1: The three watch, lit by screens.

Xijo: You are certain it is safe to observe this sample? To watch on the screens?

Sedjet: At this dilution, we’re safe. All the tests show that it’s inert in this state: no effects on observers.

2: Sedjet types on a keyboard.

Xijo (off-panel): Sedjet Ahmes, is the alignment correct?

Sedjet: Damn, they’ve slid again. I’ll need a few minutes.

But uh… yeah, we’re safe with it like this, as long as we don’t touch it.

3: Vidali leans back in her chair as they wait. Xijo stays focused.

Vidali: Dr. Xijo, have you got family waiting at home?

Xijo: I affirm, I have two daughters. They are, ah, very young.

Vidali: I bet they miss you, it’s not exactly a short trip, huh?

Xijo: I agree. I miss them, but this study must be done.

4: Vidali speaks candidly.

Vidali: You didn’t travel two hundred million kilometers just because you’re good at it, though, right?

5: Xijo leans back in his chair and sighs, adjusting his hair. Sedjet quietly watches him over his shoulder.

Xijo: [untranslated martian]

6: They return to concentrating.

Xijo: I have reasons. For now, focus is required.