A Missing Wolf
Vernon and Charlie sit in the living room having resumed their conversation, blissfully unaware that there was anything wrong.
“I arrived here in the time of Alan’s Great Grandfather.” Vernon said remembering his first job, when he arrived in Metropololis all those decades ago.
“Fuck me. How old are you?” Charlie asked, smiling slightly. She had managed to gain control of her old stutter, although she hoped that the subject of her past wouldn’t come up again.
“Old enough.” Vernon said taking a sip of his drink. “Let’s just say I’ve been employed by the Wolfrick family for close on half a century.” The old butler finished. He had been a carefree teen back then. He often however wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t saved the life of Alan’s grandfather. ‘Probably would have been dead in some ditch by the end of my first week.’ Was what came to his mind. He was about to mention this when Martin comes hurtling into the room at full tilt, before failing to stop in time and crashing into the table. Vernon gets up sharply and rushes over to see the youngest Wolfrick quickly getting up out of breath and sweating madly.
“Martin. What in the gods name is…” Vernon starts but before the youngster cuts him off.
“Attack… On the road.” Martin said taking short sharp breaths to try and gain control of his out-of-control heavy breathing. At this Charlie rushes off and Vernon kneels down in front of Martin.
“Speak slowly son.” Vernon said, now at an eye level with Martin who gulps before continuing.
“Some men, attacked Dave and Nicky.” Martin said. still slightly gasping for air. He had come as fast as his small legs would allow, nearly tripping up a time or two, but it had taken him less time than he had thought to reach the manor. He just hoped that finding the attack site would be as easy.
“What. What was Nick doing out of the manor perimeter.” Vernon said as Charlie retuned in her armour over her regular cloths. The armour was a simple piece which she had taken from the Wolfrick armoury, it was made out of Spiosium, not as durable as the armour Dmitri wears but a lot stronger than most and more than capable of keeping her safe. She walks over to Martin and looks down at the boy.
“You’re coming with me lad.” Charlie said and the two of them left Vernon alone.
Martin walks down the deserted road, hands in his pockets, Charlie by his side, her gun raised. He had not so much seen the attack take place rather than he had heard it. And was glad it had happened on the road as he wouldn’t have been able to find it again due to the mist. As he was getting concerned that he wouldn’t be able to find the spot he notices a small heap in the distance. As Martin rushes towards the pile, he recognising it is Dave, his face covered in his own blood. As well as the body of Lat lying on the grown, dead from a slit wrist. Martin runs up to the pile and calls out.
“I've found them!” Martin yells and Charlie rushes towards the scene and kneels down by the unconscious Dave and begins to shake him but gets no response.
“David. Can you hear me?” Charlie said checking for a pulse on his neck and thankfully finding one, but Martin getting tired that his older brother wasn’t responding to him to wake up, so he hits him across the face. Which does have the desired effect of waking Dave up. “Ow.” Dave murmurs as he regains consciousness.
“Next time, don't hit him Martin.” Charlie said in an exasperated tone.
“Why it worked.” Martin said, genially confused as to the rebuke, after all, he had managed to wake his older brother up hadn’t he. Dave puts his hand up to his face and feels around a slight crunching sound greets him as he massagers his nose.
“Fuck, broken nose, I think.” Dave said stopping the examination, the last thing that he needed to be doing was messing around with it, if his suspicions were correct.
“Yeah, that's it looks like from here. Now where's your brother?” Charlie said and Dave looks up and begins to relay the details of what had transpired.
It took about half an hour to recount the details; his head was spinning, and he was almost certain that he had a concussion. After he had finished telling his tale, he collapsed once again to the ground. Meaning that Charlie had to carry the twelve-year-old back to the manor. At least until a Bot arrived to take over, and Dave was rushed down to the medical lab.
An hour later, Dave finds himself lying on one of the medical beds with a split on the left side of his nose. Most of the blood has been washed off his face. A few moments later Vernon finish's placing the second splint onto the right side, he turns around to faces Dave.
“Well. I'm sure there is a perfectly good explanation for this injury. Isn't there Master David.” Vernon said. Dave grimaces as he sits up, but Vernon forces him back down. There would be a time for the seemingly cocky twelve-year-old who Vernon could have sworn thought he was invincible. But now was not the time.
“Yeah, two on one. Chose to get hit rather than shot. Fuck my head is killing me.” Dave said feeling his head checking for signs of further broken bones.
“Yes. It will after a broken nose.” Vernon said with little sympathy. Dave once again makes to get up before Vernon forces him back down again.
“I've got to go back out.” Dave said. Vernon looked at him for a moment before responding.
“If you are talking about finding Nick. I've sent Jack out to see if he can pick up the trail.” Vernon said curtly. Dave looked up at this, his older brother had hardly left the manor since the attack, only going to deal with the fallout after their father had left with the company.
“Jack, he's good with a gun, but he's no tracker. I wanna help anyway.” Dave said.
“I believe you've helped enough over the past few days young sir. First your farther and now your brother.” Vernon said coldly. This had always been the problem with Dave, his eagerness to help made him reckless and now serious harm had been done because of it.
“Technically, Dad wanted me to help him leave.” Dave said trying to sit up and was relieved when Vernon didn’t stop him. The old butler sighed, technically he was correct, but the lad was still missing the point.
“You're out of action for the next week. Which you would have been anyway. But now your nose needs that time to heal.” Vernon said ad walks to the door before turning to the two Bot's standing by the door. “The lad doesn't leave this room for the next week understand. No matter who is with him.” Vernon said smiling at Dave before leaving and the Bot nods. Coincidently he noted that they were the same ones he had lied to when he helped his father escape. Vernon walks out of the door which closes automatically behind him as Dave sits up in the bed, wondering what had happened to his younger brother. On the bright side at least, he had been wrong about Vernon killing him for taking Nick out with him on the mission.
Jack returned later that evening; he had stripped the manor of the Bot’s that Dmitri had assigned to protect them against an attack. Which whilst dangerous, Vernon had agreed to based on the fact that the lad couldn’t search the entire area by himself.
“Anything?” Vernon asked as soon as Jack entered through the doors.
“No. I found the site where it happened, but until the mist has cleared it’s too dangerous to leave the road. Jack responded; he knew that for a fact. He may not be the outdoors’s expert that Dave was, but he wasn’t stupid. The lands around the manor were rocky, with sudden drops everywhere. One wrong footstep in this weather, could cost him his life. “Where is Dave now?” Jack asked, looking around. He had been upstairs in his room asleep when Charlie had brought back his younger brother, and hadn’t had a chance to see him, before Vernon had tasked him in locating Nick.
“Down in the lab.” Vernon said.
“Why is he down there, shouldn’t he be helping?” Jack asked, as whilst he knew the land directly around the manor already. Dave’s intelligence of the surrounding terrain and place to hide would be of unrivalled help, outside of getting the help of The Imperial Rangers.
“Your brother has helped enough already.” Vernon replied curtly.
“Really, whether he had caused more harm than good, you’re deliberately hindering any remote chance that we have in finding Nick.” Jack asked getting annoyed. Whilst he may not have agreed with his younger brother’s decision of letting Alan leave, albeit for entirely different reasons. This feud between Dave and Vernon had gone on for far too long.
“Your brother is out for a week anyway, until his nose heals.” Vernon said, he knew what Jack was probably right, but that did nothing to cool his anger with Dave. However, this was enough for Jack who marched right past the butler and headed down to the medical lab.
Dave was sitting up in his bed and completely bored out of his mind, the week that Vernon had ordered him to remain inside would be the longest seven days of his life. Couple that with the fact that the presence of the Bot’s made him an effective prisoner in his own home, meant that he was already working on a plan of escape. If for no other reason, simply to prove that he could do it.
These thoughts however were interrupted by the arrival of Jack, looking wearier than usual having been out all day trying to correct his blunder.
“Have you found him?” Dave asked, although he knew the answer before he had even opened his mouth.
“No.” Jack said simply sitting down on a chair. “Which is why I’m asking for your help.” He finished, slightly more stiffly than he had indented.
“Can’t, can I.” Dave said. gesturing at his broken and still slightly bloody nose. “Anyway, I’ve been confined here for the week even without my injuries.” Dave finished. At this Jack did lose his temper.
“If you want to keep acting like a spoiled brat, then go ahead. But you have failed to notice that our brother is still missing.” Jack said angrily. At this he began to walk out of the room to let Dave think on his words. However, what happened next took Jack by surprise. He heard a sniff come from behind him. He turned around to see tears coming out of his twelve-year-old brother eyes.
“I know it’s my fault, but I told him not to come. I told him I worked best alone. And now he’s gone.” Dave said and Jack thought that it was a miracle that he was managing to speak so coherently. “I should have gone after th-them by n-now.” Dave said starting to stutter now, which caused Jack to step in. Just to stop his younger brother continuing to stutter.
“Aye. It was your fault little brother. That being said however.” Jack stated walking up to Dave. “You couldn’t have gone after them. You were out cold for over an hour after the attack.” Jack said, putting his hand on Dave’s shoulder trying to steady it, before deciding to get down to the main reason he had come down here. “I need to know what exactly happened out on the road Dave. I need to know anything that was said, no matter how insignificant you think it is.” Jack asked. As he was speaking Vernon walked through the door and leaned on the wall, watching the two brothers interact.
“They said they only needed one of us.” Dave said, having got his vice under control, it had been the thing that had first alerted him to the fact that this wasn’t just some chance encounter. Jack only nodded for him to continue on with his thoughts. “I think I managed to kill one of them, but I was knocked out before I could check.” Dave finished. At which Vernon chimed in catching both boys by surprise.
“He was dead. Charlie is currently examining him right now.” Vernon stated, if stance was still the same, but his tone was slightly warmer at least. “Jack would you mind giving us a minute.” Vernon finished and the fifteen-year-old nodded and departed. As he did so the old butler walked up to Dave, who obviously expected more verbal abuse withdrew slightly. “It’s alright kid. I owe you an apology it would seem.” Vernon said as he walked up to Dave’s bedside.
“Really?” Dave asked, slightly more eager now. He had known the butler for his entire life and could count the times he had back peddled on one of his statements on the fingers of one hand.
“Yes. I was too harsh on you kid.” Vernon said sitting down in the chair that Jack had vacated. “I know that you were most likely pressured by your father to let him lose, and the fact that Nick brow beat you into letting him join your missions.” Vernon continued, and Dave opened his mouth to speak, but Vernon put up his hand and continued on. “But you need to learn that your recklessness needs to stop. People, including you have already gotten hurt because of it. You understand.” Vernon finished and Dave nodded his head, he had never minded putting himself in danger, he liked living on the edge. But the old butler was right. Nick was missing and his father was gods know where.
“Vernon I’m sorry.” Dave said hollowly.
“I know you are master David.” Vernon said, as he got up and walked out of the room before turning around. “After the week is up. I’ll let you go out and help your brother.” He continued and Dave nodded eagerly. Vernon then did something that the kid did not expect, he turned towards the bot’s and dismissed them from the room, before turning back to him. “If you try and sneak out. I’ll recall them.” Vernon finished and limped out of the room leaving Dave alone to his thoughts.
Back upstairs Jack walked over to the communications set up that they had built for the manor, wanting to try something out. The idea had come to him, out of, at least it seemed to him, out of thin air.
He took out the wires that connected it to the mains power, and instead, plugged them into battery from one of the stationary Bot’s. as if on cue, the machine started up. He took a step back in amazement that it had actually worked, he had been doubtful of his idea. But decided just to test it out a bit more. Ordering the bot into the communications centre he plugged the machine into the mainframe. And suddenly everything from the hologram to even the TV. Which had until that point only been receiving static, was now able to receive images, which is when Jack stomach plummeted at the title on the screen.
‘Breaking News. Convicted Traitor and former employee at Wolfrick Co, Geoffrey Randell, found dead in his cell.’
“Erm Guys!” Jack shouted at anyone that could hear him. At which Charlie came running up the stairs and into the living room and saw the caption on the TV. Vernon had also arrived and looked at the screen in disbelief, whether it was the headline, or just the fact that they were getting a signal. Jack remained unsure.
“How. How did you get it working?” Vernon asked.
“I plugged it out of the mains and into one of Dmitri Bot’s.” Jack replied, he was himself amazed that it had worked, until the TV flickered and turned off. He ran to the communications centre where he saw that it was due to the Bot having run out of power.
“So, you’re saying that if we can run our communications off anything but the mains, we can talk to the world.” Vernon said looking at Jack.
“Seems like it.” Charlie responded looking at the rudimentary power set up. ‘Of course, their communications systems problems would have an easy solution.’ Charlie said slightly cursing herself for not figuring it out before. But no matter which person had figured it out, the fact remained that this was a real gamechanger for the group. The mist would and could remain most likely, but its effects had been greatly diminished. However, now they had bigger problems. Their primary source of information regarding The Answer was dead and they had no idea how it had happened.