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On his way to the strike team, Solomon ordered the auxiliary control centre manned and ready, as soon as Oleksandra gave word, he wanted them to fire the laser across the alien ship’s bow. After those orders were in place he let the men help him suit up. Although Johannes was clear that the aliens breathed the same air and dwelled in the gravity as humans, they might have donned spacesuits themselves and released all the atmosphere from the tube.
“Your canons on beta are ready Admiral! Arming those on alpha could alert the aliens, they might be monitoring the datalines running through that part of the ship.”
“Tell the auxiliary control centre. I’m not in a position to do anything with the lasers.” He wondered if they could even be turned towards the ship. Designed to take out any potential space debris and asteroids, they were designed to fire in outward directions.
“Sir?” He looked through his glasses and the displayed data at a young woman, probably in her early twenties. “Yes Private?”
“Excuse my boldness, permission to speak freely?”
With a sighing nod he gave her permission. “You should remain, in case anything happens to you we’d be without an Admiral for the time being. Your place is in the command centre.” Stunned Solomon had no reply ready. “She’s right Sir.” Her immediate superior closed his helmet, thinning his voice to what was audible over the radio. “But if you insist, we’re not objecting.”
Letting his hands sink again Solomon looked at both of them fully suited. Again he felt the crushing weight of his position upon himself. “You’re right.” He admitted in a grunting voice, but he wanted to do something. “Alright, you folks continue, I will go to the command centre.” He stepped back, as he was the last to donn the helmet, the officer now in command of the strike team closed the door to the maintenance cab. “Just help me outvof this thing, please.” He turned to the two privates still in the hallway with him.

“Adjustment complete.” One of the laser gunmen sighed in relief just as the Admiral entered the auxiliary control centre. “Perfect!” He yelled.
“Targeting systems can’t lock on however. I’ll have to aim manually with only the whiskers video feed.”
Install cameras on top of the lasers. “Do it then. Be careful and take your time, I know we run the risk of hitting the alpha ring.”
The officer just mumbled “Aye Sir.” while adjusting the laser.
Invisible to the naked eye, but flashing brightly on the screens, the laser shot missed both the alien vessel and the alpha ring. Within seconds the cigar shaped vessel disengaged, retreated to a distance.
“Reading a power buildup.” Solomons temporary second in command, a lieutenant of the name Nikolai Assanov stated. “Engines or weapons?”
“Unknown.”
Staring at the view screen Solomon silently cursed their inability to scan, or rather interpret the scans of, the alien technology. “Targeting is back online.” The cannonier yelled with delight. “Subalpha is too. Rotation will commence within minutes.” Nikolai exclaimed.
“Lock on the Harpies, hold your fire for now, but keep ready.” Annoyed, but curious Solomon accepted the incoming call from Johannes. “The suit the harpy wears started beeping, but stopped a moment later. If you ask me, they checked her vital signs.”
“They just disengaged, and retreated from our ship. Makes sense to check their boarding party’s vital signs,” pausing he watched in terror the power buildup in the alien ship sky rocket, a shot of some sort destroyed the tube they were connected to a moment ago, but didn’t sever the ship. “Spine intact, return fire?” Nikolai asked.
“Be my guest.”
Again flashing brightly a laser beam crossed the void of space, striking the cigar where its fire had been shot from. Another bright flash filled the view screen. “Reading a power surge in the damaged section!” Nikolai yelled, everyone braced for an impact that could very well spell disaster for the Horizon.

Instead the weapons of the cigar they obviously had destroyed began exploding. “Piking up another power spike!” Hastily Nikolai looked at around his readings. “Not the weapons this time.” All eyes in the room turned from back to the damaged ship on the view screen.
The visual light emitted by the damage faded away and suddenly all trace of it was gone, even the infrared sensors revealed nothimg but empty space. “They’re gone sir.”
“Call up every and any scientist on this ship, we have a lot of work for them.”

Slowly leaving the auxiliary control centre, Solomon received a report that the strike team had returned, most of them however were dead or dying from some sort of radiation exposure.
Johannes included his suspicion that the harpys had figured that their missing crewmate was still in that section so they wanted to destroy any genetic evidence, after receiving confirmation from her suit that she was dead.
Slowly he paced through the hallways towards the hospital where the wounded were treated, where his best friend was working.
“Sir?” Oleksandra appeared seemingly out of nowhere. “When the systems came back online, we received this. It is a repeating call.” Glum in his heart he took the offered tablet computer. He listened to the message.
Stared at the tablet, turned his attention to Oleksandra, repeated the message. Explorer had informed them of Ericsson, the automated relaystation and drones. “The crew of the pod on Ericsson is still alive!” Maybe there was a little hope.
With a playful smile Oleksandra nodded. “I was thinking that they might help us. We need reinforcement on our exterior plating, our weapons need more power and I thought that perhaps they could mine some other useful stuff too.” With a touch of her finger she drew up a list of minerals and ores she thought useful for their purposes. After going through the list the two exchanged a long glance. “Do it, send a reply.”

Struggling with the patients of the strike team, Johannes felt great relief that Solomon had decided otherwise than to go with them. On his display he noticed the test results of the genetic material lifted from the Harpy were ready for review, but he had no time for that just now. Too many casualties that needed treatment.

“Attention all rings, all decks. This is Admiral Solomon Grienberg speaking. After the recent events, which you will be informed about using channel One’s news feed, inter-ring transport is suspend unless absolutely necessary. Each ring will be designed to function autonomously. Outter sections of all rings are off limits as of now, details for this measure will be explained in the news reels on chanel One. Thank you for your attention.” Not wanting to wait for a resolution from the elected officials, eh? Looking into the results of the genetic analysis Johannes sat down in the break room after most of the casualties had been treated.
For more convenience he had transferred the data to his tablet computer, the data goggles gave him a headache.
“I was looking for you.” Solomon had two cups with him, that meant he had gone to one of his secret coffee stashes. Eager for the hot brew Johannes greeted him. “I meant to look for you after finishing this!” He held up the tablet for Solomon to see, after he had sat down on the other side of the table.
In silence the two drank their coffee. Before he had come to find Johannes, Solomon had watched the helmet camera footage of the strike team.
The harpys had been lying in wait for them. Had they not found cover in the maintenance cab, the harpy strike team, in full suit and armor, they would’ve died in their weapons fire.
“I thought about growing some in my quarters. But I haven’t got a green thumb.” He desperately needed distraction from the situation.
Nodding Johannes gazed at the tablet, still displaying the results. Unwillingly he kept reading.
Suddenly his eyes widened, his jaw dropped. “Hope you like my coffee?” Trying to distract himself from the situation Solomon kept stuck to the coffee topic.
“My god, they are from earth! Descendants of dinosaurs I recon.”
“The Harpies? Are you sure?” Suddenly his interest in the current situation was reawakened. “Birds evolved from dinosaurs, these things share genes with them. I thought they looked similar concerning their physiology, light bones, ovaries but no womb and all, but the harpys are from earth, originally!”

 

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