Carpathia III: Episode 74 - Into the Cloud
Nita's House, The Outlands
Jaze's grief quickly transformed into fury as he gazed upon Mirage's body. He picked up Mirage's gun and prepared to rush out the door when he spied his camera, still sitting on the table. Worried that someone from the compound could find it and figure out how it worked, revealing information about the village, he hastily snatched it.
Jaze stuffed the camera in his sock and was ready to rush out the door again when Ryuu flew inside. Jaze sniffled and his voice wavered as he called out to him.
Ryuu looked around for only a moment and then landed on the counter.
Ryuu: I'm so glad you're okay!
For a moment, Jaze's rage suddenly became secondary to his concern for Aten and Roose.
Jaze: What about Aten and Roose?
Ryuu: They're safe on the island. Jacob is there too. I flew back here as soon as they got there.
Jaze breathed a sigh of relief and, for one very brief moment, forgot about his troubles. Then, as he looked down and saw the bodies of Jump and Mirage, rage welled up within him again. He held up Mirage's gun and ran past Ryuu and out the front door.
Once outside, he looked down the road and didn't see anyone. He guessed that Thirteen was either at or near the same place where he argued with Nita. Just before he ran off towards the cliff, he felt a strong yank on his shirt and he fell back on the pillar next to the front porch.
Ryuu: Hey, where are you going?
Jaze struggled against Ryuu, but found him to be surprisingly strong.
Jaze: Let me go! I have to stop this!
Ryuu: You can't! The compound soldiers are everywhere!
Jaze continued to struggle as his shirt began to tear as Ryuu still managed to hold him back.
Jaze: Not everyone! I'm going after Thirteen, the guy who killed Nita and Mitani! He controls all of them! He's the reason why Jump and Mirage are dead too! He does Maelstrom's bidding!
Ryuu: You can't! I saw him when I flew back here! You'll never get past his guards!
Jaze: I have to try!
Ryuu: You'll die!
Jaze: I DON'T CARE!
Jaze continued to struggle against Ryuu as his shirt continued to tear. Suddenly, Ryuu released him and he fell forward, flat on the ground. He rolled over, preparing to stand and run before Ryuu could catch him again, but Ryuu landed hard on his chest.
Ryuu: Those two in the house, did you care about them?
Jaze stammered, shocked by Ryuu's intensity. He was accustomed to Ryuu's child-like playfulness, but this was something new entirely.
Jaze: I... yes, Mirage and Jump are good people.
Ryuu grabbed Jaze's shirt and pulled him close to his face.
Ryuu: Then who's going to tell their story? Are you going to leave it to that skinny guy I saw running away from the house?
Jaze: Pestilence? Of course not!
Ryuu: Then you have to tell it! If you die, then nobody will know why they were special to you!
Jaze was left speechless, not having witnessed this sort of passonate intensity from Ryuu before. The rage within him slowly subsided and was beginning to be replaced with memories. Memories of sparring with Jump. Memories of his time with Mirage.
Ryuu: If you die here, today, who's going to tell your story? You can't leave us, Jaze. Think of Aten and Roose. Think of Toma and your other friends.
Jaze allowed his head to roll away from Ryuu's intense gaze. His mind was still embroiled in a war between rage and sadness. Finally, as tears once again began to roll from his eyes, Jaze ceased resisting Ryuu entirely and he reached up and stroked the furry, red mane on his neck.
Jaze: You're right. Let's get out of here.
A sharp crack pierced the air and suddenly, Jaze felt an intense sting in his left bicep.
Both Jaze and Ryuu looked in the direction that the noise came from and saw Razor with two other humans behind him. Razor was pointing his rifle at Jaze, smoke coming out of the end of the barrel.
Razor: Get him!
Ryuu flapped his wings and launched himself from Jaze's chest. After taking a deep breath, he launched several fireballs at Razor's group while Jaze struggled to stand.
Jaze: The tunnels?
Ryuu: No time! There are more coming! Get up the cliff!
Jaze slipped Mirage's gun into his belt and ran through the field, clutching his injured arm in his hand while Ryuu shot more fireballs at his pursuers. He ran up the small incline and slipped on the loose rocks, nearly falling. The cliff itself wasn't quite veritcal, and Jaze found that he could pull himself along with one hand without too much trouble. Once in awhile, a shot landed nearby, but none hit him. Ryuu was doing a good job running interference.
Finally, Jaze reached the top and staggered forward several steps to be sure that he was out of range of the gunners. He looked back and couldn't see any of them over the precipice, but he knew that wouldn't last very long. Before him, down a gentle slope, was the Arid Sea, most of which was obscured by a massive cloud of sand. To his left was the direction of Zhail and the soldiers who shot him several days before. To his right was nothing, as far as he knew, aside from the river and the spit of land which would take him back to Nekramentia, if he were to turn south past the village.
Jaze chose the path to the right, hoping to pass the junction leading to Nekramentia and follow the river, wherever it lead. A river meant, at least, water and likely food, and hopefully no soldiers or compound slaves to find him. Jaze ran as quickly as he could, again clutching his injured arm, past the farms and the spring as he wondered if he would ever see Aten, Roose, or Jacob again. At least none of the Nekramentia soldiers seemed to have found themselves on that tier of the village and he was able to run unhindered.
Finally, Ryuu showed up flying next to him.
Ryuu: I distracted them enough that I don't think they know which way you're going.
Jaze did not slow down and did his best to respond between breaths.
Jaze: I wish I knew where I was going.
Jaze ran on, not wanting to slow and be spotted and paid attention to nothing other than what was ahead of him.
Ryuu: Wait, wait!
Jaze reluctantly slowed and looked to Ryuu. He was pointing towards the Arid Sea.
Ryuu: What's that?
Ryuu finally stopped and squinted down the slope to the Arid Sea. On the shore, he could make out what looked like boats floating on the sand. With no guards around them, Jaze sensed an opportunity.
Jaze: Let's go look.
Jaze ran down the hill while Ryuu flew beside him. As they approached the shore, he could see that they were indeed boats of some sort. Each had two metal pontoons on the bottom with a large piece of canvas and lengths of wood connecting them. A single mast carried a sail and a large box rested on the canvas platform.
Ryuu: We can use one of these to escape.
Jaze didn't need any convincing and he pulled himself onto the raft. Ryuu pushed on one of the pontoons and the raft slowly drifted out over the sand. Jaze looked for some means by which to control the sail. He pulled a pin out of the mast and, suddenly, a boom fell, nearly hitting him on the head. Right away, the wind caught the now unfurled sail and propelled them forward, towards the sand cloud ahead. The sand cloud was dark and dense and he was sure nobody would be able to follow them in there.
It wasn't long before they entered the cloud and could no longer see the shoreline. Jaze was surprised to discover that the sand blowing in the air was not nearly as dense as it appeared. He relaxed and laid his head on the canvas while Ryuu landed next to him.
Ryuu: We have to take care of that wound.
Jaze didn't know what Ryuu planned, but he was too exhausted to raise his head to see what was happening. He heard Ryuu trotting to the edge of the boat and then there was a cracking noise, like the sound of a piece of wood breaking. When Ryuu returned, he had a small chunk of wood in his paws.
Ryuu: Put this in your mouth and bite hard.
All the color drained from Jaze's face. He knew what this meant.
Jaze: This is really going to hurt, isn't it?
Ryuu crawled to Jaze's waist and dug his claws into the bottom of his shirt.
Ryuu: I'm sorry. This is going to be pretty bad, but I'll be quick.
Ryuu tore a long piece of fabric from the bottom of Jaze's shirt and took it with him to the bullet wound. He placed his paws on Jaze's arm and pushed, holding it in place.
Jaze: Don't waste any time asking me if I'm ready or whatever. Just do what you have to do.
Jaze put the piece of wood in his mouth and, as Ryuu instructed, bit hard on it.
Ryuu: Okay, I'm going to get the bullet first.
Suddenly, Jaze felt a profound sting in his arm as Ryuu started digging around for the bullet. Jaze twisted and writhed on the canvas, fighting the urge to scream, and biting hard enough onto the stick that he was sure he was going to break it. Ryuu continued pressing down on Jaze's arm and was able to keep it mostly still.
Ryuu: Got it!
Though still in pain, it was comparatively much better than a moment ago and Jaze lay still, his chest heaving with each breath he took and tears streaming down his face.
Ryuu: Almost done.
Jaze thinking he was finished, turned his head just in time to see Ryuu take a breath and breathe a small flame into Jaze's open wound. Again, Jaze squirmed mightily on the canvas, while Ryuu kept his arm still. After a few agonizing seconds, Ryuu stopped.
Ryuu: All done. I'm going to wrap it now.
To Jaze, those were the most glorious words he had ever heard. He spit out the stick and lay still. He was in pain, but after that, he felt that he could bear anything.
Together, Jaze and Ryuu allowed the wind to take them yet again to lands unknown.
All city pictures from SimCity 4