Alan and Dmitri walk out of the manor, past a set of army tents and reach the perimeter wall and start to walk alongside it, the mist that had descended a few hours before had become a dense fog. As Echo continued to bark madly into the distance.
“Has Riveruster been fully secured yet?” Alan asked, wondering if Dmitri could shed some light on the matter, if he left it to the papers then they would have him believe that they were in danger of the Imperial city being attacked.
“Almost.” Dmitri said, even though they had been delivered a bloody nose by Lord Boris, they had dealt him a bigger one. “But it shouldn't be too long now. Our raid on Lord Boris' home was enough to get him to retreat.” Dmitri finished wondering what on earth Echo was getting so mad about. As the husky continued to bark.
“Echo. That’s enough.” Alan said, but the dog continued his incessant barking at where The Imperial City would have been if it wasn’t submerged in the fog. “Terrible weather isn't.” Alan said as they continued to walk. He was trying to remember when a fog had been this bad, but he couldn’t think of any time as bad as this.
“Yes. Very weird.” Dmitri said as a small explosion happens somewhere in the distance, and Echo stops barking. Alan and Dmitri also stop, wondering what that banging sound had been.
“What was that?” Alan asked looking around. As another small explosion could be heard in the distance.
“Artillery fire!!” Dmitri shouted as he runs and knocks Alan over in the knick of time as the wall that was directly next to him explodes. Dmitri shouts towards the manor, looking up from the dust as he does so. “RETURN FIRE!!” he shouts as another shell goes over their heads and hits the manor entrance way crumbling marble over the stairs. Crushing two of the soldiers who had come out to investigate the first noise. Dmitri lifts his head up and looks out into the darkness, where there is a small force of troops running towards the breach in the wall. “Alan, get up, we've got company.” Dmitri shouts shaking Alan awake. The two get up and start to retreat towards the manor, as enemy forces start to breach the manor grounds. The rivermen also start to pull back to the manor but are gunned down as they run for cover.
Alan and Dmitri head through the double doors into the manor, with Echo hot on their heels, once inside they turn around and start shooting the intruders. They are soon joined by Codsworth, Charlie, Vernon and a few imperial soldiers and BOT's. Jamerson also hurries into the entrance hall having heard the sound.
“What in the gods name is happening?” Codsworth asked and regretting not bringing his armour with him. He did however have his guns, which were out and ready to exact their bloody revenge.
“I don't know. But we should be able to defend from here.” Alan said looking at the entrance hall, whilst it was wide, they should be able to bottle neck their attackers at the doors.
“Aye.” Vernon said.
“Right Codsworth and I will hold them here for as long as possible, the rest of you head to the armoury, grab whatever you can and meet us back here asap.” Alan said, as he moved a table in front of the doors and locked them, not that it would stop them for long. But it would by them time.
Five minutes later and they had returned armed to the teeth. With Vernon clutching an old rifle, Charlie and Dmitri holding their own guns, and Jamerson with whatever of his security force that was left to him ready for the fight as well.
“My kids.” Alan said remembering that both Nick and Martin had been in their rooms when the attack had started.
“Don’t worry sir. I sent them down to the cave, when you sent us to get armoured up. But I couldn’t find Dave. His bedroom window was open when I went in.” The butler finished.
“Fuck.” Alan said but before he could say anymore, the doors finally gave way, collapsing on their hinges and hanging limp as the attackers charged in.
The group were able to hold back the attackers for about ten minutes, where they suffered a couple of extra casualties, including Jamerson who had been blasted into the opposing wall when an artillery shot had blasted away the windows. Several times Dmitri urged that they were becoming outnumbered, and after a few minutes even Alan could see that they were overrun and ordered a withdrawal to the stairway where they could further bottleneck the attackers.
The fighting continues until the small group of defenders have to retreat further up the main staircase to higher ground. During the ascent up the stairs Dmitri trips over and looks towards an enemy solider heading right towards him before his would-be killer was shot right between the eyes and falls back down the stairs. Dmitri gets up and looks behind him towards the direction of the shot and see's Jack holding a rifle in his hand. Before he was grabbed by Codsworth.
“We've got to keep moving upwards.” Codsworth said as he half dragged the captain up the stairwell.
“Codsworth, how many men do we have.” Alan’s voice spoke from the dust around them, several more artillery shots had pierced the manor walls kicking up dust into both attacker and defender’s eyes.
“Right here, Twenty. Is this staircase the only way up here?” Codsworth said looking around, they hadn’t suffered too men casualties due to the bottlenecks.
“Yes.” Vernon said, normally a nightmare, the old house’s only staircase was now a god send to them.
“Good then we can bottleneck the fuckers.” Codsworth said as he along with the rest of the group continue to fire down at the enemy until they start to thin out their numbers and they start to fall back.
“Looks like we've got them on the run.” Charlie said. Compared to the battle at Boris’ fortress this was practically a turkey shoot, the explosions had also stopped as well, meaning that the dust was starting to settle, and they could begin to see who they were firing at.
“Aye, let's clear the rest of them off my land.” Alan said in a mock country voice, as the small group head down the stairs pass the pile of corpse's that had fallen to the bottom. However, as they are about to reach the ground floor, one of the enemy soldiers stands up and stabs Vernon right through the chest. The old butler cries out in agony and collapses to the ground, the blood already starting to run. Dmitri runs up to dispatch the attacker with a headshot. Charlie immediately gets down to inspect the butler’s injuries, blood was coming through the white shirt he wore, but he was still breathing albeit heavily.
“I can fix this, but not until the attack is over. Dmitri take him to the medic bay. Whilst we clear up the rest.” Charlie said, and Dmitri nods as he and Vernon, who was still breathing heavily exited towards the medic bay whilst the rest continue on until they drive the enemy out into the grounds.
Once the battle was done both Alan and a still slightly nervous Jack walked through the destroyed remains of the entrance hall, with its windows blasted in and great doors hanging from their hinges, along with great cracks in the wall. In fact, if it hadn’t been for his time in the south, the sight would have scared Jack a lot more than it did. Although he wasn’t entirely sure if this was a good thing or not.
The two observed the damage and walked out into the grounds of the manor past the destroyed army tents and the remains of both the defenders and attackers littering the ground. They had taken a lot more causalities than Alan had first thought. Almost all of those that Codsworth had brought with him from the south were dead or dying. Including Jamerson, who lay underneath a pile of rubble by what remained of the manor doors.
The two walk over to Codsworth, Charlie and a few other imperials, who stands in front of a group of thirteen men, the last remains of the attacking force. As the two approach Codsworth walks over to them.
“None of them are speaking to us. But from the slain we’ve determined that they are a large portion of the iron company. And working, as far as we can tell under the Lord Boris’ orders.” Codsworth said looking around at the ragged group.
“Did any get away?” Alan asked, that was the most important thing to find out right at this moment. As so long as they had everyone here, then they could with a bit of luck keep this from The Mayor’s attention.
“No, they are all dead or here.” A soldier responded and Alan nods before walking over to one of the captives, Jack not far behind walking to the right of his farther, the rifle that he had used to save Dmitri’s life still in his shaking hands.
The sound of Echo brought Jack back to his sense and he looked down, where he saw the husky looking up at him expectantly with his golden eyes, tongue out and ears raised. ‘He had tried to warn us.’ Jack thought to himself, remembering the dog’s barking in a different light now. He held out his hand and Echo began to lick the small amount of blood off it. As Alan turned to one of the captives.
“What was your plan exactly?” Alan asked of the man, who said nothing, choosing to remain stubbornly silent. It was no matter however, as they would soon be at the mercy of Mayor Osmund, who would have something very special planned for them when he learned about the attack on his homeland. As despite The Mayor’s hostility towards him, he was a prideful man that would not stand for a blatant act of aggression, so reassured by this fact; Alan turned away from the gathered prisoners, thinking to himself that he must have been an idiot for thinking that they were likely to start talking now. So instead, he turned to Jack who stood a few paces to the side, staring at the assembled group of prisoners with caution. “You did well, son.” Alan continued looking at his eldest. Jack smiles in return, before a look of horror crosses his face as he notices the questioned man raising a gun towards Alan.
“Dad!” Jack yelled out, pointing at the would be attacker, as Alan tuns around towards the captive he raises his own weapon, but Charlie intervenes, firing her own gun and knocking the would-be attackers aim off as he fires his weapon. There were a few seconds of nothing that seemed to drag on for a lifetime, before Codsworth swiftly executes the man on the spot with a bullet between the eyes. After checking his own body, half expecting to find a bullet hole there, Alan looks at Charlie and nods once he had determined that he was alright.
“Thanks.” Alan said, smiling slightly. It was the second time that evening his life had been saved by his companions alone, and he thought to himself that they really deserved a pay rise. But something was wrong, Charlie’s face had gone chalk white looking in the general direction of Jack, wondering what was wrong, he was about to turn around, before a faint voice comes from next to Alan, a voice that makes Alan’s stomach fall to rock bottom.
“Da?” Jack faintly said, it was so quiet in fact that Alan had almost not heard it. But he had and he had also noted the word used by his fourteen-year-old son, something that Jack had not called him since he was a small child. He slowly follows Charlie’s gaze to see what she was looking that made her face so pale, and what he found made him want to throw up.
The right side of Jack’s face was completely soaked in blood, contrasting horribly with how pale the left side was, but that wasn’t the worst part by a long shot. His right eye was completely gone, leaving nothing but a bloody eye socket and an exit wound in its place, his brown hair already sticky with his blood. Jack’s body seemed to collapse in slow motion as both Alan and Charlie rushed towards him.