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Warning signals beeped across the control centre panels of the Explorer. Suddenly called to an alert state of mind the Admiral and her officers scrambled. “It is a warning of an antimatter signature, travelling on a trajectory parallel to our own, dead ahead.” Louis Walsh reported from his station, as first officer it was his duty to report everything to the Admiral. “Is it the Harpys?” Admiral Franziska Hardwick clenched the armrests of her chair. Ever since the Horizon had first contact with the Harpys the leadership of the Explorer had dreaded that they might turn up in their wake.

“Negative.” Louis seemed puzzled for a moment. “According to the computer the signature resembles that of the Ark1.” 
Approximate sensor readings of the object told the crew it was not all of Ark1 that was speeding through space, but only a remnant. Reclined in the chair of the briefing room Franziska studied the sensor readings, governors had been briefed and in a few moments a meeting was scheduled for the matter. 

“Sensors indicate that the engine core and antimatter storage facilities had been blown off.” Gregory Illchiev, chief engineer for the past five years and antimatter propulsion enthusiast, reported. “Those parts flew off in irregular patterns, drawing a signature past it, this part only has the remaining radiation signature on it, but contains neither antimatter, nor engine parts.” 

“Thank you.” Clearly noticing the disappointment in his voice, Franziska dismissed him. “According to the preliminary readings there is a slight possibility of survivors?” Alpha ring’s Governer Dean Stone interjected before the topic could be driven on. 

“That is correct.” Franziska switched the displayed image with a wink, all present wore their glasses, observed the displayed data. “As you can see, preliminary sensor readings suggest that a large portion of cryogenic capsules, which were aboard the Ark1, are still where the original blueprints suggest. As I see it, this is a humanitarian rescue. Data also suggests that the remnant is slower than we are, estimated power reserves might last another fifty years, perhaps less, in no way can they reach RV-p296 alive though.” 

Looking at Doctor Jason Charles who had spoken up, the round took a moments pause. It was his mother who had hatched the idea for a landing party on the rogue planet of Ericsson. Some forty years on she was still regarded as a genius for it, by most. Select few who had lost their family members and friends due to that mission hated her for it. 

“So what exactly is it you are suggesting?” Governor Stone sighed, turning his glasses off, they gave him eye strain. 

“We must dock it onto the Explorer if feasible. If not, dock a small craft with it and extract survivors.” Doctor Charles knew that parallels to his mother’s plan with Ericsson would be drawn. 

On the displays of the glasses and tablets approximate maneuvers were displayed, along with the note that further readings of the Ark1 remnant would determine feasibility of all the plans. 

“How long do we have to make the decision?” Andrea Yeoh, beta ring’s Governor too showed concern. “Limited forward sensor range means that the wreck is relatively close, it is suggested that the wreck is decelerating.” Gregory, although disappointed that no antimatter technology was supposed to be found, still was eager to board the ship and examine it. “While it is true that their momentum will carry them all the way to RV-p296, the speed of that journey can’t be maintained at ours. We too have to fire our drive every now and then to counteract friction. They can’t, even if someone is alive and kicking there.” He took a deep breath. “I’d say we have about a week until it is in range, it’ll be our companion for a time, until falling behind us.” 
Sitting under his father’s favorite apple tree Jason was working on the feasibility studies for the Ark1 boarding, based on telemetry streamed to his glasses hourly. “Do you ever just sit down and enjoy the gardens?” 

“Yes mom. But not now.” He smiled vaguely in her direction. Noticing her sad smile following his reply he turned the glasses off and took them from his face. “Yes, I enjoy them. From time to time there is a lot of work that needs my attention. I’m sure you can relate.” 

Nye came towards him and leaned against the tree. “Your father would be disappointed if he knew you sat in his spot and didn’t enjoy the garden. If I were to tell him that is.” She winked. Jason rolled his eyes. “He knows, he was here an hour ago, using the same argument as you. He also asked me to tell you, that he will be home in time for dinner.” Although food was eaten at the dining halls, Jacob and Nye often met at home to go to their dining hall together. Somehow Jason admired that sort of romanticism in his parents. Most people, even in their generation, met in the dining halls for family dinner. Fathers and mothers flocked from their respective work, children from schools, or their work. “He also asked me to join, but I’m afraid I’ll be working.” Again Nye displayed a displeased smile.

“I shall try to open up the evening.” Jason added, turning his mother saddened smile into a satisfied one. Emotionally held hostage, by my own mother! A buzzing sound from his glasses drew his attention. “Telemetry of the Ark1 remnant!” He exclaimed, putting them on faster than Nye had ever seen anyone putting them on. “The Ark1?” Worried she let herself sink lower, sitting down next to him. For anyone who was old enough when the Explorer last had contact woth the Ark1, the mere mentioning of that ship’s name was a synonym for failure on a dangerous level. 

I knew this day would come, fourty years ago when the Magellan probe first detected the radiation spike behind itself. 

Nye sat down more comfortably. 

“News isn’t out yet, but we have made sensor contact with a large remnant of the ship, supposedly no antimatter or propulsion technology is left, but we’re hoping to find survivors in cryogenic chambers. I proposed to dock with it, if necessary by using a small ship.” Memories of her proposal for landing on Ericsson rose in Nye.

Not all good. 

“New telemetry suggests that the midsection of the Ark1 is a compressed mess of metal, aft section is blown off completely.” He commented on the readouts streamed to his glasses, more for thinking them over, than to inform his mother. “Forward section is damaged, but presumably intact, but it’s too early to tell.” He peered through his glasses, over to his mother. 

Nodding with an understanding and regretting expression he took the glasses off. “Let’s go.” He sighed, tucking the glasses away before helping Nye to her feet.
Dinner went on as usual for Jason, his father Jacob spoke of the gardens he had worked on, his mother commented on their beauty as far as she knew them, since some were newly created in selected locations that had opened up upon restacking some storage rooms. Joan Charles, Jason’s little sister of nineteen, spoke of her day in school. 

Feeling he had already spilled too much information about the Ark1 to his mother, Jason remained quiet. “How’s Daria?” 

Almost choking on his food Jason looked at his father. “Fine. She’s fine.” Reaching for his cup, he breathed. 

“Are you two still seeing each other?” Resenting his dinner participation, Jason nodded slowly as reply to his father’s inquiry, still sipping water he hoped to avoid further questions. He was thirty five years old, he didn’t feel comfortable talking about women to his parents. “Good.” Jacob exhaled, giving his son reason to put the cup down. 

“You’re very quiet this evening.” Stating the obvious Joan leaned back in her seat. “Are you all right?” 

“Fine. Just,” he paused looking around. Too many people were in the mess hall. “preoccupied from work. That’s all.” Casually he glanced at the time, displayed on a large analogue clock above the doors of the mess hall. “Speaking of Daria,” he wiped his mouth, took another sip of water, “I’m supposed to meet her in ten minutes, if you’ll excuse me.” Giving him a permissive wave of dismissal Jacob watched his son get up from the table and leave.  

“I sometimes doubt he’ll ever give us grandchildren.” Shuddering after hearing her father’s words, Joan also left after being allowed to.
In a quiet small garden, recently opened to the public, Jacob found Daria on a bench, looking at the simulated night sky. As in other parts of the ship the current starry display around the ship was displayed. Over time it changed, constellations would emerge and disappear. Over large amounts of time that change was observable. 

“I can’t really find a difference.” Immediately she leaned against him as he sat down. Looking at the sky he replied that he couldn’t either. Obviously to him she referred to the sky they had looked upon at their first date, five years prior, in a mess hall where the night sky display first had been tried out. “Only the location in the ship has changed.” Her arms wrapped around him. 

Both knew they were far away from the location they had been in space back then, but objectively only their relative position in the ship had changed.

“It seems so.” He sighed, thoughts about the Ark1 still occupied his mind, but the presence of Daria was more inviting. “How was your day?” 

With a shrug of her shoulders Daria dismissed the question. “Come to think of it, a planet is not much more than a space ship. Going round and round, around a star, which in turn moves through space.” Feeling philosophical, are we? “Come to think of it, all the lunatics who believed in a hollow earth, and how our ancestors lived on the inside of the planet, wouldn’t be so totally wrong right here and now.” Daria turned towards him, he too faced her. For a moment they stared at each other, before breaking out into laughter.

“I love you, Jay.” She purred, in full confidence that she was the only one to call him by that nickname. “I love you too.” He kissd her lips. 

“How was your day?” Uncertain what to tell her about the Ark1, or whether to tell her at all Jason too shrugged his shoulders. 
Silently the horribly disfigured body floated through the coridor of twisted metal. Boils of radiation caused burns were frozen in place along with everything else. Bulged eyes and dried bodily fluids that had boiled inside, evaporated out of every pore and then freeze dried covered the skin, a horrid silent scream was forever shock frosted into the face.

Letting out a scream of his own Jason sat up in bed. 

Almost immediately a gentle hand reached for him from his side. “You alright?” Clearly sleep drunk and confused Daria sat up too. “Just a nightmare.” Taking a deep breath Jason sank back into the sheets. “It’s the Ark1. We found it, and I’m doing a feasibility study for docking with it.” 

Suddenly wide awake Daria turned on the lights in her quarters. “Why didn’t you tell me before?” 

“Didn’t want to worry you. There is radiation residue, but nothing we can’t handle.” A moment of silence passed between them. 

“I doubt that a communications technician could be of help, but maybe you need a little outside insight?” 

Tired but grateful to be able to talk about his work he took his tablet computer and opened the latest sensor readings. “We wanted to tether it to Explorer, but the recent telemetry suggests that would be close to impossible without tearing it apart. So we’ll send a pod. It is very likely that the crew, or part of it, survived in cryogenic chambers.”

“So this is a rescue operation?” Daria studied the sensor readings carefully. “Why don’t you send unmanned probes first to determine whether there are people in need of rescue? A powerful field for back and forth communication could ensure continued communication with the probes.” A broad smile decorated her lips, certain that the others who were tasked with the Ark1 hadn’t thought of that possibility.  

“That communication field might interact with the electronics of the cryogenic chambers, too much data needs transferring. Autonomous probes might do the trick, but those that we have aren’t built to heave the chambers, and there’s no time to build new ones.” 

Nodding without needing frequency diagrams for her proposed idea and why it might not work Daria looked at the presented data. “It looks like you’re going to have to do a docking with a pod.” She enlarged the details of bottleneck between the compressed bit and the forward section,which was relatively unharmed. “This looks promising. But the Ark1’s rotation might disrupt communication.” She typed a few commands into the computer, the image zoomed out, displaying a crude representation of Explorer alongside the Ark1, a narrow beam shot towards the bottleneck. “High energy communication, just like my proposed idea, only it is concentrated here at the docking site, internally communication can be ensured using tranmitters.” 

She handed him the tablet. It detailed that communication would only seize to be permanent from the moment cryo chambers were brought into the field. Thusly no remote controlled drones.

Awestruck Jason stared at her idea. “This might work. We need you on the team.” He smiled, laying the tablet down on the nightstand. 

“Gladly. Talk to your boss.” She winked, pulling him down to the pillow.
This is not what I had in mind. Shaking, both from nervousness and adrenaline, as well as the grinding movement of the pod, Jason stared at the display in front of him. It detailed the distance to the Ark1, as it shrank. Some pilot sat at the helm, a copilot next to her. From his side he noticed a waving hand.

Daria.

Barely recognisable in the spacesuit. A large figure with a black blob for a face. Were they close to a star, or later to radiation, shielding in the visor would turn that black blob into a blob of silver-metallic nature. 

Her graceful slim hand was now a gloved paw, that she put on his paw like glove. 

Still the pod was shaking, as the pilot maneuvered into a docking position, even more vibrations shook the pod as the drills engaged, to cut open an entrance. 

“We’re in.” Simultaneous with the pilot’s calm voiced announcement, the vibration stopped. “Please remain seated, until we have successfully tested the entrance.” Her copilot got up from his seat, working in zero G was not new to these military types, Jason noticed. With ease the man flew from his seat in the cockpit to the back of the pod. In advance they had pumped the atmosphere into tanks, so they wouldn’t vent it into space or a dead ship. Silence filled the area outside his helmet. All Jason was hearing came over the radio, vibrations in the ship that translated through his seat and suit to him, and his own breath and heartbeat. 

It was distressing. 

“Alright, we can enter.” With a few swift moves the pilot locked her station, also flew from her seat. Two days. Two bloody days of training in the tubes. Not enough, at all. Fidgeting with his seat belt, Jason cussed low enough as not to trigger the voice activated radio. A helping paw came from his side, undid his belt, moments later he and Daria floated off, following the pilots. 

Two anonymous technicians met them at the airlock. 

Pilot Sylvie van Froon, copilot Jorge D’silva waited just outside the pod for the technicians Theodore Allister and Emilia Bernsteen. 

“Radiation levels are tolerable.” Jason read from his scanner. It was a glorified tablet, rebuilt to detect radiation, much like a geigercounter. But it also was detecting other forms of radiation than only gama radiation. 

Behind the technicians came Daria with a suitcase like object. She too floated past the airlock into the Ark1.

The large corridor they had drilled into was largely intact, debris, cables and wall panels floated about, some of which came from the drilling, not the initial catastrophe. “We’re in a connection tunnel, sort of like our tube network. Forward section is this way.” Sylvie directed them along, to which Jason took a reading from the direction she pointed in. With a wave of his hand he gave the go ahead. 
After passing a siphon structure like the ones on Explorer and her sister ships, the group followed down a maintenance shaft, as the large tunnel seemed unsafe. 

More damaged corridors opened up behind an access lock, and more torn off wall panels and dirt greeted them. “Be careful with that stuff.” Jason’s tablet gave off a warning signal over the radio. After a moment of continued scans, he felt sick to his stomach. “Why what is it?” Still not used to her radio distorted voice Jason didn’t recognise Daria immediately. “Contaminated human residue.” When the Ark1 dropped out of its warp, the inertia had killed all that weren’t in a cryogenic chamber.

“Mashed rich people?” Technician Allister, chewing on something, probably gum. “Just don’t touch it.” Sylvie commeted, pressing on. Their pod had the capacity for decontamination, but it was a hassle she wanted to avoid. 

“Aren’t the people in the cryo chambers pueree too?” Allister asked, ignoring the tone of his commanding officer, compelling him to shut up without actually saying it. “Built in inertial dampeners.” His colleague replied shortly, hoping he’d be quiet now. “And they’re shielded, so there aren’t heavily radiated mutants either.” She added, sensing the next question. 

Navigating through the corridors was made hard by the contaminated organic residue, doors led to rooms filled with more contaminated residue of crew members and debris. 

“Is Explorer still reading this?” Second in command of the mission Jorge was concerned, at least his voice sounded concerned. “Loud and clear, thanks to Miss Fulton’s relay device.” Came the Admiral over the Radio. She and her command centre crew sat glued to their seats on Explorer. 

Proudly Daria lifted her suitcase device, which had gotten emptier. One relay she had positioned in the tunnel, another she’ll dropp at the site of the cryogenic chambers. 
Lights flashed, blinking they came to life. Utterly soundless in the vacuum of the broken walls of the Ark1, they revealed an elongated room, the walls curved outward, to provide more surface room. Every part of it, devoted to the hatch of a cryogenic chamber. 

A central contol panel stood lonely in the center of the room, fixed to the ground. “Secure that.” Sylvie pointed at the control panel, immediately her copilot took off to do just that. “Aren’t there just frozen civilians here? Why does he need to secure it?” 

“Allister!” Even his colleague felt fed up with him. “What? They’re acting as if some zombie might be popping up somewhere, we’re not in a bad SciFi movie, more like a long ass, boring space soap.”

With a sigh Emilia shook her head, unnoticed due to helmet and voice activated microphone. 

Daria returned to the group after she had set up the communication relay beacon at the entrance. 

Jason meanwhile scanned the chambers. “Reading a hundred and fifty chambers, thirty two of which are broken, inhabitants are dead. Non of them are contaminated.” 

“I can confirm.” Jorge typed on the panel. “Batteries are in relative good state. If we cut power to the failed ones we might be able to light this place a bit better.” 

A few moments after Sylvie gave him the command to do just that, the lights grew brighter. A noise in the com line to Explorer drew the attention of the six. The door to the hallway had snapped shut. 

“Reading an atmosphere. Low pressure. Not safe for breathing yet, but it’s building.” Constantly taking reading Jason cursed the day he had taken on the assignment. But even more the lack of time he had to connect the tablet with his glasses, so he would have a HUD, and his hands would be free. 

As well as his eyes.

“No reanimation process has started yet.” Jorge sounded concerned, as he clearly struggled with the control panel. “One chamber is however starting a thawing process.” 

Rushing to the panel too Jason and Sylvie almost bumped into one another. “Abort it!” She urged staring at the panel, underneath his helmet Jorge too stared desperate at the display beneath his gloved fingers.

Noticing a lack of action from Jorge, Jason pushed him away, his fingers moved hastily over the buttons. “It can’t be aborted. But we can slow it down.” He looked around the large room. One of the chamber doors was now accompanied by a blinking orange light, instead of the smaller green one. 

Detaching his tablet from the velcro patch on his hip he gave the device to Jorge. “Contamination?” Still somewhat helpless the copilot looked around on the tablet, uttering sounds of his helplessness. 

Impatient Sylvie took the device from his hand. “Only a little. Why?” 

“Safety reasons.” Jason grinned underneath his helmet. Unheard by them a sharp hissing noise filled the room, as the thin air the ship was building up was vented again. All the floating bits in the room moved slowly, but with increasing speed to a small port in the ground, where it disappeared. 

After he had cleared the contamination from the room as good as he could, Jason closed the port and allowed the air pressure to rise again. Meanwhile Daria and the technicians had moved to the chamber in question. “He’s still asleep, but already moving.” Not replying, Jason kept monitoring the panel, he knew that the crewman was on the verge of waking up. 

From the bottom of the panel he detached a medikit, pushing off to float to the chamber. “Keep me up to date on the air!” He barked into the radio. 

“Why? What is your plan?” 

“The chamber opens automatically as soon as it reads a safe environment, we then have to act quickly, or our patient dies.” Jason reached the chamber, Allister took the kit from him. “I’m a trained field-medic.” 

“Good.” Glad not to have to help the man wake up all by himself, Jason turned to the hatch of the chamber. An increase in the frequency of the blinkingnb light alarmed him to the chamber soon opening. 

“Atmosphere is breathable.” Sylvie alerted him, almost at the same time that the chamber opened. As the barge pushed outward Allister administered one of the prepared shots to the man’s IV. 

A hiss deafened Jason’s ears as he opened his helmet. “Charles, what do you think you’re doing?” Sylvie barked at him. “Making his waking process a little less threatening.”

Fluttering his eyelids the man woke up, all of him shaking violently. “Relax. We’re from the Explorer.” Immediately Jason put his hand on the mans shoulder. 

“Wh…why?” 

“Your engines blew off because of unstable reactions in your antimatter drive.” Allister too had his helmet open. Shaking or nodding, the man seemed to understand. “Crew?” He stammered between his convulsions. 

“Except for those in cryogenic sleep, no survivors.” Again there was no distinction to be made between shaking or nodding. 

After some thirty minutes the technician, by the name of Gerry Dermoth had recuperated from his long cryogenic suspension. In that time Jason and Allister had slowly prepared him for the ugly truth that lurked outside the doors of the cryo room. 

“It seems we have a problem with your plan to evacuate these chambers.” He was huddled into a fetal position, a heat blanket from the kit covered him. “They’re hardwired into the ship. Can’t be extracted like the ones on your vessels.” 

Still no one had found the time to tell him that several decades had passed since the incident. “Will the Ark2 be here soon?”

Jason and Allister exchanged a glance. The rest of the team was examining the other chambers. “It was a long time, and the Ark2 had been refit to the same mode of transport as the Orion ships.” A sad expression moved across Gerry’s face, like a cloud that passed over a field. “Figures.” He sighed, pinching the base of his nose. 

“Alright.” Slowly Sylvie lowered the tablet she still had from Jason. “Three people won’t survive the thawing process, their chambers obviously didn’t work properly.” 

Gerry didn’t react to the dire news, but stared at the doors to the hallway outside. Another dark shadow moved over his expression. “Outside is hard vacuum?” Confirming Jason and Allister too looked at the door. “Why aren’t the inner doors engaging? This room was supposed to have an airlock in case of a catastrophic incident.” Only after being told that there ought to be inner doors for an airlock, did it become obvious that there were none. 

“Emilia, check it out please.” Sylvie commanded her subordinate who was next to the supposed door.

Gerry slowly stretched. He would have appreciated some gravity, the weightlessness was nauseating, especially after being thawed.

“I had a weird dream in there.” Jason, again in possession of his tablet, checking readings of the surroundings, just nodded and asked what Gerry had dreamed about. “Some weird creature, thigh tall, and feathered, in a space suit. They poked me out of the chamber and examied me, without harming me. But since there aren’t any around, it was just a dream.” Had there been gravity Jason’s tablet would’ve fallen to the ground. Still smiling over his silly dream Gerry didn’t understand why everyone around him seemed to freeze. “Alright, grab your sidearms, get that door to work, I want the way back secured.” Sylvie closed her helmet, with a glare that spoke volumes she gazed at Jason and Gerry. “What’s happening?”

“No time, can you be returned to the chamber without engaging the cryogenic process?” For a moment Gerry pondered, then nodded. “In that case, prepare yourself.” Jason and Allister looked around. Was this the death sentence for the survivors of the Ark1? 
“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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