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a jump engine with scanners and a series of probes attached to it.

When it found a planet that conformed to its preprogrammed guidelines, it sent down a probe and acted as a relay station for communications between the probe and Earth. The orbiter often recorded useful information of its own about the planet below, though in this case the constant dust storms prevented the orbiter from gathering much significant data. The orbiter was programmed to abandon the probe and move on after one month if no findings that satisfied its guidelines were reported by the probe. In this case, the findings had been plentiful, and the orbiter had been ordered by IPX to remain until further notice. Chang's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"How are you doing in there?"

"Fine. I hate it, but I'm fine."

Between the uncomfortable position and the claustrophobic surroundings, the module was suggested for use for only six hours at a time. Some people couldn't stand it for nearly that long.

"Tell Sheridan I bet ten credits against her," Razor called.

"Tell Razor I'm returning his Christmas present," Anna responded.

You'd think they'd been in space ten years instead of ten days.

"Destination acquired," the probe said.

In her helmet the image of the cave mouth waited, the probe's headlights sending the jagged edges of the rocks into high relief. The cave mouth opened like a dark scream. Anna looked down, the probe's cameras mirroring the tilt of her head. She examined the talus, the sloping mass of rock fragments outside the mouth of the cave. Often the talus revealed signs of habitation within the cave. Items such as bones, stones, or pottery were often thrown out of the cave or eroded out onto the talus. But she saw nothing except jagged black fragments of rock. The surface
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