Ojos Amarillos: La Defensa de Panama



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Interlude


Guanamarioch moved as quickly and quietly as the slippery, muddy jungle trail would permit. His AS told him that there was a moon tonight. If so, the God King could not tell; the jungle overhead was too thick to allow anything so weak as mere moonlight to penetrate.

Posleen night vision was excellent. Even so, it required at least some light. There could have been light, too, except that over the past several nights any normal or cosslain who had carried a light had suddenly sprouted one of the nasty threshkreen arrows. He'd lost seven normals and a cosslain that way. Better to go it in the dark, by feel.

Step . . . slip . . . catch your balance by a vine . . . step . . . slip . . . catch your—

"Yeooow!"

The God King pulled his hand away from some round creature that grew spikes in bands around it. The spikes came away from their attacker easily; they were barbed and lodged deep in the Kessentai's hand. Still cursing, with the other hand he drew a boma blade and hacked down and across. The spiked creature fell, dead apparently.

Curiously, Guano detected no thrashing at all. It must have died instantly. He replaced the blade in its sheath and began pulling the spikes out of his hand. Yeoow . . . yeoow . . . yeoow . . . Ouch! He sensed that the spikes were leaving residue behind. The wounds in his hand hurt terribly.

The God King moved on. Suddenly, before he felt it, he sensed a mass of the creatures standing ahead, as if ready to fight him. Again he drew his boma blade, edging forward. He hissed and snarled, grunting and whistling curses at this new enemy.

The blade waved. He felt the slightest resistance as it passed through the body of one of the enemy. The body began to topple, towards the God King. Hastily he backed up . . .

Right onto a pack of the vile, treacherous creatures that had apparently snuck in behind him. Guanamarioch received an assfull of spikes. "Yeoow!" he cursed as pain propelled him forward again . . .

Right into the embracing claws of his enemy. More spikes entered the young God King's tender flesh, right through the scales. He flailed around with his blade, severing the assassins where they stood. Their bodies fell on him.

Yes . . . more spikes.

Beaten down, punctured in a thousand places, the God King sank to the earth still fighting. He was still trying his best to resist when pain, fatigue, and the hunger that had been his near constant companion the last several weeks, forced him from consciousness.

Ziramoth did not know what to make of the pile of freshly cut foliage with sharp defensive spikes all around. He was looking for his friend, Guanamarioch, whose oolt had set up a perimeter from which they guarded and within which they keened for the absence of their lord.

Then the pile moved . . . and groaned . . . and said, "I'll kill you all, you bastards!"

"Guano?"

"Zira? Is that you? Have the demons taken you to the afterlife as well?"

"Guano, you're not dead. Trust me in this."

"Yes I am, dead and in Hell. Trust me in this."

Ziramoth shook his head and began to gingerly pull away the pile under which he was pretty sure his friend lay. Sometimes, the pile shrieked as the plant trunks rolled about. When he was finished, Zira backed off and said, "You can stand up now, Guano."

Carefully, and perhaps reluctantly, the Kessentai stood. Zira whistled and shook his head slowly, and half in despair.

Guanamarioch, Junior Kessentai and flyer among the stars, had, at a rough estimate, some thirteen hundred black vegetable spikes buried in his skin. His eyes were shut from swelling where the spikes had irritated the flesh. He had the things in his nostrils. The folds of skin between his claws were laced with them. He even sported several that had worked their way through the bandages around his reproductive member to lodge in the sensitive meat below.

"I hate this fucking place," the God King sniffled.


Chapter 33


The hardest thing for a soldier is to retreat.

Arthur Wellesley, Lord Wellington


Nata Kill Zone, Republic of Panama


"What can we save?" Binastarion asked his Artificial Sentience.

"Not much," the device answered. "There are a few hundred thousand of the People—some with their Kessentai, others without—stretched back to the first line we broke through. Some of the
normals in that kill zone are dribbling out, though they're in no shape to actually fight. A lot of the tenar-riding Kessentai, several thousand anyway, could get out before they suffocate
if they abandon their oolt'os now. The junior Kessentai, dismounted as they are, are going to die, burnt or blasted or asphyxiated."

The AS continued, "Then too, we still have a decent population in that area we took on first landing, the one the local thresh call 'Chiriqui.' If we could escape with one in four of the People we would have a chance, some chance anyway, of escaping this world before it and the clan are destroyed in orna'adar."

Binastarion buried his face and muzzle in his claws. There was something . . . some way . . . if he could just grasp hold of it. What was . . .

"Aha!" he shouted aloud. "Every tenar could take two. A few of the better could take three or even four. Pass to my subordinates that they are to extract dismounted Kessentai and cosslain before leaving but that they are to leave. They must abandon the normals to delay the enemy and die. We will assemble . . . show me a map, AS. Ah. Yes, there." Binastarion's claw touched a spot on the holographic map corresponding to the remains of the town of Santiago. "We will assemble there. Tell them they can have my blood, according to the Law, after we escape but that until then I remain in command."

"I will tell them, Binastarion."

San Pedro Line, Republic of Panama


The Posleen were mostly extinct along the axis of advance. Of those that lived, the bulk were masterless, trembling wrecks. B Company, in the lead of First of the O-Eighth, shot them down instantly and without compunction.

It became a little tougher once they reached the minefields on the western side of the river. The mines were not an issue; they'd been modified according to the plan of an otherwise obscure American mechanic and electronically blown even before the ACS started to cross. No, the problem came in when it was discovered that there were some still cohesive groups of Posleen on the other side of the river. It cost Connors half a dozen troopers to root these out from their holes. Rather, they'd had to be rooted out of the holes the Panamanians had dug earlier.

That had been the plan, to leave reasonably well-constructed and still usable battle positions for the MI and gringo mech, under cover of being battle positions for the Panamanian covering force of the 1st and 6th Mechanized Divisions.

It had worked, so far as it went. Hopefully, too, the existence of those still extant battle positions would prove more valuable than the price to be paid rooting out their Posleen holdouts. Connors hoped so, at least.

The gap being opened now, Connors ordered his first platoon to hold the shoulder to the north, his second to hold the southern edge of the gap, with third as reserve and weapons in general support.

He sent back to battalion, "The way is clear. Roll 'em, boss. Roll 'em fast."

Santa Fe, Veraguas Province, Republic of Panama


Digna watched the last of the gringo ACS and armored vehicles disappearing into the fog and smoke. She still had a number of reloads for the BM-21s and several thousand rounds of 105mm for the cannon. The rocket launchers would fire until they had only four reloads left. The cannon had already used nearly everything they had in terms of high explosive. They retained quite a lot of fleshette and canister, still. That, however, was not at their current firing positions.

Digna was infinitely weary. She turned to Tomas Herrera standing, as usual, nearby. "Displace the guns that need to move forward to their supplementary positions." Which was where the antipersonnel direct fire munitions had been stored. "I'm going to walk the line with the gringo mechanized commander . . . make sure the guns tie in properly."

"Si, doña," Herrera answered. "But I think you could use an hour for sleep."

"Plenty of time to sleep when I am dead, Tomas."

Assembly Area Pedrarias, East of the Nata Line,
Republic of Panama


If one looked at it just right, from just the right position, and somehow managed to keep notes, there was a pattern there to be seen in the shell storm that wracked the ground to the west. It helped though, thought the first sergeant, if you knew the plan and the way the shells were designed to support it.

A light drizzle fell, unnoticed with the much more impressive storm falling on the enemy. Die, you fucking ugly bastards, thought el primero.

"Get up, get up, you lazy sacks of shit. Plenty of time to sleep when you're dead." Quijana's company first sergeant, el primero, walked the perimeter of tracks kicking people as needed. He came to Quijana's squad and found the men all awake. Whether this was because Sergeant Quijana had heard him coming or not made no difference. They were up. That counted.

"You ready to fight, boys?"

"Si, Primero . . . Si . . . Si . . . Si . . ."

The first sergeant nodded. Good. They sound ready. Maybe more important, they sound confident.

"Sergento Quijana, status?"

"We're topped off and have a full load of ammo, Top, plus a complete additional load of small arms ammunition strapped to the outside of the track, food for a week and enough water for three days, with care. The men have had at least twenty-four hours sleep in the last three days and they've eaten well enough that they're starting to look fat. The track's in good shape though it's starting to blow a little oil. I've got a mechanic coming down from company to look at it. The weapons are all clean and in tip-top shape. We're ready, Top."

The first sergeant reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, offering one to Quijana. He then lit the both of them, each man sheltering under a broad-brimmed floppy hat to shield the cigarette from the light drizzle.

The pair had to lean close to keep the match under the shelter of the hats. As they did, el primero whispered, "You take care, Son. Do your duty but take care."

"Don't worry, Old Man, I will," Sergeant Quijana answered, smiling.

Slapping his boy on the shoulder, Sergento Primero Quijana turned and walked on into the night.

It was an hour before daylight, Boyd saw by the watch on his wrist. It was the watch itself, having its own alarm clock, that had awakened him. He arose from the narrow field cot on which he had spent a couple of hours in fitful sleep, a thin blanket pulled over him.

The Dictator had slept—if that was quite the word for a period when one lies down, not quite conscious, while being assaulted by repetitive, centauroid nightmares—dressed and with his boots on, a rifle propped up beside him against the wall of the bunker. The rifle was unique in the Panamanian Armed Forces, nor could its like have been found easily amongst the gringos. It was his old service rifle, .30 caliber Model M-1, that he had purchased at the end of the Second World War for a keepsake.

He sat up, then stood. Reaching over, Boyd picked up his rifle, and ran his hands over its comforting, familiar, wooden stock. Once more into the breach . . .

Pushing aside a curtain that shielded his small sleep alcove, Boyd walked into the main part of the headquarters bunker. His twenty-four lictors, he saw, were already awake. One of them called, "Attention." Boyd waved them to relax.

Suarez was standing by. "We're about to reach the final stage of the fire plan, Dictador. Would you like to go above and see?"

With a wordless nod, Boyd led the way to the bunker's entrance, Suarez and the lictors following. Three BMPs and two tanks stood idling above. These would carry Boyd and his aides forward, accompanying 1st Mechanized Division. A few hundred meters away, Suarez's similar detachment awaited.

"It is very beautiful, is it not?" Suarez commented, indicating the shell storm to the west.

"Beautiful and terrible," Boyd agreed. Both men had to shout to be heard over the firing of the big guns all around.

And then, suddenly, most of the guns went silent. There was still firing, but it was a mere drizzle as compared to what had gone before. Suarez consulted his watch. "Right on time."

A minute passed, then two, three, four and five, while the men watched and waited.

As one, the guns opened up again. In the glow cast against the sky four bright lines appeared. From looking, one might have guessed the lines were about a kilometer wide, each. Boyd and Suarez knew they were. In this final stage of the preparation, the guns were to blast four lanes through what remained of the Posleen. Into and through those lanes the two mechanized divisions would pour. It was expected they would meet little resistance.

"We've stopped the white phosphorus," Suarez said, "to allow some air to get in. Any Posleen that were going to suffocate already have."

Xenotraghal, or Xeno for short, didn't really understand what had happened. One moment, he had been leading his oolt forward, on foot. The next his band had been engulfed in explosions, with shards of sharp metal winging through the air with malevolent whines. Half his oolt had gone down in seconds, eviscerated, pulped, dismembered.

There had been threshkreen trenches nearby. He had ordered his normals and cosslain into them. The trenches were a tight fit, though, for creatures the size of human horses. Once in, Xeno lost all control as he could neither walk among them in the narrow scrapings in the earth nor—because of the fire storm—get out of where he stood.

He remembered that the fire had lifted, twice. The first time he had emerged from his shelter and called for his people to follow him forward. Then the shells had returned, further butchering his charges until, once again, he ordered them down.

Four times in total, the shells had lifted. But he was no stupid Kessentai. After being caught in the open the second time, Xeno refused to rise to the bait and kept his people low when the fires abated.

Then had come the shells that spread smoke and fire. He had thought them quite beautiful, at first. And then several had landed near enough to the trench system in which he and his people sheltered that chunks of burning stuff, arcing high, had fallen into the packed excavation.

The screams and shrieks of his normals had disabused Xeno of any thoughts that those shells were anything but ugly. All he had to do was remember the burned out eyes of one of his cosslain . . . Xeno shivered.

He had thought that the burning was the worst. Oh, I had little imagination then, he cursed to himself.

For the fire shells had not ended. Soon the air was filled with an acrid smoke that made his people cough and retch. But they could breathe it. Posleen had been well designed and whatever damage the choking smoke did would be soon repaired.

Xeno had found himself breathing more rapidly, much more rapidly. He assumed, at first, that it was excitement and, frankly, fear. He forced himself to calm but still he felt the need to breathe rapidly.

"What is going on?" he asked the AS he wore on a sort of baldric across his chest.

"There is too much fire, Kessentai. It is burning up all the oxygen."

Though far less intelligent, some of the normals still understood instinctively what was happening before Xeno did. A few of these panicked, emerging from their shelter to run feral and be cut down or barbecued by the threshkreen fire.

Xeno well understood that. Inside him, instinctive panic fought a battle for dominance with sentience. For a moment, he felt like he was back in the breeding pens, fighting for his life against the brothers who would gladly have eaten him alive.

Instead of panicking, Xeno looked around the trench as best he could. There was a shelter dug into one side into which he thought he could fit, if barely. Would that trap enough oxygen to sustain life for a while?

Best chance I have. Xeno pushed his way into the bunker, though his hindquarters remained outside, exposed to the fire.

Oh, yeah . . . that's better, he thought, breathing rich air again. There Xeno waited for death, ignoring as best he could the small flakes of phosphorus that lit up his rear end, bringing searing pain. He didn't know how long he waited, only that it seemed like an eternity.

Finally, his AS announced, "There is a tenar outside, Kessentai, capable of carrying you out of here."

Not daring to believe fully, Xeno still backed out of his shelter. When his head emerged, he was able to see the remains of his oolt. Whereas humans went slightly blue, when done to death by oxygen depletion, the Posleen went greenish. All of his remaining people, every one he could see for all the smoke, were green. And very dead.

"He . . . hel . . . help!" Xeno shouted as loudly as he could through smoke scorched throat and oxygen depleted lungs. He heard the whine of a tenar.

"Come aboard, Junior," said the well-crested God King who rode it. "There is nothing left here for you to command."

Unsteadily, holding his breath, Xeno climbed aboard the back of the tenar and hung on for life as its pilot gunned the thing to rise up above the fire, up to where there was air to breathe.

Almost the God King wept with relief at his first gasp of decent air.

Sometimes Quijana rode in the back with his dismounts. Sometimes he took over the track commander's position in the turret. Sometimes he took one of the two positions for dismounts that were in front of the turrets. These had machine guns to help clear the way ahead but, unfortunately, also exposed the passengers to fire when they attempted to get to ground.

For now, under the circumstances, Quijana thought it better to ride in the turret.

The sun was inching over the horizon behind him when the order came over the radio, "Start engines." Instantly, over a thousand heavy duty diesel engines within earshot churned to roaring life. That they didn't all come to life was evident when another squad leader in Quijana's view took off his helmet and slammed it against the metal of the turret. Within minutes a crew of mechanics had assembled on that vehicle, opening hatches to get at the engine.

Quijana tsk-tsked. He shuddered a little, inwardly, as he thought about what his father, the first sergeant, would do to that unfortunate squad leader. Better you than me, compadre.

No sooner were the thoughts formed than First Sergeant Quijana appeared above the offending vehicle's deck, alternately shouting at and beating over the head and shoulders the unfortunate track commander. Oh, yeah. I put up with that shit for twenty years. The old man was always a mean son of a bitch. Way better you than me.

Again the radio crackled. "Roll."

Quijana's BMP was sixth in order of march, behind his company commander and ahead of the platoon leader. The company, in turn, was second in the battalion and the battalion second in the regiment. The regiment was the lead for this lane of assault. Thus, he had a pretty good view of things when the sun finally rose completely.

Cresting a rise, Quijana saw the point of the column, the regimental scout company, nearing the fire storm of shells that marked their lane. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, the shell storm split in two. For five hundred meters to either side the guns began to paste any aliens who might be on the flanks of the penetrations. Had they been human beings down there Quijana thought he might have felt sorry for them.

There was a broad fighting trench along the military crest, a few hundred meters farther along. Across it, the engineers had apparently thrown up a stout metal bridge. The BMPs and tanks crossed the bridge with the thunderous metallic clattering, not unlike nails on a blackboard in its effect on any humans within earshot.

Infantry were manning the trench as Quijana's regiment passed. Themselves probably shocked silly at the fury of the morning's bombardment, plus the many days of fight, retreat, and fight previously, it had taken them a few minutes to realize what was happening.

Once they did realize, the infantrymen began cheering on their armored forces. A smaller group of men—bearing musical instruments, heavy on the brass—filed out of a trench into the open. Apparently the division commander had felt his division was threatened enough that he had even committed his command post guard, the division band, to the front. Unsurprisingly, the band had taken their instruments with them into the trenches. Well, after all, that was how they normally fought, building spirits through martial music.

The band master raised a baton, then lowered it. Drums began to pound, loud enough to just reach through the artillery fire and droning engines. A flick of the baton and the brass began to play. The music was odd . . . not Spanish or Latin at all. It took Quijana a few moments to realize where he had heard it. It had been on a Spanish-dubbed gringo movie, about some men trapped in an old Spanish mission in Texas in the United States. He remembered what the music meant.

"They're playing 'Deguello,' " he announced through the vehicle's intercom. The massacre song.

The tanks and BMPs split once they hit the breach, forming two columns to the flanks as supply vehicles raced to form a tight column in the center between the two. The turret of Quijana's track, on the left side column, traversed to bear also to the left.

The track carried only forty high-explosive antipersonnel rounds. On the other hand, it carried—either internally or strapped to the deck—over ten thousand rounds of machine gun ammunition. There was little firing of the main guns on the march, but the clatter of machine gun fire, from one vehicle or another, was nearly continuous.

Through the smoke and shell bursts, Quijana saw a small group of aliens, perhaps half a dozen, shambling westwards. The aliens' heads were down, an abject picture of defeat and despair. Their gait was unsteady, as if there were some disconnect between brain and legs.

Deguello. Quijana traversed the turret—the commander's controls had priority over the gunners—to the general direction of the retreating Posleen.

"Gunner . . . Target . . . dismounts in the open."

The gunner answered, "Target," fine-tuned the aim, and fired a long burst. Aliens were bowled over as the bullets passed through them. One, obviously wounded, attempted to rise. Perhaps its spinal column had been cut. It was able to get its torso up on its front legs, but its rear quarter dragged behind it.

"Repeating," announced the gunner. Another burst went out, this one shorter. The alien went down this time and stayed down.

"Almost doesn't seem right, Sergeant," the gunner said through the intercom. "They aren't even fighting back."

"Then let them figure out how to surrender and try to," Quijana answered. "It's not our job to teach them. Until they make it plain they want to give up, they are just targets." Deguello.

At some level Quijana was sure that the aliens couldn't give up, that it just wasn't in them. Fuck 'em. They shouldn't have come to my planet, to my home. They're all goddamned targets now.

Santiago, Veraguas, Republic of Panama


Was it only a few days ago that my clan, in all its strength and glory, passed this way? Can so much horror happen in just a few days?

What was it Stinghal the Knower said? "Count yourself no leader of the People in war until you have led a retreat"? Yes, that was it. The old Kessentai knew what he was talking about, too.

The retreat had so far been a nightmare beyond anything of Binastarion's experience in the breeding pens. While the tenar were faster than the humans' fighting machines, they were fewer now, too. And as for the normals that had to be left behind by the fast-fleeing tenar . . . his AS had showed him pictures of the humans just running them down and crushing them beneath the horrifying rolling roads their vehicles moved on. Even those who asked for acceptance into the clan of the victor by adopting the posture of supplication and serenity were killed like abat.

Don't these vile creatures understand anything of the law of the Path of Fire and Fury? Surely they can kill and thresh those who ask for assimilation, but they are required to judge their worth to live first. But the humans want only to kill.

Binastarion sighed. Then again, I suppose from their point of view they have their reasons. After all, they can hardly use us for breeding stock.

As retreats went, the God King knew, this one had been less disastrous than most, especially considering the disaster that had caused it. Who would have suspected that this little place could have amassed so much of their "artillery"? I know they had help, the demon-shits. Perhaps I chose badly in deciding to claim and settle this part of the planet. And yet, but for that miserable waterway it seemed so safe, so nearly irrelevant. What forgiveness for a clan leader who chooses badly? The great crested head hung in despair.

"It isn't your fault, Binastarion," the AS said.

"Reading my thoughts again, are you, o' bucket of bolts?"

"No, Kessentai, not your thoughts. But I am in tune with your physiological responses and the last time I sensed what I am sensing now was when we had to abandon our former home during orna'adar. That, by the way, was not your fault either."

Binastarion raised his head and shrugged. "Perhaps it was not my 'fault,' AS. But it was still my responsibility."

The AS went silent. It was true. Command took responsibility.

"What of our delaying forces?" the God King asked.

"It goes well enough. The humans' artillery is mostly left behind, though I sense that they carry some artillery, and mortars too, I suppose, with them. They can move the rest up again, easily enough. But I surmise, based on what I sense of the weight of the ammunition, that it would be a matter of much time, perhaps many lunar cycles, before they could amass enough to give us such a pounding again. Still, their armored vehicles advance. We kill some, of course, and lose many more in the killing. Without adequate leadership from the Kessentai, the normals are not worth much."

"Yes . . . about what I had expected. And the blocking force ahead?"

"We have probed it, from both sides. It seems to be composed of about two thousand of their armored vehicle soldiers and perhaps a fifth or sixth of that in metal threshkreen. They have considerable fire support from the ships-that-will-not-die to the south, and a large group of artillery to the northwest . . . Binastarion?"

"Yes?"

"The threshkreen planned this well. The positions they have chosen to block our escape from have mines to both sides. Yes, these are the same minefields we broke through many days ago. But the gaps we made were narrow and the thresh have closed them again."

"Show me a projection of our forces on a map, AS."

Binastarion, despite recent disasters, had not risen to lordship of the clan for nothing. He saw, he weighed, he decided.

"Twenty brigades with nothing but dismounted Kessentai strike the northern artillery group on my command. The remaining thirty-seven brigades, also without tenar, strike west. All the force . . . what is the force to the west anyway?"

"The People there muster twenty-four brigades, but with few tenar, Kessentai."

"Fine. They attack east to link up with our forces striking west. Work out the details and control measures. Don't forget to schedule time for the dismounted God Kings to bond with their commands.

"All the other tenar accompany me to the southwest. I will see these ships die. Give the orders, AS. On my command we strike . . . for our lives."

Darien Province, Republic of Panama


Gingerly, Ruiz stepped over the skeleton of the dead alien. Though he suspected the thing was fairly fresh, the ants had made short work of it, stripping the meat down to the bones. A few of them still worked, though if there were any meat left to the thing Ruiz couldn't see it. Then again, ants looked in closer detail than even the Chocoes did.

Idly, he wondered what had killed it. He knew he had not. He suspected that it might have been hunger that did the demon in. He'd been watching them for a long time now. They'd been fairly fresh and vigorous in the beginning. But, as time had passed, he had seen them grow thinner and thinner. Their ranks had grown thinner, too, not just in the band that he followed primarily but generally, as well. The Chocoes took some small personal pride in that, though he knew the jungle itself had done more than he had and the demons themselves had killed many to keep the rest going.

The river was still channeling the demons. It was also what allowed him to track and pursue and even, sometimes, get ahead to lay a nasty surprise. He was setting such a surprise now.

Ruiz looked over the ground. Black palm to the north. They'll avoid that. River to the south. I've seen them drown in shallower. They'll avoid that too.

He measured the area through which the demons would pass with a keen eye. He didn't have the math, didn't have even basic arithmetic really, to do fine calculations. He did, however, had a superb ability to envision fairly large stretches of ground in his mind. On this image, he mentally ticked off the places he would set the devices the gringos had called "claymores."

Twelve should be enough, he thought. Then he returned to his canoe to pick up two cases and a large roll of det cord. The Indian might have been small; he was still very strong. He ported the claymores easily, a case on each shoulder, and carried the det cord by his teeth.

At the ambush site, Ruiz opened the first case. He pulled a bag out, removed the mine and slung the bag over his shoulder. Then he placed the mine, sighting it as he had been taught. He tested the firing wire and found it good. Then he armed the claymore.

From that mine, Ruiz went and set up another, some distance away. Between the two he measured and strung a length of det cord. He was very careful, again as he had been taught, not to let the det cord loop over itself. It would, in such a case, almost certainly cut itself in two and put a stop to the fun he planned.

He laid the twelve mines. Then, for safety's sake he returned to the canoe to pick up a roll of communications wire. From the last claymore of the twelve he stripped the plastic from the firing wire, connecting it to the commo wire. The commo wire he then laid out, back to where the end piece of the first fire wire sat. There he laid the firing devices by both. Thus, if one claymore failed, or somehow the det cord cut itself, he still had a good chance of all twelve going off.

Lastly, the Chocoes camouflaged the mines, the det cord, and the wires and connected the firing wires to the devices. Suffice to say, that if growing up in the jungle lent one a sense of what looked right there, it was all hidden flawlessly.

That done, Ruiz took his bow, nocked an arrow, and began stealthily creeping forward to where his enemy awaited.


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