THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница

"So, we're following in the tracks of Temlaa, then," she said.

"And Khas," Jake said.

"Him too. I always liked Temlaa better."

The protoss within range of Jake's thoughts stared at him.

"Khas?" said Ladranix. "Of course . . . preservers have the memory of all protoss. You would have Khas's memories."

Jake nodded. "Yeah," he said. "But for some reason Zamara had me live those moments through Temlaa's eyes, not those of Khas."

Why'd you do it that way anyway?

Because the lessons learned by Savassan—by Khas—are not the ones that are important for you to THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница understand. You do not need to learn as a mystic learns, Jacob. You need to learn as an ordinary protoss does. You needed to learn as the student, not the teacher.

He supposed that made sense.

"Khas and his friend and apprentice Temlaa were the ones who discovered the chambers in the first place, back during the Aeon of Strife," Jake contin­ued. "They figured out some sort of puzzle in order to enter. With any luck that. . . security system, I guess, is still in place and the Forged got in through the main entrance."

"It is so," Alzadar confirmed THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница. "I know nothing of any other way to enter the chambers."

"I cannot imagine that they would have been able to figure out a puzzle they did not even know existed," Ladranix said. "And this world, like all worlds must, has changed greatly over time. But there is one way to find out."

It took some time to hammer out all the details. Then the protoss began to break camp. If the gamble succeeded, they would be leaving Aiur forever. If it failed . . . then Those Who Endure would not be alive to worry about such things as THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница camp. Jake and Rosemary helped, until finally, with only three func­tional vessels—and small ones at that—they were ready to depart.

The remaining templar and all the khalai who had shown promise in combat would accompany Jake, Zamara, and Rosemary to the chambers. Other khalai would go ahead to the warp gate and clear it of any zerg in the area. The rest—children and those who for various reasons could not fight as well as the others— would stay here, wailing to be ferried to the warp gate in waves. Eventually, all the Shel'na Kryhas would rendezvous THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница at the warp gate. Zamara—hopefully— would be able to reactivate it, and they could all depart.

They were all, not surprisingly, stoic and in good spirits. No one held the cloud of failure in his or her heart. Jake found it very uplifting. All thoughts were quiet and focused as he and Rosemary entered the by-now-familiar little craft and settled in.

Jacob . . . Zamara's mental voice was hesitant.

He chuckled to himself. I know I'm far from done with Adun and Vetraas and Raszagal.

Every memory I give you in this fashion THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница will further damage your brain. I am reluctant to do so, but I must.

I understand, Jake replied. Go for it.

"Who knew we had such a gift for stealth and secrecy, " Jake said wryly to Adun.

Adun was wise about many things, but he had not yet seen enough to develop the sense of humor Jake had through the long years. He bridled a bit at the comment. "We do what is necessary, " he said. "I do not relish it. This is not a game, Vetraas. "

No, it was no game, or if it was it was a THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница game as life always was, with the highest stakes imaginable. At first, the Conclave had been complacent. But recently it was as if something had changed. They were demanding more proof of the executions than simple recordings. Adun had done his best to keep them from actually attending an execution thus far, but sooner or later, they would insist on being present, and then the "game" would be over.

Or would it? The work Adun, Jake, and all the other high templar were doing with the fugitives was focused on teach­ing them how to mask themselves with startling efficacy. Just THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница yesterday, Jake himself had watched, shocked, as Raszagal proudly showed off her ability to become almost invisible.

"You taught us about the concealing shadows," she said to Adun. "We have studied hard, as I told you we would. Now we can bend light to hide ourselves. "



While Raszagal was the most visibly talented student, the others were not far behind her. Knowing that their lives depended upon learning these psionic abilities, and heart-breakingly grateful to the templar, especially the executor, for saving them, they progressed with astonishing speed.

It worried Jake, how swiftly they moved. "It took THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница us decades simply to learn how to fully share our hearts with one another, " Jake told Adun. "You yourself are learning as much as teaching, for these abilities are hitherto foreign to us. Perhaps we should not push them so rapidly. "

"There is no other choice, " Adun replied. "The net closes in even now. And because they are utterly convinced that this is the right path, they will not relent. "

Jake shared his worry.

"Soon, we will not be able to hide what we are doing, " Adun continued. "Until I can persuade the Conclave that in this instance THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница they have made the wrong choice, the only pro­tection the dark templar will have is how well they can con­ceal themselves. It would be so much more efficient if I could link with them in the Khala—but of course, if I could do that, none of this would be necessary. "

Later, Jake would sorrowfully muse that the events that unfolded were inevitable. He and Adun were both right. The so-called dark templar indeed had no defense other than these psionic abilities. And, they were trying to learn too much too quickly.

Jake would never know exactly what the THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница ill-fated dark templar who accidentally brought about catastrophe was attempting. For of course he was not linked with the Khala, and every one of his kinsmen, the beasts of the rain forests, and the jungle itself for miles around were destroyed in the dreadful psionic storm that was unleashed. What was certain was that he or she had tried to do too much, too soon, and had triggered a psionic backlash in which the summoned power raged out of control. This unfortunate soul was not the only one; other dark templar presumably panicked and more and more storms THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница were created as the students, unable to handle such power without the comfort, control, and discipline of the Khala, became the first victims of their own inexperience.

"A psionic storm?"

"Dozens of them," Zamara said gravely. "All across Aiur. All caused by inexperienced dark templar trying to wield too much power, too soon. Storms that were devastating in their scope; storms that were easily traceable back to their source by the Conclave. When they identified the bodies as those of dark templar they had been assured had been executed, they real­ized they had been duped by one THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница they had trusted to do what they firmly believed was the right thing."

"So it was all for nothing," Jake breathed. "All the difficult decisions, the lies, the painful choices."

"No," Zamara stated. "The dark templar were indeed found by the Conclave, but even here, Adun's influence prevailed."

The righteous anger and confused hurt emanating from Kortanul was almost as overwhelming as the psionic storms. "How dare you disobey a direct order? What gives you, a templar, the right to make such decisions? We are the Conclave! We know what is best!"

Adun stood his ground unflinchingly. "I THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница am at peace with my decision. What is it you decree now, Judicator? For you know as well as I that if you publicly condemn us, you expose the very secret you were so determined to hide—the existence of the dark templar. "

Jake sealed off his sudden burst of humor, lest it be detected by Kortanul. Adun had the judicator there. "We will do what you failed to do," Kortanul replied. "We will execute the dark ones ourselves. "

" You shall not! " Adun's mental voice was almost painful. Jake touched his temple. "For if one of them comes THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница to harm, I will speak openly of them. And again, your secret will be exposed. "

Jake waited, still as stone. He wanted to help Adun, but he knew that any interference now would do more harm than good. This was Adun's choice; all would succeed or fail on how he handled it.

For a moment, Kortanul's mind was a careful blank. "Curse you, Adun. You know you are right. But the dark ones cannot be permitted to dwell with those of us who fol­low the true teachings of Khas. You have seen how danger­ous they can THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница be. "

"It was unintentional, " Jake blurted, unable to hold his peace any longer.

Kortanul turned to him. "That is even worse! You see how wild, how uncontrolled they are. Would you have them and this power rampage across our world unchecked? Can

you in good conscience, as one who has sworn to protect the protoss, say that is a good thing?"

Adun was stricken to the core, and lowered his head. "What. . . are you suggesting?"

"Banishment. We have already rounded them up. We will put them aboard one of the remaining vessels of the xel 'naga and—

"You have such THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница a thing?" Adun and Jake were both astonished and thought this at the same time.

"There are many things we know which you do not. It is why we are the leaders of the protoss and you merely wield the sword when we tell you to. "

Except this time, Judicator, Jake thought fiercely. Except this time.

"Yo, Sleeping Beauty," said Rosemary, elbowing Jake. "We're almost there." Blinking sleepily, his mind mulling over the tragedy suffered by the pro­toss and wondering if he'd get to see the dark templar depart, Jake sat up. This THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница was it then.

At first, he didn't see it. And then . . . ah, there it was, the crystals still towering toward the sky, glitter­ing in the star- and moonlight, completely new to his eyes and yet completely familiar. Something inside him relaxed at the image, at the continuity it repre­sented. Despite everything, despite the years and the wars and the zerg, these stones were still here, their luster undimmed, though perhaps they were more deeply buried in the soil than before.

"No sign of zerg activity," Varions said. This was a risky moment. While Zamara had blocked his and THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница Rosemary's thoughts from being detected by the Forged, and of course the Shel'na Kryhas were able to block their own thoughts as well, a protoss craft land­ing on an open space was not safe. If they were noticed now, by either Tal'darirn or zerg, their mission might end before it had even truly begun.

This was definitely the place. Jake knew it in his bones, in his cells, the moment he placed a foot on the soil. Here it was that Temlaa and Savassan had stood so long ago, with no inkling of what lay just THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница beneath their feet. Here they had touched the crystals, trying to fig­ure out the puzzle. Savassan had smashed a necklace made of shells, to point out the universal ratio, one to one point six. Jake knew better than to think he'd see fragments of those long-ago shells here, but part of him yearned to look. Just in case. He stifled the urge.

A thought struck him. Zamara—I'm not a protoss. The crystals won 7 respond to me.

You are not protoss, it is true. But your mind has been changed. Reshaped. I believe THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница the crystals will respond to you as they would to me. If not, it is no matter, you can direct Ladranix in how to properly activate them. But. . . I know you wish to try.

I... I do, I really do.

Then, Zamara said, deliberately echoing words that had once been passed, then as now, mind to mind, you do it, my student. The honor is yours.

Jake closed his eyes briefly and called up the mem­ory. He stood in this same place now as "he" had then, as Temlaa had. Jake opened his eyes and reached out his hand THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница to touch the crystal, and for a brief heartbeat of an instant, it was as if a long protoss arm was superimposed on his own. Gently, he placed his palm on the cool crystal.

He felt a tingling, not a physical, but a mental one, and hope surged in him. The crystals were responding!

Moving counterclockwise, Jake touched the next crystal and held his breath. Both crystals seemed to light up faintly inside, and . . . yes, yes, there it was, that deep, barely audible hum that would grow in volume and harmony as soon as the voices of THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница these two crystals were joined by others.

Rosemary whistled softly. "You were right, Jake. That's the same sound we heard in the temple where Zamara was trapped."

Jake barely heard her. He was enraptured with what he was doing. One to one point six. This was the secret, the code, the understanding of the ancients, of Zamara, and of Jacob Jefferson Ramsey. A perfect ratio, found in art and in nature. The xel'naga had known it. Zamara had known it. He moved, almost hypnotized, to the next crystal, and a third pure stone-voice was added to the harmony THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница. The crystals were glowing brighter as well, the light coming from deep inside them now pulsating.

The protoss watched, their eyes wide, as an alien who housed one of their most revered minds re-enacted a scene from their long-distant past.

"This going to attract any attention?" Jake frowned, the deep peace he found in this moment dis­turbed by Rosemary's practical consideration. He ban­ished his resentment; it was a good question.

Ladranix started slightly, and the protoss keeping watch spoke in all their minds. "Beautiful and power­ful though this is, my duty is THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница to keep you safe. There is no threat."

Jake subsided back into that place as if he were div­ing into a deep, clear pool. He moved in a widening spiral, touching each stone and feeling it stir to life, warm and wakening beneath his hands. The song was rapturous and resonant now, and Jake didn't want it to end. But it had to—everything had an end; even things that were beautiful and timeless like the khaydarin crystals had ends—and so he reluctantly touched the last crystal and stepped back.

The humming swelled. The crystals grew THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница brighter. A line of white energy began to form around the spi­ral created by the glowing crystals, encasing it in a rectangle whose ratio was the Golden Mean, one to one point six. The rectangle of earth so brightly out­lined slowly began to rise, excess soil falling in a small rain, its edges smooth beneath the dirt as if cut by a laser. Behind Jake, Rosemary gasped just a little, and he felt the protoss's astonishment and awe wash over him in a warm, tingling wave.

The hole the hovering rectangle had left in the earth THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница was no gouge, no wound in the planet's surface. It was a stairway, leading down into the heart of won­der. It looked as new, as fresh, as it had when Temlaa had beheld it so long ago; it probably had looked this way when it was first created. The walls were organic, made of earth and stone, but throughout was a stria­tum of metal that was obviously not naturally occur­ring but woven in seamlessly. Glowing crystals had been embedded into the walls as well, providing illu­mination for any who might descend along the THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница steps.

Jake sensed Alzadar's disquietude. Then the protoss said, querulously, "I. . . Is there no other way? This is forbidden. . . ."

Rosemary turned to him. "The only reason this area has been forbidden to you is that Ulrezaj said so," Rosemary said. "And you know for sure that Ulrezaj got you addicted to a really nasty drug, you half believe already that he lied to you, and if he is what we're sure he is, he's an abomination of pretty much everything you say you believe in. You're a templar— at least you once were. So let's go THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница."

Jake winced, but Rosemary had done nothing but speak the truth, and it rendered Alzadar silent for a moment. The power that Ulrezaj had exerted over the Forged was strong, Jake knew, or else they would never have followed him in the first place. But it was more than the drug. Ulrezaj preyed on the deep-seated fears of the protoss—their ancient dread of abandon­ment, of not being good enough. Jake knew how pow­erful that fear was because he had been one of them. He had watched the xel'naga depart, had watched what that abandonment THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница had done to the protoss.

He shared his thoughts. "It is an ancient wound," he said quietly. "Because of Zamara, I saw it when it was made. Khas showed you the way—the way of unity, and trust. Honor that now, Alzadar. Trust us, as you know you can, and don't let this—this monster sway you. Aiur protoss and dark templar alike abhor what he is and what he's done. He needs you, your coopera­tion. Deny him that, and you begin to weaken him."

Alzadar turned to him. Jake felt himself being ana THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница­lyzed by a very shrewd and very strong mind. He made no attempt to shield himself or his thoughts.

"This is Jacob, not Zamara, speaking so," Alzadar said. "How is it you know exactly what to say, terran?"

Jake smiled wanly. "Because ... I just might know you better than you know yourselves. And that knowing might be what I die for."

There was the sensation of a slight wince, and then Alzadar nodded. "I. . . will come," he said.

Jake hadn't ever given much thought to his even­tual death, or the manner of it. When he did think THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница about it, when such esoteric conversations sprang up on late nights over deep camaraderie perhaps lubri­cated by a smidge too much alcohol, he'd always thought that he wouldn't want to know. If he saw it coming, he had thought, he'd be so focused on that above all else that it would consume him.

It was certainly foremost in his brain now, but rather than shutting him off from life as it unfolded around him, it sharpened his desire to experience it. When Zamara had first broken the news to him a few hours ago, he THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница'd been devastated. But at this moment he was almost hyperaware of everything. Each bite of food tasted better. The sun- and moonlight on his skin were causes for wonder. The automatic functioning of his lungs, his heart, his whole body—amazing. And as he finally descended into the place where so long ago Temlaa and Savassan had trod, he was filled with a sense of awe and delight.

Zamara?

Yes, Jacob?

Whatever happens—I mean, I want to live, of course I do, everyone does, but. . . I'm glad. I'm glad you chose me. I'm glad I THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница got to have this experience. Better to live fully than long.

The emotion that poured over him was like warm rain. It was followed by cool resolution. I will do every­thing in my power, without compromising my duty, to keep you alive, Jacob Jefferson Ramsey. This, I swear.

Rosemary glanced up at him, saw the gentle, almost childlike smile on his face, and shook her head, smiling softly herself.

CHAPTER 18

THE TWO PILOTS REMAINED WITH THE SHUTTLE in case they needed to escape in order to avoid being detected. They would stay in contact with the others while the party THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница ventured down into the ancient cham­bers that housed xel'naga secrets. Their regret at being unable to accompany their brethren at this historically significant moment was tempered by their devotion to their duty. It was an honor to enter the chambers; but it was also an honor to serve the greater good.

Despite everything, Jake felt a surge of pleasure and excitement as he, Rosemary, Alzadar, and several of Those Who Endure descended the steps, treading in the footsteps of Temlaa and Savassan. He was not alone in his sense of awe and wonder, as he looked THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница at the striated walls inlaid with softly glowing, jewel-toned gems. As Temlaa had done, he reached and touched them with his fingers, gasping quietly as he, as the long-dead protoss had, sensed a sort of. . . life in the very rock.

Only Rosemary, the one among them who had nothing protoss about her at all, was seemingly unmoved. The former assassin ran point for them all, along with two other protoss, hastening lightly down the steps with her rifle at the ready. Jake was grateful beyond words for her presence.

They needed to move and move THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница swiftly, and Jake silently lamented the lost exploration opportunity. Still, when he had first "seen" this place through Temlaa's eyes, he'd never dreamed he'd be here at all. So he observed as much as he could, taking it in with his own human senses, as they quickly and quietly headed into the heart of the place. His ears strained for the sound he knew he would soon hear, the rhythmic thumping, so like a heartbeat. He smiled as finally he began to detect it.

"After so long," mused Ladranix. "Truly, the Wanderers from Afar are marvelous."

Jake THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница didn't say anything, but he wasn't so sure. He'd seen what some of the technology could do and the desiccated bodies it had left behind. He wondered if he'd see it with his own eyes today.

"Heh," said Rosemary, speaking softly, "this is a lot faster than the way I came in."

The stairs ended, and Jake felt the cool air swirling about him. "This is the first big cavern Temlaa and Savassan encountered," he said. Rosemary waited for his nod, then moved forward. Light came up and all of them stared at what THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница it revealed.

The beauty, the integration of the natural with the technological, was stunning. Jake was deeply moved, and he looked around hungrily, at the softly glowing ceiling, the carved and inlaid stone formations that rose majestically from the polished floor—and over there, the control panel inlaid with small, circular, glowing gems.

"When Temlaa touched those gems in the Golden Mean order—the ara'dor—that wall over there opened up." He pointed. "A slab came out with six desiccated protoss bodies on it. They were covered with wiring."

He sent the memory at the speed of thought THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница, and the protoss recoiled at the image. "Did Temlaa and Savassan ever learn why the bodies were there?" Alzadar asked.

Jake shook his head. "No. They assumed that since it was the xel'naga, they were trying to help the protoss. But... I gotta tell you, I'm not so sure about that."

Rosemary fidgeted slightly. "Let's keep moving," she said. "The longer we stick around here, the greater the chance someone'll find us."

Jake nodded. She was right. But he was seized with a desire to tap in the ratio, one to one point six, and see what emerged THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница if he did so. Reluctantly, he turned to follow Rosemary. She headed off into the next chamber, but paused for a moment. Catching Jake's eye, she pointed to a smudge on the wall.

"Temlaa's markings," Jake said. Rosemary did not reply, merely regarded him with a grin that had only affection in it. Jake touched the charcoal; his finger came away blackened. He had, quite literally, touched the past.

On they went, with protoss going ahead of them and following behind, alert for any sign that might mean discovery. So far, they had been very lucky. Alzadar THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница had told them this was a forbidden area for the Forged, and Jake dared to hope their luck would hold. The heartbeat sound increased as they went inward, following a trail of charcoal smudges and the memories of a preserver.

Jake wasn't prepared for it when he turned a cor­ner and suddenly—there it was. He stopped dead in his tracks at the entrance to the cavernous room.

"Wow," said Rosemary softly, staring as raptly as the rest of them at the giant khaydarin crystal that hovered above them. All faces were turned up toward THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница it, pro­toss and human features alike bathed in the soft glow. The crystal was a wondrous sight, and for a second it looked blurry to Jake. He blinked hard to clear his vision.

It is magnificent, Zamara agreed, and if we are fortu­nate, it will mean your life.

He smiled a little. Then it's even more beautiful, if such a thing is possible.

Rosemary broke the reverent stillness. "Here's your giant crystal, Prof. Now what?"

Now what indeed? Zamara wanted to get a piece of it, perhaps one of the smaller shards that he THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница could see clustered around the base. But the crystal was a good twenty feet in the air.

"Un... good question," he murmured. "Any sug­gestions on how we get up there?"

"It is possible that there is a mechanism to raise and lower the crystal," Ladranix said, shaking himself slightly. Like the rest of them, he was in awe of what they were seeing here.

Jake thought about what had happened to Savassan the first time the two protoss had experi­mented with the controls. The great mystic had almost had the very life essence sucked out of him, it had THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница seemed to Temlaa. He grimaced. "Yeah, but I don't want to be switching things off and on ran­domly. Not a good idea down here."

"What is it you require?" Ladranix said. "Be specific, Jacob."

Zamara's impatience and sense of frustration washed through Jake. "She's not sure. I'm afraid this part wasn't in the script." He pointed to the small shards clustered around the base. "I think we should start with one of those."

Ladranix craned his neck, studying the crystal. "The distance is not too great for me to leap from THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница the floor," he offered. "The crystal does not appear to have any protective field around it."

"Yeah, but your technology might not register something that advanced. No offense," Rosemary said.

"None taken," Ladranix replied.

Jake rubbed his temple, trying to ignore the throb­bing pain in his head. "I. .. think that may be the only way to get to it."

Jacob, wait.

"Hang on a minute," Jake said, extending a hand to physically stop Ladranix from stepping into the room. He saw what had given Zamara pause. "Those containers—they weren't here when Temlaa and Khas were here. Those are new THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница."

Their gaze had first gone to the crystal, drawn by its beauty and magnificence, but now that Jake had pointed out the half dozen rectangular tanks, at least three meters square each, everyone stared at them. Jake thought they looked like giant fish tanks filled with ink. He couldn't put his finger on it, but they looked sorely out of place here, their edges and unfor­giving liquid darkness in disharmony with the blend­ing of natural and artificial that surrounded them.

"This is no protoss construct. Nor do I think it is of the xel'naga," Ladranix THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница said.

"The Xava'kai," Alzadar said quietly. "This must be their doing."

"Then we'd better find out what they've been up to," said Rosemary with her customary practicality.

Rosemary is correct. I. . . have dreadful misgivings. But we must obtain a shard of that crystal, or all is for naught.

Jake stepped forward, both fiercely curious and deeply worried. I'm not going to like what I'm going to see, am I?

I... do not believe you will.

Rosemary was already stepping forward cautiously. Jake and the protoss followed. Jake's gaze was fixed on the THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница nearest container. Curiosity burned in him, of course. How could it not? But he was also well aware that anything that so unsettled Zamara was something he needed to have a healthy caution about so he—

Jake cried out, as did the protoss around them. Rosemary whirled, her weapon at the ready. "What is it?"

Jake had fallen to his knees and for an instant thought he would pass out at the sickening psionic buffeting he was receiving. Zamara quickly erected a barrier and he started breathing again. He looked up at the other protoss—they'd felt THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница it too.

"The containers," Ladranix said. "It emanates from them."

All the protoss were shaken by what they had felt, but they were in control again. Jake took a deep breath. He did not want to go anywhere near those tanks.

"What do you think's in them?" asked Rosemary.

"I don't know and I sure don't want to find out," Jake said in voice that shook.

"Agreed," said Ladranix. Jake glanced at Alzadar. The former templar was highly distressed. Jake sent him a private, focused thought.

Those tanks weren't in here before, and whatever's in THE DARK TEMPLAR SAGA VOL. 2 12 страница them is certainly not wholesome. You sense it too.

A single word, laced with pain and confusion and stubborn refusal to believe: Xava'tor... ?

"Let's get what we came for and get out of here," Rosemary said. "Those tanks even give me the creeps."

"That . . . might not be as easy as we'd like," Jake said. He pointed wordlessly. The giant crystal they had come in search of was hovering directly over one of the vats.

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