Mathias frowned as he leaned over the center console and he looked back up at the clock. One hour and forty minutes since the Basestars had abruptly departed the system. The shock to the system of the Raiders had prevented them from leaving as well—at first. But after twenty-five minutes, all surviving Raiders had managed to jump away.
So far, they hadn’t come back—but there were reports that Centurions on the ground were becoming more active. They were holding back, avoiding contact, but they were no longer crippled by the Delphi Strike. He winced as he looked at the Flight Board over the shoulder of Colonel Jayne. Nine—NINE
—of his pilots and their Vipers had been lost. And while he knew intellectually that was lower than he could have reasonably expected, it was still fifteen percent of his entire complement. Nine Vipers that were destroyed, nine irreplaceable pilots lost forever.
And despite that, Scorpia
had been incredibly lucky with the limited damage suffered. Her armor had held despite several missile and Raider impacts; albeit at the cost of nearly 5% of her total magazine capacity for the guns. She still had four Hades space-to-surface missiles left (and their thirty-two nuclear warheads), but just twenty-four of Thunderbolt torpedoes—and just six of those were armed with atomic payloads.
But they had accomplished the impossible. Three hundred and ninety-two survivors from Caprica, five hundred and eleven from Virgon, eight hundred and forty-seven from Tauron had all been contacted and packed aboard the Bounty
, Leonis Pryde
, and Umino Hana
—and they still had room for more, even carrying the six hundred and twenty men and women from Charon. He had ordered the small flotilla under his command—Fleet being too grandiose a word—to spread out and quickly search the remaining Colonies. It was a risk, and Mathias knew it. But he had to make certain that he had retrieved every single person it was possible to save. Two thousand three hundred and seventy souls had been added to the fourteen hundred and ninety-four officers and men aboard Scorpia
—Mathias winced, fourteen hundred and eight-five
, now—and the one hundred and eleven members of the scientific research team. He knew that time was running out, and that three thousand nine hundred and sixty-six survivors (including his own crew) were a miracle; however, he still had the space for nearly fourteen hundred more, so he wasn’t leaving. Not yet.
And this latest news—from the Virgon Prince and the Caprican Resistance and the other survivors. That the Cylons had models which looked, sounded, and felt exactly human. Mathias shivered; that was how they had managed to catch the Fleet unawares, how they had inserted that backdoor in the nav programs. And it was a problem that would have to be addressed—how, he wasn’t quite certain.
“Commander,” Paul Cook said as he sat down the phone. “Rambler reports that sixty-seven survivors have been recovered on Picon.”
requests a shuttle for ninety-one survivors on Aerilon,” added Joan Danis.
Colonel Jayne smiled, as he handed the Commander a print-out from the Leonis Pryde
. And Mathias matched his grin. “Jon Namer reports eighty-eight from Saggitaron, and Scylla
has managed to find one hundred eighty four on the moon Hibernia,” the Commander announced, his mental tally kicking up to four thousand three hundred and ninety-six. “Colonel Jayne, dispatch a shuttle to Aerilon to meet up with Anubis
. Leonis Pryde
, and Bounty
are at full load—order them to proceed to the rendezvous. Dispatch two flights of Vipers; they will ride Pryde
externally and fly CAP until we arrive. And one Raptor as well.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
“Any word from Umino Hana
Danis held up her hand as she listened to her earpiece. “Umino Hana
reports recovery of seventy-two survivors from Canceron—she’s at full load now, Commander.”
“Send her to the rendezvous,” Mathias said as his people cheered. “Tom,” he said, and his voice cracked. “Instruct the shuttle bound for Aerilon to rendezvous with Scorpia
in geosynchronous orbit over Scorpia after she completes her recovery—that should keep us out of the worst of the debris fields. Set coordinates and prepare for an FTL jump to that location.” He lifted the phone. “Flight Operations, Scorpia
“Go Actual,” the speaker said.
“Prepare a Raptor—I am going to the surface.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Tom shook his head and stepped over close to his commander. “Don’t do this to yourself, Mat—there’s a reason you assigned the crew Colonies that weren’t their homes. I don’t care for that terrorist bastard Namer, but seeing Saggitaron tore him apart emotionally,” he whispered. “There’s nothing you can do down there.”
“We’ve checked all of the Colonies except Scorpia, Tom. And I want to see my home one last time with my own eyes,” Mathias said in an equally quiet voice. “We need to confirm there is no one left down there before we leave.”
“Yes, sir—we do. But you don’t have to go down yourself. And we are expecting this Captain the Prince Hamish Petrus; you should be here to greet him when the shuttles return from Virgon.”
“That is where you are wrong, my friend. I do. And though it might disappoint His Majesty, he will have to settle for you at the moment,” Mathias shrugged. “You debrief him, Tom. See if he has photographs of the . . . skin-jobs
, as he and Anders called them. If he does, we can identify any among the refugees. This is something that I have to do—I have to.”
Tom stepped back and he nodded—but the worry on his face was clearly evident to all. “Major Tyche, spin up FTL One and Two and prepare for a jump to Scorpia geosync.”
“Aye, aye, Sir, spinning up FTL One and Two, coordinates set for geosynchronous orbit over Scorpia.”