ones. Slowly they faded into the background, or went back along the procession's route with the excuse of checking on the others, then disguised themselves with full-body illusions and returned to board the nearby Crystal Cabin under false names. Of the twenty-five Elric hoped to save, fifteen already had boarded.
Unfortunately, all fifty of those who had come to Babylon 5 could not be saved. The Centauri crew of the Ondavi must believe that five hundred mages had boarded their ship, and that five hundred remained in their cargo hold. To sustain that illusion required five mages at the very least, more when those mages' powers were failing. Elric thought of Burell, who had been the most skilled at creating large, complex illusions. She had also been the first of their losses. The throbbing in his head grew stronger.
More mages were required to interact with the crew, and to keep the crew away from the illusions. More were necessary to create false life-signs and mage energies, so that any who scanned the ship as it left Babylon 5 would be convinced they were all inside. Elric and Ing-Radi had discussed the issue at length, but no fewer than twenty-five seemed required to ensure the success of the deception.
Ing-Radi and Beel were on board the Ondavi now, supervising the others. They had planted probes about the freighter, so Elric and the others could observe. Although the mages had seen no evidence that the ship had been sabotaged, they knew it had been done. All those boarding understood that they would die.
They had gathered an hour ago to recite the words of the Code. None had asked to be released from his task. All were prepared to give their lives so that the rest of their order might escape unmolested. Or so it seemed. Gowen had monitored them and found