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.Another climbed onto the wings to open the caps over the tanks."How long will it take?" Van called up to Harrison.The pilot snapped back, "Until I get enough in this son of a bitch to be sure we can get to Rhodesia.I'll let you know.Now get them moving so we can get the hell out of here!"Van yelled up to him about the men he'd locked in the tool cage."I think one of them's a mechanic.Do you want to talk to him?"Harrison popped his head back out."Bet your ass I do! If there's anything wrong with this antique, I want to know about it now rather than at ten thousand feet! I'll be right out."Jumping out of the plane's side door, he followed Van inside the hangar.The mechanic did not like being locked up, and while not stupid enough to give them any back talk, he had suddenly gotten a bit stubborn and decided he wasn't going to tell them anything.Harrison got nothing from him other than dirty looks.He expressed his frustration to Van."I can't get anything out of him one way or the other.If he did tell us anything, how would we know if he's telling the truth?"Van thought that over for a moment, then grinned under his coating of dust."That's easy.Tell him he's going up with us.That way, if anything goes wrong, he'll be right there when we go down.""Good idea, you wily Oriental gentleman.Did you hear that, you obstinate Dutchman? If we go down, you'll go down with us." Jan Reiks turned a pale green.Chewing one fingernail with a ten year undercoating of grease, he re-evaluated his decision.His English was good, though heavily accented."Since you put it that way, there are a few things.The warning light is out on the hydraulics, and the line to the landing gear is disconnected."Harrison told Van to take him out of the cage, then pointed a warning finger at Reiks."All right, now you get out there and fix it and do it right, because you're still going up with us.One more thing you don't have much time.There are some very angry people corning after us who want our guts for garters.They won't know you're not one of us, and they'll cut your bloody white head off as fast as they will ours."Reiks swallowed, his Adam's apple sending signals."It will take only five minutes." Running back into the cage, he brought out a tool chest and a five gallon can of hydraulic fluid.Mtuba moved his Land Rover to the front, out from his safe place between the two trucks.Putting his field glasses back up to his eyes, he adjusted the focus.The plane came sharply into view.He could see men around the plane and on its wings.The truck was there, but where was the armored car?The radiator on Mtuba's rear truck suddenly erupted in a spout of flame and steam.Casey's 20mm round had hit it squarely.Mtuba's men scrambled out of the truck, but they took their weapons with them, including the 106mm recoilless rifle.Casey whipped the Saladin in and out of the brush, his machine gunner raking over the trucks.They had to be put out of commission to give their men on the field time to get the plane working.Mtuba's gun crew were pretty good.They had the 106 set up and loaded in less than a minute.The Saladin came out of a patch of brush, the 20mm and the machine gun firing.Three of Mtuba's men went down.The 106 fired, the shell hitting the Saladin right above the left front tire, blowing it and the fender off, and sending red hot shell splinters inside the car to bounce off the steel sides.Casey was thrown out of the turret as the armored car turned over.Landing solidly on his back fifteen feet away, he was stunned.From inside the car, screams could be heard as the fuel tanks exploded, turning the interior into an iron furnace.Exploding ammunition brought a merciful end to the two mercenaries' agony.Mtuba called to his men, pointing at the dazed Casey, "Get that man for me and knock out that plane! Without it they can't get anywhere!" Three men ran for Casey as the 106 crew manhandled their long tube around, readjusting the sight for their new target.The men of the N.F.L.K.were nearly upon Casey, running, crouched low, weapons at their hips ready to fire.They were stopped by a strange whooshing noise that shredded their bodies, tearing holes through their chests, and ripping faces and skulls apart.Beidemann came out of the bushes to the left of Casey.Behind him, the men on the 57mm reloaded with high explosive, having used their last round of canister on the three Africans.Beidemann yelled back at them, "Hit the enemy gun!"Bending over Casey, Beidemann grabbed his friend's arm and jerked him to his feet.Throwing him over his shoulder, he ran back into the brush, bullets clipping at his feet.The mercs on the 57mm fired one round, missing the enemy recoilless rifle but scaring the shit out of Mtuba when the round passed close enough to his Land Rover that he could have reached out and touched it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]