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could move heavy equipment into the cave, raise or lower it through vertical shafts, into pits and crevasses, and maneuver it through tight spaces. The assembly would take most of the day and over half of her support crew.

Standish supervised the rest, running a survey of the area surrounding the cave, taking various readings to fill in gaps in the probe's data, and establishing a datum point, from which all site measurements would be made. She consulted with both of them and made sure things were progressing smoothly before she asked Morden and Favorito to accompany her on a preliminary exploration of the major cave. Morden was the one she felt she could trust the most now. He'd told her about Mars, about IPX's discovery, three years ago, of a ship buried at Syria Planum.

The ship had utilized biomechanical-or as he called it, organic-technology, unlike anything they'd ever seen before. As soon as the ship had been exposed to sunlight, it had sent out an automatic coded message. IPX, in a bit of a panic, contacted their friends at Earthforce New Technologies Division, and Morden was sent over as a consultant along with a team of Morden advised that the signal was most likely an automatic distress call, and if the owners of the ship were still around, they would send someone to retrieve it. After taking samples from the ship and planting a homing device, IPX pulled back quickly.

Three days later, an identical ship arrived, finished excavating the buried ship, repaired or activated it somehow, and they both flew off. IPX had tracked the ship to Alpha Omega 3. After much debate and political wrangling, a probe had been sent to follow up. IPX had cut Earthforce out of the testing of the samples from the ship, which were IPX property, but had agreed to provide reports
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