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John Glenn personally led the final assault with his remaining men across the open while a Selenite force of company strength hid behind rocks at the top of a gray slope and took leisurely potshots at them. For the invaders the trick was to present a moving target, hustling to the left or right, jumping up, flipping through the air, tucking and sliding to the ground, never the same sequence of moves twice. Troops who fell into the error of patterned movement were awarded a laser hit and quick death. But none of them had a chance. Unlike the Emperor, who was an eloah whose actions remained mysterious to Robyn, Glenn was a human and perfectly predictable. Robyn selected the location of the ambush and attended to matters harself.

DECON agents dropped like flies as the bene elohim and Fallen Angels scored hit after hit. Heedless of their losses, Glenn's forces just kept coming, each agent dancing and ducking to avoid being hit. The random movement was second nature, but too little, too late. Robyn identified the old man to har people and told them to save him for last. Specifically for har.

At the very end Robyn grappled with Glenn and placed her faceplate against his so he could see who he was dealing with and hear her final words: Godspeed John Glenn! Then with har knife Robyn ripped the fabric of Glenn's spacesuit from crotch to sternum, letting him deflate like a tire.

While hy remained hidden in the highlands, Abaddon could see that the floor of the gully two hundred feet below was being driven by intermittent traffic, mostly armored trucks, climbing slowly home to Taurus. Abaddon knew this meant Glenn had been wiped out and Robyn's forces were being pulled back. So the emperor plunged on, heading north, and gradually the road and Abaddon's party began to come together. The rille was getting more and more shallow as hy approached its source. Abaddon felt high, in elevation as well as in spirits. Finally hy had gone as far as hy could possibly go while remaining out of view. This was the very source of the North Fork rille: a single unremarkable fumarole, the same in appearance as nearly every other crater on the moon, but different in that it lay sideways and hadn't been created by impact. Now they were forced to take the road.

Far above them the road wound its way up a set of switchbacks. Three light APCs ascending the mountain rounded a corner just then, crewed by women. It was too short a distance between the time they saw Azibeel and the decision point where it would be surrender or ram. Forty-three nephilim soldiers aiming lasers and rockets persuaded them to pull over peacefully.

Azibeel didn't take any time to ask questions and he wasn't interested killing them. The women, still wearing their vacsuits, were simply bound with plastic tie-wraps and left on the side of the road, to be discovered shortly thereafter. Now Abaddon's company found itself with transportation. They were all thinking how good it was to be moving while sitting on their ass and dangling their poor abused booted feet, some inside, some on top. The APCs had a 1.5 inch main gun, a 30-caliber machine gun, and an anti-tank missile launcher, but the nephilim would encounter no enemies on that road. The city lay just beyond the mountain wall looming above them.

The road made a final turn and Azibeel was staring at a tunnel drilled right through the final ridge. A trap? Abaddon no longer cared. Whooping it up, without a second thought, Abaddon led hyz company plunging through the tunnel. Abaddon drove right onto the roof of the city and parked. Taurus City was a "cut and cover" arcology. The cover was two floors.

Abaddon quickly found a walkway hemmed by a guardrail, and this walkway led them to an airlock big enough to take all of Abaddon's yeng in two groups. It was very easy. Perhaps too easy. When the pressure came up to the three lbs of pure oxygen that was standard inside the city they stepped out and dropped a flight of stairs to the floor below. All of them longed to shed their spacesuits once and for all but they dared not, fearing that they would be flushed out to space with the touch of a button.

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Strangers In Paradise