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own desperation, just as he heard the echo of his commands. His tech reflected his thoughts, awaited his orders. He controlled it well.

Burell had described the relationship. The tech developed like a second nervous system. It grew to reflect him, to echo him, mirroring his patterns of thought. It carried his DNA, and other, unknown DNA. It was partly him, and yet it was more than him, an extremely advanced organic technology carrying great energies and capabilities. Microcircuitry in the cytoplasm and on the cell membranes directed the growth and functioning of the implants, imposed control on each cell. The programming structured the relationship between mage and tech, contaminated it. With the Eye, the programming was even stronger, irresistible.

Yet what if the tech could be reached directly, instead of through the programming? Could the Shadows' will be bypassed? If it could, what would he find? Could the tech, like Anna, once have felt its own desires, dreamed its own dreams?

He had been trapped in his thinking, just as when he'd considered destroying the transceiver within his body. He had believed all along that only two possibilities existed: control his tech, or succumb to it. What if there was a third way?

Was there some way of truly joining with the tech, as Blaylock had always said? Was there a way to open himself to it, to communicate with it rather than repress it? To learn its true desires? Not the Shadows'. Not his own.

Could he free that which he had worked endlessly to enslave?

He had been unable to free the person within the hybrid ship. He had attempted to free Morden only to find that Morden did not want to be freed. The Shadows had freed Anna, but there had been nothing left of her to free. Would the tech be the same?

Galen paced
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