Sean yawned. Gods, he was tired. He reached to scratch the furry trogomet stomach. Two surveys left. Half an hour of work, then he would enter the last of the data into Snow White, and then he would finally sleep.

His hand froze. He was petting a trogomet. Twenty meters from Snow White. Sweet Olympus.

How did it even get inside past shutters and double doors? Never mind that, how was he going to get it out?

The trogomet let out a disappointed “Mook!” It rocked upright and sat on its haunches, its forehands held limp on its chest.

Cookie. As long as it had a cookie, it might not venture down the hallway, break through the vault door, and devour the only computer on the entire planet. Sean rummaged through the pockets of his pants, coming up with a half-crumbled disk of oatmeal.



Sean jerked the window shutter open and tossed the treat into the bluish grass outside. Fuzzy black lightning shot past him, snatching the cookie in mid-air. Sean slammed the plestiglass shutters closed, locked them, and sprinted down the hallway to check on Snow White.

A thick plastic door barred entrance to the vault. Grasping the lever, he jerked it to the side, and the door slid into the recess in the wall. The trogomets had gotten pretty good at opening the standard issue doors, but the heavy side-slider left them stumped. A cluster of phoros spheres spilled lemony light on the small space between two doors. Sean stepped through, slid the first door closed behind him, and scrutinized the tiny space.

Nothing. No two-foot tall fuzz balls hiding in the corners. No “mook!”

Reassured, he slid the second door open, jumped through, and slammed it back with muscle-tearing force just in case. A rectangular room lay before him, empty, save for the transparent cube of plestiglass. Six feet high and two inches thick, the cube enclosed Snow White, a Fourth Order Workstation, the totality of the expedition computer arsenal. If you didn’t count the Dwarf, a small remote unit, which was little more than a glorified backup drive.

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