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it before he and Isabelle fell off. The time it took to regain his balance allowed Tilar and the others to come close. Galen was using all his concentration to visualize the equations of motion and keep hold of Isabelle; he had nothing left to try to conjure a shield. He surged ahead, his back tensed, expecting to be hit.

Then something swooped down over him, a great black-and-yellow shape coming fast and traveling in the opposite direction. Galen glanced back. It was Burell in her yellow armchair. Or. rather, it was six Burells, all swooping down from different directions, forming a line across the alley between Galen and Isabelle and their pursuers. The six Burells raised their right hands, conjuring fireballs.

Go, Burell's message read.

Isabelle cried out in Drakh.

The one on the left, the program translated.

His sensors flashed with the burst of a plasma weapon behind him. He shot a look back, saw the Burell over his left shoulder lurch with the impact of the blast, her arms flying out like a rag doll's. The other Burells winked out. The chair beneath Burell's limp body vanished and she collapsed to the street. Her body jumped as they shot her again. And again.

Then they raced after Galen and Isabelle.

Galen reached the main street and swerved to the right, his body aflame with energy and panic and grief. He clutched desperately to control. The streets had become busy with people going to work. He shot above the pedestrians as they stopped and pointed.

A fight in the open was too dangerous. But there was no time to hide; they were just seconds behind, and at this short range, Tilar could track them. The black awning of the Strauss Hotel appeared on his right. Galen focused, formed the equation of motion, and darted through the doorway. He prayed
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