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to Galen, bent over the sink, and spit out the last remaining chunk. She grimaced. "Why didn't we think of that two hours ago?"

"As mages you should know," Burell said. "If the execution is not absolutely perfect, the deception will not work."

After a few minutes of consulting and staring at the breen with a kind of repulsed fascination, Burell returned to bed.

Galen and Isabelle had only a few more hours to get this right. Yesterday, they had devised a container for the breen, with a false bottom in which the relay could be hidden. Isabelle had decorated the container with ornate engraving to minimize the chance that it would be thrown away after the breen was eaten. Yet if the breen was bad, the Narns would likely jettison the container out of anger. They needed to make sure their breen was good. And to do that, they needed a Narn close by, but not too close, one without ties to the port or the Narns on the Khatkhata.

Narns were rare on Zafran 8, and even more rare outside the port city. As Galen searched for one, Isabelle formulated their plan.

Within an hour, they were outside a high-priced apartment in a town to the west of the port. The inhabitant was Ko'Dan, a retired engineer who had moved from the Narn homeworld to Zafran 8 three years earlier. He had traveled extensively for his career, including a long stay on Earth, so no translation would be necessary. While his choice of retirement spots was unusual, he seemed perfect for their needs.

"Ready?" Isabelle asked.

They were surrounded by bags of ingredients and cooking equipment. Behind them floated the illusion of a camera, a saucer the size of a dinner plate. The promise of appearing on the newsfeeds might encourage Ko'Dan to cooperate. Both Galen and Isabelle had conjured full-body illusions
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