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must be the machine to which all the stone fingers were connected, the Shadows' place of power. This pool was the access point, the opening of the Eye.

As he studied it, though, he realized that the churning black liquid was no liquid at all. The shaft was filled with machine people, their limbs intertwining, their bodies writhing like worms. They were the components of the Eye.

He would crush them, and free them.

Movement from beyond the ranks of machine people caught his attention. A group of Drazi was stumbling out of a tunnel in the left wall, spreading out before the glittering, stationary figures. Galen used his sensors to gain a magnified view in his mind's eye, saw with surprise that the Drazi were armed with high-powered plasma rifles, missile launchers.

Was this some kind of invasion? How could they possibly have gotten so far?

The last of the Drazi emerged from the tunnel. Behind them came a row of machine people. The black, faceless figures stopped at the opening of the tunnel, blocking the Drazi's escape.

The Drazi were trapped between the assembled machine people and the great abyss. They took what shelter they could behind a few scattered boulders, set up the missile launchers.

This was no invasion. It was target practice.

The Drazi fired a few scattered shots. The plasma blasts seemed to have no effect on the skin-shielded figures. As one, the front rank of machine people raised their palms. For a moment they simply stood, immobile. Then, in unison, their palms blasted beams of red plasma. Rock erupted in sprays of shrapnel. Smoke billowed across the area.

After a few furious seconds of fire, their beams stopped. Their arms returned to their sides. As the smoke cleared, Galen saw that they had obliterated the boulders, and the missile
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