An hour later Leon was in an emptied warehouse staring at what he had just found out was a pick-up truck. He couldn't believe he was supposed to learn to drive this monstrosity. Very few people in Atlantis knew how to drive. Driving had become a lost art form seeing how trams and elevators took everybody where they wanted to go in the city. He looked over to the man who was to teach him to operate the machine, a man around his father's age named Mike.
Leon wasn't sure about the whole thing. He asked Mike, "How am I even supposed to drive that thing? Its had to have been over twenty years since its even been started."
Mike scowled at Leon, he clearly didn't like to have his vehicle insulted. He said, "I'll have you know, kid, that Chevys were built to last forever. This truck belonged to my great granddad. He had to pull a lot of strings to get them to let him bring it down here. And if it weren't for the personal request by the Elders, it would stay down here. So I suggest you show a little respect."
Leon knew he had just been told so he lowed his head and said, "Yes, sir."
Over the next few hours, Mike taught Leon the ins and outs of driving: How to put it in drive, how to break, how to park, what to do incase of emergency. Leon was always a fast learner and before long was driving like a champ. He found he really enjoyed it, but was scolded harshly when he started going to fast. By late afternoon he was driving in reverse and parallel parking, although he didn't exactly know when he would use such a skill. Like all vehicles built after the year 2035, this truck ran on water so fuel was never hard to come by. Leon finished his training and went back to his room to get some sleep.
In the morning he was shaken awake by his father. He came out to the kitchen where his mother, brother and baby sister were already awake and eating breakfast. His mom had always been a great cook, but on this morning she had outdone herself. He knew his mom would make a big fuss about him leaving, but he didn't expect her to go all out like this. She made his favorite waffles and even had bacon which was rare in their underwater community. After breakfast, which was mostly ate in silence, Leon quickly packed his things. He didn't know exactly how long this mission would last so he packed as much as he thought he could carry. Just as he had finished packing his father came into his room with a small package. Never being one for a lot of words or emotion his dad just handed it to him, hugged him and left the room.
Leon looked down at the package, it was cylindrical, about six to eight inches long, and didn't weigh very much. On it was written the words "Open In Case Of Emergency". Always being a curious person, Leon really wanted to open it then, but decided to do as it said and only open it if he needed to.
After saying his last good-byes to his family, he made his way over to the truck to begin his journey. Sometime during the night his truck had been moved over to the docking station and loaded up on a shuttle. The same man that had taught him how to drive the truck also was the pilot of the shuttle. Seeing him off was one of the elders that had been in his father's office the previous day. The man shook his hand and gave him the list of names of the people he needed to find to help with his mission. He looked down at the list, some of the people had very strange names and were from places he had never heard of or didn't know was still standing. New Orleans? Houston? Denver? Las Vegas? Leon had heard of the first two, but by all accounts, they should have been dust when the nukes were dropped. But he couldn't question the elders or the Lady so he shrugged his shoulders and got aboard the water shuttle.
He took a seat in the cockpit next to Mike. Mike didn't say anything, just started up the machine and waited for the depart chamber to fill with water. As soon as it was filled a doorway opened up in front of them. Leon jumped a little when the shuttle started to move forward. Mike just laughed at his skittish passenger.
"You're gonna need to be a lot braver than that if'n you're gonna survive on the surface."
Leon managed a weak laugh. In reality he didn't know how he was going to fair up on the surface. He had been wondering for quite some time what made him so special that he was picked to lead this mission. Surely there were people better qualified? But he couldn't question the Elders and the Lady. But truth be told he was terrified. He wasn't a real adapt fighter, he could fend for himself (or so he thought) but he wouldn't think that would be enough to fight a warlord. His only hope for himself and his city was that those people on the list would know what to do. He fully intended to give up leadership as soon as he found someone better at it than him.
The rest of the ride to the top was in silence. He stared out the window at the various fish and other animals they passed as the waters turned from the dark navy blue of the ocean floor to the lighter blue of the surface. Finally, after about a half hour, they breached the surface and for the first time in his life, Leon saw the sun. It was quite possibly the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The yellow sun, the blue water, the brown and green land in the distance, he had never seen colors like that before. Yes, they had all those colors down in Atlantis, but it just wasn't the same. He couldn't explain why, but words couldn't describe the beauty of it all.
His staring was interrupted by Mike, "I know it's pretty, kid, but we got work to do."
Leon knew Mike was right, and with one last glance he walked back to the storage area and got in his truck. It was another few minutes before Leon felt a bump, signifying that they had made landfall. They had told him that was going to happen, but it still startled him when it did. A hatch opened up in front of Leon and, after he started the truck, he slowly drove onto ground. After the truck was fully on the ground, no, the beach, this wasn't the cold hard ground of Atlantis, this was nature, and nature deserved to have its proper names used. After the truck was fully on the beach, the hatch of the shuttle closed behind him. He turned around in his seat to watch as the last piece of what he knew floated off into the distance and sank beneath the water.
Well this was it, he was on his own, just him, his truck, and the open road. He decided the first thing he needed to do was establish where exactly he was and where the closest person on his list was. Fortunately, this truck was equipped with GPS, granted it hadn't been updated in well over a hundred years and war and nature would have surely changed the landscape, but it gave him a general idea of where he was and where to go. He tapped the touch screen a couple times to get the setting he wanted.
According to the GPS, he was near a city called Savannah. The city no longer stood, but the GPS said it should have been there. He looked between his list and the GPS to determine where the closest person was. According to what he saw, the nearest person was in a city called Atlanta. He gave a little laugh as he noted the similarity in name of the place where he was going and the place he just came from. In fact, he laughed more than a little. Soon he was in tears he was laughing so hard. He knew it wasn't that funny, but he couldn't stop. It must have just been his nerves finally setting in. When he finally calmed down, he put the truck in drive and started off towards Atlanta. From what the GPS said, he could pretty much get there by following two roads, he just hoped they were in good enough condition to drive on. The GPS said that the trip was going to be about 250 miles, which he knew from his studies would take him about four hours to drive. Give or take, again depending on the roads. Well there was nothing he could do about it now so he rolled down the windows and listened to the wind and his own racing thoughts for the next few hours.
The roads to Atlanta were in surprisingly good condition. He couldn't tell that they had been damaged at all. So either they hadn't really been hit or had been repaired since. Either way, it was a smooth ride the whole way there. Once he was approximately five miles outside the city limits of Atlanta, Leon decided to park the truck and hide it from anybody that might pass by. This was a strategy taught to him by Mike. He had said that there may not be too many working vehicles and people might try to take his by any means necessary, including killing him. So Leon thought it best to follow Mike's advice and hoof it the rest of the way.
As he got within sight of the city, he was surprised to find a large wall had been built around the city. He followed the road all the way up to the city gates. As he got even closer, he saw that a moat had been dug and palisades had been built. The only reason he knew of such things was because he had read of them in some ancient history text books. He approached a small shack on his side of the moat and looked inside to see if he could find someone that could lower the drawbridge. Two days prior, had someone told him that THAT would be something he would be seeking, he would have called that person crazy, but here he was.
Inside the shack were pretty simple accommodations: a single cot, a small wooden table with a single wooden chair, a weapons rack, and a wooden lever on the far wall was all he saw. He was impressed with how much wood he saw, but soon realized that in this world, wood was not the commodity that it was where he came from. Seeing nobody in the shack he turned to try to find another way into the city. Just as he turned around he bumped into a rather plump looking man wearing a metal breast plate and a metal helmet that covered the top of his skull and back of his neck.
Before he could react, the man pulled a short sword from his belt strap and pointed it at Leon's heart. "Well ain't this just great. I step out fer one sec to take a piss an' I gots me a damn Yankee tryin to break inta the damn city."
Leon was speechless for a moment, his mission had just started and it was already about to end with him dying before he even talked to one person.
Just then another man, this one taller and thinner than the first, but wearing the same get up stepped up an bopped the plump guy on the back of the head. "You're a damn fool, Turner. That ain't no damn Yankee. Look at 'em, he's too purddy to be a Yankee. You know they all dress in rags and smell like shit."
Turner looked up at his companion nodded and lowered his sword. And not a second too soon for Leon's liking. The taller man then turned his attention to Leon, "So, whatcha doin' here, boy?"
Leon's mouth was completely dry and he felt like he was going to pass out, but he fought that back and said, "I-I'm here to find a man-."
"Well you done come to the wrong place, boy. No one here swings that way." Turner butted in. At first Leon didn't get what the man was saying, as soon as he did, though, he managed a small laugh.
He continued, "I'm looking for a specific person. His name is Marcus Primer and he's supposed to live here in Atlanta."
The two men looked back and forth between each other for a moment then burst out laughing. Leon was sure he had no idea what they were laughing at, he didn't think he had said anything funny.
When finally they were able to calm down, the taller man said, "Boy, you mustove got knocked in the noggin or somethin. This place ain't been called "Atlanta" in damn near forever. But just cause you made us laugh so much we'll let you in to find yer man.' He then pushed past Leon and pulled the lever on the far wall, lowering the drawbridge, 'Welcome to the Kingdom of Georgia."