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work out who the hell it is and how they get out of the camp at night."
"Mebbe they don't," mused McVie. "You know, J.B. has this idea "
"Yeah, I know," Myall cut him short. "Trouble is, that just gives us a whole
new set of problems rather than solving the old ones."
McVie laughed bitterly. "And how many more problems do we need, right?"
"Exactly," Myall answered as he turned back toward his poky office. "Anyway,
I've got to get these rosters done. We'll need to look really on the ball when
Baron Silas brings the other boys over tomorrow for a look around. Got to look
on the ball "
"Even if we ain't," McVie finished for him.
THE COMPANIONS RODE in silence away from the sec camp and across the desert to
the work site. It was far enough, in the gloom, for them to change their
positions without anyone being able to spy on them from either camp and give
the game away, particularly as they shunned the use of lamps to light their
way, unlike the regular sec patrols.
Before they parted to take their mounts to the expected positions, then change
to the new points on foot, Ryan stopped and turned to his people.
"This is the big one," he said simply. "If we're right, then we nail it down
tonight. We need to get Silas, and the best way is to get one of these
cold-heart mercies alive and get him to tell his story to the other barons.
Otherwise, they'll figure we're in it with him and Silas, and chill us all
without a second thought."
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There was a moment's silence while they considered that, then J.B. looked at
the position of the rising crescent moon and muttered, "Better get to it,
before we miss them."
THE SIMPLEST PART of the plan was to tether their mounts in the positions they
were supposed to have taken and then make their way to their revised places.
In the darkness that rapidly fell when the sun set, there was plenty of shadow
for them to move silently. That wasn't their problem. For each, it would be a
matter of finding a hiding place where they could observe what was going on
and also keep out of sight until the moment of optimum surprise.
For Doc and Dean, there was also the matter of teaming up and making sure that
they knew where the other was. If there was trouble, they didn't want to chill
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or endanger each other by accident. So it was that both the young Cawdor and
the prematurely aged Doc Tanner found themselves approaching the refinery
buildings from different angles, keeping a sharp lookout for each other.
Dean saw a shadow moving across between the two smaller buildings, keeping to
the line of the covered walkway. He cut across from his position until he
intersected the other figure's path& except that the other figure had
Dean's finger tightened instinctively on the delicate trigger of the Browning
Power as he scanned the darkness, straining for the slightest sound.
"By the Three Kennedys, you will have to do better than that," whispered a
voice from the shadows.
Even though he knew it was Doc, Dean still dropped to one side, rolling as he
hit the ground and coming up in a combat stance, only just stopping himself
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"Hot pipe, Doc! Don't do that!"
Doc emerged from the shadows, LeMat in one hand and swordstick in the other.
He was shaking his mane of white hair from side to side as he entered the dim
light. "I could have taken you out right there and then. Please be careful
when the enemy arrives, as I would not like to have to explain to your father
how you were chilled."
"Fair point, Doc," Dean replied, cursing himself for being caught. But, like a
Cawdor, he would learn from the experience. "So how are we going to take
"I would suggest we cover a section each, and perhaps have some kind of signal
to warn each other of our own approach during a tactical situation to avoid
any more confusion," he added wryly.
Dean ignored that, and replied, "I'll take these two buildings. You take the
larger as it's less ground all around. And we'll just yell. In combat who the
hell is going to hear a birdcall?"
"As you wish," Doc replied. He made to speak again, but his attention was
snatched away by the sound of wags approaching.
"Let's do it and now," Dean snapped, moving back into the shadows. Doc nodded
his agreement, and with a surprising turn of speed for one seemingly so old,
he, too, vanished into the darkness.
Although there were other wags audible in the distance, only one sped into the
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gap between the two refinery blocks, skidding to a halt. It had three
occupants: a driver and two others, who jumped out as soon as the wag halted.
On either side of the gap, Dean and Doc couldn't believe their luck as they
were able to completely cover the wag and its occupants.
Mindful of Ryan's words, Doc chose to speak from the shadows.
"If you will kindly put down your weapons, we will desist from chilling you."
There was only a fraction of a second of stunned silence, although it seemed
to be much longer, before the angry explosion of sound that was an Uzi on
rapid fire. The driver rose from his seat to level the fire in Doc's
It was short lived, as Dean took him out with a single shot from the Browning
that took away a chunk of the back of his skull and pulped his brain tissue.
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"Fuck it, there's more than one," yelled one of the saboteurs to his
The two men, having already left the wag, had flung themselves into cover or
what they assumed was cover against the side of the wag farthest from the
direction of Doc's voice. Which made them perfect targets for Dean.
The man who hadn't spoken swung himself around in the dirt and rose to run for
cover, expecting covering fire from his companion. When it failed to emerge,
he swung his own blaster around and loosed a couple of rounds in Dean's
Doc aimed from the shadows and fired the shot charge from the LeMat, the roar
of the blaster being echoed only by the agonized yell of the saboteur as the
shot ripped into his body, shredding his internal organs and splintering bone.
But the yell itself was lost in the louder sound of an explosion. The saboteur
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