Disclaimer: not mine. Well, mostly not. My versions tend to differ from canon.
Characters: Kara Thrace, Cally Tyrol, Anastasia Dualla, Sharon Valerii, a few others.
Pairings: Kara Thrace/Sam Anders, Cally/Galen, Athena/Helo, Roslin/Adama, Sharon Valerii/Cavil. (the latter two are mostly implied)
Genre: gen, het, action, AU
Set: Post Ties That Bind (4.03), though the end of that episode is... different.
Spoilers: Only through TTB iirc.
Rating: PG13, language, violence
Length: 4600+
Notes: A large portion of this was actually written last night after I tried to go to bed. The rest, the filling in the blanks and setting things up part, was written at work today. I think it all hangs together, but my brain is my brain and no one else lives in it. Some of this probably came out of a desire to write more fic for the . 'Because We are Awesome' drabble-a-thon.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun by ALC Punk!

"I know why you're here. I've been waiting."

Boomer's voice stopped them cold. Frak. Kara turned, her rifle up and trained on the Cylon who'd stepped out of an open panel none of them had noticed. Cally was half a second behind her, eyes angry and gun steady.

"Give us a reason not to shoot you," suggested Dee, from her position as rear-guard. She was calm and collected, her head tilted to one side as she listened behind them while keeping Boomer covered.

"It will raise the alarm."

Possible. Kara and Dee exchanged a glance.

"What if I don't give a frak?" Cally demanded, her hand steady. The gun was pointed at Boomer's head, and there was the sense that she could cause a repeat in history.

Kara hadn't been there, but she'd heard the story often enough.

"Then I guess you kill me and trigger every frakking alarm," Boomer retorted, eyes dark. She didn't look frightened of them.

Which was fine. They weren't frightened of her, either. Kara exchanged a nod with Dee and spoke, "Cally. Not now."

"But--"

"You can shoot her later."

If Kara had been granted all the wishes in the universe to plan the operation, she would have had Sergeant Mathias and a squad of marines backing her up. All she had were Cally and Dee. Not that they weren't useful, but when storming a basestar, one tended to want a large burly marine at one's back. She also had a Cylon she didn't trust, guarding a raptor she wasn't sure would be there when they returned. Caprica had volunteered to come, though.

Shit. She couldn't believe she was going to do what she was about to do.

Boomer's eyes widened in shock as Kara held a pistol out to her, butt-first. "I don't trust you. But I don't have the time to arm you if we get pinned down--and I'll make sure they consider you a target, too." Kara lowered her voice, letting some of the old anger through, "Shoot us and I will come back from the dead again to make your life hell."

"You can't give her a gun!"

"Cally. This is not a discussion." Kara glared the younger woman down, "She makes a move to shoot me, kill her."

"What if she's too fast?" The question was calm, logical. Dee met Kara's eyes without flinching, "Cally isn't a trained fighter, Starbuck. You know that."

"I do. If she's that fast, we're all frakked, anyway."

"Sir," Cally acknowledged, her voice low and angry. She didn't make another objection, but her eyes glued themselves to Boomer's back.

Good. Dissension in the ranks would be bad when there were only three people.

So they weren't the marines Kara would have picked, but she was beginning to think they weren't a bad team. Besides, it wasn't as though any of this were sanctioned by either the Admiral or the President. So getting her hands on that marine squad was a little impossible, at this juncture.

It had begun when the Demetrius crossed the path of a damaged basestar. Even with the damage, the larger ship had been able to take out the Demetrius' drive long enough to get a heavy raider docked. Centurions had poured through the hole in the hull, and plowed their way through the defendants, on some sort of single-minded errand. Kara had thought they were after her until it was too late to realize she was wrong.

Sam hadn't had a chance--he'd gone down firing, under a pile of twisted metal and three other centurions had scooped the entire mess up, turning and striding swiftly away.

Frak, they'd been so fast, Kara and the others had only been able to take down one before they'd boarded the heavy raider. It was Sharon's brain that had kept them all from being spaced when the ship disengaged from the Demetrius. She'd grabbed the twisted metal of the airlock hatch and forced it closed seconds before the atmosphere started escaping with a whoosh.

Standing there, hands cramping around the guns that hadn't stopped the Cylons, Kara could feel her decision twisting. Her fate was to find Earth. She knew where it was, she could feel it in every line of her body.

But she could feel Sam, too. And she couldn't leave him to the Cylons.

It hit her, while helping to clean up some of the mess--Narcho was dead, gutted when he hadn't moved fast enough. Seelix was limping, a nasty bruise on her hip and cuts on the backs of her hands. Gaeta had survived without a scratch, but Helo was careful about using his left hand, and two of Sharon's fingers were broken from pulling at the hatch and slamming it closed.

She needed Sam. As much as she needed anyone, she needed his big hands and his idiocy and his love--she hated that, and almost told Helo to forget it when he ordered Gaeta to plot a course back to Galactica and the fleet.

But by then, the others were looking forward to real showers, a decent night's sleep, and air that didn't stink. And when they got back to the fleet, they discovered that Colonel Tigh and Tory Foster were in the brig pending investigation, and Chief Tyrol was missing. A basestar had appeared, attacked and then fled once the centurions that landed had captured the Chief.

From the fragmented accounts from the pilots who'd gone up against it, Kara had the sick feeling it was the same basestar that had captured Sam.

As for why Foster and Tigh were locked in the brig, they were Cylons. Pure and simple, accused by Cally Tyrol, who overheard them discussing the matter. So was Tyrol, and the Admiral suspected the centurions had actually been rescuing their compatriots. He was angrier than she'd seen him in a long time, and she wondered if the President's cancer had taken a turn for the worse with this latest development.

Feeling dizzy, Kara had confronted Tigh and demanded the truth. He'd owed her that much.

Sam was a Cylon.

Even in the present, Kara could still feel that sense of being used and manipulated fill her with revulsion. She wasn't so sure anymore that she was there to rescue Sam or put a bullet through his head.

Organizing a rescue mission for the Chief wasn't even on the table. No argument worked, not even the practical one: no one knew the Galactica like Galen Tyrol, and every second he remained in Cylon custody was another second that he could break and spill her defenses and secrets with his blood. Adama didn't believe the Chief would be tortured for the information. It was one betrayal too many, Kara figured.

She was a little surprised to find Cally Tyrol wanted her husband rescued--but Cally had said that her son needed his father, and besides, he might be a frakking Cylon, but she didn't want him in their hands.

No one wanted to listen: the fleet was preoccupied with the President, and Earth. Adama hadn't pressed Kara for further intuition, and she could feel her link slipping further away. It was frustrating to be pulled in two directions at once.

It was Dee who made the suggestion one night in the rec room. Borrow a raptor and Caprica--after all, the blonde Cylon had said she could locate the basestar and get a team on board when Sharon had asked her.

Borrowing a raptor, a Cylon, the Chief's second-hand deck crew, and Galactica's queen of the wireless was actually easier done than Kara had thought it would be. She didn't ask Helo or Sharon to join them, not wanting to jeopardize their position with the Admiral. Kara figured she was toast, either way. Cally had insisted on coming, and Kara had asked Dee, knowing she might need backup with the calculations.

"How can you trust me?" Boomer asked, her voice tense as they took a left-turn, the way Boomer said was near where the two men (Cylons) were being held.

"I don't," Kara hissed, "I just think Cally hates you more than you hate us."

"More than she hates the Cylon she married?" The sarcasm in Boomer's voice would have cut deep, once upon a time.

"I haven't decided," Cally replied, her tone almost serene.

"All of you, shut the frak up." Dee hissed. "If Boomer's right, they'll be monitoring the next section. So keep your frakking thoughts to yourselves."

Fine. Kara could be quiet. She was good at quiet, even when what she wanted to do was scream and throw things, raging against a fate she couldn't quite understand or believe in, even now.

The rescue mission was already taking longer than she'd wanted it to, and she wondered if the ticking of the clock was echoing on her nerves because of that or because she still couldn't decide what to do about Sam. Shoving her thoughts in a different direction, she drew to a halt at the next corner and glanced back at Boomer, eyebrows up. Boomer squinted, then shrugged.

Crossing glances with Dee, Kara asked her a different question.

"Go," Dee said, voice low and tense.

Kara went, slipping around the edge and sprinting down the length of the corridor until she hit the corner and could grab the scant cover of the bulkhead. A quick check showed the next hall clear, and behind her she could hear Cally and Boomer making their way after her, a little more slowly as they checked the doors lining the way.

"Nothing," Boomer hissed.

"Shit." Biting back her need to start talking, to relieve some of the tension with a bad joke, Kara ducked around the corner, lining up a shot down the far end.

"This is getting us nowhere," muttered Cally, finally impatient.

"Shut the frak up," Dee snapped, joining them in a breath of air.

Whichever god up there had decided they'd make a good rescue mission had been frakked in the head, in Kara's opinion. She was supposed to be in charge of the op, but Dee was walking all over it, lining them up like ducklings in a row. Objecting would be pointless. After all, Dee was a little better at this than she was. This was the nuts and bolts, though, and Kara was tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Then, they'd need strategy that wasn't from a gods-damned textbook.

"Boomer?"

Shaking her head, Boomer plucked absently at the hem of her shirts, head tilted as though she were listening.

Maybe she was. Kara didn't know what went through Boomer's head anymore, these days. Not since she'd shot the Admiral while Kara was AWOL, anyway. Somewhere in there, was the kid she'd once known. The woman Helo was married to was also like her, though both were only echoes of the past, in the end.

"Nothing." Boomer tightened her lips, "The security network might have picked you up by now, though. You'd better hope they're close."

Shoving her gun under Boomer's jaw, Cally snarled, "Frak you."

"Hey--" Dee gripped her shoulder, "Don't. Don't, Specialist."

"Listen to the Petty Officer, Specialist," drawled Kara, putting her back to them, her rifle up again. She liked the accuracy and distance it gave her, but was a little worried about what might happen if they ended up in close combat. It might just become a pretty club, then.

A sound of amusement escaped Dee, "Got any suggestions for finding them faster, Captain?"

"Splitting up is not an option--" Kara broke off as a sound distracted her. She swung towards one of the doors, straining to hear.

Nothing.

"Did you hear that?" It was Boomer, her voice hushed.

All four of them were silent as they listened, maybe to something, maybe to nothing.

Then the sound came again.

"Frak." Kara stalked down the corridor, finally stopping in front of one of the doors, "Motherfrakker never could carry a tune." She grabbed the handle and found it locked. "Cally!"

The Specialist hustled forward, fingers already pulling out a lump of something Kara was certain had no relation to the putty she and her classmates used to play with in grade school. For one thing, eating it might make you explode. Her hands quick, Cally placed the lump over the section of handle and lock, molding it to the fabric of the door. Then she shoved a tiny circuit-board into it and backed away, "Everyone clear, now."

Leaving one end of the corridor to Dee to cover, Kara slid along to the other. Not that all the stealth in the universe would help them, once the charge Cally was about to blow went off.

The bang wasn't as loud as she'd expected, but Kara still felt like the entire basestar took a shuddering breath, like it was just catching sight of the ants on its carapace.

She was back by the door before Cally had a chance to pull it open. Kara kicked it, then yanked at the still-hot metal, glad she'd left her gloves on. Though she could feel the heat and for a moment, wondered if she was about to repeat history. The metal didn't melt the fabric and skin together, though, and she released it without a problem.

One glance inside took in a startled Simon model and Kara shot him, the bullets twisting him around before he fell.

"Shit," Boomer was at the door, Dee behind her. "They'll really pick up on that."

"Tell me something I don't know." Moving, Kara stopped in front of Sam. He was chained to the wall, arms above him, making him stand on his toes, almost. The Chief was nearby, slumped against the wall, chains keeping his arms spread to either side.

Sam tried to smile, but winced through his bruises.

With an irritated movement, Kara slung the rifle over her shoulder and stared at him, conflicting emotions warring through her. Then she pulled back her arm and punched him, feeling the impact through her shoulder.

"Frak," he gasped, head slamming into the wall.

"Idiot." Pushing up on her toes, Kara kissed him, tasting the blood on his lips and feeling like she wanted to be hysterical for a moment. Then she pulled back, all business again, "I'll have to shoot the chains."

"There's a release," Sam said, nodding to one side.

"Got it," reported Boomer, already hitting buttons.

Kara barely had time to brace herself before Sam sagged forward, dropping into her and making her stagger back. "Shit--frakkin' heavy--" She wrapped her arms around him, smelling the dirt and sweat on his skin.

"Here--" Boomer was there, catching one of Sam's arms and getting her shoulder under his, "I've got him, Starbuck. Help Cally with the Chief."

Easier said than done. The Chief was built, and most of it was muscle. Cally was used to getting him up, though, and her words--a mixture of sharpness and cajolerie--got him to his knees and then his feet. Kara got under his shoulder, pulling his arm across hers, "C'mon, Chief. Let's get the frak out of here. Dee?"

"Still clear, hurry the frak up."

Cally slipped back to cover their six while Boomer and Kara half-supported, half-lugged the two men out of their cell.

With Dee leading, they made good time working their way back to the raptor they'd left on the flight deck. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough. Some alarm had obviously been raised, even if they couldn't hear it. Five minutes from their destination, Dee started around a corner, then jerked back, cursing.

"We know you're there." Cavil's voice called. "There's no escape for you, you must realize that."

"How many?" Kara asked.

"Four chrome jobs. Him." reported Dee, breathing harder, her eyes a little wide with what might have been fear. "I don't know. There could have been more."

"Check."

"I--"

"Check." Kara ordered, her tone low and dangerous.

Dee swallowed, then nodded and slipped down to her knees before she leaned around the corner. A second later, she flattened her back to the wall, "Six chrome jobs. One Cavil."

The odds had gotten worse. Kara felt a smirk drag across her lips, though. "Piece of cake. Cally?"

"Sir?"

"I need you to take the Chief and give me a good-sized handful of that putty of yours."

There was silence, and then Cally came towards her, almost reluctantly, and slipped under the Chief's shoulder on the other side of him. He was aware of her, and he seemed to be aware of her reluctance. As small as she was, she still shouldered him with little problem. Or maybe the Chief wasn't leaning as hard on her.

Kara accepted the handful handed to her and fished out her own circuit board. "Boomer," she murmured, "Am I right in thinking that last crossing we passed connects to this on the other side?"

"Yeah. They'll be watching for you."

"Then you're gonna have to distract 'em, aren't you." Kara grinned wolfishly at her, "Give me two minutes, then start keeping their attention."

"What would you suggest?" demanded Dee, her tone dry.

"Maybe a strip-tease. Rumor on New Cap was, Cavil liked 'em young and hot." Kara was watching Boomer as she spoke and so she caught the Cylon's flinch. Score. "Remember. Two minutes."

Kara was already counting before she stopped talking, her feet moving her back the way they'd come.

Basestars had a pattern to them. It had seemed aimless the first couple times Kara had looked at the schematics of one, but eventually, she'd caught the design to it, the way it flowed and twisted. It was a very machine-like design, once you got past little idiosyncrasies like the lighting at chest-height and the white-washed beams here and there. At one minute and twenty seconds, she'd made it around to the corresponding corridors and was creeping her way towards the knot of Cylons.

She'd only gotten lost once.

Past the two-minute mark, she froze as she reached the turning that would expose her to Cavil and the centurions. Her shoulders tense, Kara pulled the ball of putty out and shoved the circuit-board in. She weighed it in her right hand and then moved around the corner, taking in the crowd of them, Cavil not watching the rear, though one of the bucketheads was.

Foot sliding forward, Kara threw the ball like she was making the high score in a deadly pyramid game.

The centurion started to react even as she turned back to duck around her corner, hoping she had enough time to make it before the circuit-board activated and blew her to hell.

She'd prefer not to die again, it had been frakking boring, the last time.

The explosion ripped out a huge chunk of the corridor, leaving gaping holes in the ceiling and one wall. Two centurions were obliterated outright, three were severely damaged and Kara shot the fourth when she could move again. It was having difficulty moving itself, anyway. Of Cavil, there was no sign, though Kara had the feeling he'd be back, eventually.

"Let's go, people!"

Jogging past the destruction, Kara took up Dee's position as point, leading them past the charred section and into the access-shaft they'd gone up earlier. A shaft only accessible from where Cavil and his friends had been. It was an odd sort of shaft, not like the ones on Galactica that tended to go up and down, this one sloped. Kara kept having to catch herself on the wall, skidding a little as the downward pull sped her feet faster than she'd like.

Behind her, the others were having similar issues, but no one complained.

At the bottom of the shaft, Kara shoved the panel out, rifle cocked and ready. She nearly blew Caprica's head off before remembering that the Cylon was supposedly on their side.

"Did you--"

"Back up so I don't shoot you," Kara suggested, exiting and shoving the rifle up against Caprica's shoulder.

The Cylon backed up, giving Kara a chance to check that it really was clear before she called, "Clear. Let's get your asses in gear, people. C'mon, move!"

When Boomer and Sam appeared, Caprica sucked in a breath, "Why is she here?"

"She knew why we were here." Kara glanced back, nodded, and headed towards the raptor waiting for them. As she watched it, she considered all the things that could have happened to it without Caprica even noticing--or with Caprica noticing--and so she veered, changing course for the heavy raider that was a little further away.

"Starbuck--"

"Shut up, Boomer, and follow her." Maybe Dee understood, maybe not. But she was letting Kara be in charge again, which was nice.

"Can you fly one of those?" Boomer asked, her voice surprised.

"Watch me."

Hitting the release, Kara hovered at the side, impatient for the ramp to be down so they could all get under cover. The back of her neck was itching from being exposed in the hangar this long. Sweeping the ramp, she headed up and inside the raider. The one thing she'd learned, watching Athena pilot one of the frakkers back from Caprica, was that the heavy raiders didn't have brains like the raiders did. Less organic mess, more electronic mess. Kara hit the control room and didn't find a centurion waiting like she'd expected. Good. And bad, maybe.

"We're all aboard," Dee shouted. "Now get us the frak out of here."

Kara hit the sequence that would start the engines and then grabbed the stick, using one hand to kick in the thrusters and get them off the deck.

"Need any--" Caprica broke off, "Shit. The raptor."

One look and Kara was swearing under her breath. Her instincts had been right. The raptor was moving, lifting off and heading directly for them. "They're going to ram us," she said, her voice calm. Inside, she was trying not to panic, knowing that if the raptor disabled them, they wouldn't be able to find another ship to escape in before the centurions took them down or captured them. "Shit. Everyone hang onto something!"

The thrusters whined as she shoved them up to full and twisted the stick, dodging the raptor and spinning to head for the back wall of the bay.

Behind her, she could hear the others, but she tuned them out in order to fly what felt like a frakking battlestar in atmosphere. Her hand already ached on the stick as she pulled and turned, twisted and shot them in an evasive pattern that finally dropped them out of the bay, tumbling backwards into open space.

"How fast can a jump be plotted?" she called to Caprica.

"At least two minutes--"

"Don't talk. Calculate."

The basestar opened fired on them, and Kara was absorbed in dodging. Twisting, turning, rolling them under the gigantic vessel, and then shooting out the other side. Boomer joined her, grabbing the fire controls just in time for the raiders to join the pursuit.

"Keep them off our backs, Boomer."

"You fly. I'll fire." She snapped back, fingers moving quickly, targeting sights lining up with deadly accuracy.

Thirty seconds to go, and Kara couldn't dodge a raider and a missile at the same time. The impact threw them all to the floor and she practically bounced back to her feet, lunging for the controls as the heavy raider spun into free-fall.

"Got it--" Caprica shoved between Kara and Boomer, her hands grabbing for the engine controls.

The ship gave a shudder and they jumped.

Kara swore, wishing she'd had a little more warning. Now she felt like puking. "Frak. Where are we?"

"Precisely where I hoped we'd be. One jump away from re-joining the fleet." Caprica reported, sounding smug.

"Good. Anything on dradis?"

"It's clear," Boomer replied.

Easing up on the stick, Kara sucked in a breath. She wasn't about to relax, but with nothing chasing or firing at them, she could probably decide now whether she was going to airlock Caprica and Boomer. She had to admit, Caprica had come through.

As for Boomer...

"Dee, get up here and plot the jump to Galactica." Kara pulled her side-arm out and turned, pointing it at Boomer, "And you get away from the controls."

"Starbuck--"

"Don't. I mean, yeah, I get it. You're a machine, but you're an individual, right?" Sneering, Kara put the raider into auto-pilot to hover right where it was and stepped away from the controls. "But you're also a Cylon, Boomer. And from what I hear, you didn't care about how happy the humans were on New Caprica."

"Maybe not. Maybe I was. So what?" Boomer demanded, "I made my choice back there, when I first saw you. I knew why you were there. I could have stopped you right then, and I didn't."

"Why didn't you?"

"None of your frakkin' business."

"Fine." Kara holstered her pistol and swore, "I'm so frakkin' sick of this Cylon bullshit."

Shoving past Boomer, she went to see how Chief and Sam were doing. Cally and Dee had sort of abandoned them against the wall, and they looked exhausted, bruised and battered. "Where's Cally?"

"I sent her to check the engine," Dee called from the console.

"Was she armed?"

"What the frak do you think?"

Kara snorted and then knelt to stare at Sam. She sighed. "What am I gonna do with you, Sammy?"

He opened his eyes and half-smiled at her, "I can think of a couple things, baby."

"I'm sure you can, but," Kara leaned closer and whispered, "I'm not so sure I wanna be the butt of Helo's jokes when he finds out I'm married to a Cylon."

There was a moment where Kara wondered if the universe had stopped, and then Sam let out a breath, "I wanted to tell you."

"But you couldn't. I know." She patted his shoulder, a little harder than she'd intended, "You're a Cylon. It just slipped your mind. Know what I think?" She leaned even closer, refusing to get distracted by the way he still smelled like Sam, "I think you were too chicken-shit to admit it."

"You said you'd put a bullet between my eyes," he breathed, tensing. "You gonna do that now?"

"I wouldn't let Cally shoot the Chief on sight."

He let out a breath again and then turned his head, lips brushing her cheek, "You wanna keep up this tough chick persona, Kara, you gotta stop smelling so good."

"Oh, frak you--" she jerked back and shook her head, "Quit thinkin' with your dick, Sam."

"It's worked for you so far," he pointed out, something very smug in his eyes.

"I should shoot you now," she muttered, "Get it over with."

Dee interrupted them, "Cally says the engine's fine and we're good to go."

"Good." Kara stood and went to take the controls again, "Let's get back to the fleet. I need a frakking shower, and Chief should probably get his bruises looked at."

"Yes, sir," replied Dee, "Jump's plotted."

For just a moment, before the stars twisted and shifted, Kara felt that tug again. That pull that said 'Earth' to her. With Sam gone, the pull had almost disappeared. But now he was back... She glanced over at him, as they jumped, and wondered just how much of her destiny he had to do with. Maybe a lot more than she'd thought.

-f-