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"

"How serious is the damage?" Ross shrugged.

"It seems to be limited to the primary mirror, but I can't really tell without getting in an EVA suit and going up to the tube."

The optics were in the red, and the one system that would have warned them of the failure was missing a key component. If Ross hadn't found it, John would have issued a warning to the Homeguard cruiser, revealing the Agamemnon's presence. They were both thinking the same thing, John knew. That was why Ross had sent the weapons crew out of the room.

"In your opinion, Lieutenant, how did this happen?"

Ross slid the bridge nervously across his huge hand as he spoke.

"These components don't just fall out, though I would have said it happened as a fluke if I'd replaced the bridge and everything had stayed in the green. But the fact that this specific bridge prevented information about a critical failure from reaching us suggests" -he looked up at John-"it was taken out on purpose. And that perhaps the optics were also damaged on purpose."

John nodded.

"You were right to order the others out of the weapons bay. Tell me, who would have the knowledge to carry out this type of sabotage?"

"The gunners service the optics, so most of them would be able to do some kind of damage there. But the diagnostic system . . . the weapons officers are really the only ones fully trained. I suppose it would have to be one of us."

"Or more than one," John said.

"When was the last time you were on duty?"

"I got aff last night at zero hundred."

"And do you think that you would have spotted this bridge if it were on the floor last night?"

Ross squared his shoulders.

"I'm positive, sir. I ran the same inspection last night that I did today."

"So if we assume that this was done sometime
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