hands were shaking, and he could see that she was dreading going back to the ship. When she turned to Zak, her voice was full of hurt. “Promise me you won’t get involved,” she begged. Her voice was shaking clearly now, and sounded on the verge of breaking.

Zak looked into Kara’s green eyes. He was touched that she was so worried, but Lee was his brother and if Kara was going to rescue him, then there was no way Zak could allow himself to be left behind. He took Kara’s shaking hand in his and whispered, “Don’t worry, Sweetheart. Things will be fine.” He wasn’t going to tell her more, but he had the beginnings of a plan of attack in his own mind.

Zak’s father had been listening quietly throughout Captain Spencer’s presentation. As the pilots filed out, he turned to leave and Zak stepped up to offer his plan. “Commander, Sir, I think you should let me go on this mission. I saw Panther in your quarters, and he would be a great asset for reconnaissance. You know that nobody knows how to program him better than I do.” Adama looked reluctant. “Please, Sir. I want to help Lee. He’s my brother.”

Zak looked so young and so sure of himself, but he was right about one thing. The boy could make Panther do everything but make coffee, and he might even be able to do that with a few accessories. The commander finally nodded slowly. “Okay, but you’d better hurry. We’ll be there within the hour.”

By that time, Kara was on her way to the ready room to grab a flight suit. Lords, it felt good to finally be able to do something! She just hoped that Zak would listen to her and stay out of trouble. The possibility of losing Lee was high enough; she didn’t think she could stand to lose Zak too.

Slipping on the heavy, leathery suit felt like coming home. Damn, she needed to get herself out of flight instruction and back into space. She sighed at that. Fat chance, with the number of hours she’d logged in the brig as a cadet. No one would want to take a chance on her. Fastening the final buckle on the suit, she left for the port launch bay.

Upon arriving, she could see the older craft that she and Carrie had used to escape. A deep chill ran through her, and she hoped that it would not all be for nothing; she prayed he was still alive.

Carrie smiled as she zipped up her own flight suit. She was actually going to fly out from the Galactica! If it hadn’t been for the fact that Lee was trapped on a Cylon controlled vessel and there was a good chance that some of them might not make it back, she would be a very happy bunny. “So, why don’t you want Zak to come?” she asked, not really thinking. Then she reconsidered. “Sorry, don’t answer that if you don’t want to.”

Kara didn’t offer any explanation.

Carrie waited for a bit, and when Kara didn’t reply she asked, “So what exactly are we going to do? We can’t go in and say, ‘please hand over Captain Adama’, can we?” Okay, the panic was now officially in overdrive.

Kara looked at Carrie, not really surprised by either question. “Well, just between us, I don’t know if I’ll be able to restrain myself. Lee means a lot to me, and Zak sometimes has trouble understanding that.”

"At least this time we're going in there fully armed, and with a little bit of backup. From the intel we saw, there are only a few Cylons on board – maybe a half dozen." Kara paused before adding, "Our best hope is that they're not ready to have their exploits exposed, and will want to lay low. My gut tells me they're up to something big, though. This is only a little piece of the big pie."

“Great Lord's of Kobol, I am your Warrior son. I ask that you guide me home and let me fight another day. It has been three days since we've had a visit from Loeben. I have not eaten and have barely slept. If you bring me home, I will honor my regrets and face the fires that burn. I ask that you forgive me my wrongs. I have never told the woman I love how I feel. Now she is taken…”

Loeben opened the door to the cell, swinging it open noisily. The two prisoners looked sickly, unfed. "Just checking up on you," he announced, dropping two plates of gruel and a pitcher of water onto the floor. "If it was up to me, you pigs would rot. But apparently the boss wants you alive, just in case something goes wrong with your... doubles." He laughed as he said this, a dry, wheezing, smokers cough. "Now don't try anything, Adama. I'm watching you."

"Piece of the pie? Did I ever tell you I hate pie?" Carrie joked, tightening the straps on her boots and slipping the small picture of her family and her boyfriend into the inside pocket. She glanced over at Kara as she did this.

"I know Lee said no pictures but...what the hell? I mean, it’s not like the Cylons are gonna find them down on Caprica." She opened the door to the hall. "You coming? Cause I think it's time we kicked some metallic Cylon ass!" She pretended to kick something and made a clunking noise. "I think it might hurt us a little more than them though..."

Kara followed Carrie down to the flight deck. Taking the clipboard from a young flight specialist, she began the preflight check of the shuttle, just as the heavily armed marines began boarding the shuttle. Kara stood by the hatch, waiting until the last of them were aboard, and then motioning for Carrie to board before stepping inside and taking the pilot's seat. Kara then reached for the lever to activate the hydraulic hatch.

Carrie climbed into the shuttle, taking a seat at the front of the craft. She belted in before checking all the gages around her. "All clear," she announced as she looked back at the marines. Then she closed her eyes in a silent prayer. May the Lords of Kobol protect us on this day, and bring us home safely to our families.

It wasn’t until then that Kara caught sight of Zak. She released her restraints and strode angrily back to him. “Frakkin’ hell,” yelled. “You have no idea what you think you’re walking into!”

“Sorry, Kara,” he told her, but I’m going. It’s my job to program Panter to find Lee.” With that, he handed the cat over to the nearest marine and nodded an acknowledgement to Carrie.

Kara was brought up short, her eyes narrowing. “Now the frak do you know who we’re going after? I never told you, and it sure wasn’t mentioned in the briefing!”

Zak smiled slightly and put a hand on each of Kara’s arms. “Never try to keep a secret from an Adama, Sweetheart,” he said softly. “We’ve got friends in high places.”

Kara shrugged off Zak’s hands and took a step back. She pointedly ignored the engaging smile he was throwing her way. “Frak!” she said in frustration. “Zak, I don’t want chance losing you…”

Zak spread out his hands. “Look, Kara, I’m a big boy now, remember? And as far as losing me, what about losing you?”

Kara turned away for a moment, not wanting to look Zak in the eye.

“I’ve always taken care of myself,” she reminded him. “Besides, I’ve gotten out of there once before – unarmed at that – so I sure as hell can get out now.”

Zak moved closer, very aware of the marines and Carrie who were all watching, but wanting to touch her.

Kara fought the urge to turn around to face Zak, knowing that if she did – if she let him – he might persuade her. “Frak, don’t,” she begged. “Please, just stay here…”

“I can get in,” Zak said imploringly. “I’m a trained Colonial on a ship full of marines and two very fine pilots. What danger could I be in?”

Kara didn’t speak, but sat down and grabbed her helmet from the console before turning around to face Zak.

“Lieutenant Thrace, is this man authorized to go on this mission?” one of the marines asked her pointedly.

Kara paused, and finally gave a reluctant nod. “Yeah.”

“Thanks, Kara,” Zak said in an uncharacteristically soft voice. “You won’t regret it.”

Kara looked Zak in the eye, not allowing him to look away. “Just don’t make me worry about you, or I may have to take it out of your hide.” With that, she smiled and punched Zak in the arm. He faked a right-cross to her chin, never making contact, in what was an old game to them.

She grabbed a helmet and tossed it over to Zak, smirking when she heard his excited, “Am I flying co-pilot?”

“No,” Kara said firmly. “Nightsky is my co-pilot. You don’t have your wings yet. The helmets are just standard gear. With a glance over at the marines, she added, “You guys better suit-up, too.”

Zak took the helmet and gingerly put it on, fastening the strap and flipping on the audio suit. Kara activated the audio control in her own helmet as she began fastening restraints in the pilot’s seat. “You too, Zak.”

Zak looked to the back of the ship, but there were no suits there. He shook his head. “No way am I leaving this ship!”

She gave a shrug. “Suit up, or you don’t go,” she told him. Then, on a sigh, “I’ll wait.”

He shook his head. “Ain’t leaving,” he insisted.

“We’ve got a spare,” one of the marines put in. “It might be a bit big…”

Kara just laughed. “There ya go,” she said. “Now hurry up; we’re wasting precious time.”

Zak pulled on the suit as quickly as he could. It was indeed far too big. “Alright, already!” he announced.

“Now sit down and buckle up,” Kara added. She didn’t bother to restrain another laugh as she looked back at Zak. The suit was hanging on him like a sack of potatoes as he sat next to the marine. Zak had started fastening straps, and spared a moment to smile sweetly back at Kara. Why not, she though. He’d won. “You can wipe that smile off your face,” she informed him. “Once we get there, you are not getting off this ship.”

Zak just smiled. We’ll see, he thought. We’ll see.

Carrie watched the scene between Kara and Zak, trying not to laugh. As soon as they had belted up, she raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Ready?” She pulled on her helmet and flicked the audio switch on. “This is Ensign Diarta, requesting permission to depart.”

“Permission granted, Nightsky. May the Lords of Kobol be with you,” the flight coordinator said. Carrie nodded. “You bet your sweet ass they will be,” she muttered to herself. And then more loudly, to Kara, “Ready to fly out when you are, Starbuck.” Then she waited for Kara to take control.

Just then, while Loeben's eyes were on Apollo, Jenna grabbed the pitcher of water and threw it in Loeben's face. Apollo seized this moment to tackle Loeben at waist level, and by grabbing his calf Lee managed to get Leoben over the top, sending him landing face-first in the plate of gruel.

“Come on,” Apollo called. “Let’s get out of here!”

Jenna darted out of the cell and Apollo followed, slamming the door behind them. Once outside, Jenna paused. “We can’t leave,” she said frantically. “We have to destroy this place.”

“You’re right,” Apollo agreed. “I don’t need a twin; I already have a brother.” Apollo reached through the cell door and grabbed Leoben’s sidearm. “Let’s do it. I think I know how to get to the command deck from here.”

“How do you know that?” Jenna asked.

“Um, let’s just say I’ve seen an overview of this vessel,” Apollo hedged. He wasn’t ready to trust this woman with the knowledge of Panther’s information.

The tired duo managed to make their way to the command deck without any hassle. Apollo had thought it would be more difficult, and his worries were confirmed when he heard a voice as they came onto the deck.

“Come in, Apollo. I’ve been waiting for you.” The voice came from someone sitting in a chair faced away from him, but it was frighteningly familiar. “Our father’s waiting for us. Or should I say, your father?”

Apollo fired a blast at the back of the chair, and then proceeded to open fire on all consoles and equipment. “Frakhead, I don’t need this,” Apollo muttered as he emptied the weapon in an expression of his anger. He then walked over to the chair and turned around. There in front of him was a copy of himself. Dead.

Jenna’s double showed up and entered the room with a second double of Apollo. “You shouldn’t do that, you know,” she said simply. “The Lords of Kobol would not approve of the fact that you just killed yourself.”

His double chimed in. “And frankly, you can’t stop us anyway. If we include you, we have thirteen models of Cylons in C&C positions.”

“And how many evil twins can I expect to have, you frakker?” Apollo ground out.

His duplicate smiled. “Two to start,” it explained. “One to replace you, and one to return to the home world.”

“So I guess that means we’re two of a kind,” Apollo replied, deadpan.

“Yes,” the duplicate admitted. “For the moment.”

Apollo raised his sidearm to fire, only to realize that in his anger he had emptied the weapon, and his only route of escape was through the two synthetic beings.

Meanwhile, Leoben was picking himself up from the floor slowly, wiping the gruel out of his hair with a sleeve. “Damned frakass!” He searched for his sidearm only to find it gone, so he crept through the halls of the ship until he heard a voice up ahead.

“That will soon change,” Leoben said, and addition to the comment about only two Apollos existing at the moment. “Grab them!” he commanded. The doubles then lunged for Jenna and Apollo while Leoben stood back and watched.

While Apollo wrestled with his double, he managed to find himself pinned down with his clone attempting to strangle him.

“Kill him, you son of a bitch!” Leoben screamed. “Kill him or we lose everything!” Looking around frantically as several duplicates of his form advanced on Lee and the girl, Leoben rushed over to a weapons cabinet and grabbed a sidearm, spinning around to fire it. Lee and his double were now upright, standing side by side, identical to the human eye. Well, to any eye really. “Oh, frak,” Leoben whispered as he brought the sidearm up and fired a single shot at one of the two Lees. The impact took both of them down.

Apollo grunted under the weight of – himself – and pushed the body off of him.

"Jenna, it's time to go." Leoben said. "Give me your weapon."

Both the Jenna and the Apollo obligingly ceased fighting. "By your command," they said in unison. Then only Jenna continued. "Leoben, we cannot allow our activities to be compromised. Set the self-destruct sequence."

Leoben looked at the two as they stood up. They sounded like doubles; they looked like… well, they looked like Lee and Jenna, but they couldn't be. Could they? Leoben handed over his sidearm. "Fine," he said in frustration. "Accomplish mission 1A, then try to contact Cylon base. Understood?" He could barely remember the command which he had been told to repeat so long ago. "Self destruct sequence, activate. Loeben, two-five-four-three-two-four-one.”

“Activated,” the computer responded in flashing red letters.

"Get the hell outta here!" Loeben said as he ushered the two doubles towards the doors. They needed to get out, even if he didn't.

Kara noded to Carrie. "Let’s roll!"

She pulled the lever that started the hatch closing automatically. At the moment it was sealed, she radioed to launch control. "Launch control this is Raptor five twenty-seven, ready for escort to launch platform."

"Roger Raptor five twenty-seven, Escort underway."

With that, she felt the Raptor jerk into motion as it was towed to the landing platforms. When they came to a stop, the distinct clunk of metal could be heard outside the craft as the tow vehicle detached and the magnetic locks were engaged. The flight specialist in the tow vehicle gave her the thumbs up once he was clear of the platform.

"Galactica launch control, this is Raptor five twenty-seven, all clear. Mag locks engaged, ready for lift."

"Roger Raptor five twenty-seven."

The platform beneath them began to rise up, and within moments the open expanse of space could be seen through the end of the landing bay. Once the platform had stopped, Kara disengaged the mag locks. Firing up the lift thrusters, she radioed to the launch control. "Galactical Launch, this is Raptor five twenty-seven. All systems go, ready to lift off."

"Roger Raptor five twenty-seven, Vipers are away. Launch when ready."

"Roger Galactica, Raptor five twenty-seven away." Kara kicked in the thrusters, finally launching the craft into space. She switched the com frequency to short-wave as she neared the two Vipers. "Viper 3745, this is Raptor five twenty-seven, we have you on visual."

"Roger Raptor five twenty-seven. Set frequency to one-hundred point three, full protocol. Good to have you along Starbuck.”

Full protocol... that meant call signs only from here on out; no names, no rank. "Roger that Ripper. Lets get this train a rolling." Kara switched to the internal com frequency "Nightsky, you have the controls for the moment," Kara said, switching control over the Carrie and unbuckling from her seat. She went over to sit in front of Zak. He wasn't even through basic yet; he had no call sign, and to the best of her knowledge he had yet to work under full protocol. Looking at him with a very serious gaze, she said, "Here on out, you will be referred to as Kid, whether you like it or not. It’s the only way everyone in our little party will know who we're talking about. No names, no rank... Understood?" Her tone was cold and authoritative. There was no room for emotions right now.

Carrie had taken control, keeping the Raptor on a straight path. As Kara went back to talk to Zak, she felt sorry for him. It must be hard being engaged to a senior officer.

Carrie read the monitors and nodded to herself. "Starbuck, we will be engaging target soon."

Kara took her seat, nodding at Carrie. "Roger NIghtsky, I have the controls."

Checking the sensors, she easily spotted the salvage vessel drifting just out of visual range. She switched the com back to broadcast frequency one-hundred point three, radioing the Vipers who were slightly ahead of them. "Ripper, Jolly this is Starbuck. Do you have visual of contact? I show no additional contacts in area."

"Roger that Starbuck, we have visual," Capt. Spencer's voice echoed back.

"Copy that Ripper." Kara studied the horizon, seeing the small outline of the salvage vessel. "Visual achieved." The small speck quickly grew in size and she could see the dark outline of the landing bays. Switching the com to free radio traffic, she motioned for silence from the others on board. Time to put her acting skills to work, as per the plan. She was able to make visual contact with the pilots in the Vipers, and Ripper gave her the thumbs up.

"Salvage Vessel, this is Colonial Marshall Inspection. Prepare for boarding." She awaited a reply, but silence was all that greeted them. Switching over to one-hundred point three, she stated simply, "Alright we're going in, prep for landing."

Kara maneuvered the Raptor onto the hanger deck and felt the landing locks engage. The two Vipers continued to circle outside the vessel. Looking around the bay, she noticed that the other craft was gone. There were still scorch marks on the wall from the gunfight a few days earlier, but other than that is was eerily quiet.

Kara unbuckled her restraints and stood up, removing her helmet and grabbing a wireless headset. She nodded to the marines in the back as she flipped the lever, opening the hatch. Just as she did so, the distinct sound of a blaster being fired echoed through the ship. For a moment she froze, hoping they were not too late. She stepped down and out of the Raptor, then turned to Zak.

"Stay here. You're on lookout." She spoke in an authoritative voice before moving out of sight from the hatch, making her way to the staircase that led up into the bulk of the ship.

Zak watched Kara and the boarding party leave the docking bay, then turned to Panther who had followed his basic programming and curled up for nap in a quiet corner. "Come on, Pants," Zak said. "Let's get you set up for exploration and surveillance."

A few minutes later the cat had once again become a war machine. Zak put his erstwhile pet on the deck, and spoke its activation codes. When it pattered out the hatch and out into the docking bay, he followed.

In another area of the ship, Kara rounded a corner heading towards what she assumed to be the bridge. A few feet up ahead, a door opened and a very haggard looking Lee and a young blonde woman stumbled through.

Kara stopped for a moment, taken aback by their appearance. While Lee looked pale, thin, and dirty, the blonde woman appeared in perfect health, and only a little on the dirty side. Putting her suspicions aside for the moment, she approached Lee.

As Lee and Jenna made their way towards Kara, Lee took an extra step ahead of Jenna. Putting his had in front of his stomach he looked directly at Kara, and made a sign with his hand.

Kara looked at Lee, wide eyed for a moment before acknowledging his request with a slight, quick nod. Before anyone could ask, she raised her sidearm and fired it several times at the blonde woman. As the woman slumped to the ground, Kara turned to Lee. "You better have a frakkin’ good reason..." She met his eyes, searching for an explanation.

"Let’s get the hell outta here,” Apollo said as he increased his pace to a jog and directed Kara back the way she had come. This place is gonna blow. I'll tell you later." Apollo was helped by two Marines as they all turned and ran back to the Raptor.

Kara turned with the group, glancing back over her shoulder at the woman lying on the ground. She knew that Lee had to have a very good reason, but it did nothing for the sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach. Reaching the Raptor, that feeling got worse. Zak wasn't there.

"Frak!" she yelled.

Just then the automated announcement rang through the halls. "Self destruct in ten minutes." Kara turned and ran back towards the hallway.

Apollo yelled out, "What the hells going on?" Karla didn’t appear to hear him, so he tried another approach. "Marine, what's going on? Why'd she leave?"

Carrie, who by now was quite happily sitting in her seat, watched as Kara ran away.

"She left because Zak's on board," She said quietly, setting the start up sequence. Or he was. I don’t know where he is now. They've got three minutes to get back before I take us out." She didn't want to leave Kara, but there was no point in the entire mission team being killed when two were dead anyway.

"That little brat! Who let him on the mission?" Apollo settled into his seat. "If that runt gets us – or Kara – killed I'm gonna kill him myself!"

Kara reached the bottom of the stairs, calling as loudly as she could. "Zak!"

She ran up another short staircase, checking around each bend she passed as quickly as possible, ever minding the audio reminder that ticked off the minutes until destruction. "Self Destruct in nine minutes."

Kara reached the end of the hallway at the top of the stairs and turned right.

She rounded the corner and spotted Zak just up ahead. Thankfully he was already moving in her direction. Kara took a few steps forward, grabbing a hold of the baggy flight suit by the collar.

"What the frak were you thinking! I told you to stay put!" Kara shot him a menacing look, but before he could reply, Kara yelled at him again. "You’d better move your frakkin’ ass back to the Raptor or you gonna have to kiss it goodbye! This place is gonna blow and if we're not back before the Raptor lifts off, we're frakkin’ toast!"

Kara turned back towards the ship, pushing Zak in front of her. "Move!" she yelled, breaking into a run. As they approached the stairs, she could hear the engines of the Raptor powering up. They both sprinted back across the hanger towards the ship.

Once there, Kara grabbed a hold of Zak and gave him a good shove into the Raptor, then pushed him down into a seat. "Don't you frakkin’ move or I'll bust your ass so fast you won't even know what hit you."

Zak glared back at her, not saying a word. Kara turned to Carrie. "Get us out of here, Nightsky! I think we've worn out our welcome."

When Kara told her to talk the ship out Carrie nodded. "Right-o. Full protocol." She slipped her helmet on and was about to disengage the landing locks when Apollo spoke.

"Zak, where the hell is Panther?" Apollo pulled himself up giving Zak a hard look.

"Don't think you're going back for the cat," Carrie said quietly as she turned to look at them and then louder "We've got three minutes; we’ve gotta get out!"

"Who the hell would bring a cat into a gun fight?" joked one of the Marines.

Apollo briefly looked over at the Marine "Shut up!" Turning back to Zak and obviously quite agitated, Apollo continued. "Now Zak, you self-righteous son of a bitch, where the hell is the CAT?"

Looking at his older brother with as much "cool" as he could muster, Zak held a PDA to his mouth and spoke two words, then dropped his hand again and said to Lee, "He's on his way." He paused a moment. Frak, Lee really did look awful. It was hard to be mad at him. "You okay, Bro?"

Apollo smiled gathered all the strength he could muster, and punched Zak in the face. Then Apollo fell back in his seat. "I feel better now; thanks for asking."

Kara looked out the hatch for signs of the CAT. They were running short on time. As valuable as the CAT was, and as much as she had adored it growing up, if they didn't leave right now, they would all be crispy really quick.

Kara hit the lever to shut the hatch and nodded to Nightsky to lift off. She turned around just in time to see Lee falling back into his seat. She moved over to him, checking to make sure he was all right. She was pretty sure that he hadn't eaten since they were lured there. Hell, she had barely thought of eating herself. She sat down next to Lee, keeping a close watch over him as they lifted off from the salvage vessel.

Carrie saw Kara nod and disable the mag locks. She quickly took the Raptor out, watching the vessel behind them start to explode, small arms of flame shooting out and engulfing the surrounding area. "Everyone okay?" she asked...

I'm sorry Kara," Apollo said as he started drifting in and out of consciousness. "I didn't mean..." Apollo didn’t finish; he was out cold.

"It's okay," Kara said softly, giving Apollo a gentle hug even though he probably couldn’t feel it. "Nightsky, lets get home quick. He's in pretty rough shape." Kara rested her head back against the seat, closing her eyes for a moment. The adrenaline rush was beginning to wear off, and all she wanted to do was sleep.

As Zak slowly came back to consciousness, his jaw began hurting like hell. Lee sure hadn't pulled his punch on that one. Feeling the shuttle's deck plates vibrate under his cheek, he deduced they'd taken off. He opened his eyes and saw something he couldn't believe. His fiancé – Kara – was holding his brother in her arms. He had to end that right away. He sat up quickly and immediately regretted it when his head swam. Rubbing his jaw he said, "What the frak is going on? Where's Panther?"

Kara slowly opened her eyes and looked over at Zak. It took her a few moments to focus, the fatigue of the past few days catching up with her. "We couldn't wait," she managed to speak, her voice low and gravelly from the exhaustion. "Any longer, and we would be nothing but a fireball."

She looked at Lee who was still out. Touching a hand to his cheek, she called to Carrie. "Give me an ETA on the Galactica, and have a med crew ready. He's picking up a fever.”

"Sure thing," Carrie replied, setting the frequency. "Galactica this is Nightsky, we need a med team ready and waiting in the bay." She waited for the answer and then added, "ETA is... er... five minutes."

She carried on flying only, looking back a few times when things started to get heated. When the Marine Sergeant finally intervened she was actually glad. It had been the only time is she wanted a senior officer to get on his high horse.

"Wow, is he like this *all* the time?" Carrie asked absently, daydreaming, before realising where she was an jumping back into reality.

Kara turned back to Zak. "Do you realize that your little stunt just about got everyone killed? How do you expect to be a colonial warrior if you cannot follow orders? Just because we are engaged does not mean that I don’t outrank you!"

Zak was in no mood to be scolded. He snarled, "No, it means you treat me like a child who's never going to grow up."

"Maybe if you would quit thinking with your ego and used your frakkin’ head I wouldn’t have to keep hauling your ass out of the fire." Kara snapped back. Frak, why the hell did he have to pick now to start a fight. He was going to end up with a black eye to match his bruised jaw of he didn't shut the frak up.

Kara clenched her fist at her side, closing her eyes for a moment, fighting the urge to just flatten him right now. She was shaking, half from aggravation, half from the new surge of adrenaline. Kara opened her eyes and glared at Zak.

That was so unfair, Zak decided. "Me on an ego trip? Everyone has to kowtow to the fabulous Starbuck! The best pilot in the Fleet!"

Kara's eyes blazed. She nudged Lee off of her shoulder and staggered from her seat. Frak. Why did he have to go and do this now. She was in no frakkin’ mood to deal with his bruised ego. She took a step closer to him and was about to throw a good right hook, when her knees buckled under her, sending her crashing down and into Zak.

"Frakkin hell," She grumbled.

Zak had caught Kara as her legs had given out from beneath her and eased her to the deck, lying her out next to Lee. He hadn't realized that she was so strung out, and he felt as guilty as hell for provoking the fight.

He looked up to see all the Marines and Carrie staring at him. "What the frak you looking at?" he snarled.

The section Commander of the marines looked over at Zak. "My name's Sgt. Duncan. You look a little troubled, kid. I have no idea why we brought a civvie on a rescue mission or why you're here, but let me give you some advice; you nearly cost everyone on this mission their lives, and your lucky all we lost was a someone’s pet. The military isn't the place for you. I've seen allot of guys like you before. Usually they end up killing themselves or another by their antics." Sgt. Duncan cracked his knuckles. "As far as I'm concerned, and I can speak for my crew as well, you’re lucky all you got was a fractured jaw. Captain Adama's a good soldier. If anyone asks, you stood up during take off and lost your footing. That's how you got it, understood."

Zak glared at the Sergeant. He was sorely tempted to beat up the man, but he soldier was half again as big he was and Zak's jaw still hurt. He settled for a recital of the facts. After all, Kara wouldn't even have let him on board if this man hadn't helped him by lending him a suit. "Thank you for your advice, Sergeant. I am not a civilian. My name is Cadet Zachary Adama. Lee here is my brother and Kara is my fiancée. And despite the opinion of apparently everyone on this shuttle, I am neither helpless nor stupid."

He had an after thought. "Oh, and Panther wasn't a pet. He was a valuable piece of surveillance equipment that my father, Commander Adama, assigned me to use on this mission. Now if you will excuse me, I want to see how my fiancé and my brother are doing." Zak deliberately turned his back on the marines.

Carrie had carried on flying, only looking back a few times when things started to get heated. When the Marine Sergeant finally intervened she was actually glad. It had been the only time is she wanted a senior officer to get on his high horse.

"Wow, is he like this *all* the time?" Carrie asked absently, daydreaming, before realizing where she was and jumping back into reality.

"Galactica, this is... frak we're the only ones out here! Anyway, I'm gonna land now, okay?" She said finally sick of trying to remember call signs and Raptor numbers. When she had approval, she set the Raptor down smoothly inside the bay and engaged the maglocks, sitting for a moment longer before taking off her helmet and climbing out of the vessel. "That was too frakkin' intense!"

Kara slowly came around as the raptor touched down. She sat up but her head was still spinning. She didn't feel much like fighting anymore, so she simply rested her head in her hands.

Commander Adama looked around CIC at the crewmen, officers, and specialists. Some of them he had been working with him for the past three years. Some were trainees. A young girl – barely 17 – named Dualla had just been assigned the communications console. A handsome boy named Gaeta – who wasn’t much older – had been the Galactica's tactical officer for only a year. They were all good kids. But they weren’t the kids he was worried about.

Tigh was on the phone, talking to the landing party.

"Anything new?" Adama asked, hoping he didn't sound like an anxious father. He probably did.

Tigh shook his head. "The landing party is aboard, but they haven't yet reported any contact."

Adama fought a desire to pace. It wouldn't look good. Instead he studied the tactical board and waited for what seemed like forever before finally excusing himself to walk down to the landing deck and find out what was happening first-hand.

After the Smuggler’s vessel had blown up, he had flown into action. “XO, status report on surviving craft!” he had demanded of Tigh. To Gaeta, he had said, “Take us in closer!” He had also requested contact with the CAG and the shuttle, but communications had been somewhat scrambled by the debris from the explosion. Now, hours later, Commander Adama watched as the shuttle was unloaded. His heart almost stopped when he saw Lee carried out on a stretcher, but Zak simply walked off, smiled, and waved. Zak didn't seem worried, despite wearing the most outrageously baggy spacesuit Adama ever seen.

The Commander had walked over. "Where's Starbuck?" he asked. Zak indicated inside the shuttle where Adama’s future daughter-in-law still sat on the deck. He let the last of the marines leave before he tried to enter. Crouching down, he said, "If you feel up to it, Starbuck, I'd like a report."

Kara nodded slightly, still feeling a little dizzy. "Trip in was uneventful. When we arrived, the marines, Nightsky and myself set out to find Apollo. Zak was ordered to stay on board the Raptor. We encountered Apollo and a blonde woman near the bridge. Apollo signaled for me to shoot her; I can only assume she was working with Leoben. The ship's self destruct was already activated. We had less than ten minutes to evacuate. When we arrived back at she Raptor, Zak wasn't there. He had left with the CAT. I had to go and find him. I managed to get Zak back to the shuttle in time to lift off, but we lost Panther." Kara sighed, sounding like she was still having trouble catching her breath.

Inside the Raptor, Sergeant Duncan was sanitizing the Raptor when he noticed a black tail under the pilot’s seat. "Come here kitty. You know, you caused quite a stir." Sgt. Duncan picked up the cat in his arms and started stroking Panther's fur. "Commander, Sir, I believe I have your cat." Panther jumped up on Sergeant Duncan's Shoulder. "Lieutenant Thrace, can I give you a hand?"

Kara looked up at Sgt. Duncan, half smiling when she saw the familiar black cat sitting on his shoulder. She struggled to stand up, her legs still weak from fatigue and hunger. All she wanted to do was slip back down to the ground and fall asleep. She tried to take a step forward and nearly fell again. Finally, she nodded to the Sergeant. "Yeah. I just don't think I can make it down that ramp gracefully on my own," she smirked.

"Sir, give me your arm. Let's go for a walk. If you don't mind me saying, this is the calmest I've ever seen you." They made their way to Life Station; Panther still on Sgt. Duncan's Shoulder.

When they entered, one of the medics looked over and shouted, “No Pets allowed.”

Sergeant Duncan ignored him and helped Lieutenant Thrace into a bed. "See you later." Sgt Duncan walked out stroking Panther under the chin. "So, I think we may be hanging out for a little while. Do you like milk?..."

Kara had never been so glad to see a bed in her life, even if it was in one of her least favorite locations. She was no longer able to keep her eyes open, exhaustion taking over. They were all safe for now. All she wanted was to get back to her life at the Academy, back to flying, and back to knowing that all was safe and the Cylons were a distant memory. She barely heard Sgt. Duncan leave, as unconsciousness slipped in.

Commander Adama had risen from Kara Thrace's side and turned to look for his son Zak. The boy was still standing outside the shuttle watching the marines offload, and the deck crew going about their business with lively interest. He looked very relieved when a marine passed with Panther.

Adama had genuinely thought that Zak would handle himself better on this mission. He'd been wrong. He walked over to his son. "Cadet Adama, from what Lieutenant Thrace tells me you should be charged with failure to obey a direct order."

Zak had at first smiled when he saw his father approaching, but at these words the smile vanished. "But, Sir, Kara wouldn't let me... She was trying to baby me like she always does, Dad. I wasn't going to just sit around that shuttle while Lee was out there! You told me I could use Panther to find him."

Adama broke into Zak's whining explanation. "Cadet, the first duty of a soldier is to obey his superior officer. Lieutenant Thrace used her best judgment on this mission and it wasn't your place to question her orders. I'll have to say, Son, that I'm disappointed in you. I thought you were a better warrior than that." Zak's face had gone white as his father spoke, but he kept quiet. The Commander continued, "Now I'm going over to the Life Station to see how Lee and Kara are doing. If you want to come with me, you're welcome."

Kara groaned, shifting. Every muscle screamed in agony as she attempted to move. Frak, even her hair hurt! She tried to open her eyes, but the light was blinding. "Lords, if I’m not already dead, someone shoot me," she growled.

Commander Adama had first checked on his son and was assured that he would be notified as soon as anything changed. Then he sat down on the edge of Kara's bed just as she opened her eyes. Lords, she looked tired. "Hi, Starbuck. How are you? Feeling better?"

"I feel like I've been hit by a frakkin’ land transport," Kara groaned, her eyes finally adjusting to the light of the room. She had yet to put a face to the voice, though it was familiar. Finally she turned to see a very worried looking Commander Adama. She looked around the room but didn't see anyone else.

"Is Lee alright?" she asked. "And where is Zak? How long have I been out?"

Kara tired to get up, every muscle screaming once more in agony. She collapsed back onto the bed with a frustrated growl.

Apollo sprung up in his bed. "Kara? God, where's Kara? Is she alright?"

"She's fine she's asleep in the bed over there. Just take it easy. You've been through a lot, Sir." Sergeant Duncan helped Apollo settle back in his bed. "It's the middle of the night. Your dad left about an hour ago.”

"How long have I been alseep?" Apollo was still weak from his ordeal.

"You've been asleep for about three days. Your dad and your brother have been by your side every day since you've been here?" Sergeant Duncan picked up a glass of juice and helped Apollo drink.

"I can't believe my brother. He probably thinks that if he's nice to me it will all go away."

"Sir it's not my place to comment on family matters, but I do feel a sense of loyalty to your father and you. During the war, your father saved me and my troops by laying down cover fire so that we could escape. I’d never met or spoke with Commander Adama until I took this mission, but I know now that he's a good man. So's your brother. He’s not meant to be a soldier, but cut him some slack. He's a good kid."

"He almost got us killed."

"I've had a lot of people almost get me killed. Officer's orders you know..."

Apollo smiled. “Well yeah, okay. You’re right.

"Captian, I'll let the commander know you’re awake." With that, Sergeant Duncan Left to call Commander Adama.

Kara woke just as she heard the door close. The room was very still so she assumed someone had just left. She still felt a little tired, but definitely better than before. The past couple of days had been little more than a blur. She could remember Zak had been there, and the Commander, but she couldn’t remember if they had spoken. She only hoped she hadn't said anything she would regret later. She couldn't tell if Lee was awake or not from where she was. Frak, she hated feeling so alone...

“Thanks.” Lee spoke so softly Kara could barely hear him, but she smiled. At least she knew he was alright.

"You're welcome," she said softly, shifting to her side so she could see across to where his bed was. The room was dark enough that she could only make out shadows.

William Adama paused with his hand on the infirmary hatch's wheel lock. The hatch was open a little and he could hear the voices of Kara and Lee murmuring inside. He'd asked the medical staff to notify him with they were both awake, no matter what the hour. From what he could hear they were awake, but still worn out. Opening the hatch to let in both the light from the passageway and himself, he stepped quietly through.

"Good evening," he said. "I trust you're feel better. I was wondering if one or the other of you could straighten out what happened for me so I can file an official Fleet report?"

Apollo looked at his father knowing full well that if he was anyone else, his rescue would never have happened. He also knew that his intel could not be shared even though he trusted his father implicitly. "Sir, your rescue was greatly appreciated, however the parameters of our mission are classified." Apollo smiled. "Now dad, how about a hug. I missed you."

Apollo hugged his father. They – in many ways – were cut from the same metal, and this was something Apollo appreciated. "File a report stating that you were investigating a possible contraband gun runner. I'll give you the report for editing later, when I feel like I haven't been run over be an L.R.T."

Kara lay quietly while the Lee and his father talked. She didn't want to talk if she didn't have to, because if she did he would expect her to ask about Zak, and right now she just didn't want to talk about him. She waited for a few minutes, until after the commander had left again. "Lee? You still awake?" Kara grinned, able to see across the room a little better now. "Tell you what, when we get back planetside, the ambrosia is on me."

"On you?" Lee pondered this statement and pondered it well. As much as he liked it, he realized the implications. "I'd like to say yes. Believe me, I really would, but I feel right now it's best we settle for a coffee"

Kara smirked. "Coffee it is..." she laughed, teasing. "You could learn to live a little though."

It wasn't the first time Kara had teased him about always being the logical, responsible half of their friendship. It had become almost a regular routine. She was always glad to have someone around who she could feel relaxed with. The fact that she could almost always whip him in cards was also a good thing. She had to give him credit though; he never gave up. After a moment she said with a grin, "Yeah, coffee is good. Cheaper too. Wouldn't want to waste a good bottle of Ambrosia." Kara couldn't help but start to laugh. Then, thinking she might just know what was bothering him, she offered, "Maybe I'll ask Carrie if she is interested in that ambrosia. You can join us if you think you're up to it."

"Well since you put it that way, how can I refuse the company of two lovely ladies.” Apollo smiled, then thinking back to their mission Apollo felt he needed to explain to Kara why he asked her to kill Jenna.

"I never have asked anyone to kill someone before like I asked you, and this is something that I hope I never have to do again. She was working with the Cylons we encountered. I saw enough, and knew enough, to feel that it was necessary. Thank you."

Kara was quiet for a moment when Lee mentioned the woman on the ship. "I knew something was wrong, even before you signaled me. There was something about her that just didn't add up." She was quiet for a moment, then added, "You're welcome."

"I hope dinner comes with that ambrosia. You are a great cook when you’re inspired."

Kara laughed when Lee mentioned dinner. "Trying to scrounge up a free meal? You know I don't cook very often, but hey, for you I'll hide the takeout boxes." With a smirk, Kara tossed a pillow across at Lee.

Carrie sat in the changing room, lacing back up her boots. She'd borrowed a black t-shirt and some trousers from another ensign she'd met. It was quiet, and she felt almost lost. She'd secretly loved the noise and commotion they'd witnessed just hours before. But it was time to go back home now.

She landed in Caprica City an hour later, signing the necessary paperwork to explain why she had landed one of the Galactica's shuttles on Caprica, and grabbed a bus ride home. Heating up some frozen exotic food that her aunt had cooked the last time she was here, Carrie ate, then showered and went to bed. It was time for some well-earned rest.