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had taken her away from him. They had fit her with an interface device, reduced her to a component within a machine. Galen was too tired to be angry. He felt only sorrow for her. He didn't know how to free her, only the tech.

He shrouded her in Shadow skin and conveyed her back through the membrane into the cave. Where he was going, she could not go. He knew from the Eye that the interface device would sustain the Shadow skin around her, protecting her from radiation. Perhaps Lorien would help her.

Then he was alone on the ship. Its great husk surrounded him, its skin now a dull gray, waiting for someone to bring it to life. The tech resonated with eagerness, wanting to spread its freedom. Galen stared anxiously into the dark matter shot through with veins of silver. Once he joined with it, once he freed it, what would it want?

He dissolved his final layers of Shadow skin, and the tattered remnants of his coat fell away. His black sweater appeared to have partially melted, then resolidified as a flattened, leathery layer fused to his skin. Over his heart, where Morden had shot him, the material had burned away in a circular patch, the skin below a bright red, like the center of a bull's-eye.

He moved to touch it, and was shocked to see that his hands were black, the skin stiff and shiny, glistening with leaking plasma. They looked like charred meat, not living appendages. Elric's face had looked much the same. Galen raised his hand, studying it. His numb palm told him nothing.

The mages lived in fire, and they died in fire. Perhaps he would not survive long enough to reach the hiding place. But he had to try.

He climbed in.

He held his breath, lay back, and together, he and the tech visualized the equation with no terms.

In his mind's eye, the pale
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