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body. She was losing the machine. Again.

But why should the Eye have this machine instead of her?

She slipped down through the silvery threads toward that glowing golden heart. If she could control that, she could control it all.

In war those unfit are exterminated. Only in bloodshed can true progress be made, can promise be realized.

She felt the Eye gathering its power, focusing. Discharging.

A needle-sharp spike pierced her brain, erupted in a brilliant detonation of pain.

She was a void. Blank.

After a time, she realized the white void was the ceiling above her. And to her broken mind, thought began to return.

Obedience.

Obedience the only option.

The Eye ordered, and she obeyed.

A technician bent over her.

The machine was so beautiful, so elegant. Perfect grace, perfect control, form and function integrated into the circuitry of the unbroken loop, the closed universe.

She would be one with it no more, not until she did what the Eye required.



Chapter 10



Galen, Alwyn, and G'Leel were already in the small caf© having pastries and drinks when Morden arrived for his customary after-dinner coffee. He wound his way through the "open-air" cluster of tables, about half of which were occupied.

To her credit, G'Leel slipped quickly into talk of the Citizens of Light Disaster Relief effort, and the Narns' need for large quantities of medicines. Working with Alwyn had taught her how to deceive.

Morden passed them, took a seat several tables away, seemingly alone. He wore a well-tailored suit, his dark hair styled neatly back, a shiny black stone on a silver chain about his neck. A mild smile revealed a hint of his even white teeth.

Though Galen had tried to prepare for it, the actual fact of Morden's physical presence
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