[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

down there."
"You're right," J.B. agreed. "The laser blasters could be good weapons if they
were in the right hands. So far the people who've been using them haven't been
good fighters. That's been our luck. That could change. Besides, if they have
those, what the hell else do they have waiting for us?"
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"It will be interesting to find out," Doc commented wryly. "At least between
us we should have an idea of how the settlement is laid out, seeing as it
seems to be a replica of the Pentagon."
"Have we?" Mildred said. "Shit, Doc, I lived through all that, but I don't
think I
could tell you what it looked like apart from the fact it had five sides!"
"Good job I try to read those old papers we find once in a while," Ryan said.
"'Cause I've read a few things about it."
"It's not the settlement that worries me," J.B. muttered darkly, "or their
weaponry. It's ours. Too many small-caliber handblasters, and the laser
blasters we've got. Margia's too keen to use them."
J.B.'S WORDS WERE prophetic, as the blond armorer produced one of the captured
blasters next morning, as camp was being drawn. She interrupted a brief target
practice to test the weapon.
Examining the blaster from all angles, the blonde noticed that J.B. had come
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to watch.
"You know how to work these?" she asked him.
J.B. shook his head. "The only ones we ever found were broke. And hell,
watching the way the Illuminated Ones fucked up with them, I'd guess that
they're not that great."
Margia smiled, and for a second resembled her sister as one side of her mouth
rose in the lopsided grin that the sour armorer was less inclined to favor
than her
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Axler,_James_-_Deathlands_59_-_Amazon_Gate warrior sister. "Mebbe you just
couldn't work it out anyway, sweetie," she said.
"Just mebbe I can do it better. Wouldn't that be something, if I could outdo
the great J.B. Dix?"
He refused to rise to the bait, even though he was aware that all the Gate
warriors gathered there were watching for his reaction. "Mebbe you can make it
fire out here. Does that mean it's reliable in a firefight?"
"We'll have to see," Margia said. "Okay, let's do it."
She stepped up to the line drawn for the target shoot and raised the rifle to
her shoulder. Fumbling a switch on the side, she squeezed the trigger and
released a recoilless blast of light that scorched through the target, raising
a gasp of interest from the assembled warriors.
"Pretty fucking good, even though I do say so myself." She smiled at J.B.
"Guess mebbe I can just do this shit better than you, honey."
Although the slur annoyed the Armorer, he was more concerned by the fact that
Margia would now be certain to use the laser blasters in combat when he was
sure that they were unreliable. It was the one thing he dreaded.
J.B. turned and walked away without a word, aware that there was nothing he
could do. If he went to Gloria, then it would mean a possible rift at a
crucial time. And even if he told Ryan, then there was nothing much that the
one-eyed warrior could do.
It was an additional problem that they didn't need as they entered such
dangerous territory.
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Chapter Thirteen
The journey through the rest of the woodland was ominously quiet. To get so
close to the settlement, and to know that the hidden inhabitants knew they
were close, yet to have no obstructions thrust in their path kept both the
Gate tribe and
Ryan's people in a state of constant tension. Not that that was necessarily
bad. It helped them to stay triple red and frosty even when all around was
quiet. But somehow the suspense was fraying their nerves and attention, making
it sure that sooner or later they would snap.
So it was a relief to reach the end of the woods. As with the plain, the
division wasn't natural. The woods ended abruptly, with a division that
suggested a carefully maintained watch on nature encroaching too far onto
what, on the surface at least, seemed a deserted and long since abandoned
ville. This was belied by that careful maintenance.
Gloria dropped to her haunches as they emerged from the woods, holding up a
hand to signal a halt. She pawed at the earth, taking a handful and sniffing
Ryan crouched beside her.
"Tell you anything much?" he asked.
"Tells me enough, sweets. Tells me that it's been turned recently, and that it
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wasn't the first time. Woodland like this should spread easily. At the very
least there should be saplings for the next hundred yards where the trees
reclaim the land. And there's nothing wrong with the soil. This is good, rich
earth, and the
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Axler,_James_-_Deathlands_59_-_Amazon_Gate texture and moistness suggested
that it's been turned regularly. If this was recent, then it would still have
dry crust in it. This is loose." She crumbled the remnants of the soil in her
hand through her fingers, sieving it gently and letting it fall until her hand
was empty. "See?" she added. "Nothing left here." She held out her empty hand.
"So they keep the area clean but otherwise don't use it, and want anyone
coming too close to think that it's deserted," the one-eyed warrior mused. He
cast his eye to where the old wire fencing forming an enclosure around the
ville had long since vanished. A row of evenly spaced concrete posts,
reinforced with steel rods, now corroded and covered with the grime of
decades, stood for as far as he could see in either direction, like an endless
row of rotten teeth in the mouth of a seemingly harmless mutie& one that could
still take your head off if you didn't pay heed. The electrified wire that had
ran between the posts was little more than a memory.
But Ryan was aware that this was a facade. They had already encountered the
forces that had to surely live beneath the seemingly dead surface.
Furthermore, they had seen and fought the results of the experiments these
people had perpetrated on stickies.
His hard, steely blue left orb caught sight of a lone concrete pillar,
seemingly undamaged. Set deep into the concrete was an opaque lens: a sec
camera. The pillar was too high, at this angle, to get a good look at the
deep-set camera, but the impassive blue-black lens stared unblinkingly ahead,
refusing to tell him whether it was dead or unobtrusively recording their
arrival at the edge of the settlement. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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