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and I left with him. I did what I could."

"Is the tech growing back at all?" Galen asked.

"No," Gowen said. "Most of the nerve and muscle damage has healed, but without the tech, the hands refuse to work as they used to."

"You've done all you can," Fed said.

Gowen looked up sharply. "Are you saying I should abandon my efforts?"

"No, but at some point, you need to find your own life, something beyond serving as Blaylock's personal attendant."

Gowen's bare eyebrow ridges contracted in anger. "Like sleeping with a different woman every night?"

Fed's beard shifted with his smile, the insult passing by him with no effect. "Speaking of which." He drained his mug, set it on a table inside the doorway. "This is where I say good night." Galen had never yet seen him angry. He simply didn't seem to care enough about anything to become impassioned about it.

Fed headed toward his room, leaving Galen with Gowen.

Gowen sighed. "I lose my temper too easily. Solidarity, above all."

"You are worried about Blaylock."

"We all seem to be losing our tempers these days. I heard of three different fights since this morning."

Galen didn't know what to say. "This place-is too small for us."

Gowen looked him up and down, seeming to remember all that had come between them. "I should go also."

Galen found himself wishing that he might talk to Gowen for a few minutes more. Perhaps he could get some sort of reassurance that what he planned to do would work out all right, without telling Gowen any of the specifics.

"I was wondering if I could speak with you about something," Galen said. "In confidence."

To his surprise, Gowen smiled. "I would be happy to help, if I can. Of course I would keep your confidence."

"We could speak in my room," Galen said,
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