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In Cabala Dome Lahatiel found himself surrounded by a circle of toughs who motioned for hym to turn over his sidearm. Hy was cast, none-too-gently, into a windowless room in one of the commandeered shops. It could not be locked, but a 350 lb. mountain of a yang sat on the floor on the other side of the door, which amounted to very much the same thing. Some time later the missing youth was also thrown into the room with Lahatiel. He was beat- en and bruised as well, but Lahatiel was glad the dirk was still alive.

I'm Commodore Lahatiel Gerash of Lord Belial's Navy, at your service, hy told the dirk, who seemed dubious, on account of Lahatiel's own youth.

I am called Marou, sir. Hy hardly needed to indicate his family affiliation, his white hair declared that he was also of the House of Gerash quite plainly, and the tufts of hair on his chin declared that he was on the cusp of physical yanghood, even if his parents would never allow him to attain to yanghood in a cultural sense through the death combat.

Your mother and father will be very pleased to see you again, Lord Marou. Proxima Station will be our very next stop.

Marou's face fell after an initial show of excitement. What are the chances of that ever happening now?

The four officers aboard Exiler had a perfect bird's-eye view from directly overhead displayed on any number of screens on the flight deck. Adnarel's torpedo entered like a lightning bolt on the first floor, immediately detonating and punching through with a cone of destruction that was fully blossomed 10 milliseconds later. Many of the residents were on Elimelech's spoiling raid, but most of the eight hundred remaining occupants including Elimelech, his whole family, Remadiel, and the senior figures of Iron Fist, were killed instantly by the concussion.

Molten droplets of metal and concrete flew everywhere, twice as fast as any bullet, ricocheting off of floors, walls, ceilings, through the bodies of the dead and through the bodies those nephilim who had somehow lived through the initial blast. The fury of this shrapnel was expended by the middle of the third second after impact when the whole physical structure of Gnome Dome began to collapse in on itself. If anyone survived the blast, they soon suffocated to death.

Vehicular traffic around Xanthos looked like an ant-hill after throwing a boot into it. Suriel, monitoring battle frequencies, said to the other officers, It looks like we got the right dome. They seem to be in total disarray.

Gnome Dome's destruction could not be heard through the vacuum, but Lahatiel felt a great deal of vibration and had a good hunch hy knew what just happened. Later hy heard a commotion outside the door, including several gunshots, which ended when the door was opened and four strangers entered. Lahatiel identified himself when he saw they were not Iron Fist.

One of them nodded to Lahatiel and introduced his leader. Lord Jetrel, the head of his titular clan.

And these are my sons, Jetrel added. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Commodore. You seemed to be just the trigger we needed to do what we've put off doing for much too long. The Iron Fist is soon to be no more, their dome been completely flattened. We're just picking off their loose remnants now, the bitter-enders with nowhere to go..

Indeed, flashes of light were seen on the streets of Xanthos throughout that evening, but it tapered off by early the next morning. The Commodore made ready to depart with young Marou, who was now much more optimistic that he would meet his parents again.

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Strangers In Paradise