VIPERS part II: MAYDAY!
ACT II Part two: The 1st Alliances
Her viper was beginning to spin. Slowly now, but Starbuck knew soon she would be pinned to one side of her fighter as the centripetal forces rose. She slid her hand over the emergency eject lever, better to have it in hand now than when she may not have the strength to reach it. Be a shame to have the opportunity to bail only to be held back by her own body weight times ten. An out of control spin would do that and she had no way to stop it from happening. Her port stabilizers were blown. Trying to gain control with just the remaining starboard jets would only send her spinning the other way even faster. Not to mention that with the damage her viper had taken those stabilizers could blow as well. It had not been the enemy fire that had caused them to blow out; it had been the subsequent fuel line fire. At least they had blown out together, keeping her ship from going into a wild spin earlier but they had blown out in two awfully jolting explosions that sent her fighter into the gravity well of planet RV1906; a gas giant. RV1906 marked the rendezvous point of a meeting they had desperately needed with some supposed friendly intelligent beings. The gas giant had been described in a beacon that Dr. Baltar had been able to decode. The beacon promised friendly contact, intelligence on what had happened to make the universe go crazy, and most important of all; supplies. RV1906 looked good, it was still about the size of a dinner plate in her canopy now, but was growing larger. If she ejected now, most likely she would get caught in the gravity well and be pulled in anyway. Her only hope was that the mining ship that Galactica had sent would pick her up and be able to maneuver enough to get in range of the jets of her flight chair. Long shot… but what else did she have. Certainly she could not count on those “friendly” beings. Kara twisted and looked out her starboard side window. The battle was still in full swing. Though too far to see any of the ships, she could mark their demise with each and every bright flaring explosion. A seasoned fighter pilot, Kara Thrace, call sign “Starbuck”, had seen enough of her fellow pilots fall to know that many of those flares, most in fact, were Vipers going down. It had been a fraking ambush. Like so many things Starbuck had seen since the strange event that had made the know universe become twisted and unrecognizable, the attackers ships had been totally alien to her. From their strange “H” shaped design to the fact that they had no discernable source of propulsion, the alien ships attacked in numbers that had overwhelmed them. Though the Vipers had superior maneuverability, the attackers speed was unheard of and their attack passes ripped them apart. They had been suckered in. The cockpit suddenly lights up and Kara twists again, turning to look port side only to find RV1906 had gone from a plate sized disc in the distance to a horizon spanning orange ball. Dammit! Quickly she flipped off the automated distress call and began relaying it live. No one was going to pay attention to just one distress call among what had to be at least thirty now. Thirty of those ships still intact enough to put out a distress call. But after a good ten minutes there was no answer. Ten minutes was not long enough to mean there was no one out there but it was long enough to mean that help was too far away to be able to help.
The entire cockpit was awash in the bright orange glow of RV1906. Possibly the mining ship was using some other channel. With the battle still going on there just had to be some chatter going on. Kara set her radio to scan. Channel after channel slipped by, blowing only static at her, and after another ten minutes she knew that most of the channels would have been blocked by the planet itself. RV1906 was now so big that she could not see both poles at one time, each passed into her field of vision as the Viper was beginning to rotate. It was too late to bail, not that there had been an opportunity earlier. Orange, black, orange, black... the gas giant rolled about her view as the spin started in earnest. Slowly her weight pulled her portside. For awhile she could hold herself in her seat but little by little she slid to her left. It was a bad spin, the kind she knew would pull the blood from her head and make her pass out. Though that might be a blessing. What the hell was she still holding onto the ejector level for? Popping out now was certain and instantaneous death. It was getting hard to breath. The flesh of her cheeks began to pull at her eyes with their increased weight. Nothing out there but hot acidic gases swirling at hurricane levels. “…opy? This is Sku… one to… craft. Do you…” what the? Kara looked down at her radio display, but the computer had lost the signal and had continued scanning the lower bands. It had to be a low band transmission, but Galactica’s forces never ran that low. One of the enemy? The canopy was all entry flames and orange planet glow, her Viper was burning up. Had she just imagined the transmission? It did not matter now; she was too far into the planets atmosphere to be recovered. Maybe had she ejected earlier…WHOA! A shadow flew past at what had to be MACH 3. Another viper burning up on entry? Or maybe one of hers got one of theirs. Then the shadow zipped past again, and again, and again as whatever it was fell into a locked position while her viper continued to spin. “…you copy? Is there anybody alive in there?” came the clear young voice. Kara wanted to scream out, but her chest was too compressed. She wanted to signal back but her hand was pinned to the Damned EJECT LEVER! “…old on. This is gonna be bum…” Insane. No rescue could be mounted now. Her ship was breaking up as his must be. Any attempt to snag her ship with tow cables would kill them both. She mouthed breathless orders for the unknown viper pilot to leave her, to return to defending the Galactica. On the next rotation the shadow seemed to be closing on her fighter. CLANG!! All at once the vipers spin was halted and Kara was thrown against her straps. They had collided. What the frak was wrong with that idiot? Her fall a bit more stabilized, Kara could see out the canopy to the planets horizon. Flames still engulfed the ship, now pluming around the nose and engines. Where was that other viper? Did he survive the impact? Then pulling into her field of vision from just past her starboard wing was the nose of a ship she had never seen before. It was not like the strange alien craft that had ambushed them here, no this fighter was different. She had never seen it before but its design seemed oddly primitive. With wings that large and obvious air intakes it looked like an old time atmospheric fighter craft but it had to be a spacecraft to be here now. The craft maneuvered easily even as it plowed acid air in the middle of a gas giant’s tornado system. The fighter, yes it was clearly some kind of fighter craft, came even closer and Kara could see its pilot through the clear bubble canopy. His smile told her that he could see her as well. He was smiling as they both were starting to burn up… what the frak? He was talking, no doubt trying to get his transmission through to her. With the centripetal forces relieved Kara reached and tuned her communications gear back down to the lower bands. But his voice was no where to be found. Apparently he decided to give up and sent her some kind of hand signal. What did it mean? He was pointing… oh FRAK! She had seen this on the prelim reports of RV1906, the big red disc; a localized tornado system, ten times bigger than her home Colony planet Caprica, that rolled across the planet at the midway point between its equator and its southern pole. That big red patch now sat just below them, pulling them down like suds running toward the drain. Once they were too close they would not be able to pull out. Once they were too close their ships would be ripped to shreds. Kara looked back to her would be rescuer and began to wave him off, to send him back for his own good. But he now seemed intently focused on his flying and dipped the strange craft even closer. Kara could see now that it was white, despite being bathed in the fiery orange glow, white with Black trim. It was carrying a huge drop missile beneath it and she could see the gun ports clearly now. The winds picked up and the glass canopy of Kara’s viper began to crack… it would not be too long now. Still she kept her eyes on the strange craft, thinking it was as good a thing as any to be the last thing she ever saw. A pretty strange craft yes, but at least he was trying to rescue her. At least he was trying to… Were those arms!?! From beneath the craft, two mechanized arms dropped down. These arms had not been set inside the craft, or attached to it. No, amazingly the arms seemed to have been a part of the planes structure. One of the massive arms was holding the drop missile like it was a rifle and the other was remarkably reaching out to her viper. If this were not enough the two blazing rear engines were moving as well. Tilting down and under the craft they moved into position underneath the rest of the craft, looking much like a pair of legs. Impossible. The huge hand came down on the Viper around the bridge of its nose, and again Kara was thrown forward. This close she could see the scarred and pitted metal plating of the “hand”. This crazy flying machine had done this before. How many vipers had this guy been saving? The two engines fired hard and the braking thrust jolted her. The two engines blazed beneath the aircraft on those two distended legs, giving the whole craft the look of an insane mechanized bird of prey. Not possible. Not possible she told herself. No one could maneuver a craft like that even if such a craft could be built. It was not possible to perform an action as complex as grabbing the nose of a viper while battling an alien tornados mach 2 winds. Not possible. The hand holding her viper pulled her up underneath the strange craft, likely an attempt to reduce their wind profile. She could see the alien writing, the labeled intakes, and the skull and crossbones of what she instinctively knew was a fighter squadron. The G-forces pushed and then pulled at her body in a way that she now knew that the craft was pulling them up, away from the big red disc, away from the planet's atmosphere. How was this possible? A word seemed to whisper itself into her ear, into her consciousness, though she could not have heard it before. It was the answer to her questions although in time she would learn that the word itself was a question. What had saved her life? What could have made such a craft? What had made that craft able to do the impossible? Robotechnology.