Part 3- Run for it
“As much as I respect you, Kabel. This time YOU HAVE FLIPPED. That is a suicide move,” Freddy exclaimed.
“Why?” Alanaov asked looking very concerned.
“You will find out soon enough, Alanov,”Padraig replied.
“I trust you do know what you are asking me to do, Kabel,” Freddy queried.
“Totally, Freddy. Just hope this works out though.”
“Can someone tell me, please, what is going on?” Alanov pleaded.
“Ok, you deserve to know. As we might not make it through. Around the bend is a ridge of volcanic geysers. She is going to set a huge fireball off, to block the Game.”
“I see why you said it was suicidal now.”
“Look at it this way though, Alanov,” Kabel remarked. “If we get caught you and I will be publicly ridiculed in the square, then killed. The cadre will collapse and another segment of Game control established. If we don't make it through the flames at least we die free and there is NO gain for the game.”
“If we make it through?”
“Our next move, is to contact the group. And tell them we are safe, then contact the other group.”
With gears grinding and tracks spinning we took off for Fire point ridge. Just as we hit the bend, we saw the green lights from the Game trucks behind us. Now, there was no doubt, within seconds we would be in launcher range and at their mercy.
“NOW!” yelled Kabel at the top of her voice.
There was a gaseous ejection as the grenades flew through the air ahead of us. The first bounced on the crust for ten yards before bursting into flames, the second hit the fireball created by the first, bursting into flames in the arc of its landing sending a bright glow across the crusty plates on the geysers.
“That was a low arc you projected them at, Kabel,” Alanov commented. “How far ahead did they explode?”
“The arc had to be tight, we had no time to spare with the Game that close behind. I judged the range to be about forty metres ahead.”
“About twenty behind us and gaining. I know it was suicidal but it was our only hope.”
“Needs must as the devil drives.” Freddy quoted to us.
“Exactly, Freddy. Or to use another quote Necissity is the mother of invention.” Pardraig commented from the launcher.
As we whizzed across the crusty earth, I could feel the heat rising as the ground began to crumble under our tracks. Looking back I could see where we had just been and the ground was already burning the track marks out.
As we crossed a high point, Kabel called out. “Ok, cut the throttle, Freddy.”
Alanov remarked “Isn't this too soon, Kabel!”
All she said was “Take a look.”
As he sat in the truck, using night glasses Alanov could see the truck get caught in the flames and explode.
“Tell me something, Kabel?” Alanov asked.
“What do you wish to know?”
“Just how certain were you that we were going to make it safely?”
“Only about sixty percent, to be truthful. Too many variables came to play.”
“First we were travelling across bumpy ground at high speed, accurate trajectory for the launcher was improbable.”
“Lowest arc, shortest miscalculation range then.”
“Yes, also we are using launchers and grenades that had not seen action for many years, so I had no idea if they would launch and if so, would the grenades go off.”
“You had to make snap decisions based on old equipment!”
“That's why I am a leader and they want me so desperately. The only thing I was reasonably certain of though. I knew if we were square on and full speed we would beat the explosions and get here. And the Game would perish.”
“Why was that?”
“We have tracked vehicles, so the weight is evenly spread as we cross the thin, crusted plates. As they were in a normal truck with tyres, they created pressure points to break the crust. As they came for us, they were slowing down and soon had no tyres left at all.”
“Even so, it was too close for comfort!” Freddy remarked.
“Yes, have to keep a watch for these groups now, next time we might not be so lucky!” Kabel said.”Pardaig contact James, tell him what happened and we are safe.”
Pardraig called in to base. “Skimmer one to base, do you read?”
“Hello skimmer, this is base. Got you loud and clear. We saw the explosions were you near the eruption?”
“Too near, James, far, far too near. We got tracked by a rogue Game vehicle and if not for Kabel taking a risk, we would be dead. A rogue patrol came after us, we only just got to the ridge at Fire point.”
“We know, we saw them leave. We dare not warn you in case it gave you away, though.”
“Good call, James. Safety first,” Pardraig remarked. “Any news from the other group we came to contact, yet?”
There was a silent moment before James spoke, the silence was palpable and threatening. “We had a weak signal, drifting in and out, hard to maintain contact right until you got through.”
“I think you better tell Kabel that, James. I know what I think about it, but she is our cadre leader and has more experience of these things.”
James's next comment cut us sharply. “I know you think it could be a trap, but I am sure it wasn't.”
“Why is that?” Kabel asked.
“I have a close friend in the group, as well as it being my home area. I know the people.”
“Could they have been turned or compromised, James?” Kabel enquired.
“Never, there were only a few of us who know the codes for sending the messages. We kept it that way for secrecy and protection of information.”
“We were just not sure, James, that is all. It does like suspicious that they went off, just as we got clear. You can see our view, James.”
“Yes, I can see how it looks from your view, very odd that at the moment you got clear, they went off the air. Almost as if they we were acting as a triangulation beacon. Using their signal, the one from here and the one in the Game truck. Now, you have ME thinking about this.”
There was silence from both ends as James got to think, “Had friends and family been compromised?”
From this end the thought was,“Had Kabel caused James to doubt them, when there was no reason?”