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that perhaps you see a pattern to events because you believe there is a pattern to events, just as the customer of the fortune-teller sees truth in the telling?"

She smiled. "I see a pattern, dear Galen, because there is one. That woman keeps meeting men who would take advantage of her because the universe is trying to help her see and overcome her problem. Just as the universe sent her to you to help you overcome your problem."

"The universe is some sort of vast dating service, then?"

She raised her eyebrows, considering the idea. "Perhaps."

"What problem?" Galen asked, catching up with her. "Are you saying I need to transcend myself?"

Isabelle's eyes shifted to the door. "She's here."

G'Leel stood in the doorway of the lounge, looking back into the lobby. Galen could see, through the lobby probes, that it was empty except for Cadmus Wilcox. The lounge had a handful of patrons still eating lunch, but no Narns. G'Leel approached.

She wore a sleeveless tunic, pants, and gloves all of black leather, with a gun case fastened at her waist. Her gold-and-black spotted arms were sharply defined with muscle. As she walked, each shoulder moved forward in turn. Her posture was stiff, erect. Her knuckles came down on the edge of the table.

"I hear you read futures."

"Yes," Isabelle said. "Please have a seat."

G'Leel righted the chair that had been knocked over by Mary Stein, turning it so the back faced the table. "A satisfied customer, I see." She straddled it, the back forming a short wall between them and her.

"We tell the truth," Isabelle said, "rather than what people want to hear. Some do not wish to know the truth."

"Most, in my experience," G'Leel said, and Galen realized Isabelle had said exactly the right thing. "Are you techno-mages?"

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