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pounding. He forced himself to take deep, calming breaths, resorting again to a mind-focusing exercise. Slowly, by small increments, the energy declined. He tried to focus on retaining control until they reached the hiding place. But the end of their journey would provide no relief. And he did not know how he would get through whatever years followed, cloistered away with no outlet for destruction but to visit it upon himself. The hybrid had been unable to stop its destruction, to escape its programming, even to save its life.

Galen had hoped, somehow, to save the person trapped within the machine. It had been a foolish hope. By contacting the hybrid, he had merely hastened its end.

He had wanted to save without killing, to do something purely good. And he had failed. One died, another lived. The universe continued in its maddening course of chaos and death.

Yet he told himself that he had at least saved one. That was something.

Now the mages would have to make one more stop, to drop Matthew Gideon at a safe location. Galen was sure the Circle was already debating what to do about the outsider. They wouldn't appreciate Galen's disobedience, but the rescue hadn't endangered their hiding place.

The mages would want to get rid of the ensign as quickly as possible. If they got close enough to a colony or friendly ship, Galen could put him into a life pod and fire him in the right direction. They could quickly be on their way again, and finish the journey.

But before that, Galen needed to put a face to the man he had saved. He hoped that it might help to restore his peace, that it might help him leave all this behind knowing that he had done one small bit of good, at least.

The dead had many faces. Isabelle, Burell, Kell. The Drakh from Zafran 8, his first
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