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of her findings. She finally reached over and toggled the switch on the recording console.

"Report Seventeen," she said. "A hundred years ago, the Cen-tauri gave us jumpgates and changed the future forever. The artifact may be even more important. Preliminary findings have started coming in. They confirm that the alien artifact is definitely not a ship, but rather a mechanism. We're picking up readings beyond anything we've seen before." She rubbed the bridge of her nose to compose herself, because she felt as if her voice were trembling. She steadied herself and continued, "I think I have an idea what it might be designed for, but as long as it's sitting dead in space I can't be sure. We have to probe further, and we have to do it soon, before anyone else starts poking around."

She paused, then played it back to make sure that her voice sounded steady and authoritative. Approving of what she heard, she decided she needed a concluding thought. "If I'm right, what we're looking at here could make jumpgates look like nothing in comparison. This could be the most significant discovery in Human history. It could change everything..."

She wanted to say more, so much more. But it would have been unprofessional to speculate beyond that. She toggled off the switch, leaned back, and continued to stare at the hieroglyphs.

She stared at them again, because something suddenly seemed ... off....

They were starting to blend together ... and waver ... like a sea of snakes, or tentacles, moving about, whipping around, and it almost seemed like they were starting to come off the page-----

She shut her eyes tightly and then opened them again. The sheet had returned to normal. There was nothing.

Nothing. Nothing but the future of Humanity, she thought with returning excitement.
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