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unless such need comes." He activated the recording device in the probe.

"Gale! Gale! Gale!" she cried. Elric looked toward them.

Galen inserted the sound of her words into the program, so that he would be informed if ever she said them. "You will care for it."

"Yes. Yes."

"You will not abuse it."


He opened his hand. It was empty.

"Ah!" she cried.

"What?" he said. "Where is it?" He patted himself down.

Fa watched him, half excited, half worried. "Do you have it?" Galen asked.

Fa began patting herself down, stopped, her hand on her pocket. Wonder lit up her face. She reached inside, pulled out the ring. "Oh!" As his mother had given it to his father, he gave it to Fa. It was a great relief, finally, to be free of it.

Galen stood, picked up the staff and valise. Fa looked up at him, then at the valise, and her face fell. She bolted across the mak. He watched as her orange jumper faded into the mist.

Galen approached Elric and Isabelle. Isabelle was wearing a small golden amulet, an eye surrounded by the curving flames of a corona. On each flame was engraved a scientific symbol. He wondered if it had been a gift from Burell, as his staff from Elric.

"Burell is inside," Elric said. "She is ready."

Galen nodded, and Isabelle started up the ramp into the ship.

"Contact me daily," Elric said. "I will relay your findings to the Circle."

"I know."

As Galen was about to start up the ramp, Elric seized him in an embrace. Galen took an awkward step to keep his balance, his hands holding staff and valise in midair. The close contact made him uncomfortable. He could not remember Elric ever holding him, not even at the deaths of his parents. He'd received no more over the years than the occasional hand on the shoulder. He'd grown
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