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10



The customs agent on Thenothk 4 opened the sample case with the FTL relay. Galen looked across the spaceport's vast lobby of black stone, feigning disinterest, though adrenaline was pumping through his system. The tech echoed his anxiety.

The agent, a skeletal alien of a species Galen had never seen before, gave the relay a cursory examination, closed the case, and passed them on. He had a long line of passengers to check. Blaylock picked up the sample case and his suitcase, and Galen followed with his valise.

The lobby was busy with activity. The port seemed understaffed and overwhelmed by the number of beings passing in and out. Galen accessed his sensors, scanned various frequencies, searching for well-defined areas of static. Blaylock walked beside him across the lobby, head turning casually from side to side. Blaylock nodded subtly toward a far corner. At the upper end of the infrared band, Galen found a large area obscured by static. A cluster of Shadows.

Suddenly the idea that they could come here, could gather information without being discovered, seemed ridiculous. They kept walking, two businessmen anxious for wartime profits. The gravity was slightly heavier here than on Soom, making Galen's feet drag. With each step he expected someone to denounce them, to demand that they stop.

Galen glanced at the many beings that surrounded them, telling himself that among all these, they would be overlooked. Blaylock had stressed that they would have the best chance of success if they avoided any conjuries that might be detected. By this he meant messages, illusions, shields, or weapons. But the truth was, they didn't know how many of their conjuries could be detected by the Shadows. And even if they cast no spells, they constantly radiated mage energy
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