Monday, 29th May 2023 - 15:28:32 pm

Kincaid motioned for him to put down the radio. He lowered it carefully to the ground. The Rhade broke cover quietly and came forward. One of them laughed at the sight of the two VC who were still ignorant of their presence, still defending in the wrong direction. The two VC looked around at the sound and saw they were covered. One of them tried to bring his rifle to bear anyway. He was much too slow. Both men died in bursts from three automatic weapons.

Kincaid didn't fire. He didn't take his eyes off the man sitting facing him. The man didn't take his eyes off Kincaid either. Kincaid knew that if he had so much as glanced away. The man would have made a move. He had the look of a leader. He was about forty with a thin face. It was a face lined with character. It was a face that had survived many battles and seen much death.

Minh called in the man covering the front while he searched the pockets of the two dead Viet Cong. They were wearing the usual black pajamas. "They have nothing," Minh said when he came over to see the prisoner. "I think he is important, Chin Way."

The prisoner said something in Vietnamese. Kincaid couldn't follow it. Minh answered him.

"Ah," the prisoner said, "so you are Chin Way. I heard your man call you that." He spoke fairly good English. "I have heard of you. I am surprised you go in the field with your men."

Kincaid tried to think of ways to stay ahead of him and keep him talking.

"Your man says you do not speak Vietnamese," the prisoner said. "Do you speak English?"

He is trying to stall, Kincaid thought, to keep them here until the main body could rescue him.

"I do not speak Rhade." The prisoner said it like it was a venereal disease.

Minh took his AK-47 and looked through his pockets. He found nothing of importance.

"Is this General Trinh Won then? Do you both go into the field together? That surprises me. I heard that you had thousands of men. Perhaps the stories are not true."

"I came here to find you," Kincaid said.

"Then it is true. Chin Way is an American." He looked at Kincaid even more closely. "One can never tell. There are so many bastards among the Montagnards."

"We were told you would be here. That you would set an ambush over there," he pointed, "at the foot of the hill, and that you would be here, observing."

"Your information was accurate."

"Yes. Perhaps we have the same source."

"Perhaps we do."

"It would make sense."

"Yes it would."

Kincaid didn't think the man was fooled but it wouldn't hurt to keep trying. "We should compare notes."

"Perhaps we should."

"Who told you that we would be here?"

"Let me think. I must try to remember."

Kincaid waited only ten seconds for the man to say more. Minh was looking at him impatiently all that while. "Okay," Kincaid said, "we move out."

The Rhade lifted the man to his feet. The patrol started in a straight line toward the reassembly point. Minh stayed near the lead while Kincaid took the rear. The Rhade are never gentle with prisoners as the Viet Cong officer learned very quickly. If he slowed even slightly from the pace, it caused the bayonet held by the man behind him to catch up to him. He managed to keep up with the pace very well.

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