Part 2- The race to Fire Point
“Even so, we cannot take the risk of getting caught in a trap, only a few of us need go. The rest have to stay in case we get compromised,” Alanov replied.
“Spoken like a true resistant!” James Joked.
“Well as may be, James, but I have seen men fall for the Game in front of me as we tried to escape after such traps!”
“WHOA!” James called out. “I was trying to compliment you there.”
“Sorry, James, guess I am still edgy. Takes a long time to get used to not be hunted every step you take.”
“That is OK, Alanov, no offence was meant and none taken. It was my fault, I tend to forget that others get hunted everywhere, whereas we just get ignored unless we cause trouble.”
The night was closing as we sat there, pondering what to do. It was clear we had to go, but who would go? That was the question.
Stevenarc rose to address the group. “Friends, the night is up on us now, with it comes our chance to make a start for the towers. The dim light gives us the edge, as we are mobile in small groups. Whereas the Game have to move big vehicles. Our motorcycle teams, Wing Riders and Desert raiders can get far in this light, using our green light goggles.”
Alanov spoke next. “I was led to believe the Wing Riders were a myth, destroyed in the early days of the wars.”
James replied. “That is what we want the Game Lords to think, Alanov, but they are out there. We never see or here them but they are there for us. They act as scouting parties for the Raiders, nobody knows where they are, how they communicate with each other. Just if we get under attack, they are always there in minutes.”
“I am intrigued, with all the firemen and the burning how did you get the Word out here?” Alanov enquired.
Kabel replied. “Once a month, there is a large convoy. They go out to the old marshalling yards, about ten miles from the city. Out there it is open country. At first they were so arrogant, they thought they were untouchable. Then we hit them with Motorcycle raids for three months, they started to send escorts out to try to find us.”
“We were always ahead of them though.” James remarked. “We would let them see a few of us, to draw the guards from the trucks. Then we would swoop for thee attack. Hit them and be out of sight before they knew what happened.”
“Isn't that a big risk?” Alanov said, looking pensively around.
“No, we always plan well ahead. All routes of escape are memorised.” Stevenarc commented. “There is no need to worry, we are all of the same mind here, Alanov.”
“Sorry, even after years away I still see ghosts in the shadows.”
“Nothing to worry about, it is good that you are that sharp. We need more like you to join the fight.” James added.
“What happened about the raids?”
“Oh, we do one, once in a while. The main thing is it keeps them off guard, not knowing if we will hit the next convoy. By doing this we can hope to slow the mass burnings and hopefully rescue more books.” Stevenarc remarked.
Kabel stood up, hands on the table, looking around she said. “OK, this is our chance, they will have to close the city off soon. We can ride out the distant beacons at Fire Ridge and try to pick up a signal.”
Stevenarc commented “I have the signal boosts ready, Kabel. Out there you will be on the edge of our range, this wont give you much more range. Maybe just enough to pick up their signals though.”
“Thanks, Stevenarc, we need everything we can get our hands on. Reports on the wires are the Game are closing more stations every day, soon we could be isolated. We need to make contact and quickly so as we have a back-up ready in case.”
“Any news from the Skimmer squads, Kabel?” James enquired.
“Not as yet, they were out so far, I was just able to contact them. I don't know when they will be in range again.”
“Skimmer squads!” Alanov remarked, looking puzzled.
James went on to explain. “In the early days, there were groups of people who lived beyond the city, they could move quickly across the desert as their vans had wheels at the front for steering and tracks on the rear for power.”
“I had heard rumours of them, but thought that is all they were, rumours.” Alanov commented.
“Oh, no. They are very real, Alanov.” Stevenarc replied. “Without their help, we would be cut off and vulnerable here. Whereas the riders and bike teams stay close to bases, we need to know when the Game move. These people live way out in the deserts, they are rarely seen yet even the Game know they are here.”
“They know all the dunes and sandbars, Alanov.” Kabel added. “Their vehicles may be slower, what the lack in speed, they more than make up for in knowledge. Which is why escape routes are planned out so accurately, our bikes can travel carefully over light sand and rock where the Game trucks would sink in.”
“What about their history? Does anyone know where or when they came here? Or why they live out there?” Alanov said pointing to the vast areas of barren lands, that surrounded the tower.
“Some say, they were Game Lords themselves who just got so bored with playing, they decided to leave. Others say they get ejected because of this. It is hard to know, as nobody ever makes contact with them. All we know is that they despise what the Game is doing, as much as we do.” Stevenarc remarked.
“I am interested in the structure of the groups,” Alanov queried. “Is there a leader or do you act independently?”
James took a second glance at Alanov,before he said. “I realise you were hounded out of your country, but for a newcomer you sure ask a lot of questions. Not all are surface either. How do we know you are genuine?”
“That is a good point, James,you only have my word and nobody here can vouch for me. I am a scientist eager to know how these groups co-exist and communicate, that is all. As there seems to be no radio links between the outer groups. I realise your need for security and that you don't know me yet. I do hope that we can correct this matter soon.”
Stevenarc commented, “You can see James's point though, Alanov.”
Alanov replied, “Yes, you are wise to question me and my motives, James.”
“For now, I think you have enough knowledge of our set up, Alanov.” Kabel commented. “And we have a job to finish, we need to be out there soon, Stevenarc.”
“Kabel, all the equipment is ready to use,” Stevenarc replied.”James will be on the radio listening for any signals. Hopefully you can make contact with the group.”
Kabel remarked. “It's a long shot, Stevenarc, but we are all here because the long shots brought us together. If we don't take the chance tonight, it could be weeks even months, before they feel safe enough to try again. By which time they could have been compromised.”
The bikes and skimmers roared out of the sheds, drivers in face masks mired with the sands of ages and wearing green light goggles. The dunes and sandbars clearly visible as the group headed to Fire point. All minds thinking of the possibility of new recruits, yet alert to the threats of the Game. It was possible this was a trap, but they had to take the chance.
The ride to Fire point was long and arduous as the dune shifts during the day meant the skimmers often had to swerve violently or get bogged down. Skimmers were whizzing across the sandy and rock strewn ground, when from out of nowhere a cry came.
“Game to the rear!”
Looking back we could barely see them through the dips in the dunes but the riders out to the sides had clearer views than us, so there was no doubts. This was a run for life now.
“How did they pick us up? We were so careful about everything Kabel.” Padraig Sallower asked.
“There were reports on the air about small groups of Game vehicles doing random search patterns, just our luck, Padraig, to get caught.” Kabel commented.
“We are losing ground!” Freddy Marshall shouted. “They will be on us soon, unless we do something and QUICK.”
“I am already ahead of you, Freddy,” Kabel shouted as the screech of the engines roared high in our ears. “Take a left at the next bend, then floor it on my command. When I shout now, lauch the rockets ahead of us.”