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New Year's Eve party, or he'd purposely left it unsent.

"Time of message creation."

"Zero hundred hours thirty-two minutes, 1/1/57."

A few minutes ago. She knew Chang had been at the party at midnight; they all had, except Donne. A few minutes later, when the head-bobbing ritual show of dominance began, she'd seen Chang leave and thought it would be a good idea to take a break herself and send a message to John. Odd that he would leave the party to send a message to his boss. Even IPX execs had to take New Year's Eve off.

It must have been urgent. The message must have been caught in the same communications malfunction she'd experienced. She wondered if Chang knew it hadn't been sent. What would he have to tell Galovich that was so important? Since the probe had stopped working two and a half weeks ago, they'd spent their time sifting through old data, mapping out the most promising excavation sites, planning strategies, and playing poker. Only she had found herself in a state of paranoia, as if she'd caught it from Chang, thinking constantly about the probe and who might have been able to access and operate it.

She wanted to discuss it with someone, but the only other person who knew was Chang. And since she'd gone to him with the news about the probe, she'd felt a growing distance from him. The whole expedition was in jeopardy, and he was more concerned with keeping the home office happy than with running an effective, accurate, scientifically valid mission. She forced herself to thoroughly consider the ethics of the situation for three seconds before telling the corn system to play the message.

Dr. Chang appeared on screen, wearing a suit, sitting in the narrow chair in his quarters. Despite his obvious attempt to present a polished exterior, his thumbnail
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