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shook her head.

"This is huge. Why aren't you dancing on your desk?"

Chang glanced away, took a deep breath.

"Sorry. It's only ten o'clock, and it's already been a long day. The biggest discovery since the Krich, they're saying."

Her mind was racing. Being the first in a thousand years to walk in the ancient halls of a lost, advanced race, uncovering their implements, re-creating how they lived, how they thought, unlocking their secrets it was the ultimate rush.

"The biggest discovery of our lifetimes."

His face loosened into a smile.

"And I saved the best part."


"Initial RNA screens indicate that the protein fingerprint of the planet's microorganisms matches that of your mouse. This could be its home."

Anna jumped to her feet and began circling the communications console.

"This is incredible. The chances have to be a billion to one. They're planning an expedition?"

Chang nodded.

"God, I would give anything to be on that ship. Who's mission commander?"

"I am." She stopped.

"They don't want me to go, do they?"

"It's not a matter of what they want. Or what I want. I need you to go. As science officer, second in command under me."

"They've okayed it?"

"They've okayed it."

"This is incredible. The chance to confirm a find like this, and to be the first ones to study it... As soon as I get back I'll start helping with the prep work and drawing up some preliminary lists of equipment."

"The expedition launches in ten days."

She thought she must have misunderstood.


"Ten days from now. We're using the Icarus out of Station Prime. I'm leaving on a transport in an hour."

Anna rubbed her finger against the top of the console.

"That's impossible. There's no way you can prep an expedition in less
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