The gun was loud. The metal stung and burned in his stomach. He was thrown into the air, feeling almost weightless for a brief moment, before gravity reasserted itself and sent him tumbling down the slope a second time.
It was not as bad as the first time.
He landed in a heap near the car. Mr Echo and Snowy had quite concerned looks on their faces, so he had to be in pretty bad shape. The fact that it hurt to walk, and that his intestines, if left to their own devices would escape his body, was also a strong indication thereof.
Nonetheless, he started trekking back up towards the – apparently not abandoned – house on the ridge._
‘I have to get back up there,’ he told his friends, ‘Because A, she has Cornelius at gunpoint; and B, I think she likes me.’
The Duke stared into the spherical object in his hands. Cogs and gears spun silently around one another inside it, in a strange intricate pattern. He had seen the things in the room, and just had a feeling that some of them belonged together. He had never, as far as he could remember, been much for creating gadgets like this – and yet, in almost no time at all, he had made this.
It would make people forget. Duke didn’t know how he knew that – presumably the same way he had known how to build it. Maybe the last time he built one it misfired, and he wiped his own memory? Maybe the knowledge had been imparted to him by the weird doctor-looking fellow who he had seen in his dreams before waking in the ruined caravan?
Regardless – if used with care, it could likely be a useful tool. He was glad he had it.
Duke put the orb away in his pocket, next to the scalpel. It was a rusty thing, the scalpel – you wouldn’t want to use it on your friends, nor likely on anything you intended to eat, but for self defence it would do just fine. It was a fair bit lighter than his regular knife, but he had given that one to Eli, so that the kid would have something to defend himself with if things went bad.
With luck, he will never have to use it, but maybe he’ll feel a bit safer having it.
The Duke stared absent-mindedly down the corridor. Snowy had run off in a great hurry after he discovered that the reactor, which Cornelius and Mr Echo had gone to, was deadly to be around. The Duke hoped Snowy would get to them in time.
He had elected to not go with Snowy, because one could carry the message as easily as two, and someone needed to stay and watch the kid. No way they were taking Eli into the radioactive death-zone, nor leaving him here. So the Duke stayed here, keeping an eye on-
Hang on, where is he?
The Duke looked around, a slight look of concern on his face. Eli had been right next to him a moment ago. How could he had disappeared? And to where?
“Eli?” he called out.
Right, kid doesn’t speak much. That might make it tricky to find him.
The vault seemed long since abandoned, but he wouldn’t want to bet on it. But hey, at least the kid had a knife, and instructions to defend himself.
Movement from down the corridor caught his attention. It was not Eli, unfortunately, but it wasn’t hostiles either.
Oh, hey, there’s Snowy with Mr Echo and Cornelius. They look a bit worse for wear, but both alive. And that’s a LOT of gasoline. Great!
Now that they were safe and alive, they were just about done with the vault. It was time to get Eli and leave. This was not a nice place for anyone to be, least of all kids. Too claustrophobic. Kid is scared enough as it is.
Eli wouldn’t go far, so it was a matter of searching every nook and cranny until they found him. His quiet nature could make it take a while, but hey – The Duke had told Eli to shout if he was in danger, so if he didn’t make any sounds, it meant he was safe.