Mathias strode into CIC trailed by Colonel Jayne. “Status!” he snapped as he walked across to the central console, glancing up at the DRADIS display which showed ten icons at the very limit of detection range—unmoving icons.
“Multiple unknown contacts have made an FTL jump into this system, Commander,” Major Tyche reported. “I’ve ordered all ships to spin up FTL for a jump to the emergency coordinates—contacts have not made any aggressive moves. No sign of Raiders—so far.”
“Rambler has CAP?” he asked Hope, who nodded affirmative.
The Commander picked up the phone. “Rambler, Scorpia
Actual. What do you have?”
Actual, Rambler,” the wireless broadcast. “No jamming, no fighter launches, they aren’t moving,” he paused, “request permission to perform a fly-by.”
By which he meant a visual-range fly-by, Mathias thought. “Negative, Rambler. Hold the CAP at the inner perimeter for now—I might need you to make a combat landing.”
“Twelve fighters in the tubes or on plus two,” Hope reported. “Arclight has two Raptors on the flight deck, ready to go.”
“Order him to launch, Digger. If we have to bug-out, the Raptors have our coordinates and we don’t have to wait on them.”
“Flight, CIC, launch the ready Raptors for visual-range pass,” she repeated.
“Captain Danis, hail them—all frequencies.”
“Commander,” Major Tyche reported, “all ships report FTL on-line and ready to jump.”
“Get them moving, Major. Inform Colonel Foeswan that Scorpia
will remain behind—he is in command until our arrival.”
“Sir,” Joan Danis said from her console, and her voice was almost breathless, “I am getting a response—and Colonial transponders.”
“Confirm!” snapped Jayne and he left the central console to look over her readings. She looked up at Tom and nodded and then at Mathias. “Confirmed, Commander. They are broadcasting Colonial transponder codes.”
Mathias switched the wireless to the live circuit which Danis had transferred to him. “Unknown vessels, this is the Battlestar Scorpia
—identify yourselves immediately or you will be fired upon.”
At first, only static emerged from the speaker; and then it crackled to life and a familiar voice emerged. “Scorpia
, Sidewinder,” the speakers broadcast, “are we happy to see you.”
Actual,” Mathias said into the stunned silence of the CIC. “Authenticate challenge Delta Tau Sigma Two Three Seven.”
Danis nodded even before Jayne snapped his fingers and she opened the challenge book and scrolled down with her finger and laid a straight edge to underline the proper response.
Actual, Sidewinder. Authenticated response is . . . Gold Seven One Four. Repeat, Gold Seven One Four.”
Danis nodded and she smiled; and then Jayne also nodded. Mathias lifted the phone again. “Sidewinder, Scorpia
Actual; we confirm your response—hold your current position for a visual fly-by and confirmation.”
Actual. Will hold position awaiting visual fly-by.”
He looked at Hope and she nodded. “Rambler, Scorpia
,” she broadcast. “Confirm with visual range fly-by—Raptors inbound for support.”
,” the CAG answered.
The seconds ticked off of the clock and then the wireless crackled again. “Scorpia
, Rambler. Confirm ten Raptors, say again, ten Raptors—markings and shields indicate Battlestars Galactica
And a tremendous shout went up throughout CIC. “Sidewinder, Scorpia
Actual,” Mathias broadcast as he felt a tremendous weight lift away from his shoulders. “Welcome home. And bring in your friends for landing. Rambler will escort.”
He racked the phone, and as Tom Jayne walked back over to the center torso the two men grabbed each other’s forearms and clapped each other on the shoulder.
“Tom,” he said, “I want Marines in the hanger bays just in case. If they are who they say they are, I want a Raptor on standby to let the rest of the flotilla know. We will jump when they have been recovered—and their identities confirmed, not before.”
“Aye, aye, Sir. You want to meet them on the hanger deck?”
“I think I do, Colonel,” Mathias replied.
“Aye, aye, Sir. I have the conn,” the XO said as he raised the phone and punched in the Marine barracks.
Onboard Raptor 716, Lee Adama turned to face his command pilot, and through the visor of the helmet that he wore, Sidewinder could see the broad grin on his face. “You know, Kara is never going to let you forget that it was her
initial plot that allowed you to make contact on Jump Eight—before we started the search pattern and without needing one drop
of that spare tylium.”
“Thanks for reminding me about that,” said Sidewinder in an aggrieved tone. “But you know what, Apollo?”
“On this particular occasion, I won’t object if she wants to mock me. I’m actually quite happy that we didn’t need that fuel after all.”
“Oh, she’ll mock you. From now until she enters Perdition’s flames, she’ll mock you—and she will never
let you forget this.”
“Thank the gods, I’m stationed on a different Battlestar,” Sidewinder said.
“Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you a question that Colonel Tigh wanted me to broach. Would you be willing to consider a trans-. . .,” Lee smiled as Sidewinder cut him off.
“No. No. Really, but no
“Figured, but I had to ask,” laughed Lee. And he sat back in the seat. “The Gods on Mount Olympus, is that a . . .,”
“Mark VI? That’s what we had when we left the colonies two years ago, Apollo.”
“Those are sweet birds, I kind of miss them.”
Sidewinder checked the cabin pressure, and he removed his helmet as Rambler settled down on his wing, and the CAG gave him a thumbs up. He then put his helmet back on, just in time to hear the wireless broadcast.
. You are cleared for approach and landing on the starboard flight pod; Rambler will escort.”
,” he broadcast, and then he changed channels. “All Raptors, this is Sidewinder. Follow me in—don’t make them shoot at you, people. It would really suck losing someone this late in the game.”