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datatime: 2022-11-27 03:30:56 Author:TMcjlgRL

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

Jus' daydreamin', boss he said easily.Jus' daydreamin'. He shook out his pack of cigarettes.Have one?

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

Gawd help us, Miller muttered.Fragmentation bombs, you said He lapsed into gloomy silence.

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

Ah, well, mebbe I was mistaken, Miller said magnanimously. He squinted again at the guns, forehead lined in puzzlement.That first one's a mortar, I reckon. But what in the universe that other weird looking contraption can be-

Not only could, but did, I'm afraid. But we'll worry about that afterwards. The middle of the ragged line of advancing soldiers, slipping and stumbling on the treacherous scree, had almost reached the lower limits of the blackened, stunted remains of the copse.They've come far enough. I'll take the white helmet in the middle, Louki. Even as he spoke he could hear the soft scrape as the three others slid their automatic barrels across and between the protective rocks in front of them, could feel the wave of revulsion that washed through his mind. But his voice was steady enough as he spoke, relaxed and almost casual.Right. Let them have it now

Jus' daydreamin', boss he said easily.Jus' daydreamin'. He shook out his pack of cigarettes.Have one?

That inhuman bastard that sent these poor devils up that hill, Mallory said quietly.Make a wonderful pietare seen over the sights of your rifle, wouldn't he?

Won't try again, huh? Miller was already sliding his gun around the rock in front of him when Mallory caught his arm and pulled him back.

What Loiiki told you

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

Any second now, Mallory said softly.I only hope that our friend Turzig isn't among this lot. He reached out for his field-glasses but stopped in surprise as Andrea leaned across Louki and caught him by the wrist before he could lift the binoculars.Whats the matter, Andrea?

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

We leave them be Mallory echoed emphaticaliy. The thought of any more slaughter made him feel almost physically sick.They won't try again. He broke off suddenly, flattened himself in reflex instinct as a burst of machine-gun bullets struck the steep-walled rock above their beads and whined up the gorge in vicious ricochet.

They will, Mallory assured him.Just as soon as we fire and they find out where we are.

Any second now, Mallory said softly.I only hope that our friend Turzig isn't among this lot. He reached out for his field-glasses but stopped in surprise as Andrea leaned across Louki and caught him by the wrist before he could lift the binoculars.Whats the matter, Andrea?

The frenetic stammering of the machine-guns stopped abruptly and in unison, the sound sheared off as by a guillotine. The sudden silence was curiously oppressive, louder, more obtrusive than the clamour that had gone before. The gravelly earth beneath his elbows grated harshly as Mallory shifted his weight slightly, looked at the two men to his right, Andrea with his impassive face empty of all expression, Louki with the sheen of tears in his eyes. Then he became aware of the low murmuring to his left, shifted round again. Bitter-mouthed, savage, the American was swearing softly and continuously, oblivious to the pain as he pounded his fist time and again into the sharp-edged gravel before him.

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

I would not be using these, my Captain. They have betrayed us once already. I have been thinking, and it can be nothing else. The sunlight reflecting from the lenses . . .

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

Gawd help us, Miller muttered.Fragmentation bombs, you said He lapsed into gloomy silence.

I would not be using these, my Captain. They have betrayed us once already. I have been thinking, and it can be nothing else. The sunlight reflecting from the lenses . . .

It would be all of that. He risked a quick peep round one of the boulders, eased himself back again.Eight, mebbe ten of them still down there, boss, he reported.The poor bastards are like ostriches-trying to take cover behind stones the size of an orange. . . . We leave them be?

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