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the blockage. A few smaller rocks bounced to hit him, but he felt only the brilliant red energy blazing through his skin.

With regret he dissolved the spell, closed his hand into a fist. An equation of motion sent him racing away.

Focusing on his exercises, tightening his control, he searched for a way back up to the large cavern. He could sense the opening of the Eye just a hundred feet above, but he could not find a tunnel leading upward, only farther down.

Among the mazelike warren of tunnels, he came upon another huge, dim cavern. Galen stopped. At the far end, he saw light from some sort of passage. The cavern itself was filled with dark, unidentifiable shapes. He accessed the infrared band, saw that the shapes arrayed across the floor were all covered in the bright, shifting red of Shadow skin. Some were little more than scraps, no larger than a mouse; others were massive, like great sails of Shadow skin supported by some kind of underlying structure. Faint sounds carried through the chamber, almost like gasping, or crying. Galen scanned back down the tunnel, detected no sign of Elizar's pursuit. He dissolved his platform, walked toward the nearest shape.

Morden stood behind Anna's chair, leaning forward toward John. The intensity and passion he'd lacked when he and Galen had spoken privately were back full force. "Look at the long history of Human struggle. Six thousand years of recorded wars, bloodshed, atrocities beyond description. But look at what came out of all that. We've gone to the stars. Split the atom."

It looked like a pod, about two feet long, resting on a thick, roughly rectangular base about six feet by two feet. The entire construction seemed draped in a single sheet of Shadow skin. The pod appeared similar to the ones he'd seen when
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