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lived. My knowledge could help in the success of this task."

"We have had our debate and determined our course," Elric said.

Galen could think of only one way to convince them. From his lips, he forced her name. "Isabelle discovered a technique to listen to the Shadows. I hold her knowledge. I may be able to re-create it."

Blaylock's gaze was sharp, appraising. "This is a mission of stealth and intelligence-gathering, not vengeance."

"I seek only to serve in the way I can be most useful."

"We will confer," Ing-Radi said.

As the Circle turned inward, a shield came down over them to secure their privacy. Someone grabbed his robe from behind, fingers scraping his raw back.

Fed whispered in his ear. "Are you crazy? Going to the rim? It's a suicide mission."

Galen studied the Circle anxiously. They must allow him to go. It was a way to act against the Shadows, without defying the Circle or breaking the Code. It was a way to escape the others and the memories they carried. And perhaps, finally, he would find an end to this.

Circe moved to the front, and under the brim of her hat she watched Galen.

"Tell them you changed your mind," Fed whispered, the scent of his cologne wrapping around Galen. "Temporary insanity. Let the old folks go. They're not going to last long anyway."

The Circle ended its deliberations and turned back to face them, the shield dissolving. Elric did not look at him.

Blaylock spoke. "Galen, you will go in place of Circe. As for the rest, Herazade is sending your instructions. We must all be gone from this place in four hours."

Circe was glaring at him. Galen felt a great sense of relief. The restless energy of the tech declined. At last, he realized, he could breathe.

"In seventeen days, we will converge on the new
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