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Anna wasn't sure if this was a new corporate policy or a special procedure for this expedition. But Chang trusted her not to abuse his code. It was ironic that today, December third, was their seventh anniversary, the day she and John had planned to spend together to celebrate their love for each other. She wanted to spend the whole day in his warm arms peeling him oranges and reading him silly mistranslated love incantations. But she'd made her decision, and he'd been unable to get away anyway. Borders. She told herself they had years and years of anniversaries to look forward to.

The com system gave her the same response she'd been getting for over a week: "The Earthforce ship you are trying to reach is currently out of contact. Please try again later."

"Still trying to reach your husband?"

Donne was standing in the doorway, her muscular body, covered in black, like a block of shadow. Anna had thought the whole team was up on the observation deck.

"Yes, no luck."

"I was wondering if you would conduct an experiment for me."

This was new. Donne seeking cooperation.

"What's the experiment?" Donne came inside.

She revealed a small box in her gloved hand.

"Your company granted me a fragment of the mouse. We've done extensive tests on it, but none of the results reveal the telepathic nature of the object. We, of course, don't want to endanger any other telepaths by having them attempt to make contact with the object. I'd like to see if you still detect any telepathic activity in the fragment."

They, of course, wouldn't mind it if Anna's brain turned to jelly, though she knew it wouldn't. But she couldn't tell Donne about the experience she'd had with her own fragment at the hotel; she wasn't supposed to have had access to the mouse at that point.
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