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again. Another suddenly went off for no reason, but she was familiar with this particular model, and simply gave it a quick punch. The monitor came back on line again. Satisfied with all the readouts, she took a deep breath, reached over, and touched one of the controls. "Activating light grid," she said. She knew that, in his office or quarters or wherever he was skulking about, Sheridan was probably keeping track of their progress. If the damned thing didn't go on now, she was going to look like a complete idiot.

But she was fortunate in that there were apparently no gremlins mucking up the works. The massive lights on the superstructure switched on, throwing the artifact into harsh relief against the darkness of space.

She let out a breath, having passed one hurdle. She tried not to let the relief sound in her voice, because she didn't want to give anyone listening in on the channel the slightest hint that she'd been at all concerned. Utter confidence all the way, that was what she was shooting for.

"Activating scanner array," she continued. No one who heard her would have suspected that she'd been anything but positive of the results-every step of the way. "We'll begin with metallurgical analysis, then continue with deep-field resonance scans to see what's inside that thing."

Something caught her eye on one of the monitors, the one she'd been having problems with. At first she thought it was the equipment again, but then she realized that, no, it was the lights around the artifact itself. They were flickering on and off.

The thing looked like the Christmas tree from hell. "Probe One, we're losing the light a little. Can you correct?"

"Confirmed," came back Kuehler's voice. "Increasing power to lighting grid."

After a long moment, the lights began
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