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a pulse and a rudimentary circulatory system. She had also detected low-level electrical activity suggesting a quasi brain wave, though the brain waves had a perfect, uniform cyclical structure. No known creature had a simple, perfectly cyclical brain-wave pattern; the steady frequency and amplitude were more characteristic of electronics. In addition, the electrical pattern was propagated throughout the entire object, as through a classical electronic device, rather than being limited to a certain area. While certain components contained organic compounds, others were forged from an unfamiliar superconducting metal. A complex array of microprocessors clung to sections of the skeleton like barnacles. The mouse's energy source was a mystery.

Why would an advanced species create something like this? If it was a tool of some kind, she'd been unable to discern its workings. There were no obvious controls or mechanisms. She didn't know what it might do. When working with the artifacts of a specific culture, she always tried to create a part of her mind that thought like the alien. Bit by bit she added information -how they obtained food, how they created shelter-until in some limited way she could re-create the way they saw things, the way they lived. That was her method: study the artifacts left behind, deduce the culture of those who had left them, reconstitute their behavior, recapture their thoughts. But in this case, she had only three artifacts from which to deduce an entire culture. It was like trying to deduce the contents of a dark room from what she could see in the beam of a stationary pinpoint light. And if she didn't come up with results soon, she knew IPX would hand the mouse over to someone else. Her planned three-week vacation/anniversary celebration starting
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