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solidarity. He had brought his valise and staff from the ship, leaving the rest of his possessions behind. As he waited for the air lock to pressurize, he dreaded facing the others, feeling the self-consciousness that inevitably arose when he was with anyone other than Elric. People, particularly mages, always gave him the uncomfortable sensation that they saw in him things he did not wish to reveal, things that, in some cases, he did not even know existed. And with all that had happened, he feared what they would now see in him, and what they would say. Whatever they said, he would keep the memories, and the emotions they carried, buried. He could not face them again.

He composed his face. The inner door opened, and he slipped the breather off, stepped into a vast hangar filled with crates and supplies.

Fed stood beside the air lock, a crooked smile on his face.

"Federico," Galen said, feeling awkward. "Good to see you." His tone sounded more distant than he intended.

"Nice work on Elizar's ship," Fed said. "I think you got it the first time."

"I felt thoroughness was warranted," Galen replied.

"Oh, absolutely. You don't want to leave the job half done." Though many mages scoured their scalps regularly in honor of the Code, as did Galen, it appeared that Fed had not undergone scouring since their initiation in November. His bushy beard and short, wiry hair were quickly regaining their old wild-man look. That Fed forwent the scouring of the scalp was not surprising; his former teacher, Herazade, did the same.

Fed exuded the sharp smell of cologne, and he'd discarded the plain black robe he'd worn as an apprentice in favor of a short yellow jacket and pants covered with elaborate embroidery. For some reason, he looked like a pirate. Galen could imagine
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