Sweepers

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"This is Captain Anna RaskStål of the FSS Sweeper BlackRay." The captain's stony face appeared on the communication console at Erin's desk, almost scowling. She had blonde hair and blue eyes -a rarity- and spoke commandingly with a stern expression, though she was too young to be a seasoned captain. Erin guessed that captain RaskStål's flinty demeanour might be a means to assuage concerns about her experience, conscious or otherwise. Either way, it seemed to Erin like overcompensation.

"Ambassador Erin Locke," she introduced herself, smiling. "How can I help you, Captain?"

"We received an order from your ship for a sweeping run in the Apex region." Captain RaskStål looked down at something off screen. "Fifteen, seventy and four off of delta-mu-omicron."

"That's right." Erin nodded. "Did you find something?"

"Not exactly. That order's been annuled."

"What?" Erin leaned to the monitor. "Why?"

"There was a conflict, and your run was listed as low priority," RaskStål explained.

"Where's the conflict coming from?"

"Command wants to keep a route open in area. I contacted Captain Barron about the spec's and he said to talk to you."

"When do you think you'll be free to do the run?"

"It's a standing order. The BlackRay'll be here until someone else shows up, but there's no one else scheduled in this region for a couple weeks. If it's important you shouldn't have put in a low priority order."

"Yeah." Erin rubbed her face. "There's been some disagreement about the importance of this run. Any chance you'd be able to remotely scan from where you're stationed?"

"Not without an active order."

"I mean if we reinstated the order."

"That depends entirely on what you're looking for."

"Jamming signals. We just want a record of activity in the area sent to us for analysis."

RaskStål nodded. "We could detect jamming remotely with a probe."

"That's all we need." Erin smiled.

"But it would take time."

"How long?"

"I'd have to talk to my engineers. I'd guess about a week."

"That's good enough. Could you reinstate the order?"

"You want me to send it back through command?"

"I can sign off on it. Technically I'm a First Lieutenant."

"Oh. I assumed since you were an ambassador-"

"-it's a fair assumption. Don't worry about it."

"I'll have the order sent back to you, Lieutenant. As soon as we receive the bond we'll get to work on the probe."

"Thanks." Erin nodded.

"I'll give you an update when the probe's in the area. Oh, and lieutenant?"

"Yes?" Erin raised an eyebrow.

"Goodluck with the Catechumen. We've got some very anxious people waiting to hear back from you."

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