Lieutenant Kara "Starbuck" Thrace was giddy, if you could use that word to describe her. She sped through the launch bay to her ship. Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama walked behind her, teasing the whole way. "You do know you don't have the power to speed up time, don't you?" He enjoyed this side of Starbuck. She was full of positive energy, life. She had darker sides that he didn't always enjoy.
She shouted back over her shoulder. "Let's get this patrol over with, Sir." No one could miss the sarcastic tone in her voice.
Lee veered off to his own ship. As he settled into his own seat, he looked over and shouted to his wingman. "Six hours, Starbuck. No less!"
"Frak you, Sir!" was her only reply.
Lee couldn't help but smile. As his helmet was lowered and locked into place, his humor dropped and the veneer of a colonial warrior about to go on patrol settled in. He double checked all his flight controls and waited for the word to go. He glanced at Starbuck and she nodded to him. He nodded as well.
He was the CAG, Commander of the Air Group. Although they'd been the best of friends for years, he was still her commanding officer. It wasn't an easy task. For every rule he followed, she broke one. He wasn't ashamed to admit he would never be the pilot she was. He was good, but she was born to fly. She recently told him, his father had said she was created to handle a viper and Lee had been born to lead. Lee wasn't sure his father was able to correctly assess his potential, but he did know a pilot when he saw one. Commander William "Husker" Adama had long been considered one of the best pilots to have ever flown. Flying had been second nature to him in his youth and he saw it in other pilots. It was high praise of Kara Thrace. Despite the work they had recently started to rebuild their long shattered relationship, Lee wasn't ready to accept a compliment from the man he had too long despised.
They were an hour into patrol, when Lee struck up a conversation on the link between vipers. "I take it you have assembled a good stash for tonight's pyramid game?"
Her response was laughter. "When you got skill, you don't need stakes, Captain."
"Really? So you haven't been stashing your food rations?"
"Nope. I fully intend to take yours tonight."
"You think so…" Apollo stopped mid-conversation as a warning light went off on his dash. "Standby, Starbuck."
"What's up?" Starbuck had only returned to her designation as Apollo's wingman since the destruction of the colonies. They had flown together years before, but there was a large gap in time. Apollo had earned her loyalty when he requested her as his wingman at a time when many thought she was more of a threat to anything in the air than an assist. Apollo told her then, he wanted to learn from her. It still meant a lot to her to be at his side. She heard the unspoken nerves in his voice. No one else might note the tension in his voice, but she did.
"I…" Kara heard him gasp. "My oxygen sensor is fraked." Again, she heard him draw in a deep breath. "I've got to head back."
Starbuck veered off and came back up on Apollo's other side. "FRAK, LEE! You're leaking oxygen."
Apollo was doing his best to regulate his breathing and conserve oxygen. It was already obvious to him that he wouldn't have enough to get back. He risked a response. "Tell me something I don't know." It hadn't been a wise move. It had cost him too much oxygen. He reached behind him and attempted to activate the air from his flight suit. It was a limited supply designed to assist in the event of an emergency such as this. Starbuck had used hers when she crashed landed several months ago. His panic level increased when he was unsuccessful in activating the line.
He released the oxygen control to manual. He knew it would do little good, but he hoped if he took deep breaths and held it in between, he could extend his chances. Already he could feel the effects. His head was beginning to spin and his eyes blurred ever so slightly.
Starbuck switched channels. "Starbuck to Galactica. We have an EMERGENCY. Apollo is losing oxygen and coming in hot. Prepare for emergency landing."
"Copy that, Starbuck. Do you have a visual?" The voice from Galactica's CIC was human, yet unemotional. Kara wanted to scream until the CIC felt the fear in their guts that she did.
"Is Apollo conscious?"
"For now. His head is starting to bob."
Apollo's wireless relayed the conversation, but he couldn't respond. He'd been holding his breath as best he could. When he had no choice but to risk a breath, there was nothing to take in. The fire spread through his chest and he could feel the nerves all over his body beginning to spark with pain.
Looking back on that day, Lee would never know how he landed. He had absolutely no memory of it. Thank the lords of Kobol, his father turned on the auto landing equipment to bring him in once he hit the landing bay and it worked. It was normally forbidden. The Commander was waiting on the deck with the life station medics. He didn't remember the hands that grabbed him and pulled him from his cockpit. He had no recollection of the oxygen being forced back into his lungs. He didn't remember his first sputtering gasps for air or the race through the corridors of the Galactica to bring him to life station.
"Commander, I think he's waking up." Kara Thrace hadn't left his side. Lee was stretched out on a bed in life station with an oxygen cannula bringing him back. She noted the twitching in his hand and saw the movement in his closed eyes change.
The commander replaced her at his son's side and grabbed the floundering hand. "Lee, it's time to wake up. Open your eyes, Son." It did no good. "Captain, Attention!"
Somewhere deep in his muddled brain, the warrior heard his commander and responded. The eyelids fluttered back to reveal confused blue eyes. "Sir?" The voice was raspy and in need of water. He could say no more. He felt his head gently raised and tepid liquid touch his lips. He drank greedily.
"Whoa! Slow down, Son. Not all at once. There's plenty." The anxious Commander withdrew the cup.
"Thanks." Lee breathed deeply. "What happened?" Lee glanced around the bed. He saw his father, Kara and the doctor, Major Cottle. Over his father's shoulder he saw the Sergeant of Arms, the Colonel and Chief Tyrol.
It was not his father's voice that he next heard. "What do you remember?" The doctor was poking and prodding. Next, he shined an annoying light in Lee's eyes and he flinched from the intrusion. "Headache?"
"Lee, answer the doctor's questions."
Although his father had used his given name, it was clearly an order from his commander, not his father. "I ran out of oxygen on patrol." He looked at Kara. "You said you saw a leak, right?" His mind was beginning to pick up speed. "Did I bust some hose?"
The commander looked down, when he answered. "No."
Concern crept into Lee's eyes. "Did I do something wrong? Everything checked out."
Not thinking that his son would think to blame himself, Will placed a soothing hand on his son's shoulder. "It was nothing you did. As a matter of fact, you handled it well."
"So what happened?" He looked between his father and Kara and neither would meet his gaze. He looked back at the others. "Why is the Sergeant of Arms here?"
With no discernable emotion, Adama spoke. "Your ship was tampered with."
Kara spoke. "Someone punched a hole in your tank and used a temporary plug."
Commander Adama looked back at the trio behind him. The whole situation angered him. "We don't know."
Lee tried to sit up. He was stopped by arms from all three people surrounding his bed, not to mention the waves of nausea that came from within.
"Where do you think you're going?" The doctor asked with doubt.
"I gotta be in on this."
"You were. That's why you're here. Now lie back down and rest." He eyed his stubborn son. "That's an order. You're not to move from this bed until the doctor says so."
"Are you threatening to disobey a direct order?" His father was completely gone and a full-blown, angry Commander stood next to his bed now.
"Good." He added. "I think you've been hanging around Starbuck too much." He winked.
"Frak! This is nothing. I'd be out of bed and down the hall by now." Kara grinned with pride. The problem was, everyone knew she was right.
The commander turned to the cocky pilot he loved like a daughter. "I'm holding you responsible for him. He doesn't leave this bed until the doctor allows it. Do you hear me, Lieutenant?"
She snapped to salute. "Sir, YES SIR!" She relaxed and grinned. "He's all mine!" She rubbed her hands, as if planning some evil torment.
The Commander turned back to his son. "Rest. There will be time enough for this to get sorted out." He knew the look in his son's eyes. He'd never disobey a direct order, but William Adama was certain he would try something. He didn't blame him. He'd want revenge, too. As a matter of fact, he was praying to the lords he didn't find the perpetrator alone in a room. He was certain he'd snap the man's neck without thought. No one hurt his son, no one.