became overwhelming, and he gasped, his lips barely able to part. To his surprise, oxygen filled his lungs.
As his chest heaved with needy breaths, the grip on him loosened slightly. He realized he heard a sound, some kind of humming. At first he thought it was some strange echo caused by the material pressed tight over his ears, the same way a conch shell echoed with the rush of one's own pumping blood. But the humming changed, shifted. The tune carried meaning within it, a meaning he could understand. It spoke of the beauty of order, of perfect symmetry and ultimate peace.
It was the ship he was hearing, the ship singing to itself.
The unity of its functioning, the satisfaction of service wove through its melody. Obedience was its greatest joy.
It reminded him of Anna, who lived only to serve the machine. Using his sensors he searched deeper into the ship, fearing that the Vorlons were no different than the Shadows, that they too enslaved living beings at the hearts of their ships. He sensed the Vorlon, perhaps twenty feet away, an intense concentration of energy interacting with the ship's systems. The Vorlon was the nerve center, the controller of the ship.
He detected no being through which the operations of the ship were channeled, except for the Vorlon. Galen's sensors penetrated only a small portion of the ship, however; perhaps there was a being too distant to detect. As Galen studied the exchange of energy and information between the Vorlon and the ship, it struck him that their relationship was in some ways similar to that between a mage and his ship, though the Vorlon vessel was obviously much more advanced. It had an intelligence of its own, separate from the Vorlon; the Vorlon connected with it to control it.
The ship's song continued, a repeating