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you need."

John made the decision at that moment not to call for reinforcements. Chances were that no other ship was within range, and if they broke radio silence and revealed their presence, the cruiser would accelerate to maximum speed, giving them even less time to make repairs. John linked out and faced Spano. He sat slouched in the chair, clenched fists on his thighs, flat eyes carrying a hint of fear.

"Did you sabotage the weapons system?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. I was called down here for the battle alert. I was ordered away. I went to the gym."

"You were on watch before Ross today. I want you to tell me exactly what happened. Were you alone at any time in the weapons bay. You know that. I sent the gunners out bay?"

"I'm alone a lot of the time in the weapons bay. You know that. I sent the gunners out to do a maintenance check on the aft port cannon. That's what was scheduled by your new best friend, Lieutenant Ross. He's been scheduling lots of activities to keep us busy. You know you've ruined a perfectly good officer."

John narrowed his eyes.

"Did you do any maintenance on the weapons diagnostic system?"

"No, that wasn't on my schedule."

"Did you do a general inspection when you came on shift?"

Spano shrugged.

"I looked things over like I always do."

John thrust the bridge at him.

"Do you know what this is?"

Spann looked at it, and his face grew curious. He held out his hand, and John gave the bridge to him.

"It's an electronic component, probably from the diagnostic system. It looks like a bridge. Where did this come from?"

"From just where you said. Ross found it on the floor when he came on duty. Any idea how it got there?"

Spann handed it back and regarded him with his opaque, flat eyes.

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