Hereford Base was a highly secured military area and as the elders thought, it was untouchable. Every recruit often heard the story of how they protected the Base; with fifteen foot fences, mile long barbed wires on top of them, surrounded by dark forests and rigid fields. Rookies were usually sent out to survive in the middle of the night as training, but without the help of Kapkan, nobody was able to find their way back - or find the lost newbies.
The base was hard to find, but not hidden, the people living in the towns nearby knew about the military training going on here, but since nobody wanted to deal with law, nobody wanted to come closer. On the roads, leading to the base were big signs telling the intruders about the rules of this restricted area. There were warnings for weapons such as guns and experimental rockets or bombs, different kind of traps, field trainings across the forests and meadows and every kind of military activity. The civilians living in the towns knew about them, and nobody wanted to come and spy on the base.
Sometimes there were interesting cases, of course, like drunk teens or lost tourists, but these accidents were always handled with care and no civilian ever set foot in the base. Every member of Team Rainbow was living in the illusion, that nobody could get inside without their knowledge, but in the end they happened to be wrong.
One night, when only the German and Russian teams were left on base, the emergency spotlights switched on and with the blaring horns and shouted swearwords, everybody jumped to their feet to look after the intruders. For hours no one found anything, but as the sun was slowly rising, Kapkan got back with the prey.
To everybody’s honest surprise, the stranger who triggered the emergency system wasn’t a drunk teen nor a lost tourist, not even some White Mask idiot, who got bored of their life; but a child.
The kid was about 8-9 years old, his brown hair messy from sweat and dirt, big blue eyes filled with tears and awe. His clothes were torn, bloody, like he fell over and they were way too thin for the weather of mid October. He was shaking from the cold and probably fear, all in all, the boy looked like he went through hell.
“What. The actual. Fuck?” was Fuze’s only comment as they were watching the kid from the other side of the interrogation room. “How did a brat like that get in?”
Next to him Kapkan - who was also muddy and dirty - shrugged. “This is too suspicious…”
The door opened and the German team stepped inside with Glaz and Tachanka. Blitz walked closer to the two-sided mirror, looking at the kid then turned to face the other. “Do you really think, that dragging a child into the interrogation room is the best idea?! He looks like he is in shock, how… Why? Maxim!”
“What? He set off the security system! Boy can be a spy!” Kapkan shrugged, earning four lifted eyebrows and three short nods.
Tachanka looked at the German leader. “Wouldn’t be new. Nobody can know nowadays, Mossad even trains them to be soldiers. Maxim, did you find any weapons on him?”
Kapkan shook his head. “No weapon. Just this?” he took out a professional walkie-talkie.
Blitz looked at them with terror. “You can’t be serious, guys. This is a kid! A kid scared to death! Monika get him some dry clothes, I don’t care whose, Marius, go to Doc’s office, get a medkit, this kid is bleeding!” nodding, Jäger and IQ left.
Kapkan shook his head. “The security protocol-!”
“I don’t care about the damn protocol, this is a child!” Blitz was ready to fight all the four Russians. As the argument between Kapkan, Blitz and Tachanka started to get out of hand Bandit stepped closer to the mirror, looking at the kid. The boy was shaking, from cold or fear, he could only guess. He was sitting in the corner of the room, on the ground, legs pulled up. He tried to look as small as possible, tear stained face buried into his bloody knees. As the German looked closer, he could see the glimpse of the boy’s eyes; he was staring at the mirror. Bandit shook his head, turning towards the shouting teammates.
“Shut the fuck up already, all of you!” he looked at them. “How about we just ask him how he got here, before we cause a lifelong trauma, eh?”
Kapkan rolled his eyes. “You shouldn’t be so soft!”
Bandit smiled at him. “True, I would never hunt down an eight years old kid in the forest, tie his arms behind his back and push him in a room with no windows!”
“I tied his hands, because he was kicking and clawing. He even tried to bite! I needed to bring him back, that was my task! I only used my scarf, I didn’t even tie that tight.”
“His wrist is bloody! He wanted to defend himself, you piece of shit! You teach your niece to do the same, if somebody attacks her!” Bandit rolled his eyes.
Kapkan fell silent suddenly feeling remorse, next to him Glaz nodded. “Dom is right. There is even blood on the walls from previous cases, if we don’t treat him kinder, we could hurt him seriously.”
With a sigh Tachanka nodded, looking at Blitz. “Okay. But never leave him alone, understand? I will contact Thatcher!” heading towards the door, he waved to his comrades to follow him.
With a sigh of relief Blitz turned to face Bandit. “Thank you!”
Bandit shook his head, handing the keys to the other room to Blitz. “Just get him out, okay? I will call Ela and Zofia for some assistance with cracking the kiddo,” with this, he left.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Kapkan couldn’t find the boy in the forest and couldn’t drag him to the base for hours now, they couldn’t get him out of the interrogation room. Who would have thought that a little kid has stronger will than bunch of grown up elite soldiers? By the end of the day most of them tried, but failed to get the child out of the room. During dinner, they sat around one of the biggest tables.
“How is this even possible?” Tachanka was looking at Fuze. He asked the younger to approach the kid. He came back with a bite mark on his eyebrow.
“I tried, as you told me to… At first I just asked him, but he didn’t answer so I tried to grab him. He almost headbutted me and bit my eyebrow, it hurts like a bitch!” said Fuze, rubbing on the teeth indents in an attempt to sooth them.
Across from the table, Jäger and Bandit almost burst out laughing.
“At least he is a smart little guy! They teach this in self defence classes if you have a bigger opponent against you. The skin under your eyebrow is full of nerves,” IQ smiled at Fuze.
“I don’t care if he is smart! I will let Maxim tie him up again to get him out of there!” Tachanka shook his head.
Bandit lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t know, did you try to… I dunno really, ask him to get out instead of hurting him?”
Tachanka looked at Fuze, who nodded. “I tried! But if you think you are that smart, you get him out!”
Every other member stared at Fuze, then Bandit for this, since the German seemed the least compatible with a kid. Blitz expected a smart comment and a shrug, but Bandit nodded to everybody’s surprise. “What do I get, if I get him out there?”
Tachanka rolled his eyes. “You can skip a week of training, you lazy fucker!”
Bandit nodded again. “Deal.”
Jäger sat up instantly. “Oh, I wanna see this!”
Bandit smiled and stood up. He stepped into the kitchen and poured some of IQ’s delicious soup into a big, white dotted orange mug. Mira loved to eat her cereal out of this, since it was much bigger than a normal cup. With the soup, he was heading downstairs to the interrogation room, with seven very interested super-soldier on his track. They entered the other room, Bandit looking after them. “But all of you are shutting up!”
They nodded and closed the door.
“If he gets the kid out of the room, I will be so pissed!” Fuze shook his head.
“Timur and Dom are the only ones who didn’t try before, he might be lucky” Kapkan stepped closer to the two-sided mirror. He bit into his bottom lip as he looked at the curled up boy, earning a soft pat on the back from Glaz.
Bandit sighed and shook his head in front of the door before slowly knocking on it. The kid looked up, as he opened the door, but immediately hid back. Bandit stepped in without closing the door. “Hey, kid!”
They boy didn’t move.
Bandit sighed, scratching his beard. “What have I gotten myself into?!” he walked around the table, closer to the corner. The boy was watching his every move like a wild animal. Bandit sat down slowly, placing the mug of soup on the ground between him and the kid.
As the boy smelt the food, he started to fidget, but didn’t budge. Bandit could hear as the kid’s stomach growled with hunger.
“When was the last time when you ate anything?” Bandit tilted his head, looking at him, but still, no answer. He nodded and leant against the wall behind him. He took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth, the kid watching him carefully. Before he lit it, he looked up at him. “Do you mind?”
The boy blinked a few, looking a bit confused but didn’t answer, so Bandit lit the cigarette and blew out some smoke, looking around the room. “I don’t even understand why did you come here in the first place. I would shit my pants in fear if I were in your shoes, but you take it pretty good!”
Bandit could hear a new growl of hunger, the kid placed a hand on his stomach looking troubled.
“You can eat that! I swear to God it’s delicious. But please don’t tell this to the pretty, blonde lady, okay? She would use it against me!”
On the other side of the wall IQ snorted sarcastically. “Oh what a fortune-teller!”
The boy looked at Bandit, then down the food, but didn’t move.
Bandit crossed his legs a little, getting comfortable on the floor. As his cigarette got shorter, he blew circles of smoke into thin air.
“H-how are you doing that?” finally, the boy looked up. His voice was nothing more than a weak whisper. Bandit shrugged.
“I dunno either. I just push my tongue somewhere and it happens!”
The boy nodded. “Will you hurt me too?”
Bandit shook his head. “I won’t even get close until you let me.”
“Promise?” the kid narrowed his eyes.
“Pinkie promise!” Bandit took the cigarette in his mouth, lifting the pinky of his right hand, allowing it to the boy. He gave the chance to reject the offer.
The boy watched him, without movement, as Bandit held his finger out to him.
“W-will you protect me from that m-mud monster, too?”
Bandit tilted his head. “What, kid?”
“It attacked me and took my walkie-talkie too!”
Bandit needed to bit into the inside of his mouth to prevent a hysterical laughter. He swallowed and cleared his throat. “Sure, buddy.”
“Pinkie promise, kiddo! I will protect you from every monster. The biggest one you can meet here is me anyway, and I’m on your side,” Bandit winked at him. The boy finally gave him a small smile, he lifted his muddy hand and hooked his pinkie finger into Bandit’s making the man smile too. “My name is Ba-Dominic. But you can call me Dom, okay?”
The boy nodded, finally unfolding himself from a ball of fear.
“What’s your name, hm?”
“Eat that soup before it gets completely cold, okay?”
Noah reached for the bowl. “Will you leave me here?”
Bandit shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong, buddy, but I don’t want to sleep here!” he saw as the kid lifted his head, eyes filling with fear again. “But you can come upstairs with me if you wanna,” the boy sighed with relief. He tasted the soup and took big, greedy gulps of it. “We will get you a bath, some clean clothes and a bed. Oh and food. Do you like the soup?”
Noah nodded again after he finished the whole bowl. “It’s very good.”
Bandit grinned. “I bet you can ask Monika for some more after we clean you!” he got to his feet, watching as the boy bit into his bottom lip. “Is there a problem?” he tilted his head.
“No monsters upstairs, right?”
Bandit grinned. “The mud monster is locked up!”
“Are you sure?”
“100% sure, Noah! I promised, no monsters.”
Noah got up his feet, bowl in his hands and stepped next to the man. As they were leaving the room, behind the kid’s back, Bandit showed his middle finger to the two-sided mirror.