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the command chair.

"Commander, let me know if there's any change."

"Yes, sir."

John hurried down to the weapons bay. He'd thought Ross had made a real change. His performance had been outstanding since their talk in Ross's quarters. What could have gone wrong? And now, of all times. John entered the weapons bay, expecting it to be filled with gunners and officers responding to the battle alert he'd called five minutes before. Ross sat alone before the weapons diagnostic system.

"Ross, what's going on?"

Ross came to attention. His voice boomed.

"I'm sorry, sir. I ordered the weapons crew into the mess. I came on duty thirty minutes ago, and when I did I conducted a routine inspection of the weapons bay. I found this."

He raised his hand, and in the center of his palm was a tiny electronic component, about an eighth of an inch across. John took it, held it up close.

"It was on the floor just down here."

Ross indicated the space below the weapons diagnostic system.

"What is this?" John asked.

"It's from the weapons diagnostic system. It's a bridge. Nothing fancy, it just conveys information from one spot to another. But without it, the information won't get where it's supposed to go."

John returned the component to him.

"I thought there might have been some repair work done while I was off duty, so I checked the logs, but they showed nothing. So I opened up the diagnostic system and ran some checks to see if everything was in order. It turns out the information pathway regarding the optics was interrupted. A bridge had been removed. The optics were reading green on the diagnostic system because no other information was reaching it. So when I put in a new bridge, I got the actual status of the optics, which is, as you can see, in the red.
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