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the artifact through the window and manipulate the environment within. She re-created the temperature of her hand. She recreated the chemical salinity and oils on her palm. She re-created the pulse of her blood, the faint electromagnetic field of her body. All to no effect. The coloring on the mouse remained unchanged.

She raised the temperature another ten degrees, far beyond what it would have been in her hand. Waited. No change. Chang's heavy footsteps sounded behind her.

"I got your message. Any luck?"

He sounded like a different person from yesterday, as if the growing pragmatism and caution of the last ten years had suddenly been doubled over night. The enthusiasm in his voice yesterday had been replaced by his corporate poker-neutral tone. With a practiced push of her foot, Anna swung around in her chair, turning away from the isolab window and console.

Dr. Chang had looked almost the same for as long as she'd known him: fine flyaway grayish white hair, a short, compact build, around his eyes and mouth the rugged wrinkles of someone who spent a lot of time outdoors. Her favorite part of him was his hands, covered with the calluses that were the badges of honor of field archaeologists, yet graceful in their movement. Her own hands were callused-it was an occupational hazard-but it would take years before they looked like Dr. Chang's. The main change in him over the years had been a slight widening of his midsection and a radical change in clothes when he joined the corporate environment of IPX. She still found it odd to see him in a tailored suit and tasseled loafers. He seemed to belong in rugged outdoor gear. Yet today he looked drained, a slump in his chest and a slackness to his mouth as if he'd lost touch with his body.

She thought she'd cheer him
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