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She'd been so excited about the expedition last night with no one to talk to that she'd sent a message to Liz. The communications console offered plenty of frills, of course, including various virtual backgrounds that her body could be inserted into for different messages. She wasted some time playing with them, finally settling on a relatively conservative tropical sunrise scene. She even combed her hair. Sharing the news with Liz made it seem somehow more real. She felt bad for not telling John about the expedition.

He'd looked so guilty when he'd told her he had to cancel the vacation. But it hadn't been the right time. He was worried about his career, and she knew how much that meant to him. It drove her crazy to see him in pain. She'd like to take every malcontent on the Agamemnon and rip his head off. What were they doing in Earthforce anyway if they didn't want to follow orders? This kind of trouble challenged John's whole philosophy. His relationship with Earthforce wasn't like hers with IPX. She knew that in working for the corporation she was dealing with the devil. She didn't expect them to do anything that wasn't profit motivated.

But John believed in Earthforce, believed in it so hard and with such passion that to find flaws in it hurt him at his spiritual center. Serving Earth-and so consequently serving Earthforce-was his purpose in life. He felt called to it. Finding that the one he served was not worthy of service would, she thought, destroy him. She prayed that Earthforce would be worthy of him. She opened her computer to take her mind off John and began to review the specs sent by Dr. Chang once again.

The expedition to Alpha Omega 3 would last for six months: approximately one month in transit in each direction, and four months for study and
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