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the key for authorization, and he gave it. The door slid open.

The small gray room sat on the periphery of the compound. It was from here alone that access could be gained to the universe outside. A variety of devices lined one wall, their curved metallic shapes looking almost alive, shimmering with the subtle blue glow of a shield, a special protection of the Circle. The complex devices had been built by Herazade and those who had helped her prepare the hiding place. These were connected to other, larger devices elsewhere in the compound. They assured that the asteroid the techno-mages now inhabited would remain invisible to detection; that signals arriving at the hiding place from their many relays and probes would not betray their presence; and that no one and nothing could leave this place, save with the authorization of the Circle.

Galen sat in the single straight-backed chair and requested the menu of available information sources, the tech echoing his command. The mages had planted hundreds of thousands of sturdy probes during their travels, had infiltrated numerous data systems. All of those resources had now been given over to the Circle. Galen selected one probe after the next, flipping through the images in his mind's eye, searching the area of the Shadows' latest attacks for any new destruction.

Although Elric, Blaylock, and Herazade directed the system, Galen had been given limited access, to observe events outside. He had volunteered for the task, after he'd heard that several others had asked to be released from it. The others preferred not to know what happened to those they had forsaken. They preferred not to watch the galaxy dissolve into chaos, to see billions die. They preferred to forget, as much as possible, that worlds beyond this one existed.
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