Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11



XXII


There was no time for arguments. I was frantically trying to fill Alvarez with morphine before he regained consciousness. His body could never withstand the shock of these wounds.

“Strip the trucks,” I ordered Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Morgan.

He jumped up and sprinted back to the bridge, Hairston at his side. They raced in and out of the flames, stripping the vehicles of everything of value to us. Hairston Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 found boxes of ammunition. Morgan grabbed an arm load of weapons from a burning tailgate. Hairston retrieved a stretcher and a wicker creel of medical supplies which he brought back to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 us. Suddenly I was struck with an idea.

“Quick, get the good truck off the bridge,” I shouted at Bradley. “We’ll drive it to Thailand.”

Before Bradley could stand up, the second Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 truck burst into flames. The scene was absolute chaos. We had to get out of there before the trucks exploded.

While the others continued to scrounge, Bradley and I sorted through the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Armilites and put the good ones with Alvarez’s gear.

Louis looked like a dead man to me. I didn’t want to lose this man. We put him on the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 stretcher and bound him down with some leather straps that had been with the stretcher.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here!” I shouted. “Grab the weapons, ammo and Alvarez Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’s gear.”

I saw Morgan hesitating over the pile of gear.

“Leave the rockets,” I said.

“We’ll need them,” he answered, grabbing them.

We were all looking for an excuse to kill, but Morgan Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 wanted to destroy.

Morgan humped the rockets up on his shoulders, then he and Bradley lifted the stretcher. Bradley was trying hard to ignore his own pain. There was no Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 thought of leaving Alvarez. Our fates had become forever intertwined. I was no more concerned for my own life than for the lives of the rest of the team.

Taking Alvarez increased the odds Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 against us. There is strength in numbers and there are only five of us. Alvarez really isn’t going to be any help at all. He’ll never walk Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 again, hell, he’s dying. If he had been hit that hard in China or North Vietnam, I would have given him an overdose of morphine or a bullet in the brain. Now Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 we carry him until he dies or we do or we make it out. He’s part of us, while we live, he goes where we go.

We raced across the bridge Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and high-tailed it back into the hills. A jungle trail took us to higher ground where we could look back down on the bridge burning furiously below us. Headlights were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 racing toward the bridge, then we heard sporadic gunfire. The people down there must have thought they saw us in the trees. Before long, we heard the burning trucks explode.

We stumbled Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 on through the night, constantly moving higher. We had to stop often because Alvarez was bleeding profusely. He was completely saturated in his own blood. There was virtually nothing we could do to stem the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 flow, because we were in almost total darkness. We couldn’t even see the extent of the damage. After a few minutes of rest, we would tighten the bandages and shove off Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 again.

I took the point and led the team south for the rest of the night. I used the night sight to scout our trail and was setting a murderous pace Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. There was a great sense of urgency to get as many miles as possible between us and the last battle.

All through the night I was continually blaming and vindicating Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 myself for Alvarez’s wounding. ^ Why had I held my fire? What else could I have done? I had to give them a chance to recognize us. Instead, Alvarez had gotten ripped in two Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.


As morning came, we were in a shattered state. As the sun came up, we crested a ridge and I called a halt to survey the damage. Alvarez regained consciousness. At Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 first, he did not know who or where we were. Then briefly he was lucid.

“Barkil, you boys go on without me,” he said. “I’m dying. I don’t care, I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 just don’t give a flying fuck. Too much…can’t walk…you can’t…”

He lost consciousness again. We stripped him down. The machinegun had blown away the inside of his leg Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 from the knee to the groin as if someone had hacked at the flesh with a machete. His scrotum was ripped, but his testicles were intact. Incredibly, neither bone nor Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the main artery had been touched. What flesh remained was torn and shredded. Bradley and Hairston worked like madmen trying to keep him alive.

To my surprise they managed to get the bleeding Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 stopped. Then Bradley took off his shirt and began stripping threads out of the seams. He found a needle in the Laotian medical kit and stitched the open wounds closed with heavy waterproof Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 canvas thread. He was sewing infection into the wounds, but that was better than leaving them open to bleed.

I figured we would remain there until Alvarez died, so I went out to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 scout the route ahead, and to think.

All night I had been weighing my decision to bring Alvarez with us. It was what we all wanted, but what was it doing Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to our chances of survival? Alvarez was going to die sooner or later. Was it going to cost us all our lives to carry him for another day or two?

I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 never felt so desperate or alone. I was in charge of these guys lives and was so worn out I could no longer think. ^ How much longer could any of us Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 carry on? The problems were just too many and too big for us to handle. This whole thing is ridiculous.

I snapped out of it. Quite logically I мейд my decision. To save four Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 men, we must leave the one. Everyone knew that going in. It must be what they all wanted in their hearts. It was the only chance of surviving.

They all Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 looked up as I walked back to where they were gathered around Alvarez’s outstretched body. Bradley stopped working on a bandage.

“We’re not deserting him,” Hairston said.

The three men were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 watching me. It was as if they read my mind and I had misinterpreted their feelings. They were not offering an argument…they were telling me how it was going to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 be. I had struggled to get past the psychological barrier of making the decision, but it was one I gladly retracted. I said nothing.


We spent the morning resting and tending to Alvarez. No Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 one wanted to talk much. In a little over twelve hours, we had had a flare up between Alvarez and Bradley. Morgan had thrown a weapon at Alvarez, I had thrown Morgan Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to the ground and I had мейд the decision to leave Alvarez behind. The incident between Alvarez and Bradley was not serious, more like the release valve on a steam Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 engine. They were letting loose feelings that had been building for days. Two minutes later Bradley had dashed out in the road under heavy fire to pull Alvarez to safety. Nevertheless, we couldn Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’t ignore that it was the first sign of personality conflict in the team. Nor could we ignore Morgan’s explosion. He could no longer contain his sense of desperation. Physically Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, Morgan was with us and willing to do any chore asked of him, but his mind was a million miles away.

Bradley and I moved forward to check out the route ahead Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. A vast plain stretched out before us. I decided to cut straight across it, heading straight for Borikhan. Everyone agreed.

We were within twenty miles of Borikhan and about a day and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a half from the Thai border on the Mekong. At Borikhan we could follow a relatively safe road to Muang Pakxan on the river. At Muang Pakxan there was a bridge protected by Laotian Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 government troops on one end and Thai forces on the other. If we couldn’t reach the bridge, we would push west and south along the Mekong until we found Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 another way across. We had abandoned forever any thought of returning to our old route.

None of us felt safe even this close to the border. If we came across an American unit Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, we would still be skeptical and agreed to take every precaution before approaching it. The feelings of betrayal that had arisen in China and returned with a jolt at M Ngoi Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 had resurfaced again.

“How do you see it, Jimmy?” asked Bradley.

“The sad fact is that we’re no more than the victims of a fuckup somewhere.”

“No way…it’s a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 setup, not a fuckup. What about you, Barkil? You got a logical explanation?”

“I can only come up with one sensible explanation and man, it’s out there.”

“Let’s hear it,” Hairston said.

“The Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Pentagon has got its dominant thinkers and there are certain political dominant thinkers who serve as a buffer zone between the Pentagon and the White House. Some of the close-to-the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11-heat guys like the CIA, got wind of the conference through some body. Maybe the communists, maybe some little country afraid of being swallowed up by China. This could Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 have been a year before we were even thought of. The intelligence was fed through the military analysts until someone decided to take action against what was envisioned to be taking place. This Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was then taken to the politicians for acceptance and someone there agreed to the implementation of the mission. After we moved out it was still being discussed, even argued about. You Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’d have hard liners, soft liners and the pure military, all trying to work together. All the time we’re marching toward China. They couldn’t reach a decision, so the only thing Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 left was to waste us.”

“Do you really believe all that?” Bradley asked.

“It’s the only sensible possibility I can come up with. I told you it was out there Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, but no, I don’t believe it. Hell, sometimes I think we are just an experiment. Other times I think it was some general pushing all the chips on the table to start a war Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 with China. He was hoping the mission would be completed before it was aborted. He was found out and we’re being sacrificed. Either that or some people knew they would be Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 getting mandates or a brief of what was to take place at the meeting while we were on the march. If it was unfavorable to the west, we would carry Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 out the mission. If it was favorable we would get wasted.”

“So, what you’re really saying is, there’s a fucking contract out on us,” Bradley said, “and we don Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’t know friend from foe.”

“Oh, we know. Everybody’s our enemy. We have no friends.” Morgan said.

“A contract?” I said. “Sounds like a Mafia film.”

“So what, a contract’s a contract.”

I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 had no answers, though I agreed with Morgan. I thought about Kelly, but shoved it out of my mind. ^ No way would he have knowingly let this happen. Then I thought Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 about General Coulter. That son-of-a-bitch is going to die. When we had finished all those briefings and went back to the barracks all charged up to save the world Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, he had calmly planned the finality of our existence. Our lives held no consequence to the importance he placed on his plan.

My resolve to survive just doubled. I had a score Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to settle.

We spent the better part of the day sitting and talking, waiting for Alvarez to improve. He didn’t get any better. He needed a lot more than we could Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 give him. Bradley and I went back out to survey the valley. Several miles away, we spotted a tiny hamlet on a river. We had to get help for Alvarez.

The team moved Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 out at once and reached the village just before nightfall. Bradley and I jumped two peasants. Bradley kept me from killing mine. The men were babbling that theirs was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a safe village. They led the team into the village. When the women saw Alvarez, they rushed to him before we could get the stretcher on the ground. Bradley pushed them away. While Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the others covered the villagers, Bradley and I went to work on Louis. The entire village crowded around us. The women were frantic to help. I finally got Bradley to relent, and they went Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to work on the wounded man.

This was a very poor and backward village that wanted to stay isolated from the rest of the world. I began to relax. Before we could Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 get our packs off, they were pushing fish soup at us. I grabbed a fish and ate it whole, like a starving animal. We ate and rested in rotation throughout the night Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.

When the women cleaned Alvarez’s wounds with salve and herbs, he regained consciousness within an hour. He remembered nothing since being hit and was amazed when he found Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 out how far we had carried him. The peasants were delighted to see the improvement. They didn’t want a dead American on their hands.

With Alvarez on the mend, the villagers Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 turned to the rest of us. They washed our uniforms and produced huge wooden tubs of hot water for bathing. I climbed in and nearly fell asleep. My energy seemed to melt Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 away along with the weeks of accumulated filth.

I pulled Bradley aside and asked how he felt about the village after talking with some of the people. He felt comfortable with them, which increased Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 my growing sense of security.

One guy reminded me of a Life magazine picture of the World War Two, I had seen as a child. It showed troopers passing by a guy Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 picking rice in a paddy. The war and the world ran right over the top of these people. It did not matter to them if we were American or Laotian Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 or whatever. The quicker we were мейд welcome and given what we wanted, the quicker we would be gone. When the next unit came in, they would keep quiet about the other Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 having been there.

The team spent the night repairing themselves and getting some sleep. I didn’t sleep. I hadn’t been able to relax sufficiently to sleep for days. I was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a hundred percent insomniac by now.

As dawn neared, I told the team to prepare to move out. Alvarez was still conscious and aware of the extent of his injuries.

“I’ll stay Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 here, Barkil,” he said. “My leg is fucked up and never going to be good again. These people will take care of me. When you get through, send someone back for Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 me.”

A peasant spoke with Bradley.

“He says Louis can stay here.”

“He’ll be safer in the jungle with us.”


We moved out just before dawn, carrying Alvarez by shoulder straps Morgan had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 fashioned during the night. The team seemed to me to be in fairly good shape. As soon as we got on the trail, Hairston dropped back to walk with me.

“You Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’ve got to get some sleep, Jeff.”

“How can I sleep? I’ve got to stay alert. These guys are counting on me to get them through.”

“If you don’t rest, you’ll Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 collapse, then we’ll have another man to carry.”

“Bullshit!”

“You’re not functioning as a man now, you’re a fucking machine and you’re running low on Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 fuel.”

“I’ve got to get you guys through.”

“We can take care of ourselves. We don’t need to take care of you too.”

For the first time, I realized I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 had detached myself from the team. I’ve become an outsider trying to manipulate the team from a distance. It was my job to keep these men alive. I had to go Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the limit. I had to watch the others, be a step removed from them. Keep them from making a mistake. How could I afford to sleep? Was I losing it?


We marched on Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 toward Borikhan along the river, then over a trail that took us near the road. The going was pretty easy, all over open ground. We rotated on the stretcher and walking Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 point. Alvarez was conscious and not complaining much. He lay on the stretcher fully armed, his weapon at the ready. I hoped to reach Borikhan early in the night.


With two hours Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to go until nightfall, we moved quickly down an unobstructed trail. We may have been lulled a bit by the easy going, because we came around a bend and walked straight into a group Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of mercenaries. There was no time to run for it, they had already seen us. There were eleven of them. A ragtag bunch, all heavily armed. Morgan, on point, froze in his tracks Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. He had his weapon ready. The leader of the group held up his хэнд in greeting.

“Allow them to come forward,” I told Bradley.

Bradley told them to advance, then he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 walked to where Hairston and I were holding the stretcher. The mercenaries came past Morgan and stopped in front of Bradley and me. Everyone had weapons trained on everyone else.

Their Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 leader was acting very friendly, but he was one ugly son-of-a-bitch. Most of his front teeth were missing, those that were left were brown and rotten. His people Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 were filthy, practically walking around in rags. They could see by the way our eyes were darting around that we were ready. Hairston and I eased the stretcher down. I laid my Armilite on Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the stretcher next to Alvarez and casually unslung the shotgun.

The boss of the outfit kept smiling as if he did not see any of this. He asked Bradley what unit we were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 from. Bradley translated for me but мейд no reply. The man said they were from a village just down the trail and asked if we wanted to go to their village to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 rest.

Bradley asked him something about Borikhan, how far away it was. I heard “Borikhan” a couple of times. The guy replied, gesturing with his arm.

“It’s a trap Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. He says Borikhan is only about a mile down the road.”

Borikhan was at least another ten miles away. Without exchanging a word, we all мейд ready for action. Hairston was the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 first to spot the others.

“There are more in the trees to the left,” he said in almost a casual voice, but loud enough for all of us to hear.

“For Christ’s Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 sake,” Alvarez said. “Get me off the road.”

I told Bradley to tell those in front of us to move aside so we could put the stretcher down on the side Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of the trail. They saw we were about to jump out of our skins, so they lowered their weapons as they moved away.

We hauled Alvarez to the side of the trail and Morgan Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and Hairston nonchalantly slipped off their packs and piled them in front of Alvarez so his chest and head were hidden. The gear would not stop a bullet, but it was psychological Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 cover.

The eleven men were all standing on the road, five in front with the leader, then four a few feet farther back with what looked like the second in command.

Bradley Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 walked up very close to the leader and I followed him. Gradually we forced the front group back down the trail away from Alvarez, simply by violating their psychological Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 space.

“Come back a few feet,” I said to Morgan. “Make it casual.”

He was fifty feet past the second group. He sauntered toward us. I could see three guys in the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 trees closing behind him. When he was nearly even with the second group, I stopped him.

“Stay there,” I said. “Be ready to go to ground. I’ll take the ones in Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 front. Hairston, go into the tree line on the left.”

Bradley, his rifle resting on his shoulder, was talking with their leader, but was hearing every word I spoke. The two units were close enough Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to touch each other, and these guys were being cool. You could see the dollar signs, the bounty money, rolling around in their eyeballs.

The leader had slung his rile Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, an American M-1 carbine and was chatting with Bradley, offering him tobacco. He was obviously waiting for his men to position themselves in the trees, then they would come out with a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bead on us and capture us alive. Problem was, it was taking them longer than he had expected. Bradley refused to play along and just stood there. We all stayed like this Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 for several minutes, with just the strained chatter coming from this guy. His henchmen were getting jumpy, because they had been briefed on how it would happen and it wasn’t Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 happening. Suddenly the conversation came to a strange end, the guy had run out of stall time.

I had been easing myself toward the side of the trail, out of Morgan’s line Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of fire and away from Bradley.

We were all functioning again like a highly tuned machine, like a Феррари instead of a delivery van. It became a matter of watching the movement Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 through the trees…the shuffling of the people on the road…measuring the arc of my weapon…checking the disposition of the team…setting things up so we had maximum fire power before they Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 could retaliate. I could take out two immediately, Bradley two and Morgan was in position to hit several from the rear. We were ready. I was waiting for the right moment…that Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 instinctive feeling that would tell me the scene was balanced in relation to how we were positioned and how we were thinking. The time was right.


XXIII


I fired the shotgun Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 twice, as fast as I could pump the action. Two guys were blown over by the steel balls and I dropped two more before anyone even knew the fight had started Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. Then I quickly backed away.

With one smooth stroke, Bradley brought his rifle off his shoulder and smashed the barrel across the leader’s skull. The rifle fell into Bradley’s хэнд as he dropped Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to one knee and started firing, bringing down two more men. Morgan opened up with automatic fire and killed five of them in a matter of seconds. One of the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 men I had hit with the pellets got to his feet and stumbled backwards into the trees. He was terrified, firing everywhere. It was almost funny to see. I shot at him and missed Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. Just then three guys came tearing out of the trees toward me and Bradley, but their line of fire was blocked by the man I had just missed. Hairston killed all four Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of them from where he was in the trees. Things were confusing to say the least. There were only three or four of the guys still alive, and we were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 all firing furiously.

As Morgan came charging forward, a man rose up off the ground with a pistol in is хэнд and shot him in the back. Morgan pitched forward on his face Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. I blew the guy’s head off with the shotgun at point-blank range.

There were two men left and three of us firing at them. We fired and fired…we shot Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 up dead bodies. We wasted more ammunition than we had the entire mission. We were still wound tight and there was no one left to shoot at.

Bradley ran to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Morgan, glanced at his wound and shouted that he was all right. I dashed to Alvarez and found him with a smirk on his face.

“What’s so goddamned funny?” I asked.

“Look around Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.”

The trees all around him were torn to shreds, the road was dug up by flying bullets. Somehow not one round had touched Alvarez. I ran back to where Morgan was down Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. He was lying on his stomach, his back soaked with blood. Bradley had stripped off his shirt.

“They got me, Barkil,” he said. “The cocksuckers finally did me in.”

“You’re Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 alright,” Bradley told him. “The bullet hit your pack and deflected into your arm. There are no bones broken, just some torn flesh. You’re alright,” he assured the disbelieving Morgan.

I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 could see Bradley was right. If the guy had been using anything but a small caliber pistol, Morgan would be dead. The wound was not severe. Our performance and the obvious signs we were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 cracking up just when I thought we were coming to life again, were of far greater concern. I had missed an easy standing target, and the aftermath…the way we had kept Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 firing. The place was a sight from hell.

We had to get out of there while the adrenaline was still pounding at our hearts. Bradley bound Morgan’s arm, then we gathered Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 ammunition for the Armilites, grabbed the stretcher and hauled ass out of there.


We left the trail and went into the river to avoid two villages. We could still reach Borikhan by Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 midnight or the early hours of the morning and strike from there to the Mekong.


Once past the villages, we stopped for a couple hours rest on the riverbank. Carrying the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 stretcher was exhausting us. Morgan was in great pain. As Bradley was dressing the wound, Morgan suddenly yelped and pulled free. He probed the arm carefully with his fingertips.

“The fucking bullets still Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 in me,” he said.

The bullet had entered the upper arm and the flesh had closed around it. It was resting against the inside of his bicep. It had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to come out to avoid infection. We had no more morphine.

Hairston bound his kerchief as tightly as he could around Morgan’s upper arm, cutting off the blood flow. We waited a few Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 minutes for the arm to go numb. Morgan put his shirt collar between his teeth to keep from screaming. Bradley and I sat on his chest while Hairston knelt on his Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 arm and dug out the bullet. It was only a small thing and he had it out quickly, but мейд a mess of the job in the dark. Bradley bound the wound and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 strapped the arm then loosened the tourniquet. Morgan lay in a cold sweat, fighting off his desire to scream as the blood flowed back into his arm.

We washed and cleaned ourselves up Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. Once again we were covered in the shit of other men. When we were fighting hand-to-hand, the one thing we could not control was the other guy’s bowels Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 opening. When a man died, his body reacted against death. If he had been killed with a knife, it became quite grotesque, his guts and the contents of his bowels came spilling out Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. I could stop a man from screaming with my хэнд, but if he was shitting and I was floundering around in it and if he was wearing only a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 loincloth as these mercenaries were, it got real ugly.


When Morgan could stand, we moved out. We left the river to find the road leading into Borikhan. After traveling only a short distance, we were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 forced to take cover in the trees to avoid a line of mercenaries heading for the river. We waited about ten minutes after they passed and continued on.

We reached Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the road, only to find it occupied by forty to fifty men. Half of them were government troops, the rest were mercenaries. They were sitting around chatting and sharing a meal Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 being served out of the back of several military trucks.

I desperately wanted to find out what they were doing together, but Bradley couldn’t get close enough to overhear what they were talking Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 about. It was enough for me to see the two groups together. ^ The government is paying the mercenaries to do a job in the region.

Two of the trucks took off, headed Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 toward Borikhan carrying both mercenaries and government troops. Other groups went into the bush. We were about to get caught between these guys and the group we had seen earlier Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 heading to the river. Borikhan was out of the question now, we’d head straight for the Mekong. Since those trucks had headed for Borikhan, the city must be in government hands Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. The feeling that we were being paranoid was fading fast. It looked as though everyone was against us. We turned southward and picked up the pace.

Struggling through the thick jungle with the stretcher was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a nightmare. Finally, we broke out onto an open plain covered with bamboo rushes, only to find it crawling with government troops. It had to be battalion strength, sweeping through Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the tall bamboo reeds. The sharp bark of a whistle would stop them and redirect their movement.

Through the night sight, I could see them probing the reeds with their bayonets. We sat and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 watched for a while, they were making their sweep toward the Nou River, which we had hoped to take to the Mekong. I turned the team back toward the high ground Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.

“Wouldn’t it be ironical,” Morgan said, “if they were looking for us to bring us in.”

“With bayonets?”

Once again my choice of route had been мейд for me. We could Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 never hope to sneak through a force that size. We had to keep moving east. We would move east and south until we found a river that would take us Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to the Mekong.

Physically we were not in bad shape. I was probably the worst of all, fatigued beyond the measure of fatigue. Alvarez was actually growing stronger by the minute. Morgan was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 simply impatient with his wounds, tired of the pain and restriction. Hairston and Bradley had learned to accept theirs. My hip had become infected, which was annoying, otherwise I was healing. Exhaustion was depleting Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 our energies far more than our wounds.


When we reached the high ground, I sent the other three down a narrow valley with Alvarez and the stretcher and I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 climbed higher to reconnoiter the area.

Any thought of moving to the southwest toward the Mekong was being blocked by pockets of military activity. The distance prohibited me from identifying the troops Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. I called the team back up and we went higher and moved southeast. This same kind of thing went on for days. Every time we tried to turn toward the Mekong, we found our Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 path blocked.


We kept climbing until the thought of dragging the stretcher up one more hill became unbearable. When we reached the junction of four rivers, forming a huge “X” just Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 southwest of Hatpakmut, we moved into the bed of one of the streams that appeared to aim for the Mekong. About the same time the stream broke into open terrain, I heard a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 sound I didn’t recognize at once.

“Holy shit, look!” Shouted Hairston, pointed toward the southwest.

Just above the horizon were three helicopters moving slowly east to west. They were Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the first we had seen since leaving Thailand. They would hover, then drop low to the ground, then move on and do it again. They were too far away to indentify as U Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.S. or Thai, but they were definitely American мейд choppers and they were searching for something or someone. They appeared to be on our side of the Mekong.

“If they come overhead Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, do we contact them?”

“I’m going for cover,” I replied.

The team was uneasy, strange things were running through our minds. From our high vantage point, we saw a highway several Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 miles to our southwest. It carried so much military traffic, I doubted it could have anything to do with us.

We rested at the river the remainder of the day and had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a long debate about our next move. I thought we were on the Kading River, west of Phangiaug. The nearest safe Mekong crossing I knew was at Nakhon Phanom, more than seventy miles Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to our southeast, I had run an operation out of an airstrip near there when I worked for Kelly the last time. We all agreed we could not risk confrontation Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 with Laotian government troops, we would only turn ourselves over to American or Thai units if and when we got across the Mekong. Until then we would keep moving southeast.

“If we can find Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a radio,” I said, “I’m calling for choppers.”

“What if they just shoot us?” Morgan asked.

“That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Hairston said, and the others agreed Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.


We shoved off after dark and мейд fifteen miles that night, which was pretty good considering our condition. ^ Or had it been two days? Things were beginning to blur in my Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 mind.

We intercepted a dirt road west of Phonkho and moved along the hills that carried us above some mangrove swamps on either side of us. We followed a trail, but had to lay Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 low for hours while people moved up and down it. I was beginning to forget where we were and what we were doing.

The team was in a terrible Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 state by now, moving on instinct alone. Hairston had contracted malaria and had a constant fever. Dysentery hit Morgan as we were climbing a steep grade. He soiled his fatigues with watery excrement, he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 just cursed and kept moving.

I fantasized about walking away from the team, loping off into the jungle all by myself. That is how I had operated on most of my Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 prior missions…alone.

Bradley was the only one functioning well. He was moving like a lizard, he was so sharp. I couldn’t understand it until I saw him choke down three Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Bennies at one time. I began to watch him. He was taking speed every three or four hours. We were all taking them, but not in that quantity. I had stopped when I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 found myself dependent on it to keep moving. I spent a hellish twelve hours until my adrenaline kicked in again.


We debated about cutting southwest to the Mekong, then decided to keep moving Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 southeast, paralleling the curve of the river. We knew somebody was deploying Laotian troops against us, but it was not rational to think the entire Laotian army would be after Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 us. Hairston suggested that one area commander was directing operations against us because of what we had done in his region. If we could get clear of him, we would be far Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 safer. Of course this was little more than a way of reassuring ourselves that we had alternatives. We were working very hard to make things appear better than they were. It Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was hard to accept that we were Southeast Asia’s public enemy number one.


It took us another day and night to get down to where Highway 137 began near Nonglao.

We arrived at a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 hamlet near there just after nightfall. We were in bad shape, we needed what the hamlet could provide…food, rest, our wounds tended, a psychological rejuvenation, a brief respite from Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the relentless chase.

A quick look told us the place was occupied by mercenaries strolling around casually with weapons in their hands. Most of the armed men were concentrating around one central dwelling Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11.

“Who are they?” I asked Bradley.

“Obviously mercenaries, but friends or enemies, there’s no way of knowing.”

I wanted that village desperately. The team waited my decision. I couldn’t make up my Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 mind.

“I say we take a chance with them. Change our luck.” Hairston said.

“Might just as well shoot yourself out here in the bush. It would be quicker.” I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 said.

“I’m so tired, Jeff. I’m just about ready to do just that.”

Well, I’m still in charge here and nobody’s committing suicide…individually or as a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 team. I’m getting you all home.”

I decided to let the people settle in for the night, then take the place quickly. I never saw more than five or six men Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 with weapons, but they were constantly coming and going from the one hut. Women and children were wandering about unmolested, so they had the confidence of the mercenaries.


When things grew quiet, we Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 put Alvarez in the undergrowth and the four of us moved in for a closer look. Slipping up a trail fifty yards from the first hut, we came face to face with Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 two peasant men. We must have been a frightening sight, but I gave them time to recover from the shock. I prayed they would smile and make a welcome sign. They Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 just stared. Then one of them tried to shout out a warning. Before the second word was out of his mouth, we had killed both of them with our knives. We waited anxiously Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11…there was no alarm.

These were ordinary peasants, not mercenaries, so the village was definitely unfriendly. It was either held by mercenaries or the village men were themselves mercenaries. Since M Ngoi, I had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 harbored a deep hatred for these kinds of people. We went forward very quickly, up under the huts. The hamlet was quiet except for one large building, where people were having Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a party of some kind. We could hear singing and general carrying on. We crawled back to Alvarez.

“What do we do?”

“We can’t go around the fucking place without going miles Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 out of our way,” I said.

“I’m sick and fucking tired of being hunted, of running and hiding.” Morgan said. “These are the people that are making life Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 miserable for us. I say, let’s take the offense for a change.”

“Okay, let’s hit ‘em hard, take what we need and get out.”

“This is what we’ve been lugging these Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 fucking rockets for,” Morgan said. “Those guys have got the village women in there with them and I’ll bet they’re raping the shit out of them. Let me go to the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 far side of the village and hit that hut with rockets.”

Morgan hurriedly stripped the rockets from the packs and began assembling them. The rest of us primed our weapons Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. For weeks we had been rats in a drum with no way to get up the walls. Morgan’s remark was an excuse we all grabbed at to hit this place. We could avoid Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 combat here, move around the village and take a safer hamlet somewhere else, but straight through was the quickest, simplest way. Killing right now was the only positive thing we had left Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 in our lives. What the fuck, why not? For once it’s our turn to initiate the action.

“Let me go with him, Jeff.” Alvarez pleaded.

“Sorry, Louis,” I said Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. “You stay here. If we have to bug out in a hurry, this is our best way out.”

I allowed Morgan time to circle to the far side of the village. There Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 were a few more people milling about, but I managed to move under all the dwellings one at a time. I checked to see who was in them, listening for boots rather than Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bare feet or the sound of brass buttons or weapons being tended. Everything seemed okay. Most of the villagers, the children and the adults not working as mercenaries, were sleeping.

The Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 three of us took positions facing the entrance to the longhouse. It was a bamboo and thatch building with one long, low window. I saw several half-naked women pass the window and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 heard sounds from inside which convinced me they were partying and having a gang-bang.

I had my weapon trained on the window and was waiting for a target when Morgan hit the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 building with a rocket. Somehow he had fired it almost in a direct line so that the rocket entered the building at an angle through the base of the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 wall. It went off inside the hut and generated total devastation…there was a tremendous explosion…whirling chunks of shrapnel biting through the air…the entire structure engulfed in flames. He blew the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 neighboring hut apart with a second rocket.

People came jumping out of the building with their clothes on fire and we were shooting anything that moved. A few peasants had grabbed up Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 weapons and were firing wildly at us. We heaved grenades which hurled bodies in every direction. I saw Morgan run up to the longhouse and shoot everybody that was still alive Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. As people spilled out of the other huts, we shot them down at the doors and threw grenades in behind them. Gone was all thought of quick hitting the village and moving out. We fired Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and fired, wanting to kill everyone. I felt everything that moved, everything left alive, had contributed to the hell we had been through for the past three weeks.

“Stop firing, Jeff Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11,” Bradley shouted. “We’re the only ones shooting.”

For the first time, I saw what had happened. In our overindulgence, we had wreaked havoc on this place. Bodies were strewn Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 everywhere, women, soldiers, and old people. If there was no price on our heads before, there would be now. We hurriedly searched the surviving huts and found a terrific abundance of weapons, both Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 communist and American. Most of the hamlet was ablaze. We must have seemed like a hundred men to these people. Bradley herded the survivors in front of one of the huts Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, screaming at them in Laotian. While he and I brought the peasants under control, I sent Hairston and Morgan to bring in Alvarez. The village was larger than I first imagined, we had about thirty Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 people herded together and we had killed a like number.

I walked over to the longhouse, which the flames had consumed to ash. There were a lot of weapons among Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the naked, dead bodies. Brass buttons and belt buckles lay among the ashes. The men had been in some kind of uniforms, though there was no way of identifying them now.

There Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was plenty of wailing among the people left alive. Two women broke away from the group and ran into a hut. We did nothing to stop them. They brought out some children, then several Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 more children and two more women came out from where they had been hiding.

Bradley instructed four men to bring us all the arms that were in the village. They returned Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 with some dated weapons and some communist automatic rifles as well as M-1s and Armalites.

Morgan found a pile of American uniforms and went ballistic. He dragged two men Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 out of the crowd and threw them to the ground. They rolled into balls, holding their heads in their hands.

“Where did these come from?” He screamed. “You bastards, you wiped out an American Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 outfit.”

He raved on and began kicking the men. They had no idea what he was saying and let themselves be kicked. Finally I stopped him, by this time things had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 calmed down and were getting sickening.

I had a gutful, I couldn’t absorb anymore. I was beginning to differentiate between the needed and the needless, and it seemed needless for Morgan to be Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 kicking these two peasants after we had wiped out half their village.

Morgan was like a man crazed on drugs, his weapon was dancing in his hands, and his eyes were pleading Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 with someone, anyone to move so he would have an excuse to blow them away.

We grabbed up some food, medical supplies and ammunition. Bradley found an old American radio, but he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 couldn’t get it to work and it was way too heavy to take with us. It looked like it was a base radio. The Green Berets must have run these Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 people at one time, then had their own weapons turned on them.

We мейд the villagers clean Alvarez’s wounds. They were healing quite well, though there was terrific scarring and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bruising all along the leg. I was trying to ignore my own wounds, though they were seriously infected. Hairston pleaded with me to get attention, but the more he argued, the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 more I rejected the help. His wounds were by no means healing, but they were closed and manageable, he had even gotten considerable use of the bad arm. Bradley’s arm had deteriorated; he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 had practically no lateral movement. Morgan’s wound was healing fast.

We left the village and headed downriver. I was hoping to somehow reach Nakhon Phanom. After marching up some low hills for Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 several hours, we stopped to rest.

I was too whipped to post a guard and no one took the responsibility upon themselves. We just flopped out on the ground without Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a word. We were done in…no one spoke. No one really tried to sleep, because not one of us trusted sleep now, but we could fight it only so long Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. As I sat there thinking, I watched the others drift in and out of sleep. I drifted off a couple of times, but my nerves kept jogging me awake.


As dawn approached, we moved out Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 again. We cut down toward a flat valley of rice paddies interrupted by marshland and vast sandy areas like dried lake beds that were scarred with vehicle tracks from some recent battle Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. We had to skirt several mangrove swamps under a very hot sun. Dehydration was telling on us all.

East of Nakok we headed toward a trail that would take us within sight Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of the Mekong. The landscape was open with low, gentle vegetation. It was easy going, but we were moving on through under a sticky hot sun. We could see constant air Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 activity off in the distance, which meant we were approaching a battlefield. We walked on in almost total silence. We were all thinking more than we were saying and none of us Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 wanted to be sniping at one another. The tension was unbearable, I no longer knew where the limit was.


As we approached the trail, fifteen Pathet Lao came cycling down it, then stopped Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and dragged their bikes off into the trees. We slipped across the trail. Morgan and I went forward a quarter of a mile, dodging from cover to cover in the sparse vegetation Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. We were just out of the trees, on our bellies, when Morgan tapped me on the shoulder and pointed. We were within a hundred yards of a Pathet Lao encampment. This entire Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 area was unsafe. We were going to have to go farther south and east.

Just before we got back to the team, some instinct told me there were people about Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. I signaled Morgan down. Almost immediately, three men walked past without seeing us. We were in sight of our guys when we saw two more men walking to where the team was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 hidden. Neither group had seen the other, they were on a collision course.

Morgan and I moved quickly through the trees to intercept them. One was between us and the other, I signaled Morgan Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to take him first. I moved toward the second man. Morgan underestimated the time it would take me to get set. I was still several feet from my man when Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Morgan killed his. The guy мейд a noise. My man turned and saw what was happening and whipped his rifle up to shoot Morgan.

I flew out of the bush and drove Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 my knife straight into his stomach. We fell together, and the guy grabbed my throat with both hands. I tried to stab him again, but my knife was stuck in bone. The man Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was jumping around on the end of the blade like a speared fish, but he was choking the life out of me. He was a strong son-of-a-bitch. I could Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 feel myself growing weaker. I struggled with the knife and beat him in the face with my free хэнд, but I could not break his grip. Blood was running from his mouth, he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was dying, but he was determined to kill me first. All the time I was aware of attracting attention and trying to kill him quietly. His grip was getting tighter Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and tighter and as I began to lose consciousness, Morgan slipped a garrote over the man’s head and ripped his throat to the bone.

I grabbed both of his hands Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, but didn’t have the strength to break the grip. Morgan pulled the fingers from my throat and rolled me on my back. He checked me over while I caught my breath, then Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 pulled me to my feet and pushed my gun into my hands. He jerked my knife free from the man and slammed it into the sheath at my side. I looked at him and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 mocked a punch to his shoulder and we took off.

The team dashed across open ground, then over the road completely exposed. We had just reached cover when we Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 heard four shots. The bodies had been found. Within minutes the area was crawling with people. They saw or heard us and were on our trail, but we managed to stay just ahead Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of them in the heavy undergrowth.


A little farther east we overran a group of five and wiped them out.


We ran for half a day with these people only minutes behind us Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. We had to dodge another party of about seven men.

The whole countryside was covered with armed men. We reached the highway that led into Mung Kham Mouan and moved along it to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 cross it at a safer point. I was out front on point, walking fast. We broke out of the trees fifty yards off the road.

A gun fired and a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bullet slammed into my thigh. I was spun around and went down on my back. Once again I had triggered an ambush prematurely. There were guns going off everywhere, but the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 others had dropped the stretcher and ducked back into the trees. There was a lot of yelling from our side, trying to figure out where the enemy was. I finally spotted them at ground Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 level, firing from a depression on the far side of the road. When they did not rush me, I crawled to cover in the underbrush. The firing stopped. They were going Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 to wait to pick us off. I lay there for several minutes, trying to make out their firing position. I counted eight, but could have counted some twice. They were mercenaries, but no ordinary Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bandit rabble, they were pretty well organized.

We began moving against each other, crawling through the bush. Firing was sporadic, so I took a second to shove a wad in through the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 hole in my pants, I was bleeding like a stuck pig. I dragged myself out on the flank and instantly drew a lot of fire. Then I was able to get a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 bead and take a couple of them out. I couldn’t see the team, so I was out there on my own, stalking and being stalked. Two men charged me, I shot Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 one and he fell dead beside me. I shot at the second man, but the Armilite was empty. I rose up as far as I could and swung the rifle at Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 him. It slipped out of my sweaty hands and went flying off into the bush. The man stood right over me and fired. The bullet must have passed between my arm Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and my chest. He leaned over to take a more careful shot. A bullet smashed into his chest. He pirouetted and landed right beside my head. I rolled over and finished him with Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 my Bowie. Half a dozen rounds tore into his body that had been intended for me. I was down to my shotgun and thirty rounds now. It was useless unless I charged Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, so I kept working my way to our flank.

Gradually, we regrouped and pushed them all back on one side of the road. I had hoped to stretch them out, but it hadn Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11’t worked, they had stayed together. I managed to get to my feet and walk with a stiff leg, but it felt as if the leg wasn’t there. No one Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 could help me, because we needed everyone shooting. We got to the edge of the road and started to run across.

“Alvarez!” Hairston shouted.

We had forgotten him where the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 others had dropped him in the scramble for cover. At that moment, we heard firing. Bradley and Morgan ran into the trees and down the line to where Alvarez had been. They came racing Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 back.

“The stretchers empty,” Morgan shouted.

“There are bodies all over the place,” Bradley said, “but Louis is gone.”

“Hooaah!” Alverez shouted.

We could see him waving from where he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 lay by the road a hundred yards away. The bad guys were regrouping in the tree line to rush us. We charged first, hurling grenades, then we darted back to the road. I yelled to Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 Alvarez to get across the road while we covered him. The poor bastard was a pathetic sight, dragging himself across on his hands and knees. They spotted him and started yelling Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 and shooting. Bullets bounced in the dirt all around him, but he мейд it across unscathed.

“Can you make it?” Hairston shouted at me.

I said yes, not knowing at all if Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 I was telling the truth. I hobbled across, feeling as if I had only one leg to support me. Hairston followed me. Before Bradley and Morgan could get clear they Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 were jumped by four men. We laid down covering fire while they dealt with those four.

Two were shot immediately, but the other two went into hand-to-hand. One of them Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 came at Morgan waving his rifle like a club. Morgan disarmed him, then brought him in close to stab him. They fell and rolled on the ground. The second man swung his weapon Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 like a ball bat. Bradley ducked, but the stock caught his forehead. He dropped like a rock, Hairston shot the guy off him. I saw Morgan grab his knife from where it Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 had fallen in the struggle. He was concentrating on his man and did not realize he had grabbed it with the blade pointing backwards. As he tried to plunge the knife into Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the man, the man pulled Morgan into him and onto his own blade. The knife went into Morgan’s stomach. I thought he was dead, but he pulled it out and Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 killed the man. He stumbled to his feet and pulled Bradley upright and they both staggered to our side of the road. As they fell down beside us, we started cutting down the party Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 that was regrouping for a charge.

My Armilite was gone and my shotgun was ineffective at this range, so I lay there feeling sorry for myself until I saw the amount Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 of blood surging out of Morgan’s shirt. I tried to roll him over and he pushed me away.

“I’m okay,” he said. “Don’t worry about me.”

“Get back in the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 trees,” I said, “and tend to that wound.”

When he started to argue, I jerked his weapon out of his хэнд and shoved him away. Hairston and Bradley ran to help Alvarez, who Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was now on his feet. He was in terrific pain, he was limping horribly, but he was upright for the first time since getting machine gunned on the bridge Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. They helped him into the trees then joined me.

The mercenaries failed to reach the road by frontal assault several times, so they moved out in two groups to cross the road on Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 either side of us. I could see there were far more than I had originally counted. They were wearing U.S. fatigues, carrying American arms and they were very well organized.


We had Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 all we wanted from these guys and knew we couldn’t outlast them in a drawn out fight, so we did an E&E17 as fast as we could move.


They Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 dogged our trail for hours, forcing us into open ground between Highway 12 and Muang Khan Mouan. We didn’t have strength or the man power to fight a rearguard action on the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 run. I had lost a lot of blood. Morgan was in agony, when he ran his heart pumped his blood out his stomach. Alvarez was being dragged along by Hairston and Bradley, but he Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was hopping along and even using his bad leg from time to time.

When we dared to rest, we rushed frantically to patch one another up. Half of us Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 needed morphine, but we couldn’t have taken it even if we had any. I gobbled some Benzedrine, but the effects would not last long enough to support the condition I was in. Hairston was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 trembling with chills and fever, but he was surviving because he at least had his legs. Legs were weapons we needed the most right now.


The fighting slacked off when night fell Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11, and we kept moving as fast as we could. We covered several more miles by midnight, then collapsed in the bush to take a desperate rest.

For a few moments Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 we lay on our stomachs without a sound, watching the trees like madmen. Even in our condition, we carried out an automatic function of falling into a defensive arrowhead. This was Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 partly psychological, if shooting started, none of us wanted his line of fire blocked by another’s body. We dropped down in a semicircle facing where we expected the trouble to come from. Then Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 it was like a crowd watching the races…one man put his head out and the next man up the line went out a little farther, then someone went out Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 even farther until we had naturally assumed an effective posture, though we were no more than ten feet apart.

We lay for a long time gasping for breath. When we had filled out lungs, our Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 most pressing need was for nourishment. There was no thought of food. I sucked a piece of dried fruit we had grabbed at the last village. A couple others did Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the same. The rest took Bennies. We were so dehydrated, the saliva would not run in our mouths. I still had a little water, but it was stretched thin. I passed it Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 around, each man taking just enough to wet his mouth and swallow stiffly.

^ We need water. Shit, what don’t we need? I knew everyone was low on ammunition, because they had been Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 firing single shot in the heat of action. I gave Morgan back his Armilite. I had a few rounds left for the shotgun.

“Ssh!”

We froze. From the point of the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 arrow I saw four men silhouetted against the night sky, two on either side of me. They were walking very cautiously, taking three or four steps, then stopping and turning in Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 a full circle with their weapons at the ready. They had not seen us on the ground and were going to walk right onto us.

We had to take these four silently in case there Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 are more. I showed my knife to Hairston. He withdrew his. I ran my knife blade down my sleeve, which meant it was to be done quietly. I touched my Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 nose and held up two fingers…^ I would take the two on the right. He touched his nose and held up two fingers. The rest would cover us.

I came off Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 the ground and put my knife in the first man before he saw me. I leapt at the other man and tripped over a fallen body. I fell right at the guy’s Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 feet, I was looking at his boots. As I glanced up, his rifle came down on the back of my neck.

Bradley was slapping my face when I came around. It took a Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 few seconds for my head to clear, then it was instantly racked with pain. Everyone was laying prone in complete silence. The four mercenaries lay dead, one from a bullet wound Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11. When no more appeared, we very quietly stripped the bodies. They were carrying Armalites, a lot of clips of ammunition and wearing U.S. fatigues.

I had lost the night scope, so we moved Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 slowly until we moved out onto open ground. We were dragging along. Fortunately, my leg was numb, but I had bled inside my fatigues, and the blood had caked on the Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 insides of my legs and broken into sharp pieces which were cutting into my scrotum with every step. The skin was raw, I bit my lip to keep from yelling. I Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 was getting disoriented.

Running…never stopped running…we were in the open…it was night…take cover…high ground…in the heat of another day…stumbling…vomiting when we stop…running again.


We broke Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 into a river and ran wildly down its bed until the sun was in our faces. Our condition was getting worse. I fell back in the water to soften the blood on Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 my legs. Then I tied my testicles to one leg with my shirt.

How Alvarez stayed on his feet, I didn’t know. Hairston was supporting him, so Bradley dropped Tarnished halo is a sequel to halo isbn: 0-7414-4846-7 - 11 back to help me. I refused his help and he took Morgan’s weight on his good shoulder. We moved like this for hours, with no idea where the river was taking us.

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