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had chosen it. There were Earthforce ships at Babylon 5, but the trip through hyperspace took twelve hours. The cruiser would already be in hyperspace by the time the reinforcements came out of the Carutic jump gate. And destroying the cruiser with its nuclear explosives at the other end of the jump, when it would be so close to Babylon 5, would probably destroy the station.

"I think it's unlikely in the extreme that another Earthforce ship is in range. But let's ascertain the extent of the damage first, before we make any decisions. I don't want to break radio silence unless we absolutely have to."

"Yes, sir."

As John approached Spano, Ross's voice came through the link.

"Captain, we have a problem."

John turned away.

"Go ahead."

"Not only has the primary mirror been destroyed, but it's been fused to the tube itself. I'm going to have to cut it out and then replace the mirror and a section of the tube."

John shook his head. He'd never heard of a section of the tube needing to be replaced. The entire interior surface of the tube was also mirrored.

Replacing any section of it and restoring its reflective integrity would be a lengthy, demanding job.

"How long is that going to take?"

"I've never done this exact thing before, Captain. I know I can do it, but I'm not sure what snags I might run into along the way. I'll need two gunners to assist me. And it would really help if I could have another weapons officer."

"How about Timmons?"

"I would feel comfortable with that, Captain."

"How long, Ross?"

"My estimate would be about seven hours, sir. Give or take one or two hours."

"That give or take puts us right into the red zone, Lieutenant."

"I'm sorry, sir. I'll do my best."

"Get on it. And let me know if there's anything else
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