At Ahnton’s touch, the docking bay doors opened to reveal an inspiring and sobering sight. The intruder seemed practically upon them with its nose facing the bay door. Faultless. Ahnton made a noise of appreciation that was echoed by his crew.
     “We’re lined up,” he told her, “perfectly.”
     “Tract on,” was her only reply.
       The small craft wavered just slightly as the unseen magnetic force grasped it. The docking bay lit up with flashing white light.
      “Tract complete,” Ahnton said.
      “Begin braking,” she ordered, and began reeling off deceleration speeds with calm steadiness. Everyone tensed at this, it was the most dangerous part of the operation. A slight fault in the tract, interference from the craft itself, a foreign hull that was too delicate, or a tiny mistake on Mharc’s part and the foreign-drive vessel could careen into Antares’ hull, rupture its drive and send the warship up like a tragic comet.
     As Antares slowed, the tract began the delicate work and slowly, slowly, the small craft was brought into the bay. What took only a few seconds seemed to take an eternity. All the techs in the bay were sweating except Ahnton who had faced deadly situations with his sister too often to be worried about her abilities. In his whole life, she had never once failed him and he had no reason to doubt her now.
      Once the craft was completely in, the tract settled it on cushions that rose underneath it and then slowly lowered until the sound of metal to metal signaled it was sitting on the deck, locked and secure. Its burners were still afire, with Antares upping her speed to keep the blazing emissions pouring into the space behind them and away from the deck.
      Ahnton initiated the next phase. A small robotic arm, connected to a tube, pierced the hull of the little ship, making an airtight seal. The ship was then pumped full of anesthetizing gas.
      At that moment, two techs in full gear ejected themselves into the still-open bay through a pressurized tube. The suits carried enough artificial gravity to keep them in the open bay and the techs held efficient plasma cutters. Bright sparks illuminated the interior as they cut their way into the drive mechanisms, leaving the precious habitable quarters intact. Moments stretched until they became agonizingly long.
      “What do you see?” Ahnton finally demanded.
      “Nothing we have ever cut on before,” was the woman’s reply. “Very early drive, couldn’t possibly be capable of interstellar flight. The circuits aren’t even liquid, they are some sort of ancient integrated circuitry. At least as far as I can even recognize them.”
      "I’m coming in,” he said and dove for a suit while helping hands had him in it and secure in seconds. A very few moments later he was in the bay with the other techs, bent over the hole in the metal skin of the strange ship with burners blasting outward a hundred feet away, the fire still sucked out by Antares speed. He was searching for the failsafe, his incredible mind recalling every picture, formula and detail he had ever encountered when he had studied beginning drives. He held a small device that plugged directly into a main computer and he fed a continuous flow of facts into it, where they were digested and returned.
       At last, he exchanged the unit for another tool and quickly released several covers, exposing ancient wiring. He held out his hand for a clipper and one of the techs gave to him with anxious eyes.
       “Don’t worry,” he said, and they could see the humor in his green eyes through the visor. “If I’m wrong, we won’t be alive long enough to know it.” They nodded, forcing grins. With strong, sure hands he sliced through the chosen wiring.
      The burners sputtered, then slowly their auto shut-down mechanisms took over and counted down as cooling mechanisms kicked in. A sigh of relief went through the crew. As the hot glow lessened and then became cool, Ahnton signaled the outer doors to close.
        “We are secure.”
        “Thank you. Ratha, take us back to the Far Horizon and push the drives. Hard! I’m coming down, Sec.”
        “Ma'am,” he acknowledged. He took a deep breath and looked at the faces around him.
        “Well,” he said dryly, “that was entertaining.”
       Amid laughter, the techs in the bay stripped off their suits, Ahnton leading, as the protective shields slid back. A sudden rush of techs began swarming over the craft, some curious, some already in the dissection process, and others searching for a way to open the cockpit.
      The blur of activity paused in a sudden hush as Mharc entered the deck, her small form dwarfed by the large, blue-eyed, black toshela at her side.
      At an impatient wave of her hand, heads and hands went right back to what they were doing. Ahnton walked over to her, noticing the medics coming in, trying to prepare themselves for whatever might be found inside the alien craft.
      “Doesn’t look like much, does it?” she said to him, her sharp green eyes running over every visible detail of the mysterious vessel. “What do you know so far?”
      “Still no movement inside. Either the gas worked or they’re already more dead than alive.”
      “How soon before you’re in?”
      “We’re ready now.” He gave a brisk nod and the techs started the final process with swift expertise. Slowly, the hatch was being raised.
       “I do like the lines of this ship,” he confided to her. “The drive is way beyond old, but the design is gifted.”
      “Let's hope it’s worth leaving Far Horizon for,” she said sharply.
      The hatch opened and a med team went in, caution in their eyes and movements. A few moments later they emerged with two motionless forms.  As they placed the unconscious bodies on decon units, Mharc and Ahnton moved closer.
      “By the gods!” she exclaimed in the stunned silence. “Humans! Gaia strain maybe? How in the gods-be universe did we get Earth pilots here?”