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Del was not to die on that day. Using his talent, Brand had deflected the incoming shell from striking directly on her platoon. Del's body armor had intercepted most of the blast shrapnel, and the overpressure had been enough to put her in a mild state of shock but it was not life-threatening. She was capable of healing herself with her own Talent. Still, Del was a little dazed, and she no longer led the assault, to be sure.

Brand, with the rank of Captain, had taken charge of the assault when he saw his child go down. It was all handled seamlessly. Del no longer had a coherent platoon to lead. Seven were immediately dead, twelve were wounded, and four of those would soon die from blood loss, missing limbs, or other serious injuries. The rest merged with the other platoons running north.

The Orange 3rd Platoon was the last to be hit, six dead and ten wounded, three mortally. A single Archangel flew to the location called in from the ground and let loose a cluster bomb, which broke up into many bomblets and saturated the area of the offending gun battery with many small explosions, disabling the guns and killing all the personnel manning the weapon.

Now Del's people were free to hurry off their vulnerable position on the beach, plagued only by mortar fire, which claimed thirty-one lives. Total killed in the landing phase was just eight percent of her force, and anoth- er 12% injured. This was very bad, but not nearly as bad as the forty per- cent casualties Del had anticipated after she understood her orders.

Del rammed home a lightweight clip of laser ammo. The cartridges were clear Lucite vials. When the trigger was pulled, the firing pin broke a seal in the cartridge, mixing nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide which gave a bril- liant flash of light. This light pumped the ruby rod and laser light flashed out from the half-mirrored front end. Fully 40% of the chemical energy in the cartridge was put on the target as a burst of pure light.

In city the defenders were well dug in. Lasers flicked all along the front hoping to catch an unlucky head. But Del could see the Egyptians were not fighting up to snuff. She could sense the feeling of little boy lost among them. Return fire was mostly ineffective but a few enemy soldiers stood their ground, aimed carefully and took out a few of Del's people. Ex- pendable nitrous/carbon monoxide shell casings popped away as Del called on the best within her to put thumping 50 millisecond bursts of light on tar- get. This was the turn of the tide. It was palpable. It fell over the Egyp- tians like a shadow, like the blackness of mass hatred overtaking a mob. They were already in retreat, moving north on the road home to Cairo, and the Israeli Army was sweeping over the city in a general rout.

By the time she caught up to Brand in the canal ops center the building was largely secure. Del's immediate objective had been achieved, and she or- dered her people to fan out into Suez City to prepare to greet the rest of the Israeli Defense Force soon arriving, less clandestinely, in waves of lightly armored hovercraft. There were fights for the railroad station and the Al-Gaysh Causeway to Port Tewfiq, and a very hot struggle for the Gov- ernorate building on the waterfront that was quickly wrapped up.

With hez successes of the opening hours, with Del's empty barges abandoned on the sand bar swaying with the tide and not likely to be needed ever again, Colonel Motti Adan parked his ass safely in that Governorate build- ing. Eager to gain the credit for the victory, he separated Del's troops from her and reassigned them to the main thrust on the road north to Is- mailia. As for Del herself, he called her out on the carpet. Del's as- signed beach had been a dead-end sand spit with only one way off yet some- how she refused to fail and he wanted to know why. Adan had an affinity for tidiness which Del didn't share. The Colonel was less interested in killing the enemy and seizing land than he was in making the change of watch into a regular and orderly process complete with pass-down logs. He put a lot of time crafting the Scimitar plan and Del went off script.

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