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control has much improved. That is why I wish you could stay. Perfect control, perfect discipline form the path to a perfect union with the tech. I believe you are closer than any of us to that goal. I hoped that once you were isolated from distractions, you might reach it, and show the rest of us the way."

Galen didn't know how Blaylock could believe such nonsense, especially after all that had just happened. "I can lead no one to enlightenment."

"Regardless of the Shadows' intentions, good can come from the tech, if you remain its master. Good can come from you. Our destiny is not to serve as agents of death and destruction, but to become something greater."

Yet the Circle sent him to murder three people. Galen said nothing.

At last Blaylock opened the air-lock door. With a stiff movement of his hand, he cast a containment shield around them both, and they entered the air lock.

"When you are ready to depart," Blaylock said, "give control of your ship over to Herazade and me. We will allow it to pass through the masking and confinement fields and send it on a programmed jump through hyperspace. As you emerge from hyperspace, record your coordinates. You must return to those coordinates in exactly thirty-five days. You shall have no longer for your task. A ship will arrive to guide you back through hyperspace to us. If you are not there when it arrives, it will return without you. You will have no method of entering the hiding place."

"I understand."

The outer door opened, and they walked out across the powdery, pockmarked surface to Galen's ship. Galen had not entered it since he'd arrived at the hiding place. He had thought he would never use it again.

He visualized the association spell, and the command echoed once from the tech, echoed again from
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