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“Open the frequency.” Admiral Frederick Doherty ordered to his baffled first officer Joleen Jenkins. Next to her was the frail small frame of the elderly Harpy Hylia. 

“They are communicating to my implant.” She mumbled, Hylia too was mesmerised. 

“We are the Digitally Enhanced Humanity. We request you let our brothers and sisters travel peacefully to our ship, as you have seen how we dispatch of those who oppose us.” Her voice was monotonous, but yet filled with the emotions of many people. 

“The woman you are communicating through, is not one of your kind. She was implanted Indirectly by the Harpies!” Frederick jumped from his seat, a little easier than he anticipated, he paid no attention to that in his rage. “The only people on board this ship who carry an enhancement have been implanted by the Harpies! So do not feed me your nonsense!” 

“Fred.” Solomon got up, also easier than thought, he noticed and paused for a moment. There was an awful similarity to the situation. 

A quick glance at Joleen’s console relieved his worries. The shockwave momentarily slowed the roation speed of the ring, he wasn’t going to have to float away from the command centre. 

“What?” 

Still weirded out Solomon had to concentrate to continue the conversation. “They know better than we. I always suspected that we didn’t catch them all back then, there surely are some aboard who still bear the implant. Just now they fried all that dampens or suppresses their frequency.” He pointed at the smoking cellphone object at Joleen’s feet. 

Begrudgingly Frederick agreed with Solomon’s assessment of the situation. “We will not hinder them from leaving, but tell me, where will you go with them?” 

“Our evolutionary paths diverge here Admiral, humanity and DEhumanity will walk separate paths from here on out. Where our kind goes is none of your concern.” 

Anger and rage showed clearly on Frederick’s face, he was infuriated by the choice of words by the other side. A calming old hand laid on his shoulder. 

“The people you are about to take with you, they are our friends, as close as family in many cases. You know the feeling of loss as well as any human. We kindky ask you to tell us where you are going.” 

An empty expression stared back at Solomon. Twitching her facial muscles Joleen showed a hint of compassion. “Bernards star, SF-p15.” 

Thanking her Solomon bowed slightly. Having learned when to accept defeat, Solomon nodded to Frederick. “Let them go.” 

“How? The outter most rim of every ring is a vital buffer against Harpy attacks.” 

An amused smile appeared on Joleen’s kips. “We can dock with you.”

Alarmed both of the Admirals turned to her. “An umbilicus, not more.” Suddenly frowning Joleen stepped towards the Admiral in charge. “What’s the matter? Don’t you trust us?”

“No, we don’t.” Solomon pushed his younger successor to the side. “If you don’t like the umbilicus, we can figure out something else.”
“Sit rep!” Feeling as if he was still in charge Solomon entered the meeting room. Two of the governors were present, the third had gathered with other DEHumans in the beta ring. “Governor Thomas Dyson has defected.” Freya Lånden, Governor of the alpha ring grumbled. “He hasn’t defected per se, he didn’t switch loyalties because of a liking of his, he is one of them! Always has been.” Wanda James, gamma ring’s Governor replied in a calm, but somewhat resigned tone. 

Frederick Doherty pressed a button on his tablet, bringing up a detailed list of people transferring from and to beta ring. 

“People leaving beta reported that they are overrun by the linkers, they leave because they feel insecure. Those who flock there are most certainly linkers. And journalists.” In a small inset frame video footage played from beta. 

Worried Solomon squinted his eyes. 

Only minutes ago Frederick had asked him why he was there. After Johannes’ had died Solomon felt the urge to work, not to sit around and contemplate his dear friends death.

Understanding the situation, the current Admiral had invited the way more experienced Admiral to join the action on this one. 

“They are trying to secede.” 

Shocked Frederick jumped from his seat. “What?”

Thoughtful Solomon paced around the table. “Two years before my retirement beta ring had tried to secede. They blocked all traffic going through beta, and had planned to break away, waiting for Destiny to come and pick them up.” With a moaning sigh he sat down. “In light of the current development, perhaps they had been lead by a member of the DEHumans back then as well.” 

Shrugging his shoulders he turned around to face the other members of the meeting. Another image flashed up, it was the Harpy ship. They kept their distance, but followed the Horizon like a foreshadow of ill omen. “As soon as the Ark1 leaves, they surely will come and take us head on.” 

“Unlikely.” Tired, somewhat exhausted, and weighed down by his personal grief, Solomon leaned back in his chair. “They had fourty years and more to come and wipe us from space. Yet they chose to monitor us and always send in a small fighter or two to keep us busy. I don’t understand it, but I doubt that they choose now to destroy us.” 

Agreeing nods came from the Governors, Frederick was alone in his worries. 

“What boggles my mind more is, how are the linkers powering their ship? We can’t read through their shielding. Ideas?” 

A round of silence followed Solomon’s words. No one wanted to say the most obvious probability. 

Antimatter. 

Shrugging Solomon looked to Frederick with a gaze prompting him to speak.

“The real question is, how do we get the linkers off the ship over to the others? Our estimation is, that they’re running out of room, they’ll demand parts from Horizon, if we’re unwilling, they have the power to take what they want. Suggestions?”

Attentively Solomon studied the faces of the Governors. 

They were clueless, frightened and worn out. A mixture of feelings he felt way too familiar with.  

Letting out a tired sigh he turned to the screen. “Disengage the buffer pods, let a series of the landing crafts go, reengage the buffer pods.” 

As he returned his attention to the others he found astonished faces looking at him. Was there a hint of shock in their eyes? Already he knew what they were going to say. Not to take any of the living space away from their rings, where to put the now homeless refugees and so on. 

It was all written out on their faces. 

In all his years as Admiral he had learned to read the faces of the Governors well. Even though they changed, some things always stayed the same. “In absence of the beta ring government, and the obvious intent of their current ruling body, I vote for this plan to be conducted from beta ring.” Freya raised her hand, followed by Wanda. Frederick and Solomon exchanged a knowing glance then agreed. 

The umbilicus was a notion soon dismissed as impossible. Material for it was in abundance, but with all the fragments from the destroyed Harpy vessel it would’ve ripped, or gotten otherwise damaged beyond practicality. Having the DEHuman ship dock with the Horizon was out of the question. Too great was the risk of being hacked by them. With wireless data communication to external sources blocked, both Admirals felt relatively safe.

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