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chattering of a flock of birds. Gradually it grew louder, and as he listened, one chatter or another occasionally rose above the rest, and he was able to pick out a distinct, fluttering burst. He realized, then, what he was hearing. The chirps lacked the distortion he'd heard earlier, when the Shadows had been shielded, because here, they spoke freely.

The squawking clamor built until it seemed to surround him, and he came to the opening of a dark chamber. The blackness shifted as the Shadows massed within moved in seemingly random patterns, their brilliant pinpoint eyes weaving amongst one another like swarms of fireflies in the night. Standing out of sight, he recorded as much of the sound as he dared and passed quickly onward.

In the ancient recordings, he'd heard Wierden speak the language of the Taratimude. The Shadows' speech sounded nothing like it. Nevertheless, he sent the recording to his Taratimude translation program, hoping it might identify a word or two.

To his surprise, he received a translation in his mind's eye. Most of it seemed to be repeated talk of chaos and destruction-almost a litany. Interspersed with that, he found bits of a discussion under way, ideas overlapping, reiterated in different variations. He searched down through the translation for coherent pieces.

The Vorlons must have [words unidentifiable in program] where we would strike.

The Vorlons interfere too much. Any progress we make is undermined by their meddling. Their influence is everywhere.

We guide the younger races much better than the Vorlons. We teach them what is important-desire and survival. We drive them to evolve, progress, while the Vorlons freeze them into stagnation.

The memory emerged from the walls of his endless exercises, a strange artifact from
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