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felt his face flush with shame. His hands clenched the scarf in his lap.

"That scarf was made by Isabelle, was it not?"

Galen nodded. There was no escape from her name, or her memory.

"You seek to understand the pattern embedded there."

"Yes."

"You believe it may help you translate her spell for listening to the Shadows."

"Yes."

"She had great skill, for one so young," Blaylock said.

Galen was shocked to hear him speak well of her. "But she studied the tech, which you condemn. She sought to understand its workings. You denounced Burell for such research."

"As I would have denounced Isabelle, had she continued. What we have been given, Galen, is a mystery beyond our understanding, a true blessing. It taps into the basic force and fabric of the universe, into God, as some call it. Our place is to use that blessing in the best way possible, to be the best agents of the universe that we can. Is it an angel's place to dissect the genes that gave him wings? I think an angel who does so misses the point of his existence. His place is to generate awe and belief in God, to do good as he can, to try to understand and follow God's will. I believe we must try to learn as much of the universe as we possibly can, to understand and follow its will."

"In understanding the universe, can we not understand ourselves?"

"Throughout our history, many have tried to unlock the secrets of the tech, and all have failed. I believe our understanding of it, and of our relationship with it, will be the very last to come to us. I didn't want to see Burell and Isabelle waste their lives in that vain pursuit."

Anger quickened Galen's breath. He tried to keep his voice even. "It was not vain. They had learned much. And if that was what they desired to study, why should
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