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datatime: 2022-09-25 15:53:26 Author:WRIqnERA

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.

The gun chattered, and whining bullets chewed at the cliff like metal wasps, hurling chippings in Vyotsky's face. Instinctively he fired back, and a lucky round snatched Jazz's gun from his hands, sent it spinning out over the abyss. As the sling was yanked from his shoulder, only the chimney of rock stopped him from being drawn after it.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Where the cliff was notched and bent back sharply on itself, the ledge narrowed to an uneven eighteen inches. In theV of the notch a chimney of rock had weathered free, leaning outward over dizzy heights. Behind the chimney scree had gathered, forming the floor of a cave. The stars gleamed down on the ledge, but in the deeps of the cave all was inky blackness.

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

Quickly said the newcomer.If you want to live.

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

Ch-ching came that unmistakable sound from behind 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.

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.

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 . . .

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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