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"Ing-Radi has collapsed."



* * *



G'Leel's head turned slowly as she scanned the dimly lit bar from the vantage point of her stool. When her gaze moved toward Galen, he took a drink of his beer, pretending not to notice. At first she did not recognize him, but then her gaze returned to him, and Galen was gratified by the stunned recognition that arose on her face. The simplest tricks were often the best.

She stood, pushed past several of her crew, and approached the table where he sat. As when he had last seen her, she wore a sleeveless tunic, pants, and gloves all of black leather, with a gun case fastened at her waist. Her gold and black spotted arms were sharply defined with muscle. As she walked, each shoulder moved forward in turn, her posture stiff, erect. She stopped before him, and he noticed the pale scar across her nose.

"It's you, isn't it." She spoke loudly, to be heard over the noise of the other patrons. "From Zafran 8."

He put down his glass. "Hello, G'Leel."

She glanced back at her crewmates, who were passionately engaged in yet another drinking game. She pulled up a chair beside him. "What happened to you?"

"I'm sorry?"

"You-look different."

"I don't- Perhaps, the hair."

G'Leel shook her head, dismissing the idea. "Where is your friend? The other techno-mage."

Galen realized it had been a mistake to come.

"She told my future. She convinced me to talk to you. You never told me your names, either of you."

"She is dead."

G'Leel's red eyes flicked away from him. "I'm sorry." They sat in uneasy silence for a few moments. "She was wise," G'Leel said.

"She was killed by someone you know." Galen bit out the words. "A mage named Elizar. He came aboard your ship to collect a telepath." Anger was rising up in him,
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