Mathias knelt beside the burnout shell of his home on Scorpia. But he was not looking at the ruins of ash and char; he stood in the falling snow—snow, on Scorpia!—atop of the granite promontory looking out over the angry sea twenty meters beneath him. White-topped breakers rolled in, churned by the sudden change in the planet’s climate that the impact of so many weapons (and the resulting clouds of ash and dust) had triggered.
He knelt on one knee, and he lifted a handful of the rich black soil that lay underneath the sod he had so painstakingly laid just three years ago. Finally, he stood and he wiped off the excess dirt from his hands, rubbing them together briskly, even as the falling snow melted into his flight-suit. It no longer mattered—Anna and the girls were long gone; the place had not been disturbed in months. Gone—and with them any desire that he had to remain here.
“Sir,” Lieutenant Jan Falsen—her call sign was Thumper—, her EWO, and the Marine detail had given the Commander his space, but now she approached and quietly addressed him.
He turned to her. “Yes, Thumper?”
“That storm is getting closer, Sir.”
Mathias nodded. And he turned his gaze back to the horizon again. “You like Necrosia, Thumper?” the Commander asked.
“Sir?” she replied, caught off-guard by the question.
“Necrosia—you know the black beer that made Argenum Bay famous as a vacation spot for Vernal Break. Do you like it?”
She nodded, “It’s a very rich beer, Gremlin, a very expensive
beer,” she said, having seen that conversation had shifted from commander-subordinate to pilot-pilot. “I love the taste, but it’s not something I could regularly afford.”
Mathias nodded and then he sighed. “The Cylons burnt down the house—but the storm cellar on the north side is still intact,” he smiled sadly. “I checked it earlier, but they weren’t there. No sign that they were there. Anna probably took the kids to visit her sister in Celeste; her birthday was the same week as the attack. Take the Marines and Pappy down there with you. Reckon we can fit twenty-two cases on board the Raptor?”
? There’s two dozen bottles in a case!” she sputtered. And then she grinned. “And a single case is worth a week’s pay. It’ll be tight, Gremlin but for Scorpia Necrosia, we’ll make room!”
Mathias smiled again. “No sense in leaving it behind. When we get back aboard, after it’s been chilled down properly and had a chance to settle—we’ll crack open a bottle or two to say goodbye. Go ahead, fetch the beer. Like you said, the storm is coming.”
Thumper paused. "Is there anything else you want to get, to take back aboard, Sir?" And Mathias knew what she meant . . . photos, old memories, a stuffed bear, things to remember them by.
"I will always have their memory, Thumper. And their love; I don't need things to remember them with. Go on now, we need to be airborne before that front arrives."
He knelt down again as she began shouting orders to the two Marines and Pappy back at the Raptor, and he watched the waves until they were done.