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our expectations of the present. Those patterns are difficult to change. But things are changing here on the Agamemnon. To deny that is to deny your future. I would like you to change with them, and I believe you can. But if you don't want to, then I advise you to take the transfer. The change that is happening here will not be denied. I will not allow you to stand in the way of it."

He closed his hand into a fist.

"I expect to receive your decisions before the Agamemnon is deployed."

"Yes, sir," they replied in near-unison.

"Lieutenant Spano, you will remain confined to quarters for an additional forty-eight hours."

"Yes, sir," Spano replied.

They sat, stiff and still, waiting to be dismissed. He didn't think he'd gotten through to any of them. But he didn't know what more to say. Perhaps they couldn't change, or wouldn't change. Perhaps Best had spoiled them. But somehow the war seemed to stand between them, as if, eight years past, it still reverberated on the present, never allowing them to forget, dominating their lives even now, carrying them into the future. How could he fight the past?

"Dismissed," he said.



CHAPTER 7



In the conference room view screen, Anna saw the ring of Station Prime begin to shrink as the Icarus pulled away from it toward the jump gate. In a few minutes they would make their first in a series of jumps that would, in a month's time, bring them to the rim of known space.

Among the larger ships surrounding the station, the Agamemnon was nowhere in sight. She went to the com station against the wall and tried once again to reach John. She had to use Chang's access code to make the call; he'd told her that IPX, to maintain security, had ordered that all communications go through him. The way he'd explained it,
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