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time that he looked up at the ship, he looked down on himself from above. He felt disoriented, overloaded with input.

Then the pain found him-extreme screaming pain from the hole ripped through his body. A part of the machine had been taken away. He could not perform his functions, could not keep the neurons firing in harmony, could not synchronize the cleansing and circulation. The beat of his systems stumbled, could not recover.

Galen didn't understand how it was happening. But somehow he had become linked to the Shadow ship. He was seeing through its eyes, feeling its feelings.

Pain shot out along his arms, astonishing in its intensity- a massive systems failure. His tireless, invulnerable body was collapsing.

Above him, the spikes of the ship retracted, shriveled.

He was screaming now, and she was screaming with him. The machine was failing, dying. She plummeted toward the planet. His legs failed; his body collapsed. He hit the platform, saw a flash of Blaylock's fingers stretched toward him, and fell into night.

One by one, the machine's systems failed, and as the shriek of the machine faded, another cry sounded more and more clearly. It was the scream of a living being, a woman. They felt the same pain; they were dying the same death. The last of the machine's stumbling systems shut down, and he found himself blind, deaf, lost.

She searched for her connection to the machine. She and the machine were one. She could not continue without it; it was impossible. All systems of the machine passed through her; she was its heart; she was its brain. The skin of the machine was her skin; its bones and blood, her bones and blood. She was the machine. Somehow they had become separated. She must find a way to rejoin with it.

The machine was so beautiful,
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