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asked.

"It was alive," Anna said, "and it was watching us. This race is not dead."

They sat in silence until Standish found them. He grabbed the hand bar above them to keep his balance. Anna's link chimed as he linked into her subgroup.

"I thought you were coming up front."

He handed her a comp-pad with the latest information on the storm.

"It's concentrated over this whole region. Winds are gusting up to seventy miles per hour. It looks like it's going to be with us for the next few days at least."

She handed back the comp-pad.

"When we looked at the data from the orbiter this morning, it didn't predict a storm."

"I know. For some reason the computer hasn't been able to come up with a terribly accurate model. There must be factors influencing the weather that it's not taking into account."

He took a few steps to maintain his balance as the crawler slowed to a stop. As she went to stand, Anna realized she was still holding Morden's hand. Although they were separated by two layers of bulky gloves, she could feel the substance of his hand, its return pressure against her. The simple human contact was reassuring. With an embarrassed smile she released his hand, pulled her arm out from his.

She didn't say anything since it would have automatically gone out over the link. Anna linked back to the main group and went up to the front of the crawler, followed by Morden, Favorito, and Standish. Out the front windows, through the sheets of blowing dust and sand, the major pillar was intermittently visible. To its left, perhaps thirty yards off, were Chang's two crawlers. He was not back at the Icarus.

"The egg is gone," Razor said.

He was staring out the window.

"I wasn't sure at first. The scanners are giving us some trouble with the storm. But
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