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or tamed one wild hair on his head.

As Galen faced them, he realized the mages were entering a new age, their final age, the one that would oversee their decline and their passing. Over the last two years, their order had not only lost the most experienced among them, they had also lost, in the fight against the Shadows, some of the bravest and most skilled, and in the pressure cooker of the hiding place, those closest to the tech-and the chaos-within them. Of those who survived, many had suppressed or redirected their destructive impulses, while others possessed mild-mannered natures that provided poor ground for the seeds of anarchy the Shadows had sewn.

He greeted the Circle with a short nod. He felt none of the dread he'd experienced when facing punishment before. What he'd done was right, and whether they agreed or not, he was at peace with it. They had no power over him.

"We have concluded our deliberations," Herazade said. "Your role in the destruction of Z'ha'dum was a critical one. Without your participation, Captain Sheridan's plan would have failed, and the Shadows' home would have gone unharmed. We acknowledge that the destruction of Z'ha'dum accelerated the course of the war, and helped lead to the exodus of the Shadows and the Vorlons.

"Yet you had no authorization to take such drastic action. The parameters of your task were clearly established. In discovering how our tech was created, and then destroying those means, you made a decision that rightfully belonged to the Circle. You violated both solidarity and knowledge. It's now unlikely we will ever learn the details of the tech's creation."

In some ways the Circle had changed, but in others, Galen realized, it had not changed at all. He bit out the words. "I have told you enough of that process.
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