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weren't you?"
"Calm down. It got Tremayne to go along with us, didn't it?"
"Splendid we can all walk into Security's arms together." Caine paused, his
eyes boring into
Lathe's. "Lathe, you're going to need one hell of a good trick handy to pull
this off."
"I know. I may have one; we'll just have to wait to see if it works."
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"Tell me about it."
"I'm sorry, but I can't."
"It involves Dodds, doesn't it?" Caine persisted. "Has he armed his Corsair
with heavy weapons from a secret cache or something?"
Lathe shook his head. "I'm sorry. You're just going to have to trust me a
little longer."
Caine stared at him, lips tightly compressed. "You've been saying that for a
long time now," he said at last. "But I have responsibility for this mission,
too, and my patience only stretches so far. If you want my trust you have to
give me yours."
"I've risked all of our lives in coming here," Lathe said quietly. "We lost a
lot of good men on Plinry, we lost Novak here, and depending on how realistic
the collies want to make their defense look, we may lose more tonight. How
much more do you want?"
"I've told you I want to know what happens when we find the Novas."
The room was very still. Lathe could feel the close attention Hawking and
Mordecai were paying to the conversation, and he knew they too were wondering
what he was planning. "I'm sorry," he repeated, putting a note of finality
into his voice. "Now come over here," he added, turning toward the table where
Hawking still sat. "We haven't got much time, and we've got a lot of planning
yet to do."
"Yes. We certainly do," Caine said softly.
For a moment Lathe wondered about the disgruntlement in the younger man's
voice, but he quickly dismissed it. They were heading toward the final hurdle,
and there wasn't going to be time for anyone to sulk in his tent.
Whatever hurt feelings Caine had, he'd get over them soon enough.
ar.htm (194 of 209) [12/31/2004 12:16:37 AM]
The Blackcollar
Though his practical experience was negligible, Caine's theoretical knowledge
of warfare was fairly extensive; moreover, from his vantage point on top of
one of the transport trucks parked several kilometers away from Brocken he had
a grandstand view of the proceedings. Everything he saw pointed to an
inescapable conclusion.
The assault was going ridiculously well.
Stretched flat on his belly, Caine lowered his binoculars and hiked his
goggles up high enough over his battle hood to rub his eyes, itchy from the
salt of perspiration. Both prongs of Lathe's attack were sweeping virtually
unchallenged across the brightly lit 'port field, encountering only sporadic
Ryqril resistance. Clearly, Lathe had been right: the aliens wanted them to
get off-planet and had cut back their defense lest they discourage the
attackers into retreat.
Caine swallowed, and suddenly became very conscious of the laser pistol
strapped to his thigh.
There could be no further doubt that there was still a spy among them... and
the thought of what he would soon have to do made his throat ache with
tension. "Caine!" came a whisper from below.
Sliding a meter forward, Caine peered over the edge of the roof. In the dim
light a dozen dark figures could just barely be seen moving among the five
trucks; directly beneath Caine's position another was looking upward. "Yes?"
Caine whispered back. "Time to go," Mordecai's voice answered.
Gripping the edge, Caine slid his legs over the side, and half a minute later
was jammed between
Mordecai and Skyler in a commuter-crush of Star Force vets inside the truck.
"How's it look?"
Skyler asked softly.
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"We're creaming them," Caine said. A moment later the truck's doors were
closed, and there was a jerk that sent a ripple of motion through the packed
crowd as the truck began to roll.
The ride wasn't a long one, and though Caine strained his ears he heard little
of interest. Once, far ahead, he heard a faint explosion that probably
signaled the opening of the 'port's main gate; minutes later a flatter,
gentler crack came. A sharp turn, a few minutes of highspeed driving, and the
truck squealed to a halt. Even before the men inside had recovered their
balance the doors were flung open and voices were yelling for them to get
moving. Caine was near the back; hopping to the ground, he looked around.
They were at the civilian end of the 'port, nestled protectively between two
mammoth freighters.
Four of their five trucks had already pulled to a halt, their passengers
pouring out of the doors and scrambling to the dimly lit loading hatches in
the ships. Laser-armed Radix people stood nearby, acting as both guards and
traffic directors. Farther away, at either end of the corridor between the
ships, more figures could be seen guarding the approaches. Beyond them the
landscape seemed to twist and writhe with a surprisingly strong flickering
light from the direction of the 'port's buildings.
"What's on fire?" he asked Mordecai as the other gestured him toward the
nearer ship. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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