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BikerNet Fiction: "Slender Chance Part Two"


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Slender Chance

Part Two

Fiction by A. Carney Allen
Under escort a weary, begrimed figure was shown into the presence of General Vamero at the San Luis barracks.

"From Las Palmas," gasped Terry Devine, and handed across Don Isidore Pancha's signed order. "Rebels-President-help--"

Minutes later General Vamero was preparing to lead a body of something like 3,000 cavalry, but as he buckled on his sword he turned to an aide-de-camp.

"We have eight hours," he said. "Artillery we must dispense with, for the guns will never keep up with us on those accursed roads. We will take with us, however, one wagon-load of explosives to blow a gap in the city wall if necessary..."

He checked as he saw Terry lolling in a chair, then: "Se?or Devine," he went on, "the point has just occurred to me. How did you get here? Surely not by the roads?"

Terry looked up with a wry grin. "How did I get here?" he echoed. "Why, I guess I got here by luck. And pardon me, General, but now I'm here I'd like to go back again, so maybe you could find a corner for me among the explosives. And my motor bike-though I don't want to ride it for a while, I wouldn't let it out of my sight now..."

*  *  *

From the north gate of Las Palmas the ground rises steeply to a small flat-topped ridge; beyond the ridge it slopes again to the level of the city. It was behind that ridge that General Vamero's cavalrymen now lay sheltered.

Along the flat top of the ridge were scattered close on a hundred blue-uniformed, lifeless figures. And down the steep slope leading to the capital lay something like double that number. Heavy casualties for only two assaults, but then the rebels lined the city wall, and the city gate was barred.

In a little group behind the ridge stood General Vamero, his staff-and Terry-and General Vamero was speaking.

"You have seen the effect of a direct rush. Not one actually reached the wall, and our casualties have been terrible. They have raided the arsenal in Las Palmas, you see, and now possess artillery, which we lack. Our artillery will not be up for hours, and if Martino and those murderous scoundrels have not killed Don Isidore already, they will have done so by then."

He paused, then: "If we could only reach the wall with a few hundredweight of our explosive---"

Terry stepped forward. "Pardon, General, but I have an idea. If you can get a rope..." He started to explain, and only once did the General interrupt.

"But it took four horses, my friend--"

My bike's an 8 hp, General, and it's strong enough to draw money out of a miser."

From the city wall the rebels saw a sight, presently, that silenced their rifles with its unexpectedness. A powerful motor bike topping the crest of the ridge and drawing behind it by a strong tow-rope, a covered wagon, its shaft fixed rigidly. Curiosity continued to hold the revolutionaries immobile till the odd cortege had rapidly crossed the small flat plateau and was actually on the downward slope.

Terry Devine, turning in his saddle then, slashed the tow-rope in twain with a razor-sharp bowie knife!

In the same instant he steered aside, and as he did so the covered wagon went lumbering past his rear mudguard, gathering speed on slanting ground which, unlike that farther from the city, was comparatively smooth.

The wagon had traversed the pitted roads without mishap. It was not too much to hope that, with shaft lashed to keep it on a straight course, it would come to no harm now until the crucial moment.

A crackle of musketry ran along the length of the city wall, but Terry, weaving a baffling zig-zag pattern over the ground, received no more than a scored wrist. He did not fear for himself-he feared only that something would induce the rebels into firing on the wagon before its work was done.

And then suddenly, above the flat summit of the ridge, showed a line of changing soldiery-General Vamero and his cavalry-and Terry, swinging round to join in the rush, knew that the advance of the loyalists was calculated to prevent the revolutionaries from thinking, and suspecting the contents of-the wagon!

Terry watched that wagon, away down the slope now, and hurtling toward the wall. It was a few hundred yards ahead of Terry-Terry, coursing down the hill on his trusty bike, with the loyalist cavalry thundering to the rear of him. The rebels seemed to take the wagon for a mere battering ram that could not do much damage to the solid wall. They seemed to ignore it, restricting their attentions to the loyalist soldiery with telling effect.

Terry saw the wagon-shaft hit the wall just to the right of the city's north gate; and then...

There was a mighty burst of flame and smoke, and a devastating shock that sent an earthquake through the earth underfoot. A furious rush of air seemed to catch at Terry and momentarily check his bike. Around him fell splinters of wood from the shattered wagon, fragments of stone from the shattered wall.

The smoke cleared. The wagon had vanished utterly and, where it had struck, the wall had vanished too.

With a rousing cheer the loyalist cavalry spurred forward, and that cheer rang the death-knell of ruffian hopes. The insurgents, dazed many of them from the effects of the explosion, had little stomach for close-quarter fighting against mounted disciplinarians who wielded skillful sabres, and with the rabble on the run the loyalists came to the Presidential Palace.

Here there was a faint-hearted resistance from men who had laid a protracted seige, but in the space of minutes they were routed or killed. And so at length the gates of the Palace were flung open to the victors by the little garrison, which had held out so stoically.

In the broad courtyard Don Isidore Pancha and General Vamero embraced each other fervently, and they were in the midst of their emotional greeting when a sharp volley of musketry rang out.

The president started back. The fighting, he had imagined, was over.

"It is nothing," said General Vamero. "Only Esteban Martino taking a too honorable farewell. I did not wait for a signed order, Your Excellency."

The General paused, and turned all at once to a weary, begrimed figure whose dust-covered ducks were made no more presentable by the steady trickle of blood running from his hand.

"Your Excellency, we are forgetting the one who has saved our country from ruin at the hands of villainous scum-Se?or Devine." And with that General Vamero proceeded to outline Terry's adventures.

When he had finished, Don Isidore Pancha stepped forward and took the youngster by his uninjured hand.

"Se?or," he said, "your conduct calls for the highest honor Miranda can bestow-the equivalent of your British Victoria Cross. It calls, also, for a more substantial reward. But above all, it is something I can never fully repay. I can do something, however, to wipe off a little of the debt. Se?or Devine, I am going to abolish horses in Miranda and equip my cavalry with Premier motorcycles. And into the bargain-the roads will not be repaired."

Terry was staring at him in wonder, but at the last words he roused himself. "The roads-will not be repaired? But, Your Excellency, the bikes will not last a year---"

Don Isidore broke in on him with a dazzling smile. "Exactly," he said. "A yearly order for your firm-a yearly commission for you." And Don Isidore Pancha so far forgot his exalted position as to close his right eye in a very deliberate wink.

Part One

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