It was dark, but they were already at the outskirts of the city. Gimm still had his map and he had been marking off the red military bases as, one by one, they were bypassed or found empty.
The last camp had been deserted when they reached it. The clear up squad had reported food still cooking on the stove and paperwork unfinished. Some way along the road they had come upon a mass of abandoned and destroyed vehicles, bombed and strafed from the sky. Pathetic erratic tracks led off into the fields. Some, but not many, had made it into the trees, and may have survived. Most were terminated by a pyre or a circle of sooty ground around a disembowelled vehicle.
The tracks and softskins in the column were marked to avoid similar attacks. Even the horse drawn wagon that Jayn had secured had a large white arrow head painted on its upper surfaces.
They were moving more slowly now they were in a built up area. The few tracks that had come ashore with the landing party were at the head of the group, crawling along either side of of the road as their support infantry swarmed around them. Every unit was placed to dart down a side alley when defending guns opened up on them.
Bobb stood on top of the wagon, scanning all around. He dropped back into the bed before any officer could see and reprimand him. “Well?” asked Sheel.
“Nothing. Well, there are people in the houses, and they are all staring out, but none of them are armed.”
“How can you tell this?” Out of courtesy they were speaking in a language Jayn could understand.
“Enhanced senses.” Bobb admitted, “not just sight, but the others as well. Sheel, well, you have seen what Sheel can do. And Gimm has a great store of knowledge, and is storing new data all the time.”
“You are Silver Tower monks! That must be the explanation.”
“Far in the Northern forests, from where none ever return, there is a Silver Tower in the centre of a perfectly circular lake. It is said that the monks of the Silver Tower send out holy men and women when they feel the rest of us need guidance.
“You are not from the Silver Tower?”
“No,” Bobb looked at Gimm, who took up the explanation.
“It is possible we are seeking the Silver Tower. Several generations ago, our……. forefathers created a great technology, which they then lost. We are trying to find it so it can be used properly.”
Jayn pondered this for a while. “Several generations ago, you say?”
“A great number.”
“And only now do you come to Cora and Munss with a plan to head north?”
Jayn pointed up at the sky. She was remembering the fantasy fold outs she had read as a child. “You are from…… beyond, from space. Aren’t you?”