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goddesses she studied, embodiment of life and vitality.

"You didn't wash your back," she said.

"Turn around." He did.

She rubbed the soap over his back in a slow, serpentine pattern, and he felt his muscles relaxing, melting. Then she put the soap aside and it was her hands running in mysterious geometries across his skin, the rough sandpaper touch of her callused fingers bringing his skin to tingling awareness, revitalizing him, recharging him. His link chimed.

"Don't go yet," she said.

He opened his eyes to the darkness of his quarters, the sensations persistent. He reached for the link, activated it.

"Sheridan. Go."

He found he was slightly out of breath.

"Coded message for you from General Lochschmanan, Captain."

Didn't the man ever sleep? John swung his legs over the side of the bed.

"I'll take it in my office. Lights."

He squinted as the lights came on, held out one hand to half feel his way into the office next door. He sat at his desk. His T-shirt and shorts would have to do, he supposed.

"Computer. Accept and decode communication."

Lochschmanan appeared on the monitor, his tall thin frame looking as spit-and-polish as ever.

"Captain, sorry to wake you."

John squinted up at the monitor, thinking of Anna and tact.

"I was just getting up, sir."

"I've been authorized to share certain information with you that I've been unable to discuss before. It should not be shared with your officers until I give you the all clear. It is critical that you get your crew in shape very quickly now. We will need you and the Agamemnon for a mission in three to four weeks. We suspected this might be the case, which is why your ship was upgraded with the new stealth technology, and now we know for sure. We have been tracking the Homeguard
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