The room had wooden floors. It was an indulgent affectation, for the wood was taken from the planet the station had been inextricably linked with. It had been one of the arrival rooms. Pilots would congregate here, after being called to duty. They would wait to be assigned ships and prepare for the journey ahead.

It had been so long that anyone came here, some believed the planet to be a myth. This, of course, made the puzzle of the wood all the more perplexing.

Wood of that type isn’t found in the system. Where, then, had it come from?

To all intents and purposes 54N74 was dead.

Their fleets were no where to be seen, the pilots silent. As was the small yelllow and blue planet they used to visit as the station had not heard a thing from there for many of its generations.

But for the counter, the occasional, eternal, echo of a ticking somewhere in the vast distance, there was nothing to suggest anything other than a lover of wood had been here.

But for the counter.

***

A Gate formed in the room.

It would be tempting to play up the set of events. To embellish the description. To talk about the noise – the searing, high pitched whine that shattered the silence. To describe it in terms of the pain it would cause to hear it; or to try and conjure a word that would encompass what it was. Or describe the light, searingly bright, spilling over the floor, lighting the room.

The gate peeled open slowly. It would eventually fill the back wall. But speed didn’t matter.

Something was coming.