“Ma’am?” Louis approached Franziska in the command centre of Explorer. Still able to hear every word uttered by the away team on Ark1 the crew too had become more alert. Louis had worked the whisker drones since Gerry had revealed his cryogenic nightmare. “There was an unidentified shadow in our wake, right smack dab outside reliable sensor range, in our blind spot from the propulsion dish.”

With a hand gesture in range of his glasses he transfered data to hers. “It vanished, for a minute moment there was magnetic spike, much like the one Horizon reported in the incident with the cloaked ship.” Corresponding data showed on her glasses.

“All hands!” Franziska nodded to her first officer with a thankful glance. “Prepare for encounters with the Harpies. It appears that the threat finally caught up to us.” To Louis she said that the away team didn’t need to be alarmed, after all the ship could be in a simple recon mission.

 

Satisfaction mirrored on Emilias face as the inner doors to the cryo room closed. Unnoticed relief on Gerry’s face, as the entire away team was scrambled, and looking for potential Harpy technology.

“Tunneling!” Exclaiming in a Eureka moment Daria turned to the rest of her comrades. “Like the communication, we could use the Ark1’s blast doors, emergency foams and planes to create an tunnelm for the cryo chamber inhabitants to go to our Pod.” Pausing for a moment Sylvie pondered the suggestion. “Jorge, Allister, Bernsteen. Secure those hallways and try to close those leaks off like she suggested.”

Meanwhile Gerry had made his way to the panel in the center of the room. “There might be another way, at least for,” he studied the data returned to him, “that side of the room.” He pointed to the Ark1’s backbord side. The one facing Exporer. “And that is?” Sylvie’s voice was distorted through the small speaker on the exterior of her helmet.

“We jettison them. You see, they can be shot off into space as life pods. That cuts them off from the power supply, but for a limited amount of time they can survive.” Gerry had to admit to himself that this design flaw should’ve been corrected before take off, instead of postponing it until later on their journey.

Before she had to give him the order, Jason had joined Gerry at the console. “They can be directed towards specific coordinates! Explorer just needs to catch them.”

“With what?” Allister rushed to the console too. “A bloody giant net?”

“We could open the ports on the sub alpha, and guide them in with magnetic fields.” Gregory Illchiev radioed in, he too had joined the command staff in the command centre. As preparations were being made, Gerry informed them that the chambers would leave the room exposed to open space, another design flaw they wanted to correct while on route.

 

Sealing off the hallways and transport tunnel was well underway, a few dozen crewmembers had already been thawed. “We need to halt.” Jason kept his eyes on his tablet and the panel, at that moment on the former, as he approached Sylvie. “Oxygen can’t be replenished fast enough for all of them at once.”

Understanding the ramifications Sylvie opened her mouth to reply, when her Radio broke the silence. “We’ve got movement out here.”

“You and and your girlfriend will have to take care of things in here.” Already her helmet closed she rushed to the airlock. Reluctantly Daria too closed her helmet. It scared the survivors a bit, but in case of an atmospheric leak from any potential combat, she wouldn’t die of exposure.

 

Immediately after exiting the airlock to the cryogenics department, Sylvie felt a heavy knot in her stomach, her arms and knees grew weak as the adrenaline rushed through her veins. “Talk to me people, where was the movement?”

“Main tube, behind the bloody sheets we’ve just put up.” Probably Allister was spooked by some movement of the material. “There isn’t any pressure here yet, so I can rule out wind like causes.” As if he read my mind. “Coming to your position.”

The plan to fill the tunnel with an atmosphere hinged on it starting from the pod, as it alone could provide enough of it. For the rather shot trip back to Explorer the reserve would carry them through.

Welded shut doors, and cracks, marked the progress. In some places repair foam had been sprayed, as soon as it left the can it hardened, even without any atmospheric chemicals to react with.

Work torches were strewn along the way, still giving off their eerie, cold light, they gave Sylvie goosebumps. “Contact!” Allister screamed into his radio, a series of swear words followed as he cursed his gun, and his inability to take it out of the holster.

Then came silence. “Allister? Talk to me!” The narrow corridor she had been floating in provided more than enough opportunity to grab onto something and push forward, but now entering the large tunnel she had to make her pushs and pulls count more. “He’s dead.” Emilia’s voice sliced through the silence like a siren blaring into Sylvie’s ears. “Keep alert, the thing might be,”

“It’s also dead. That crazy son of bitch got shot, and instead of just dying he grabbed onto the thing and smashed its helmet in with his fist.” A short lived hint of relief overcame Sylvie.

“Captain van Froon? This is a secure line.” Admiral Hardwick had lowered her voice, although only Sylvie could hear her.

 

Jason was shocked when the airlock doors opened with a hiss, a draft sucked a little air out, but then the draft stopped. Sylvie floated through the open doors, the outter doors behind her open too. “Hurry!” She barked, pushing people towards the door. “Get everyone out, as fast as you can.”

“I heard what hapoened,”

“No, you didn’t. There is a fucking Harpy ship around here somewhere and the one that killed Allister might have been from that ship. So get your ass to the pod. Now!” She kept yelling, looking over the wall with the chambers that couldn’t be ejected, and were still unopened. “There is still time, we’ll return for them, but for now we have to go.” Her voice and tone had calmed. Sounding displeased and still bothered by the after effects of the cryogenic sleep, the survivors slowly made progress out of the room and down the hallways. Lead by Daria, following the path of floating cold lights.

“It decloaked!” Louis voice on the radio was uttering words Sylvie never wanted to hear. “The last ones are out.” Having his helmet closed Jason waited at the airlock door, closing the outter one. As if it had been a command Sylvie punched a button in the console. Both felt the sudden depressurisation pull on them, but as the chambers simultaneously left the room was quickly voided of any atmosphere.

“It’s moving off. Fast.” There was relief in the voice of Explorers first officer. “Hurry!” Sylvie and Jason entered the airlock, closed the doors to the room, and hasted down the hallway, soon reaching the last people of the Ark1 on their way to the pod. “Jorge, fire it up, I’m afraid we might be coming in hot.”

 

Sylvie’s fear of more encounters with the Harpys was luckily unfulfilled. “Advising you folks to hurry up. We are reading a new vessel out there, in the direction the harpys had moved off.”

Jason felt the fear clutching his heart, the blood in his veins froze. From the corner of his eyes he saw that Sylvie must’ve felt the same, even in the thick paw-gloves the shakiness of her hands was visible as she reached for the helm controls.

Again Daria reached for his hand, less to calm him, but to calm herself. “I love you.” She whispered loud enough for the radio to turn on. “I love you too.”

 

A great flash of light filled space, originating from the region the harpys had flewn to. “Something blew up our Harpies!” Louis turned to Franziska. “And it is transmitting an IFF.”

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