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you return at once. Leave as quickly as possible. Bring Burell if you can. If not, let her stay. She will be safer without you than with you. Respond at once.

Galen expelled a sharp breath. She would have been safer without them, that was certain. She would have been alive.

Isabelle laid Burell's body on the platform, and her hand slowly explored each wound.

"Isabelle, I need your help."

She continued her inspection, unhearing.

"Isabelle. I need your help."

She dragged a finger through one of the wounds, bringing it out covered in ash. She rubbed it between her index finger and thumb, getting a chemical analysis through her sensors. "What type of guns did they have?" she asked, her voice light, dreamy.

"Tilar and Brown had PPGs. The Drakh had a plasma weapon I've never seen before."

"It was the Drakh who killed her then." She turned to him absently, eyebrows raised, face covered in tears. "I will kill him."

"I will help you," Galen said. "But we must escape now. Escape now, to fight later."

Isabelle's gaze wandered. "Burell's place of power must be destroyed. Our home, the samples of the tech she has. We cannot let them fall to Tilar or the Shadows."

"Has she set up a system to do that?"

"Yes. I must contact Johnny." She brought her hands together, made a lazy motion with her fingers.

In a conjured globe above Burell's body, Johnny appeared. He fell to one knee, bowed his head. "Greetings, Daughter of Enchantress." He stood, smiling, wearing only his red bathing suit.

"Your enchantress is dead," Isabelle said.

Johnny looked down, saw Burell there. The smile fell from his face. "She told me she was going to die. Oh, hell."

"Did she tell you what must be done?"

He raised his head, his jaw firm, like the EarthForce captain
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