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was smooth.

"Not really. I'm going to try to communicate with that creature. It knows where the others are. We could search these caverns for days without finding them. If it won't cooperate willingly, maybe we can threaten it. And if that doesn't work, we'll try to kill it."

"You don't believe in the indirect approach, do you?"

"We don't have time. And unless we can locate that energy source, I have no other ideas. You don't have a better idea, do you?"

"Calling in a squad of GROPOS would be nice."

They approached the desiccated corpse they'd found before, and as Morden ran a scan of the area, Anna paused beside it, thinking of the living creature trapped within the biomechanical shell. For this race, inferior creatures were simply biological components to be inserted into their biomechanical tools. Anna wondered what purpose the living creatures served. Did their brains serve as some sort of processing center? Or were they somehow utilized as an energy source? A circulatory center? Whatever their purpose, it seemed that bigger or more complex tools would require bigger or more complex biological components. She'd seen only small tools so far, nothing like the spaceship Morden had described. They continued farther down into the cave, forced once again to crouch as the walls closed around them. As they reached the end of the lights, they slowed as Morden installed new ones at regular intervals. The darkness felt close and thick around them, as if they were the only ones in this place, and this place was the only place in the world. Her sense of uneasiness grew as they approached the location of the nodule. She hit her link.

"Group one report."

She waited, the link silent. Of course they'd drifted too far away from each other. As she'd discovered before,
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