Voting on Round 3 of The Oceans Burned is wrapping up tomorrow, so make sure you make your selection before its over!
I’ve also finished up the final segment of Iron and Ice’s second chapter: Frozen Dreams. With the end of this chapter, the story of Dimitri and Yanin’s harrowing journey home comes to a close. I’ll probably take a break from Iron and Ice next week, and then get cracking on Chapter 3!
Frozen Dreams Part 7
Dimitri gazed sleepily at a curved, rock ceiling. Turning his head to the side, he recognized the dark space as the infirmary. However, he could not recall how he had come to be there. His last memory had been of Hessel using a harness to pull Yanin’s limp form out of Dimitri’s mech. With a sudden surge of panic he sat straight up in bed. He surveyed the beds around him, but did not see his friend. He was alone in the infirmary. On a nearby table, a candle cast dancing shadows around the room.
Then I didn’t make it in time.
Dimitri slumped back into the clean white sheets of the medical bed. Normally, he would have felt ecstatic to be treated to such luxury, but now he just felt sick. His brain struggled to process the evidence his eyes were presenting him.
Dimitri had known that getting Yanin back alive had been a long shot from the beginning, but they had just been so close. If they hadn’t been attacked by their own people… If they had gotten back just a little sooner, maybe they could have saved him. Dimtri felt anger burning inside him when he thought about the base defenses opening up on him. It was their fault that Yanin was dead. They had killed him.
Dimitri was about to throw off the sheets and storm out of the infirmary when the wooden door squealed on rusty hinges and Darya stepped into the room. Seeing him awake, her eyes brightened slightly. She opened her mouth to speak, but stopped when she saw the dark look on his face. She closed the door behind herself and then took a few steps into the room. The dim light from the candle shown in her eyes.
“Welcome back, Dimitri. You look like you have something you want to say.”
“Who was on watch when we came in?”
Darya’s stared at him. “I was.”
Dimitri’s scowl deepened. “You identified us as an enemy?”
Darya’s gaze did not waver. Her face was set in stone. “I couldn’t see. I reported a lone, unidentified unit approaching. I couldn’t be sure you weren’t an enemy scout and-”
“And you let them open fire.”
Darya shook her head once. “I didn’t give any order-”
“It doesn’t matter!” Dimitri let the anger flow into his voice. He didn’t care that Darya outranked him. Right now he needed an outlet for the pain that was building inside. “Yanin is dead because we didn’t get back in time and all you can say is that it wasn’t your order?!”
Darya closed the distance between them in a few short, swift steps and stabbed a finger into Dimitri’s chest. “You forget that we are only a few short kilometers from enemy territory and we could be wiped out in an instant if the enemy ever found out where we are. As the officer on watch, I had the responsibility of protecting everyone on this base. I can’t jeopardize that because of wishful thinking.” Although her eyes smoldered with anger, her voice remained steady. Dimitri found that he would rather she had yelled. “The decision to open fire was made by a panicky gun crew. After they opened fire, the others followed suit. Kirill was driving the machine that got you. He also acted without specific orders and without confirming his target.” Darya straightened up and let out a sigh. “All responsible parties are being reprimanded. Kirill is outside, waiting to apologize.” She stuck a thumb out at the door behind her.
Dimitri just looked at the ceiling again. “An apology won’t bring Yanin back.”
Darya’s face cracked into a hint of a smile. “It won’t have to.”
Dimitri’s jaw dropped. “Then, you mean?”
Darya gave an exaggerated shrug. “The medics could only keep him here for one day. Even though his injuries were much more severe than yours, he demanded to be released after staying only one night.” She pointed an accusing finger at Dimitri. “You, on the other hand, have been asleep for three days straight. I guess you got a nasty bump on the head from Kirill.”
Dimitri just stared at her for a moment, unsure of how to react. “I, uh, guess that its my turn to apologize now.” He smiled sheepishly.
Darya patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it.” She turned and headed for the door. “But make sure that you give Kirill a hard time. He deserves it.”