The traitor

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The scream woke Dimitri. He sat up immediately in his bed. Next to him, he saw Lia, also wide awake and breathing hard. He knew then that it was her who had screamed.

'Bad dream?' he whispered to her. She nodded.

'I'm sorry I woke you,' she said. 'I know how little sleep you've had recently.'

'Come here,' he replied opening his arms to draw her closer to him. He could feel the sweat on her still and the beating of her heart as she moved into his arms.

'You're safe now,' he whispered. 'I'm here with you.'

Dimitri wonder what memory had surfaced to make Lia so anxious. There was still so much about her he didn't know. The attraction between them was sometimes the only thing he knew for sure. He felt Lia's body relax into his, but Dimitri knew that it would be a long time before sleep came to him. There were too many things on his mind to relax completely.

When Lia woke, the sun was already up and the space next to her in the bed was empty. She hadn't heard Dimitri get up but that often happened to her when she fell into the deep sleep after a bad nightmare. She moved across to the cupboard to find some clothes to train in. After a bad night few things worked as well as a solid training session to clear her mind.

Dimitri looked down at the training arena and watched Lia train. Behind him in the council meeting, the atmosphere was tense. Reports were reaching him of growing conflict in the east of the city. While it wasn't his usual area of patrol, Dimitri was very aware that any growing conflict could impact on his people in the end. All he needed was a city wide conflict to undo all of his hard work and discipline. 

'It's time for a night patrol' he heard Vlad say. 'We need to get to the root of this conflict and squash it before it spreads. I vote we go tonight.'

Dimitri saw heads around the table nodding in agreement. These were his inner circle. The men and woman he trusted with his life. Each of them would die for him.

'Let's do it then,' he said returning to his chair at the head of the table.

'Let's go into the east of the city and see for ourselves what is causing this conflict. We leave at midnight tonight.  Vlad you will keep an eye on Lia.'

Silence greeted this announcement. Dimitri wasn't sure if it was because he had agreed to the raid or because he had announced that Lia would go with them. Either way, tonight would be an interesting night, Dimitri thought as he left the council chamber.

Lia felt the tension in the air as she joined the group of fighters. She could recognise Alexi and the tall figure of Vlad, who left her side and came across to stand next to Lia. They were all dressed in black and Lia could see enough weapons to know that all the fighters were heavily armed. A cold feeling hit her and she felt slightly nauseous. Dimitri was clearly expecting trouble. Lia was dressed in black like the rest but she only carried her crossbow and a knife. She hoped it would be enough if they encountered trouble.

Dimitri joined the group and suddenly they were on the move. Lia stayed towards the middle as Dimitri had requested. Next to her was Vladimir. Lia realised that he was acting as her bodyguard and suppressed a smile. Dimitri had an overprotective side it seemed. She didn't have long to dwell on that thought though as they reached the eastern border and began to move in single file staying in the shadows of the buildings. No one made a noise as they began to move deeper into the eastern zone of the city.

Suddenly there was gunfire to the right of where the group was. Up ahead, Dimitri put up his hand to halt the group.

'Vlad, you stay here with Lia,' he whispered. 'The rest of us will go on to see what is happening ahead of us.'

Vlad nodded in agreement but Lia could see the frustration on his face. He was Dimitri's second in command but he was stuck with Dimitri's woman playing bodyguard. It must have been very annoying, Lia thought.

Vlad indicated to Lia to sit down so she did. With the rest of the group separated from them it seemed pointless to stand up and waste energy while they were waiting. Lia had barely sat down when a burst of gunfire lit up the wall where she was sitting. In the light she saw a group of about 10 men surrounding her and Vladimir. Her throat was suddenly dry and she realised they were caught in an ambush. Dimitri and the rest of the group had been deliberately drawn away, leaving her and Vladimir vulnerable to an attack.  Next to her she saw Vlad draw his gun.

'Stay down', he told her abruptly.

Across the road, out of the line of Vladimir's vision, Lia saw one of the men draw his gun and aim for Vlad. It was clear that they were going to target Vlad first as the most dangerous one and then come for her.

Lia drew her cross bow. There was no ways she was going to let Vlad die for her. Taking aim she let the arrow go. The man she targeted fell down to the floor. Dead immediately from the bow protruding from the back of his neck. Next to her Vlad gave a surprised grunt. He moved so that he was shielding her and fired a round into the men surrounding them. Lia lifted her bow again. Ready to aim at another man. She could hear in the distance the noise of the rest of Dimitri's group regrouping and coming back to where she and Vlad were pinned down. They had also realised that this was a trap and that Lia and Vlad were the real target. Lia released another bow, causing another man to fall down. Next to her Vlad, reloaded and fired again. Four men lay on the ground and the other six were circling more warily than before.

Suddenly the fight was over as the rest of the group rejoined Lia and Vlad. The men that had surrounded them melted into the night and disappeared. Lia felt a strong hand grip her shoulder.

'Are you alright?' Dimitri asked.

She nodded.

'Vlad protected me,' she replied.

Next to her Vlad cleared his throat.

'She saved my life,' he said.

Lia sensed Dimitri's surprise at this statement. She looked across at Vlad and smiled. He returned her smile. Lia knew that she had earned his respect and she felt her smile stretch wider.  She had made her first friend in the compound.

'Why did they want your woman?'

Lia was shaken from the moment by the harsh voice of Alexi. Since the day in the arena they had avoided each other but Lia knew that there was no affection for her in Alexi. That hatred ran too deep. Alexi did have a point to though. Why stage an elaborate attack just to isolate Lia and ambush her? Had the men been instructed to kill Lia or to kidnap her? Lia felt the blood rush to her face as the full implications of the attack hit her. She sensed that she was once again the object of suspicion and mistrust. Alexi moved closer to Dimitri as if to protect him from Lia. The tension in the air grew as the group walked back to the compound. Was Lia a traitor sent by the General to kill Dimitri?

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