Carpathia III: Episode 52 - Stealth
Ryuu finally managed to wriggle past Jaze in the tight confines of the pipe. Jaze wondered how he was going to cover the distance to the outside when he was barely able to move.
Jaze: Don't go so fast. I can't move very well in here.
Ryuu: I figured that. Just let me know if I get too far ahead.
Ryuu walked ahead slowly as Jaze shimmied as quickly as he could, following him. He quickly discovered that the junctions of the pipes were the most difficult parts as he had to turn onto his side at each one so that he could make the turn. First, he would stretch his arms out and pull his head past the intersection. After that, he would pull himself little by little through the junction, inch by inch, bending each part of his body through as he went. Through the many twists and turns, Jaze learned very quickly what the most flexible parts of his body were.
It seemed to take hours to squeeze through the claustrophobic pipes. When they finally reached the end, it was already dark outside.
Ryuu poked his head outside and found himself just below the outer wall of the compound with the Arid Sea swirling below him. Looking up at the wall, he spotted one guard who was far away with his back turned. Ryuu knew they could make it out, but they had to be careful. He turned to Jaze and whispered.
Ryuu: There's one guard, a little far away. If we move fast and get up against the wall, we can make it. I'll go first. I'll wave you over when it's safe.
Ryuu slipped out of the pipe and slithered carefully up the hill to the wall. Jaze stuck his head out of the pipe and looked for the signal. Ryuu crouched by the wall, looking up to see if anyone was looking. Then, he climbed up the blocks to the top and looked around. After a few moments, he dropped back down to the ground and glared in the direction of the guard he saw earlier. The guard was gazing up at the sky at nothing in particular. Ryuu waved his paw.
Jaze wriggled his way out of the pipe as quickly as he could. He felt like a gymnast as he put his hands on the ground and slowly pulled himself the rest of the way out, all without causing a mini-landslide that might draw someone's attention. He finally managed to pull himself all the way out and into an awkward frog-like position. He slowly turned around towards the wall and carefully crawled up the hill. He didn't manage to make it to the wall entirely noiseless as he sent more rivulets of dirt skittering down towards the Arid Sea. As far as he could tell, nobody noticed him.
Jaze was relieved when he reached level ground and he turned and pressed himself as tightly as possible against the wall. Ryuu scouted ahead while Jaze sidled along the wall, trying to be as flat and invisible as possible. Once in awhile Jaze glanced up at the top of the wall to make sure nobody could see him.
The wall zigzagged towards the entrance. On one occasion, Ryuu motioned for Jaze to stop, and he backed into a corner and stayed there for several agonizing minutes, hardly breathing. Finally, Ryuu motioned him forward once again. Again, Jaze flattened himself against the wall and started to sidle towards the front gate.
Jaze felt that Ryuu was getting too far ahead of him and, at one particularly long stretch of wall, he felt exposed and vulnerable. He moved more quickly, while trying to remain as silent as possible. He looked up at the top of the wall again and instantly froze in his tracks.
It was Mirage, and he was looking directly at him. For several tense moments, both glared at each other, with Jaze's heart beating so hard he thought it would crack his ribcage. His insides tightened up even more when Mirage looked away. Jaze suspected that he intended to alert the other guards and he prepared to run for his life.
Just before Jaze started running, Mirage pointed up at the sky.
Mirage: Over there!
Mirage raised his rifle and shot into the air. Jaze looked in the direction that Mirage's gun was pointing and saw a large, flying shadow in the distance. He'd seen Keast do the same thing before, though this time, he was doing his ariel acrobatics much closer to the compound than usual. The other guards on the wall followed Mirage's lead and fired into the air at the shadow that was darting around in the distance.
Jaze didn't waste any time. With the guards distracted, he moved much more quickly, caring far less about how much noise he was making since nobody would be able to hear his footsteps over the gunfire. Moving quickly, Jaze made it to the entrance of the compound in no time.
Jaze bolted away from the wall, towards the tiny spit of land connecting the compound with the rest of the land. The plain in front of the compound was vast and Jaze didn't waste any time looking back to see if anyone noticed him or was preparing to fire at him. He could still hear gunshots in the distance, though no shots seemed to land near him. Though running as quickly as he could, the hills drew near agonizingly slowly. He tried desperately not to slow down, but his legs began to protest. He forced himself to continue at full speed, through the pain. Having his life on the line was motivation enough.
Jaze finally made it to the hills and, for the first time, took a moment to look back to see if anyone was following him. There was nobody. No alarms. No pursuers. The guards had evidently stopped shooting and the compound looked strangely tranquil from a distance. With the danger passed, Jaze collapsed on the ground, heaving and gasping, heavy breaths.
Ryuu: Here, take my water.
Jaze could say nothing as his breaths came in great heaves. He took Ryuu's water from his paws and drank half of it within a matter of seconds. He had to force himself not to finish it as he was sure they would need it later.
Ryuu: We should keep going. The sooner we're far away from this place, the better.
Jaze took a few more deep breaths before responding.
Jaze: Yeah, let's go.
Ryuu: I'll fly and make sure nobody's following.
Jaze nodded as Ryuu took to the air.
Ryuu flew low over the landscape, leading Jaze away from the compound. Several times, Ryuu made a quick circle to look back and make sure that nobody from the compound was following. Jaze still felt tense, but he was comforted by the fact that Ryuu never showed any alarm when he performed his little circle maneuvers.
On and on he walked, circling around the hills along the shores of the Arid Sea. The night was cool and comfortable, but he knew the sun would soon rise and the heat would become unbearable. He hoped they'd find some sort of shelter before then.
Eventually, they reached a place where the Arid Sea split the land and Jaze could proceed no further.
Commissioned art in this episode from:
All city pictures from SimCity 4