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datatime: 2022-09-25 13:23:26 Author:jasWtfIl

So much Vyotsky saw, but in the next moment. . . the big Russian blinked, used his free hand to rub furiously at his eyes. They'd gone-all three, gone But he hadn't seen them step back into the cave.

Again the mists parted and the awesome cloaked figure of Shaithis flowed out of them. He looked neither left nor right but inclined his head back to stare directly at the fugitives. His eyes glowed like small fires under the stars.

They listened, watched. Down below at the edge of the tree-line, the mist parted and Vyotsky came into view. He looked left and right but not up, started toward the base of the cliffs. Perhaps he thought they'd skirted the cliffs, and maybe they should have. But at least on the ledge no one was going to surprise them.

Shaithis, too, was on the ledge now; his commands came echoing:Karl, I want them alive. The woman for what she may be able to do for me, the man for what he has already done to me.

Drag yourself up, Jazz groaned through gritted teeth.Try not to put too much leverage on me. Use your elbows. Squirm, for Christ's sake She did as he said, came slithering up onto the ledge in front of him. He grabbed her belt, hauled her unceremoniously against the face of the cliff.Now go on all fours, he said.Don't try to stand up or you'll be over again. If we can just make that chimney . . . Oh, and then what? But he refused to think about that.

Finally Zek crawled onto the scree beneath the overhang, collapsed face-down there and spread-eagled herself, dug her fingers deep into loose rock fragments and hung on. Jazz stooped, caught her under the arm and drew her upright.We have to get under cover, he said,otherwise -

Shaithis, too, was on the ledge now; his commands came echoing:Karl, I want them alive. The woman for what she may be able to do for me, the man for what he has already done to me.

There they are the vampire Lord shouted, pointed.On the ledge, under the cliff. Get after them, Karl. And if you'd be my man, don't let me down . . .

Move And pray this ledge goes somewhere. Anywhere But if Zek did pray, then her prayers weren't answered.

A figure was there, in the cave under the overhang, tall, slim, cloaked. Male, he wore an impassive golden mask over his face. Starlight gleamed on the gold. Jazz was struck with the thought that he looked like the Phantom of the OperaWho-? he gasped.

Zek was dangling now, one elbow hooked over the rim of the ledge, the rest of her kicking and swinging. Only Jazz's grip on her offered any stability at all.Oh, God

A huge hand fell on Vyotsky's shoulder and he froze. Shaithis's monstrous voice hissed in his ear:Where are they? Did your weapon strike them? I hope for your sake it did not Vyotsky didn't look back, simply continued to gape at the empty ledge ahead.

The stranger held out an urgent hand to the pair, held up his cloak almost as if to shield them. He drew them toward him . . .

Jazz half-turned. Vyotsky had appeared round the sharp corner. His cruel lips drew back from his teeth as he lined-up his SMG on the pair he pursued. But from behind him:

Zek was dangling now, one elbow hooked over the rim of the ledge, the rest of her kicking and swinging. Only Jazz's grip on her offered any stability at all.Oh, God

As Shaithis glided forward, Vyotsky passed out of sight into the angles of the cliff face. Jazz and Zek heard shale sliding, Vyotsky's surprised yelp and his cursing. He was on the ledge and had discovered how slippery it was.

So much Vyotsky saw, but in the next moment. . . the big Russian blinked, used his free hand to rub furiously at his eyes. They'd gone-all three, gone But he hadn't seen them step back into the cave.

Zek clutched at Jazz and they clung together. And-

Alive, Karl, do you hear? Shaithis's voice warned, that much closer now. Vyotsky's eyes went wide with fear. He glanced back. Jazz took the opportunity to swing his own weapon in Vyotsky's direction, squeezed the trigger. To hell with keeping quiet

Step over here, said a cool, low voice from the shadows.

Drag yourself up, Jazz groaned through gritted teeth.Try not to put too much leverage on me. Use your elbows. Squirm, for Christ's sake She did as he said, came slithering up onto the ledge in front of him. He grabbed her belt, hauled her unceremoniously against the face of the cliff.Now go on all fours, he said.Don't try to stand up or you'll be over again. If we can just make that chimney . . . Oh, and then what? But he refused to think about that.

Jazz aimed his SMG, scowled and lowered it.Can't be sure of hitting him he whispered.These things are for close-quarters fighting-street fighting. Also, the shot would be heard.

Again the mists parted and the awesome cloaked figure of Shaithis flowed out of them. He looked neither left nor right but inclined his head back to stare directly at the fugitives. His eyes glowed like small fires under the stars.

A huge hand fell on Vyotsky's shoulder and he froze. Shaithis's monstrous voice hissed in his ear:Where are they? Did your weapon strike them? I hope for your sake it did not Vyotsky didn't look back, simply continued to gape at the empty ledge ahead.

Stand still Vyotsky shouted, but Jazz and Zek were already moving to obey the stranger. As they stepped toward the cave, so he came out to meet them. Vyotsky saw him. Because of his cloak, at first the Russian mistook him for one of Shaithis's lieutenants.

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