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Shadow attack?"

Galen slipped into Michael's persona, his speech patterns. "No, no," he said, "nothing like that. Sorry to wake you. I just wanted to give you an update on Stephen. Something's been bothering me. You know I've been trying to track the doc's movements. I still haven't caught up with him, but from what I hear, it sounds like he's over the worst of the stim withdrawal. Seems fairly fit. Which just makes him harder to find."

John ran a hand over his face.

"The thing is, what he's doing... You know how he said he was on walkabout."

"Yes."

"Well, it seems like he's actually, literally, walking about. There's this section of Down Below, and apparently he's walking around it, circling it without ever entering." Galen held up his index finger, rotating it in a slow circle as he spoke. "He's even gone above it and below it, but for some reason he won't enter this area in the center."

John was following the movement of Galen's finger, his head bobbing sleepily.

Galen turned as if to retrieve something from the couch behind him, conjured the illusion of a comp-pad in his hand, on its screen a collection of dots in a spherical pattern. He extended the comp-pad toward John. "Each dot here indicates a sighting of Stephen. You see how they're arranged in a shell, with no dots in the center." Again he moved his hand to reflect the pattern.

"I'm sorry, I'm not quite awake. Are you saying Stephen is avoiding this area for some reason?"

"I think he's preparing himself to enter it. I think he's going to enter it soon, very soon. And when he does-I think we better be there to meet him. A lot of innocent people live there."

John shook his head. "You don't think Stephen's dangerous."

Galen withdrew the comp-pad. "No. I just have this feeling that
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