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animal. I think it's what the mouse was, once."

"You mean an evolutionary memory?" Churlstein asked.

"You think this device evolved naturally out of a real animal? That's ridiculous."

Anna ran her hands up under her hair, grabbed her scalp, feeling fuzzy, frustrated.

"That's not what I mean. I'm not sure what I mean."

Chang said, "Perhaps the DNA used to create the device was adapted from that of a living creature. Perhaps that is some imprinted instinct you sensed. Our knowledge of how these devices are created is nil. It's too early to discount any possibility."

He directed those words at Churlstein.

"So it might still pose a threat," Donne said, "even at this stage."

"I suppose so," Anna said.

Donne reluctantly took up the box.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Dr. Sheridan. I think if we work together, we'll be able to unlock the secrets of these devices, which would be in all our best interests. If we can't understand something as simple as this mouse, how will we ever understand the egg?"

As she left, Morden sat down beside Anna and leaned in close.

"Someone must have slipped her a happy pill."

Anna burst out laughing.

"In the spirit of cooperation," Morden said to Chang and the others, "I have some translations."

"Wonderful, wonderful. I can't believe you have something for us already."

Chang sat opposite Morden, Churlstein quickly taking the seat beside him. Anna was also surprised that Morden could have translated anything yet. Even with computer analyses, it was a slow, painstaking job. Morden opened a folder with a series of stills derived from the probe's image transmissions.

"Using some image refinement techniques, I've been able to get readable inscriptions off of fifty different sources so far."

He spread
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