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the distance. He had to rejoin them quickly. He had to reach the hiding place.

He brought the ship up above the lone figure, matching speed. He opened the small air lock on the underside of his ship. If Matthew entered there, Galen could keep him to an unused storage room, limiting what he saw. He must not realize he'd been rescued by a techno-mage.

Galen visualized the equation, conjured a flying platform at Matthew's back, pushed him up to the air lock. Through the ship's sensors, Galen watched as Matthew took hold of the air-lock hatch, pulled himself in.

As soon as the ensign was inside, Galen closed the hatch and directed his ship at top speed after the others. A swirling orange jump point had opened at the edge of the system, and the mage ships were entering. He must leave with them.

Yet still he had a minute before he would reach the jump point. He opened a communication channel to the hybrid.

"Stop now," he said. "They are all dead."

Intense bursts of energy continued to flash over the site of the Earth base.

"Use your sensors. Look. They are all dead."

At last, the firing stopped. Then, after a moment, a whisper, obscured by static. "Who are you?"

"I am your brother," Galen said. "And I have learned. We need not destroy."

From the first planet, the hybrid shot up, accelerating rapidly. It was coming after him.

Ahead, all the mages had gone through the jump point except for one, the one who generated it. Galen found the rune on the side of the ship: Elric. He waited for Galen.

The hybrid shrieked toward him, closing the distance. The Earth tech within it was overheating, reaching critical.

He'd been a fool for communicating with it. Yet now he must keep trying. "If you continue to attack, you will overload your systems and self-destruct.
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