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some help. The message included the key to access the ship's sensors, and when Galen did, he saw in his mind's eye the full image of the area surrounding them, as if the ship's walls had suddenly become transparent. The dark screen of Alwyn's Shadow ship illusion surrounded them. Beyond it, five ships were following them up into the sky, firing at them. They were not Shadow ships, not nearly as powerful. Yet they were powerful enough; several direct hits would destroy Alwyn's ship. What had saved him thus far was that most of the shots missed their target, the small mage ship hidden within the much larger illusion.

Galen held tightly to the racing, burning energy, to the desire to reach out and destroy. He'd been tricked into coming with Alwyn and Blaylock; he had no desire to help them now. Perhaps they wouldn't make it. At least there would be an end.

Blaylock blotted the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. "We are not like the woman in the machine. Some abhorrent variation of the Shadows' technology enslaves her. But we are not slaves."

"No, we're monsters, bringing chaos and destruction. We're programmed by the Shadows. We carry out their will, not the will of the universe."

Blaylock fixed his gaze on Galen, his voice harsh and certain. "We don't have to. Not if we retain control."

"I'm in control," Galen said. His entire body was shaking.

Another message. Galen didn't care what Alwyn had to say. He didn't care if the ship-

It was from Elizar.

Warn the mages. Save them. I will do my part.

Elizar dared to think that Galen would work with him, would trust him. Galen closed his eyes, unable to hold it in any longer. He hated them all, hated Blaylock and the mages, hated Elizar and the Shadows, but above all, hated himself.

The enemy ships
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