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Chapter 9

Logan was tired, but the little man kept talking.

"You know how it is, citizen." he said "Nobody feels like he's done it all. All the traveling, all the girls, all the living. I'm no different from anybody else. I'd like to live to be twenty-five, thirty…but it just isn't going to happen. And I can accept that. I've got no regrets. None to linger on, I mean. I've lived a good life. I've had my share and nobody can say that Sawyer is a whiner."

He was talking compulsively. As long as he talked he didn't have to think. Logan had seen a lot of them on Lastday, talking away the final hours.

"You know what I'm going to do?" asked the man, whose palm-flower was blinking red, then black, then red. He didn't wait for a reply. He went on in a rapid voice, telling Logan exactly what he was going to do. Logan had changed to grays back in DS Headquarters, and he wondered if the man would be talking to him if he were in his black tunic. No doubt he would Sawyer was obviously the type who went through life unworried about Deep Sleep men and Guns. Which was proper. He was a good citizen, and good citizens made a stable world.

"—and then I'm going over to the Castlemont Glasshouse Glasshouse and get myself three of the youngest, prettiest girls in the stagroom. One will be blond. You know, with deep-blue eye and blue-white hair. Then I'll get one with short black hair and one with golden-brown skin. Three beauties. I hear they'll do anything for you when you're on Lastday."

The man looked at his palm. The flower bloomed red, then black, then red. "Did you ever wonder if the Thinker makes mistakes, the same as people do? Because it doesn't seem like I've turned twentyone. It really doesn't. It seems I turned fourteen maybe five years ago. That would make me just nineteen." He said this without conviction.

"I remember the day, when my flower changed and I was fourteen. I was in Japan, and it was the first time I'd visited Fujiyama. Wonderful mountain! Inspiring! Ever see it?"

Logan nodded. He'd seen it.

"I sure remember the day. Couldn't have been more than five years ago—maybe six. Do you think the machine could make that kind of mistake?"

Logan didn't want to remember how many years had passed since he'd been fourteen.

Of late he had tried not to think about this. His flower was still a steady red, but…

"No," said Sawyer, answering his own question.

"The machine wouldn't make that kind of a mistake."

He was silent for a long moment; then, in a quiet voice, he said, "I suppose I'm scared." His flower blinked red, black, red, black.

"Most people are," said Logan.

"But not this scared," said the man. He swallowed, raised a hand. "Don't get me wrong, citizen. I'm no coward. I'm not going to run. I have my pride. The system is right, I know that. World can only support so much life. Got to be a way to keep the population down…I've been loyal and I won't change now."

The two sat quietly as the rumbling belt carried them up through the threemile complex.

At last the man spoke again: "Do you really believe that a homer is—is as terrible as they say it is?

"Yes," said Logan. "I believe it."

"What gets me is the way it finds a runner. Once it's fired at him, I mean. The way it homes in on the body heat. They say it burns out your whole nervous system. Every nerve in your body."

Logan didn't answer.

The little man's face was gray. A muscle leaped in his cheek. He swallowed. "God," he said. Sawyer drew in a deep breath. A spot of color returned to his face. "Of course it's necessary. Without the DS men and homers there'd be a lot more runners. We couldn't have that. Runner deserves what he gets, if you ask me. I mean, he doesn't have to run. A Sleepshop isn't so bad, is it? We toured one when I was twelve, me and a friend of mine. In Paris. Clean and nice. It isn't so bad"

Logan thought of the Sleepshops with their gaily painted interiors, the attendants in soft pastel robes, the electronically augmented angel choirs, the skin spray of Hallucinogen, which wiped away a confused look of suffering and replaced it with a fixed and joyful smile. He thought of the quiet, dimlit grave room lined with aluminum shelving, and of the neat rows of steelfoil canisters marked with the names and numbers of men.

"No," said Logan. "It isn't so bad."

Sawyer was talking again. "Sometimes, though, I wonder about those DS men. I could never do it, what they have to do. Not that I'm defending runners. Not scum. I don't defend scum. But I just wonder how a man can fire a homer into—"

"I get off here," said Logan. He left the belt.

Logan was annoyed at his action. He didn't live in this part of the complex. His unit was almost a mile beyond, but the man's constant chatter had frayed his patience. He knew this section, of course. A year ago he'd hunted a man here. Runner named Nathan. He closed off the memory.

Idly he began walking the covered thoroughfare.

Ahead was the Jewel Building. Loganpaused to survey the vast mural which gave the structure its name—a climbing mosaic composed of tiny bits of fireglass brilliantly arranged to commemorate the Burning of Washington. Orange, purple and raw red flames jeweled halfway up the façade; bodies flamed; buildings smoked and tumbled.

Yet the awesome masterwork was flawed, incomplete. Stark, gaping areas broke the pattern. Only the famed muralist Roebler 7 could handle the corrosive fireglass, and when he had accepted Sleep his secret died with him. The project would never be finished. Directly beneath the mural, a man with a sign. Logan registered shock. The man was about fifteen with rounded, girlish features and large, soulful eyes. A silver fringe of beard silked his chin, and his hair was worn shoulder-length. The sign around his neck said: RUN!

He sat, image-still, in the middle of the walkway. Several angry citizens circled him. One of them spat on the bearded man.

"Filth!"

"Scum!"

"Coward!"

The man smiled patiently at his tormentors. He handed each of them a thin scripsheet from a stack in his lap.

"This is disgusting," said a fat woman, balling the script in her hand. "Unlawful."

As Logan approached, the man held out one of the sheets. He accepted it.

REJECT SLEEP! RUN

IF THERE ARE ENOUGH RUNNERS

THERE WON'T BE ENOUGH HOMERS.

THERE WON'T BE ENOUGH DS MEN

IT IS WRITTEN THAT THE LIFE

SPAN OF MAN IS THREE SCORE

YEARS AND TEN, SEVENTY YEARS!

DON'T SETTLE FOR TWENTY-ONE.

RUN! REJECT SLEEP!

A police paravane settled soundlessly at the edge of the walkway. Loganwatched the two lemontunicked officers dismount and advance on the bearded man. He did not try to run. They led him away. The paravane lifted back into the evening sky.

A woman next to Loganclucked her tongue. "That's the third maniac they've arrested this month. You'd think they were organized. It's frightening."

A girl in green mistsilks eased out of a doorway and fell into step beside Logan. He ignored her. The darkness had deepened and the sky was splashed with emerging stars. An air-freshener hummed. Loganstopped to watch the Tri-Dim Report.

The proscenium of the TD Newsbuilding brightened. A familiar 300-foot figure took solid form; he smiled warmly down at the crowd. The tri-dimensional newsman was dressed in Lifeleather trimfits. His giant eyes were clear and guileless.

"Evening, Citizens," he boomed. "This is Madison 24 with the latest news. Trouble in the maze tonight. A gypsy gang war on an express platform near Stafford Heights resulted in two deaths. Fourteen individuals were injured, including three gypsies. Police are investigating and there will be arrests:" The immense figure paused for dramatic effect, then continued. "The triple slayer, Harry 7, was apprehended earlier today in the Trancas complex. His friends were invited to see him off in the Hellcar. But not one person showed up. Not one." The giant face nodded sternly. "Does that tell you something, citizens?

It tells me something. Yes, indeed. It tells me that we are a proud, law-loving people, ashamed of runners and killers and that we are—"

Logan stopped listening. He became aware of the girl at his side.

"You're not happy," the girl in green said. "I can always tell. I have a gift for knowing, for sensing unhappiness." Her eyes shone with a fierce intensity. "I sympathize with unhappy men." She placed a soft hand on his waist and pressed lightly. He shook off the hand. Loganwalked away, lengthening his stride.

"I could make you happy," called the girl. Her voice drifted after him faintly: "—make you happy." Happy. Loganturned the word over in his mind. Restlessness gnawed at him. You can't buy happiness. But of course, you could.

The hallucimill on Roeburt was one of the city's largest. The drugs, administered by trained professionals, were nonaddictive.

Loganhad tried several and found that LF produced the happiest effects—Lysergic Foam, an extension of the old LSD formula developed more than a century and a half ago. It required sixty seconds to run a man's bloodstream. After that: expanded consciousness.

Synthetic bliss.

"LF," Logan told the man in white.

"Dosage?"

"Standard."

"Follow me, please."

Logan was taken to the blueroom: a small, padded chamber with a table, a chair and a blue floor. And nothing else. A woman was coming out of the room. Her face was papery,her eyes still partially glazed.

Logan took the drug flask handed him, swallowed the contents. "Have a good lift," the man in white said as he closed the door.

Logan sat down in the chair, keeping his eyes closed for a full minute, allowing the LF to work itself into his blood. Then he relaxed, opened his eyes.

A terrible illumination fired the room, and Loganknew it was going to be a bad lift.

Window, he thought, got to reach the window.

It was open when he reached it and he fell out of the window, dropping down rapidly into the heart of the threemile complex.

A short, squat man caught him.

"You were running," the man said "That's fine."

"No, I was falling. There's a big difference."

It was important that he be understood. "I fell from a window. Fell."

Logantwisted away, began to run. He ran through hissing fire galleries. The world smelled of dream dust, and a million voices were dirging the coda to "Black Flower."

The short, squat man dropped him with a blow. "Again," said the man, crouched. But Loganhad the Gun. He didn't need to take any more of this damned punishment!

He pulled the trigger.

And the world exploded

On the way out the attendant grinned at Logan. "You were really lifted. Like another?"

"No, thanks," said Logan, and left the building.

He didn't feel any better.

On the upper level he slowed. A group of youngsters approached him, their palms glowing like blue fireflies in the soft dark. As they passed, Loganheard snatches of heated argument.

"The Reddies don't remember we've got rights, too." "They just better begin to—"

Echoes of the Little War.

Loganmoved on, toward the play of colored lights on the glasshouse ahead. The big dome was frosted in white, and interior images were indistinct. A contortion of naked, massed bodies formed a high, arched entrance, and the steps leading inside were illumined from below.

PLEASURE gleamed a step.

SATISFACTION gleamed another.

RARE DELIGHTS gleamed a third.

Loganentered.

"Your pleasure is our pleasure, sir," a flaxhaired girl said to him mechanically. She was seated at a flow desk and wore red satin transpants. Loganplaced his right palm flat to the desk. An inaudible click: the desk would bill him for the visit.

He walked into the stagroom. It was awash in sexuality. Here were beach girls from Mexico and California, Japanese maidens with shy eyes, Italian girls with mooned bodies, pert Irish lads, slim exotics from Calcutta, cool Englishwomen and full-figured French girls. All here because they were lonely or bored or oversexed; because they were looking for someone new or escaping from someone old—or for no reason at all except that the glasshouse was here to be used and it was a time for mingling and touching in a shadow search for love. You never find the people that you go to meet in dreams…

A girl with a blue palm swayed toward Logan; she was Eurasian and, at thirteen, a year away from womanhood. "I'm adept,"she said. "You'll find me skilled beyond any others." Loganignored her, gesturing to an older girl with red hair flowing along her back. She was swanwhite with deep-lashed eyes of coral. "You," he said.

The girl glided in his direction, the thin silk of her gown clouding behind her. "Not me," she laughed, linking arms with a blue-gold blonde. Loganwas irritated. Ordinarily he would have been excited, flushed with anticipation.

Tonight he felt dulled by what he saw. He waved another female to him, a lithe girl with Slavic features and full hips. She smiled, took his hand. They caught a riser up, passing tier on tier, stepped into a glass hall, moved in darkness to a glass room. The girl told him that her name was Karenya 3.

"I'm a three also," Logan told her. "Don't talk," she said feverishly. "Why do men always want to talk?"

Logan sat down on the bed and began to unbutton his shirt. The girl was already nude, having cast aside a thin garment of spun gauze.

How many times have I come to a place like this? he asked himself. To a lonely, empty house of glass… Glass all around them. Glass walls and ceilings and floors. The bed, glass fiber. The chairs and tables, glass. The building was one vast transparent globe, shot periodically with  colored lights. Each room was equipped to illumine itself at irregular intervals, but it was impossible to determine just when a room would flare into brightness. Caught in the act of lovemaking, a couple would suddenly find themselves tangled in a wash of silver, or gold, or red, yellow or green. Other couples, around, above and below, would be able to watch them from glass floors, walls, ceilings. Then the light would die—to spring on in another chamber. "Here," said the girl. "Lie here."

Logan eased into the glassfoam bedding. She guided his hand, and he gave himself over to this woman, holding and stroking her body in the darkness. "Look!" she cried. In the tier above them, bathed in hot gold, a man and a woman writhed in a love heat. Then darkness. The night deepened Logan and Karenya were frozen in silver, arms and legs twined. They were conscious of the eyes around them in the dome, watching  hungrily. Darkness again. Light bloomed, died, flared and died in the love depths of the structure. Until dawn sketched the glasshouse. The loving was over and done.

"Please visit us again," said the flax-haired girl in transpants. Logan exited, saying nothing. Time for duty. No time to sleep. Logan went home to his unit, took a Detoxic, flushing his system, but this didn't seem to help. His eyes felt grainy; his muscles ached. He suited up and went down to headquarters.

Francis was there when he walked in. The tall man grinned at him. "You look ripped," he said. "Bad night?Francis never looked ripped. No lifts or glasshouses for him. Not before a job anyway. Francis was cool and clearheaded and sure of himself. Why couldn't he be like that? Actually there were few DS men who possessed the skill and drive of this friendless, loveless man with the mantis-thin body and the black eyes of a hunting cat. Precise, deadly, ruthless. Only the Thinker knew how many runners Francis had Gunned.

And what does he think of me? Loganasked himself. Always the casual grin, the light remark, telling you nothing. But judging every move.

The hallway was wide and gray and cold, yet Loganfelt the warm sweat gathering under his tunic and along his hands as he walked.

He'd be all right once he had the Gun. He'd be fine; he always was. Soon he'd be hunting, mantracking a runner somewhere in the city, doing his job as he had done it for years. He'd be all right then.

The hallway ended. The two men faced a smooth section of wallmetal . "Identities," said a metallic voice. Each man pressed the palm of his right hand against the wall. A panel slid back, revealing an alcove lined with worn black velvet. Gleaming in the velvet, longbarreled and waiting, were the Guns. Only a DS man could carry a Gun. Each weapon was coded to the operative's hand pattern, set to detonate on any other human contact. Logan reached in and closed his fingers around the big pearl-handled revolver, drawing it free of its snug velvet nest. He checked it; full load, six charges: tangler, ripper, needler, nitro, vapor—and homer. Already the sense of power was building in him as he held the Gun, weighing it in his hand, letting the light slide along the chased-silver barrel. Weapons shaped like these had kept the peace in towns named Abilene and Dodge and Fargo. Called "sixguns" then, their chambers held lead bullets. Now, centuries later, their cargo was far deadlier.

"Identities," demanded the wall again. The two men ignored the malfunction. "Identities, please."

The report room hummed. The room clicked and flashed, metallically coding, decoding, indexing, weighing, processing, filing, tracking—rendering its impersonal machine data to the DS operatives who moved before its faceted wall of insect lights. A dispatcher looked up, saw them. His face was dry and chafed, his expression harried. He picked out a scan record and bustled toward them.

"We've been jammed here," he said irritably.

"Stanhope's in the field and I can't locate

Webster 16. We've got a runner in Pavilion, moving east."

The room was a cross-mixture of voices.

"Come in Kelly 4. DS at Morningside seven twelve."

"Come in Stanhope. Your man is in the maze."

"Evans 9. Confirm. Runner's destination recorded seven-o-four as Phoenix. Mazecar waiting at Palisades. Confirm."

Loganswept the alert board. A light went on at the third level, east sector.

"Who takes him?" he asked.

"You do," said the dispatcher. "Francis is on backup."

"All right," said Logan. "Give me a scan."

"Name: Doyle 10—14302. His flower blacked at five thirty-nine. That would be"—he checked a wallfile chron—"eighteen minutes ago. He's heading east, up through the complex. So far he's avoided the maze. I make it he knows about the platform scanners. He's going for Arcade. Cagy. He must know the fire galleries interfere with a DS scope. The rest is on the board. Good hunting."

Logan began to plot the alarm trail as it came in over the circuits. A light went on at fourth level east. Citizen alarm. Logan noted it. Ordinary citizens are your best allies when a runner is loose. Another light at level five. Logan waited for the third light before he left the alert room. In Central Files he punched Doyle 10—14302. The slot instantly produced the physical file on the runner: a TD photo, vital statistics, pore patterns, names of known friends and associates.

Logan checked Doyle's flower history: YELLOW: Childhood. Birth to seven years: machine-reared in a Missouri nursery. No unusual traits noted. BLUE: Boyhood. Seven to fourteen. The usual pattern. Lived in a dozen states, roamed Europe. No arrests. RED: Manhood. Fourteen to twenty-one. Rebel. Arrested at sixteen for blocking a DS man on a hunt. Pair-ups with three women, one of whom suspected of aiding runners. Has a twin sister, Jessica 6, whose record is clear.

Logan studied Doyle's photo. The runner was a big man, his own size, dark hair, strong memorable face with a wide jaw, straight nose. Slight scar above the right eye. Loganwould know Doyle when he found him. He unclipped the small black Follower scope from his belt and tuned in to Doyle's flower pattern. Then he returned to the alert room.

A new light on the board: the upper concourse of the complex.

Francis was at Logan's elbow. "This is no ordinary runner," he said. "I've been tracking him on the board. He's got a destination—and he's not making any mistakes. Call me if you need me. That's what backup's for."

Logannodded tightly. He snugged his Gun into its tunic holster, checked the scope on his Follower and left the room.

The hunt  began.

Logan got off the belt at the main concourse as his quarry emerged from a public riser. Doyle saw the black tunic and dipped into a crowd. Logan stuck with him as the crowd thinned. He was still heading east—toward Arcade. He'd be hard to track in the vast pleasure center. Logan moved to head him off, but the runner reversed direction and caught a slide. Good. The man was moving downward again. Let him run. Logan watched Doyle's progress on the Follower, represented by a tiny alarm trail of flashing light dots. Time to give him another nudge. At Morningside Heights and Pavilion he picked up Doyle again. The man must know about the maze scanners, Logan thought; the dispatcher was correct in this. Doyle had passed up a dozen chances to go underground. He was swinging east again making another bid for Arcade. Logan showed himself in the crowd-surge. There's nothing to equal the flash of a black tunic to instill panic in a runner. And panic would kill him. Panic and a homer. Logan moved up a level, to place himself between the runner and Arcade. Doyle didn't panic. He was smart. This was no frightened psychotic who'd come unhinged the moment his hand blacked. He'd dodged and shifted like a chess player, calculating each move. He stayed in crowds; he didn't let himself get locked in on a single level, but stayed close to the main lifts which offered him mobility. Logan felt a reluctant admiration for this man. Doyle could have made a fine DS operative. He had the instincts and grace of a hunter. He seemed aware of the DS limitations and exploited the knowledge. Enough of this, Logan warned himself. Let's get on with the job. Fill up with coldness and hate. Build the image of a jackal, a warped coward running from justice. Weak, spineless, selfish. Living beyond his time. Chase, capture and kill. Logan watched the Follower as one of the tiny light dots neared his position. Doyle should come out of the lift—now. The man stepped into view. Logan brought up the Gun. He caught a white, shocked face in the sights. It would be an easy shot, a clean kill. In that moment Doyle saw his danger. He tried to back into the lift. Logan had him. Before Doyle could take cover the heat-sensing element in the homer would seek him out and destroy him. Logan's finger curled on the trigger. He hesitated.

That brief hesitation cost him the shot. Doyle was in the lift, headed down. Logan swore tensely. What had gone wrong? Why hadn't he Gunned the man? On the scope he watched the dot descend two levels and head south. Once again

Logan moved to cut the runner off. He dropped three levels, circled to the foot of the slope ramp, waiting. This time he would not miss. When Doyle appeared he was holding a human shield. A girl, ten or eleven. Struggling in Doyle's arms, she reacted in terror as she saw the DS man. Logan flipped the chamber to tangler and fired the charge. Doyle flung the girl forward into it. The blast of silver threads enveloped her, clouding over her upper body in a tight webbing. Already Doyle was running again. A paravane was cruising the area and Logan alerted it. The police would bring the delicate equipment needed to soften and dissolve the threads without harming the girl. Logan put her out of his mind. The dot was ahead. The main thoroughfare was thick with citizens. Among them, moving away, was Doyle. No good trying to fire a homer in this press of bodies. Too dangerous. There was always the chance that an onlooker would step in front of the charge and divert its course. To a homer, seeking a normal 98.6(in body temperature) one man was like another. Loganwould have to be certain of his shot. The only sure way to take out a runner in a packed crowd was to walk directly up to him, jam the Gun in his stomach and fire. But Doyle was too fast to allow this.

The hunt continued.

Doyle was veering east again. Making another try for Arcade. Logan moved quickly to intercept him, riding an express belt to the east edge of the concourse. This should do it; Doyle would walk right into his Gun.

But he didn't. Something was wrong. It had been a feint. The dot was going down through the complex —heading west. Toward Cathedral. Bad. In Cathedral he could lose Doyle forever, and that wasn't going to happen. Logan put in a call to backup. "He tricked me, and I went for it," he told Francis. "It's up to you to cut him off at the stone bridge into Cathedral. I'll meet you there."

Francis didn't waste time with a reply. He clicked off. Cathedral: a festering sore in the side of Greater Los Angeles, an area of rubble and dust and burnedout buildings, a place of shadow and pollution, of stealth and sudden death. Cubscout territory. If Doyle cleared the bridge the cubs would take him. The kill would be theirs—and that was bad for the record. Logan was well aware of Cathedral's blood history. Of the runners who never came out. Of the muggings. Of the unchecked violence. Even the police avoided Cathedral. With good reason. They'd sent in a cleanup squad the previous summer to tame the cubs. Logan had known some of the men in that squad: Sanson and Bradley and Wilson 9, all good officers. They'd walked into the jaws of the crocodile and the jaws had closed. None of the squad survived. You didn't take chances in Cathedral.

The express belt broke down at River Level, and Logan was forced to take a walkway to Sutton and use the out ramp. These transit breaks had been occuring more and more frequently of late. And since the Thinker was self-repairing, or supposed to be, there was nothing anyone could do about the situation.

When Logan reached the east side of the long stone bridge which fed into Cathedral he found Francis slumped against the spillwall.

"Chopped me from behind," he said, rubbing his head. "Your runner's tough."

Logan scanned the area. The scope indicated that Doyle was very near. A shadow on the bridge. Logan raised his Gun for a shot, but couldn't get a clear view of the man. Doyle kept under the stone parapet, scuttling crab like across the span, keeping the thick masonry between himself and the Gun.

"He's over," said Francis. The runner had cleared the end of the bridge and ducked behind the tumbled ruins of a warehouse.

But within seconds he reappeared, retreating from a tide of moving colors, quick shapes. "Cubs!" breathed Logan. He studied the cubscouts. There was something odd and fragmented about their movements as they converged on Doyle.

Then he realized what he was seeing. He heard Francis swear softly. "They're on Muscle." The small figures moved in a continual blur of motion, daring and flitting like earthbound dragonflies. Where do they get the stuff? Logan wondered. Muscle had been outlawed since the Little War.

Originally developed for armed combat, the drug was designed to speed up reactions. It increased a man's strength tenfold, giving him ample time to deal with an enemy. But its action was too violent to control; it forced the heart to do a day's work in minutes. A man lived impossibly fast with Muscle in his bloodstream. Only the very young could use it.

Logan felt the flesh on his scalp tighten as he watched the incredibly swift boy-shapes attack the runner. Under Muscle a stick in a fist becomes a steel hammer—and the swarming cubs were cutting Doyle to pieces.  He was on the ground, hands outstretched toward off the cubs, but they were killing him.

They were all around him in a rippling, weaving circle; and each wet, bone-shattering blow brought Doyle closer to death.

Logan and Francis were crouched behind a wall of rubble facing the action in the clearing ahead of them.

"We'll try vapor," said Francis. "Plug up."

They inserted nose filters. Francis flipped the Gun to V, braced the weapon against the top of the wall, fired.

The gas charge took immediate effect, driving the cubs back in a broken wave.

Doyle lay huddled and unmoving in the center of the clearing.

"Let's check him," said Logan.

"I can handle it. You cover me."

Before Francis could reach the runner the cubs regrouped to cut him off. They backed the DS man into a shallow pocket of stone to one side of the open ground. A second wave came for Logan He fired a nitro into the group, and three of the cubs were torn about by the blast. This stopped them ong enough for Logan to reach Doyle.

The man's face was a mosaic of blood and bone-ends; his mouth moved convulsively. A word. The runner was repeating a word. Logan leaned closer to catch the broken whisper: "Sanctuary."

Logan tensed. The runner's head fell back loosely; his fingers uncurled. A small glittering object fell from his left hand. A punchkey. Logan pocketed it. The flat, dry crack of a ripper. Francis was effectively dealing with his attackers. He came into the clearing and stepped quickly to Doyle.

"Alive?" he asked.

"Dead," said Logan.

Francis stared sourly down at the unbreathing man, obviously disappointed, cheated of a prize. Then slowly he raised his Gun and fired a blister charge into the body. The dead runner flamed and danced into sudden ash.

"Let's go," said Francis.

On the way back to headquarters, riding beside Francis in the shuttle, Logan kept his right fist closed against his side. He didn't want to see the flower in his palm. It was blinking.

L3C Continuity

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