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​Sitting at the Admiral’s desk in the little office he called his den, Joleen again felt nervous, she had every confidence in her plan, but doubted that the Admiral would have confidence in her. Meanwhile it had been confirmed that both she, her sister and her parents had the implant. As did her neffpew and niece.

Good thing I’m not interested in procreation. She thought when receiving the news. There were not enough handheld emitters available, so her sister and her children had been confined to their quarters. 

“Environmental department concurs with your idea.” Frederick pinched the base of his nose, as he put down the tablet. Although he had grown up using glasses he had started disusing them. Notifications of all sorts just popped up on the HUD, you couldn’t get away from it. Unless you took them off, and transferred business to a tablet computer. 

“But you’re having reservations, since it came from me.” 

“No!” Was he too quick with his dismissal? “No.” Slowly he blinked a few times, “I don’t know where to look for the Harpy vessel. Sub alpha where you are, beta, where your family is? Subgamma where the main reactor is located and guarantees total annihilation if the ship is detonated?”

Joleen understood his dilemma. She had worked up the plan and knew that they didn’t have a lot of dust to spare. Enough for one, perhaps two attempts. “We need to figure out who the Harpy was tuning in to.” 

“Me.” Joleen said, filled with a certainty that sounded narcissistic, even to herself. “Not because I’m the brightest of the listening posts, but because I’m in the command centre. I’m posing the most valuable of the information sources. Stay close to me, and you stay close to tactical information.” 

As always her reasoning was flawless, convinced the Admiral nodded. “You have a go.”

“One thing sir, we should probably fake some information and transmit it on the frequency of the implant.” Stunned Frederick looked at her with an intense gaze. Could they even mimic the information? It was data extracted from thought patterns. “If you can, prepare something and have it on my desk in the morning.”
A faint, but constantly repetitive beep, kept Solomon awake. It was also a sign that his dear friend was still alive. Although he took comfort from that, and dozed off for a few minutes every now and then, he always had nightmares of the beep ending, or going erratic, which woke him again. 

“That smart girl is going to try spraying some dirt at the Harpy that destroyed our long range.” He found himself spilling the news to his comatose friend. “And you lie here sleeping through it, remember when we first met them in the tube? You wouldn’t have slept through that!” 

Earlier that day Joleen had paid a visit as well. In order to thank the doctor for the help he provided to her mother during her time on Ericsson, and to see if he was better. She had told the former Admiral that she could’ve used Johannes’ help on creating a false transmission to the Harpy, but had to abandon the plan since he was way more experienced in the field. 

“I’m certain they’re recording that great event for posterity, I’ll be sure to watch the reruns.” Faint but not lacking his old wits and humor, Johannes whimpered more than he spoke. 

“You’re awake!” As before in Hylias presence Solomon got up too fast for his joints liking. This time he heeded the pain and sat back down. “That’s great! And we can watch the news feed here.” Solomon winked. 

“I need help, not news, man.” Once again Solomon got up, slower that time, and hurried to get a nurse. 

“I don’t know what got you, but it’s good to see you are recovering from it.” Smiling he sat down, noticing only then that there was no beeping. 

“Joe? Don’t do this to me. Don’t die!” Tears welded up in his eyes. “Don’t, please don’t, ” they started flowing down his cheeks. 

Finally the nurse arrived, she checked the equipment, felt Johannes’ pulse. Then she shook her head. “He’s dead, sir.” 

Overwhelmed and devastated Solomon let his head sink, he started sobbing uncontrollably. His close friend had gone.
In silence the dust streamed from the sub alpha ring, influenced by all the media she had watched, Joleen heard a soft ringing noise in her imagination as she watched the life feed from the whiskers. Most of the crew in the command centre did probably.

“There!” Tactical officer Uma Hotchkins exclaimed, within moments she had the guns aligned to the gap in the dust band around sub alpha, just waiting for Frederick’s command to fire.

A discharge from the aft section of Horizon hit the gap before the Admiral could give the command, only a fraction of a second later the gap exploded in a bright ball of fire and light. There was a slight shock wave, but the buffer zone caught most of it, so naught more than a slight rumble echoed through the ship. 

“I did not fire that!” 

Joleen was faster than Uma’s reaction, the video feed changed to the back of the ship. Another harpy vessel had decloaked, the weapons emitter still hot from the fired shot, but otherwise sensors reported that the weaponsystems were powering down. 

“Reading a massive ship.” Again it was Uma, Joleen read the same data, simply adjusted the whiskers. “I’m reading a second one.” She sighed. 

Frederick felt a knot in his stomach. 

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