Hours went by, in which Benjamin pondered about the silicone aliens, how they must be feeling, sifting through the data they lifted from Destiny’s databanks.

Occasionally he requested an update from Bruce or Clifford. But all they could tell him was that the information contained in the database was very hard to decipher. Whether that was due to the converting bit, or because of the entirely different form of life that gave them this information, neither could tell.

Long after his shift had ended, Benjamin left the office. He greeted the nightshift politely, noticed that Cliff was still at his station. Bruce probably too, somewhere else on Destiny.

Tired by the events that had taken place during the long shift he turned homewards, eager to cuddle with his husband and fall asleep.

“Most of what I have been able to decipher, tells me this is mostly cultural, a few scientific discoveries and theories, that could not be utilised to influence our technological development in any way, and more cultural entries.” Bruce shoved a tablet over the table to Benjamin.

Next to him was Ony who admitted that she had helped him, since linguistics was not up her alley, she had parted from Clifford’s side.

“Well, we can’t expect them to send us weapons technology, or reactors we could use to traverse the universe with unforseen consequences. We have a similar situation on RV-p296, we are trying not to influence the natives in any way what so ever.”

Both nodded in sync.

“Continue with your efforts.” He leaned back and studied the list of things that Bruce and Ony had deciphered. “Sir?” Csilla entered as Bruce and Ony left.

“The have hijacked our computer again.”

At once Benjamin was on his feet, storming into the command centre. Just when he wanted to believe the aliens were friendly, they did something like that.

“What are they doing?” He asked into the room, addressing no one in particular.

“They took over reactor controls for alpha through gamma.” Csilla replied walking by his station back towards hers, Clifford had been sent to an office down the hallway by the nightshift.

“To what end?” He sat down, looking over his shoulder to his first officer.

“To jettison it.” Came an emotionless computer voice from the direction of the main view screen. With a nod the communication officer confirmed Benjamins inquiring gaze, they also had tapped into the communication network.

“The residual radiation, and debris in the outter rim of this system show that a ship, much like yours, had lost control over one of the primitive, secondary reactors in your ships. Although we try not to intervene with the development of other species we feel obligated to restrict the danger you, or rather, your reactors, pose.”

Scratching his head Benjamin turned to Csilla, who was as lost as he was. “We pose a danger to ourselves, or our recently diverged line of species on a moon in the system. But that would be our own undoing, not yours.”

Hissing the door to the command centre opened, Benjamin did not see Bruce entering the room, the algorithms devised by him and Ony had continued working on the data during their absence from their temporary office.

Nervous and excited he sped to the Admiral’s side, handing him a tablet.

It was a starchart, at first glance it did not make a lick of sense to Benjamin. “There you are mistaken Admiral.” The dull voice came from the view screen. Reaching up to the tablet, Bruce enhanced a portion of the chart, it showed a G type star with two rocky worlds, one habitable for humans, one a fiery hell close to the star, and two gas giants. The larger one had a bunch of moons, one of which was habitable for humans. “That is here Admiral.” Bruce explained, further enhancing a moon around the other gasgiant.

“Is that?”

Bruce merely nodded, visible to Benjamin from the corner of his eye. “We also maintain a colony in this system.” What had taken the aliens years to investigate the destruction of Horizon’s beta ring? “I see now.” He lowered the tablet.

Both the voice and the information on the tablet revealed that the colony had no ships of their own, a standard procedure. Colonies were obscured from visibility and sensors by the cloaking technology the Harpies had obtained through one crashed vessel, thus the chance of them being detected and attacked was practically zero.

Natural desasters that could destroy the entire colony were a threat, but most of those could be detected on time and help could be called in.

Some of the radioactive debris was on a collision course for the colony, the ship had been busy gathering that debris and rendering it harmless.

Benjamin saw that their concerns were genuine, but also in case of an emergency, Destiny would be left with only two thorium reactors, one in subalpha and one in subgamma. “From our data you can clearly see that we need those reactors in case our fusion reactor fails. We, and the people on the second planet of this system are the last of our people. Our native system was destroyed,”

“If you pollute your new home with radiation, your kind has met an end. This vessel will remain in close proximity to assist you in case your energy requirements change drastically, since we are responsible for changing your setup. Once you have arrived, however, that will be no longer our concern.”

With that the communication ended, and control over the system was returned. Csilla stated that the reactors had been jettisoned, and were dragged by an energy field towards the alien ship.

Although understanding the reasoning behind the aliens words, and in support of such measures, he felt as if he had failed an important part of his duty to the ship.

“It is outrageous! How could you let these aliens steal integral backup parts for the operations of our ship?” As usual it was Governor Egger who did the yelling.

“Governor, I understand your concern and dismay at the current situation, but what would you have me do? Fire our weapons at a massively superior force?”

“Horizon did that. They stood their ground!”

“And paid dearly. Half of their crew is dead, or missing, a small group of survivors stranded on the linker moon, they have numerous cases of radiation poisoning, most of which were treatable. How would you feel, if push came to shove, to sit on a nuclear fission reactor, Governor? Remember how it feels if just water is seeping through the roof, now imagine deadly radiation from the floor, if something went awry.”

Clearly the governor had not realised where the reactor had been exactly in the ring, as he again went pale.

“But I plan to rectify this situation, I have tasked the engineers to find other energy sources for the rings. I was assured that we had the resources to build another thorium reactor, and perhaps a small yield fusion device, but I can not guarantee either of that. For now, we are left with what we have, and we can only hope we never need to find out if we can rely on the promise of the aliens.”

Would the governors want him to resign? Benjamin mused as he studied their faces on his screen. If so they would free him of a few burdens, it would be more of a favor, than a punishment. “I move that the Admiral remains in office, the journey ahead is a short one.” Governor Jones spoke calmly with a smug smile on his lips.

He must’ve seen the desire to retire in Benjamin, otherwise he would’ve moved forward to see Benjamin out of office. Especially after the incident with the water reservoir, and the Admiral’s way of dealing with it.

“I second that.” Governor Nyong from gamma sighed. Most of the resources to build another thorium reactor were already on her ring, thus she was little concerned about losing a potentially dangerous reactor, that was only there if the fusion reactor went offline.

Clearly overruled Governor Egger was grinding his teeth and ended his participation in the video conference.

After friendly greeting the governors Benjamin too left the conference and reclined in his seat.

“Csilla?” His first officer appeared in the door after a few moments. “Please, can you get the guys who made this into my office, to come in again and revert it to the common ready room?”

Nodding with a bright smile on her lips she went back out into the command centre. Meanwhile the aliens had retreated to continue on their mission of cleaning up the mess the Horizon had left behind.

Not after negotiating a deal with the Harpies, so they wouldn’t disappear into nothingness any longer every time they detected a Harpy ship.

Commander Ony had resolved to remain on Destiny, as she still wanted to work with the database left by the aliens, a circumstance Bruce was glad about.

Still, her ship would continue to follow Destiny. Although bereft of their secondary reactors Benjamin felt quite safe. Their new home seemed to be a part of space that was a busy corner.

Silicone aliens, Harpies, linkers and their ever present companion the Kismet were all there, in case a crippling failure of the fusion reactor were to occur.

Although still burdened by his responsibilities as Admiral, Benjamin entered the command centre with a feling of refreshment. “Let’s decelerate, and pick up Horizon’s stranded crew members.” He smiled into the room.

It would take a feew months until that would happen, but still navigation officer Lie Fah let out an enthusiastic “Aye, aye sir!” before beginning the deceleration progress.

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