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Old 05-14-2017, 10:27 PM   #234
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)


It all happened at once. Even as they were sliding their strange
prize out of the cave entrance, and about to carry it down to the
waiting boat, the sound of shots suddenly broke the pre-dawn
silence, and the group scattered to cover, guns appearing as
McCord and his men looked around for the source of the attack.
The artifact itself fell to the ground with its litter, sinking into the
soft river-side ground but otherwise not moving.

One of the party went down in the first volley, and McCord knew
at a glance that he was dead. There was no question of survival
after a head wound of that sort. Everyone else had made it to cover,
but McCord was aware that some of his own party seemed to have
disappeared, and no surprised at all that it was the original men
who had first come to Harrystown with him. The men chosen by
'James Davis', who had himself suddenly vanished.

Not that McCord believed that 'Davis' was far away at all.

They were pinned down at the base of a steep slope that rose to
the south, wooded and with a narrow shelf of land between the
base of the slope and the river's edge. The cave entrance from
which they had emerged was at the base of the slope, but retreating
in that direction was out of the question, there was an area of open
ground near the entrance.

The shots were coming from above them on the steep slope,
somebody had gunmen ready to fire, concealed in the woods upslope.
If the ground between the slope and the river had been entirely
open, McCord and his party would have been wiped out, but there
was broken cover of various sorts, boulders that had slid down the
slope in the past, trees and brush here and there, just enough to
enable immediate survival.

Still, they were pinned down.

Then, just as a glimmer of pale light appeared above the hills to the
east, more shots rang out, but these had a different sound, coming
from pistols rather than rifles, and coming from the woods upslope.
Hearing that sound, Henry McCord smiled ferociously to himself.

After all, he mused, nobody ever said one could not ambush an ambusher.

McCord had given heavy thought to the sorts of things that might
Happen when Davis made his move, and one thing that had kept
coming back to him was just how good a place for an ambush this
particular site would be.

After all, exactly that had happened to McCord already, at another
entrance to the cave system, though he had not known who was
responsible. Now he had a strong suspicion that his own man had
arranged that previous ambush to delay things. During that former
ambush, the attackers had managed to avoid hitting McCord or any
of his men, even though there had been ample opportunity.

Yeah, McCord mused, as he and his new men waited under their
frail shelter,
Davis wanted to slow me down, so he set up that
fake ambush a few weeks ago. None of us were hit because we
weren’t supposed to be, and at that time I had Davis’ men all around
me anyway. They might even have been in on it themselves, for all
I know.

McCord looked over at the corpse of one of his employees a few
meters away, and his featured hardened.

This time he means it, McCord thought savagely. If I had not
been ready for it, we’d all be dead right now.

McCord, realizing what a good place this particular site represented
from the perspective of a person setting up a trap, and set some men
of his own in the woods above, in hiding, each night that they had
worked, ready to act if something happened.

They were not as heavily armed as their mysterious attackers, who
had rifles, but they were thoroughly familiar with the slopes, had
scouted them out quietly during the daylight hours while McCord
and Davis and the others had slept, and their pistols were fully and
completely adequate to the task at hand.

More shots rang out above, their attackers were fighting back, but
had been caught by surprise in the double-ambush. They did not
know the terrain as well, they had been caught by surprise, and as
it would turn out, there were fewer of them than of McCord’s men.

A few minutes later, silence fell, and a single shout from above, of
a prearranged code word, told McCord that the situation was now
under control.

McCord and his own men raced to get the object aboard their boat, knowing that the sound of all the shooting was likely to draw untoward attention quickly, and acutely aware of the fact that the sun was now well above the horizon. McCord had a fallback plan ready, and he now put it into effect.

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