The concern over Kyra notwithstanding, the crew had much to celebrate. After all, prayers had been answered, how had not been discussed, but six days became seven and seven eight and everyone was just a little too overjoyed to tempt fate with questions.

John poured four glasses of amsec and handed one to Rog, one to Von and the last to Em. Lifting his crystal flute to the center, the others followed suit, the four golden glasses shinning like a chandelier as eyes looked upward for words to be spoken. A toast, he said as his voice trailed off.

What started as a slight vibration, a disturbing ripple across nectar held high, held firm, grew, exponentially; and in an instant, amsec rained down with shards of crystal and their small vessel rocked as if the hand of a giant had slapped the hull. As the four struggled to get to their feet, a second concussive wave knocked them down again as a young boy might shake a box of toy soldiers. Lights blinked and klaxons wailed and as quickly as the vessel was hit, stillness returned.

Rog yelled, although he didn’t need to, “I thought you said we had shields?”

John yelled back. “We do!” Picking himself up, his sea-legs betrayed him and only his strong arms kept his head from banging the control panel. “Our systems must be down?”

“What?” asked Rog.

“I said our systems must be down. Not a threat within a parsec, the screen is blank.”

“Blank?” said Von.

“Nada.”

Rog took the pilot’s seat. Then a low vibration, almost a moan wafted over the comms followed by a sickly gurgling sound. “What the—“

The hair on the back of Von’s neck stood up. Before anyone could react, a blood curtling scream, unmistakable in tone, permeated the room.

“My Janus,” cried Von. “Its Kyra.”

Unknown #1: We put her at great risk.

Unknown #2: We have no choice.

Unknown #1: Are you prepared to lose her?

Unknown #2: (with hesitation) Yes.

“Open the frailing door!” screamed Rog, his nerves frayed by the unworldly cries from within Kyra’s room, his hands bloodied from effort.

“It won’t budge,” screamed John back.

“Move!”

“Won’t do any good,” interjected Von.

“What?”

“The door will open when it is ready to open. You’d just as soon change the fabric of reality as to pry it apart.”

“Are you suggesting we just sit here?”

“I’m not suggesting anything. I’m telling you the matters at hand are beyond our ability to influence. Take that as you will.”

“So what do we do?”

“Bow our heads and pray we see our girl again.”

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