We have no place left to run, there are less the fifty thousand of us left.
Between the Darkness and the Light
"'Red' this is 'Shooter', I have control standby. Viper 1701 clear forward. Nav-con green. Interval check. Thrusters positive. Mag-cap ready. Gap door open. Thrust positive and good luck."
Lieutenant Willow Rosenberg, call sign 'Red', was shot out of Galactica's launch tube and into empty space. Ready to begin yet another five hour patrol around the rag tack fleet of civilian vessels, the last best hope for the survival of the twelve Colonies of Kobol.
Less then fifty thousand people, on the run from the Cylons, humanities own creation that turned against their masters more than fifty years ago and who forty six days ago had returned with a vengeance. 'And now they even looked human', Willow thought, remembering how President Laura Roslin had disclosed this information in a press conference not long ago.
"Ok, Ladies! Lets bring this patrol on the road!" 'Red' called out to the other two Viper's that made up her patrol unit, "'Mouse', 'Rogue' follow my lead."
"Copy that 'Red' leader," came the unanimous reply, from the two other pilots.
'What a team,' Willow thought. Ever since a freak accident had killed thirteen of her fellow pilots, they had recruited everybody, who could at least fly in a straight line - so to speak. Trained by 'Starbuck', the best of them, like 'Hotdog' for example, had already been taken into regular duty. Herself, Willow was quiet satisfied with the two pilots she'd got.
'Rogue' wasn't even a 'Nugget', as 'Starbuck' called them. Lt. JG Eliza F. Davis had been fresh out of flight school and on her way to Picon and the Battlestar Perseus as her first assignment, when the Cylons had attacked. Even though she was still a little 'wet' behind the ears and in need of adjusting with flying the unfamiliar Mark II Viper, she had all the potential to become a great fighter pilot.
Now 'Mouse' was the exact opposite of 'Rogue' and with forty five years of age undoubtedly the most senior active fighter pilot in the history of the fleet. Interestingly enough Ludimila Barkas had started out as a Viper pilot, twenty five years ago, but had given up her carrier, in order to raise a family. And for the past ten years she had been piloting a commuter shuttle from Saggitaron to Picon, a four day round trip twice a week, every week. Luckily her sixteen year old daughter had been accompanying her, when the Cylons had returned. Katharina and her mother now lived together aboard the Galactica. And despite her age - speaking strictly of that of an Viper pilot - when it came to fitness, reaction time and flying combat manoeuvres, 'Mouse' was as tough and competent as her younger comrades. It was only because of her height of 5' 4" - one inch less and she wouldn't have been aloud into flight school, that she had earned herself the call sign 'Mouse'.
So from all the new pilots, recruited to ensure the safety of the Galactica, as well as the entire fleet, Willow Rosenberg flew with to of the two more experienced ones. A Rookie, a Senior and a Queer, truly a rather unique team, Willow thought to herself.
While Willow was flying patrol around the fleet, her best friend Buffy 'Slayer' Summers was busy teaching basic flight to a group of recruits who never had sat in any kind of cockpit before, but had the general qualification that would have aloud them entrance to the flight school of the Colonial Forces, back in more civilized days. Since they had no flight simulator available, Buffy took her 'Potentials' - as she called them, one by one out to their first flights using the old Mark V Training Viper they had on board as part of the museum the Galactica had planed to become.
Right now Buffy was certainly one of the happiest people aboard the Galactica. Because right after the day when 'Apollo', 'Starbuck' and 'Red' had to shoot down the Olympic Carrier, Buffy had been reunited with her younger sister Dawn, who she'd believed killed during the nuclear attack upon Caprica City. But luckily, as well as unknowingly to her big sister, Dawn Summers had been on her way to Aquaria, for a job interview as an elementary school teacher. Buffy and Willow still didn't know why the young university graduate had planned to not only leave Sunnydale, but Planet Caprica as well. But then things like that no longer mattered, as long as the only remaining family member of Buffy was alive and well. Ever since their mother Joyce had died from cancer, it had been only the two Summers sisters. Dawn was now living aboard the Cloud Nine, the most luxurious ship in the entire fleet, working as a elementary school teacher. She had been sent there, by the new secretary of education Doctor Tara Maclay.
The mere thought of her blond soft spoken girlfriend, send a warm smile over Willow's face. Never before in her life, had Willow been so much in love with anybody else. Looking back today, Willow knew she'd only believed that she had been in love with Oz, when it had merely been a deep felt friendship, with some casual sex thrown in. And even though the sex had been, well - stimulating, it had been just that - sex.
Whereas, after she had slept with Tara for the first time, Willow understood why it was also known as making love. With Tara it was so much more than merely being together physically, but a spiritual joining as well. Even when they didn't make love, when they were simply sleeping together without sleeping together, just lying cuddled together in the nude, covered with a warm and cozy blanket. It was all Willow needed to bring even the hardest of days to a good end. Of course she couldn't spend every night, not even all of a night together with Tara, without causing suspicion among her comrades. Especially since a Cylon suicide bomber blew himself up, on his way to the laboratory of Dr. Gaius Baltar.
In fact no one knew that she and Tara where a couple, not even Buffy. She only suspected that her best friend was in love again and probably involved in a blossoming relationship, but she hadn't pressed Willow into revealing whom she was seeing. Sometimes it troubled Willow that she could not come out to her best friend, that she couldn't tell her about how happy she was with Tara. But Tara had made her promise, that for the time being she would not come out. She had said that given the low number of people that where left and thus creating the need to 'start having baby's - according to Tara Laura Roslin's very own words - even people who usually didn't have anything particular against gays and lesbians, might turn homophobic, if not hostile against them. And after all of the negative experiences Tara had gone through back on Gemenon, she wanted to protect her girlfriend for as long as possible from those kinds of negative attention. Willow tried her best to understand Tara's motives and so she had promised her: "I'm keeping you a secret."
"Galactica 'Red', coming up on Astral Queen," Willow reported to the CIC.
"Copy that 'Red', proceed on your own discretion," came the immediate reply from petty officer 'D' Dualla, back on Battlestar Galactica.
"I'm going in. Ladies cover me."
"Copy that 'Red' leader."
And so Willow started her flyby, looking for any kind of trouble onboard the prisoner ship. Ever since a prisoner revolt, lead by the legendary Sagittarian extremist Tom Zarek - ether a freedom fighter or an terrorist depending how you're looking upon the actions that lead to his imprisonment twenty years ago - the ship had been cleared from all weapons and left in control of it's former inhabitants.
This was only one of the many troubling things that had happened since they where on the run. Like a sleeper agent setting up a series of explosions ripping through Galactica's hull and thus venting much of the fleets water supplies into space. Luckily they had been able to replenish the water again. And then of course, there was the Cylon Raider brought back from 'Starbuck', that showed that the Cylons had not only developed into human form, but that the Raider had "living innards" as well. 'Kinnda freaking', Willow thought. But at the same time she couldn't fail to notice that she hadn't been to far off, when she had assumed that these fighters where piloted directly by an artificial intelligence. Still, it felt like totally freaky.
"Galactica 'Red', visually all clear and peaceful aboard Astral Queen," she reported to the CIC and then 'Red', 'Mouse' and 'Rogue' went on to complete their patrol.
Several hours later, an luckily uneventful patrol drew to a close, and Willow closed in on the Galactica, to return from the emptiness of dark space, back to the light of her life.
"Ok ladies," she called out to her patrol, "it's been a lovely time flying with you. And now lets bring this show to a perfect ending, by performing a perfect formation landing, agreed?"
"What ever you're saying 'Red'," replied 'Mouse' and 'Rogue' answered with her usual: "Five by Five, 'Red'." Willow made contact with Galactica and requested permission for a formation landing from flight officer Capt. Kelly.
"Viper 1701; this is Galactica, permission for formation landing. Approach port landing bay. Hands on. Speed 106. Checkers red. Call the ball."
"Copy that Galactica. Port landing bay. Hands on speed 106. Checkers red. We have the ball. - 'Mouse', 'Rogue' follow my lead!" Leading a perfect V formation, Willow flew her Viper into the landing bay and concluded her patrol with the intended perfect formation landing.
"So you think, you're gonna be part of the security detail over at the Cloud Nine, during the conference on Colonial Day?" Luidmila wanted to know from Willow, as they sat together in the pilots ready room, following their debriefing with their CAG, Captain Lee Adama.
"Still don't know", Willow answered, "but I would rather not. You know babysitting for a bunch of VIP's and even worse politicians? I can think of more entertaining things to do." She shook her head. Plus the prospect of being near Tara - who as the secretary of education would be there too - without being able to be together with her was to much to bare right now, she didn't say, but instead she said: "and also someone has to keep an eye on the Galactica. Can't let a couple of rookie's and nuggets be in charge alone here."
"Well, be that as it may", Luidmila said and stood up, "I better get going. I promised my daughter I would be home in time, so we could spend some time together. See you tomorrow 'Red'. 'Rogue'". With that she left the room and Willow also stood up, "Well, I still have some other things to do, before I can call it a night. So if you would excuse me Eliza."
"Have a nice evening red", 'Rogue' called after her, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
Pretending she hadn't heard Willow left the ready room. Why would Eliza say such a thing, she wondered. Could she know? Know about her and Tara and their secret relationship? 'Stop second guessing each and every word that other people say', she ordered herself. It was no use, she knew. Ever since she had made her promise to Tara, since she and Tara had entered into their relationship, she started to second guess everything, from casual statements to body language. And the longer it kept going, the harder it became. At least she didn't have to pretend that she didn't know Tara at all. Everybody knew that they were good friends. And until Buffy had started training the potentials, Willow had flown Tara with the Mark V Viper over to Colonial One and around the fleet, to her various official duties within the fleet. Nowadays Tara was flown by a ether 'Boomer' or 'Tap-dog' onboard a Raptor.
Willow looked up to see Tara coming around the corner. On her way to the port hangar bay no doubt, Willow thought, remembering that Raptor 359 was scheduled to fly Tara over to Colonial One for her meeting with President Roslin, in preparation for the first meeting of the interim Quorum of 12, on Colonial Day.
Tara looked rather blue, Willow could see, but her features lightened up considerably when she spotted her pilot girlfriend.
"Hey you", was all Willow was able to say before Tara hurriedly as well as forcefully pulled her around the next two corners and into an empty side hallway.
"I missed you so much Willow", Tara whispered and pulled Willow into a tight embrace.
Her kiss was rough and hungry. Willow revelled in it until their lips parted. They both breathed heavily and eyed each other.
Willow gasped for breath through a delighted smile, completely forgetting where she was standing at that moment. "You're surprising me, my love."
Saying nothing Tara sealed her lips with yet another kiss. Willow blissfully surrendered into her lover's embrace, until she felt her girlfriend stiffen in her arms. She felt Tara break free of their devouring kiss and withdraw from her embrace.
Opening her eyes Willow saw Tara staring right past her, at the corner they had just come around, looking like she had seen someone or something.