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everything he took an interest in. He checked the manual controls, in case the camera needed to be taken off automatic for special, detailed work. Then they headed up the dune that led to the mouth of the cave, Anna feeling the familiar rhythmic tapping of the hand tools against her body.

She had told herself again and again that they had four months on site, but she had a sense of insecurity about the entire expedition that made her feel rushed. Besides, she wanted to retrieve the mouselike objects she had found before Donne or anyone else got to them, and if she could locate the probe as well, it might provide the evidence about who had destroyed it and why. They paused at the cave entrance as Favorito made sure the camera was recording, Anna and Morden searching with their lights for signs of any artificial component to the cave or any signs of habitation.

It appeared to be a natural formation of the landscape, despite some odd, jagged outcroppings along the floor that looked almost like teeth. Anna led the way into the cave. It sloped steeply downward, and she had to keep her light trained on the ground to watch for differentially lifted slabs of stone and fallen rocks. As they moved away from the entrance, they became enveloped in darkness, their three lights shining damped and ineffective in the space surrounding them. The cave walls seemed to swallow their light. Anna had spent a good deal of her life in caves, cathedrals of mystery and beauty and truth. She'd never seen darkness like this.

"We'll have to start with the floodlights," Anna said to Morden.

He was carrying a supply. He nodded.

"They're not going to go far in here."

His smooth voice, through the EVA suit links, was reproduced with an almost uncanny quality. It seemed as if he were standing
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