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“Get off. No, stop!” As if physically attacked, Solomon sat up in a moment’s notice. “Hush dear,” putting her slim hand on his forehead Sharon, his wife, stood up from her seat. “Johannes brought you, you’ve got such a great friend in him.” Confused, but seemingly glad he wasn’t in the weightless tube with the harpys he dreamt of, Solomon let himself sink back into the pillows. “How long have I slept?”

“Sixteen or seventeen hours. In addition to fluids he also gave you a mild sedative, to give you some much needed rest.” Fool.

Some odd sound echoed through the structure of the ship. Alerted he sat back up. “What is happening?” Unhappy of having to share her husband with his obligation as Admiral Sharon sighed. Not knowing what was going on she turned on the military channel on their screen. “…repeat: Intruder alert sections six and seven alpha ring. Dispatch of additional troops immediately! I repeat: Intruder alert…” as quick as he had sat up before, he turned off the screen, got up from bed. I knew it, without me this tub falls apart, or worse into enemy hands!

Hasting from the room he took only enough time to dress. Stumbling through the hallways of the subalpha ring he raised the command centre. A disabled harpy ship had crashed into the alpha ring, releasing its crew into the Horizon. Four additional ships had been attacking with it, inflicting minor damage to the beta and gamma rings, a similar entering attempt on subgamma was averted. To Solomon’s disliking that was achieved by destroying it.

So far all encounters had ended with disabled weapons for the harpys, that had been his policy. Keep them running against a wall, but don’t give them any more reason to attack.

That was obviously over now.

“Status?” He killed the line as he entered the command centre.

“We’re halting their advance, gladly we had been able to counteract their dampening field, or what ever that was when they first showed up.”

Maybe they just had latched on to the right lines in the spine? “Good, alert Doctor Falkner that soon he’ll have patients.” Maybe even from the enemy lines.

 

Impatiently pacing around the room Solomon listened to the transmissions from the marines as they were combing through the outter sections of the alpha ring. Adjacent sections of the infiltrated ones had been shut off as soon as the ship struck. Aiding in that endeavour was the decompression protocol that automatically shut them off.

Since the last ship had been fended off, the space around the Horizon had grown silent again.

After tense two hours of relentless pacing came the message he had been waiting for: “All clear.”

“Attention,” he barked intbarke communication line, “do not enter the Alien vessel, it might be booby trapped. Make way for the specialists.” A week after the first encounter with the Harpies, enough of their language and numerals had been deciphered from the obtained devices for scientists to uncover such dangers.

Hopefully.

“Aye! I’m already there, sir.” Solomon knew the owner of that voice all too well. A scientist who had enlisted in Horizons military. Sven Håkland. Hours and hours on end he had spent in meetings with that man. Unless his presence was required on the bridge. “Good to hear Sven, be cautious.”

“Always.” Even over the radio line Solomon could hear the smile in Sven’s voice. Underneath his three day beard the thin lips inside the spacesuit must have been pursed. “My computer is negotiating access with the vessel, large portions of it are however destroyed, or severely damaged by the impact. Might take some time.” His report was accompanied by a series of swearwords in a norse language that Solomon couldn’t understand. Sven must’ve told him a dozen times where he had come from originally, but it didn’t stick with Solomon. What came over the radio was, what Solomon described in his peraonal journal as techno babble. “According to the Harpy computer there is no foreseeable danger. Probably some not tied in traps if you ask me, their computer is damaged beyond repair and would probably have set any traps to kill its own crew.”

Staring at the view screen, that displayed just a 360° view around the ship, Solomon nodded. “Any clue what those might be?”

 

“No.” Sven stepped away from the hatch, his weapon raised, the flashlight mounted on top of it was turned on, although there was plenty of light in the alien vessel. “Unbelievable that these critters have been around for more than 65 million years.” Another man stepped to his side. “Indeed.” With a sigh Sven stepped closer to the narrow opening, the Harpys were only thigh high, so naturally they didn’t build rooms or hallways much taller. “Smith, were are you?”

“Almost there sir.” Came the thin voice of a woman over the radio. Only a few moments later she appeared carrying a device in her hands. It was at best knee high, so it would fit through the hallways with ease. Together they set it into the hallway and activated it.

After a short time of booting up, the device started maneuvering away.

Sven had figured that the Harpys would have interior structures too narrow for human exploration. “Navigate it to their computer core. We need every bit of information we can get.” Turning away Sven went back to a section that still had atmosphere, from where he took the tube to the sub alpha ring, to his office. Still in space suit, sans the helmet, he activated his console, which showed a life feed of the probe in the harpy ship.

“Taking over control, Smith, fall back. Same goes for the others, we don’t know what dangers that thing might hold in store for us.”

In the line he heard a slight feedback loop. Turning his head he noticed Solomon in the door. “Welcome to my lair Mr. Bond.” Sven chuckled, the Admiral too had to smile. “Well, Doctor, this is where all threads tie together.”

Turning his attention back to his console Sven shook his head. “For now sir, only for now.” The camera feed was the main screen, but there were thermal imaging feeds, scans of the atmosphere, as far as there was any, sounds and radiation, as well as various other telemetry readings. “Can I help you out of that suit? It’s quite uncomfortable.”

“I doubt Smith would like to see you helping me out of this.” Emphasising the “you” he winked over his shoulder.

Understanding the implications Solomon just nodded and looked at the screen as well. Mostly the probe guided itself, but here and there Sven made adjustments, scanning certain parts in more detail, prying open doors to see what lay behind.

“Where are we going with this thing?”

“Engineering. If scans of their engines are to be believed they utilise forms of energy we dare not touch again after the Ark1.”

Getting nervous after these words Solomon was thinking of ways to jettison the Harpy craft from the Horizon before the antimatter in their engines became unstable. “And I suspect them to use gravitons, and antigravitons as well. In addition I hope to find access to their computercore there.”

“If we can find the way.” Jana Smith entered the room, saluting the Admiral.

Instructing the first officer of the watch to keep a close sensor lock on the Harpy ship with all available devices Solomon kept watching Sven and Jana steer their probe.

 

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