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to get his bearings within the cocoon, decided, finally, that he was lying on his side. He felt dizzy, sick. His stomach convulsed, and he held himself still, fighting the impulse to throw up.

As he lay there, he became aware of the tech's presence, a comforting warmth. It urged him to sleep.

But there was a sound within the close layers, a wet, irregular sound-labored breathing. Morden. Through the Shadow skin, he sensed Morden's body behind him, curled up in a ball.

With effort, Galen turned, studied Morden with his sensors. If not for the shielding of the machine people, they would have died instantly. The cocoon of Shadow skin had provided additional protection. Even so, Morden's condition was critical. The front of his body was covered with third-degree flash burns. Beneath, Galen found extensive hemorrhaging. Radiation had burned him internally, actually cooking patches of tissue. Galen knew there must be cellular and genetic damage as well, though he couldn't detect it.

Morden's breathing was growing more labored. His lungs were filled with blood and fluid.

Galen forced himself into movement. He pulled Morden into a half-sitting position, to aid in breathing. Then he had to rest for a moment. The burning in his back made it hard to focus.

When he pressed his numb hands to Morden's chest, the Shadow skin retreated from between them, allowing Galen to touch him directly-just as if they shared the same mage shield. Galen ripped away the burned remnants of Morden's shirt and, with a thought that resonated through the tech, sent organelles into Morden, again, again. As the microscopic agents of healing flowed out of him, he sensed that they would do all they could. He pushed the flow to continue, his numb hands tingling, the blood shifting inside him
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