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petulant, grabby, like a child who snatched things for himself and wouldn't share. Was that really an accurate depiction of him?

He turned to the monitor and activated it. The artifact appeared on the screen, huge and mysterious and perhaps utterly unknowable.

Perhaps, he realized, he should be making more of an effort to open up the exploration of the artifact to other worlds. Perhaps he should be welcoming their participation. Perhaps ...

He stared at it, and imagined dozens of ships from all different races clambering all over the thing, each trying to carve out its own little piece or trying to figure out a way to activate it or use it in some self-serving manner.

The hell with it, he decided. If he was going to err, let it be on the side of caution. If there were secrets to be discovered, let him be the first to uncover them. Loose lips sink ships. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Finders keepers. All the cliches tumbled over in his head.

"Besides," he muttered to himself with undeniable smugness, and apparently forgetting who had actually found the damned thing, "... it is mine."

Zack Allan, hanging back at first as the Starfuries and worker 'bots flitted around the artifact, was reminded of an occasion in his own youth. Zack had grown up very much in a city environment, but one summer he'd gone to visit a favorite uncle in the country. During that visit young Zack had been wandering about in the forest, and he'd come upon the fairly disgusting sight of a dead possum enveloped by various crawling and flying insects, swarming over it and devouring it. The stench was appreciable, and he could hear a humming in the air as the flying creatures went about their business.

There was no stench in space, of course, nor were the Star-furies making any
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