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seemed out of reach, as if he'd suffered a stroke. His sense of balance failed and he dropped to the floor,

"Galen!" It was G'Leel's voice.

With inordinate effort, he lifted his head, struggling to get his bearings. There was a high-pitched screech-metal on metal-and the gurney burst through the doorway, G'Leel behind it. Momentum carried her past Galen, the gurney ramming into the table, knocking it over.

Elizar had stepped back, and now he nodded to someone.

Galen's head turned in a loose roll. Beside the door, which was sliding closed, Rabelna brought a weapon out from behind her back, aiming it at G'Leel.

With a fierce drive for clarity, Galen focused on Rabelna, visualized the spell of destruction. But there was no echo from the tech, no gathering of energy. There was no response at all.

Rabelna fired.

G'Leel's arms flew out as the blast threw her into the upended table. In the center of her back a black hole blossomed, plasma instantly vaporizing leather, skin, tissue. G'Leel fell away from the table, legs failing, buckling. She thumped to the floor a few feet from Galen, her golden arms splayed.

His hand flailed as he tried to get up. He couldn't make his body work. Limbs no longer seemed to be where they should. They no longer seemed to move as they should. His thoughts felt fuzzy, disjointed. His heart sped ahead. He gagged on saliva.

He'd felt something like this before, he remembered. Though it had been much milder. When he'd trained with Elric. When Elric overrode his chrysalis.

But no one could override a mage's tech. It was controlled only by him. It was part of him.

Galen pressed both his hands against the floor, straining to push himself up. His palms felt numb, yet his leg was throbbing worse than before. He couldn't find
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