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Listening to endless reports of repairs, and upgrades, Solomon kept thinking of Johannes’ words. “Give me a line to Dr. Håkland.” He interrupted the report, fidgeting with his glasses, it had been his wife calling earlier.

Just as Johannes had implied, she was worried he might have an affair. It took him an hour to convince her that he did not. His heart belonged to her.

And Horizon.

“I understand you’re looking into matters concerning a signal?” Clearly a pause of stunned silence, probably silent curses, followed as a reply. “That is correct, but the nature of it is a mystery to us. Mother Harpy managed to turn her signal off again, but her children can’t. They’re simply too young.” Puzzled looks from his officers accompanied the conversation with Sven for Solomon. “Does this mean we’re currently signalling loudly into space?”

“If you are afraid that we are like a shining beacon in the darkness of night, I can relieve you of that fear. Signal strength is too weak to travel far before being swallowed up by CBR.” Short range communication perhaps? “Keep investigating, try to dampen it.”

 

The line went dead, somewhat angry at Johannes, Sven turned back to Jana and the Harpies. Even though she had proven to be anything but a threat, there still were plenty of armed guards in the room.

The Admiral kept them on rotation, so they wouldn’t form an emotional bond with their captives. Typing on a tablet computer the Harpy mother tried to fashion a counter signal. In all those years she hadn’t given them so much as a name, Sven wondered. Again.

“She thinks a signal on the same frequency, with similar modulation should suppress the outgoing signal.” Nodding he pinched his eyes.

He wasn’t so much interested in suppressing the signal, as in finding out what turned it on. Outside interference from the other Harpies obviously, but to what end?

 

“How was your day, Doctor?” Oleksandra greeted her husband, their son Alfons was sleeping at Solomon’s place, after a little consideration they had received permit to have a second child. Aboard the Horizon that was granted easily to parents. Third and fourth children as well.

Too many lives were lost to maintain the same policies that applied to Explorer and Destiny. The later already having left earth a month early, firing away their engines at full capacity to evade any more debris from the neutron star.

“Long, and boring for the most part. How about yours Chief?” He unbuttoned his shirt to get a little more comfortable. Dimming the lights in the room to simulate candlelight Oleksandra stepped closer. “Interesting. There is an energy disturbance that has an effect on the magnetic locks of the fusion reactor, almost like a tide, as if something was orbiting it.” She moved closer for a kiss, was stopped by Johannes’ gasp. “There are implants in the harpys that have activated.”

A finger pushed gently on his lips. “Later. Maybe in the morning?” Seduced by the tone in her voice and the look in her eyes Johannes nodded.

 

Beeping.

Ever repetitive beeping. Hylia opened her eyes. Immediately she saw her children look around in confused manner.

Her eyes narrowed to mere slits.

The implant was active again. Had the mammals not turned on the dampening field? “Hush.” She tried to calm her young, concentrating.

There was a message in the beeps. Her eyes widened, quickly she rose to her feet, rushed to the bars. The mammals couldn’t understand her language, but they always gathered someone who could communicate with her if she yelled long enough.

 

“We hadn’t set up the dampening signal yet. Now she’s croaking like crazy!” Jana briefed Solomon on their way to the cell. He had messy hair, barely had been asleep for two hours. For the first time in ages he had spent his evening and night at home, much to his family’s delight. He hadn’t seen Alfons in a long time either and was surprised to see him there. “So you think she received instructions, or a message?”

“She outright told us so.” Sven confirmed as the two entered the cell room.

Cradling her two children the Harpy sat in the middle of her cell. In those eyes Solomon saw a plight he had though the harpys incapable of.

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