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but they were all closed.

"How is it you were chosen for this ill-fated task?" Elizar asked.

"The Circle wanted to send two of us to Zafran 8 to investigate unusual activity," Galen said. "They wanted two who would draw no suspicion."

"And this unusual activity, it involved traffic to the rim?"

Galen looked at his friend with surprise. "Yes."

"You warned us of a threat," Isabelle said. "You knew of the Shadows."

"And now you know," Elizar said. "It will be a relief to finally speak of it."

"But how-" Isabelle began.

"We should stop for something to eat," Elizar said, pointing to the one open storefront along the passage. It was a tavern, small and dark. "I don't have much food on the ship. When I got your message, I pretty much jumped in and took off."

Galen glanced up and down the passage. Just beyond where they stood, it opened into another promenade. There would be Elizar's ship. He saw nothing out of the ordinary.

"I'll call for Razeel," Elizar said. "She can take Burell's body onto the ship and then join us."

Isabelle's gaze was directed at the tavern.

Galen activated his sensors and joined her examination. The restaurant seemed perfectly unremarkable-no odd energy sources or unusual readings. There were two Humans inside.

"Thank you for coming for us," Galen said. "I hope we didn't interrupt your recovery, or your quest."

"You remember I said I must undertake it alone," Elizar said. "I hope that I was wrong."

Razeel came from the promenade, pale and petite, her thin, inch-short dark hair drifting like the fibers of a seed-puff around her head. Galen was sure that the dress she wore- this one of blue velvet-was different than the ones he had seen before, yet it, too, hung on her as if it were much too large. Without her
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