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the center of the window burst silently outward, leaving a large, ragged hole. Blaylock seized Galen's arm to pull him through the opening, but before they could even move, the glistening glass began to undulate, the jagged edges around the hole swelling, flowing in to heal the wound, sealing it closed.

As the inward flow continued, excess material collected at the center of the newly formed glass, bulging outward. Then, in a single, fluid movement, the excess extended into the room, like a bulb on the end of a narrow stalk. The bulb hovered just over them, turning slightly, as if examining them. Then it retracted into the window, the excess material rippling out across the window and the black wall, disappearing.

The building was some kind of vast, living machine.

They will die. A tragedy.

Blaylock raised both arms toward the window, fingers outstretched. Behind them, the shield was flashing red and yellow. It would not last long.

Blaylock needed his help. The echo of the Shadow's words at last was fading. Galen maintained the image of the one-term equation, though he hoped the Shadow would say nothing more. He had to focus his attention outward. He forced the whispering remnants from his body, broke his connection with the probe on Rabelna.

The immediacy of the present struck him with overwhelming force.

A high-pitched, screeching whine filled the room. It came from Blaylock's shield, near failure. On the far side of it, the Drakh continued to fire, plasma bolts bursting from their weapons with powerful thumps. With each impact the shield flashed red, and the whine rose in intensity.

Galen visualized the screen in his mind's eye, conjured fireball after fireball, arranging them in rows aimed at the door. Without giving them movement, he calculated
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