The days after the first evening went pretty quickly, we spent time gathering supplies to build the camp up and also for us, food and clothes mainly, we started farming fresh food, that really gave us all some hope, after a few days we were all riding a wave of excitement.
Sadly this was cut short by human intervention.
Theo , Markus and myself ventured out on a scavenging mission, routine stuff by now, we went down into Severograd, we had been frequenting the place as it was a trove of building supplies but we often heard large barrages of gunfire from the town, we were always on edge when we hit the outskirts of the town.
As we turned a corner we were ambushed by three individuals, all three masked and armed, we talked for a little while but i had a sense of dread coming over me, this felt all to familiar and then the inevitable happen, guns were pulled and we were being held up, we all complied, all we wanted was to get out of the situation safely, this did not happen.
They walked us to a clearing in the woods, hands above our heads, they then told us to crouch down, they proceeded to restrain us all, i was watching every detail of the men, my mind was racing taking in every detail i could, i had been here before i was going to make it through, i kept telling myself, young Theo wasn't doing as well, he was scared, you could see it, his head was hanging down and he was staring at the floor.
The men introduced themselves as The Order, i hadn't heard of them, never wish i had, they asked us questions then proceed to press a little harder on Theo, he was young which they thought meant he was weak, they couldn't have been more wrong. They worked Theo then moved onto me, they got nothing, i was stone, they could try whatever they liked, they were not getting an once of weakness from me, they left Markus be, ruffed him up a little but that was it, they proceeded to carve the letters TO into our necks as a brand, all three of us took it well this seemed to aggravate the man, two of the men dragged Theo away from us, at this point i cracked, i couldn't stomach anything sinister happening to the young lad, i pleaded that whatever they were going to do they did it to me not the kid, they held me down and made me watch as Theo's back was cut open, they held my eyes ope as a watched in silent disgust and panic.
They pulled me and Markus up to look at Theo, the poor boy was a mess but he was still conscious, tough little nut it seemed. They then held me down and proceeded to press a road flare into my back, it was just another burn added to the scars, i steadied myself and took the burn, luckly that had gagged me previously due to me trying to take all the punishment. they seemed to get bored after that they gave us back our clothes and moved away, leaving us to gather ourselves.
We moved down into the train station, at this point i insisted that i tend to Theo's wounds, they men had stitched him back up badly, using thick leather ties and a large needle, i worked in silence, i passed Theo a strap of leather to bite down on, it took a few minutes but i stitched him back up and bound his wounds, Markus stood guard outside, having sustained little damage, Theo dressed and wandered outside, i then took off my jacket and shirt, revealing a patchwork of scars and marks from previous incidents and accidents, the newest on my back was red hot, i pulled a bottle of scotch out of my bag and emptied it over my burning shoulder and back, it stung and hissed as i did this but, it as necessary.
I put my clothes back on and took a moment to gather myself, i was tired, more tired than i'd ever been but i walked out of the station and got the two lads back to work, we came for supplies and we were going to get them, we walked back to camp bags laden with supplies, all three of us were completely shattered, i took up my spot next to the fire, pushed my boots off with my feet and rubbed them, they were getting worse, i watched Theo, he was meticulously cleaning his rifle, he had been through the mill today, i didn't say a word just shared in the silence around the fire.
We needed to grow, we needed more in Fifty Two if we were going to survive against the sorta people we had run into that day.