© 1998, 1999 Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
| After what seemed like an eternity,
Lauren reached the inner walls. She carefully climbed to the highest
vantage point she could find. It was well hidden in the purple leafed
trees. Looking down Lauren saw the shadow figures slowly working
their way through the courtyard, looking for at least Jillian. They
held their rifles cautiously pointed ahead of them. Suddenly, a hand barely
lying out from underneath and overhanging portion of fallen wall caught
Laurenís eye. That had to be Jillian, and by the looks of the unmoving
outstretched hand, she must be unconscious.
Lauren watched the searcherís
pattern, and tried to spot when any of them, even briefly, were isolated
from the others. Thumbing her rifle from automatic, to very narrow
single fire beam, she raised it to her shoulder and rested her cheek on
its stock. Her scope was set to infrared lock, she quickly killed
that option and sited one of the shadow figures hidden from the others.
The beam pierced his head. Being very narrow, the beamís wound
would not be fatal and would self cauterize. Before the shadow figure
could react, Lauren gently stirred the beam in a small circular motion,
effectively cauterizing hundreds of capillaries within the shadowís brain.
It stiffened and collapsed with a muted thud. It twitched spasmodically
as neurons fired randomly in its brain. Lauren chose this method
of killing, not because it was more humane (it was not) but because it
was fairly silent. There were approximately twenty shadows for Lauren
to deal with in the courtyard and she was badly outnumbered. Lauren
picked off two more with the same technique before the noise of the third
collapsing shadow alerted all the figures in the courtyard.
All hell broke loose. Lacking
surprise, Lauren thumbed her rifle back into auto-fire mode, normal beam
and sprayed the courtyard. Chunks of rocks exploded everywhere as
the more alert and agile shadow figures dove for cover. Some stood
their ground firing from the hip at Laurenís general position. Others
looked up in slack jawed surprise as different parts of their anatomy burned
up. Those pierced fatally collapsed like rag dolls.
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