Carpathia III: Episode 73 - Mirage

Nita's House, The Outlands

Jaze did his best to stay as still and quiet as possible in the cupboard as he heard footsteps by the front door of the house. After having run through the trees, he had the most difficult time controlling his shaky breathing. Soon, he could hear the footsteps clomping around on the front porch. Jaze tensed even more as he heard the front door creak open and the same footsteps inside the house. The sound of boots clopped slowly around until he heard a familiar voice.

Mirage: Chaos!

Jaze nearly gasped, but managed catch himself before he did so. Making every effort to still his shaking body, he listened to the footsteps come closer. Jaze wondered how Mirage could possibly know that he was there. One by one, he heard cabinet doors open and knew that it was only a matter of time before Mirage reached his cupboard. Finally, the door swung open and Mirage stood before him.

Mirage: Out.

Jaze slowly climbed out of the cupboard with his hands up. As he emerged, he noticed that his camera was still laying on the kitchen table. Mirage's eyes darted around nervously.

Mirage: Dammit. Now what do I do? I should have left well enough alone.

Jaze slowly lowered one of his hands, watching Mirage carefully for any reaction. He stretched his hand towards Mirage with his palm open.

Jaze: Come with me. We can escape together.

Mirage's eyes widened just before he looked away, making no aggressive moves. Jaze thought for a moment that he might be able to tackle Mirage and wrestle the gun away, but quickly realized that his chances of success were very unlikely. Mirage would not be taken so easily.

Mirage: I can't.

Mirage's tone was one of resignation, low and unconvincing. Jaze sensed an opportunity to continue.

Jaze: You can be free. No more compound. No more Pestilence. No more Maelstrom.

Mirage: Nobody escapes. My brother couldn't escape. They hunted him down. That's what they said.

Jaze: That's what they said? So you don't really know. I'll bet he's out there somewhere. Let's go find him together.

Jaze flexed his fingers, beckoning Mirage to come, but he did not lower his gun. Mirage's head tilted down slighty and the intensity began to fade from his eyes.

Mirage: I... I don't know...

Suddenly, Jaze heard a window shatter in his bedroom in the back and another pair of boots hit the floor. Both Jaze and Mirage turned to the bedroom just as Pestilence emerged in the doorway with his rifle ready. Right away, he pointed it at Jaze, with Pestilence's eyes betraying his astonishment.

Pestilence: How did you escape? You were supposed to die in the oubliette!

More tense seconds passed as Jaze cursed his luck. He was certain he had nearly convinced Mirage, but the situation was now entirely different. Mirage now gazed at the floor, his gun hanging limply in his hand.

Pestilence: Doesn't matter. I'll be rewarded for capturing you!

Jaze carefully considered his next move, but Mirage made it for him. To Jaze's astonishment, Mirage suddenly turned and pointed his rifle at Pestilence, his eyes now returned to piercing intensity.

Mirage: Drop the gun. Now.

Pestilence's mouth fell open as he turned toward Mirage.

Mirage: Now!

Pestilence sneered as he slowly lowered his gun to the floor.

Mirage: Your sidearm and knife too.

Teeth clenched, Pestilence grudgingly complied, taking out both his sidearm and knife and laying them on the floor.

Pestilence: You will die for this.

Mirage ignored Pestilence as he gave him another order.

Mirage: Now kick everything over here.

Pestilence did as he was told and kicked his weapons towards Mirage. One by one, they all came skittering to Mirage's feet.

Mirage: Back up.

Pestilence maintained his death glare at Mirage as he took one step backwards. Just then, Jaze heard another set of footsteps rushing up towards the front of the house. Suddenly, Jump appeared behind Mirage at the front door.

Jump: Mirage!

Mirage jumped and spun around impulsively. Jaze was sure that it could only be a horrendous accident that Mirage's gun went off just as he faced Jump. The bullet pierced directly into Jump's heart. Jump staggered for a moment, clutching his chest, before he fell to the floor, dead. Mirage looked upon what he had just done in utter shock.

Mirage: No...

Pestilence seized his opportunity and fled back through the bedroom. Mirage's rifle slipped through his hands and fell to the floor.

Pestilence: Traitor! Traitor!

With Jump dead and still shaking from the day's horrors, Jaze turned his attention back to Mirage, who he still felt he could save, if nobody else.

Jaze: Mirage...

With great speed, Mirage suddenly grabbed his pistol and pointed it at Jaze.

Mirage: Stay back!

Jaze stepped backwards and held up both of his hands, watching as tears poured down Mirage's face.

Mirage: It's over for me.

The words came from Mirage's mouth haltingly as he raised his arm and wiped tears from his face.

Jaze: No it isn't, Mirage! That was an accident. Come with me! We can still run away together!

Once again, Jaze extended his hand.

Mirage: You don't understand! Even if they wouldn't have hunted me down before, they surely will now!

Jaze: Come with me anyway! This isn't your fault! This is all Maelstrom's fault! Nobody else has to die today!

Mirage: I can't! That means you will be in more danger too!

Jaze took a step forward and, in a small sign of hope, Mirage did not tell him to stay back.

Jaze: I don't care about that! Come with me!

Mirage suddenly closed his eyes and held his hands to his head.

Mirage: No...

Jaze, sensing an opportunity, took two more steps towards Mirage.

Jaze: Mirage...

Suddenly, Mirage opened his eyes and thrust his gun at Jaze. Jaze took a step backward again, holding both of his hands up.

Mirage: Stay back!

Mirage held his hands up to his head again, his gun still in his hand, looking like he was squeezing his ears, as he fell to his knees.

Mirage: No! I won't do it!

Jaze watched as Mirage twisted his head back and forth, as though he were in excrutiating pain.

Jaze: Mirage!

Mirage didn't react and continued clutching his head.

Mirage: I won't do it! I don't care what you show me! I won't do it!

Jaze stepped forward again, desperate to get Mirage's attention.

Jaze: Mirage!

Mirage took no notice and continued to yell, seemingly at someone who wasn't in the room.

Mirage: Stop talking! Leave me alone! I said leave me alone!

Jaze: Rhoskel!

Suddenly, Mirage's eyes opened and he gasped deeply. He was no longer twisting his head or shouting and, for a moment, the house was silent. With Mirage's attention secured, Jaze extended his hand once again and spoke in the most calm, soothing voice he could muster.

Jaze: Come with me.

Mirage slowly stood, his legs shaking and breathing heavily, with tears still rolling down his cheeks. His gun was still in his hand, now hanging limply by his side.

Rhoskel: I love you, Jaze.

Mirage's breathing came in stuttered heaves as he gazed longingly into Jaze's eyes. More tears poured down his cheeks as he struggled to deliver his words.

Rhoskel: And that's why I can't put you in any more danger.

For a moment, Jaze wondered what those words meant, until it all became terrifyingly clear. Mirage held up his gun and pressed the end to his own temple.

Jaze: NO!!!

Before Jaze could take even one step, Mirage pulled the trigger and his lifeless body fell to the floor with a thud. Suddenly, Jaze's legs could no longer support him and he fell to his knees as they gave out. His hands shaking, Jaze reached out and caressed Mirage's chest as he bowed his head and wept.

Commissioned art in this episode from:

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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