THE HELICOPTER LIFTED UP AND AWAY, A little jerky at first, but Carlos quickly found his bal-ance. The first streaks of real light were swelling into the eastern sky as the doomed city fell behind them. It seemed so strange to finally be on their way, after days of wanting it so badly, of working toward noth-ing else. "Nicholai's dead," Jill said, her voice cool and clear over the headset. It was the first thing she'd said since they'd taken off. "The Nemesis got him." "No great loss," Carlos replied and meant it. They fell into silence again, Carlos content to just fly for the moment, give himself a chance to be still. He was dog-tired and wanted only to get as far away from Raccoon as possible before the missiles hit. After a moment, Jill reached across and placed her hand over his, and that was okay, too. Jill held Carlos's hand as the sun inched slowly up over the horizon, turning the sky magnificent shades of pink and gray and lemon yellow. It was lovely, and Jill found that, as hard as she tried, she couldn't feel sorry that Raccoon was about to be dusted. It had been her home for a while, but it had become pain and death for thousands of people, and she thought that blasting it to hell and gone was probably the best thing that could happen to it. Neither of them spoke as the sun continued to rise, as the miles flew beneath them, forests and farms and empty roads appearing fresh and bright in the gently warming light. When the sky flashed white and the sound wave hit them a moment later, Jill didn't look back.