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the end of the tunnel and skimmed out over the walkway. Behind them, a sheer rockface rose up toward the surface. Before them, the Shadow ship formed a huge, curving black wall. Far above, between ship and stone, shone a sliver of smoke-filled sky. The hole seemed deeper than Galen remembered.

A thump came from the ship, and it shook a bit. A cascade of loose stone rained down. It was almost as if the great vessel were being fired upon from above. Alwyn must have landed on top of it, as Galen had directed, and he must be under attack. Galen hoped there weren't other Shadow ships in the area. A mage ship couldn't survive one of those blasts.

He sent the platform shooting upward along the massive side of the Shadow ship. Its skin remained a dull black. It waited for a central processor to connect to it, to bring it to life.

They reached the point where Galen thought the top would be, but still the ship went on. As they continued up, its skin looked different. It was vibrant, shifting, reflecting the light in the same strange way as the walls of the City Center. Galen studied the surface and discovered this was not a Shadow ship at all, but the illusion of one. Alwyn had disguised his small ship as a much larger Shadow vessel, and he'd landed it on top of the one in the excavation. A lighted opening appeared in the illusory Shadow ship, though the entry looked much like the ramp of a mage ship.

Alwyn came out onto the ramp and waved them in. "Hurry! The jig is up. Most of their shots are hitting their own ship, but it's only a matter of time..." He ran back inside, disappearing through the open air lock.

Galen brought them down on the ramp. He sent G'Leel in to safety.

Blaylock waited beside him.

"Go," Galen said. "I'm staying here."

In the ship's bright
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