Carpathia III: Episode 37 - Maelstrom
Jaze didn't have much time to reflect on what happened as he was being dragged away. Mitani was dead and he knew he might be next very soon. Quickly losing all hope of escaping, he didn't care if he was next. All he had in his mind were questions and the guilt of doing nothing while Thirteen killed Mitani.
If Jaze was to die soon, he was spending his last moments alive in misery. Cleaning him up involved Thirteen's bodyguards forcing him to strip off all his clothes and then hosing him down with cold water. Afterwards, they forcibly dried him off and gave him a new set of clothes to wear. After being hit in the head once for not dressing quickly enough, he hastily put his clothes on and they grabbed him once again and dragged him to the elevator.
The last time he was in that rickety elevator seemed like ages ago. Thirteen took him to the top of the tower and the observation deck to show him how difficult, if not impossible, it would be for him to escape. This time, the elevator rattled to a stop on a lower floor. The door opened to reveal a dark, mostly empty room with nothing more than a small dining table and four chairs around it. A single light hung above the table providing insufficient illumination, highlighting only the table and chairs. The bodyguards left him standing where he was and returned to the elevator. He could hear it clattering its way down, getting quieter as it went.
He didn't know how long he stood there by himself, but it felt like an eternity of terror. He still wondered if he was to be killed and now if Maelstrom was planning to torture him first. There were no implements of torture on the table or anywhere he could see. All he had was his own imagination, and it was being unwelcomely vivid.
Finally, he could hear footsteps slowly coming towards him, heavy and substantial. The thud of the footsteps echoed throughout the spartan room with a maddening silence between each step. He could see nothing through the darkness beyond the table. Before he could see anything, he heard a deep, almost otherworldly, voice.
Voice: Jaze Serge Bond.
Just then, a figure emerged from the darkness. Jaze stepped backwards as his ears slunk low over his head. There could be no doubt that this was Maelstrom.
Jaze: Ho... how do you know my name?
Jaze hesitated, intimidated by the massive bulk and towering height of the thing that stood before him. Eventually, he composed himself long enough to issue a tentative, defiant response.
Maelstrom's eyes narrowed as he looked down at Jaze as though he were prey. Suddenly, with a great stomp, he put one foot forward and quickly picked up his pace, rapidly closing the distance between him and Jaze.
Maelstrom: This isn't some sort of game!
Jaze's heart felt as though it seized up at that moment as Maelstrom stomped viciously towards him, speaking rapidly with his head twitching from side to side as he came. Jaze instinctively took several steps backwards before stumbling to the ground.
Maelstrom: When I tell you to do something, you will do it!
Jaze continued to shuffle backwards on his back as Maelstrom reached down with his massive hand and picked him up by his neck.
Maelstrom grabbed Jaze's chest with his other hand, his claws digging tightly into his ribs. Jaze could hardly believe what was happening when Maelstrom dug his long, sharp claws under his skin and, with a mighty yank, tore his ribcage out of his body. Jaze didn't feel any pain as he closed his eyes. He didn't want to see anything as his body tensed. He was sure he was going to feel unbearable pain at any moment.
Maelstrom: You will suffer for your insolence!
Maelstrom threw the remains of Jaze's chest to the ground and grabbed his left arm. Jaze felt a quick pull and suddenly, his arm wasn't there anymore.
Maelstrom: It is time for you to know your place!
As easily as though he were throwing a teddy bear, Maelstrom hurled Jaze to the side. Jaze hit the floor and slid hard into a wall. There, he prayed that death would take him quickly.
Jaze gasped as he sat up in his chair. He looked around like a confused bird, wondering what happened. Quickly, he checked his chest. It was still there, as was his arm. He looked at the ground. There was no blood. No evidence that anything happened.
After confirming that he was in one piece, Jaze calmed only slightly. He looked at the table in front of him. There, he found a succulently prepared dinner of fish and rice.
Jaze looked up to see Maelstrom sitting at the other end of the short table, looming high over the settings. He wasn't sure if what happened to him moments ago was real, but he didn't want to agitate Maelstrom further. He picked up his fork and pierced the tender fish with it.
Maelstrom spoke, keeping his icy glare directly on him as Jaze lifted a bit of fish to his mouth. Every word that emanated from his deep voice slithered off his tongue like a snake slowly creeping up on its prey. He spoke much more slowly and calmly than before.
Maelstrom: From the moment of your arrival, you have been a problem for everyone. I thought that you had finally come to your senses and were ready to join our little family.
Jaze took a bite of the fish. It was, to his surprise, the most tender, appetizing fish he'd ever eaten. Mustering up some of the shards of courage left within him, he spoke, keeping his head low so as not to make eye contact.
Jaze: Families don't kill each other.
Jaze braced himself, having no idea what would occur next.
Maelstrom: This is often true, but your friend, Neige, wanted to die, though he did not know it.
Maelstrom leaned across the small table, his staggering height reaching nearly all the way to Jaze's side. Jaze could feel his warm breath, like a toxic vapor, on him as he whispered softly to him.
Maelstrom: I could feel his despair and his anguish, a rotting of his very soul.
Maelstrom's breath quickened as he spoke as his whisper gradually transformed into a rising, excited pitch.
Maelstrom: It was... invigorating. It was a shame to lose him, but he served his purpose in the end.
Maelstrom rose from his chair as Jaze became tense, wondering if Maelstrom planned to come for him again. Instead. he watched as Maelstrom walk away, to the side of the table and into the darkness. Jaze could see nothing in the darkness beyond Maelstrom, but when he turned around to face Jaze again, he had a glass with some sort of red liquid in it.
Maelstrom: Now that we understand each other, have a drink with me.
Maelstrom set the glass on the table in front of Jaze and turned towards the darkness again. Anger welled up inside Jaze. Anger at Mitani's death. Anger at it being treated so casually. Jaze thought this may be his only chance. He hoped he could surprise Maelstrom with an attack from behind. It was his only hope against such a formidable opponent.
Jaze leaped out of his chair, directly at Maelstrom, while his back was still turned.
With a speed that Jaze did not think possible, Maelstrom whirled around and kicked him in the side of his face. He felt a sharp, intense pain in his jaw as he flew across the room, bounced off the table, and then landed on the floor. Jaze tried to pick himself off the ground, but the pain in his jaw was so intense, so agonizingly sharp, that he could barely think of anything else. He couldn't even muster the strength to cry out in pain.
Maelstrom: A thousand generations and nekos never change. You do not have the ability to surprise me.
Maelstrom glared at him from across the room, the single light hanging from the ceiling sinisterly accentuating all the features of his terrifying face. Jaze tried to speak, but he could do nothing. His jaw hung limply from his face as tears of intolerable pain streamed down his cheeks. Maelstrom spoke rapidly, his head twitching from side to side, as he slowly stepped towards him
Maelstrom: Yours is a deliciously vivid imagination. All your thoughts, all your dreams, every wistful notion that appears in your little mind is mine to nurture.
Maelstrom stepped forward slowly again, his massive, clawed foot crashing upon the floor with a resounding thud. He rounded the table as he glared menacingly at him.
Maelstrom: I know what moves you! I know what you love! I know what you hate!
Maelstrom kneeled on the floor. He grabbed Jaze by the neck and slowly lifted him into the air. He brought Jaze's face close to his and whispered to him malevolently.
Maelstrom: I know what you fear.
For several moments, Maelstrom held Jaze aloft, saying nothing. All Jaze could think about was the pain and to wish for death so that it would stop.
Maelstrom: You will do whatever I say.
Maelstrom held his other hand up and touched Jaze's jaw. A warm feeling emanated from his touch and, suddenly, his jaw was no longer in pain.
It took time for Jaze to collect himself. His breath came in heaves and his heart felt like it was going to explode from his chest. Maelstrom waited patiently for his response.
Jaze: I will do whatever you say.
Maelstrom released his grip and dropped Jaze to the floor.
Jaze: Please... can I go now?
Maelstrom: Go? No, you may not go. You have not yet had your punishment for disobeying Thirteen's orders.
Maelstrom looked over his shoulder and shouted into the darkness.
Maelstrom: You may enter!
Jaze looked up and saw Thirteen emerge from the shadows.
Thirteen: Ready, sir.
Maelstrom turned back to Jaze.
Maelstrom: Thirteen will take you first. I will go second.
Maelstrom lurched forward and grabbed Jaze by his hair, yanking his head back. He leaned in close and licked Jaze's ear before whispering into it.
Maelstrom: Going second is always best.
Maelstrom released Jaze's hair and walked away. Jaze looked up and the sight of Thirteen walking towards him unbuttoning his pants quickly destroyed any hopes he had that Maelstrom was talking about something else.
All city pictures from SimCity 4