"He's in the hands of the corps now. That's all you need to know."
Anna twisted her lips, fighting the sudden pressure of tears.
"How did you get here so quickly?"
"I ask the questions; I don't answer them. I'm not the one who turned a telepath's brain to jelly."
And in the silence, the whisper of Terrence's lips.
"I am the machine. I am the machine."
Terrence's eyes continued to dart sightlessly around the room. He didn't see her. He didn't see anything. Anna squeezed his hand and left. She had to go back to the lab, had to record the debris pattern of the explosion, pass it to the engineers to calculate the force of the detonation. She had to collect the fragments. She looked at her watch, suddenly remembered her vacation and John. In fifteen hours she was supposed to be on a transport to see him and celebrate their anniversary. How could she leave now? After all that had happened.
She looked at her watch again. In an hour, she was supposed to be having dinner with Liz. She walked into her lab, distracted, reaching her desk before she realized that all signs of the blast had been cleaned away. It didn't even look like her lab, it was so clean. All furniture and equipment had been restored or replaced, except for the equipment she'd borrowed from other labs, which had simply been removed.
All the glass and mouse fragments had been swept up. All her books had been restored to her bookcase, out of order. All her reports and test results were gone. Her personal computer was centered neatly on her desk. The only evidence of the explosion was the missing isolab window, which would probably take days to replace.
"You're late for our meeting."
Anna jumped. Dr. Chang was standing in the doorway behind her.
"I'm sorry. I forgot all about