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out of him. He wanted to obliterate that maddening smile. He wanted to conjure the one-term equation. He wanted to crush Morden. No exercise could turn his thoughts from that.

In his mind's eye he began to reconstruct the star field he had seen, tried to match it to a specific location. The walls of mental discipline drew tighter around him. They hardly mattered, though, for they merely concentrated his attention on that hated figure that stood at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

Morden remained hunched over, his hand still clutching the necklace. "Do I detect a little bitterness?" His voice was rough.

Galen grabbed Morden's wrist, pulled his hand from the stone, held it up between them. "Smile for me, or I'll implode one bone at a time. When I'm done with your hands and your feet, then your arms go, then your legs, then your eyes. Then your tongue."

Morden bared his teeth in a quick, humorless grin. "So you're not going to kill me?"

The smile was nothing like his usual one. Yet what did that prove? A loyal agent might be unhappy at the deaths of his powerful associates. That did not mean his previous smiles had been false, chemically induced. Morden might simply enjoy spreading chaos, causing millions of deaths, or even just one.

Galen was trembling. He released Morden, took a step back. "Not quickly. Not yet. You will answer one question for me first."

Morden straightened, wiped sweat from his forehead. He was squinting slightly, as if with a headache. "You hardly need that gun to threaten me."

Galen found that Elizar was in a system near Thenothk, most likely in that same Omega sector. He refined his search. "Here is my question. What is your purpose? Why do you serve the Shadows?"

Morden gave a half laugh, and a hint of his old smile flashed
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