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until the cruiser reached the jump gate. Ross's estimate had him finishing an hour before then, if all went well, but what if he didn't finish in time? The starfuries didn't have enough power to take out a cruiser, not one that was fighting back, anyway. Without backup from the Agamemnon, it would be a slaughter. John's link chimed, and a surge of nervous adrenaline shot through him.

"Sheridan. Go."


It was Ross.

"I'm afraid we've run into a major snag. The damage to the laser tube is much more extensive than I thought. It's very subtle. I didn't spot it until we removed the section around the primary mirror. We're going to have to remove a much larger section. Then the whole thing is going to need to be realigned."

"How long?"

"I need more help, Captain. This is delicate work. The gunners aren't qualified for it."

He hated to put either Watley or Spano out there. If either of them was involved in the sabotage, the laser system would never get fixed in time, and they might pose a danger to Ross and the other crewmen.

"How long if you don't get more help?"

"Nine more hours, sir. I'm sorry."

"How long if I send you just Watley?"

"Maybe six hours."

John's jaw clenched.

"And how long if I send you Watley and Spano?"

"Maybe three hours."

So there it was. The only chance of repairing the ship in time was to trust the two people who had most likely sabotaged it.

"I'll get back to you, Ross. Keep on it."

"Yes, sir."

John tapped the desktop. His instinct told him that neither Watley nor Spano was responsible for the sabotage. Yet logic insisted otherwise. No evidence implicated any of the four weapons officers, but if they were the only ones qualified... John searched through the reports for the information he'd requested,
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