As so often the floor of the Horizon was shaking under a harpy attack. Unfazed by this Admiral Doherty kept walking down the hallway to the command centre, at a calm pace. For decades the harpys showed up every now and then, fired a few shots, and retreated. Seldom a real battle ensued. 

No one, not even the Harpy prisoner, knew what that tactic was supposed to accomplish. Wear them down? Find a weakspot? Frederick Doherty knew the Harpys had no need for a weak spot, if they wanted the Horizon destroyed, they would come in force. 

“Sit rep!” He went straight for his first officer, Joleen Jenkins. “Minor damage, the usual hit and run. But you’ll like this,” she handed him a tablet with a report from Explorer. 

Curling his mustache with one hand Frederick read over the report. “They made contact with an ancient ship from earth and there is still someone alive there. What are the odds?” 

“Astronomical.” Joleen replied with a cold smile. She always smiled coldly. Thanking her Frederick turned to his seat. “What else can you tell me of this attack?”

“Beta ring shielding, they’re never hitting the same spot twice. As usual. They too suffered minor damage.” An alarm went off. “Incoming harpy vessel!” Lieutenant Commander Konrad Hansen from tactical yelled, much to the dismay of the others. It was sooner than anticipated. Normally they attacked, left and didn’t return for a few days. 

Flickering the main screen came to life and showed the harpy vessel coming towards them, as a small red dot approaching a large green oval in the center of the screen. It was an extrapolation of the combined data streams from the Horizon itself and her whisker drones. Approaching on a highly irregular path, the harpy ship darted through the return fire the Horizon canons opened up on it. 
In silence the small one-seater attack vessel had managed to get awfully close, was mere centimeters from the hull of the human built behemoth, moved along side it, stopped, relative to the Horizon, above the sub alpha ring. One moment later it opened fire at the antennae that enabled long distance communication. 

It just had been moments since the pilot had received information about the mission. An ancient ship from the humans had been detected, and it had destroyed the scouting ship. 

Growling in his ancestors fashion, the pilot activated the anti photon shield, turning all other systems off, or low. 
“It is gone.” Joleen stated before Hansen could. An eerie silence followed as she and the others assessed the ramifications of the recent attack. “Read the report.” Joleen suggested to the Admiral as he turned to her with an unspoken question on his face. 

Again he took up the tablet and began reading, more thoroughly than before. The last message from Explorer had told him of the Ark1 and a rescue mission. “Dang.” He exhaled as he reached a portion of the message stating that the rescue operation had been interrupted by the arrival of the Harpies, which in turn had decloaked and moved to intercept the Orion, the name of the ancient human ship. Only to be blown to bits by the Orion. 

“Can I assume that the Orion has had dealings with our saurian foes before?” He glanced over the top edge of the tablet computer to Joleen. 

“It is very likely.” She didn’t even look at him, punching away at the controls. “Rerouting long distance communication through the whiskers, but it is on receive only.” She leaned back, looking to the communication officer, Fernanda Maria Magdalena Alvarez. 

Angered but otherwise complacent Fernanda returned the gaze. Everyone on the command centre crew knew of Joleen and her special talents. That she made no secret of. Highly intelligent, but social skills that were doubtful, she still managed to hold out. Everyone just kept hoping she’d never be commanding officer, including Joleen herself.

The part of her that was success driven wouldn’t be able to refuse such a promotion, but she knew that she’d be an awful leader.

“Notify Solomon of the newest development.” Konrad returned to reading. 
As every workday at noon Solomon Grienberg, former Admiral, sat at his favorite table in a dining hall on the alpha ring, just two levels outward from the central gardens. Opposite of him was Johannes Falkner, formerly the chief medical doctor of the Horizon. The two men enjoyed their lunch schedule, which they had carried over from their late years in active duty. 

Johannes sat in a wheelchair, more for convenience, as his leg was often acting up, than actual necessity. “How’s your kid?” Solomon moved a cup slightly around, retirement wasn’t exactly for him, but he couldn’t overstay his command. 

“Good. Good, he tells me that the military is doing better these days.” Winking Johannes referred to Solomon’s retirement being a good thing for the entirety of the ship. A young woman walked up to the table, she was displaying a prime example of a tidy uniform. Under Solomon’s command the uniforms had been just as tidy, and regulations were just as strict, albeit the attitude within the command structure was a bit less strict. 

In most areas of the command structure it still was, and still the admiral held supreme power over the governors, as the military crisis with the Harpies was still unresolved. 

“Sir?” She saluted, only now did Solomon notice that she didn’t have tight bound hair, but really short hair. 

“The Admiral sent me to give you this.” She handed him a tablet computer. Thanking her he took it and dismissed her. “Still working, eh?” Johannes remarked with a dismal smirk. 

“Harpys took out long range. And they found an ancient human ship, the Orion.” Knowing well that his old friend wanted to know too what was going on, but was incapable of reading for longer than a few lines on the tablet computer Solomon gave him a synopsis of the reports. 

“You know as well ss I do that they have a cloaked ship around us. That other thing was just to draw our attnetion away.” 

“I know.” Growled the former Admiral. “Now they have two.” Reading on a few remarks added by the current Admiral, Solomon kept yearning for the days of his command. “Looks like were going to pay a visit to our permanent house guest.”