Aftershocks by Harry Turtledove

Book: Aftershocks by Harry Turtledove Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harry Turtledove
the Race has done to the
How can you make this not-empire sorrier, after all you have done to it?”
    “If you attack us, you cannot kill us all before we radio the situation to our superiors,” Gorppet replied, trying to hold his voice steady. “Helicopter gunships will punish you for fighting, and the Race will take further vengeance on the
for violating the surrender. Is this a truth, or is it not?”
    “It is a truth,” the Big Ugly admitted. “It is a truth about which few of my males care right now. Many of them have lost their mates and hatchlings. Do you understand what this means? It means they do not greatly care if they live or die.”
    “I do understand, yes,” Gorppet said, though he knew he did so only in theory. Tosevite kinship ties, and Tosevites willing to kill without thought for their own lives once those ties were broken, had complicated life for the Race since the conquest fleet landed. Gorppet tried the only real direction in which he thought he could go: “What they want to do now, they may regret later. Is this a truth, or is it not? Do you command them?”
    “Yes, I command them,” the Deutsch soldier replied. “You make good sense. I almost wish you did not, for I am as ready as any of my males to seek revenge against the Race. But I will tell the soldiers what you have said. After that . . . we shall have to see. With the war over and lost, my hold over them is weaker than it was.”
    “We shall stay alert,” Gorppet said. “We shall not attack you—the war is over. But if we are attacked, we shall fight back with all our strength.”
    “I understand.” The Big Ugly walked back toward his own males, calling out in their guttural language. Some of the Deutsche shouted at him. They did not sound happy, nor anything close to it.
    “Be ready for anything,” Gorppet warned the males he led. “Do not open fire on them unless they fire on us, but be ready.”
    He was willing to let the Deutsche use the crossroads first, and held up his males so they could. The Tosevite officer led his Big Uglies forward. They towered over the males of the Race. Some of them shouted things. Some shook their fists. But, to Gorppet’s vast relief, they didn’t start shooting.
    “Forward,” he called after the Deutsche had passed. Forward his own small group went. He kept one eye turret on the terrain, the other on the map he’d been given. Unlike the maps he’d had in the SSSR, this one seemed to know what it was talking about. When, toward evening, his males reached a town, he stopped a local and asked, “Greifswald?”
    He made himself understood. The local nodded a Big Ugly affirmative and said, “Greifswald,
    Gorppet turned back to his males. “We have reached our assigned station. Dismal-looking dump, isn’t it?”

    With a curse half in Yiddish, half in Polish, Mordechai Anielewicz used the hand brake on his bicycle. “How am I supposed to get anywhere if the roads are all
” the Jewish fighting leader muttered.
    Burnt-out trucks made the asphalt impassable. These particular vehicles were of human manufacture, but he had to look closely to see which side had used them. The Lizards had pressed plenty of human-made models into service in Poland, and most of them had been imported from Germany.
    He got off the bicycle and walked it around the jam. He’d been doing that every kilometer or two on the journey down to Widawa. He’d got his family out of Lodz before the fighting started, and sent them southwest to this little town. That had kept them safe—or safer, anyhow—when the Germans hit the city with an explosive-metal bomb. But the
had overrun Widawa—and Bertha and Miriam and David and Heinrich were every bit as Jewish as he was, of course.
    Even after he passed the wrecks, he couldn’t get back on the road right away. Someone’s airplanes had cratered it with bomblets. Anielewicz’s legs ached as he brought the bicycle

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