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Flight From Tomorrow

Chapter 1
But yesterday, a whole planet had shouted: Hail Hradzka! Hail the Leader! Today, they
were screaming: Death to Hradzka! Kill the tyrant!
The Palace, where Hradzka, surrounded by his sycophants and guards, had lorded it over
a solar system, was now an inferno. Those who had been too closely identified with the
dictator's rule to hope for forgiveness were fighting to the last, seeking only a quick death
in combat; one by one, their isolated points of resistance were being wiped out. The
corridors and chambers of the huge palace were thronged with rebels, loud with their
shouts, and with the rasping hiss of heat-beams and the crash of blasters, reeking with the
stench of scorched plastic and burned flesh, of hot metal and charred fabric. The living
quarters were overrun; the mob smashed down walls and tore up floors in search of secret
hiding-places. They found strange things—the space-ship that had been built under one
of the domes, in readiness for flight to the still-loyal colonies on Mars or the Asteroid
Belt, for instance—but Hradzka himself they could not find.
At last, the search reached the New Tower which reared its head five thousand feet above
the palace, the highest thing in the city. They blasted down the huge steel doors, cut the
power from the energy-screens. They landed from antigrav-cars on the upper levels. But
except for barriers of metal and concrete and energy, they met with no opposition.
Finally, they came to the spiral stairway which led up to the great metal sphere which
capped the whole structure.
General Zarvas, the Army Commander who had placed himself at the head of the revolt,
stood with his foot on the lowest step, his followers behind him. There was Prince
Burvanny, the leader of the old nobility, and Ghorzesko Orhm, the merchant, and
between them stood Tobbh, the chieftain of the mutinous slaves. There were clerks;
laborers; poor but haughty nobles: and wealthy merchants who had long been forced to
hide their riches from the dictator's tax-gatherers, and soldiers, and spacemen.
"You'd better let some of us go first sir," General Zarvas' orderly, a blood-stained
bandage about his head, his uniform in rags, suggested. "You don't know what might be
up there."
The General shook his head. "I'll go first." Zarvas Pol was not the man to send
subordinates into danger ahead of himself. "To tell the truth, I'm afraid we won't find
anything at all up there."
"You mean...?" Ghorzesko Orhm began.
"The 'time-machine'," Zarvas Pol replied. "If he's managed to get it finished, the Great
Mind only knows where he may be, now. Or when."
 
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