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the very least, he'd gotten her attention and knocked some of the patronizing attitude out of her.

"In a conventional dig, that's true, but this is hardly conventional," she pointed out.

"There we agree," he said quickly. "Nothing about this is conventional." He paused, wondering if he should even bother to bring it up.

Zack had brought the unsettling situation, and its timing, to the captain's attention. It had been clear from Zack's demeanor that he had wondered whether Sheridan would just laugh him out of his office, for voicing the absurd notion that there was some connection between the arrival of the artifact and the sudden upsurge in violence. Zack was fortunate, though, because while Sheridan wasn't certain there could be a connection ... he wasn't dismissive of the possibility. Sheridan decided to lay it on the table. "Ever since we brought this thing here we've had a thirty-percent increase in violent activity on the station," he said.

Trent, for her part, didn't seem the least bit interested in making any sort of mental leap. "That's your problem. It's got nothing to do with me."

"Maybe . .. but what if you're wrong?"

Trent started to bite off a reply even more harsh and condescending than her earlier remarks, but caught herself. She put a hand to her head and said, "Captain ... look, I'm sorry, but I've had five hours sleep in the last thirty-six, I'm running on adrenaline and coffee, and I don't have time for this. You gave me permission to handle this, and I'm doing the best job I know how, with limited resources and not one whole hell of a lot of cooperation!" Her voice had started to rise until she was practically shouting the word "cooperation." She pulled herself back in, dismissed the anger that was building in her, and then said in a
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