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did not appear natural.

The bones had the same look as the mouse bones, crafted, elegant, artificial. The mouse had also had an odd interior skeletal structure, but it had been much more subtle than this, much more complex. This appeared quite obviously to be two separate organisms. It looked almost like a small flying saucer with a tiny pilot inside. That made her think of their saucer-shaped camera, and as she imagined a tiny pilot inside, her mind flashed to the probe control module, to the feeling that for a few moments she and the machine had been one. It was crude, and this was sophisticated, but she felt sure, as she studied the small skeleton caught in the suffocating grip of tissue, that she knew the key to biomechanical technology. The realization sang through her with a rush.

"That small skeleton inside was a living creature," she said.

"They took something living and hooked it into their machines. That's how they worked."

She straightened as Morden did, and his mouth opened, awe breaking over his face.

"That's what you sensed with Donne's mouse fragment."


She felt the same excitement she saw on his face, the adrenaline high of the breakthrough better than any stim junkie's fix.

"That may be why the devices seem to work telepathically-one living being communicating with another."

"And I thought humans won the award for sickest culture."

Favorito rose into his stooped standing posture.

"How did they do it? How could they plug a living creature into something else like some interchangeable component?"

"I don't know. But the artificial section, remember, also has a biological element. Somehow they work together, in some sort of symbiotic or parasitic relationship."

"Parasitic, I'd say."

Favorito made some notations
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