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communication to him during battle alert was a clear violation of procedure. Corchoran should have known better.

"Take the call, Captain," Lochschmanan said.

"I'd like to talk with the lieutenant about this drill."

John hesitated, then realized he had no choice.

"Yes, sir."

He spoke into the link.

"Put the call through to the weapons bay corn station."

John went over to the com station near the door, snatching a nervous glance over his shoulder at the stiff back of the general.

"Hey, handsome."

He turned, saw Anna in the hotel room.

"What's wrong?"

"I can't talk now."

The general was consulting with his aide.

"I just felt so bad about how guilty you looked yesterday..."

The general was turning to Ross now, was saying something.

"...decided to accept a position as science officer on an expedition with Dr. Chang to the rim. It's a six-month assignment."

He turned back to her.

"You're going away?"

"It's a great opportunity. I'll be back before you know it."

He felt as if he'd driven her off.

"I'm sorry things didn't work out."

"It's okay. Just bad timing."

Ross was responding to the general now, his booming words obscured by Anna's. "Listen-can we talk about this some other time? I've got the general here, and I'm in the middle of a crisis."

"Yes. Sorry. I'll send you the expedition specs."


Ross, standing tight-lipped before the general, made eye contact with John.

"I've got to go."

He terminated the communication and rejoined the general.

"Perhaps you'd like to explain this drill, Captain Sheridan,"

Lochschmanan said, enunciating deliberately.

"I can't seem to get a clear answer from your officer."

John clasped his hands behind his back. He wanted to keep this between him
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