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of a woman who was content that she had done everything she could at this point, and whatever happened next was on the head of those who had made the decisions. "Suit yourself." She headed for the door, but paused a moment to make one matter quite clear. "But if she endangers my crew, we'll stop her ourselves and worry about due process later." And she walked out before they could say anything else.

"Was that supposed to be a threat?" asked Ivanova.

"More of a warning, really," replied Sheridan, "although I can't say I was ecstatic about her tone."

"Yeah, but I'll bet she wasn't ecstatic with Lyta trying to send a squad of robots to clobber her overgrown puzzle box out there," Zack commented. "I hate to say it, but I see her point. She's got reason to be nervous."

"We've all got reason to be nervous," said Sheridan. "We're already dealing with a colossal unknown out there, and Lyta's actions only feed into that uncertainty. Susan, do me something: before Lyta's brought back to her quarters, take a look around there."

"You mean invade her privacy?"

"We're in the process of cutting her a tremendous break, Susan. That entitles me to send my second-in-command on a mission regarding station security. Just see if there's anything there that gives you any clues as to her state of mind."

"Aye, sir." She didn't look or sound entirely thrilled, but an order was an order.

He shook his head. "You know, Susan, I hate to say it," and he gestured in the general direction of the artifact, "but part of me wishes you'd never found the thing."

"I don't feel that way at all, Captain."

"Really?"

"Nope. All of me wishes I'd never found the thing." And she walked out of the office.

"That woman picks the oddest times to indulge her sense of humor," murmured Sheridan,
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