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he'd given it to her, she'd decided this morning to bring it with her, although it was making her more nervous, not more secure.

She doubted she could even get it out of her pocket in under thirty seconds, and once she did, she wasn't even sure she could make the thing work. She'd never fired a gun before. Anna headed into the rear section of the crawler, followed by the other archaeologists. Along each side of the crawler ran a row of seats for the techs, while in the center was stored their crawler's share of the heavy equipment: a dozer, several drills, a heavy-duty resonance imager, the sonic probe, and a disassembled mobile elevator platform. She gave the tech the signal to open the door, and the door broke open along the ceiling, unfolding out to create a ramp. The techs and archaeologists began heading out.

Anna's steps came more slowly. The landscape of Alpha Omega 3 was more desolate and more majestic than any world she had visited. The craggy rocks and sharp, up thrust fingers of stone stretched to the limits of vision, where the misshapen forms of massive mountains distorted the horizon.

It was easy to feel lost, insignificant here among the huge blocks of stone, the towering pillars, and the vast scale, like a bug in the land of the gods. She remembered feeling this as a child, in Rome standing beside Trajan's column. These pillars stretched over twice as high, higher than the EVA suit would allow her to tilt her head back to see. The sky was a turbulent reddish brown, the dust constant, and heavier since they'd landed than when the probe had recorded it.

Its color added an air of distance and unreality to the landscape, almost as if she was observing something removed in time, or in some other dimension. As Anna stepped off the ramp, she realized
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