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By David Drake

That they had fought hard and long, and rattling close to gained in any case. yet now the lads who employed them are going to promote them to the enemy...and so starts a unique of experience during which a band of megastar Mecenaries is pushed around the face of a planet by means of enemies bent on their distruction. With merely the weapons of their palms, this tiny band needs to conflict ships, artillery, treachery, and the main strong tank within the universe.

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Sample text

Breisach might or might not be ready to kill; Quade was beyond doubt ready, though Hodicky hoped he alone of the spectators knew that. "We're partners, right, Sergeant Breisach? Just like you say—we slip you booze out of the stores and you boys split the profits with us after you move it. " Hodicky's right hand was resting on Quade's waistband again. Sergeant Ondru had risen to his hands and knees. Breisach swallowed and took a step backward. His hands were relaxing minusculey on his pointing rifle.

Nothing that had happened thus far justified the bonus. The bombs swept the broad valley like surf on a dun beach. Pin-prick flashes flattened nearby grass and lifted rings of dust from the soil. Then, while the after-image of the opening still clung to the brain, the main body of the cluster overran it in undulant glares of white light. The wave rushed past the buildings of the Complex and the bunkers set out five hundred meters in a perimeter. One miner stood in the open. He blinked at the sight until it washed over him and left him liquid and as formless as yesterday's sand castle.

The Smiricky Complex itself was not the target—it could not fly away from the onrush-ing Republican columns. All eight armor-piercing bombs of the second stick were aimed at the grounded starship. Ortschugin and Thorn could watch the missiles swell on the screens, butthey could do nothing to stop them. The crewman had fumbled out a golden crucifix at the end of a rosary. Tobacco juice, unnoticed, was drooling from the corner of the First Officer's mouth. The first bomb landed a hundred meters short.

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