Chapter 12 – Running for home
At the back of the bike sheds Frankie was thinking “Shit, things have gone to hell in a hand basket, and so quickly! We came to rescue 501 and found him beaten to death; Jeff is down there dead and Adria is badly wounded. For my sake, I'm trapped here with no way out.”
Slowly walking around the shed, trying to see a way out of the mess that he was now in. “I've been in tight situations before and scraped out, but this time Frankie lad, I don’t see you getting out,” he thought.
Outside the sheds, the searchlights were focussed on the front doors. The bright lights were casting eerie shadows of the men waiting there for him to exit. Frankie had nothing on his side; they could just wait him out for now. Sooner or later they would either open fire or charge in and with only a few shells left, he was as good as done for.
Peering out of one of the windows in the shed wall, he could see the gun emplacements swivelling to the shed doors now. “Shit, there isn't any hope now! That’ll tear the ground up before I get across the yard.”
Looking at the bikes in the shed, he was thinking “These are new, Just out of the factory; the gears will be locked and jam easy. I need something that has been used, so I can gear jam and get space between us.”
In the cold stillness of the dark of the night, minds play tricks on you. He thought he heard an owl hoot in the distance, but passed it over as no owls had been seen or heard for years around the city.
The shed contained five or six new jet bikes, four or five of the older style bikes with the setting for the Bolterian mount or the Multimelta flame guns, depending on the missions. Pacing back and forth, Frankie’s eyes fell up on a strange sight.
“Lord above, I haven’t seen one of them for years,” he muttered as he looked at the twin engine Exrollo dune racing bike. “It takes me back to my youth, and the days when we had fun. I don’t suppose it works though.”
The Exrollo was far slower than the new machines but would have the edge in tight spaces. Always known and revered for its cornering ability it could out manoeuvre almost anything in the sheds. Frankie muttered “Well baby, you don’t have speed and like me you’re long in the tooth, but you’re the best here. Let’s see how much juice you have got. Not that I’ll need it, once I get past the doors I will be shot to pieces.”
The dial on the fuel tank was showing half-full.
“Well, that gives me about ten miles on this baby, if I last that long. After that, it’s over for me. Just a shame I won’t be able to tell the group Jeff’s message and that the rescue was in vain. I wonder who the mole is! Stevenarc went AWOL but others have been acting odd too. Take James, here we come charging out on a rescue bid and get shot to hell. I’ve never been certain about Alanov either and what about Marcian, he turned up out of nowhere and never appears to do much.”
The cold white light of the search beams were slowly quartering the area outside the sheds, watching for a pattern forming Frankie noticed that one of the beams had a slight stutter as it passed its section, only a second. Not enough to chance it. This was going to have to be a hell for leather dash down darkened streets, if he got out.
As the beams passed him by, Frankie was trying to see what he could of the street lay out, dashing in here with Jeff he had not had time to work things out, now time was on his side. He knew they would come in soon, until then he could take all the time he needed. One chance was all he had to make this work.
The truth of his struggle lay out there in the yard, Jeff’s lifeless body. Lying still and cold on a dark street, “Will that be my fate?” He thought. Walking back to the Exrollo he muttered “Come on girl, it’s you and me. One mad dash past them, then we can think about going home.”
Outside, he could hear the guns starting to click as rounds were loaded, listening he could hear the throbbing of the Multimeltas as they charged batteries ready for the assault. Quietly, he pushed the bike as close to the front as he could without being seen. Moving the new bikes to give himself room to manoeuvre he inched forward, trying to work out the angle to Jeff’s body and his gun, he would only gain a couple of rounds but everything counted.
Suddenly, there was a whoosh and Frankie rushed passed the startled guardsmen, so startled it took a few seconds to realise what had happened and to start firing. Heading for Jeff’s body, Frankie swung left at the corner then turned right as he grabbed the gun “Sorry mate but you won’t be needing this!” he said as he grabbed the rifle and sped out in the dark, with only a thin headlight cutting a swathe through the endless blank walls and alleyways.
Swinging left and right to avoid the gunfire and Melta blasts, Frankie barely missed slamming into walls that he saw at the last minute. Looking for the smallest alleys Frankie gear jammed and double de-clutched to gain speed, still he was barely able to stay ahead of the pursers on his tail.
They were so close he heard one call “He’s heading down Imperium Way, we can cut him off before he gets to the gate!”
From out of nowhere a truck appeared, Frankie just saw it in time and shot across the bonnet to safety as he heard the chasing bike slam into the carriages behind and explode, spilling vital fuel on the road. Ahead of him and closing on the swinging gate he saw two more bikes just about to turn to face him, with no options left. He increased speed and hit an empty barrel, hoping the inertia would send him over the wall and on his way to relative safety.
“Here goes nothing, girl!” he screamed as he opened the throttle. The shells were pinging off the leg-guards and just missing him but he was still riding well, without a second thought he took to the air. All of his dune-racing skills were coming into play as he landed on the other side and slid the bike around for a quick glance. Just as he hoped, going over the walls had stalled the bikes and vehicles, giving him valuable seconds. Looking at the gauge he saw that it was almost empty. “You did me well, girl,” he said as he patted the tank and rode slowly over the dunes trying to conserve as much as fuel as was possible, “It’s a shame we won’t get back to base, we can make good use of another bike now Padraig’s gone,” he muttered.
Behind him, Frankie could hear the engines of the bikes and vans approaching quickly. Looking around he said “This is it, there’s no point going on. We can’t outrun them, gal. It’s time for a last stand. We’ll have to find a big dune and try to hold out for a few minutes.”