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Chapter 25

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Chapter XXV

A Surprising Visitor

 

The chopper makes its final approach into the Wolfrick Manor cave, normally they would have just landed on the front lawn, but they had received word that it was too dangerous to do so. As far as they knew, the lands surrounding the manor were crawling with agents of The Mayor. Determined to get revenge for some slight that he had received. Even though, by all counts, the civil war had started when the employees of Wolfrick Co wanted to take the products that they had made, rather than give them to Osmund. Dmitri wondered why the fat old oaf had felt the need to make it personal, after all it was an internal matter. But no, instead he had sent in his troops and started this civil war.

As the chopper lands inside the cave, they find Vernon waiting for them. It felt odd, seeing the old butler after all this time, and as Dmitri got out, it looked like Vernon had aged about ten years since he had seen him last.

“You look older.” Dmitri said as he walked towards Vernon, who leaned heavily on his cane, the injury that he sustained the previous year still bothering him after all this time.

“That tends to happen with time. Captain.” Vernon replied.

“I’m not a captain anymore. Haven’t you heard, we’ve been stripped of our ranks and declared enemies of the state.” Dmitri said as he looked around the cave, not much had changed since he had left, other than the now completed small runway which had been halfway under construction when he left. “I’ve got a bone to pick with Charlie on that count.” He continued as he returning to Vernon. “It’s good to see you old friend.” Dmitri finished slapping the old butler on the shoulder.

“I see you are without your Bot’s.” Vernon said, it was a pity, they could use as much support as possible in the fights that were almost certainly going to come.

“Yeah, they were destroyed at Haverminster.” Codsworth said, speaking for the first time since leaving the mirage city. He too was glad to be home again, despite the fact that he could not enter the city under pain of death. For the simple act of defying Osmund.

“Well get comfortable, as nobodies leaving this place for the foreseeable future.” Vernon said turning away and walking back towards the manor.

“He seems grumpier than usual.” Dmitri said as they saw Vernon’s retreating back exit the cave.

“Can you blame him.” Codsworth said looking around. “Right, you’re on first watch kid, call me if you see anything.” The commander finished and followed Vernon out of the cave, leaving Dmitri standing in place slightly dumbfounded.

 

That night Dmitri stands guard overlooking the vast grounds of the manor. It was quiet, almost too quiet, they hadn’t seen any sign of the imperial forces that were, at least according to Blane, patrolling the landscape. He was about to call it a night when he sees a tall figure running up the driveway at full tilt, already fearful that they were going to be attack at any moment. Dmitri raises his gun and looks through the night vision scope to see who it is, but due to the fact that the figure had his head bent downwards he couldn’t make the person out. So, he takes a shot, and the runner collapses to the ground with a thud, clutching at his now bleeding leg. But that doesn’t stop him, and he begins to crawl forward desperate to get to the manor.

“Desperate fucker, aren't you.” Dmitri said as he begins to walk forward to the figure who is still on the ground, face in the dirt. As Codsworth runs up to join him. As Dmitri kicks the stranger over so he can see his face. The commander recognises the man, although it does nothing to calm his already shot nerves. Alden IronEye, the captain of the iron company and a sworn enemy of the imperials lay bleeding out on the grounds in front of the pair.

“Gods.” Codsworth said looking down at the man, of all the people he had expected this man was pretty much at the bottom of the list. Alden looks up at the sky spluttering and stammering to any and all that can hear him.

“Hel... Help.” Alden spoke, he seemed to be delirious, and completely unaware of his surroundings as he continued with the same pleas for aid.

“Get him inside.” Codsworth said, it was a tough decision, six months ago, he would have gladly served this man’s head on a platter to The Mayor, but times had changed, however Dmitri had other ideas as he looked at Codsworth in shock.

“We should execute him. He's Boris' right-hand man.” Dmitri said, he had heard tales about what this man had both ordered and personally done in Riveruster, and the fact that Codsworth wanted to take him in was, to him at least. Laughable. The commander kneels down on the ground looking into Alden's eyes, which close slowly.

“We need to question him. Have your Bots sweep the area. See if he's been followed.” Codsworth said looking at Dmitri, he knew what his comrade was thinking, and he hoped to the gods that he wouldn’t later regret his decision, but deep down he knew that this was the right thing to do. Dmitri sighs and heads back towards the manor to send out his Bot’s to begin their sweep. Leaving Codsworth to pick up Alden and haul him back towards the dimly lit manor that not a year ago, he had brutally attacked.

 

An hour later Alden sits in a chair behind a table in his cell looking intently at the mirror, which is actually a two-way mirror, that he had already guessed, what he didn’t know however, was who was behind it. Standing on the other side and currently discussing his fate were Codsworth, Charlie, Dmitri, Vernon and Jack.

“What are we going to do with him then?” Codsworth asked. It had taken a lot of convincing to even allow the man into the building, with the loudest voices of opposition being Vernon and Charlie. And as Codsworth had suspected, quick as a whip Charlie responds.

“We execute him.” Charlie said, there was no doubt in her mind that it had to be done, this man was an enemy, not to mention the horrors that the IronEye had committed in her homeland. Dmitri looks at Charlie in surprise. They had very rarely been in agreement on a matter like this, as the scientist was the one who usually wanted to show mercy to the people, they ha in their custody.

“I agree.” Dmitri said.

“As do I.” Vernon said, adding his own voice to the argument. Codsworth brow furrows for a moment, realising that he was already outnumbered in his option of what they should do with their prisoner. He looked at Jack for any kind of support, but the teen’s face was completely neutral. Although the commander did note that Jack didn't voice his support for killing Alden either, not an entirely promising sign, but it was a potential start

“Why is he here, that's what I want to know.” Codsworth said looking at Alden with confusion, it had to be serious whatever it was. The IronEye, was by no means a stupid man, and he must have known that coming here, after all he had done would have been a death sentence for him. Charlie’s response to this question came quickly and sharply.

“What does that matter. This man has butchered my homeland and slaughter numerous people. This piece of human filth could have been sent as a spy for all we know.” Charlie spat out with nothing short of loathing in her voice. Codsworth sighs. It had been as he had expected the people that were here were not as forgiving as he would have hoped. He chooses instead to just get on with the job at hand and exiting the room and walks into the cell and sits down opposite to Alden who puts his hands on the table.

“Why are you here?” Codsworth asked, that was the first thing that needed to be sorted out before he could proceed. Despite his disagreements with the people in the other room, they were right to be suspicious of this man’s intentions.

“Why, I've come to join your merry band of troops.” Alden replied.

“Really. Not two days ago, you were an enemy of state. Having butchered your way across Riveruster. And now you want to be friends. Why?” Codsworth asked. At this last part however Alden smiled, a far more sinister sight than his usual frown.

“I said nothing of friendship. But you need me. And situations have changed recently so...” Alden said but Codsworth cut across him.

“What situations?” Codsworth asked, what could possibly have changed that meant that this man was proposing and, albeit temporary alliance.

“Lord Boris, my previous employer shall we say... Is dead.” Alden said, this did take Codsworth by surprise, his eyebrow raises in shock. In the waiting room Jack leaves walking out the door and back out into the cave.

“Dead?” Codsworth asked, this certainly was a turn up for the books. They had spent the past few years at war with that madman, but to find out that he was just dead. Was even more disconcerting than anything he had done whilst he was alive.

“Eye. Stabbed through the heart with his own staff.” Alden said, and for the first time, there was a bitterness in his tone.

“Where are your men?” Codsworth asked, with the main facts out of the way, they now had to gage whether or not they were in any danger, as certain members of this man’s army were even more formidable than their commander.

“Some twenty or so managed to escape with me. The rest are dead as well.” Alden replied calmly, returning to his previous tone of voice. As he speaks Codsworth gets up, the fact that there were more of the iron company here was quite frankly, alarming. He knew their reputation and wanted to make sure that everyone in the manor was accounted for. Seeing this Alden pushes on to his attack.

“Am I free to go?” Alden said, slightly to calmly for Codsworth’s liking.

“No. You'll remain here for your own safety more than anything else.” Codsworth replied, the last thing he needed was this man running about the manor, doing gods know what to their defences.

“My men need to know that I'm alright though. Else-wise they may decide to do something rash, like attacking this house again.” Alden said in an equally calming voice as his last statement. He smiles as Codsworth leaves the room through the door leading to the viewing chamber. Where he is immediately hounded upon by Vernon.

“Well, you've heard the man out. Now let's kill him and be done with it.” Vernon said, he had heard everything that the Alden had said, but knew that he should still die despite that. Hadn’t the IronEye said that he had no intention of being friendly with them. In his opinion he saw no reason why that murderous piece of fifth should still be breathing right now. But Codsworth shakes his head.

“No. We may still need him.” Codsworth said, if something did happen and Alden’s men did something rash, like attack the house. They would need him to potentially stop more violence. And before either Vernon or Charlie could have a chance to answer with their own concerns. Codsworth leaves the room and heads back to the cave. Where he runs into Dmitri.

“Well, you listened to him. Why is he still alive?” Dmitri asked, whilst he had walked out of the interrogation halfway through. He still was curious as to why they were keeping someone, who had attacked this house alive.

“I don’t know.” Codsworth said, he wanted to use his previous answer, but he suspected it wouldn’t fly that well with the veteran.

“Well. I hope you know what you’re doing.” Dmitri said, as he walked out of the cave, not wanting to believe that the commander had lost his mind, despite all the evidence starting to point to that conclusion.

Codsworth begins strides through the cave thinking things through. Trying to see all the outcomes to all possible scenarios that could occur regarding their guest. None of them being good. Either they kill him and face the anger of the remains of The Iron Company. Or they let him leave and potentially leave themselves open to being attacked from the inside. The first thing to do however, was to make sure that nobody had left the manor and so, with that in mind he heads out of the cave to perform a quick spot check.

 

As Codsworth was talking with Dmitri, Jack walks through the grounds, gun holstered under his shoulder. He had heard from both Dave and that moron Blane that they’re imperial troops scattered around the manor, but so far, he had not seen or heard anyone. Not that the former was any surprise.

As he continued to patrol, he heard a noise in the distance then a thud onto the side of his neck. He reached his hand to feel what had hit him and pulling away he took out a small dart and some of his own blood. He looked up at the surroundings as they started to swirl around, which is when he lost consciousness and fell to the ground.

 

Half an hour later, Jack wakes up out of his stupor and looks around. He was leaning from what he could see, against a tree, in what looked like a small army encampment. He tries to get up, but could move his hands forward, he also could feel something in his mouth. As he was coming to his senses and realising that his hands bound behind his back and a wad of cloth shoved in his mouth. Taedr Drarn, second in command to Alden IronEye. A muscular man with a thick beard and hazel eyes, walks up to Jack and kneels down in front of him.

“Well then lad, we've got some questions for you.” Taedr said as he removes the wad of cloth from Jack's mouth and looks at him. Even with one eye Jack could tell that this was not a person to be crossed. The man’s face was covered in scars that made his own look like a new-born’s. “Where is our captain?” Taedr asked.

“In a cell.” Jack responds, tugging at his wrists trying to find a way out, he saw no reason to lie to these people, in fact, it might even help in his current situation.

“So, he's still alive? That’s good. As I didn't fancy killing you.” Taedr said smiling, several of the man’s teeth were missing to boot. As the man speaks Jack looks around the camp at the remains of the iron company. Who looked in a worse state than he did. They looked dead on their feet as if they had been running without pause for a lifetime.

“I thought the iron company was bigger than this?” Jack asked, when he had gone south with his younger brother, the enemy were something to be feared. But now, looking at these sorry bastards he wondered what the terror had been all about. Taedr also looks around at his sorry band of men.

“Aye laddie. It was. We're all that remains.” Taedr replied nodding mournfully.

“Your boss said something about joining with us, now that your previous employer is dead.” Jack said, he had stayed long enough to hear that part, and right now he was wishing that he had remained inside the cave. He also silently prayed to the gods that Codsworth had persuaded Charlie, Dmitri and Vernon not to kill Alden, as if they did, he would be dead to boot.

“I see the captain has been running his mouth. But yes.” Taedr said nodding. At this Jack smiles on the inside at this, it felt slightly good that there might be a chance of getting out of this alive. But for the time being, he tried to play hard ball.

“And you think Codsworth is going to go for that?” Jack asked, trying to sound less frightened than he actually was.

“He will lad, once he hears what’s coming for us all.” Taedr replied, this did give the teen pause to think, whatever was coming for them, and he had a feeling he knew what, was bad enough to scare even these hardened criminals. Not that he felt sorry for them, after all they had unleashed the enemy on the world. At this Taedr gets up and continues. “We've already sent word to him, telling him to come and talk with us.” Taedr begins to walk away before turning back around. “It also goes to say that it's an. Or else type of deal.” He finishes as another man hits Jack with the end of his gun knocking the boy out cold.

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