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and the creatures who lived within it. The great, vaulted darkness conjured up awe, but it was'no longer the awe of reverence; it was the awe of fear. She'd never felt an unease like this before. She wished she'd worn an EVA suit. She'd determined in the trip over in the crawler to confront the creature in the nodule. Try to communicate with it, threaten it, kill it if necessary.

Morden had the PPG, and she had her favorite digging tools. It had all seemed very logical in the crawler. Now the thought of facing its malice and hunger again made her want to run back into the open air. She ordered her team to split, fifteen techs down the left passage, fifteen down the center, her and Morden alone to the right, down the passage where they'd found the nodule. The techs found this division a little strange, she could tell as she gave the orders, but they obeyed, each group starting a new series of lights into the darkness. She felt bad sending the techs off with such little knowledge of what they might face. But then what did she know about what they would face? She and Morden started down the narrower passage, following the trail of dim blue lights. Morden was carrying a full bag of floodlights and a scanner that he checked periodically. He'd left his shiny digging tools behind. After all, they were here to search for missing crewmen, not excavate. Anna turned off her link, using the remote control adhered to the back of her hand. The listening and speaking mechanisms of the link were built into the breathers. But with the link off, she and Morden could both communicate merely by speaking, their voices transmitted through the screens of the breathers. If the others needed her, they would link in.

"You seem to have a plan."

His voice, through the screen of the breather,
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