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was, what she was, even that she was. She had been absorbed by alien thoughts, enthralled by the machine. The machine had taken over her mind.

Her fear slowly dissipated as she realized what a breakthrough she had made. She had activated a device utilizing a totally unknown technology that had lain dormant for over a thousand years. But what, exactly, had activated it, and how could she study it if any contact overwhelmed her?

Her hand tapping against her leg, Anna crossed the lab to the window, shooting glances back at the mouse. Outside, it had begun to snow, the thick flakes driving against the windows of Geneva City Hospital across the wide boulevard.

Three floors down, the morning traffic was now in full swing. She'd missed it, coming in early after a night of restless sleep to study the mouse. It was potentially the greatest find she'd ever made, but if she couldn't discover how it worked, the find would be meaningless.

Three months ago, she'd returned from a dig for Interplanetary Expeditions (IPX) on Theta Omega 2, a planet near the rim of known space. Under Dr. Chang, the mission commander and her old instructor at the University of Chicago, they'd unearthed the remains of a race who called themselves the J/Lai, an offshoot of the Brakiri. Although the artifacts and the culture they implied had been fascinating, IPX had been mainly interested in a particular crystalline stone that the J/Lai had used as an energy source. Once she and the other archaeologists had determined that the J/Lai used this stone for energy, the information was handed over to the engineers. She and the others on the science team of the expedition were left batting cleanup, at least in the minds of the IPX executives.

Their interest in archaeology was perfectly summed up in the
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