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had really wanted to see him, she should have moved heaven and earth to see him. The thought troubled her. Yet it was nothing compared to what Morden had to face. His wife and daughter were dead. That impediment he could not overcome.

By the time she'd gotten Favorito and Razor loaded into the tube and down to the Icarus, which was docked in the central landing bay of Station Prime, only a few minutes remained before the mission briefing. She found Dr. Chang on the command deck in discussion with Captain Hidalgo. Chang turned as she approached. He'd changed into his expedition khakis and boots.

"It looks like you've done an excellent job working with Captain Hidalgo to prep the ship."

Chang seemed energetic. Perhaps escaping corporate headquarters and his tasseled loafers had raised his spirits.

"The captain has been very helpful," Anna said.

In truth, Hidalgo, a short, wiry man, had answered her questions, but he was hardly forthcoming. His philosophy, when it came to archaeologists, anyway, seemed to be to speak only when spoken to. A philosophy to which he continued to adhere.

"Over fifty percent of our equipment is loaded," Anna said, "and the rest is arriving over the next few days. The ship's systems are all being prepped for the journey. Everything should be ready with two days to spare. Are we still on schedule, Captain Hidalgo?"

"Yes, Doctor."

Hidalgo gave the impression that all doctors had blended together long ago in his mind, into one great nameless Doctor. She doubted he knew her name.

"Dr. Chang," she said, "I was wondering if I could talk to you for a moment before the mission briefing."

Chang nodded.

"Excuse us, Captain."

He headed toward the conference room, Anna following a step behind in the narrow passage.

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