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.She realised then that if she and Peter had not appeared in their lives, these two might well have mated by now.Young as she was, she understood the pairing rules.Perhaps, when they were a lot older, she might think of Peter the same way.“I do hope so,” she thought.“Otherwise Radya and Kolyei will never be able to mate.” She knew fine well that she was too young to be considering a permanent attachment at thirteen but she would keep it in mind.One never knew what would happen in the future.So much had happened to her during the first thirteen years of her life so far.She still however thought of Peter as a little boy and would for some years to come.However, the seed had been planted now and Tara was growing up.But first they had to deal with the Larg.Whilst she stood there, lost in thought, Radya slipped silently away.Zanatei Lindar was ready.Afanasei raised his snout in preparation to uttering the leaving howl.The families moved away.“Mount,” ordered Francis.The Zanatei Lindar began to leave the clearing.Francis waited until the last disappeared through the trees, a young female off to fight her first battle against the Larg.Only when her bushy tail had swished out of sight did he order the vadeln of his Vada to follow.As the Vada moved across the plains they could see signs of the passage of the other Lindars.Occasionally they caught sight of them in the distance.Each Lindar would make their own way to the rendezvous, where they would meet up with Robert’s infantry from the settlement before settling down to wait for the Larg.With the beacons alight around settlement, Stuart MacIntosh ordered the evacuation of the last outlying farms.Once the majority of the livestock had been freed there was a steady stream of refugees to be seen trudging towards the comparative safety of the settlement walls.Sadly he watched as the groups arrived.Their Lind protectors escorted them to the gates then departed west towards the woods in order to rejoin their Lindars.He was pleased to notice that many of these farmers and their families had grown attached to the Lind who had protected them over the last months.The children hugged their four-pawed friends and said tearful goodbyes, well aware, the older ones at least that their Lind were going into battle and that they might never see them again.Kath stood by Stuart’s side, being the human half of the main communications pair within the settlement they were rarely far away.Kath wished James was with her.She had to make do with third-hand messages from her lover, passed by Rozya though her daily mind links with Matvei.“The Lindars are making good time,” she announced to Stuart.“The last of them will be here in two days, the Larg are taking longer than usual to make the crossing.”“Mmmm,” muttered Stuart, “I expected them sooner rather than later.”“The Lind know what they are doing,” comforted Kath, “though I think even they are surprised.”“I have been reliably informed that the convicts have been making rafts to enable them to get their equipment over.That will hold them up.I only wish we knew exactly what the equipment is.The reports have been most unclear, probably because the Lind don’t fully understand what they are seeing.I don’t suppose the Larg are all that happy about the delay though.”Matvei joined in at this point.“This is not usual,” he agreed.The delay was causing some logistical headaches for the northern commanders.Stuart had realised that this problem might occur, and taken steps to counteract it.To enable the Lindars to be fed during the waiting period, he ordered, just in time the farm holdings nearest to the settlement not to let loose their livestock but to drive them to a small valley some half mile north of the staging area.There, the animals waited slaughter in order to feed the thousands of Lind arriving.An adult Lind took at lot of provisioning.When Jim and his fellow travellers arrived, he refused point blank to avail himself of Stuart’s offer of quarters in the settlement, preferring to remain with his troops.Furthermore, he insisted that Robert bring his infantry up the hill to join them at once.It would enable the men and women to get used to the mass of Lind encamped in the lian.Robert also used the time to good effect by practising battle tactics with the Lindars stationed to his immediate left and right so that when battle was joined both species would be used to the concept of fighting beside each other.The Lindars watched carefully as the infantry drilled, but were totally mystified when Robert ordered them to form a square in preparation for cavalry attack and found it difficult to understand what the manoeuvre was all about.Jim filched the last reams of durapaper from the settlement and the final battle orders were prepared.All the human commanders had a copy.The Lind could not read, Kolyei excepted but were verbally told the orders again and again and they committed them to memory.Each Lindar did have a vadeln-pair assigned to them and they each had a copy.Jim hoped that the youngsters would have the presence of mind to tell their Susa if they realised the plans were going awry.Jim had done all he could; regular meetings were held but there was not much discussed about the war [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]