As Dave crested the hill, he found what remained of the camp that the people who had attacked his home had used. He walked through the seemingly deserted camp, passing the abandoned artillery pieces that had been used to destroy the walls. He knew that he had to keep moving as he had to find Mia, but something or someone was telling Dave to remain.
As he walked through the camp something struck him as rather odd. There were a couple of corpses scattered throughout the camp. Only Dmitri had told him that they had only killed the raiders who were directly in the manor grounds, that they had never found where the group had been firing at them from. As he walked through the encampment something caught his eye on one of the artillery pieces. It was a symbol engraved onto the metal. As he walked closer to the heavy gun, it came into sharper relief although attempts had been made to hide it. A silver eagle had been engraved onto the gun, looking around the other four guns had the same eagle engraved in the exact same location.
Dave took out his knife, and looked at the hilt of the blade, to see the same eagle only smaller, but still sunken into the hilt. He remembered what his father had said when he had first recognised the weapon all those months ago. “I recognise this type of blade, it's an imperial army standard issue.” Alan voice said inside his head. He was about to run back to the manor when another voice came from behind him.
“You’re not supposed to be here. Nobody is supposed to be here.” The voice said. Dave turned around to see a black robed figure standing behind him. “A pity.” The hooded man said. “If you came here tomorrow. I’d wouldn’t have to kill you.” He finished drawing a long knife from his belt. Dave looked at the man, judging him. He could run, but he wouldn’t get far before this stranger caught up with him. As the hooded man was at least a foot taller than he was. He could try and call for help, Dmitri had told him that the armour had a communicator on it. But that would take time that he didn’t have. He looked around the area, no high surfaces around him to get up on and wait for help. Which left Dave with only one available option. He drew his own blade about six inches smaller than the strangers, but it would have to do, meaning he would be forced to rely on the armour and his small size to survive.
“Come at me then.” Dave said, readying his stance and the hooded man laughed at this before responding.
“As you wish.” The hooded man said and charged. As he did, Dave realised that whilst he might be big, but his movement was sluggish, which he further realised would give him another advantage. The man swung at him with the knife and he easily dodged it. Another swing and another followed. The man was trying to slash at him as if he was using a club. On the fourth swing, Dave taking the knife quickly cut into the man’s arm, the black cloak went red as the hooded figure howled in rage as he continued to attack shouting phrases along the lines of. “Stay still you little shit.” But Dave did notice that his attacks were getting weaker as blood continued to drip out from under his cloak. So, he struck again, this time aiming for the leg, cutting it with ease, causing the attacker to kneel down. Thinking that the fight was won Dave approached him, this was a mistake, as the man, seeing his victim within striking range swung the blade directly across.
Dave could feel the blade cut into his cheek and then felt the blood start to spill down his face and onto the armour. He stumbled backwards before regaining control of himself, he raised the hand to the cut and pulled it back to see his fingers covered in his own blood.
“Right.” Dave said angrily and making sure to sidestep the man’s hooded attacks he got behind him, quickly slashed at his other leg to stop him from being able to get up, then pulled the knife across his throat, slitting it from ear to ear. The stranger crumpled to the ground dead as Dave finally having chance to breath, walked a few paces and sat down against one of the artillery pieces to way up his options.
He was in need of medic. But didn’t know how serious the injury to his cheek had been, but the manor was at least a three hour walk away. If the wound wasn’t serious then he could walk back with ease. But if it was, then he would collapse before he made it down the slope. He picked up the comms deciding to call for help and turned them on, hoping that there was somebody to pick up.
“Home base. I need air evac from…” Dave said checking the coordinates, before continuing to read them out. He clicked of the transmitter and waited for a response. Which came from one of Dmitri BOT's. ‘Well better them that nobody.’ Dave thought as the BOT answered his distress call.
“Evac on the way. Hold tight till it arrives.” The BOT spoke and the comms went dead, as the batteries in his own suit went down.
“Sure.” Dave said to himself as he felt himself getting weary, and whilst he didn’t want to die out here, he was to exhausted to do anything about it if that was to be the case, and he dosed off not knowing if help would arrive in time.
What felt like a long time later, Dave woke up lying down in the warm, and mercifully dry medical lab, back at the manor. Although Dave originally thought that he had died outside on that hill, purely based on how bright it was in this room. When a voice spoke to him from out of the blinding whiteness.
“Well. Nice of you to drop by little bro.” Jack said from just outside Dave’s focal range and despite not being able to see his older brother clearly, Dave could tell that he was smirking, as he always did whenever something like this would happen.
“What in the gods name.” Dave said slightly disorientated, he looked around at the almost blindingly white surfaces. As a face came across his field of vision, and the strangely quirky voice of his older brother spoke to him.
“You’ve looked better little bro.” Jack said, his faint outline made even more faint due to the strong light source behind him. But as Dave refocused, he was able to see his older brother standing above him with Charlie and Dmitri. And as he had initially suspected, his older brother was smirking at him, which did nothing to improve his mood on having to have been evaded out of a situation.
“I think the phrase. Pot calling the kettle black, comes to mind, dear brother.” Dave said smiling slightly as he sat up, as this had the desired effect of wiping the grin off Jack’s face, although Dave did feel slightly bad as he saw his brother subconsciously reach for where his right eye used to have been. But in all fairness, Jack had started it and asked for it, although seeing that he was not winning any sympathy points, he continued on. “How long have I been out?” Dave asked looking around at the brightly lit room that he was in, but noticing that the world outside was dark but when he had lost consciousness it had been still been light. Meaning that he had been out cold for a good long while, enough for someone to return to the sight and clear it up, like that man had been sent to do.
“Two hours.” Charlie said. “I’ve stitched your face back up, luckily the wound wasn’t that deep.” She continued, looking back down at the eleven-year-old sternly. “What in the gods name were you doing out there?” Charlie asked, she knew that Dmitri had given him the job of scouting the manor’s permitter for security reasons, something that she didn’t agree with but that didn’t matter now. What did matter was the fact that despite this new job, Dave had been found miles away from manor, even with the new job as an excuse.
“Looking for Mia.” Dave said, he knew that he was using the trust that Dmitri had placed in him as an excuse to continue his efforts on that count, but he refused to stop searching for her, no matter how many time his father and Vernon told him that their was no point in it. “But I stumbled on that place while I was.” Dave finished, getting his thoughts and the urgency of his find back to the forefront, and looked up at Dmitri who nodded.
“No need to explain yourself. We’ve went back out there when the BOT's returned you. Looks like we’ve found where Boris launched the raid from.” Dmitri said, although this wasn’t exactly good news. The fact that he had managed to set up so close meant that another attack was almost certain.
“I don’t think it was Boris.” Dave said, which caught Dmitri and Charlie off guard.
“What are you talking about kid. We questioned them. Quite thoroughly I might add, and they swore that they were under orders from Boris.” Dmitri said, it hadn’t been pleasant the questioning, but they had all sworn to be members of The Iron Company on a retaliatory mission for the attack on Boris’ fortress.
“Yeah, but if they were. Why attack us here. If they could set up out guns so close to the capital. Why attack us. When you could attack the city.” Dave said. Dmitri mulled this last statement over in his mind.
“So, you’re saying that someone else attacked us?” Charlie said. Whilst she had originally thought that Dave was being delirious from the pain killers, she had given him, he was talking at least some sense.
“Also, the fact that they had our guns. They had the same symbol on them as the knife you gave me.” Dave said looking at Dmitri, willing him to believe him. At this however Dmitri left the room followed by Charlie and the eleven-year-old was left to wonder if the captain had chosen to believe his story about the fact that they were their own guns.
Outside Charlie managed to catch up with Dmitri.
“Where are you going?” Charlie asked.
“Back out to that sight to see if I missed anything.” Dmitri said walking towards the chopper, the kid had certainly rattled him with his last statement and he now wanted to confirm its truthfulness.
The rain had started to come down heavily when Dmitri and the BOT's arrived back to the encampment, the mud was making it difficult to move up the slope, but they had deemed it to unsafe to land the chopper on the hill in this weather. So, they now found themselves slipping and sliding up the slopes until they reached the top.
Dmitri turned on a flashlight and began to walk around the camp. It looked exactly as the BOT's had left it, although now that he knew what he was looking for he walked straight up to one of the artillery guns and held the torch to the gun barrel. Initially he didn’t find anything due to the poor visibility. But then he saw it, the eagle engraved onto the side just as Dave had told them. ‘Well, the kid was right on one thing at least.’ Dmitri thought, mulling it all over. He was about to call it a night when he tripped over something.
Down in the mud Dmitri looked to see what he had caught. Turning the flashlight towards the object it illuminated the man that Dave had killed. His black robes soaking and already starting to smell pretty bad. Dmitri got up and knelt down next to the hooded figure, his light caught something on the sleeve and, ripping off that part of the sleeve his heart dropped.
It was hard to see without the light, but when he shone the torch at the cloth, it relieved a black hand. He paused for a minute not daring to breath. ‘Impossible.’ He thought to himself before turning back to the assembled BOT's
“I want the entire area cleared. We’re taking everything back to the manor.” Dmitri said loud and clear.
“Everything?” One of the BOT's asked.
“Everything.” Dmitri replied. Turning away to continue examining the piece of cloth in his soaking wet hands.