Zess stood at the edge of city looking back upon black houses and grey muddy floors that covered its entire area. Tahini gently tapped him on the shoulder. "They've already had a day head start." She looked at him sympathetically, "we must leave now."
"Tahini," his eyes welled with tears, "we'll come back, right? We will save this place, right?" Zess had grown up beside his grandfather in Nexus, even though not all his memories were happy ones, those which were, were worth a thousand smiles.
“Obviously!” She wacked him softly on the head, “now stop being a cry baby, ‘oh great leader’!” She laughed gently.
"Ya, of course,” he answered wiping the tears from his eyes, with the slight show of weakness. Where's Sythe." He asked turning back to the city view.
"I'm here." Sythe’s voice was as soft as the wind its self. "I have been standing here for the last half hour." He smiled slyly at Zess.
"Sometimes, I think Sythe should be the spy, not Marlow." Tahini shuddered.
"I think so too." He whispered in her ear. His frigid breath caused her to jump.
"Please, don't do that!" She barked, scratching the back of her ear.
"I have successfully given Marlow the radio. He should be able to communicate with us quite freely." Sythe said, ignoring Tahini’s bickering. He put his hand heavily on Zess's shoulder. "You shouldn't worry Zess. The rest of them will be fine. You must concentrate on the mission at hand." His voice seemed to have a hypnotic effect on Zess.
"Don't you worry. If anything happens to our little army, Marlow will be the first to tell us." Tahini confirmed, giving him a tight slap on the back.
"True.” He mumbled, biting his lip. “Right, more importantly, ," Zess looked in Sythe’s direction, "Do you by any chance have any clue which direction the children may have headed for?"
Sythe laughed cynically at this statement. "Look around you, there is nothing anywhere!" He continued to laugh, before sighing heavily. "I guess my best guess, is that they wanted to get as much distance as they between Knox and themselves, so they wouldn't have bothered about direction, they would have simply travelled straight forward from their escape route. In the South is army and Militia training grounds, so it would have been virtually impossible to escape from there.” Zess looked at him impressed. “The main gate is in the south, and no bodies would be dumb enough to try escape from the front, while the last room to the East, is Knox’s private room....I doubt they wanted to visit him before they left, so I say north.”
"I scouted the perimeter," Tahini cut in, "it seems Sythe may be right. The ground outside Nexus hasn't been walked on for years, but there seems to be a slight dent in the ground leading North from here. My best guess would be that those were their foot prints.”
"I see." Zess closed his eyes and began to visualize the children's escape. It seemed to play out fine in his head, running from Knox's castle, heading straight ahead, it seemed possible. "Right," he looked at Tahini, "we move out at dusk. Make sure you have two scouts covering our tracks as we move along.....and make sure they cover the children's as well." He looked at Tahini, "How many kids were there?" He asked Tahini.
"Send four of our more experienced men as decoys; let them lead Knox's men off track. Instruct them to walk twelve miles to the west, before walking is circles, and coming back into Nexus, that will confuse our enemy." He looked at Sythe and Tahini. "Anything else?" He asked.
"You do realize the brats will be very reluctant to come back here." Sythe reminded Zess.
"I know, who wouldn't be....after what that man has done to them." Zess ground his teeth. Tahini put her hand softly on his left shoulder."We leave in two hours." Zess heaved a heavy sigh, as he watched the sun begin to sink low in the evening sky.