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Johannes paced through the room. Relentlessly he had done so for an hour and a half, eventually news had reached him that a Harpy had been taken prisoner. He wanted to study their physiology in a living specimen.

But still he had not been granted access. First Doctor Håkland had been granted to try and establish some sort of communication with it.

Silently the door slid open, Sven strode out, seemingly disappointed. “Alright, we’ll try again tomorrow.” Unsure whether he was addressing him or his faithful assistant, and girlfriend, Jana Smith, Johannes said “Okay with me.” before entering the room.

In a hastily erected cell sat the feathered creature, still wearing garments, but not as protective as the space suit. Half a dozen guards stood around the room, facing the cell. Disgracing. I wouldn’t treat human serial or mass murderers that way. He thought looking at the toilet that had been installed in plain view. Behind him a device was wheeled in, a mobile version of his scanning equipment. “We need it, or her probably, in this.” He turned to Solomon, who stood in a corner, bearing a grim expression.

Not saying a word he waved one of the guards over to assist Johannes in his undertaking. The other guards raised their weapons, pointing them at the door of the cell on the opposite side of the room.

Slowly they wheeled in the scanner into the cell, the guard stayed with Johannes,  closing the door to the cell behind them.

Although it was a totally different species than man, Johannes saw the fear in the Harpys eyes. “Calm down. It is harmless.” The device was sized for a human, as it had been intended for use in the field once Horizon had arrived on RV-p296. “I’ll show you.” Quickly he climbed into it and instructed the guard how to operate the device, after a few moments the results were showing on his tablet computer. Once he had climbed out of the machine he showed the data to the Harpy.

Uttering a guttural sound the Harpy seemed to understand, willingly it climbed into the scanner, making sounds. Presumably remarks about the technological level of the humans.

After he had taken the scans, Johannes was about to leave when the Harpy made another sound, almost as if calling him back. With its long fingers, only remotely reminding of claws, it pointed at Johannes’ tablet.

With an uncertain expression he looked over to Solomon.

Still looking rather grim he nodded, meanwhile Sven had returned, standing next to him. “You want my pad?” He extended his arm, still a bit frightened by the creature. They were technologically advanced, but still had teeth that could maim him, or in the worst case even kill him before the guards had subdued or killed it. Looking over the results of its own scan the Harpy grunted a few times before handing back the tablet.

About to leave Johannes gazed down on it and found data entries that had not been there before.

Her entire body chemistry had been added in the few moments she had had the pad. “Doctor Håkland?” Strolling over to the cell door Sven said that he should call him Sven, as he didn’t pronounce the name right, as most people. “Have you tried communication using chemistry yet?” Johannes handed the pad to Sven.

Going over the additions Svens eyes got bigger. “Brilliant!”

“Her idea.” Johannes pointed at the Harpy. “She’s a clever gal.”

Quickly Sven had gotten his own tablet from his pocket and drew up a table of elements. He kneeled down in front of the Harpy while Johannes left with his scan and equipment, Solomon at his heels.

“That was risky. We need to be prepared that she is a spy, or worse, carrying secret orders to destroy us.”

“Well,” waiting for the cab in the tube to arrive Johannes leaned against the scanner, “she ain’t got a bomb inside her. And if her chemistry is to be believed, not in her body chemistry either.”

In silence the two men stood side by side in the cab. Ever since they had rode the maintenance cab from the central tube in weightlessness Johannes felt a bit uneasy in one of these. Thankfully he seldom had to leave the subalpha ring, his office and his infirmary, the cell in which they kept the Harpy, his quarters, were all on the ring. “What is to happen to her now?”

“Nothing. We feed her and try to communicate with her.” Pinching his eyes Solomon sighed, allowing himself to lean against the wall. “I didn’t want any of this, you know? None of them, none of us, should be suffering, or dying.” Met with a calming and kind smile by Johannes, Solomon knew he had the best of possible friends in Johannes. “Whenever we shoot, we shoot to disarm their ships, not to destroy them. I had hoped they never would breach our defences, or our hull, so a bloodshed like this could be avoided.” He stood up right. “So rest assured, nothing will happen to her.” Hissing the doors opened, revealing the hallway in front of the infirmary was stuffed with small crates, without explanation Johannes knew what was inside them. “They however need to be examined.”

 

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