Thursday, 1st June 2023 - 2:18:59 am

"Hold your fire, Sabrina," Kincaid shouted across the swale. "They've quit."

Kincaid hadn't seen her but he knew it could only have been the girl who had given him supporting fire. Sabrina stood up and watched as eight more prisoners filed down the rocks to join the seven that were already huddled along the trail.

Kincaid caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Five black clad horsemen were rapidly approaching the ridge from the plain on the Iranian side. They were fanned out to widely envelope the trail. The way they were coming two would flank his position and two would get behind Sabrina while the last came along the trail.

He couldn't help admire their tactics while he prepared to fight them.

"Sabrina," he called, "there are more. Two will come behind you."

"Don't shoot," Sabrina replied quickly. "They are my people."

The flanking horsemen were already on the ridge.

"Then tell them to look peaceful" He looked down on the plain. "More are coming behind them." A dozen or more were advancing cautiously along the trail.

"Stay where you are," Kincaid told her, "until we see what they do." Kincaid had no illusions. If these people were hostile, he and Sabrina were in an impossible situation.

On the other side of the ridge Kincaid could see no sign of Van, his smugglers or the pack animals. The firing had scared them off. He would have to worry about that later.

The main body of Kurds came up the trail at a trot. They halted at the beginning of the swale in sight of the Iranian prisoners. The Kurds didn't look very peaceful though all their rifles were slung.

"Go down and make sure," Kincaid shouted to Sabrina. He would have gone himself but he didn't speak the language. He covered them while she made her way down.

She spoke to the Kurds only a moment before turning to Kincaid. "It is all right, Colonel. These are the ones."

Kincaid was quickly down the slope and on the trail under the watchful eyes of the mean looking band of horsemen. Sabrina came over to him and said quietly, "You must call me Sabrin, Colonel. Sabrina is a woman's name. To wear a man's clothing is forbidden. They must not find out."

Kincaid wondered why she didn't mention that before. He looked over the mounted men. "Who is their leader," he asked Sabrina.

"Why the one if front, old boy," one of the Kurds replied in an educated English accent. "Allow me to introduce myself. Ahmed Kurtsan, Oxford, class of '89. And you must be Colonel Steven Kincaid. A pleasure old chap."

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