way. We've brought in various experts before. Hell, I'm a freelancer, along with half of the people in this building."
Chang glanced over his shoulder into the hall.
"When you discovered that mouse, you turned this place upside down. There's a lot of interest in it."
"Of course there is."
"You have to proceed carefully."
"Politics, I know."
"You shouldn't dismiss politics so quickly. Politics are often a stronger force than the truth."
He paused, his weatherworn face again seeming drained.
"I can't authorize it. I know what they want. They want absolute secrecy. They're even more paranoid than normal."
"But a telepath would have to keep this confidential."
Chang nodded, his gaze drifting back to the mouse.
"Have you tried affecting it mentally, from a distance?"
"No. I don't see how I could."
"Try it for me. Just to see."
She turned to him, twisting her lips.
"I'm going to feel stupid."
"Worse things have happened."
She took a deep breath, let it out. The mouse lay still, sleeping. She focused on the patterns frozen on its surface, the supple skin, the complex structure of bone, the oscillating current of brain, the heart she knew beat within. Move, damn it, move. Wake up. Time to wake up. Do something. Dance a jig. Sing a song. The machine says it's time to wake up! Nothing. She turned back to Chang.
"I do feel stupid."
"We had to try."
She ran her hands up under her shoulder-length hair and grabbed her scalp. She wasn't about to give up. This puzzle was solvable, and she'd discovered the key.
"I don't need your authorization, you know. To bring in a telepath."
"But if you tell me about it, I have to forbid it."
"What if I don't tell you about it?"