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"

A red beam shot out from the front of the hybrid. Galen changed course, changed course again. The hybrid fired one blast after the next. Frantic energy welled up in him, desperate to defend, to counter with deadly force. The hybrid could kill Elric, kill Matthew. Or if they survived to reach the jump point, it might follow them through.

Galen could turn on the hybrid, try to draw close enough to use his spell, and destroy it. But he must not, must not. Better to fly straight into the hybrid, to end it for both of them, now.

But then Matthew would die.

Leave me, Galen wrote.

The response came almost instantly. No.

The energy burned through Galen with brilliant, merciless intensity. With fierce focus, he fed his ship one course after the next, jigging up and down, side to side, evading the blasts. The hybrid was inexperienced, but determined.

Then Galen came even with Elric, and they were both speeding toward the immense, swirling jump point. The hybrid's beam clipped Elric's ship, and as it spun wildly, a hoarse scream sounded through the comm channel. Behind them, the hybrid's skin suddenly blazed a brilliant red. Then the glowing ship exploded, fragments shooting outward.

Galen was sucked through the vortex with a great wash of turbulence. For an instant the ship's readings went black, and he lost all sense of direction or movement. Then the red currents of hyperspace appeared around him. To his relief, Elric was at his side, the ship now under control. Galen detected no serious damage to it.

He wanted to make sure Elric was all right, to thank Elric for waiting, but he didn't know what to say. Nothing had changed.

The rest of the mage ships waited for them. They continued on their way.

Galen was racing with energy, his body shaking, heart
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