A soldier stands guard along the small perimeter that was set up by Codsworth, it was by no means an impressive piece of fortification, but it had been successful in repelling the Barter raiders. As he walks about the perimeter, he notices something in the distance. A shadow moving in the distance, originally, he thought it was a trick in the darkness, the object was after all as black as the night sky. But after looking again he was able to see the same hulking black outline on the horizon.
“We've got movement out here!” The soldier shouted switching to night vision to get a better, the figure was much clearer now. The bear looked up at the noise as Codsworth rushes down to the soldier, with Dmitri not far behind.
“Can you see anything Jones?” Codsworth said looking into the darkness, he could make something out but had left his own night vision goggles back in the command tent. Dmitri turns on the Night vision goggles on and starts scanning the horizon. He stopped after a few a few moments, seeing the hulking animal.
“There's deffo something out there. Some kind of animal.” Dmitri said looking into the distance. His initial thought was that it was Brydon, before he realised that he was over three hundred miles to the south east. As he was thinking this there was the sound of thunder from behind them. Dmitri turned around to see the mountain looming above them, their decision to camp here had caused alarm among the men, especially from the locals whose sympathies lay with them, who had joined their force along the march west. They had arrived at Rocksburg, less than a week ago and the ancient mountain was already starting to wake up to their presence. Even Dmitri was starting to become weary. As he turned around to see if the creature was still outside their camp, but after a minute hard scanning, he could find no trace of the beast.
“Well, sound must have scared it off.” Dmitri said, although he wasn’t convinced by this explanation. “Keep your eye out lad.” Dmitri said to the soldier who had first called out and then walked back into the camp.
Later that night and Dmitri was lying awake in his tent, completely exhausted but unable to sleep, although he knew that most of their army was also suffering, people dead on their feet wandering about and unable to get any rest. Most claimed that it was the mountain, that they were angering it by remaining here and Dmitri was starting to come around to that thought process as well.
“Still awake soldier?” The voice of Igradust said, Dmitri looked up to see the ghost looking at him from the corner of his tent.
“You. Are you responsible for this?” Dmitri asked thinking about the exhaustion of the camp.
“No.” Igradust said simply. His long black bear remaining still despite the wind coming down from the mountain, having already dislodged two of their tents, this past night. “But your forces will get no rest until they leave this mountain.” Igradust said, turning away to face the black mountain.
“So, we have to leave.” Dmitri said, more to himself, but as he was quickly learning talking to yourself in the presence of a ghost, was never a private thought.
“They do. Yes. You, no.” Igradust said.
“I can’t leave them though.” Dmitri said looking up, he had started to grow fond of the men outside his tent, he had thought it would be easy, leaving to go on his own mission. But he was now finding himself looking for excuses not to leave.
“These men are dead. You just can’t see it. Everyone in this camp will die. And soon.” Igradust said, with what appeared to be a tone of pity in his voice. Before he got and walked to the tent flaps. “My associate. Brutus should be here soon. Just play nice with him. He’s not that fond of your kind.” Igradust finished before walking out of the tent and disappearing from view.
Before Dmitri could ponder on what he had just been told. A shout came again from the north side once again and Dmitri rushed out, grabbing his gun and night vision goggles, to join Codsworth who was already at the northern perimeter.
“What is it?” Dmitri said switching to night vision.
“The bear’s back.” Codsworth said loading his gun. Dmitri remembering what Igradust had told him, raised his hand to stop the commander.
“Hold.” Dmitri said. as he walked over the perimeter and out into the darkness. Codsworth walked about the lines and spoke with his men, telling them to not shoot, but to keep their gun’s trained on Dmitri.
Dmitri walked out into the open plains, stopping just as he reached the line that marked the unsafe lands, as the troops had begun to call it. Two of their men had perished already by crossing into to the Badlands accidently, which was the reason for the physical line that Codsworth had ordered place. He turned around to the camp, hoping that they would listen to him about not firing their guns. When he turned around, he saw the beast less than ten meters away from him. He had been right in assuming that it was a bear, but a normal bear was half the size of this thing. There was only one person he had seen this size and he knew from that experience to tread very lightly.
“Your… You’re Brutus. Aren’t you?” Dmitri asked the creature. The bear looked at him when he mentioned the name. Seemingly recognising it. The bears black eyes looked him up and down, it looked to Dmitri that the creature was sizing him up. After a few moments the bear reared up on its hind legs and roared. It was deafening and it took every ounce of courage that Dmitri had not to turn and run. Then the bear transformed, as Dmitri had guessed into a man, seven feet tall, with long black hair reaching down his back and ending at his waist. Brutus walked forward, and Dmitri saw that it wasn’t just the skin that this man retained when transforming, his eyes were the exact same colour as the bear he inhabited.
“Dmitri Jones.” Brutus said, his harsh voice even more terrifying than his looks. As Brutus walked forward, he saw that his skin was scarred and cracked, as if he had suffered numerous injuries in his time.
“Yeah.” Dmitri said, looking at him and resisting the urge to pull out his gun and start firing at the man.
“Tell your men to lower their gun’s. Or else people will start to get hurt.” Brutus said, looking over Dmitri towards the camp. When Dmitri hesitated Brutus looked down at him continuing. “You’ve met my kind before boy, you know how difficult it would be to stop me when I come. So, tell your men, to lower their weapons and stand down.” Brutus finished.
“Stand down, lower your gun’s.” Dmitri said into the communicator, although he could have shouted it, that may have provoked Codsworth into acting rashly. He now had to hope that they would obey him.
“Your troops are smart to lower their weapons.” Brutus said returning his gaze to the camp, Dmitri turned as well but couldn’t see a thing.
“You can see in the dark?” Dmitri said looking up at Brutus.
“Yes.” Brutus said striding towards the camp and, thinking that if this man strode into camp alone would cause a slaughter, he quickly followed him, tricky on his exhausted legs. As he had to take two strides for everyone that Brutus took.
Inside Codsworth’s command tent Brutus was sitting down on a chair, he hadn’t wanted to do this, but he was too tall for him to stand. Inside were only Dmitri and the commander himself.
“Why are you here?” Codsworth said, sitting down, normally he would be standing when he questioned people. But he knew that phycological mind games wouldn’t work on this man, he had almost certainly known them all. Plus, the fact that he would cut through them like butter if he thought he was being intimidated.
“He sent me. To keep an eye on your march though my lands.” Brutus replied.
“Who sent you?” Codsworth asked.
“Igradust. He came to me a little over a yar ago now. Told me that imperials would need my help.” Brutus answered. Codsworth paused at this, he was uncertain about this creatures’ true intensions, but the fact remained that they were still alive. Which meant that he could be all bad. However, Brutus’ next words changed all that. “Let me make this clear. I don’t like you imperials, I think your blind, and greedy, and arrogant. Two years ago, I would have killed you all the second you stepped foot on my soil.” Brutus stood up and looked down at the commander. “But times have changed, and The Wizard seems to trust you. So, I will help you cross these lands, when the time is right.” Brutus finished and walked out of the tent leaving Codsworth and Dmitri thoroughly confused.
“Do you think he’s really here to help?” Codsworth said, getting up and looking at Dmitri, as he paused thinking on that question.
“If he wasn’t. we’d be dead.” Dmitri replied and left the command tent to return to his own much smaller tent. As he approached, he found Brutus laying in front of the tent flaps and looking up at the stars.
“You know that these men are dead.” Brutus said not taking his eyes from the stars. He spoke so casually of this, that it took Dmitri by surprise. He quickly recovered his composure, however.
“Yes. He told me.” Dmitri replied.
“And did you believe him?” Brutus asked looking at Dmitri for the first time since entering the camp.
“Yes. But only because we all die eventually.” Dmitri replied.
“He is never wrong. As much as we all want him to be.” Brutus said. this was if anything, even more concerning, considering what Igradust had told him. He walked into his tent and lay down on the bed, thinking through what he had been told. Unable to sleep, even if he wanted to.