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that Isabelle had been right and Cadmus Wilcox did have bravery lurking somewhere within his cowardly soul.

Cadmus was standing behind the front desk, patrolling his lonely command. He jumped at the sight of Galen and Isabelle rushing toward him.

"Some people are about to come through that door," Galen said, swooping over the counter and down behind it. He dissolved the platform, left Isabelle's rigid form on the dingy carpet along with his staff. "Wait until they are all inside," he said to Cadmus. "Then fire your gun. Fire it anywhere."

Cadmus stared at him as if he were speaking Drakh, his damp lower lip sticking out the bottom of that shaggy walrus moustache.

Galen spotted Cadmus' PPG under the counter, grabbed it and shoved it into his hand. He tried to imbue his words with power. "This is the moment Isabelle spoke of. The moment when you will save her and everyone here."

Galen crouched below the counter with Isabelle, closed his eyes, gathered his energy, and visualized the equation to conjure a soundproof shield over both of them. His sensors told him he had been successful, at least temporarily. It wouldn't hold off high-energy weapons, but it was strong enough to block out sound waves. No sound from within would pass into the lobby; no sound from the lobby would penetrate within. He accessed the lobby probes to see and hear what was happening.

Cadmus stood frozen behind the counter, his low brows giving his face that expression of perpetual fear. He swiped nervously at the lock of hair curling onto his forehead. The probe outside the front doorway showed that Tilar had dissolved his flying platform. He was breathing heavily with the effort of using his chrysalis, his face red. He, the Drakh, and Brown approached the doorway warily, on foot, their
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