The comms panel chirped. Wingnut opened the feed to see a very familiar face.
"No, Commander." came a stern, clipped reply, frigid and professional.
"And I would prefer not to use any names."
Details became apparent as he studied them.
The hair was paler, more tightly cropped.
The jacket had become much more severe, too.
Dark, powder gray with prominent shoulderpads - the uniform of Federation politicians everywhere.
Even the charcoal-colored lipstick struck him as abnormal.
This was indeed not Founder Madisyn Winters, of Canonn.
"What can I do for you?" he asked - treading very carefully.
"Your efforts in the Nebula have not gone unnoticed. I believe you may in fact be of great service to us.
Once your business on the front lines has concluded, I would like you to report back to Balandin Gateway for your next assignment."
"Ma'am. With respect, my work here may take -"
"Your obligations to AEGIS Research have been cleared. In exchange for ... significant Federation assistance ... in building their new Defense Force, they're agreeing to your withdrawal from their theater of operations. The ADF is getting the help they need - you, on the other hand, are needed elsewhere.
You have two days, Commander."
"And if I don't choose to accept this assignment?"
The stony, flat-faced stare was not one of due consideration. The way she had phrased her request suggested that having Wingnut's thumbnails removed with pliers would be a far more attractive prospect than accepting a plain "no."
And he did not for a moment doubt that could happen, too.
Finally, before disconnecting the line, she responded.
The bridge hung silent - even the speakers on the empty chair, which the tele-presence of NPC Vega resided, were struck dumb.
Wingnut was still for a moment before it dawned on him. He knew who that woman was - everyone did. What he hadn't realized was....
"..... holy shit - they're sisters!"
It was not for another twenty minutes before he also realized GALCORRECT did not buzz in a correction at that expletive.