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circuitry of the unbroken loop, the closed universe. All systems of the machine passed through her. She was its heart; she was its brain; she was the machine. She kept the neurons firing in harmony. She synchronized the cleansing and circulation in sublime synergy. She beat out a flawless march with the complex, multileveled systems. The skin of the machine was her skin; its bones and blood, her bones and blood. She and the machine were one: a great engine of chaos and destruction.



Chapter 2



Galen had unpacked only a few weeks ago. Now he was packing again, this time for good. He and Elric would leave Soom. They would flee with the mages.

Packing was a strange thing. It involved imagining oneself in a different place, doing different things, projecting which items might be necessary or useful under those circumstances. But Galen couldn't imagine himself anywhere, doing anything. His mind could not form the picture.

He remembered the last time he'd packed, for the trip to Zafran 8, weighing the value of each item against the space it would take. Yet now, it was impossible to distinguish one item from another. Nothing seemed necessary, nothing potentially useful. He could leave it all behind, or he could bring it all with him. It made no difference.

He stood at the side of his bed, which was covered with boxes of various sizes, filled to various levels. He did not know how long he had been standing there. He decided it did not matter.

Elric had gone to town to say good-bye. He had asked Galen to go with him, but Galen had wanted to stay behind. Stay behind and pack. They would leave before dark. And so here he stood.

The four rough wooden shelves above his worktable were half-empty, items taken or left behind at random, the remaining items disorganized.
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