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"Sure, I'll try."

Donne hesitated.

"You have no telepathic abilities, correct?"

"None whatsoever."

Donne handed her the box.

The unexpected weight almost fell out of her hand.

"What's this made of?"

"Lead," Donne said, and pulled out a chair.

Her face relaxed slightly. Anna sat beside her. She opened the small fastening on the box, took out the fragment. She took satisfaction in the fact that the fragment Donne had was significantly smaller than the one she had. Anna closed her hand around the fragment, concentrated on it. The experience was similar to the one she'd had at the Imperial Hotel, though now she studied the impressions more intently.

"Sheridan."

Morden was shaking her shoulder.

"What is it?" Anna asked.

"We were just getting concerned."

He was tightlipped, grim. He moved away. Chang was also in the room, and Churlstein. Anna felt rather self-conscious. She extended the fragment toward Donne.

"It's still active at some..."

"Back in the box, please," Donne said.

Her normal way of speaking, with little movement of her jaw, was exaggerated, as if she were clenching her teeth. She didn't want to touch the thing.

"Of course."

Anna allowed herself a slight hesitation, enjoying Donne's discomfort, then returned the fragment to the box.

"There was a faint echo of the pulsing, the heartbeat I heard before. But it was intermittent, and in the blank spots I got this feel of static, and on the other side of that there was this weird animal sense of a nest... burrowing into shavings, something warm in a dark place, stone all around. And then it was different, the machine was all around, and it was beautiful, and it hurt."

She felt foolish. The words couldn't convey what she had seen, what she had felt.

"The
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