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to have to communicate by runners."

"Too bad Churlstein's not on our team. It would be a perfect job for him."

"Don't be cruel, Razor, you know that's my job. How's the platform coming?"

"We're progressing on schedule, meaning we're about fifty minutes farther along than when you left fifty minutes ago."

"I've bet Favorito a ten-spot that you won't finish on schedule."

Favorito pointed a finger at her to show he accepted the bet.

"You want to double that action?" Razor asked.

"You're on. We're going out of communications range now. Expect to be out for two hours. If you need us, follow the blue lights."

"Find any bugs in there?"

"Just the one that's going under your pillow tonight."

They continued into the cave, which sloped downward at a steep angle, their boots sliding on the loose rock fragments. Morden crisscrossed from side to side to set up the floodlights. Favorito supervised the camera and made constant notations on his comp-pad. Anna ran the several scans available to her on the hand-held scanner, searching for any signs of artifacts or habitation. The results showed nothing, but then these hand-held scanners were crude devices, without the capacity to convey the detailed information that she needed.

Usually her eyes were the best tool on a preliminary survey like this anyway. Often the surface contours of the cave floor could indicate habitation. But she saw no such signs. The cave gradually widened, the darkness around them growing vaster, and as Anna scanned it, she found that the cave was branching apart.

"The cave is separating into three branches," she said.

"Door number one, door number two, or door number three," Favorito said.

As she widened the scan to determine the size, direction and route of each branch, the
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