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right beside her. Morden took a floodlight out of his pack, held it against the cave wall, and activated it. It sealed itself against the wall and flickered on.

The light would last for approximately six months, longer than they'd need. Anna followed the cone of bluish illumination out along the cave floor.

"It doesn't seem as bright as it should be. Are we getting full output?"

Morden checked the side of the device.

"It's at one hundred percent. These walls seem to absorb the light.

"Anna checked her coordinates with the hand-held scanner, moved toward the cave wall, a few yards down from the light. She found the small hole that she had dug with the probe. "Can you bring your lights over here?"

Morden and Favorito came closer, following her lead and pointing their lights at the jagged stone fragments and larger stones that made up the cave floor.

"This is where I left the two mice."

She couldn't believe it. They were gone.

"Do you see them?"

Anna crouched, a difficult maneuver in the bulky suit. Morden was shining his light down the hole.

"This has filled partway in. Do you think they slid back down?"

"I didn't leave them that close to the hole."

They searched the surrounding area. Anna ran a focused thermal scan using the weak, hand-held scanner. The three of them were the only heat sources in the immediate area. The mice were not there. The probe wasn't there either, of course. It had been taken somewhere to be destroyed. Knowing what she now knew about Mars, Anna supposed it was possible that a surviving member of this race had destroyed the probe, but that wouldn't explain the erasure of the probe record.

Someone from the Icarus bad destroyed the probe and had taken the mice as well, and either hidden or destroyed them. The
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