And Zeus warned the leaders of the twelve tribes, that any return to Kobol would exact a price in blood.
The Very Long Night of Willow Rosenberg
"All hands brace for impact!" 'Red-Dyke' yelled out as the crippled Raptor plunged towards the rapidly approaching surface of the planet Kobol. Willow desperately held on to the controls, trying to use what little power the Raptor had left, to pull the plane's nose up, at least they should crash head long into the ground.
The impact, when they final crashed down tail first, was hard, incredibly hard and Willow's head got slammed into the dashboard in front of her, her head exploding with pain. They hadn't come to a standstill yet when the raptor leaped into the air again. Followed by a last fast crash to the ground. Again Willow slammed forward, hit her head again and tasted blood. She also felt blood run down her face. She'd possibly been cut from the glass of the windshield when it had been blown inwards into the Raptor. With the Raptor ploughing roughly through the ground, Willow couldn't help but being rocked hard forward again and this time the pain in her head was joined by additional sharp pain within her right leg.
On top of a small hill, they finally came to a stop. By now there were flames erupting from the destroyed consoles around her. Despite feeling quite distressed by the pain coming from her head and her leg, Willow reached forward to the dashboard, hit a button and blew out the Raptors hatch.
There were cries of pain all around her. People yelling at her to get the hell out of there. Or was it 'Crashdown' yelling at Dr. Baltar? Being at the brink of losing consciousness, Willow head rolled to the right, and she saw 'Cartman', his head resting upon his breast, blood pouring slowly from the wound in the middle of his chest. She saw 'Cartman' - dead. 'At least he doesn't have to feel any pain anymore,' Willow thought - her last conscious thought before she finally lost consciousness after all.
Moments later a sharp flash of pain brought Willow's mind back to the here and now again. She felt herself being dragged out of the burning wreckage by a surprisingly strong Jessica Cally.
"I won't let you be burned to death, sir," Cally hissed between her teeth, breathing heavily. "Not now that I found you out that you are a fellow dyke."
Willow tried to say something but could only feel blood from her cracked lips run down from the corner of her mouth. When Cally dragged Willow down from the short wing of the Raptor, her legs hit the ground and the rising pain send her in to another short lived unconsciousness.
Willow found herself lying in long soft grass and opened her right eye because the other refused to do so. She hoped that despite the destructive power of the fire, the emergency radio signal would still work. Otherwise the hopefully coming search and rescue operation would have a hard time finding them. Drifting back into oblivion Willow remembered the Cylon Basestar over Kobol and thought that Galactica would have to take that out first, before they could send the SAR.
"Willow, Willow wake up. You have to drink something." It was Jessica Cally who called Willow out of a happy illusion of herself and Tara wandering hand in hand around those fresh green hills of Kobol. She slowly opened her eye, feeling the other was swollen beyond belief.
"Here take a sip or two," Cally said and held a field bottle to Willow's lips while supporting her head at the same time.
Willow carefully took a few sips of water. Her head felt as if it was split but otherwise she felt no immediate pain. "Help me sit up, please," she said to Cally. The young petty officer helped her to sit up and, sitting beside her brought a supporting arm around her waist.
Looking around, Willow could see that they were still near the burned out Raptor, on a hill overlooking the surrounding terrain.
"Why are we still here?" she asked Cally.
"'Crashdown' thinks that we should remain here," Cally explained, sounding like she didn't agree. "The chief disagrees, but 'Crashdown'..." Willow turned her head around to see 'Crashdown' and Chief Tyrol argue loudly about ten meters away from where they sat. Willow tried to call her fellow officer over but her voice was too weak and so she send Cally to fetch him.
"How do you feel, 'Red-Dyke'?" 'Crashdown' asked.
"Like I've been run over by a truck," Willow answered, trying unsuccessfully to sound funny before she got serious. "El Tee, we need to get off this hill," she said.
"But up here we have the best chances to be spotted by the SAR. They should certainly be on the way from Galactica now that they blew up that Basestar."
"Oh yes! Sorry you missed the fireworks. It was easily seen on the sky, even in broad daylight!" 'Crashdown' reported proudly.
"Be that as it may," Willow said patiently, trying to keep her enjoyment over the destroyed Basestar under control, "but if Galactica's Raptor's can see us here, so can Cylon scouts. For all we know there might already be a Cylon presence here on Kobol. So as long as we remain here we are sitting ducks." Only reluctantly 'Crashdown' agreed and so he gave the order to gather all things and get the hell down from this hill, and into the nearby woods.
While the others started packing everything up what they could save from the wreckage, like weapons, medical kits and food rations, Willow looked around to see how many of the ten people with her on this doomed Raptor party were still with her. A party set out to explore Kobol as a possible new home for the survivors of the Twelve Colonies. 'So much for the possible safe haven Kobol,' Willow thought.
So there were Chief Tyrol, Jessica Cally together with 'Crashdown', besides Willow the only other officer. She could see a somewhat bewildered Gaius Baltar wander about and Specialist Tarn who was busy packing as well. Then there was Specialist Seelix, treating the heavily wounded Specialist Socinas who was lying on a stretcher.
'Why haven't I noticed him before?' Willow asked herself, and realised that there were only eight of them left. She lost three of her comrades! 'Cartman' had died when they ran into the Cylon Raiders but the others had died during the crash. She hadn't been able to save all of her comrades. 'Mourn the dead later', Willow ordered herself and closed her eyes for a bit.
When she opened her eyes again she saw Petty Officer Cally run up to her. "We're almost ready to get moving," she said. "How's your leg? You think you can move on your own?"
"Only one way to find out," Willow said, "can you lend me a hand?" Leaning heavily upon Cally Willow got to her feet and carefully started to apply weight to her right leg. Immediately a sharp pain, emanating from her knee, began running down her entire leg and when she put her full body weight on it the pain became unbearable. She winced in pain.
To a very alarmed Cally she said, "I manage. Just get me something I can use as a crutch and possibly a light painkiller. And I will be able to move along." She also knew that there was no way that they could carry both Socinas and herself. So she had to walk on her own.
While 'Crashdown' yelled at everybody to 'frakking hurry up', Cally returned to Willow with a hastily improvised crutch and a syringe which Willow slammed into her thigh and emptied it in one single push. Then she took the crutch, asked Cally to help her up and pressed the crutch under her arm. With Cally staying supportingly at her side Willow took some first shaky steps. It still hurt like crazy but Willow knew that once the painkiller kicked in she would be able to move with the lesser pain which she could tolerate.
Through her pain Willow registered Chief Tyrol asking 'Crashdown' if they shouldn't check inventory before heading out. But the officer told him to shut up and Willow, being to distracted by her own pain, didn't try to intervene. They soon were on their way with 'Crashdown' taking the lead and Tarn and Seelix carrying Socinas. Cally walked at Willow's side, weapon in hand, and Chief Tyrol was at the rear.
"Everybody, let's take five," 'Crashdown' ordered. Tarn and Tyrol put down Socinas to the ground and Seelix hurried with the med kit to his side to tread him. Willow sat down heavily against a tree and let her back rest at its trunk and closed her eyes. She adjusted the way her injured right leg was lying by placing her backpack under her knee, letting the pain lessen considerably. The painkiller Cally had gotten her had worn off hours ago. But since Socinas was really severely wounded, she hadn't asked for another one.
"There you go, Lt.," came the voice of Jessica Cally from her right. Willow opened her eyes to see the you young petty officer sitting down besides her, offering her a field bottle with water.
"Jessica," Willow said, trying to sound annoyed. "We're in the middle of... nowhere. So I really think we can survive, without sticking to military protocol. At least as long as we take five." She took the offered bottle from Cally's hand and took a good refreshing gulp of lukewarm water.
"Of course we can," Cally agreed and handed Willow part of her combat ration food bar. "But I thought this would be the better way to get your attention."
"By annoying me?"
They sat silently, munching away on their food bars. The dry cookie-like-things not only provided you with all the essentials you needed to keep on walking but also managed to do so by tasting surprisingly neutral.
"And while we're at it, you know - fattening you up," Cally said after she'd finished her food bar. "I brought you this." She produced an syringe from one of her overall pockets.
"That won't be necessary Jess," Willow shook her head.
"But you are in pain!"
"Yes but I'll manage," Willow said, not sounding like she meant it. "I'm a red little battle ant - I can handle my own pain," she added under her breath.
"What?" Cally asked puzzled, looking as if she wasn't sure she had understood Willow correctly.
"Oh nothing," Willow said trying to dismiss her pain fuelled babble. "If we get back to Galactica, remind me to buy you a drink and tell you how I ended up with the call sign 'Red'."
She closed her eyes for a bit and then continued: "Besides. This could be put to better use, " she put the syringe back into Cally's hand, " if you gave it to..."
"Willow;" Cally interrupted her and lowering her voice she went on, "this is only a mild sedative. It would be of no use to Socinas. He's getting morphine by now." And without further ado, she rammed the injection straight into Willow's thigh.
Turning her gaze abruptly away from Socinas, Willow looked Cally straight into the eyes and said: "Ouch!"
"You're welcome, sir," Cally said. "Though next time you better not argue with me. Especially when I'm holding the syringe."
"I will, Petty Officer - I will," Willow said weakly and closed her eyes. There was some loud argument coming form where Seelix was treating Socinas but Willow was too tired to pay any attention to it. Feeling the painkiller taking hold, she drifted into sleep.
A clear warm summer morning. Willow stood on a small balcony, overlooking the outskirts of the Caprica City governmental district. It was the part of Caprica City that still consisted of five to six floor brick stone buildings all about eighty years old or older. Willow looked into the sky. In the distance she could see the twin towers, marking the entrance to Caprica City's ever growing financial district, with its tall anonymous office buildings.
"Willow? Willow, time to wake up." This time It was the voice of Jessica Cally waking Willow from her sleep. That and the feeling of a syringe being pushed into her leg.
"But I just had one," Willow protested. But then she considered that Cally wouldn't needlessly give her another dose and so she quickly asked: "how long have I been out?"
"About four hours," Cally replied.
There was something in Cally's voice that made Willow's heart hurt, and gave her the distinctive feeling that something terrible had occurred. She slowly opened her eye and turning her head around she looked into a face full of sorrow and hurt.
"What happened?" she asked carefully, sitting herself up, she took Jessica's hand into her own.
With tears in her eyes Jessica Cally then filled Willow in about what had happened while she had been asleep.
Right after Cally had administered the second shot to Willow, Seelix had asked for the morphine from the second med kit. Only then it was discovered that even though it had been within his responsibilities Tarn had not brought the second med kit with him. It also meant that it had been wrong from 'Crashdown' to tell Tyrol to shut up when he asked to check inventory before heading out. Since they rather desperately needed the morphine from the second med kit, 'Crashdown' ordered Tarn to return to the Raptor and retrieve the meds. After considering Tyrol's objections to let Tarn return alone to the crash side, 'Crashdown' allowed him and Cally to accompany Tarn, while the others remained here.
In the end Tarn paid directly for his mistake as well as for the mistake of his superior 'Crashdown'. On their way back from the Raptor they ran into an Cylon ambush from which Tarn didn't make it out alive. By now Cally's voice was down to a whisper and she told Willow that Seelix had not wanted the morphine to further stabilize Socinas but to humanly end his suffering. He was beyond recovery, even if they'd been picked up by the Galactica in that very minute, he couldn't have been helped anymore. Tyrol took it upon himself to administer the lethal dosage to his man, led him die in peace and without any more pain.
Another hour later they'd buried Socinas and following a short prayer from 'Crashdown' to the Lords of Kobol to take the souls of the fallen comrades into their loving hands, they were moving again. With the pain making it even more difficult for Willow to walk they were by now moving slower as they had when they had to carry one of their own. Though Willow wasn't too sure how long she could manage before she would be the one on the stretcher. Despite the painkiller the pain emanating from her injured knee and spreading throughout her entire leg got worse and worse. The moment 'Crashdown' ordered them to take five again Willow fell asleep, the moment Cally had helped her to sit down in the grass.
This time Willow found herself sitting on the little balcony of Tara's apartment. Sitting hand in hand with Tara at her side they looked at the most romantic sunset one could ever dream of. It wasn't real. Unlike the last time Willow knew it was a dream from the start. And she knew that she would have to wake up soon again. Wake up to fight to go on another part of the way, until they would be picked up by the search and rescue operation from the Galactica.
Most of the day remained a blur for Willow, though not falling asleep was all that she could do to help her comrades. Things were not in their favour. Just as Willow woke up, 'Crashdown' returned from a scout mission and he told them why the Cylons weren't chasing them. They didn't have to since as they were having this conversation, some Cylon centurions were dissembling their craft and started to build an anti aircraft battery. Once this was completed all they needed was to sweep the area and fire a missile at them to wipe them out.
There were only six of them left. Six of the original eleven people aboard Raptor one - six! 'Crashdown' and 'Red-Dyke' were the only real soldiers among them. Even though a Petty Officer, Chief Tyrol was more of an engineer, and Cally had only enlisted to get into dentist Seelix had properly enlisted because of a similar reason and all of them only had basic military training. And then there was Gaius Baltar, Cylon expert, and Vice-President of the Twelve Colonies.
They were only six people, two soldiers, three enlisted personal and a civilian. They were outnumbered and outgunned, but they still had to take this missile battery down. Not only because of themselves but most importantly because of the SAR operation. Probably consisting of two Raptors which would make a flyover of the crash site first before trying to locate the survivors. But the moment they would come into range of the anti aircraft battery, it would pick up on them and shoot them down, before they ever had a chance to get away.
Against the objections of Baltar they all went into a further recon of both the side of the missile launcher with the firing control and the side of the dish. A plan was devised by 'Crashdown' Cally and Seelix were to create a diversion while Tyrol and 'Crashdown' were to use the element of surprise together with Baltar, to attack and take out the firing control, rendering the battery inoperable. Willow was to remain behind, to set up a fall back position.
An hour later the plan was to be set in motion but when they came into sight of the firing control, they counted six cylon Centurions there, instead of the expected four. Nevertheless 'Crashdown' kept to his plan but Tyrol pointed out that maybe Baltar had been wrong in his assessment, that the dish was constantly guarded by two Centurions, right now that dish was unguarded. So they should pull back and take out the dish. But 'Crashdown' didn't agree with that and ordered Seelix and Cally to execute the plan and move out to created the diversion.
But Cally didn't move. Willow could see that she was terrified, the mere sight of those six Centurions no more than fifty meters away from them. But even though Willow could understand the young woman, she also felt that they were running out of time. They had to take out this missile battery or everything would be lost.
Then the situation went out of control. 'Crashdown' was yelling at Cally to get moving. She refused, tears in her eyes, she was frozen in place, overwhelmed by sheer terror. Tyrol was yelling too, trying to get everybody to calm down. As was Willow, but nobody seemed to listen. Then 'Crashdown' pulled his gun and pointed it at Cally's head, ordering her again to get moving - she still wouldn't. Willow watched in horror, as now Tyrol pointed his gun at 'Crashdown', determined to keep Cally from being shot.
'Great,' Willow thought, 'who needs Cylons, when we can kill each other!'
Getting shakingly to her feet she started shouting herself, "Guys! Calm down! We won't save neither ourselves nor the SAR, if we start shooting at each..."
She was cut off by a gun being discharged.
Silence all around them, even the birds had stopped singing in the trees above them.
'Crashdown's eyes went blank and the arm holding this sidearm dropped. He leaned against the tree trunk and kept standing upright, despite the bullet hole in the middle of his chest. He was dead! Shot by Gaius Baltar!
Then all hell went loose. Alarmed by the weapon firing the Cylons came running up the hill, firing all their weapons. Turning around to retrieve her own, Willow got struck by a bullet aiming for her already injured knee. Crying out in pain, she dropped down to the ground, right next to the killed 'Crashdown'. She grabbed the heavy rifle, still dangling at the side of her fallen comrade, and opened fire on the approaching Centurions.
"Chief, fall back! Seelix, Baltar you go with him! Take out this frakkig dish!!" Willow yelled and signalled Cally to stay at her side. "We try to hold them off as long as possible!"
The moment the Cylons had opened fire Jessica had come out of her rigidity, had dropped next to Willow behind a fallen tree trunk and was firing at the approaching Cylons.
'How long will we be able to hold this frakking toasters off?' Willow asked herself, while she kept firing. Then she saw the missile launcher move into action, seeking its target.
The Raptors - they were coming!
'Come on Tyrol! You've got to take that dish out!' Willow thought and watched dreadful as two missiles got launched.
Some hundred meters behind them both Willow and Cally heard an explosion. "They did it!" Cally cried, "They destroyed the dish!"
'The Raptors are safe,' Willow thought satisfied. 'But what about us?'
She kept firing at the Centurions but they couldn't destroy them, merely slow them down. In no time the three toasters would be on top of them, Willow feared. Suddenly the three Cylons blew up in one big explosion and for a short moment Cally and Willow looked puzzled first at their weapons, then at each other. Their heads snapping around, they saw a Raptor hovering a few meters away from them, the board weapons still smoking.
Through the cockpit window Willow could make out Capt. Lee Adama mouthing, 'You're welcome' and giving her a short salute.
Willow returned it before she turned to Cally and gave her a heartily slap on her shoulder, "We did it Cally!" she said, "we did it!"
Trying to sit herself up, Willow suddenly felt the enormous pain in her leg again, she had blocked out during the battle by the sheer mass of adrenalin pumping through her veins. Now the pain became unbearable and looking at the bloody mess that Willow considered to once have been her right knee Willow lost consciousness.
Once again Willow found herself in Tara's apartment overlooking Caprica City. Standing arm in arm with Tara, she felt her girlfriend smiling at her. She turned her head and looked into the face she loved so much.
"Well, Willow, we are going to bring you home." Willow opened her eye, and found herself surprised to be looking into the smiling face of Lt. Ludimila Barkas - 'Mouse'.
"Mouse'?" she asked weakly, her voice sounding all raspy. "I thought you never wanted to fly with me again?"
"You have to thank my daughter for this," 'Mouse' explained, blushing slightly. "She made me see how stupid I was in my prejudice." She called to a marine, who took up the other side of the gurney Willow found herself lying on. She also noticed that her knee been taken care of with a makeshift splint and was also heavily bandaged.
"Now let's get you onboard and back to your girlfriend," 'Mouse' announced.
As she was carried onboard Willow could see Chief Tyrol telling 'Apollo', that 'Crashdown' had been killed in the line of duty, while leading the charge at the cylons - that he had died a hero. A lie, Willow knew, but certainly better than to tell 'Apollo' the truth. And she also knew that they would all stick to this version of the "what had happened here on Kobol".
Another fifteen minutes later they were in the air and on their way back to the Galactica. Willow dozed off during the flight but did not return to Tara's dreamy apartment. Instead she had a dreamless sleep.
"... welcome home Raptor three five niner," Willow heard Capt. Kelly over the wireless. Yes the Galactica certainly was home now. Home with Tara waiting for her - together with Miss Kitty of course.
Finally the Raptor had been brought down into Galactica's hangar bay, and after the others had left the craft, Willow was carried out by two of Galactica's medics. She felt all sleepy but then the most lovely voice made her open her eye again.
"Willow, honey I'm here. Can you hear me, my love?" she asked softly.
"Yes Willow I'm here."
Willow felt Tara kissing her softly her on her forehead, and the tears falling from Tara's blue eyes upon her face. Lovely Tara. Through tears in her own eyes, she looked to Willow like a angel. An angel send to her by the Lords of Kobol to protect and love her.
"I came back Tara," Willow whispered. "I promised I'll come back...." And then all around Willow faded away and she fell into darkness.