Mathias descended the ladder to the lower portion of the hanger deck, Lee Adama trailing in his wake.
“FORM UP!” Colonel Jayne bellowed to the serried ranks of pilots, deck hands, and Marines below as the three elevators began to descend. Mathias marched across the deck and Jayne—clad in his full dress uniform—bellowed, “SHIP’S COMPANY . . . STAND AT ATTEN-TION!” With a thunder that echoed throughout the bay, every man and woman (except those deck hands assigned to secure the Raptors) snapped to attention.
He saluted crisply. “Sir, company is present and accounted for, ready for Presidential Review.”
Mathias gravely returned the salute. Jayne lowered his arm and the XO turned on his heel, followed by the Commander and Lee Adama taking a place beside him—the other members of Lee’s Raptor mission were already standing in ranks.
“Bosun,” Mathias barked, “prepare to render Presidential Honors.”
The elevators slid easily into their wells and came to a halt. The deck crew rushed forward, locking the skids in place and wheeling up ladders—with handles—to the wings of the Raptors, before scurrying away once again.
Mathias stepped forward and the first hatch opened.
Behind him he heard Tom Jayne bellow, “Color guard, present the Colors!”
And Mathias nodded to the Bosun who keyed in a sequence in a control pad against the hanger bulkhead. From speakers throughout the hanger deck, the Colonial Anthem began to play, and five Marines in dress uniform marched forward; two bearing polished and bayoneted rifles—the remaining three carrying flags. Three flags, one for the Colonial Government, the second for home Colony of the President (in this case Caprica), and finally the standard of Battlestar Scorpia
. They halted in front of the company, and then, in unison, lowered all three flagstaffs to a forty-five degree angle.
An Admiral stepped out on the wing of the first Raptor, and Jayne barked out, “SCORPIA
, RENDER HAND SA-LUTE!”
And three hundred men and women saluted at the same exact moment, each stomping their boot heel on the deck at the exact same instant.
Laura Roslin emerged from the Raptor, and Mathias could not tell if she was stunned or simply shocked that anyone had bothered.
He marched forward to the base of the ladder and held up one hand to assist the President down, and she was followed by Admiral Adama and Colonel Tigh, and several civilians.
Mathias stepped backed and he offered a crisp, slow, and perfect salute as the notes of the anthem reverberated from the bulkheads.
“Welcome aboard Battlestar Scorpia
, Madame President,” he said. And then he stood there unmoving.
Bill Adama leaned forward, and he whispered in Laura’s ear. “You are supposed to return the salute, Madame President with your right hand over your heart,” and she smiled at him and did so.
Mathias released his own salute, and so did the company which stomped the deck yet again.
“The Ship’s Company is prepared for inspection, Madame President,” he said—but Bill could see a twinkle in his eyes. By the Gods, he was teasing the President! And he almost—but not quite—burst out laughing.
“Perhaps later, Commander . . . Lorne.”
Mathias nodded. “Madame President, Admiral Adama, on behalf of the officers and crew of the Battlestar Scorpia
, I beg to report that on this day, we rejoin the Colonial Fleet with five thousand four hundred and forty-three souls in our care. Let no one, man or Cylon or Lord of Kobol himself, say of those who it has been my honor to command, that they have not done their duty.”
Laura blinked and she didn’t say a word, she just grabbed Commander Lorne’s hand, shock it, and she stepped up and hugged him. And a massive cheer went up from the assembly.