The Doomfarers of Coramonde

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Authors: Brian Daley
Tags: Science Fantasy
continued, for
there were more words that he wished to say to her, but he was forestalled by a
staccato blast from the distant meadow.


Chapter Seven
    We will
ride ’em, we’ll collide ’em,
    And we’d
drive ’em straight through hell.
    We’re the
Chosen Few who ride the APC’s.
    From “APC’s,” an unofficial
song of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regt., U.S. Army
    THE metal monster forged along to
the squeaking and clanking of full-track treads, the reddish dust of the
anhydrous dry season spuming behind it, doing maybe forty-per on the flat,
straight road from Phu Loi.
    If we were
in a convoy, thought Gil MacDonald to himself as he stood in the track
commander’s cupola, I’d be digging that shit out of my teeth right now. But
I’d feel better.
    The vehicle he
rode was known by assorted names: “Armored Calvary Assault Vehicle,” “track,”
or “Armored Personnel Carrier,” but was most often referred to as an “APC.” He
shifted his weight at the hips with automatic ease to compensate for the
rigorous swaying and tossing of the journey; the rhythms of his mechanical
environment had long since become part of the substance of life, like the
rolling which fosters sea legs.
    Silly idea of
the Old Man’s, he reflected, to have the crew come into base camp to pick him
up instead of waiting for a chopper to ferry him out to the forward area.
Still, it pleased the twenty-one-year-old sergeant in a personal way to know
that Captain Cronkite wanted him back on the job immediately after his return
from R and R. The run forward wasn’t such a long one, but enemy activity was on
the upswing in the wake of Operation Big Sur.
    He resettled
his headset under his helmet liner and steel pot, not as comfortable an
arrangement as a crew helmet, but crew helmets don’t stop shrapnel too well
either, and so, just as they endured hot, heavy, fiberglass flak jackets, he
and his men opted for safety. He squinted around him through the searing heat
that floated in waves from the baked road.
    At least, he
knew, Alpha-Nine, his APC, was topped off with fuel and stocked with ammo. He
ran his eye over the .50-caliber machine gun on its mount before him, satisfied
that it had been well maintained in his five-day absence. He knew, too, that
Handelman, Olivier and Pomorski were sitting on the open cargo hatch behind
him, scanning the terrain as he was. Sometimes he found himself thinking of
them in simple terms of rates and fields of fire, the first two as M-60 machine
guns and the latter an M-79 grenade launcher. They were his friends, but they
were part of the APC, just as he was, the parts that guided it and reached out
from it to kill. Spend enough time in one of these things, he mused, and
maybe you’d become integrated altogether, stop thinking of yourself as a human
    The big V-8
engine pulled them briskly, equal to operating conditions even in Southeast
Asia. He blinked sweat from his eyes and made a mental note to grab a salt
tablet the first time they stopped. A sudden hissing from the radio brought him
back from a brief reminiscence of his stay in Bangkok.
    “Steel Probe
one niner, Steel Probe one niner, this is Steel Probe six, Steel Probe six,
    A cultured
voice, it carried the faintest hint of the Southern Black drawl. Wondering why
Captain Cronkite would want him right now, Gil flipped the transmit switch on
his headset.
    “Steel Probe
six, this is Steel Probe one niner, over.”
    “Steel Probe
one niner. this is Steel Probe six. Halt and remain at your present location.
Ahh, Steel Probe one zero will rendezvous with you there in approximately one
five mikes. Do you roger? Over.”
    “Steel Probe
six, this is Steel Probe one niner, roger your last transmission, over.”
    “This is Steel
Probe six, out.”
    Gil flipped his
microphone over to intercom and told Al Woods to pull the APC over to one side
of the road for the fifteen-minute wait. He didn’t like the stretch

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