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passionate kiss, while his hands smoothed down over the wisp of silk
that kept his fingers from her flesh. Her arms clung to him tightly.
"It won't be hard, Beth," he whispered against the side of her face.
"You're beautiful ... it won't be hard to love you..."
Then she twisted from him, making a memory of the film of nightgown
that had kept his hands away from her. He moved to her, his fingers
stroking her into passion while she pulled his face down to the soft
thrust of her breasts. Then she was clamped against him and struggling
to get even closer, her body making a prison for him ... yet at the same
time giving him freedom.
Later, when she slept, he propped himself on one elbow to study the soft
lines of her face. Then he too dropped off to sleep.
* * * * *
His uniform was torn by the purple bushes and their nine inch thorns,
and streamers of blood painted the rich blue and yellow of his trousers.
His face was smeared with grey, pasty dirt and the hand that held the
auto-pistol was wet with sweat. His stomach had rolled into a tight ball
within him and he was frightened.
They were out there somewhere, waiting for the sound of his black
leather boots to clatter on one of the grey-green rocks that littered
the hillside. They would find him. Their damned radar antennae would
spot him for them. There was no escape from the bastards, and he knew
it. Commander Imry had bungled every damned assignment he'd been given,
and now Firstspacer Lors would have to die in the supreme bungle that
had created the first native uprising on Thista. He looked up along the
face of the high mountain in his rear. Nothing moved in the
greenish-purple scrub, but he knew they were there.
He peered over the edge of the rock into the valley, a hundred and fifty
_kinos_ away. The patrol car was still there, its driver lying
grotesquely just a few feet from the hatch. The thick, heavy spear
through his chest resembled a finger pointing toward the violet sky.
Closer to him, on the slope, one of the enemy lay dying, a
greenish-brown fluid pumping spasmodically from the hole put in his
chest by the auto-pistol. The alien's huge yellow eyes blinked owlishly
and the slash-like mouth worked as if he wanted to call for help. But no
sound came. The antennae swiveled limply as he tried to locate his
comrades, but they drooped as the alien died.
Still tightly clutching the auto-pistol, he watched the thin, grey
antennae fall to the ground. They pointed off to the left. He swung
about and looked in the direction the native had been scanning, but he
could see no movement beyond the swaying of the desert grass moving in
the faint breath of air.
They should have gotten the message. By now, there was probably a ship
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