"I don't know anything. I worked my shift, I went to bed, and I woke up when the battle alert sounded."
"You're not helping, Lieutenant. The sabotage probably occurred during your watch. If you didn't do it, then who did?"
Spano's nostrils were flaring, but this time in fear rather than anger.
"I-I did leave for a few minutes during my shift. I know I'm not supposed to, but while the gunners were on their way back from the maintenance on the cannon, I went down to the mess and had a drink."
"How long were you there?"
"Maybe ten or fifteen minutes."
"Did anyone see you?"
"No. No one was there. I just helped myself."
"A lovely story."
"It's true, sir. That must have been when it happened,"
"Are these trips to the mess a regular habit of yours, Lieutenant?"
"I go about once a shift."
"You didn't happen to see anyone go in or out of the weapons bay while you were on your travels?"
"No. Sir, you can't blame me for this. I didn't even know about these terrorists."
John felt his face go red, and he stabbed a finger at Spano.
"Yes, I can blame you, and I will blame you. Even if you didn't sabotage the laser, your failure to run an inspection when coming on duty and going off duty prevented the problem from being discovered for hours, and makes it harder now for us to pin down when it happened. Your abandonment of your post may have allowed the sabotage to occur. And your disobedience of Ross's orders to stay in the mess has caused us to waste valuable time looking for you. You are responsible. You think your bad attitude and disregard of procedure has no consequences? Well how about these consequences-you kill two hundred fifty thousand people."
The thought of those people dying terrified John. The thought that he would be