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corporate slogan, "Exploring the past to create a better future," as long as the better future was better for IPX. Or as one of her colleagues, Favorito, liked to paraphrase, "Exploiting the past to create a better profit margin." If they couldn't use it, swap it, or sell it, they didn't care about it. But when it came to mounting major expeditions to distant planets, they were the only game in town. As she'd justified her growing involvement with IPX to her husband, John, "It's all right to deal with the devil, as long as you do it freelance."

And so the executives' attention turned elsewhere, which was fine with Anna. She could fill out the end of her contract with IPX in peace. Then she planned to return to MIT for a year, where her baggy sweaters, khaki pants, and irregularly combed hair wouldn't be so out of place. She would teach for a while and get back into the in-depth research that allowed her to immerse herself in a long-dead alien culture.

Most people didn't understand her desire to know how alien cultures had thought and lived. John tried, though he was undeniably a man of the present. Her parents appreciated the profitability of discovering ancient alien technologies. But most nonarchaeologists didn't understand that in the practice of her profession she traveled in space and time and body, unlocked ancient secrets, gained communion with races staggeringly different from her own, and examined how all these different races tried to answer the same questions, to cope with the same problems: where did we come from, where are we going, and what significance can my life possibly have? Maybe, someday, she'd find the answers for herself.

Her specialty was tools, the favorite of most archaeologists , and she'd been working up her report on the tools of the
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