I've whipped up a new scene (well, whupped an old one into shape). Does this make sense? But most of all, do you feel it?

Pax held up a hand to silence her as he listened. “Two of our mines just tripped.”

“Who was it?” Kaelin asked, but his heart sank as a shots rang out. Lucy dropped to her knees inside the tent and let the flap fall. Outside, Kaelin heard a crashing noise--Michel taking cover in the brush. Pax pointed toward the front of the tent, eyebrows lifted.

Kaelin nodded. That way, he mouthed.

Pax drew his knife and cut through the back of the tent, whispering, “We have to get Mondragon out of here.”

The Augur lay unmoving on his stomach, legs sprawled, his skin sunken around his bones. Kaelin felt for a pulse on his dry skin. Nothing. He started to roll Mondragon over, but the black spider on his back caught his eye. Shiny and slick, it glowered like a warning. “He’s dead.”

More shots. Shaking his head, Pax disappeared through the hole, and Lucy with him. Kaelin glanced back once more and fled to the other tent. Pax slung three rifles over his shoulder and grabbed up a pack of magazines. Lucy was already running for cover, keeping low. Kaelin seized an M16 and slung his own gun case across his back. He thought of dragging the crate of magazines out, but a bullet pierced the tent. Light shone in through the little hole, and more bullets honeycombed the canvas as he dove to the ground and crawled from the back of the tent. Once outside, he rolled onto his side, pumping the trigger. He ran through his magazine and belly-crawled toward Pax, shouting “I’m out!”

Shooting with one hand from a tangle of young trees, Pax tossed a magazine to Kaelin with the other. Lucy was shouting something. Kaelin saw furtive shapes in the trees falling from his bullets, but more were closing in from all directions. He jammed the magazine home and kept firing, trying to slide toward cover on his back. The staccato gunfire deadened every other sense. It pumped through his veins, pounded in his ears.

The tents exploded into pieces of flaming cloth and aluminum shrapnel. He had to stop shooting to protect his head from a hailstorm of explosions: the crate of magazines. The singeing heat forced him to crawl further away. A shadow darted through the smoke--close--and he heard the quick rap of automatic gunfire. Still coming. Kaelin twisted his aim, fired, and the shadow fell back.

Lucy covered his retreat. Bullets peppered the ground around him from all directions and whistled by his ears. He felt one hit, slice his calf. Pain seized him, and quick on its heels: anger. He roared in fury as he reached them. Pax yelled something back, but the gunfire garbled it. A bullet shredded the trees over Kaelin’s head, showering him with splinters.

He tossed his M16 in favor of the heavier M60 and climbed to his feet, dropping the barrel in the V of a tree. He had to stoop awkwardly to aim and fire, staggering with the recoil as he pulled the trigger. His bursts shattered entire tree trunks. Pax set his back to Kaelin’s, bracing them both. Casings spewed as he sprayed the jungle.

Finally, Lucy banged her elbow against Kaelin’s thigh. “STOP!” she shouted.

Thick silence filled in behind the gunfire. Smoke clouded Kaelin’s immediate field, but he could see two of their victims strewn among the smoldering wreckage of the camp. Their blood had turned the dirt into a muddy red sludge. Ash frosted the barrel of his M60.

Kaelin squatted down with Lucy and Pax, breathing too hard to talk. As his adrenalin retreated, pain from his wound set in.

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