Colonel Becker checks in with Mitch and the computer systems officer at the computer core. They explain that the program affecting the main computer appears to be a copy of an AI, unable to achieve “that spark” without residing on specialty hardware – which was always the barrier to a breakthrough. The rogue software was isolated and ready to be deleted, when suddenly a voice began broadcasting over the entire ship.
The Lieutenant confirms that the voice they’re hearing is coming form the system in Locker 17, which had re-connected to the ship. Becker and the voice have a brief exchange, in which Rasputin apologizes for the behaviors of its agent and describes that it had predicted the creation of the clans. Its last statement that “there is another” seemed strained, and was cut off – the signal from locker 17 discontinued. Shortly thereafter, a fire is reported at locker 17.
The party arrives to find the Cromwell cylinder completely bored out with thermite – its insides completely destroyed. Interrogating the marine who was on duty reveals that Sergeant Stimson was the prime suspect in the crime. They find him having voluntarily reported to the brig, and debate his punishment.
The following day, the ship is ready to jump to Jordan Wais and makes the hop. Upon arrival, they are surrounded by several dozen small warships and are hailed.
“Hello darlings,” drawls the man on the screen, “welcome home….”