Carpathia III: Episode 38 - The Mines
Down the elevator, through endless tunnels, two people dragged Jaze along. He didn't know where he was being taken or who was dragging him. He was too exhausted to care. Some stared at him as he was dragged limply along. Others averted their eyes, unable to gaze upon the pitiful sight before them, but Jaze wasn't aware of any of it. Finally, he was deposited in a small room. The two who had taken him there simply turned and walked away. It didn't take long for Jaze to realize where he was, his old room. The familiar smells of his tattered bedsheets had become all too familiar to him. A tear slid down his cheek as thoughts of everything that happened that day began to overwhelm him.
All he wanted to do was lay there undisturbed. He didn't have the strength to do any more than shed tears, much less move. Lost as he was in his own thoughts, he did not hear the door to his room slowly open.
Mirage: I am so sorry.
Jaze struggled to turn himself on his bed and open his eyes just a little to see Mirage standing in his doorway. The mere sight of him was maddening to him. He struggled to mouth a few words.
Jaze: What do you care?
Mirage: I didn't know any of this was going to happen.
Jaze: So what? You're a part of this place. Maybe you don't do anything directly, but you stand by and let it happen!
With hatred giving him strength, it was becoming easier for Jaze to speak.
Mirage: You have no idea what I do for my people here!
Jaze: Right. I'm sure you tell yourself that. What could be so noble that you could bear to do that beast's work?
Mirage: Chaos, I...
Jaze bristled at the sound of that name, the name that was forced upon him when he arrived at the compound. Now, he hated it more than ever.
Jaze: Chaos, Chaos! I am not Chaos! My name is Jaze! That's what they do to you the minute you arrive, start taking away who you are, little by little! I'll bet you don't even remember what your real name is!
Mirage's lips narrowed in frustration. It was clear that Jaze was not going to listen to anything he had to say. His head darted around as though he were quickly trying to think of something. Finally, he pulled out a pair of shackles and came closer.
Mirage: Get up.
Jaze: I will not.
Mirage grabbed Jaze by his arm and yanked him out of the bed. Right away, he clasped one end of the shackles onto Jaze's wrist and the other on his own.
Mirage: We're going for a walk.
Jaze: I'll kill you.
Mirage: Then you'll have to drag my dead body across the desert to escape. JUMP!
A moment later, Jump appeared in the doorway.
Jump: Yes sir!
Mirage handed Jump a small key along with his side arm and knife.
Mirage: I'll be back shortly. Keep these safe.
Jump: Where are you going?
Mirage: Don't worry about that. Just keep those safe until I get back.
Mirage turned to Jaze and pushed him forward.
Mirage: After what happened today, I probably won't be in charge for long, but for now, you do as I say.
Wherever he was going, Jaze thought, it couldn't be any worse than Maelstrom, and he was pretty sure that Mirage wasn't taking him back there. He walked in silence, just behind Mirage. He did not want to look at his face. As much as he despised everything, he still could not find it within him to hate Mirage. Not entirely.
Mirage took Jaze through the front gates. The guards let them pass easily. It was the first time in months that Jaze had been outside the walls of the compound. Thoughts of seeing his family and Toma again had already become a distant memory. He walked in silence, still slightly behind Mirage, as much as the shackles would allow, looking around and taking in his surroundings, looking for a means of escape.
Jaze: What's that?
Mirage: That's the power station, but that's not what we're here for. Turn left.
Jaze turned left as he was told and they headed towards a large hill. It was a short climb to the top to where it plateaued. Just ahead, there was a cliff and Mirage directed him towards it.
Down the cliff, there was a mine. He could see several people there, a variety of species, going in and out of the tunnels, carrying large heavy bags and pushing mine carts. A tall fence and the cliffs themselves appeared to be the only thing keeping everyone from escaping, but he didn't see much in the way of security.
Jaze: What are we doing here?
Mirage: This is where people are sent when they're too sick or too much of a nuisance to stay at the compound. You're lucky you didn't get sent here today, but if you don't start playing by the rules, you will end up here. As far as I'm concerned, my job is to make sure that as few people as possible end up here, and that includes you.
Jaze: And how is that worse than the compound?
Mirage: There, you work until you die. Most don't last more than a few cycles.
Jaze: So, is that what we're doing at the compound? Living? The only difference to me is that it takes longer to die!
Mirage: There are things worse than death and I'm trying to keep you from them!
Jaze: You're pretty crap at it. Stop doing me favors then. I'll take care of myself. Can we go back now?
Mirage hung his head, disappointed that he wasn't reaching Jaze at all. He grabbed Jaze by his shoulders and shoved him forward again.
They slid slowly down the hill and followed the road back to the compound in silence. Jaze took note again of his surroundings. Escape was going to be difficult. The compound was surrounded mostly by the Arid Sea and the only bit of land that connected it opened up to a large plain. There were no rocks to hide behind or holes to crawl into that he could see. There were mountains on both sides, but getting to them without being seen would be difficult.
Mirage took him back to his room and put him in his bed. Jump gave Mirage back the key he was guarding and Mirage removed the shackles.
Mirage: I know you don't think you care now, but at least think about what I showed you today.
Jaze: Just go away and leave me.
Mirage turned away, disappointed, and slowly walked towards to door. He put his hand on the handle and was going to close it, but stopped and turned to Jaze again.
Mirage: I know my first name is Rhoskel. I think my last name is Leonar.
Before Jaze had a chance to register what Mirage had said, the door was closed and he was already gone. Jaze pondered for awhile as he lay on his bed. Rhoskel... He knew he'd heard that name before. Suddenly, he remembered. Rhoskel Leonar was the name of Lord Lynx's son who went missing more than ten years ago.
All city pictures from SimCity 4