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she'd gotten his New Year's message yet.

"I'm in, Captain," Ross said.

"Fore starboard cannon. I'm okay."

"Stand by for my order," John said.

"Communications, open a channel."

The cruiser was within visual range now, its image filling only a small space at the center of the observation screen as they decelerated into position in front of the jump gate. The familiar dark gray gun-barrel shape of the Earthforce heavy cruiser was silhouetted in the starlight of nearby Carutic. It was a smaller ship than the Agamemnon, without a rotating gravity section, but it still carried significant firepower, as well as a fighter squadron of its own.

"Unknown Earthforce cruiser, this is the Agamemnon, Captain John Sheridan commanding. You're carrying illegal explosives. Surrender immediately and prepare to be boarded, or we will open fire."

The communications officer, who looked like she should still be in school to John, turned to him, her eyes huge.

"No response, Captain."

"The cruiser is increasing speed," Lieutenant Commander Ving said.

The ship's image covered about five percent of the screen's surface now. John spoke into his link.

"Ross, target engines and fire."

There was no response.

"Ross."

John activated his link.

"Lieutenant Ross."

No response. Then he heard a voice, distant and hollow, through the link.

"That's it. You just sit there. Just like you did during the battle simulation."

It was Corchoran.

"When the terrorists blow up Babylon 5, John-Sheri-dan-war-hero's record won't get him a commission on a paper airplane. Then I'll finally get the command I deserve."

John pointed to the security officer, then to his link. The security officer nodded, rushed off the command deck.

"They're coming straight at us," Ross
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