Taken by surprise Solomon watched the ship suddenly pick up speed, it moved over the individual rings like a ghost, as unimpressed by the massive structure, as a cloud passing over cities and mountain ranges.

“A canon.” Nikolais words were like a dagger thruat to Solomon’s side. “What?”

“A canon on beta ring is realigning and targeting the hHarpy ship.” Nervously his fingers rushed over the displayed buttons. “I can’t access the controls, it seems that it is controled locally.”

“Degenhauser and Lexington.” cursed Solomon. Within a heartbeat he had rushed to the canon controls. “It is locking on to the harpy vessel!” Nikolai yelled.

With a few button presses Solomon had realigned a canon on the gamma ring, pointing at the one on beta.

With the press of a button the canon in beta that had been locking on Hylia’s ship was blasted off the surface of the Horizon. “I have governor Degenhauser on the line.” A communication officer turned to Solomon. Tell him to fuck off. “Stall him, right now I’d only start a political disaster.”

While the harpy ship approached the vacant lots on the alpha ring, where the ship Hylia had come from, had crashed into the Horizon, Johannes approached his old friend. “That was a rushed decision, don’t you think?”

“We’ve got more canons in storage, soon we can build new ones by the dozens.” pressing the words through his teeth Solomon had to gather his composure. “If these bafoons try anything like that again, you’ll have to restrain me.”

Nodding with a smile Johannes backed off.


Though not fitting the whole space of one vacant lot on alpha, the harpy pod made a beautiful addition to the Horizon, at least in Solomon’s eyes. After docking had completed Johannes and Sven immediately rushed to the port. Hylia was examined, reunited with her children and spared an immediate debriefing. The ship she procured was immediately boarded by one of Svens robotic explorers.

In his eyes one could see his desire to crawl into the narrow hallways himself.

All this while Solomon sat a conference table, again. Present in person, the governors. “What happened here, was treason. If the perpetrators can be found, they will be put before a military court, and, if found guilty, sentenced to death.” He had security footage looping on the video wall, of the harpy vessel gliding alongside the ship, the canon aiming at it, in a small additional display the computer commands were listed. A command to shut down, denied by renewed security codes, feed information to the canon from another source aboard the Horizon to track and lock onto the Harpy vessel. Right until the canon was terminated by friendly fire. With joy he watched color fade from both Degenhauser and Lexington. “We are a democracy, and this falls into your jurisdiction Governor Degenhauser, we need an investigation. On all rings.” Both Degenhauser and Lexington regained a little of their composure. “If the civil investigation turns up empty handed in four weeks, we will conduct one with military personnel.”

“There will be no need.” Degenhauser bowed his head, color had faded from him again. “It was my initiative, I assume full responsibility.” That was a surprise for Solomon, he had figuredn that they would find a pawn and sacrifice him. “You can’t assume responsibility.” Solomon leaned on the table. “You have responsibility, if it truly was your doing.” He sacrifices himself as the pawn, possibly protecting Lexington. “My last order stands, you will conduct the investigation. Afterwards you will step down as governor, and be put under house arrest.” Nodding with a dignified expression Degenhauser felt relief.


Day 1825

Air! Although not exactly fresh air, it was a lot fresher than anything he had been breathing in the last five years.

Breathing as if he was drinking nectar, Wesley opened his eyes. The surroundings were somewhat familiar, and at the same time they were not.


“Anna?” He raised his head and upper body. “Here.” She reached over from the bed next to him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” He took her hand in his.

“It would’ve put a lot more preasure on you.” She smiled, gently touching her belly with the other hand.

“Hello there,” Johannes approached the two beds, “my name is Doctor Johannes Falkner, you and I have talked a few days back.” He addressed Anna. “Before you ask, your child is fine.” Winking he turned to Wesley. “We almost had to pass you over, but you can catch up on that on our news channel.” He pointed at the screen on the opposite wall. In brief words he told them that their faulty implants had been replaced, and that their comrades were fine, lying in another room.

For a moment it felt strange for Wesley.

The four of them had shared close quarters for five years, now they could separate on their ship, and never run into one another.

Between all the beeping noise in the rooms adjacent to theirs both he and Anna missed one beep only the two heard.


Hylia looked up from her playing children. Not again! But another beeping signal interrupted her thoughts. “New listeners acquired, you perormed as expected.” Then the signal was terminated before the humans could detect it. Closing her eyes Hylia clenched her jaw. She had been played.

“Curses.” She hissed opening her eyes again.