Saturday, 6 July 2013

Shadows and sands

            Alanov paced the room like a lion awaiting its next kill, his mind troubled by recent events in his former homeland, “I would like to add a word of caution, before we get too excited. How do we know this message is real and not a trap by the Game?”
            James replied, “We didn’t want to build our hopes up; Kabel asked me track the signals for weeks. They’re always on old frequencies, lower than those used by the Game and never more than a quick burst and never from the same position twice in a row.”
            Alanov said, “I’m still not so sure the message isn’t a trap.”
Before anybody had a chance to talk, Kabel said, “We understand your trepidation; you were hounded from your homelands. Believe me, I want to believe we have found allies as much as anybody but I am still airing on the side of caution.”
            Stevenarc rose from her chair and said, “We are reasonably certain that they are genuine, Alanov. We listened to sounds of the sirens of the firemen in the distance in each call and I tracked their messages to remote beacons, which are long since disused, most of the beacons are in desolate areas and cannot be reached easily.”
            “That is my point, Stevenarc, if you can track them; perhaps the Game located their signal too,” Alanov said as he nervously paced the floor.
            James sensed an argument may be building, so he cut in to calm the situation, “With our keen antennae and listening posts, we are staying ahead of the Game; most of the time. Their problem is arrogance leads them to believe their ways are the only ways and they became lax in their searches for beacons, believing only the ones they are registering are working, whereas there are a small number which specialised operators were able to bring to life again.”
Alanov remained unconvinced the message was not a trap “Even so, we can’t take the risk of getting caught; only a few of us need go. The rest will stay in case the group gets compromised.”
            James gave a wink to Kabel as he replied, “Spoken like a true resistant!”
            Alanov turned on James and said angrily, “This may be the case, James, but I have seen men fall for the Game in front of me as we tried to escape such traps, brave men whose loss I mourn and will never forget.”
            “WHOA!” James called out, “I tried to compliment you; there is no need to bite my face off.”
            Meekly, Alanov apologised, “I’m sorry, I am still edgy; it’s taking longer than I hoped getting used to not be hunted every step you take or fearing a trap at every contact.”
            James turned from his view of the dunes and the sifting sands and said, “No offence meant and none taken. I was at fault; I forget others get hunted down, whereas we get ignored unless we cause trouble; here we are viewed as an insignificance, little do they realise our strength is growing and with it our chance of victory.”
            Outside the night was closing and darkness crept across the dunes, creating weird shapes in the sands; we sat in the viewing complex pondering what to do, the situation was clear we had to go, but who would go? That remained the question.
            Stevenarc rose to address the group, “Friends, the night is up on us now and with the darkness 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 move big vehicles and need the daylight. The night belongs to us! Our motorcycle teams, Wing Riders and Desert Raiders can get far in this light, using green light goggles.”
            Alanov paused in his pacing and said, “In my country we are led to believe the Wing Riders were a myth and got destroyed in the early days of the wars.”
            James replied, “We want the Game Lords to think the Riders are a myth, but they are out in the wastelands. 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 or how they communicate; the only certainty is if we get under attack, they come to help us out within minutes.”
            The Russian became more interested in the conversation and the direction it took, Alanov was learning a new perspective on the struggle as he said, “I am intrigued, with all the firemen and the burning; how do you get the Word out here?”
Kabel replied, “Once a month, we get news from inside the city of a large convoy which travels to the old marshalling yards, about thirty miles from the city; the area is open country. At first they  arrogance led the Game to believe they thought they were untouchable; at this time we hit them with Motorcycle raids for three months, which caused them to start to send escorts out to try to find us.”
            “We are usually ahead of them,” James remarked, “we allow a few of us be spotted in order to draw the guards from the trucks. Then we swoop for the attack; hit them hard and be out of sight before they realise what happened.”
            Not sure if this tactic would be sound, Alanov asked, “Isn't that a big risk?”
            Stevenarc walked across to him and patted him on the shoulder as she commented, “No, we always plan well ahead. All routes of escape are memorised, there is no need to worry; we are of the same mind here.”
            “I’m sorry, even after years away from my homeland I still see many ghosts in the shadows.”
            Stevenarc tried to calm the worried Alanov by saying, “You have nothing to apologise for; you are better to be vigilant than complacent; complacency may lead to your being captured or killed and we need more like you to join the fight.”
            “What happened about the raids?”

            “We do one, once in a while. The main thing is our threat keeps them off guard not knowing if we will hit the next convoy and by doing this we hope to slow the mass burnings and rescue more books,” Stevenarc remarked.

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