Cantilever Jones Lands Hard Oh, well. It was worth a shot. "I don't know if you really did anything at all, flyboy," came the ashen voice. "But I'm not going to leave the doubt in my mind unanswered." And that's when Norl crawled out of my sleeve and gave a little cry that probably meant glorious blood-death in his lizard language but really just sounded like an squirmy squawk to us. "Norl, don't..." "Shut your scum mouth, Master-Idiot..." And there followed a battle of arcane minds and wills between my tiny lizard familiar and this avatar of the Death- Emperor that I cannot really put into words. Call it a multi shading of the colors of thought. Call it spiritual toxic warfare. I just know that no one won, because a knock came at the door, and when the Deathguard was done listening to the message and cutting in half the messenger with his iridium blade, he stalked out of the room without a word. I was so surprised at this development that I did not even protest Norl slinking over to the dead man's body and feasting on his blood. I knew he needed it and wouldn't listen to me anyway. So I just lay there for a while. Soon a pair of Legion grunts came and undid my cuffs and hauled me up. The arm I landed on still hurt like hell but it wasn't broken, so I barely minded them shoving me along. I also didn't notice the first tree I walked by. Or the second. At the Third I wondered how we'd got out of Plural Beta so fast and then I saw a tower block covered with ivy and it somehow occurred to me that we hadn't. "Is that yours?" said one of the grunts. I looked in the direction of his gaze and saw a T-111 SluTech Freighter-Bomber. Cream in color. Looked new. I stared at it, and worked my jaw. "Say yes, Master Idiot." "Yes." "Then get on it, and get it the hell out of here." "The Emperor is just..." I said. "What?" said the other grunt. "Nothing," I said, and moved swiftly aboard. Once there I headed right for the cockpit and found an Ixus-built nav- bot, blue-gray in color, sitting sullenly in the co-pilot's chair. "Vin?" It turned its yellow optic sensor at me. "Took you long enough," it said. "How..."