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the city and its problems were not the real reason they found themselves
orphaned and homeless.
The fourth trip out the crawler carried Storm s raiding party. Thurston.
Lucifer. Helmut. Mouse. The best of the men who had survived the ambush of
Michael s convoy. Pollyanna, whom no argument had been able to dissuade from
going along in pursuit of a rapprochement with her ex-husband. And then there
was Albin Korando, who wanted to go home, to help impose order and reason on
the city that had sent him into exile.
Storm examined Korando before he started the liftoff checkdown. The man was a
lean black eagle, grimly trying to familiarize himself with his weapons. He
looked, Storm thought, much as Cassius might if ever Walters found himself a
mission with special personal relevance. Much as Cassius must look right now,
in fact.
They made a silent, grim band of commandos. There was no small talk, no
nervous joking, no murmured rehearsals. On the edge of this action each
preferred to be isolated with his or her thoughts.
Storm hit the go.
Fifty: 3032 AD
Storm took the cruiser in low and fast and put her down a hundred meters from
Twilight s south lock. His weapons started talking while he was still aloft.
Shafts of coherent light stabbed at everything outside the dome. Shellguns bit
at the stressglass of the dome itself, chewing a hole through it two hundred
meters west of the lock. Freezing atmosphere roared out, mixed with dust in
violent clouds. His searchlights probed for enemies who never appeared.
The decompression was not explosive. The Twilighters would have time to get
off the streets, into buildings that could be sealed. But time to insure
personal survival was all Storm meant to allow them.
Helmut captured the lock before Storm finished cycling down. Darksword was
moving the last of the raiders through it when Storm hit dirt himself.
Accompanied by Korando, Pollyanna, Thurston, Lucifer, and Mouse, Gneaus set
out for Twilight s equivalent of City Hall.
He had given orders to shoot anything that moved. He wanted these Twilighters
cowed fast. The tininess of his force compelled him to hit hard and keep on
hitting. He dared allow his enemies no time to regain their balance.
The only resistance he encountered was a lone sniper who surrendered the
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moment he received counterfire.
The entry to Twilight s City Hall, like Edgeward s, was a massive airlock.
The outer door was sealed.  Blow it, Storm told Thurston.
His son placed the charges.  Stand back, people, he shouted just before the
Storm clambered through the wreckage, checked the inner door. It was not
secured.  Rig something over that outer doorway, he ordered.
Mouse and Lucifer scrounged plastic panels and pounded them into place.
 They ll still leak, Father, Mouse said.
 They ll prevent complete decompression. That s all I m worried about now.
He did not want to hurt civilians. The ordinary people of Twilight, like
those of nations at war at any time, were simply victims of their leadership.
He was in a generous mood. In other times and places he had been heard to say
that people were guilty of their leadership.
Storm and Thurston poised themselves, ready for the inner door.  Go!
Thurston growled. Storm kicked. Thurston went through on his jump pack,
rocketing at an angle across a chamber twenty meters by thirty. Laseguns
probed for him. Their beams went wide.
Thurston let go an antitank rocket. Before the debris settled, Storm,
Lucifer, and Mouse moved in, firing, and spread out behind furniture.
Pollyanna and Korando had enough sense to stay out of action for which they
had no training. They indulged only in a little supportive sniping.
Thurston s second rocket, accompanied by grenades from the others, convinced
the opposition. They surrendered. They wore no combat suits. Only four of
fifteen had survived the exchange.
Korando sealed the inner door before more atmosphere escaped.
 Where re the big people? Storm demanded of the prisoners, after folding his
faceplate back.  Where s Meacham?
He received surly looks in reply.
 All right. Be that way. Lucifer. Shoot them one at a time till somebody
answers me.
They looked into his one grim eye and believed him. He was not bluffing. He
no longer cared, especially about Michael s men. The lives he valued most had
been wasted already.
 Upstairs. Fourth level. Communications center. Yelling for help.
 Thank you. You re true gentlemen. Lead the way.
They balked.
A twitch of his trigger finger got them moving.
The elevators were dead. Storm shrugged, unsurprised. His guides led him to
an emergency stairwell. Thurston blew the locked fire door. The big man could
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have achieved his end with a lasegun bolt, but he enjoyed the bangs.
A bolt poked through the smoke, stabbing a small, neat hole through Lucifer s
right calf. The ambusher died before he could take a second shot.
 Pollyanna, take care of him, Storm ordered.  You four. Up the stairs.
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