Jack lay on the ground unresponsive as Charlie leaned over the fourteen-year-old, checking his neck for a pulse.
“We’ve got to get him back to manor now.” Charlie said, looking at Alan who nodded. One of the soldiers rushed forward and carefully picked the unconscious boy up and carries him as fast as he can back to the manor’s medical bay. With Charlie and Alan following close behind.
Once inside the medical bay, the soldier lays Jack on one of the tables and Charlie begins to get to work, Vernon was lying in a bed on the verge of death himself as Dmitri walked over, looking at the scene in front of him.
“Dmitri, get on the line to Metropololis general and get a surgeon up here now.” Charlie said, although her tone indicated that it was an order. Dmitri left the room quickly. “Alan, I’m going to do everything I can, but unless you share either Vernon’s or Jack’s blood type there is no reason for you to remain here right now.” She said looking at Alan, putting on a pair of gloves as Dmitri re-enters the room.
“They’ll be here in twenty.” Dmitri said. “What happened exactly.” He asked looking down at Jack.
“I’ll explain later. Right now, I need to do everything and anything I can.” Charlie said, she had a bit of medical experience, enough to deal with minor injuries. But she had no idea how to heal gunshot wounds.
Dmitri walked out of the room, mumbling something about standing guard, he wasn’t quite sure what, but he needed to get away from the room. Once outside however he leans up against the wall to stop himself fainting. He had seen death and destruction, as well as his fair share of mutilations, some of which he had directly caused, but this was something he was not prepared to observe. At that moment Alan limped out, pale faced, with a look of murder in his eyes.
“I know that look.” Dmitri said with no joy in his tone, looking at the man in front of him. “Who am I killing?” He asked, although for some reason he felt sick asking the question.
“Come.” Alan said simply and walked out towards the grounds, with Dmitri following behind him, struggling to keep up with his long strides. Dmitri wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed something had snapped inside Alan’s mind.
Once outside Dmitri quickly catches up to Alan who reaches Codsworth and the group of prisoners, following behind Dmitri are his BOT's. A helicopter flew in overhead landing on the southern lawn a few meters away.
“Codsworth kindly escort the surgeon to the medical bay.” Alan said looking over at the chopper as an elderly looking man in white got out. Codsworth nodded, leaving Dmitri and Alan along with the BOT's alone with the captives.
“Is there a reason you’ve brought me out here?” Dmitri asked, he knew the reason however, he knew what he was going to be asked to do, that was why Alan had asked Codsworth to leave.
“These men have information that will be of great use to us.” Alan said his tone deadened. “I want you to extract the information in any way you see fit.” Alan continued looking at Dmitri, who nodded before going to examine the men, as Alan walked away.
Five days later, Charlie finds Alan examining the latest reports from the attack in the destroyed entrance hall. She had asked Alan about the screams coming from the cave, she had witnessed Dmitri and his BOT's leading the captives towards the cave after the surgeon had arrived to begin his work on both Jack and Vernon. Alan turns around to face her.
“What news?” Alan asked.
“Both are stable, for now at least. They were both very lucky though, no internal bleeding at all.” Charlie said, it had been a close-run thing especially with Vernon due to his age.
“What’s the damage?” Alan asked.
“Vernon suffered a knife wound to his chest, narrowly missing both his heart and lungs.” Charlie said, as Dmitri walked up to them wiping the fresh blood of his hands with a small cloth.
“And Jack?” Alan said, choking slightly. Charlie took a breath before answering as the boy’s condition was much worse than the butler’s.
“Jack’s right eye was destroyed when the bullet hit it. He’s in a coma but stable down in the medical lab.” Charlie finished.
“Any news from our guests?” Alan asked Dmitri.
“Aye, they were on a retaliatory mission for the attack we made against Lord Boris. It took a bit of time, but I got through to them.” Dmitri said, with a look of horror in his eyes at the thought of what he had done. Charlie looked equally horrified when Alan had ordered the remains of those captive who had died under Dmitri’s torture to be strung up from the manor walls. Which they were now, swinging in the wind, their mouths open and catching flies.
“I thought so. Anything else?” Alan asked.
“Yes, they were sent here to take the gems that are in our possession.” Dmitri said with some unease. “Also, that we were right in suggesting that they are on the ropes. And losing the war.” He finished looking tired.
“If they were on the ropes then the manor would not have been attacked.” Alan said harshly.
“Aye, but this was an attack of desperation. The Iron Company is now down to a fifth of its original strength.” Dmitri said, regretting his previous comment the instant he had said it.
“Do you think they have anything more to give us.” Alan said, regretting his harshness, the truth being he had not slept a wink in the past five days and was exhausted.
“No. I believe they have nothing more to give.” Dmitri said.
“Good. March them out to the grounds and string them up with their comrades.” Alan said curtly. Dmitri nodded glumly. Before heading back down to the cave.
“Alan. May I ask why you are hanging these men?” Charlie asked, she was curious, why not simply put a bullet in their heads and be done with it.
“Because… Because I want to see them suffer.” Alan said, not bothering with the lie Charlie thought he would come out with. “You think I should just put a bullet in their heads and dig them graves.” Alan asked not unkindly.
“These men do deserve death.” Charlie said. “But to see them swinging out there is not any good for Nick or Martin or…” Charlie paused for a moment. “Or you, those men swinging out there won’t make Vernon’s wound heal any quicker. Or bring Jack out of his coma.” Charlie finished, hoping she had not gone too far in her rebuke.
“It’s my fault. I should have told Jack to stay indoors, but I didn’t.” Alan said croaking, his throat dry as a bone. The men hanging outside were there for his own gratification, and he had hung each one in order to calm his own nerves.
“Alan, I fired the bullet that knocked the attackers aim off. I’m the reason Jack doesn’t have an eye anymore, not you.” Charlie said, trying to offer words of comfort to Alan. “But this.” She gestured at the dead men outside swaying in the breeze. “Will not help your son. Any of them.” She finished. At that moment, Dmitri walked up with the prisoners being shepherded by his BOT's out into the yard.
“Wait.” Alan said and the BOT's stopped. “Don’t hang them.” He finished.
“What do you want doing to them?” Dmitri asked, slightly relieved, he had hated watching Alan personally stringing the men up outside his own destroyed doors.
“Put a bullet in their heads and then burn the bodies, outside the perimeter walls, I will not have them on my property any longer.” Alan said and Dmitri nodded. Charlie sighed, thankful that she had finally convinced Alan to listen to reason. Dmitri gave the orders and his BOT's carried them out marching the captives to a safe distance before the sound of gunshots could be heard. Dmitri turned to Charlie.
“Where are the wounded then?” Dmitri asked.
“Still in the medical bay.” Charlie responded.
“That’s all I need to know.” Dmitri said before walking off towards the medical bay to visit the wounded and dead.
Inside the medical bay, Vernon lies on one of the beds, staring at the ceiling and bored out of his mind. Whilst Jack lies on another medical bed, a clean bandage wrapped around his head covering his right eye socket, and the exit wound on the side of his head stitched closed. The boy lies on the bed in a coma and dead to the world around him. Lying on twelve other beds are the bodies of those who had died during the battle, Jamerson and Fredricks with five imperials and five rivermen.
Dmitri walks through the door and observes the scene followed closely by both Alan and Charlie.
“Gods.” Dmitri exclaimed at the sight, as Alan walks over to Jack’s bedside. Despite the admiral efforts by both Charlie and the surgeon that had come from The Imperial City, the sight was still horrifying. He knew that there was a gaping hole in the place where Jack’s right eye had been a mere week before. He was also deathly thin, having gone for five days having to be kept fed by tubes.
“Do you know when he’ll wake up?” Alan asked. His voice croaking slightly from hardly using it for the passed five days.
“No. It’s impossible to know when he’s come out of his coma.” Charlie said. Vernon sits up in his bed but under Charlie’s gaze does not dare to leave it. Codsworth walks through the doors to make the final preparations to move the dead. The imperials to the morgue, the rivermen to be sailed down the river and out into the sea as was there custom, Codsworth walks up to Vernon thinking on this strange custom and how he would hate to not know where his body ended up.
“How you getting on their old friend?” Codsworth asked looking down at Vernon.
“Ah. As well as an old man who got stabbed recently is likely to be getting on.” Vernon said. “If only I could leave this place as I’m bored out of my mind.” He finished. Codsworth walks over to Jack’s bed and looks down at the unconscious youth.
“Is he still alive?” Codsworth said, the boy looked incredibly pale and thin, even for someone who was in a coma. Although he had little experience with the matter, so chose not to judge on the situation.
“Yes, he’s alive.” Charlie said. “But we don’t know what damage was potentially done to his brain when the bullet hit him.” Charlie finished, that was the problem, as those that had suffered with severe head trauma, and Jack’s was about as severe as it got, normally suffered major brain damage to boot.
In truth, the lad may wake up as a vegetable for all she knew, but she didn’t have the heart to tell that to Alan, as in truth, even that maybe lucky, as it was nothing short of a miracle that the boy was still alive to begin with. As Charlie thought about these things, calculating the worst possible scenarios as much as she tried to avoid doing so. Codsworth turns to Alan looking equally as angry at the situation they now found themselves in.
“Can’t believe it, twelve dead. How did they manage to get so close without detection?” Codsworth raged, the men who had died had all served with the commander for almost fifteen years, all had been fiercely loyal to him, proven by the fact that they had agreed to join him in leaving the southern armies. And that loyalty had cost them there lives.
“Because we didn’t have enough recon out there.” Dmitri said a thought coming to him as Alan and Codsworth both turn towards him. “We need someone out there in the open scouting the area around the manor. And I’ve got just the person in mind.” Dmitri finished smiling slightly at his sudden bought of inspiration.