They travelled through the darkness for hour upon hour, stopping only for a quick meal and then starting off again, the kilometres passed under their fast travelling wheels until, with weary bodies and tired blinking eyes, they began to slow as the first rays of the morning sun rose slowly over the far off flat horizon.
As had been planned the previous day, Elios had all the vehicles turn into a circle until they were parked in a ring of protection around where they hoped to be able to sleep and rest during the day, after setting a few of the boys as guards for the tired drivers and navigators, everyone sat to eat and drink, it had been a long and harrowing first night but the distance travelled gave them hope that they had been able to outdistance any Renegs that had a mind to track them and attack.
Around the circle camp, the land stretched endlessly in a flat white table top, nothing moved in the white barrenness, even the winds were resting as the sun rose higher, its brightness beginning to sparkle on the salt crystals as the light got stronger and the days heat increased, it was going to be a long and very hot day, the drivers and any other boys who could help, pulled large canvas covers from the tucks and began to spread them out to create enough shade for everyone to sleep under, the guards would be rotated every hour by those boys that had been able to sleep as the others drove through the night.
The sun was well past its highest point when the first of the drivers opened his eyes, it was only moments later that Elios also awakened in the intense heat, there was still no sign of a wind or even a light breeze, all around the camp for as far as the eye could see was nothing but a vacant white land, Elios looked up to the top of the vehicles and saw the four guards still watching intently, their heads covered in loose cloths to keep the worst of the heat off their heads, all of them had, as the others had done, stripped off the ancients clothes and wore only their small breechclouts to make it easier to keep cool.
After a full check of the camp, Elios began to organise the refuelling of all the vehicles and to make plans for a big meal before they moved off again as the sun sank towards night, it was going to be another long night but at this stage they felt that the need for safety far outweighed the dangers of night travel and the more distance they put between them and any Renegs brave enough to try to follow them, was more important than comfort.
They continued to travel for another three nights before the ground began to grow rough, they were nearing another range of low hills and the dangers now inherent in night travel were becoming to much, Elios called a halt to the travel early in the morning, he planned that they should rest well and for the first time in five days, get a full nights sleep, if his calculations were correct, they would be moving through the hills on the next morning and were now no more than two days away from what he hoped was their ultimate goal.
If Elios had followed the maps and his calculations were correct, the next bunker should be just on the other side of the long low range of hills, they should also be able to see the old ancient city of Salt Lake, or what remained of it, once they had passed this next obstacle, according to his old maps, there should be some form of roadway going through the hills but, at this stage he could not see any indication of it, he thought about waiting until the next morning to begin the search but, at the last moment, decided to send out two jeeps, one in each direction, along the base of the range of hills.
Elios called all the boys together and then set out his immediate plan, each of the two jeeps would carry one driver and two guards, even though the great stretch of barren salt flat showed no enemies, he was still not going to take the chance on losing any of his friends or vehicles because of carelessness, Elios sent the two vehicles off and joined the others as they prepared to cook the morning meal.
They sat and waited for the return of the two jeeps, no one wanted to eat until the six scouts had returned, to each and every boy it felt as though they were being selfish to eat without the others and so, they waited patiently for their return.
As the sun sank and the first long shadows of night began to settle around them, they all heard the distant groan of the returning vehicles, one from each side of the darkening camp, they all waited in anticipation as the two jeeps drew closer, the food was heated and cold water was found for the scouts to drink once they had arrived, the whole camp all of a sudden became lighter and the chatter began to fill the silence, it was a good feeling to know they were returning, hopefully all in one piece.
Finally the two jeeps lights could be seen close by, all the boys jumped to their feet and called loudly as the two vehicles pulled to a halt close to the circle, six very tired and weary boys looked at their friends around the circle, the six boys looked like white ghosts as the salty dust settled around them, their bodies were totally covered in the salt and only their eyes, which had been covered by the tinted driving glasses, showed their natural colour but their eyes were red and tired from the continual need to watch for enemies and also to look ahead for the fabled road into the hills.
It was the jeep that had gone north that brought the good news, after going in and out of every small gully along the length of the hills, they had eventually found what looked like the remnants of an ancient road about two hours away, they had traversed it for a few kilometres before turning back and had seen no rock slides or other barriers in their way, the camp cheered the report and the boys that had found the way over the hills, tomorrow would be an exciting day, they would finally get closer to their ultimate goal.
The drive on the following morning was filled with anticipation, the mere thought of being close to the next bunker had lifted the spirits of the tired boys, this adventure had been the longest of them all and the boys were at a stage of weariness that all long searches created. The scouts had indeed found the start of the ancient road over the pass, although the old seal of the road was broken and holes had appeared in its surface, the convoy bumped and ground its way to the beginning of the first rise, above them the road looked clear apart from the occasional small rock or pile of stones.
Again, Elios sent one of the smaller and more mobile jeeps ahead of the main convoy, slowly it whined its way upward, all the time it kept in contact with Elios through their small com units, as they reached about half way up the rise, Elios gave the order for the others to follow slowly, every vehicle travelled slowly as the reports continued to come in from the van guard jeep.
As they rose higher, Elios began to notice something strange about the road, there had been obvious large slips along the road but they had been cleared by somebody, not recently but also not long ago, at one stage he called a halt so he could look closer at one of the slips, it had been quite large and, had it not been cleared by the unknown hands, Elios and his convoy would not have been able to pass.
Stepping from his Humvee along with Mita and two guard boys, Elios went closer to the remains of the slip, to his amazement, he saw what appeared to be marks similar to those made by one of his newly found tanks but it was also apparent that whatever the vehicle had been, it had some sort of attachment on it to push the rocks and detritus of the slip off to the side of the road and over the drop, below he saw what he thought was the remains of the rocks that had formed the road block.
These, to Elios, were obvious signs that someone else knew about the ancients machines, he returned to his Humvee and they continued on upward as he sat and thought about what he had seen, the chance of meeting people who knew about all the technology that had been left was starting to give him a sense of excitement, perhaps he would, at last, be able to know more of the ancients.
By high sun they were all on the very top of the range of hills and looking down at another wide expanse of salt plain, far in the distance he could see, with the aid of his binoculars, the vague remnants of the fabled city of Salt Lake, there appeared to be nothing much taller than an average one or two story cave system, most of the area was nothing more than a pile of rubble, only the sight of a strange symbol standing alone seemed to be untouched, it looked as though it was made of two pieces of material, one, the longest, stood upright, the second was fixed near the top making it a cross, at this range, Elios could not make out what it was made of but it was a symbol he had seen in some of the books far back at Home Bunker.
At a signal, the convoy began the long ride down the cleared roadway towards what they hoped would be the next bunker. It was late in the afternoon, much quicker than first thought, that the convoy turned a final bend and saw before them the start of the salt flats, when they all had reached the flat land, Elios called a halt even though there was still a bit of time before the sun sank towards night, he felt it was a good time to stop and rest, tomorrow would be spent looking for the entrance to the bunker, they had to be close but now was a good time to rest and collect their thoughts for the next stage.
In the early hours of the morning, just as the first rays of the sun were touching the top of the range of hills, Elios was startled from his sleep by a familiar sound, one that he thought was only made by his own people, it was distant and echoed in the still morning air but he was sure he was correct, the stirring of Mita beside him confirmed his first thought, Mita's voice only went to reinforce his first thought.
"Did that wake you too?"
"Yes" Elios replied.
"I thought we were the only ones with weapons, who could it be, could it be Renegs who have found out about the ancients?"
"I don't know, we'll have to go and investigate but we'll have to be very careful, if it's the Renegs then we could be in real trouble, you better get the guys up and ready, we'll have a light meal and then start forward slowly, use one of the Humvee's first then the jeeps to follow, make sure everyone is on full alert."
Mita nodded his head and began to go around the camp waking up everyone and telling them what was happening, Elios continued to listen to the far off shots, by the sound of them there were not a lot of people involved, the shots were sporadic and spaced out as though someone was taking their time to mark their targets but what concerned Elios the most was the evident sound of replies, these shots were a little faster but still only from a few weapons, this brought Elios to only one conclusion, someone was trying to defend his position and others were trying to attack.
The next half hour was spent in eating a dry breakfast and readying their weapons, each and every weapons was checked and the boys drew extra ammunition from the truck, the vehicle weapons were cleaned of any dirt or salt and rearmed, when all was ready, Elios Humvee took the lead and began the journey towards the far off sounds, as they moved, Elios could not hear any diminishing in the battle sounds.
Keeping their speed down to a slow crawl, the convoy made its way closer to the sounds of battle, it took over an hour before they saw any signs, ahead of them was a long flat strip of sealed land, it was made of the same black covering as the road had been, down the centre of the flat strip appeared to be faint remnants of a white painted line, far off at the very end of the flat area was a new machine, one that Elios had never seen in any of the other bunkers, even as far away as they were this machine looked to be huge.
The sound of rapid shots pulled Elios head back towards the cliff face on their left, answering shots came from the other side of the wide flat place, it appeared that the two enemies were on each side of the sealed divide, looking to his left at one of the protagonists, Elios could faintly see what he thought were haws, or as he now knew from his reading practice, horses, it was now obvious that they were Renegs and they were now armed with the ancient technology as well, as Elios watched from a distance he also saw that there were only about six of the Reneg that had the weapons, immediately, Elios began to plan their own intrusion into the battle.
As they were still well out of range of the small battle going on below them, Elios called all the drivers to him, he, along with Mita, then set out their plan, first, the two Humvee's would circle to the far side of the flat strip, the big trucks would remain where they were with a minimum guard, the jeeps would stay close to the cliff face and make their way slowly to where the defenders were hiding, the Humvee's would then attack what was now obviously the Renegs, Mita would keep his distance and use his large rifle to try and take out the gun users before the two Humvee's would go in closer to either attack or scare off the others, Elios hoped that with luck they would be able to finish off the Renegs altogether but that remained to be seen, their use of ancient weapons worried him.
Just before they set off, Elios noticed that the sound of shots from the defenders seemed to be less, there now appeared to be only two of them still fighting, with little time to lose, Elios gave the order to move off, when they reached the final flat area of the strip, they were still well out of range of the smaller weapons of the Reneg, Elios stopped the Humvee and watched as Mita jumped to the ground carrying his long rifle, within seconds the rifle was out of its case and Mita was sighting along the round tube towards the far off Renegs.
The first shot of the big rifle echoed out over the surrounding salt flat, even above the sound of the smaller weapons being fired by the Renegs, its booming noise filled the battle site and, as the sound of the first shot faded into the distance, a second was sent on its way, the firing from the far side of the long strip began to recede as the next four shots echoed through the still air, the last one was the signal for Elios to start the Humvee and race towards the far off attackers, he wanted to be among them before they could recover and make to much resistance.
Mita had jumped on the second Humvee as it started to follow Elios mad dash at the Renegs, the roof mounted quick firing gun was already in action as they closed up on the few remaining Reneg as they tried to pick up the fallen weapons and fire back at the vehicles, the speed of the Humvee's and the heavy fire from their roof mounted guns was too much for the Renegs and they began to run for their horses, even then, Elios and his boys were not going to allow them even that luxury, with a fierce determination, they set after the Renegs and, within a few minutes, all of them lay dead on the glaring white salt, the horses had been so frightened that they bolted for some far off place, after collecting the few weapons on the ground, Elios turned the Vehicles towards the waiting defenders, he was just in time to see the two jeeps closing with the place that held the people.
Elios piled on the speed and made his way towards the same destination as the jeeps, within minutes they were parked not far from a mound of salt that protected the defenders, Elios called a halt before they entered the area, he wanted to make sure they knew that he and his friends were not a threat to those waiting behind the small salt ridge.
Nothing moved as they sat and waited, after a short time there was a white piece of cloth waving above the salt bank, Elios had no idea what it meant but let his own curiosity take hold and so stepped from the Humvee without his weapon, he then took four steps away from the vehicle and waited with his hands held open and out from his body so they could see he was not trying to trick them, this was the first time in a long time that Elios felt really nervous and a little scared, he had no idea who or what awaited for him behind the salt bank.
Elios watched as, slowly and with a lot of uncertainty, a small dark head appeared above the salt bank, the person was holding a white cloth attached to a stick of some sort, slowly, the person fully appeared, he looked to be into his adulthood and was dressed in the ancient military clothes, he also stood with his free hand out from his side so Elios could see he was not carrying any weapons.
After a few minutes of silent inspection, both of them, as though on a silent signal, moved towards each other until they were no more than a few paces apart, the man looked to be in his twentieth years, he was tanned and had a hard look about him that spoke of long training in the ways of the ancients, behind the man, and still protected mostly by the sand bank, Elios could see about six more heads moving to watch the two of them.
Elios decided to speak first.
"Hello, my names Elios, we thought you needed help from the Renegs."
The man took a long look at the small young teen before him, while he was glad to see the boy, he doubted if the lad was really capable of any true badness, even given the fact they had cleared out their attackers with an ability of a trained warrior.
"My name is Captain Noel; I'm part of the Presidents protection party, what are you doing way out here and where did you get those vehicles and arms from?"
To Elios, the strange man sound almost angry that he had been saved by people who were so young, if there was one thing Elios knew for sure, it was that you never gave information to a stranger without having the chance to see who you were dealing with, and who was this "President" the man spoke of.
"What's a President?"
The man looked at Elios as though he was a very simple boy; the shocked look on his face almost brought a smile to Elios lips.
"He's, well, he's the leader of the country, his Father was the leader before him and his Fathers Father, they have always been the leader ever since the horror, don't you know anything, every country has to have a leader."
Elios thought about this deeply, how could one man be the leader of everything, he was a leader only of this small group and if it was a major decision then all the boys got together and talked about it until they had all agreed, the idea of one man being the sole leader did not sit well on his young shoulders, in this day and age how could one man do it all alone, Elios decided to not ask any more questions about this, instead he went off at another tangent.
"Are you here for the bunker supplies?"
"Yes but the codes don't work anymore, we only have a small amount of fuel left for our vehicles and can't go very far, we're also nearly out of ammunition for our weapons we were looking for a way in when those savages attacked us, The bunker code was working two years ago, it must be a power loss to the doors, why are you here boy?"
Elios didn't like being called "Boy" but he let it pass, he knew why their codes didn't work but, with the man's attitude he wasn't about to tell him.
"We were travelling around trying to find a new place and heard the firing so came to help, we come from over the hills, we can give you some fuel if you need it, we have our trucks parked up the side further back."
The man looked at the young boy and shrugged his shoulders, it was plain the boy and his friends were no threat to his charge but they did need fuel, perhaps they could get enough to go on with their search to find a bunker that the President could once again lead the country back to a civilised state, at this stage they had very little to lose and much to gain, it was obvious the boys were well protected and would not have been easy to take as their other attackers had been, the Captain decided to accept the offered help, if this bunker was no good to them, there was always another one no more than four days away, that one he was sure would bring results for his group, he had once been inside it and knew of a way to get through the main doors without use of the code key, he had tried it on this one but had failed.
Elios watched as the "Captain Noel" thought things over, finally the man nodded his head in agreement and Elios spoke into his com unit to bring the hidden trucks down onto the flat strip, Elios turned and went back to his Humvee as the "Captain" returned to his own group to report the meeting.
An hour later and the trucks were all lined up outside the salt bank, the fuel truck was of course the busiest, after filling all his own vehicles, Elios had the boys start on filling the few vehicles of the "Presidents" group, much to Elios surprise, the man called the "President" was a short tubby man about middle years, he looked to be dressed in the best clothes and was obviously better fed than the other men around him, he did very little to help any of his people, it appeared he thought he was above manual work, Elios disliked the man as soon as he saw him and this was against his normal friendly nature.
Elios band of dusty and tired looking boys was held with a certain amount of suspicion, even though they were willingly fuelling the vehicles of the group and even offered them food to take with them, which of course was accepted almost as though it was due to the small party, Elios thought about returning the captured weapons to the group but changed his mind as soon as he saw the "President" man, he felt they were doing enough for these strange men who thought they owned the whole country.
Elios put the word "President" into the back of his mind, he would investigate it at a later date to find out who the man was or what it meant, for now he was just not impressed with the fat man or his group but if helping them would get them away from his chosen bunker faster then that's what he would do.
Elios watched the "President" man's vehicles being filled, his small convoy consisted of three Humvee's and three large black people carriers, these three vehicles had all their windows blacked out but Elios got the impression of four people inside the cleanest and most polished one, this was the vehicle that the "President" man got into and Elios had a quick glance at two females inside, one older than the other, there was also, he thought, a young boy but he was not sure, the other vehicles were all driven and occupied by the men dressed in the military clothes.
Something in the back of Elios mind told him not to trust this man or the men he had with him, Elios stood with Mita and the guard boys as they watched the small convoy drive away in a cloud of salty dust, the group stood and watched until the vehicles were well out of sight before Elios turned towards the partially salt covered doors of the bunker he was searching for.
Most of the loose salt and sand had been cleared by the "President" man's people, Elios noticed they had tried to pry open the control box of the doors but without success, Elios punched in the new code he had changed so long ago for all of the bunkers at the home base, he heard a light clicking noise from the doors but nothing happened, Elios pushed the green button again, as he did, he noticed the small light in the button flicker and then die altogether, even though they had lost a lot of information from the ancients, Elios soon worked out that there was no power to the doors, he would have to find one of the pipes that led inside and try to get the power started again, it was going to be another long day.
It was close to sundown before they found the pipe they had searched for, it was way above them near the top of the cliff face, after a long and hard scramble, Elios and two boys managed to get to the opening, like all the others it was covered with rusted wire mesh, Elios took out his small tool kit and removed the cutters, a minute later and they were inside, their torch lights thrusting their narrow beam of brightness down the long drop to another wire mesh cover.
Elios tied the rope they had carried for just such an occasion, around his waist and had the other two boys hold it tightly as they lowered him slowly down the dark pipe, once his feet touched the wire mesh, he felt it give under his weight then hold fast, still held mainly by the rope around his waist, Elios carefully bent at the waist and began to cut the mesh while calling out for the boys to be ready to hold him when the wire broke.
Again, it was only a few minutes work before the wire broke away under him and left him dangling in the darkness, only his torch light giving him any view of what was waiting for him, in the bright beam of the light he could see below him the solid floor of a room, from the smell he deduced it was either a fuel room of one of the generator rooms, he called for the boys to lower him slowly again, when his feet touched the floor he looked around.
Like all other Bunkers, this room was enormous, it was also filled with vehicles, all of which he had seen before in the supply bunker, now he knew where he was, Elios released the rope and called for the two boys to go back down and join the others waiting at the big doors, he began to make his way down a long passage, hoping this bunker was the same configuration as the others, if this were true then the main generator room was at least two floors below him.
Elios traversed the passages as he made his way lower until, finally, he was outside the door of the right room but now he had another problem, the doors were obviously opened and closed by the same power he did not have, this had not happened before so Elios was at a loss of what to do, finally he took the only action he could think of and that was to sit down and think it through.
Elios sat and thought it out, this was his strongest suit, don't rush in, just sit and think about the problem, slowly it came to him, after nearly an hour and, as his torch light started to dim from the long use, a spark of an idea came to him, the ancients knew that if this sort of thing happened, they would need another way inside, Elios stood and began to inspect the faint letters on the outside of the door until, at last he saw something that was familiar.
He could remember that the ancients always used red paint for anything dangerous or for safety, to his left and about two feet away from the side of the door, Elios could just make out in the dimming light the red paint of two words, the first he did not know but the second one was easy to read, "EMERGNECY LOCK" Elios reached for the long lever and pulled with all his strength downward, it was very hard to pull until he braced both feet on the wall and leant back with all his strength, slowly the lever descended until Elios was almost lying on the floor but the lever was now horizontal to the floor, the creaking and groaning from the door itself also came to an end.
Elios stood and moved back to the door, it was now partially ajar and Elios could see the large units that gave power to the bunker, going back through his memories of other bunkers, Elios looked for the big control panels, when he finally found them along the right side wall, Elios checked all the dials he was able to read, it didn't take him long to find the problem of no power, the four fuel gauges showed zero.
It was now getting harder to see by his torch light but Elios was determined to find a way to open the main doors for his friends, going to the first generator, Elios looked it over, while he was not as good as Elam or Elvan, he did have his own sharp mind to work things out, Elios looked over the generator, he knew it had to have a way for the fuel to get into it, so it would need pipes to carry the fuel, Elios inspected the machine closely until he worked out that there were only two pipes that could be the right ones but, which one was the fuel line.
Elios looked at the two pipes in the dim light, he had very little time left for his torch light to stay on, peering closer at the two pipes, Elios saw one was a darker colour than the other, he had to choose one so he picked the darker one and turned the metal tap that was attached close to the machine, he thought he saw a small dribble of something run down the pipe then stop, now he had to spend some of his valuable remaining light time to work out why there was no more liquid, it was almost like a flash of light in his mind, find the fuel tanks and see if they were open to the pipe.
Elios knew the tanks would be close by so began his next search by following the soft pipe along the floor and to the far wall where it disappeared, Elios ran out of the room and down the passage until he came to another door, this one was easily opened by a handle on the outside, he pushed through and there he saw the huge tanks he recognised as fuel tanks, going to each one he turned the metal tap and, in the last of the flickering light from his torch, he ran back to the first machine and was just in time to see the free flow of fuel into the machine, his next job was to start the generator, this he had seen done before in home bunker so knew what to do, going to the control panel he found the one marked with the number 1, turned the small metal key and, with his eyes closed and hope strong in his mind, Elios pushed down on the green button.
Hope began to rise as he heard the first slow whirring of the generator as it tried to start, he had no idea how they started without power but he put that thought aside as the generator picked up speed and, with a loud belch and cough, fired into a dull roar, suddenly, as his torch light gave up the last of its own power, the lights in the room flashed on brightly, filling the generator room with brightness, almost above the loud sound of the generator came a heavy sigh from Elios, he had no idea how long he had been at his work but he felt drawn and tired, with slow footsteps, he made his way back along the now lighted passage towards where he was sure the main doors were.
Finally he found himself in the garage area and made his way to the now familiar doors, everything around him was now brightly lit and his steps echoed in the silence now that he was above and away from the generator room, it was then Elios saw what had made the strange tracks up on the mountain pass, parked facing the door was another large square looking vehicle the like of which Elios had never seen.
It looked much like one of his newly discovered tanks but without the long gun or heavy armour, this one was open so you could see all around it and at the front was a huge curved piece of metal that was wider than the machine and stood nearly as high as Elios was tall, at last he had an answer to his question on the mountain pass, his inquisitive mind satisfied for the moment, Elios punched the new code into the panel and the big doors began to groan as they fought to open through the built up salt and detritus of the long years of inactivity.
As the doors widened, Elios could hear the cheers from his friends, unknown to him, they had begun to get worried for his safety as the time passed, it turned out that Elios had been inside for more than three hours and it was now dark outside, as the doors opened more, the vehicles were started up and all their lights switched on, Elios was suddenly blinded by the strong beams from the vehicles and stepped to the side out of the lights as the first one started towards the opening doors, minutes later and all were safely inside and the doors were again closing, although still with rough grinding sounds as the built up grit crumbled under the pressure and weight.
While the main garage was full of more vehicles, they just managed to find enough space to park their own until at last they were all shut down and the boys were piling out to find somewhere to sleep and rest, it had been a long day of searching and waiting, they were all so tired they even forgot about the late meal and just sank onto the floor and put their heads down, there would be plenty of time in the morning to start their planned search of the new bunker.
Elios and Mita opened their eyes to the sound of groans and mumbles as the boys, who had spent the night in their sleeping bags on the cold hard floor of the garage, tried to rise and work out the aches and pains of their hard beds, normally these boys would be in the narrow beds of all bunkers but, last night they had been to tired from the long day and had lay down where they were, the hard floor was taking its payment on the stiff cold bodies.
Slowly the boys rose and began to look for something to eat, they had also missed the evening meal and were now ravenous, with more grunts and groans the garage slowly came to life and a little order was restored, not long after the first groans were heard, the mouth watering smell of cooking food could be sensed in the new bunker, it was not long before the sound of eating spread around the room.
As the last of the food disappeared, Elios began to set the boys into small squads for the internal search, he felt sure that they had found another storage facility, this assumption was based on the number of large trucks parked in the garage and the fact that only six Humvee and a couple of jeeps were also here, he was happiest to see three large fuel trucks instead of the single one they had found previously, he gave the word to start the search as he headed off to where he hoped the office room was, this had always been the best way to find what the bunker was for.
For over two hours, Elios searched the records of the bunker until he had all the information that he could understand and gather, they were indeed in a storage facility, this one was almost twice the size of the previous one, there was enough food and equipment stored here to last the boys for years, meanwhile, Mita had taken two of the boys that had been trained back at Home Bunker as mechanics, down to the generator room, it took little time for them to get all of the machines in working order, they also checked the start up procedure for the generators, it was set so that as one unit ran for twenty four hours, it then shut down and another would automatically start, it would then also run for the same time frame and then change to another, in this way, even if they had a break down they would always have at least one generator working to supply the power needed.
It was soon found that the store rooms were huge and completely stocked with everything the boys were used to seeing, the armoury held all the usual weapons and ammunition, now all Elios had to do was contact Home Bunker and tell them of their discovery, Elios still had no idea how the messages managed to get to the computers, only that the ancients used something called "Satellites" but he had never seen one so didn't know what they were, they must have been very high technology for them to still be working after all the years that had passed since the Horror.
It was just another mystery of the ancients and Elios let it slip from his mind as he started to tap out the message to all the bunkers that they had arrived safely and what they had found, Elios then sat back and waited for an answer, he had little else to do as the main search parties were under Mita and would all report at the end of the day when they all sat down for the evening meal, his main worry now was the armed Renegs.
His boys had collected all the weapons and kept them hidden from the "President" man and, he was another worry, why did he think he owned all of their world, it was too big to be run or owned by one man, this was a new and confusing situation for Elios, he didn't want to put his boys in a situation where they might have to fight two enemies, it was hard enough to think about how to finally beat the Renegs and they had still not found their main camp or heard of where it could be, what he needed were some captives to question, the only time they had captured a Reneg had been when they took the young one for information, Usof had made short work of him and they now knew about one camp but Elios and the others were convinced there was a bigger camp or at least a special gathering place for the Reneg.
Elios though more about his plan to raid Lion Claw, the leader of the local Home Bunker group of Reneg, now they had more supplies he would not need to search for another bunker for a few more years, it was time to start to plan to free his world of the hated Reneg, he also knew that the stream of new boys pouring into the various Bunkers was still steady, the difficult part was getting them trained in time to be able to defend their new way of life.
The flashing light that told him of a message caught Elios eye as he sat pondering over everything, quickly he read the reply and took in the information it held, there numbers had increased by quite a lot since the Renegs had been killed and dispersed, the new home cave boys found it easier to get through to the bunkers and word had spread quickly about the safe havens waiting for them, it was time to get ready to return to Home Bunker, they would have to leave a light crew of boys here to defend the new bunker and make arrangements for new arrivals from the other bunkers, now they had their maps it was going to be faster to drive back and the manning of the new bunkers could begin, there were now plenty of heavy trucks to carry equipment and people to all of the bunkers, it would only be a matter of time before they were strong enough to begin to hunt down the hated Reneg.
At the evening meal all the boys reported their findings, Elios followed their reports and checked with his computer plan of the bunker, it had seven levels, the garage, living and admin rooms were all on the same level, all other levels were taken up with storage except for the space put aside for the generator and fuel supplies, it was a huge complex, Elios then set about planning who would stay to defend the new bunker and who would return to bring in more boys and build up the bunker to its full compliment for defence and supply, it was an ideal staging area for any further searches they may make in the future.
It was five days later when Elios, Mita and the guard boys turned their vehicles towards Home Bunker, ahead of them was another long journey but this time they did not take the heavier trucks with them, the small convoy of two Humvee and two Jeeps was able to move faster than the larger convoy they had come out with, Elios hoped that their extra speed would give them some modicum of extra safety on the return journey.
His assumption turned out to be true as they only had to travel for four days and nights, each driver changing at meal breaks and the other one sleeping, apart from fuelling and meals, the vehicles hardly stopped, much to their surprise they saw the valley of the first bunker coming at them through the early morning light on the fourth day and all breathed a sigh of relief, it had been a trouble free trip.
For the next four months, Elios, Mita, Elam, Elvan and Modou spent their time in training the ever increasing influx of new boys, as the older boys became more proficient in the skills they had selected, they were made up into groups and either sent to other bunkers or allowed to become teachers of new boys, slowly the bunker system became a hive of boys, most found their own mates and this also enlarged the protectiveness of the bunkers as each boy became aware of his mates value and, although there were those who wanted to stay unattached, all knew what it meant to have a safe home and what their responsibilities were to that home.
Modou was the best of the trainers for the guard forces, he knew the land of the wastes and how to survive if under pressure, Elios spent a lot of his time in the admin, learning all he could of the ancients way of battle, how to best use the heavy armour weapons and vehicles, what to do when met with bigger forces and how to set traps in the ground, for this he had ten boys specially trained to work on hidden traps, these boys spent a lot of time on the computer systems and reading the small manuals about weapons and bombs.
The ten boys soon became very proficient in their chosen field although many of the other boys that were caught out by harmless booby traps the ten boys set to create a laugh for the rest, soon got tired and would then ask to learn the same things so they could get their own back on the perpetrators, Mita was in charge of the special sniper rifles and the boys who were big enough to use them, again Modou came in useful for his in depth knowledge of concealment out on the wastes.
At the end of the four months, Elios had his plans made for their first venture into attacking the Renegs, at the top of his list was the leader, Lion Claw, he knew approximately where his main base was and the number of men he had with him, it was a good target to start out with for his fledgling army, he was well aware of his overwhelming superiority of equipment all that could be done was done to keep his boys safe during the attack, he also built in an escape plan and defence if it was needed.
The day arrived when they would begin their attempt to take out the leader Lion Claw, the convoy was, even in Elios mind, a case of overkill, all the heavy tanks and other armoured vehicle were in the convoy along with ten large trucks filled with armed boys, all of whom had selected their own group leader. Each group had been given a job to do, some where to assist in the direct attack, others were set out as defence guards for the armoured vehicles, the boys assigned to traps would set up a defence line around the heavy tanks and the boys trained with the long heavy sniper rifles would be carried to their places by armed Humvee's along with four guards to each boy, it remained now only for them to find the camp of Lion Claw.
The answer to where the enemy was came in a most unexpected way, it was something new that none of the boys had ever seen before and took most of a full night for Elios to work out what he was seeing. He had, as usual, been sitting at the computer in his admin office and trying to find the right map for the area that he had been told was the place of Lion Claw's camp when he noticed, not for the first time, that a small picture at the bottom of the screen was flashing, every time he had gone looking for a map this same picture would flash but he had ignored it as other things were on his mind at the time, this time, however, he had little to do but the maps so he looked closer at the small picture.
It was a strange symbol, it was silver in colour and shaped like a round ball with four thin fingers poking out from the centre, Elios, ever curious, clicked on the flashing picture, immediately his screen was filled with one of the information windows which asked him, "Enter Activation Code for C47 Satellite" Elios looked and pondered over the message, it was new to him and he had no idea where he would find the code, finally he used his brain and doing what he had done before when something new came up on the screen, he clicked the right hand button on the small picture and a new menu came up, among the short list was the one he was looking for, "Act. Codes"
Elios followed his own intuition and clicked the line, his window reopened with a list of names and asking for entry codes, he used the computer code and the name of the long dead man in the box with the flashing black line, almost instantly a long series of letters and numbers came up on the screen with the words, "Activation Code C47" not knowing how to transfer the long code, Elios sat and copied it out on a paper then, closing the other windows, returned to the original window and carefully copied what he had written onto the line in the screen, unknown to Elios inquisitive mind, he had been at the task for over two hours but he was so absorbed by the new information he ignored everything else around him.
As the last digit was typed into the small window, Elios screen changed, from the flat map he had been working on he was now looking at a strange and new map, this one showed a place he had never even dreamed of, it almost felt as though he was high up in the sky and flying like a bird but he wasn't sure where he was, staring at the unusual picture, Elios could do nothing but marvel at what he was seeing, he had no idea where or what it was but the view took his breath away, it was another of the ancients miracles.
Slowly, Elios became aware of a flashing message at the bottom of the screen, "Enter Search Location" this only went further to confuse Elios, and he began his old way of working things out, ok, he knew what "Enter" was, now "Search" that was to go out and look for things but, the new word "Location" he didn't know, Elios sent the new window to the bottom of the screen and opened up his school learning site, typing in the word "Location" he waited while it was found and then smiled as he saw the answer, ok, so "Location" meant a place, next, what place? Here Elios had to think carefully, all this technology was from the time of the ancients so they would have no understanding of the Renegs, so using Reneg was no good.
Next he needed to din the area they were camping in, how did you do that on the old maps, Elios checked the numbers that ran around the sides and bottoms of the maps, the thin black square lines that went over all the old maps began to make more sense to him, carefully, he used a ruler to run along the lines until he though he was in the area of Lion Claw's camp, he then looked to the side and worked out the line of numbers so that the lines from top to bottom crossed over the lines from side to side, with these numbers he typed into the small blank space after he reopened the strange map.
Elios was mesmerised as he watched the new map start to move and change until it settled in one place and the message flashed up, "Location Found" Elios looked at it, there seemed to be little or nothing there although it did look vaguely familiar in an upside down way, Elios sat and contemplated what he was looking at, there had to be some way to see things better, the ancients always had an answer for everything, all he had to do was find it.
"Ok", Elios though to himself, "If you want to see something better, you have to get closer, how do I get closer on this map?" Elios began to look at the bar on the top of the window, something here had to make it easier to see small things, after a while he could still see nothing to make his new map bigger, as a last resort and, just as his frustration was building, he started to click on all the small square buttons on the top row above his map.
Elios worked away quietly as one after another of the things he clicked on proved to be no help, as each button was clicked he would then have to run through each and every line on the small page that opened, it was slow and time consuming but Elios had now gone into determination mode, this computer was not going to beat him, he had been at this desk so long he had no idea of time and, even when Mita arrived with food for him, Elios hardly noticed, Mita felt no anger at Elios, he had seen his lover in this mood many time before, he left the food on the desk beside Elios and quietly left.
Elios worked on into the night, the plate beside his left hand was empty and Elios had no idea how he had eaten or when, sometime in the early hours of the morning and to Elios surprise, he heard a soft snoring sound coming from the floor near the desk, glancing down he saw Mita curled up on one of the small camping beds fast asleep, Elios also became aware of his aching back, shoulders and right wrist, he also felt his butt was numb from sitting for a long time, he looked at the screen with bleary, blood shot eyes, his mind now almost numbed with the task he had set himself, he had only two buttons left to go, with a long drawn out sigh he clicked on the second to last button, it was a round circle that looked almost like glass with a small handle coming out of the side.
Expecting to see another long list of things, Elios was pleasantly surprised to see just two words on the small page that dropped down, "Max" and below that "Min" Elios hovered the white arrow above the two words, the word "Max" was the same name as a number of boys had but he was sure this time it meant something different, the computer had been around long before the boys were named so it couldn't be that, in his usual simple way, he clicked on the top one first, as soon as he clicked on the "Max" button another small window opened up on the top left of the map asking more questions he did not understand, things like "Magnification %" "Resolution" "Mode"
Elios sighed, now it was only his stubborn determination that kept him at the screen, even the sound of Mita waking up could not pull him away from this task, after thinking for a while and not even noticing the hot cup of coffee put beside him by the ever thoughtful Mita, Elios clicked on "Magnification %" this lead to another window with figures on it followed by the % sign, Elios looked at the numbers, "Oh well ,start at the top and work down." He thought to himself, Elios clicked on the number that said 25%, the result almost had him yelling out with happiness, the map on the page moved in closer, he could now see a vague impression of mountains far off on the map, for the next half an hour he slowly increased the % numbers until he was looking at a swath of dessert, every track and mountain could be seen clearly, at 200% he was sure he could even make out the marks of one of his vehicles in the sand.
Elios sighed, he had cracked the problem but now he had to still find the Reneg, he returned to the small menu page and went to "Resolution" not the map became so clear it was as though he was standing outside looking at the ground, he went back and decreased the % to 100 and saw a larger area but still in great detail, next button was "Mode" this was a very short list, it had only two words on it again, "Infra and NV" Elios knew what the NV was for as they had used the glasses that could see in the dark but the new one "Infra" was something he didn't know so he clicked on that one, immediately the whole colour of the land was changed and gave off a blackness but with red parts as well, it was only when he saw something moving that he finally caught on, he was seeing a dog walking towards a cave but it was all red and yellow, after a little more thought, Elios finally decided he was seeing the temperature of the dog and not its body, well not in the normal sense, now he began to understand what he had, he could now find anything that had heat with this "Infra" item and, if it was night time he could follow them the same as with the glasses but from way up high where no one would look, at last he was done.
The smell of hot food and drink filled Elios nostrils as he leaned back, every muscle in his body cried out for rest, even his butt had no more feeling left but he was happy, he had cracked a new part of the ancient technology, it had taken him longer than he ever though possible but was well pleased with the result, after forcing himself to eat the food and sip on the hot coffee, Elios rested his head on his hands to think what he should now do.
When next Elios opened his eyes, he was in his own bed, his small body still ached from the work he had been doing but he somehow felt as though he had accomplished a very big operation, he had found a way to have a big advantage over any enemy, next he would have to train the boys in admin to work the new map system as well for when he wasn't there, with this new way, they would not have to have guards out all night, instead they could have one or two boys watching from the office and then warning the others if anyone came for them, it would cut down on the number of boys having to be outside and under a threat of night attack by the Renegs.
Elios stretched his still tired muscles and threw his legs over the side of the bed only to be met by a hard hand on his chest, Mita pushed Elios back down onto the bed, saying;
"Oh no you don't, after what you did, you're not going anywhere for the rest of the day, now lay there and rest, I'll bring some food and drink for you then I'm going to nail your butt to the bed."
"What? How long have I been here, I've got a lot to do, we have to set up the new guard system, I can't stay in bed all day?"
"You can go and have a shower while I go and get you some food, you've been out for a full day and most of the night and I need your butt so bad."
Elios could see that Mita was naked and his desire was very evident from the rigidity of his manhood that stood out straight from his groin, Elios almost felt his whole body blush as he looked at what was waiting for him after food and a shower, he quickly scrambled from the bed and ran towards the shower room, even his still tired body wanted what Mita was offering.
For the next two weeks, Elios spent time with four of his admin boys, by the end of that time, they had all mastered the complexities of the new revelation, now Elios and the other boys understood what the picture maps told them, during night time hours they could watch over a large part of their immediate lands as well as have one of the boys searching for any infrared sings further out.
It was on the last day of their instructions and testing, that one of the boys saw a large concentration of signatures in an area they had not been to before, from the position of the red dots, it looked like a round camp, using the now understood, "Zoom" button, the boy homed in on the new signal, it was soon apparent that they had found a camp which held a larger number of men than first thought that Lion Claw would have, the boy changed the screen to NV and took another look, in this mode everything took on a yellowish/green aspect but the men were easier to make out and could be seen to be Renegs by their way of dress.
Elios watched over the boys shoulder as he went through the two modes, he then took note of the map references and wrote them down, he now had a place to look for their number one enemy. Elios called for Mita and Modou to join him, they were the ones that had the task of forming and training the boys who would go on the attack, it was important that they saw how many men Lion Claw truly had.
After both older boys had joined Elios in the admin office, they set about looking over the records while Elios spent time on his maps, every structure and rise in the ground was studied by Elios, he was looking for any advantage for the attackers, next came the discussion on tactics and positioning of the armour, it was plainly obvious that the whole camp would have to be surrounded to stop any escapes but, to do this was going to stretch their army of boys to their limits, it was Modou who came up with something of an answer, they would have no option but to send out drivers to all the other bunkers and bring back as many fast armed vehicles as they could and still leave enough boys to protect the other bunkers.
This was the only solution the boys could see and so, the order was given and the attack was put back for another two weeks while they waited for more equipment, it was a relief that they now had a way to guard the bunkers without having boys outside, it would mean they could seal the bunker off and protect those on the inside without worrying about the Renegs attacking another bunker while they were going after Lion Claw.
At last the time came when they could go ahead with the attack, Elios had worked out all the time lines and the routes needed to bring those travelling the furtherest distances, to arrive at the same time as those going a more direct route, the encirclement of the camp had to be done under the cover of darkness and the last few kilometres would be slower as they could not take the chance on the sound of their many motors being heard to early.
Every bunker was searched for the night vision glasses until almost every boy had a pair or at least a hand held pair of night binoculars, the longest wait was for the supply trucks from the newly discovered bunker, with its larger size and bigger capacity, they held most of the extra equipment the attackers needed but, they also kept to the time table set up by the three leaders.
Elios had desperately wanted to go on the raid but was stopped by Mita, Elios, he said, needed to stay and co-ordinate all of the factions, Modou took charge of the land troops, Mita the long range snipers and Elvan came to the rescue with the armour units, each knew the overall plan and had also put in their own ideas, if everything went off well then they would have the means to further defend or attack against their hated enemy.
Elios had spent many hours reading about the ancients tactics and ways of using the armour and men on foot, it had taken a long time to work out most of the language used by their military, it was almost a completely new language to what he had taught himself from the computer, during his readings he had come across the mention of "Aircraft" he thought back to the strange large machine he had seen at the newest bunker and, after looking at many picture of the ancient "Flying Machines" he now knew what the unusual machine had been but the sheer size of it struck wonder into the boy, how the ancients had ever got it into the air to fly like a bird was beyond him, all he could do was take it for truth as he had with so much of the ancients information.
Out on the sand flats of Home Bunker the attack vehicles were lined up in their formations, there were now more than four hundred boys all armed and ready to mount the trucks supplied for them, the six heavy tanks were lined up together and would leave with the last convoy, they were being kept together and would create what the ancients called "Artillery Units" and would stay together for more effect, all of the longer range and faster vehicles would go to the other side of the camp and use their fast firing weapons to cause as much damage as they could before any squads of boys would venture closer and take on the Renegs left after the heavy weapons had reduced their numbers or caused panic, there was only one rule for this attack, there would be no prisoners except for newly recruited boys that were still young enough to change or any slaves that the Renegs held for their own use.
Every kilometre of the ground had been covered with the new form of imaging both at night and with the infrared, Reneg guard posts had been plotted and even the places they kept their horses, the boys had no intention of killing beasts that were not a threat to them, if all went well with the attack then the boys would be able to start their hunt for more of dregs of this worn world.
As the sun began its descent into night, the first of the convoys departed for their positions, everything would be co-ordinated by the com units each and every boy wore or had installed in their vehicles, if Elios had been correct in his figures, they should be near the camp just after sundown on the second day, for now they would travel under the cover of night and then hide and rest during the day, each convoy had a target to reach before the sun rose so they could stay hidden from any patrols of Reneges that may venture out.
The first night went well and no convoys were detected by the Renegs, it was almost as though the Renegs thought they were invincible and did not worry about being attacked in their camp. The camp was made from and old "City", it was surrounded by rubble that had been remade into crude high thick walls with the shacks and tents of the Renegs in the inner circle of protection, taller parts of the wall had been put up so guards could see out over the limitless sand wastes but its one short coming was its position.
While it looked well defended and would be almost impossible to attack with the use of normal weapons, to the now well armed and armoured boys, it was a sitting bird, the camp had been made not only in the centre of an old city but was in a depression surrounded by low hills, it was on the hills that the heavy tanks would stop and use for their attack along with the APC's and Humvee's with roof mounted weapons.
The sniper boys would be a little closer but still under cover of the night and the sands, with Modou's expertise at concealment in the sand wastes, the sniper boys would be almost undetectable as they buried themselves into the front side of the low hills, after the initial attack by the tanks, the truck loads of boys along with the APC's and their crews and boys in the back would charge down the hills from all directions, the Humvee's and jeeps with their fast firing weapons would go with them to act as cover, the plan was for all of the boys to attack at the same time from all directions after the tanks had done their work, even with the large numbers of Renegs in the big circular camp, the volume of fire should lessen the risks.
Elios hoped with all his heart that he had been right in selecting this plan of the ancients but he knew that even with their extra weapons advantage, they were going to lose some of the boys but at least they now had the chance to hit back at the same men who had terrorised the new boys leaving the breeding caves each month, if they succeeded then there was a way forward apart from just surviving until the next day under the threat of enslavement or death by the Renegs.
The heavy tanks had been held back until all of the others were in position as they made far more noise than the lighter vehicles that could quieten down by going slower, it was Modou who saw their first problem, as he looked through his night glasses he saw that the Renegs had positioned small stone guard lookouts around the inner ring of wall, these had not been picked up clearly by the overhead views, to this end he came up with a small variation to the plan and talked to Elios about it on his com unit, after the talk, Modou then sent out the new orders for the boys in the trucks and APC's.
Those boys in the squads would now leave the trucks and make their way down the side of the surrounding hills as quiet as they could and get as close to the newly found guard positions without alerting them, when the heavy tanks started to fire, the boys along with the snipers, would work to shut down the small guard mounds while the tanks kept the main camp in disorder.
It was also decided that when the order to charge the camp came, only the boys on foot near the newly discovered guard mounds and the armed vehicles would go forward into the camp to mop up any Renegs left after the tanks had been used, it also helped that there was only one roadway into the camp, while it gave good defence for the Renegs, it also helped to keep them in a place they could not escape from, the six tanks would sit astride this one road to fire on the camp and the four squads sent to protect the tanks would act as outer guards if any Renegs tried to get past the them but the tanks being spread apart in a line across the road left very little ground for any to get past unless they tried to clamber up the almost vertical sides of the hills where the road had been cut through so long ago.
Elios, Mita, Modou and Elvan checked that all was ready, it was now in the very early hours of the morning and the camp below was almost totally quiet, the cooking fires had now died down and were just flickers in the darkness, even the moon was on the side of the boys as it hid behind a thick blanket of evening clouds, Elios listened from his office as Modou gave his one word of "Set" followed by Mita and then Elvan, they were all ready for their first big battle with their hated enemies, Elios clicked his own com unit onto Elvan's channel.
"Go now Elvan."