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Some indicated that the egg had an electronic component; others showed biological characteristics. A resonance scan then revealed the most fascinating aspect of the egg."

He switched to a new visual, which Anna recognized with excitement.

"It has a heartbeat. This is when I made the connection to Sheridan's mouse, which I'll let her discuss in a few minutes. RNA screens confirmed that the protein fingerprint of the planet matched that of the mouse."

Anna had no idea they'd found something of this significance. This biomechanical organism was incredibly more complex than the mouse. And it appeared in excellent condition. If they already knew about one surviving biomechanical device on the planet, there would most likely be others. She wondered what its function might be.

The other scientists were whispering to each other, totally amazed at what they had seen. Morden turned her way, his smile now replaced by a more subtle expression of genuine curiosity. Donne's face had gone blank, her mouth tilted at a forgotten angle.

"The probe, as you know," Chang continued, "is running a preprogrammed pattern of investigation and testing. We may change general directives for the probe at this point, but my sense is that it would be premature-no matter how much I want more testing on that egg. We only found the egg because the probe was carrying out its preprogrammed pattern, which is designed for optimum use of time and energy. I'm afraid that by interfering we may miss an equally exciting find. Once we're about a week and a half into our journey, we'll be close enough that we can take direct control of the probe. Doing so sooner than that, because of the distances involved, would create a dangerous time delay between our directives and the probe's responses. Most of
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