Alek's eyes snapped open, his whole body shuddering. He was so cold... It was like his entire body was numb to the core. He tried to move his arms and legs, but it was like they were coated in think syrup, heavy and useless.
His eyes slowly got used to the murky darkness and he noticed the ceiling above him was made of crude stone. Water was dripping from it and onto the floor beneath him, which he guessed was stone as well, judging by the craggy surface under his body. He wanted to sit up but his arms were so heavy he couldn't even budge them.
Where am I?, Alek thought to himself, his thoughts still thick. It felt like his head was floating in water, bobbing around like a piece of driftwood. He honestly did not know where he could possibly be. The last thing he remembered was being on board the Leviathan talking to, to....
Alek felt his heart speed up. Deryn! He had been talking to her when the ship had been hit! Where was she now? He had to find her. Suddenly his muscles were fueled and he wrenched his limbs from the damp floor. He lurched up and foward, nearly toppling himself over. He sat on his knees, inspecting the reason for his beligerant arms.
There were thick iron shackles around his wrists, and a matching set on his ankles, all connected to angry looking chains that were welded to rings on the wall in front of him. Now that his head was clearer he was able to get a good look around in the darkness.
All of the walls were stone, the room itself was less than fifteen feet from one side to the other. He blinked and squinted around. A wooden door with metal grating covering a small peephole seemed to be the only noticable exit. He turned his head and saw the fading sunlight streaming in from a small grated window far above him.
God's wounds, he was in jail!
Alek forced himself to his feet, fighting the weight of the shackles that bound him there. He trudged his way to the door and flung the chains against it. He needed to get out, to find Deryn. He racked his brains, trying to remember something, anything. But nothing came. He beat the door furiously, feeling the tears start to sting in the corners of his eyes.
"I DEMAND TO KNOW WHERE I AM!" he bellowed to no one in particular. "I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE RIGHT THIS INSTANT!!! LET ME OUT!!!" he beat the chains against the door, making quite a racket. But no one came to answer him. He yanked at the shackles, trying to force his hand out of it, but to no avail.
There was a groaning sound behind him and Alek spun around. There was something stirring in the darkest corner of the cell.
"Oy, quit making so much barking noise! My head is pounding, you daft git!" the voice was raspy, but definatly belonged to the one person he most wanted to see at this moment.
"DERYN!!!!" Alek cried, and he dragged his bindings across the room and knelt by his best friend whom he had not noticed before. She was slumped up against the wall, her fair skin covered in dirt and blood, clothes torn and tattered. Her right eye was bruised and fresh blood was dripping from a crack in her dry lips. Alek tried to get close to her, but his shackles got in the way, so he just sat there, watching her, unable to keep himself from smiling despite the situation at hand. She was alive.
"Are you alright? What happened?" he asked her. "The last thing I remember is talking to you on the Leviathan then I woke up here, chained to a wall."
He took Deryn's hands as she tried to right herself, wincing in pain. "Well, thank your bloody German pals! The bastards ambushed us, took the whole ship down." her voice was soft, yet he could hear the acid behind it as she spoke. "Everything, gone. You," she said, locking her eyes on his. 'You were knocked on the head before it even got bad. The blighters invaded the ship before they set fire to it and found you where I'd stashed your useless body to keep it safe. I tried to get them off you, but they beat me to smitherines and took me with 'em." she spat on the floor, her face stony.
"Deryn, I..." Alek began, but one look shut him down. She was angrier than he had ever seen her, angrier than he had ever seen another human being in his life. The Leviathan was gone, dead. The men, his men...
"Deryn, I'm sorry. It's all my fault, I was what they were looking for - "
She held up a hand and placed her shaking fingers over his mouth. Her touch was so delicate he could barely feel it. He took her hand, her fingers cold as ice. "Don't" she said softly, her eyes loosing some of the bitterness. "It was not your fault at all. You didn't know. You were as good an airman as any of the others who gave their lives on that ship." her voice grew fainter and she rested back agains the wall, closing her eyes. Alek kept her hand in his, feeling just how small it was. Small enough...
He slid the thick shackle on her wrist up her arm to her hand. She watched him as he slowly slid her tiny hand through the metal cuff. It caught momentarily on her thumb, but came off with a swift tug. She took her hand back and shook it a few times.
"Barking brilliant, you are." she said, smiling. "I didn't even think of that."
"Your a girl, Dummkopf. Your wrists are bound to be smaller than mine." he gave his cuff a half hearted tug as Deryn slipped her other hand through. She motioned for Alek to pull her boot off. He forced it through the restricting shackle, but it came free and her small foot slid right out of the restraint. They got her other leg free, then Alek helped her stand.
"Leave off, I'm fine" she siad, but soon stumbled to the ground, groaning in pain. He caught her gently. "I guess those blokes hit me harder than I thought." she leaned on Alek for support and took a few limping steps. Deryn clutched her side with one arm, the other wrapped tightly around Alek's neck.
"Cripes, it sure is cold in here." she shivered, taking a seat on the floor again. She wrapped her arms around her self and curled up. Alek rolled his eyes and hed his arms open. She gave him an exhasperated look and continued to shiver.
"Your too proud to come and get warm? Fine then, freeze for all I care." Alek said with mock seriousness. He reclined against the cold wall and shut his eyes, letting his tired arms rest from holding up the cuffs and chains. He heard Deryn drag herself closer, her body resting agains his. She was shivering like mad. Alek maneuvered the chains around and pulled her against him. She was in pain, and had been injured when trying to protect her ship and his life. Alek wasn't going to sit around and let her shiver herself to death in this foreign cell.
"Where, are we exactly?" Alek asked quietly in Deryn's ear. "Do you have even the faintest clue?"
She sighed. "Aye, Austria is all I know. I have no idea what prison or anything else really. They kept me knocked out for most of the trip. Me and the others and you were bound and gagged. I think you woke up once for a second, but thsy put you under with the same stuff they used on us. Smelled terrible."
Alek got a flashback to when Count Volger and Otto Klopp had snuck him from his home the night his parents were murdered. Volger had stuffed something unpleasant under his nose and sent him right to sleep. Volger...
"Who were the others they took?"
"I'm not sure of them all, but I know your precious Volger is in here somewhere. But I'm almost certain Klopp, Bauer, and Hoffman were all killed in the accident."
Alek winced, the words like an arrow in his heart. Those men had died protecting an enemy ship, protecting him...He coughed and choked tears back. At least Volger might still be alive.
"Do you think Volger is here at all?" he asked, his heart beating rapidly.
"Aye, I'm guessing so, Alek. But I can't be sure so don't go getting your hopes up. Its not like were getting out of here anytime soon," she spat then coughed, holding her chest. Alek supported her until she settled. Something was wrong with Deryn, that cough had not been right...
"Lift up your shirt" Alek said quickly, turing het in his arms. He reached for her jacket zipper.
"Alek! What in blazes are you doing! It's freexing! You want me to die here?"
"Thats what I'm trying to stop!" he told her, and she sighed, letting him lift up her tattered shirt. The skin beneath was warm, and Alek took a sharp breath when he saw what had happened. Deryn's right side was compleletly blue, a giant angry bruise. But upon closer inspection, he saw that it wasn't just a bruise, but she was most likely bleeding internally.
"What, you ninny? I'mm be fine, just need to heal up a bit."
But Alek quickly untangled her from himself and rested her on the wall, standing and flying over to the door. He battered the wood with his fists and the chains, trying to attract some kind of attention. "HELP!!! I NEED HELP!!! A SOLDIER IS DYING IN HERE!!!" Alek screamed into the door, willing it to budge. But nothing happened.
Alek heard muffled footsteps just then, coming closer to the door. He beat the door until the sound of jingling keys were audiable outside. He hurried back over to Deryn just as she was slipping the last cuff over her wrist. The door creaked open slowly, and a hulking figure stood there, cast in dark shadow. The figure stood while a second smaller one strode into view and through the open door. Alek nearly choked when the persons face came into the light.
"Well, looks like you've made quite the scene, and just in time, too!" Count Volger said smoothly, looking down his nose at Alek, who stood defiantly before him. "There's someone upstairs who I'm sure is dying to see you, Alek."