Sometimes It All Just Works Out

Chapter One – Luck and Skill

First Day of the Second Cylon War

All the worlds were coming to an end, the Cylons were laying waste to humanity, but Chief Tyrol's life still consisted of pilots screaming at him over events he had no control over.

"What the frak do you mean we have no Vipers left to launch? What's wrong with 092 over there?"

Tyrol knew that Chad Lazacs, call sign Dogmeat, was stressed, but Tyrol just did not have time for this shit.

"Look, Dogmeat, someone apparently didn't think a museum piece was supposed to fly again and they managed to dent the reactor cavity while yanking the core. It's an hour job at least, I can't deal with it. You want to fly it later, you fix the damned thing."

Much to Tyrol's amazement, Chad smiled. He had been a deck hand long before he was a pilot, and he knew what needed to be done. "Once a knuckledragger, always a knuckledragger, eh Chief? No problem. Locker C-12, right?"

Tyrol nodded. "Yeah, the air-tapper and the polisher should be in there. You'll need the small laser miller from the deck cart too. It should be easy, it's on the outer edge right by the insertion ring."

Chad didn't have any questions, which was a good thing because Specialist Cally ran up to Tyrol just then. Apparently Starbuck was in an abort-hold in a launch tube." Frak. We have no ammo for the ship's batteries and our best pilot is sitting in her Viper staring at a closed launch door.

Chad ran off to get his tools. A Viper pilot without a functional Viper was no pilot at all; he knew that he would have to fix his own bird if he wanted to fly today.

At that moment

It had been over three minutes since Vector had launched his Viper from Galactica, and he was already pretty sure that he was going to die. He was doing his best to dodge the oncoming Cylon raiders, but this was nothing like the simulators. Still, he thought he just might have a chance, if only Galactica's problem child would join the fight..

"Starbuck, where are you? We need help!"

Vector prayed to the Gods of Kobol that he would hear Kara Thrace's laugh followed by some catty remark, perhaps mocking his manhood. Instead, he heard her say, anger evident even over the radio frequency, "Broke bird in tube. Knuckledraggers working on it, estimate five minutes."

Vector didn't have five minutes. He had received his call sign, like many pilots, in training, where his unusually precise, angular turns made a 3-D map of his flights look like a geometric chart of some sort. He bore down on a Cylon, guns blazing, and as he saw the Cylon take his hits, he jerked his Viper into a sharp ninety degree turn. He just had time to register that he had turned directly into the path of yet another Cylon, and triggered his guns quickly before--

He never quite saw some of his bullets graze the oncoming Cylon missile, even as his other bullets went on to destroy the Cylon raider that launched the missile destined to kill him. The bullet that nicked the missile failed to destroy it, or even to alter its course – but it damaged the missile's propellant engine.

A small burst of burning combustion gases – not quite true fire, for there is no oxygen in space – shot forward inside the missile body. It erupted from the now-dead engine and scorched the circuitry for the detonation trigger. The missile was now effectively disarmed, but that did not save Vector as the dead missile punched through the canopy of his Viper and stuck him directly in his chest, turning it into a mass of pulp even as he tried to decelerate his Viper.

A strange sort of physics was at work here. The Viper's forward engines were throttling back, even as the missile struck at a greatly reduced speed, and as Vector's corpse released the controls the engines obediently went to idle. The lingering thrust of the engines was canceled out by the forward momentum of the dead missile – which meant the Viper's overall speed plummeted, and instead of speeding in its last powered direction it began to drift as if dead in space.

The Viper wasn't dead, for the rugged titanium seatback that was supposed to allow a pilot to eject safely after an engine explosion instead worked in reverse. The missile stopped at the hard plate after penetrating the seat, and rather than protecting the pilot from an exploding engine it protected the three engines from the missile. The Cylon weapon never had to the chance to tear through the engines just like it had through Vector's chest. Thus, even though Vector was dead like so many other billions of people today, his Viper was alive, and this would turn out to be quite fortunate.

A Few Minutes Later

"ALL HANDS, BRACE FOR IMPACT!"

Chad's mind went blank as his body flew across the port flight pod. The next thing he knew, he was standing next to the Chief , who was braced against a bulkhead talking on one of the "last-resort" sound powered phones meant to allow the crew to communicate even in the even of total electrical failure.

He couldn't remember how he got from the Viper to where the Chief was. He tried to listen to the Chief, and in several seconds the strange faraway humming in his ears formed into words he could understand. The Chief hung up the phone and looked at Chad. "We took a nuke on the forward port bay."

Chad understood immediately. "I'll grab some tools and see if I can help."

There was no need for any more words.

Chad grabbed a tool backpack and started forward. He made sure that in addition to a standard set of tools there was a hydraulic spreader and some crowbars in there; it had been a long, long time since he had pried open warped steel doors in specialty instruction, where he had first learned the ways of the deck after basic training. He did know, however, that the odds of him rescuing people with his bare hands were pretty slim. He thought about getting a survival suit, and realized that he didn't have time.

Frak it. I'll just get my flight helmet and hope for the best.

The Viper pilot knew that his flight suit would not give him the same protection against fire as a full deck-issue survival suit, but he figured it was better than nothing. Satisfied that he was prepared, he started forward, hoping to save lives.

He quickly freed two people from a damaged compartment before pushing forward. Later, no one aboard Galactica would suspect that Dogmeat would just barely have time to grab a fire extinguisher before he was vented out to space along with dozens of other crew members, as Colonel Tigh did what he had to do to save the ship.

There was a lot Galen Tyrol didn't know about Captain Chad Lazacs. Still, as Tyrol hung up a picture of Dogmeat in Memorial Hall, he thought to himself, not bad for a Viper puke. Guess he was still a knuckledragger at heart.

The two deckhands who had escaped out a jammed door that Dogmeat had wrenched open couldn't agree more. They lingered, looking at the picture of Lazacs a bit longer before turning and following Tyrol back to the hanger bay. The time for mourning was over; there were birds to get in the launch tubes and the Big G couldn't very well maintain herself, could she?

Four Years Later, Galactica CIC

Admiral William Adama strode into CIC and went up to Felix Gaeta, who had the deck. Colonel Tigh was enjoying a rare night off, leaving Gaeta in charge of CIC for the shift.

"Sitrep."

Gaeta, turned to the Admiral and said, "Single large Dradis contact just jumped in range. Colonial transponder but no contact yet."

"How large?"

"About as large as a battlestar, I'd guess, sir."

Adama sighed. "Or a Cylon basestar, Mr. Gaeta?"

Gaeta nodded. "Yes, sir. They jumped just barely inside Dradis range, pretty far away. They do not appear to be closing, they're just sitting there. The CAP is moving to intercept but it will take them a while to close the distance. Alert fighters have been launched as well. I thought we had enough time before they closed that we could hold off a bit before jumping the fleet, just in case it really is a friendly. I knew you'd get to the CIC quickly, sir."

Adama nodded, "Good call, Mr. Gaeta." He then turned to the petty officer who had taken Dee's place at communications, but before he could speak, the petty officer spoke first.

"Incoming call, ship-to-ship, Priority One channel."

"This should be interesting. On speaker," said Adama, as he thought to himself, what now?

A pleasant feminine voice came over the speakers. "This is the CHSV Preserver calling the Battlestar Galactica. Admiral Adama, we are very pleased to find you and your fleet."

Colonel Tigh entered the CIC just in time to hear the other ship's call. "Preserver? Are they serious?"

Adama reached down to pick up the communications headset. "That would be nice, wouldn't it, Saul?" he growled, as conflicting emotions appeared to war on his face, suspicion fighting with hope.

Gaeta did not try to hide the look of puzzlement on his face. "Sir, what is a CHSV?"

Adama put the headset to his ear. "Hope, Mr. Gaeta, if it's not a Cylon trick. Direct contact."

"Preserver, this is Galactica actual. You have our attention. Send recognition codes."