​Howling alarms had driven the command crew of Destiny to the command centre. Admiral Jagodic reached it first, relieving the nightshift of their command.

Icy fear grasped at her heart, as the viewscreen displayed a Harpy ship, one by one her officers arrived. First officer commander Sioban Conroy, and her husband, lieutenant commander Sean Conroy, security officer.

Nightshift’s commanding officer Justine Lacroix manned communication. The navigation panel remained with Frédéric Belle. “What’s going on?” Mirella Jagodic barked in the middle of all the chaos.

“They appeared out of no where, hailing on all frequencies.” Justine gave her initial report of the situation. “Lasers at maximum.” Came Sean’s ready signal. 

“Kismet reports readiness as well.” 

“What do they want?” Mirella remained concentrated, despite sleeping for only two hours before the alarm came. 

“They’re warning us that,” Justine paused, “the networkers are going to arrive at any moment, to prevent them from prying away too many of our crew we must set lose a program in our communication network. They have an authentication from Horizon.”

For a moment the Admiral pondered what a networker might mean, but it hit her after a second or two. 

“Linkers!” She jumped from her seat. “Do it!” 

“I must object, it might be a trick from them to wreak havoc on our systems, so they can overpower us.” The lieutenant commander’s objection caused the Admiral to gaze over her shoulder. “They could overpower us in any case, they don’t need these tricks.” She raised her eyebrows, punching in the codes sent from the harpies. 

“Program is fully uploaded. Setting it free,” Mirella paused, an alarming beep from the navigational console drew her attention. 

“Another vessel on approach, Ma’am.” And I thought space was vast and quiet!

“It’s the Ark1, sort of.” Immediately the nav officer put the image on the main viewscreen. Misshapen, more resembling a technological potato than a ship, the Ark1 moved closer. Without warning they began attacking the Harpy ship, which took a few hits, before retreating to a safer distance, where they had an easier time evading the beams sent from Ark1.

After a few moments of that dance the Harpies vanished, presumably jumping away. “Incoming transmission!” Justine sighed.

“Put it through.” 

“We are the collective mind of the Digitally Enhanced Human race, aboard your ships are members of our kind. Let them go unharmed and no harm shall come to you.” 

With an audible signal it was clear the transmission ended. 

Quite surprised, if not stunned Mirella turned to her crew with an inquisitive expression on her face. “Options?” 

“None.” Sean Conroy stepped back from his console. “We suggest you let us proceed to our people, Ma’am.” Sioban also left her post. 

Not noticing her mouth was open, Mirella sat down. 

The others in the command centre had pulled out their side arms, aimed at the two Conroys. With a wave of her hand she gestured them to lower the guns, as they surely had established a connection with the Ark1. 

“Your demands?” For a moment the two seemed to think, but replied with one voice: “We need more of the ores in storage, storage capacity, and free passage for our people. The ties between our species diverge from this point forward.” 

Without further word the two left the command centre. Trying to access the computer Mirella swung around in her chair, but found she was locked out, and the program received from the harpies had been deleted. 
Plain metallic walls spanned all around Mirella and Justine, followed by a team of seven security guards, as they climbed up a tube. Three technicians tagged along to ensure that no cab was going to run them over.

Cursing herself and her predecessors for not following the DEHuman threat up, Mirella was in the vanguard of the group. It would’ve been relatively easy to sneak the jamming devices away and turn them back on every year or so, compared with the problems they faced at that very moment. 

Locked out of every major system, no intercom, in an instant Mirella had lost control over her ship! “Ma’am!” The yell came from Lacroix. 

“Yes, Justine?” 

The young woman smiled as Mirella glanced down the ladder. “I’m getting something on the radio! It’s old fashioned, and distorted, but I believe it’s the Kismet.”

Hastily Mirella fumbled with her glasses. Indeed she too could make out a radio signal from Kismet. 

It was faint and hard to make out, but as far as they could gather, Kismet had been able to implement the program from the Harpies, still they had a group of implanted people asking for release. 

“Aprise their commander of our situation, and that we’re working on retaking the ship.” Hoping that Justine wouldn’t ask how she planned on doing that, Mirella continued to climb.