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Starfall 1-5

Starfall 1-5

By Val Thomas

Starfall (thanks, DJ!)
Author: Val Thomas
Rating: NC-17, but not until part 49
Warnings: Slash! The NC-17 rating doesn't really come about until part 19 though. Character death, but it's not who you think it is. <veg>
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters from either show and I make no money period. <g>
Summary: Starbuck is sucked into a wormhole and ends up on Earth during the Vietnam War. How will he manage without Apollo?

This story is a crossover between TAT and Battlestar Galactica. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, here's a brief synopsis:

The twelve colonies fought a thousand year war with their enemies, the Cylons, a race of robots determined to exterminate humanity. They nearly succeeded when the Cylons pretended to want a peace agreement. The colonies were all but destroyed; the few survivors boarded whatever ships they could find and followed the last remaining battlestar, the Galactica, on a quest for the home of the thirteenth colony, "a shining planet, known as Earth." The Galactica is commanded by Commander Adama, the sole surviving member of the Council of the Twelve, the ruling body of the colonies, played by Lorne Greene. The other major characters include Captain Apollo, played by drool-worthy Richard Hatch, and Lieutenant Starbuck, played by our own Dirk Benedict. The myriad similarities between the two lieutenants are more or less what spawned this story.

 

I

Well, Apollo, here we are, just the two of us. I’m laughing as I write this because I know how silly it is of me to pretend that I’m talking, or rather writing, to you, but I’d feel even sillier if I wrote "Dear Diary" like some people do on this planet. I wish you were really here, 'Pol, because I actually did it. Somehow I found Earth! It’s kind of backwards compared to the colonies; they’ve barely learned spaceflight. But the people are nice, 'Pol. And the women are beautiful! I miss all of you back in the Fleet though. Some more than others.

I don’t really know why I’m keeping this journal. I doubt I’ll ever find the Fleet again. My viper was pretty much destroyed. I was lucky I wasn’t seriously hurt. A few cuts and bruises, a bump on the head.

When I first came to, I climbed out of what was left of my viper and found myself in some kind of jungle. I heard screams from all sides and then someone yelled "Duck!" Right after I hit the dirt, I heard a loud explosion. When I looked up, after all the noise had stopped, I found the guy who’d yelled at me. He was a kid - just a kid - couldn’t have been more than 18 yahrens old, dead. What kind of place is this Earth, that they send kids this young off to war? He was even younger than Zac was.

Zac... Gods, but I miss that kid. I still remember how awful I felt when I found out that he’d died on that patrol. Should’ve been me.

And here another kid died because of me, because he tried to warn me. He was a good looking kid, with dark hair and one of those innocent faces. You know, one of those faces that make people believe whatever you say.

Being the practical type - now, stop laughing, Apollo! I can be practical on occasion!

Being the practical type, I checked him for ID. On this planet, apparently they put some kind of tag around a soldier’s neck to identify him if he’s killed. Kind of sick, if you ask me, but it sure was helpful. Gave me a name to use when the others came up to me. I put the tags around my own neck and pretended to be injured. Didn’t have to pretend too hard, since I already looked kind of beat up. Covered in all the muck, without my jacket, my uniform looked kind of like one of theirs. They took me to their medics who said I must have gotten a concussion. Told me to take it easy for a day or two and then rejoin my unit.

Fortunately before that happened, word came that I was supposed to join a new unit, some special team they were concocting. At least nobody would know what I, or rather the kid, was supposed to look like.

Poor kid.

 

II

Oh, Apollo, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve gotten myself into this time! I met the members of this new team today and they make *me* look sensible! I’m supposed to be the supply officer for this *team*; apparently the kid whose place I’m taking had a bit of a reputation for, how shall I say it? Acquiring things? He’s been in the stockade once or twice; minor things, but if I’d known, I might not have taken his identity. So far everybody seems to believe me though.

But I sidetracked myself. The rest of the Team. Right. Our leader is a man named John Smith, but he prefers to call himself "Hannibal" after an ancient general who was famous for being unorthodox and doing things that others said couldn’t be done. He’s a colonel, but I couldn’t imagine anyone more opposite from Colonel Tigh. He’s a good man, but a little on the crazy side.

Then there are the enlisted guys, BA and Ray. BA stands for "Bad Attitude" and boy does it ever fit! He’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of the Galactica! Rumor has it that Smith is the only thing keeping him from the stockade. Apparently some officer with more education than sense accused him of lying so BA hit him. Nearly broke his jaw, from what the scuttlebutt says. I can believe it. He’s not tall, but he’s big. He doesn’t come across as all that bright either, but Smith says he’s a mechanical genius.

Ray is a lot quieter than the others. I’m a little surprised that a man of his apparent intelligence is just a sergeant. Maybe he hasn’t been in the army very long yet. I’d say he’s a good candidate for officers’ training. He’s almost a little too good to be true; a good soldier, capable of killing with his bare hands, but very caring of his companions. I wonder if he’d be willing to finance a few card games? Hmm, that’s something to think about.

The last member of the Team, the unofficial one, is one HM ‘Howlin’ Mad’ Murdock. Another appropriate nickname. He’s the unit’s pilot and he actually does howl when he takes off. I really envy him. I mean, a Huey’s not a viper, but it’s still flying. Lords! You wouldn’t believe how much I miss flying. I’d even welcome those long patrols I used to complain about so much.

It’s really odd, Apollo. I’m here in the middle of a war, with thousands of other guys around, but I feel so alone sometimes. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m keeping this journal. Sagan knows there’s almost no chance you’ll ever read it, but while I’m writing it, I can almost pretend for a while that I’m actually talking to you. I really miss you, ol’ buddy. This is the first time in so many yahrens, um, I mean years that we’ve really been apart. One of these days I’ll get used to the time units around here. I think I just about have them down pat now.

How long have we known each other, 'Pol? I almost can’t remember a time that you weren’t my best friend. I miss that closeness, 'Pol. I miss looking over at you while I’m doing something I know you’ll disapprove of. Sometimes it’s so hard, Apollo. I really am all alone on this planet.

 

III

I tell you, Apollo, I was right about this Smith guy being crazy, but his crazy plans work! He calls this insanity being "on the jazz" but it’s just short for being nuts. His favorite plan of attack seems to be what he calls "going through the front door." Great! Here we are, in a foreign country, don’t really speak the language and we blend in so well! The natives here are short, have black hair and olive complexions. I’d say a blond, a silver haired guy and a huge black man fit in perfectly, wouldn’t you? Ray comes the closest to fitting in, since he has dark hair, but even he doesn’t quite fit in. Yet we made it back in one piece, somehow or another.

I still can’t quite figure Ray out. You wouldn’t believe what he did today, 'Pol. My first firefight and I lost my helmet. Ray came up behind me and put his own helmet on my head. Just like that. I was scared half to death, but knowing there was somebody like that beside me made me feel safer. It’s weird, 'Pol, but for some reason he seems to care. Maybe it’s because we’re all we have out here so we have to look after each other. Does that make any sense, 'Pol? It’s the only thing I can figure out. Of course, the Team is all I have, period. The rest all have families to go back to. Ray’s got a sweet girl back home that he wants to marry. BA’s got his momma back in Chicago, wherever that is. Hannibal doesn’t talk about home much. I figure he’s career military so the army is his family. There’s still something or somebody for him to go home to. I stand corrected on one point; Murdock doesn’t seem to have anybody either. He never talks about home or family or a girl. He does talk about his imaginary dog Billy though. Worries me that he’s our pilot. But I’m smiling as I write that. He seems to be a damn fine pilot. I’d like to see him in a viper one day; I bet he’d have a ball! When he’s on the ground, he seems a little unstable, but in the air, he’s all business. Or so it seems so far.

Well, I survived my first real battle down here. Now all I have to do is keep up the act so no one figures out I’m not who I say I am. I’ve told everybody I’m an orphan, which is true enough. According to my new biography, I wandered into a church orphanage when I was too young to remember much of anything. I’m trying to learn as much of the culture as I can, as fast as I can. It’s not really all that difficult though. Hannibal has a few books on world history that he lets me borrow from time to time. There’s one on ancient mythology that I really like. Would you believe they used to have a god named Apollo? He’s described as "the god of light," among other things. Part of his job was to drive the sun across the sky in his chariot. I imagine you’d get totally embarrassed by it, 'Pol. You always were the modest one.

Murdock’s also a big help with my studies. He’s always open for questions that must surely seem strange, little cultural things that are everyday kind of things for Earthmen. Guess I should stop saying that; they call themselves earthlings. Murdock is still somewhat of a mystery to me. He’s also teaching me some new card games. They’re a lot easier than Pyramid so far. He seems to like spending time with me for some reason. Can’t be because of my pretty face so it must be my winning ways. Oh, I just realized that pun! Sorry, 'Pol. I do seem to win at cards a lot though, even without cheating. He’s also teaching me how to spot cheaters, which shows me *how* to cheat. Haven’t tried any of the tricks on him though; doesn’t seem right somehow. Maybe I’ll try them on one of the guys outside of the Team.

IV

'Pol, I don’t really know how to tell you this. Gods! I feel so silly writing that like you’re going to see it somehow - but I just have to confess - I made love to another man today. Or maybe he made love to me, I don’t know. Either way, I betrayed you, 'Pol. I’m sorry!

It was Murdock. We were playing cards, like we do almost every night. I was winning so I made a stupid bet. I bet Murdock whatever price he could name that I’d beat him in this one hand. I lost. The price he named was a kiss. He’s quite a kisser, that Murdock. One thing led to another and I ended up under him. It’d been so long, 'Pol! I’m sorry!

**********************************************************

The small book shut with a snap.

"Something wrong, Major?"

"No, I just think I’ve read enough."

"I couldn’t believe it myself when we first found it," the man with the gravely voice said. "Templeton Peck a faggot?" He shook his head. "Never would’ve guessed it with his reputation."

Green eyes looked up into blue. Apollo nodded sadly.

"I brought this in to you because it mentions somebody named Apollo several times. Is there any way he could be talking about you?"

"How could he? Sounds more likely that this Peck is just some shell-shocked nut," Apollo replied bitterly.

"The A-Team is the best. I can’t imagine them having two crazy men on the squad."

"More than that, by the sound of this," he gestured at the journal. "Any idea where they might be now?"

"None, although they seem to keep pretty close to LA."

"Ellay?"

"It’s a city in California." Decker laughed. "I don’t suppose that means any more to you than LA does." Apollo smiled politely and shook his head. "Why are you so interested in the A-Team, Major?"

"Just curiosity, Colonel."

"There *is* one thing, Major. In this journal, Peck also mentions a Colonel Tigh. Isn’t that the name of...?"

"Yes, we do have a Colonel Tigh. I can’t imagine where this Peck got that name from. He must’ve just pulled it out of his hat somewhere."

Decker squinted a bit at the younger man.

"I’d, uh, like to see some more of your world, Colonel. Would that be possible?"

"Of course, Major Apollo. I’ll arrange the details immediately."

"Thank you, Colonel." The two men rose and shook hands. "May I take this journal and read a little more?"

"Of course, Major."

V

 

In his own rooms, Apollo read the journal over and over to see if he could find a clue as to his lover’s whereabouts. Oh, it was Starbuck’s, all right. He’d know that handwriting anywhere. And the mention of the women was definitely in keeping with his friend’s temperament.

After reading it for the fourth time, Apollo decided they must hide out in the city, this LA. How the military had never caught them, he had no idea. Of course, he knew how Starbuck thought so that gave him an advantage. Perhaps he could read between the lines of the journal better than the Earth military could.

@@@

Apollo wandered the streets of Los Angeles. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, just that he would know it when he saw it. He stopped suddenly when he saw a man crossing the street. Without paying attention, he darted out to catch up with him. A vehicle driving down the street almost hit him.

"Major! Are you alright?" his escort shouted.

"My hearing is just fine, Corporal. As is the rest of me."

"What’s goin’ on here?" the driver demanded. "What the hell’s the matter with you, walkin’ out in fronta me like that?"

"I’m sorry, I guess I wasn’t looking."

"Sir, this is Major Apollo of the Battlestar Galactica," his escort informed the man.

"I don’ care if he’s Mother freakin’ Theresa, he scared me half to death!" The guard and the motorist continued to argue while Apollo stared off in the direction the man had been headed. He was on the right track; he knew it!

He’d have to get rid of his escort though. Not too difficult. Apparently security forces all over the galaxy were pretty much the same. While the MP was yelling at the motorist, Apollo merely walked away in the direction he’d seen the other man going.

@@@

He wandered the streets for several centares before realizing that he was totally lost. This place was so much dirtier than Caprica had been, at least in his memory. Caprica City had probably had its own seedier parts, but memory always paints things as better than they really had been. He saw a man flopped down in an alleyway. The man was obviously drunk and still drinking from a bottle he had in a paper bag.

"Hey, buddy! Got some spare change for me?" the man called out.

Apollo went closer. "No, I’m afraid I don’t. I don’t have any money myself. Do you know of anyplace I could stay for the night?"

The man laughed drunkenly. "Dressed like that an’ you ain’t got no money? There’s a shelter around the corner. Always have some good soup, too, or sometimes spaghetti."

"Can you show me where it is? It’s starting to get dark."

Apollo helped the man struggle to his feet, spilling a goodly amount of the liquor on himself in the process. Breathing heavily from the exertion, he motioned for Apollo to follow him.

They finally staggered into the shelter, a mere three blocks away. Apollo almost had to carry the man because he was too drunk to walk.

"’Ere we are!" the man announced triumphantly.

"Jack, where have you been?" a young woman asked as they entered.

He turned red and mumbled something too low to be heard.

"Who’s your friend?" she asked.

"He ain’t got no money neither and wanted a place to stay."

"What’s your name?" she asked kindly. Apollo was rather disheveled from carrying Jack and smelled of the hard liquor the other man had been drinking.

"Uh, my name’s 'Pol," he said, knowing that his real name would sound improbable.

"Welcome, Paul. I’m Denise. Come into the cafeteria and get something to eat. We’re having spaghetti tonight."

"Spaghetti? We’ve hit the jackpot, man! Spaghetti!" Jack announced, staggering toward a large room. He stumbled and would have fallen had Apollo not caught him. Denise was right behind him and the two of them carried him into the cafeteria.

They seated Jack at a table and promised to get him a plate of spaghetti.

"Is it always like this?" Apollo asked with a small laugh as they got in line.

"More or less," she laughed. "You’re not from around here, are you?"

"No, I’m not," he replied truthfully.

"You’re dressed mighty nice for one of the homeless."

That word tugged at him. Homeless... it described him, and all of the citizens of the Fleet, perfectly. "I got lucky."

Denise winced at the sadness behind the words. She had obviously hit a sore spot with the man. "I’m sorry. You might want to be careful out on the streets; there are a lot of people who’d kill you for that jacket you’re wearing. If you want to get some quick money, there’s a reputable pawnbroker around the corner."

"Uh, it’s not really mine to pawn. It’s kind of a loan. I can take care of myself."

"I hope so."

They got their plates of spaghetti and returned to where Jack sat half passed out at the table.

Denise made sure they had plenty of bread and coffee, then sat down beside them, intrigued by this new man. He was very good-looking, with high cheekbones and expressive green eyes, but there was a sadness to him that made him all the more interesting.

She laughed as he attempted the spaghetti. He couldn’t quite make it stay on the fork.

He blushed as he raised yet another empty fork to his mouth. "I don’t seem to have the knack for this."

"Don’t tell me you’ve never had spaghetti!" She tried, almost successfully, to keep the laughter out of her voice.

"Well, actually, no, I haven’t," he admitted. "I’m not from around here, remember?"

She managed to subdue her amusement and showed him how to twirl the long strands around his fork. Normally she would just tell one of the men to cut the noodles up and eat them that way, but this one was different. For all that he smelled like a brewery, he didn’t act in the least drunk.

After a few partially successful attempts, he finally managed to get a good mouthful. "Mmm, this is good!" he said after he swallowed a bite.

"It’s one of the more popular dinners we serve here. I keep trying to convince the trustees to serve it at least once a week, but they don’t agree with me. I feel we could really get some people in here and off the streets if they knew that we were having this, say, every Tuesday night."

"Why won’t they?"

She sighed. "They say it’s too expensive, that soup is cheaper and easier."

"How many homeless are there?"

Another sigh. "Too many. We don’t really have room for all of them."

He looked guilty. "Maybe I should leave then."

"Do you have any money for a room for the night?"

"No, I don’t have any money at all," he replied truthfully.

"Then you’re welcome to stay here. We can’t offer much, just a hot meal and a cot for the night, but all are welcome."

She had to excuse herself to go handle a minor crisis in the kitchen. Apollo thought as he ate. She might know something about the A-Team.

She came back as he finished scooping up the last of the sauce with a hunk of bread.

"Glad to see you enjoyed it," she said with a smile.

"It was delicious. We don’t have anything quite like it where I come from."

"Where is that, Paul?"

"A long way from here." The sadness was back. "I’m looking for someone. Can you help me?"

"I can try. I know a lot of the less fortunate in this area."

"I’m looking for a group called the A-Team."

She was instantly suspicious. "What do you want them for?"

"I need some help finding someone. Someone very important to me. He’s been missing for a long time, but I have reason to believe he’s in this area."

"What’s his name? Maybe I know him?"

"Um, actually he's one of the A-Team."

"How do you know them?"

"We’re... army buddies... from 'Nam." He pulled the name quickly from Starbuck’s journal. "I owe them a lot and I’d like to be able to repay them somehow."

"With no money?" she asked suspiciously.

"There are other ways to repay someone than money."

"Well, I’m not saying that I can help you, but I’ll do what I can."

"Thank you!"

"Now I’ll show you to the men’s dormitory. Jack, you ready to get some sleep?" she shouted in the drunken man’s ear.

He woke with a start. "I’m movin’ on, officer, I’m movin’ on. Wha... huh?"

"It’s alright, Jack. Paul and I are going to help you to a bed for the night, okay?" Denise reassured him.

"’Kay." Once again Apollo practically had to carry the other man. He finally deposited him on one of the empty cots in a huge room. Most of the cots were already filled with men snoring drunkenly. Here and there he saw a few younger men, obviously down on their luck. He started to take off his jacket, then remembered what Denise had said about people stealing it. Shrugging, he decided he could sleep in it for one night. It wouldn’t be the first time.

TBC


Starfall 1-5 by Val Thomas
Starfall 6-8 by Val Thomas
Starfall 9-12 by Val Thomas
Starfall 13-17 by Val Thomas
Starfall 18-20 by Val Thomas
Starfall 21-25 by Val Thomas
Starfall 26-28 by Val Thomas
Starfall 29-32 by Val Thomas
Starfall 43-45 by Val Thomas
Starfall 46-47 by Val Thomas
Starfall 48-49 by Val Thomas
Starfall Postscript by Val Thomas
Starfall: Another Postscript by Val Thomas
Starfall, Yet Another Postscript by Val Thomas
Starfall 33-37 by Val Thomas
Starfall 38-42 by Val Thomas

 

 


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