stood near one end of the platform, silent, caught in the memory of what had happened.
The lights in the station dimmed. A blue sphere of energy appeared in front of them, perhaps a yard across. It was the work of a techno-mage. Galen turned quickly, certain he would see Elric or Burell or someone who had come to help them.
But the platform was empty.
Isabelle's face appeared inside the sphere, then Galen's. "We know your ways." The voice from the sphere was artificial, and not very skillfully created. What was clearly meant to be deep and powerful had a tinny undertone. Elric would never have let him get away with it.
Isabelle conjured a full-body shield.
"You seek knowledge," the voice continued. "We have knowledge." Within the sphere, diagrams and equations flashed by one after another. "We are far ahead of you in technology. But of all the younger races, your group is closest to ours in knowledge. We find you worthy to share in what we know."
The jumble of images resolved itself into an image of the galaxy. "A firestorm is coming. We have no ill intentions toward you. That is why you were allowed to leave. We should be allies."
At the mouth of the tunnel, Isabelle wrote. Look.
Galen glanced toward the end of the platform. There, inside the tunnel, a dark figure stood in shadow.
"Who are you?" Isabelle demanded.
"We are friends," the sphere said.
"We prefer to keep to ourselves," Galen said. "When we do form alliances, it is in our own time and at our own whim."
"Galen, you seek to understand the secret you have uncovered. We can help you."
Galen's breath stuck in his throat. "What secret?"
"The others of your kind fear you and your power, and even now hope for your destruction. That is why they have sent you to us. You show them