Starbuck had taken the worm alien on an advanced training flight, both flying the two original Starfuries, while more were being built. This was his second flight in an actual Starfury. Several weeks had passed since she had found him inside the simulator and he was becoming a very promising pilot, outperforming most of Starbuck's other students. They had both used up about two thirds of their fuel and were getting ready to head back to the Pacifica.
"Worm Guy, this is enough for today. We'll return to the barn." Starbuck said and turned her fighter around.
"Okay boss." the alien pilot replied and turned his own Starfury around as well.
"Wait a second! I'm picking something up!"
Starbuck was receiving radio transmissions from several nearby sources. Two were on a Colonial frequency used by Viper pilots.
"Kat, I'm hit! One of my engines is gone!"
"Hold on, Hot Dog"
Starbuck didn't believe what she was hearing. Louanne Katraine, Starbuck's friend and former rival was somewhere out there with Brendan Constanza, another pilot she had trained while on the Galactica. Both seemed to be fighting for their lives.
The two Vipers were dodging and weaving to avoid being hit by the pursuing Cylon raiders. They were hopelessly outnumbered. Kat and Hot Dog had been on a routine patrol mission when they had discovered a large Cylon presence in orbit of the seventh planet of the nearest star system. Rushing back to the Galactica to report their findings to Admiral Adama, they were discovered by the Cylons who immediately launched an entire squadron to intercept them. Both of their vipers were already damaged. Hot Dog's had lost his center engine and Kat's was missing the tip of its left wing.
"Worm Guy, follow me! This sounds like some of my friends from the Galactica are in serious trouble", Starbuck ordered her wingman.
"There are too many of them. We are not going to make it back to the Galactica", Kat shouted.
"Two more fighters just showed up on my screen", Hot Dog reported.
"Great, more of them. As if this day was not frakked up enough already", Kat complained.
"No Cylons, Kat. They have Colonial IDCs, but unknown design", Hot Dog corrected her.
Just in this moment the two Starfuries shot up from underneath the cylon squadron, blasting away at the raiders with their pulse cannons. Five raiders were incinerated and two more suffered crippling damage. Starbuck's attack had taken the Cylons by surprise and the two vipers took advantage of the situation, turned around, and opened fire on what remained of the Cylon formation. Two more raiders exploded under the fire of the vipers and the remaining raiders seemed to flee. Starbuck and Worm Guy pursuing the fleeing raiders.
"Starbuck, Hot Dog. There is another squadron of Cylon raiders incoming!" Hot Dog warned.
"This is Starbuck. Return to the barn. We'll cover your asses!" Starbuck responded.
Kat and Hot Dog turned their damaged vipers around and headed back to the Galactica, while Starbuck and Worm Guy engaged the Cylons.
The Starfury had multiple engines of similar power fixed in all directions to arrest the fighter's acceleration in 3 dimensions. Starbuck was firing her fighter's thrusters only when she needed to change her heading or build acceleration on a particular vector, cutting her thrust entirely once she was on the way toward her target. As a result of this, the direction in which she and her Starfury was facing did not need to correspond to the direction in which the ship was travelling. This confused the targeting software of the mechanical Cylon raiders to no end. Starbuck and Worm Guy exploited this tactical advantage to the fullest. Worm Guy learned quickly and took out more than half as many Cylons as his instructor, following her example and mimicking her maneuvers. Even though the Starfuries' larger silhouette made for a bigger target for the Cylons to shoot at, their agility more than compensated for that weakness.
After the Cylon forces had either been destroyed or fled, Starbuck and Worm Guy turned around and followed the two Vipers to the Galactica.
"Starbuck, what the frack are you flying? Those are no Vipers!" Kat shouted while Starbuck and Worm Guy caught up to them.
Hot Dog was speechless. Starbuck had apparently returned from the dead, was flying a fighter of unknown design, and had picked up a new wingman somewhere along the way. On top of that she had saved his and Kat's lives, defeating a numerically far superior enemy force with ease.
"Sir, the last long range patrol is returning. DRADIS is picking up two additional contacts", the Galactica's DRADIS officer on duty reported.
"Frack, they've got Toasters on their tails. I suggest we move the CAP to intercept and launch alert vipers", Colonel Tigh recommended.
Before Admiral Adama could respond to his XO's suggestion, the DRADIS officer reported: "Sirs, the two other contacts have Colonial IDCs".
"Could be a Cylon trick", Tigh suggested.
"Or could be other survivors", Adama replied. "Send CAP on intercept course, but do not engage! I repeat, do not engage."
Tigh relayed the Admiral's order to the Combat Air Patrol, or CAP.
As soon as the contacts came within communications range, Adama contacted the patrol. "Long range patrol six, this is Galactica Actual. Who is following you? Please respond immediately"
"Galactica Actual, this is Kat of long range patrol six. We have picked up two friendlies. Starbuck is back, together with one unknown pilot. They saved our asses out there."
"Starbuck?" Tigh asked. "Do I hear that right?"
"Starbuck, this is Galactica Actual. Identify yourself. Is this really you?"
"Yep, it's really me", Starbuck said and rattled down her rank, full name, and service number. "It's good to hear your voice, old man," she said.
The two damaged Vipers landed in Galactica's port flight pod, while Starbuck, Worm Guy, and the two Viper escorts that had formed the Galactica's CAP were directed to the newly reopened starboard flight pod. Repairs to the starboard flight pod had begun shortly after the disappearance of New Caprica and had just been completed a few days ago.
Colonel Tigh and Admiral Adama had come down to the flight deck to personally welcome Starbuck back aboard the Galactica. They saw Starbuck and a strange figure in colonial flight suit climbing out of two Starfighters of unknown design, but with Colonial markings. The marines, who were present on the flight deck as a security measure, had trained their rifles on the strange figure.
Chief Tyrol and his knuckledraggers marveled at the elegant and deadly looking Starfuries. He wished he could take one apart and see what made it tick.
Colonel Tigh couldn't believe what he was seeing. He had heard in the comm chatter between the pilots someone being called "Worm Thing", apparently Starbuck's wingman, but he thought that had been just another call sign. Now he realized that "Worm Thing", who was standing on the flight deck behind Starbuck actually was a creature that resembled a worm with arms and legs and two beady black eyes and antennas on its head. The worm was wearing a variation of the flight suit the other colonial pilots were wearing and carried his helmet tucked under its right arm.
"What the frak is that?" Tigh asked, pointing at the worm alien.
"That", Starbuck answered, "is one of my best pilots. I trained him myself."
The worm saluted.
"Oh frak!" Tigh muttered. "I really need to quit drinking"
"It's good to have you home, Starbuck. You've been gone for more than two months", the Admiral said and hugged her.
"It's good to be home", Starbuck responded. "And you guys quit pointing your frakking guns at my wingman. He won't bite you. He is on our side", she shouted at the marines.
The marines looked at the Admiral, he nodded back at them, and they moved their rifles away from the worm alien.