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urge rose up in Galen. Conjure a platform, push himself out of this pit, pursue Elizar, chase him through every tunnel on Z'ha'dum if he had to, never mind John or the White Star or anything else. Destroy Elizar. Destroy it all. Destroy it himself. It would feel so much better that way.

Forty seconds.

Galen drew his exercises tighter around him, withdrew down the tunnel that they created, blocking out the whispers of the Eye, the eager burning of the tech, telescoping his attention on the task at hand, on finding the heart of the Eye. He reached out with his sensors. In his mind's eye, the energy of this organic machine appeared all around him, in shifting, crisscrossing ropes of dirty yellow, a complex web connecting these machine people, pulsing lighter and darker. Through his organelles, he'd seen his own tech pulsing a similar gold.

As he scanned deeper, the lines of the web converged, the energy growing to dazzling intensity. There was the heart. He twisted so his head pointed downward, conjured a platform above his feet, and propelled himself farther into the pit, arms extended like a diver.

If there was a way to destroy the Eye, he would find it. If there was a secret yet to be learned, he would learn it.

He pushed the platform faster and faster, and the machine people cleared the way, sucking him deeper.

Thirty-five seconds.


The web grew denser, its center drawing closer, waxing brighter, like a jaundiced sun. Around this nexus, machine people packed tightly, limbs interlocked, unmoving. Yet they shifted aside what little they could, and he approached the dazzling, pulsing orb. Here was the master who had instructed Anna in chaos, who sent the Shadow ships on missions of mass destruction, who drove the machine people in mindless obedience,
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