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Would you have preferred that I returned with complete information, so you could capture outsiders and kill them to create more tech?"

Herazade's face froze, and as she folded her hands together on the tabletop, he could see her trying to contain her fury. She fixed him with her gaze. "You shall remain silent and hear our judgment."

After a moment, she continued. "The methods used by the Shadows in the creation of the tech were atrocities in which we would never participate. Whether some more humane method might have been discovered to produce the tech, we will never know, because of you. We sent you in trust from this place as our hand, and you betrayed that trust. You took an action that will likely end our order. For that, the Circle reprimands you as a traitor and a disgrace, the worst the mages have faced in five hundred years. You have broken the Code-not for the first time-and flouted the authority of the Circle." She separated her folded hands and raised one, with a flourish revealing the small blue lump between her fingers. She set it on the table. "You seem to believe that you are in control here, that you are free to do what you will. Make no mistake, Galen, you are not. You live only through our goodwill, and that goodwill has now been exhausted."

She would have preferred that the atrocities continue, if they gave the least bit of hope to the mages. She cared nothing for the tech or the beings in slavery on Z'ha'dum, or for their sacrifice. Anger resonated through him.

"We are aware that some in our order mistakenly view you as a leader of some kind. If we sense that you are undermining our authority in any way, action will be taken against you.

"Should you release your destructive impulses again, without our permission, have no doubt that you
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