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the instinct to kill.

But he had to face the tech, and more than that, he had to face the reason he hadn't yet tried it. For in truth, he was reluctant to awaken the tech not because he didn't trust it, but because he didn't trust himself. Yet the Circle had given him another chance. Elric had given him another chance. They must believe in his ability to control himself.

And he must believe in himself. While he didn't believe instincts could be changed, they could, perhaps, be controlled. He had been unprepared before. Now that he fully understood the danger, he would be on guard, and he would cast no spell without careful thought. That he swore to himself, and that he must believe. For if he could not trust himself, he had no right to be a techno-mage.

He closed his eyes, visualized a blank screen. Upon it, he imposed the equation to create a message. The echo from the tech was strong, instantaneous. No sphere of destruction formed. No flames spouted over the field. There was no sense of independent will from the tech, no sense of anything alien stirring within him.

Thank you for the picnic, he wrote in the message. He debated saying more, decided against it. He visualized the equation to send the message. The tech obeyed, much like the chrysalis, but more quickly and efficiently. Casting the spell barely required any effort. Suddenly he was eager to work with the tech, to begin exploring its abilities and bounds.

Isabelle had begun packing up the food, and she hesitated as she received the message. Galen saw her face contract with concentration.

She resumed her packing, and Galen was startled to find that he had received a response. He opened it. You're welcome.



* * *



Elric stood beside Burell in the center of the Circle's amphitheater.
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