The rifle stutters in Suomi's hands. The sword-brandishing golem's left arm erupts in a spray of dry-looking particles and smoke as the man-thing spins in an incredible pirouette, more graceful by far than any wounded animal. Knocked off balance and deflected from its course by the shock of the rifle's force-packets, the towering shape slides past Suomi and on down the slope.
But it does not fall. In another moment, near the bottom, it regains full control and stops its slide. Then it turns and calmly climbs, like a mountain goat, at a fast run. The sword, whirling and gleaming, comes toward him once again.
Five hundred years have passed since the combined fleets of humanity met and broke the berserker armada at Stone Place. But though the human victory was total, one of the killer machines (weaponless, its star drive a ruin) managed to limp to a secret sanctuary on a planet called Hunter's World. Over the years, a new cult has arisen there, a cult dedicated to Death as the only and ultimate Good.
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