They had marched hard for two days, making the most of the pack animals to speed their movements, then eaten them and cut over into another valley on foot. Now they were approaching their planned base. Mov had scouted and reported the road was so overgrown it couldn’t have been used for several seasons.
The construction had collapsed in several places, mostly where it clung to the steepest cliff face, but a way could always be found in single file. Near the head of the valley, it found its way back onto firm ground. There was machinery here- old, steam driven things rusting in overgrown parks. Ahead, a large scar in the mountain face was just visible behind screens of trees.
The scar was an arched tunnel mouth. There was more machinery here, steam driven tracked trucks and a large conveyor bearing rocks from the darkness. Halfway through a shift, everyone had downed tools and left. “What is this place?” Rey asked.
“The Karr tunnel.” Lensman told him, “One of the greatest engineering failures of all time. It was supposed to join the east and west sides of the range far to the south of the Arril pass. They broke countless machines, killed a hundred or so workers and then just ran out of money. It bankrupted my mother’s side of the family.”
“This is to be our base of operations? Do the southerners know of its existence?”
“Everyone knows of it, but very few think about it. Besides, it is a very defensible position. We rest here for a few days and then start expeditions.”
Kess and Mov were already marking out fire zones for defence. They had found a steam shovel, the bucket resting on an outcrop. “This ferrous must be two or three digits thick. We could mount an autogun in here and catch them as they come up the road.”
Mov nodded, “It would be very hard to get above us as well. On the nearside here, they would have to cross our field of fire before they could even start climbing. And on the far side, it is hardly to their advantage.”
“We can set up trip mines and calibrate the bomb lobbers to hit the far side of that rise. Unless they send an army after us it will be another unfair fight.”
“You say that like it is a bad thing, youngster.”