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up.

"I activated the mouse this morning somehow, when I was holding it."

"You did?" he said, the question sounding more like a statement.

"What happened?"

He leaned forward to look at the mouse down on the floor of the isolab.

"Is something wrong?" she asked.

"What? No."

He straightened.

"I didn't get much sleep last night."

Anna smiled.

"Me neither. So I came in early, and when I was holding the mouse, the color patterns on it started to shift."

He sat down beside her at the console, enthusiasm warming his voice.

"Incredible, Anna. So what are you doing now?"

"I was trying to re-create the environment of my hand, to isolate the factor that activated it. But nothing's working."

She brought up the variables she'd been manipulating on the monitor. Chang's eyes seemed to glide over them.

"None of these variables had the same effect as your touch."

"No."

He turned to her.

"You're holding something back."

Anna's hand tapped against her leg. Through the isolab window the object rested, quiet as a sleeping mouse.

"This morning when I was holding it, when the patterns started to move, I felt something. I felt it thinking. It communicated to me telepathically."

"So you think maybe it's operated telepathically."

With his thumbnail he scraped at a callus on his index finger.

"I'm no telepath, but I think that maybe by holding it, and by focusing my attention on it, I may have brought it to some minimal level of activity."

Now that she'd come out with the theory she'd been avoiding since her contact with the mouse, it seemed inevitable, and the next step was clear.

"A telepath may be able to fully activate it."

Chang's tone turned neutral.

"You want to bring a telepath in on this?"

"I don't see any other
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