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Shadows' words swathed him in their echoes. He saw movement at a turn in the hall. Three Drakh emerged, and tiny spots of yellow flashed from the muzzles of their weapons. The loud thump of the plasma bolts did not reach him.

He stumbled down the hall after Blaylock, yellow sprays of light blossoming across his vision. Blaylock must have replaced the soundproof shield with a defensive one, and the plasma blasts splashed across it. Blaylock was protecting him. Just as, in another place, she had protected him.

Blaylock dragged him into another room, closed the door behind them, and unfolded the shield from around them to direct it up against the door and the surrounding wall.

They know their order will die. They know they will die. Yet still they persist in their course. Their loss will be a tragedy.

"What the hell's going on out there?" Bunny yelled.

The Drakh's dry voice replied. "Two of the magic workers have come here to learn our plans. They will soon be dead, if they do not surrender."

Blaylock pulled Galen across the room toward the window. Galen was disoriented, part of him wrapped in words, part in the dark room, part here, in a similar dark room, looking out a large window. Outside, shifting lights reflected off the clouds.

Blaylock extended an arm toward the window, his fingers spread wide. From the center of the dark glass, fractures jagged outward in the directions of Blaylock's fingers.

Their order will be a tragedy. With deceit they cripple themselves. With deceit they persist.

Behind them the door opened, and more yellow flashed from the Drakhs' weapons. Yellow ripples spread across the blue-tinged shield.

Rabelna closed her briefcase, picked it up.

Blaylock's face was taut, severe. He thrust his arm to its full length, and
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