Galen stroked the cold, stiff fingers. It was not Isabelle. She was gone. She had left him.
Galen conjured a dim globe of light within the cocoon of insect netting. Her face was slack, waxy. He released the hand, pushed the arm down against her body. He yanked back the insect netting, stood on unfamiliar legs.
He took a deep breath, released it. He picked up his staff, the scarf made by Isabelle. They hung uselessly in his hands. Then the platform was conjured beneath Isabelle and he was moving forward, the globe of light brightening, taking the lead. Isabelle followed like a shadow.
And so he found himself emerging from the mine.
Carvin rushed up to him. "Galen, it's so good-" Her hands fell away from him as she saw Isabelle. "Oh. They told me, but I couldn't..." She burst out sobbing.
Galen assumed her ship was at the spaceport. He headed in that direction, Isabelle following.
Anna rippled out of hyperspace into the blackness of Quadrant 37. She loved the feeling of the transition, leaping out of roiling red chaos and pushing through the shimmering membrane into vast black stillness. She surveyed her surroundings quickly, hungry for challenge.
The Eye had told her there would be Narns here, Narns to be destroyed. She had waited long for this day, training, providing stealthy transport, gathering reconnaissance. She had listened eagerly as the Eye had told her the thrill of battle, the exhilarating chaos of conflict, the ecstasy of victory.
She found three heavy cruisers and ten fighters in unimaginative formation around the outpost on the grey-blue planet below. A petal-shaped sensor array moved in geosynchronous orbit. It was irrelevant. Farther from the planet, a probe lurked in the darkness, watching.