A Hollow Victory
Dmitri walks down the corridors of the temple, realising that not for the first time that he had failed, they had gutted the organisation there was no question about that but, the fact remained that they had failed to cut of its head. He just hoped that they had done enough to weaken this Griefful, whoever they were, to the point that they were no longer a threat. In his heart however, he knew that that was only a fool’s hope. He walked up to the armoury where the group of mobsters stood waiting. Of all the groups they had suffered the least casualties.
“Did we get him?” Hawks said.
“No, he wasn’t here.” Dmitri said as the other survivors from the battle walked up to join him. All were bloodied but had at least appeared to have suffered no serious harm.
“We counted almost three hundred dead in that room, along with those killed elsewhere around the temple.” Jamerson said, trying to put a positive spin on the mission.
“I guess your right.” Dmitri said, sighing deeply, that was the truth, but he nevertheless still had his doubts, but decided to push them to the back of his mind. “Let’s pack up and move out.” He finished walking towards the exit, his spirits although not great, were slightly lifted.
The helicopters landed once again on the manor grounds, only this time with a lot less cargo, the group had lost well over half of their party during the raid, and although they had buried them atop the mountain, it still didn’t seem right. As Dmitri got out of the chopper, he saw Alan limping towards them with Vernon a few paces behind, and he readied himself to deliver the bad news.
“Well.” Alan said, he was eager to hear the full debrief. The raiding party had made contact to explain the death toll when the mission was finished but hadn’t gotten into any sort of detail regarding the mission itself.
“We didn’t get him.” Dmitri said hollowly. “My guess was that he was never even there.” He finished.
“Right. Is anything else.” Alan said, half expecting another ‘No’ but instead Charlie spoke up.
“Yes, we found a group of them slaughtered in what I guess was their meeting room.” Charlie said.
“Really, that is interesting.” Alan said, not entirely sure as to what to make of this most recent news.
“Looked like someone wanted to clean house, as if they knew about the raid and wanted to make sure no prisoners could be taken.” Charlie said.
“But they had their little suicide teeth. Why kill them.” Dmitri said, as the remaining BOT's walked up to the manor, the mobsters had already left back down the roads to their own vehicles, leaving only Jamerson and his two remaining soldiers behind.
“My guess is that they were going to talk, this Griefful obliviously didn’t want another situation like with Randell.” Alan said.
“Probably, they appeared to have been killed by people they knew, as there was no sign of them resisting their own deaths.” Charlie said.
“Right.” Alan replied. This was news, he just didn’t know what it meant, only that they now only had one source of information left to them, and he was locked up in Greymount Prison. As they were talking Vernon returned to the manor, it was odd that he had not voiced his opinion more on the subject, but Alan guessed that the old butler needed more time to think on it. “How many did they lose, and more importantly how many did we lose.” He finished.
“Their casualties we calculated to be around three hundred.” Jamerson said. “Our losses were almost forty all in, both humans and robot’s, none of Grant’s squad made it out.” He finished.
“Where will you go now?” Alan asked.
“Down south most like, join the war against that traitor.” Jamerson said.
“Give my regards to Codsworth then.” Alan said, he hadn’t forgotten about the war in the south, but he had decided to take things one step at a time, and he was sure that now the threat from the answer was all but destroyed he could now focus on Boris.
“Same here, I promised Codsworth that I would return and that is what I intend to do, if I can’t find any more answers at the present time.” Dmitri agreed.
“We’re just giving up on this then.” Charlie said, she almost couldn’t believe what she was hearing, they had scarified so much already that to give up now would seem just plain wrong.
“What choice do we have. Until Randell can give us a new lead we can’t do anymore. We’ve exhausted every angle we’ve had.” Alan said.
“What about Patrick?” Dmitri asked, he still had unfinished business with that worm, and it may provide them with a lead.
“Who’s Patrick?” Jamerson said a look of confusion on his face.
“He is another member of The Answer. But I don’t think he’ll help; unlike Geoffrey he seems truly part of the cult.” Alan said. He too had considered getting more information from their prisoner, but he doubted that would work, the last time they had acted on his information Dmitri had lost almost all of his BOT's as well as his life. He turned to Dmitri. “If you can get any more information out of that man then you are more than welcome to try, if not, then we will have to put this on the back burner.” Alan finished, it sounded harsh, but it was the truth. They had exhausted every avenue, every rumour and had come up with only more questions.
Inside the cave, Vernon stood by the table, when a red light began to flash, the warning system that someone was either entering or leaving the cell. He picked up his gun and rushed to the cell, to find the door closed and when he tried to open it, he found the door locks set against him, looking at the control panel he saw that the locks had been set to their highest setting. Knowing that either the person who could do that was either inside the cell now or nearby he rushed off to find Jack.
Inside the cell, was not Jack but Dave along with Mia, although they wouldn’t have been able to get in without his older brother. He had taken the decision to override the decision to hide the fact of this man’s presence from her, on the basis that she would have found out anyway. But there was another reason for him being here.
“Another visit, and you’ve brought another friend. How very touching.” Patrick said looking up at the pair.
“I’m going to do, what I should have done months ago.” Dave said, taking the knife that Dmitri had given him out of his belt and held it shakily in his hand.
“No, you won’t. Like you said, if you were going to do the deed. You would have done it when I first arrived.” Patrick said, he looked into the pairs eyes and saw nothing but loathing. “You wouldn’t you coward.” He finished looking at Dave
Outside the cell, Vernon had arrived after retrieving Jack from his room, the lad had tried to play dumb, but had given up on the act quicker than Vernon would have expected.
“Jackson, open the door.” Vernon said, calmly but the tone did not invite any argument, although Jack tried none the less. It was almost cute to watch the kid try to argue his way into an even deeper hole than he was already him.
“Why. He deserves it.” Jack said looking at the butler. Vernon took a second before responding and hoping that he wouldn’t regret that decision.
“Jack. You’re right. He does deserve death. But you cannot make your brother the executioner. Lad, it takes something out of you when you take another humans life. Maybe Dave is ready, but if he kills that man. He’ll never be able to regain what he has lost.” Vernon said calmly. Jack doesn’t do or say anything for a moment, before he nods and begins to undo the locks that he had set. Although deep in Vernon’s heart, he knew that it was too late, and sure enough from inside the cell the sound of Dave screaming, “Liar!” Repeatedly could be heard.
After a few seconds the locks click and the doors open and Vernon charges in, to see Dave standing over the corpse of Patrick, the bloody knife in his shaking hands, standing beside him looking at the corpse, was Mia she wasn’t saying anything just observing the dead man who had done his best to ruin both their lives. Vernon walked past the two kids and looked at Patrick, he had been stabbed through the heart and had died a very painful and, by the looks of the blood spatters on the table and around his mouth, slow death. He turned to look at Dave, who was shaking with fright at the scene he had created. Vernon knelt down in front of the pair.
“Dave, give me the knife.” Vernon said softly and held out his hand, to his surprise the boy did not object and handed over the blade without a fight.
“I’m sorry.” Dave said, and then the boy began to cry. Vernon held him close before pulling away slightly.
“David. What happened?” Vernon asked. Dave wiped away the tears from his cheek and began to tell Vernon what Patrick had said to him.
Vernon came walking towards them from the manor, he looked to Alan at least weary as if the news of the raid had taken a huge told on him personally.
“Ah Vernon, can you get the cell ready, we need to talk to Patrick.” Alan said briskly, but he saw that something was terribly wrong. As Vernon’s face had gone very pale at the mention of the prisoner. “What’s happened?” Alan asked, fearing that the man had escaped, and wondering if everyone inside was alright. It took a while for Vernon to respond to the question, so much so that Alan was about to go charging inside, until the old butler managed to speak up at last.
“I’m afraid sir, that time has passed.” Vernon said, a croak in his voice, he knew that their would be questions asked, and he hoped that he could answer them throughly enough, in order to save Dave having to tell them what he had done again.
“What?” Dmitri said having caught the tone of what Vernon had said more than the actual words, and knew that they were in big trouble.
Back inside the cell, Vernon, Alan, Dmitri and Charlie looked at the bloody scene, Jamerson and his two survivors were guarding the doors to the manor. Dmitri walked up to the corpse and began checking it.
“Stabbed right through the heart.” Dmitri said looking up. He wasn’t sorry for the man’s death, but he was sorry that it had been Dave that had done the deed.
“Where is David now?” Alan asked.
“In his room, the lad is in shock. He hasn’t spoken a word after telling me what happened.” Vernon said
“And the girl?” Alan said, his tone slightly stunted, he hadn’t believed it when Vernon had first delivered the news, but the sight had defiantly confirmed it.
“In the guest room, she isn’t talking either.” Vernon said, he had hoped that he could confirm Dave’s story with her, but she hadn’t spoken a word.
“What could have caused Dave to fly of the rails like this?” Charlie said. She knew the lad was reckless almost to the point of having a disregard for his own life, but not a violent killer. Alan looked at Vernon to confirm his suspicion, which were confirmed by a look from the old butler.
“Because Patrick told Dave what he told me. The last time we spoke. That Dave, along with all my sons are not mine, that they are my brother’s instead.” Alan said, a bitterness in his voice that he didn’t much care about. Even though he had initially doubted himself and Laura, he now understood that that man had been trying to get under his skin. And it had worked.
“Did you believe him?” Dmitri asked.
“No. But it certainly riled me, and it appears that it had the same effect on my son.” Alan said. “Only he decided to act on his anger, plus combine that with the man attempting to kidnap him. I guess it became too much to handle and he lasted out.” He finished, scratching his hair, thinking about why this had happened. Vernon left the room at this point; he had already spent too much time in here and didn’t want to continue observing the gruesome scene.
“What are we going to do with him?” Dmitri asked looking in disgust at the corpse of the now deceased Patrick. “Dump his body in the ocean.” He suggested, shrugging his shoulders, but Charlie interrupted him.
“No. That’s too good for him.” Charlie said, sending the bodies of the slain into the ocean was how the Rivermen disposed of their dead, and she would not have this piece of filth join her people.
“Burn him and scatter the ashes outside the perimeter. I will not have him on the grounds of this place anymore.” Alan said. “But. I am going to talk with Dave, and Mia as well. See if I can find out what happened.” He finished.
“You talk to Dave. I’ll talk to Mia.” Dmitri said. “I will probably be able to get through to her more, shared trauma and all that.” Dmitri finished and Alan nodded but before they could put their plans into motion Vernon came back into the room.
“Sir. I have Codsworth on the line. He says it urgent.” Vernon said, hoping to get out of this grizzly scene.