Carpathia III: Episode 12 - Chaos
Jaze awoke with a splitting headache in a bare, windowless room no bigger than a walk-in closet. The only furnishings, if they could be called that, were a short, steel table that he surmised was intended to be a bed, and a small sink with a spigot. He hoped he was wrong, but the stench coming from a small hole in the corner of the floor suggested that was to be his toilet. His other hope was that he wouldn't have to remain where he was for long.
He was wrong about that.
For nearly three weeks he remained in his cell with absolutely no contact with the outside world except for twice a day, a tiny window on his cell door slid open and a small tray of food was shoved inside. Each time, he shouted questions at the person on the other side, but each time he received no answer. The little window simply slid shut and the depressing sound of footsteps growing more and more distant filled his ears.
The heat in the cell was stifling, with only a small exhaust fan in the ceiling providing relief. Soon after he woke up, he started removing his clothes in an attempt to cool down. It was then he discovered that when they confiscated his personal possessions, they neglected to check his socks. His new video camera recorder was still tucked neatly inside. It had a clock in it and it was the only way he could tell how much time was passing. For the next three weeks, it became his best friend. It was the only thing that stood between him and insanity as the sweltering days wore on. He spent his time watching his videos over and over and playing games until he knew them all by heart.
One day he heard the usual sound of footsteps coming towards his cell door. Quickly, he turned off his video camera and stashed it in his sock, just in case the person on the other side of the door heard or saw something. These footsteps, however, were different. After three weeks of hearing the exact same footfalls every day outside his door, he was very sensitive to a different sound. These footsteps were heavier and more numerous. He became even more excited and frightened at the same time when he heard the sound of keys jingling outside the door.
Jaze leaped to his feet as he heard a key enter the lock of his cell door and turn. The door opened with a clank and he was suddenly staring at the first adult he'd seen in what felt like ages. He looked to be in his 20's and he had long, blonde hair and a tail. Behind him were too large, muscular individuals, one who seemed to be human and the other was nothing he'd ever seen before. Though it stood on two feet and wore the same clothes as everyone else, the resemblence ended there. The creature, or person... Jaze wasn't sure what to call it, had green skin with many yellow patches scattered around. Its white hair wrapped around the golden spikes sticking out of his head. Instead of a nose, there were slits in the center of its face and it had a long, thick tail. Neither the green creature nor the human appeared older than 16.
Jaze: Finally! An adult!
The blonde man glared at him menacingly.
Jaze plopped instantly at the command, shocked by the forcefulness in which it was delivered. The man turned to the human and green creature behind him and had a whispered conversation that Jaze could not decipher before he turned back to him again.
Man: I am Thirteen and I run this place for Maelstrom. So you must be Chaos.
There was a slight pause as Jaze thought about what he just said. Thirteen must be mistaking him for someone else, he thought, and he wasn't sure whether or not he should say anything about it. With trepidation, he decided to bring it up.
Jaze: Actually, my name is Jaze.
Thirteen smirked devilishly.
Thirteen: Your name is Chaos because I said so. I pick the names around here and that is yours from now on. Consider yourself lucky. I should have executed you after you tried to escape, but Mirage convinced me to give you one more chance.
Jaze lowered his head.
Jaze: I... I just wanted to go home.
Thirteen glared at him again, seemingly dubious that he made the right decision taking Mirage's suggestion to spare his life. Finally he extended his finger and beckoned him to come closer.
Thirteen: Come with me.
Jaze hesitantly took a couple of steps forward just before Thirteen lifted his shirt to reveal a large, old-fashioned pistol tucked into his belt.
Thirteen: And don't try anything. We won't hesitate to shoot you if you run away again.
Jaze simply nodded. So far, everything he said during this exchange sank him into deeper and deeper trouble, and he didn't want to make his situation any worse than it already was.
Thirteen turned and walked away as the two goons grabbed Jaze by the shirt and pushed him in front of them. He followed Thirteen, sandwiched tightly between him and the goons as they silently walked down the corridor. Like the place where he woke up last time, everything around him had a dirty, industrial look to it. Pipes and wires twisted through the corridor in every direction and were almost all in various states of disrepair. A few pipes leaked onto the floor below and the entire place seemed as though it wasn't going to last much longer before falling apart.
This time, however, Jaze was walking through the compound at a low pace, instead of running for his life, and was able to study the compound in more detail. There was evidence that it was once a more pleasant place to be. The walls had flecks of old paint on them and hooks where, perhaps, pictures once hung. The twisted pipes entered the hall through crudely-cut holes in the wall and did not appear to be a part of the original design. Jaze started wondering more about what this place used to be rather than what it was now.
Finally, they came to a large elevator and Jaze followed Thirteen into it. He closed the large steel door and pushed the lever forward. The elevator began to rise up with a jolt. At that moment, Jaze wasn't sure then if he was more scared of the rickety elevator or Thirteen.
The elevator clattered upwards for what seemed like ages until finally, Thirteen released the lever and the elevator ground to a shaky halt. He opened the door and Jaze followed him out once again. Now, they were in a small room surrounded by windows. Thirteen pointed at them.
Thirteen: Look out there.
Jaze slowly walked towards the windows, his mind racing with every dire possibility he could imagine. He imagined that Thirteen would push him out of one of the windows. He imagined he would see something of indescribable horror. Instead, when he looked out, he could see vast, unending desert. Straight ahead, the sand of the Arid Sea churned and writhed in the distance, sometimes sending vast arcs of lightning into the sky. To his left were craggy, barren mountains and to his right, he could see an endless plateau. As he looked to the right, he saw something else out of the corner of his eye and he turned further. It was Mirage, who was leaning up against the window with his arms folded across his chest.
Before Jaze could say anything, Thirteen spoke to him again.
Thirteen: I hope you can understand your situation now, Chaos. Even if you escaped, there's nowhere for you to go. The only thing out there for you is death. Here, you will live. It's simple as that.
Thirteen turned to Mirage.
Thirteen: Mirage, he's your responsibility now.
Mirage pushed himself away from the window and started walking towards them. Jaze was about to join him, wanting to get away from Thirteen as quickly as possible, when he felt Thirteen's hand suddenly grip tightly onto his neck, his nails digging uncomfortably into his skin. He leaned in close to Jaze's ear and whispered.
Thirteen: If you make me regret sparing your life, you'll have a lot worse to worry about than death. Don't forget that.
He took his hand from Jaze's neck and started gently caressing his cheek, sending shivers up his spine. Thirteen leaned in even closer until his lips were almost touching Jaze's ear. He could feel his warm breath inside it.
Thirteen: And it would very sad if I had to ruin this lovely face of yours.
Finally, Thirteen shoved Jaze and he stumbled clumsily towards Mirage.
Mirage: I'll show you how things work around here. I'm your commander now, so you do whatever I say. Got it?
Jaze rubbed the back of his head. Unwilling to take another blow, or worse, he reluctantly agreed.
Jaze: Yeah, I got it.
Mirage took Jaze back to the elevator. To his relief, Thirteen and his two goons didn't follow. Even the rickety elevator was preferrable to staying with Thirteen even a moment longer.
To be continued...
All city pictures from SimCity 4