Walking over to the big window that overlooked the garage Jame looked out at the vista, “Freddy how far would you say Echo Ridge is? Your maths are better han mine but I would say about sixty to seventy miles.”
Walking over to the window and looking at the vista to Echo Ridge, James said “I'm no maths whizz but I would say the Ridge is between sixty to seventy miles from here. Do you agree, Freddy?”
Freddy turned around and walked over to James at the window, “They appear to be using a regular ariel over there. I would put it close to a hundred, James.”
“Thanks, Freddy. That just emphasised my point.”
Adria take a few steps from the table and said “Sorry for being a bit dense here, can you explain it please, James?”
Freddy replied “Adria it's better to show you what we mean. Can you pick up that ruler on the table and hold it arms length for me, please?”
“No problem. Adria picked the ruler up and held it for a few minutes as James and Freddy were in discussion at the window.”
“Now, Adria you see the way the end wobbles the further from your shoulder it gets.”
“If that was the signal, we wouldn't be able to pick it up as there is no single point of reception. When we track it to one point by the time we get there it will have moved again.”
Turning from the window, James said “Freddy are you thinking what I am?”
Freddy replied “If by that you mean there has to be a closer ariel, then yes I am.”
Looking puzzled, Frankie said “I know you think I am a stupid biker but didn't James saying something about a piggy-back signal to get the message. Couldn't this be a piggy-back too?”
James continued “Frankie, I know you think we look down on you, believe me we have never done that. You know how we work there is no strata here, we all know different things and help each other out. I don't think it's a piggy-back for a number of reasons. Firstly, the message is too sensitive to risk jumping on a loose signal in the hope of a boost. You have no idea who will pick it up or where its heading to. Just as immportantly, to get that far you would need two boosts, I think Freddy will agree the longest signal reach is about forty miles-am I right, Freddy?”
Turning to rejoin the conversation, Freddy said “At the extreme, but remember it's like a paint brush, the further from the start, the weaker the signal and to add to the piggy-back question. James didn't mention that if you piggy-back you also get a mixed feed with whatever is on the band too. Not only do you risk losing your target, you risk the signal getting lost in white noise.”
Looking at his friends, James said “We have a number of issues to sort out later. For now although I don't to head the group, with Kabel dead and Stevenarc gone AWOL. We need a temporary head. Does anybody object to me being the head until we can sort things out?”
As he looked he could see there were no objections, even though he never want to be in command, he was beginning to get the impression it was heading for him.
“Okay! Thanks for the vote of confidence in me. We have some major decisions to make and no time to debate them. Do you agree from what you just heard from Freddy and me that this is not a piggy-back to Echo Ridge and there is a reciver ariel closer.”
The friends nodded their agreement.
“We know this 501 is in danger, from who or what we don't know. Do you think we should try a rescue? By the sound of it, who he contacted was in no position to help for days and by then it will be too late”
“I feel we have no choice in the matter,James.” Adria replied “It isn't just that we are the nearest and most available to help. I know I couldn't live with the knowledge of leaving him or her alone to their fate.”
“I'm with you on that point, Adria,” Frankie added.
Their thoughts and ideas were interrupted by a desperate message “501-If you can't get here. I'm coming out now, it's getty too risky to stay in.”
James was first to react “That settles it, we are going in,!” he said. The urgency in his voice carried across the emptying room as friends went into action at their stations.
“Did you get a fix on the signal, James?” Adria called as she ran to the door.
“Sector 6- Harkling road. It's full of window streets and narrow roads only the bikes can get there.”
“Were on it!” yelled Frankie as he and Jeff left the room.
Listening to the action and watching what was going on, Alanov called to the riders “Make sure it's not a trap!”
“Got it covered, Alanov don't worry. We'll circle the area get the rescuee on the bike and the two who don't carry him or her are riding interference,” Jeff called back.
Frankie added “We've done it before and will again.”
Then the door closed and there was silence as the group could feel the tensions.
James remained calm, but the tension was audible as he spoke “We have no proof that it isn'e a trap but we had to act fast. Freddy, you keep an eye on the radar screen in case they are tagged en-route. Alanov, can you go and see how Padraig is doing in the ward? I hope the last incident wasn't too hard on him. He likes to pretend that he is okay, but we can tell it takes its toll. I think he feels that if he can't be useful as a driver, then it's over here for him.”
Marcian O'Harris turned from the desk where he was plotting the winds and dunes onto the sector grid and said “Beleive me, there is nobody with knowledge of the dunes like Padraig. He sends me the up dates even before the sattelite can spot the wind changes. You don't live out there without learning about the dunes and traps. It's been his knowledge as much as driving that kept us alive.”
“I've got our fix, James. They bikes are about to enter grid 611 and are in the clear.” Freddy said as he viewed the screen, the added with horror “Oh no. It can't be!