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told her to forget about work. Well, she'd forget about it when John showed up.

She removed the stiff fragment, laid it on the communications console. The anchovy smell had gotten stronger, and the piece had dried somewhat since she'd looked at it last. The edges felt crusty, sharp and artificial, almost like plastic, while the central area still looked almost like skin, though now stiff and dry. The color was now a uniform shade of charcoal. She wished she had her equipment with her, so she could take some readings. But surely Chang was running every test in the book on the fragments in his possession.

Hesitantly, with a shadow of the fear she'd felt when she'd connected with the mouse, she picked up the fragment and stroked it with her index finger, focusing her attention on it. She couldn't imagine that it was still operative. But without any equipment, there was little else she could try. The coloring of the piece remained constant. She sensed no heat from it, no life. She wondered what its true purpose had been. It could have been designed to explode, but she sensed that
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