Although exhausted by all the running away and the fear during his encounter with the rats Big Dode had enough presence of mind to go to the rat corpses and recover his bolts. He also took vindictive pleasure in skinning the rats and stowing the best bits of their carcasses in his bag. By now night was close and knowing that rats could see as well by night as by day finding shelter was his priority.
After spending an uneasy night wedged in a crevice between two curiously flat rocks, waking with a start at every sound, Big Dode set off again in pursuit. His pace was becoming slower and slower as he considered his options. His aim in following the raiders was unclear. To single-handedly attack them and liberate any prisoners? He could not help but notice the number of footprints in the trail he was following and that bore on his mind and wore down his resolution. Towards mid-day a glint of sun on metal off to one side caught his eye and provided a welcome excuse to leave off his pursuit - for just now, he told himself.
Loading his crossbow he approached the clump of rocks where the sun still occasionally flashed on something. He crept round a large boulder, and seeing nothing backed into a sort of cist of rocks, where rounded boulders supported a flat sheet of ridged stone studded with rusted metal domes. Pausing to gather his thoughts Dode heard a breath behind him - he whirled as fast as he could, to see a strange weapon levelled at him, held in a meaty fist.
Rooted to the spot with fear Dode raised his eyes from the weapon to see who held it. The weapon's current owner was a large, man-shaped creature who lay propped on the arm not holding the gun. The gun, Dode could now see, was wavering perceptibly as if even holding it out was an effort. The creature was well-built, with plenty fat and Dode steeled himself to look him square in the face. The face was decidedly pig-like with a broad flat snout, protruding tusks, and deep-set eyes which were blinking with effort. He looked more worried and stressed than dangerous and Big Dode took a brave decision. He very slowly lowered his crossbow from its half-raised position until it was pointing at the ground. Forcing his features into a smile he slowly sank to the ground until the crossbow lay flat and slowly stood up, showing his empty hands. Pointing to his belt where his water-bottle hung he spread his hands in a question. The creature let the pistol drop slightly until Dode's legs rather than head would be the target. Dode unlaced the bottle and took a drink. He then crouched and rolled the bottle - a yellow cylinder with a stylised smiling face marked on it - towards the creature, being careful that it did not stop too short or hit him. As the creature reached for the bottle Big Dode noticed that it had large ears which protruded comically from holes in the top of the metal helmet or skullcap it wore.