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datatime: 2022-12-01 00:53:28 Author:xhEjwEJI

That's right, Miller gowled.Cheer us all up. But he was grateful to the New Zealander for trying to take their minds off what they had to do.Why don't they use them?

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

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.

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.

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

His last words were caught up and drowned in the tearing, rapid-fire crash of the automatic carbines. With four machine-guns in their hands-two Brens and two 9 mm. Schmeissers-it was no war, as he had said, but sheer, pitiful massacre, with the defenceless figures on the slope below, figures still stunned and uncomprehending, jerking, spinning round and collapsing like marionettes in the hands of a mad puppeteer, some to lie where they fell, others to roll down the steep slope, legs and arms flailing in the grotesque disjointedness of death. Only a couple stood still where they had been hit, vacant surprise mirrored in their lifeless faces, then slipped down tiredly to the stony ground at their feet. Almost three seconds had passed before the handful of those who still lived-about a quarter of the way in from either end of the line where converging streams of fire had not yet met-realised what was happening and flung themselves desperately to the ground in search of the cover that didn't exist.

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

Also a mortar, Mallory explained.A five-barrelled job, and very nasty. TheNebelwerfer or Moanin' Minnie. Howls like all the lost souls in hell. Guaranteed to turn the knees to jelly, especially after nightfall-but it's stifi the other one you have to watch. A six-inch mortar, almost certainly using fragmentation bombs-you use a brush and shovel for clearing up afterwards.

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.

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

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.

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.

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

I do not believe it, Andrea said flatly.You couldn't make a mistake like that, my Captain.

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?

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-

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

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

What Loiiki told you

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

Of course, of course I had been wondering. . . Someone has been careless. There was no other way, therecould have been no other way. It would only require a single flash to tip them off. He paused, remembering, then grinned wryly.It could have been myself. All this started just after I had been on watch-and Panayis didn't have the glasses. He shook his head in mortification.Itmust have been me, Andrea.

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?

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

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