Carpathia III: Epilogue 15 - A Teacher's Secret
Dr. Traverse's Cabin, New Berengaria
Jaze was now alone in the cabin with Dr. Traverse, who turned away from the door and focused his full attention on him. Bracing himself for another outburst, Jaze stood motionless with his tail still tucked between his legs.
Dr. Traverse: So, who'd you kill to end up here?
Jaze paused and looked away as he considered his response. Based on his observations so far, he decided that only the blunt truth would be effective in dealing with this cranky caretaker.
Jaze: A fat, ugly slave trader named Brutus. Maybe others.
It was clear from the instant they met that Dr. Traverse wasn't one to be easily taken aback, and yet his eyes widened and his moustache ruffled at Jaze's answer.
Dr. Traverse: Hrmph. Can't say I expected that, but you must be a decent sort of person, or Lynx wouldn't have brought you here.
Punctuating the pause was another knock at the door, to which Dr. Traverse reacted predictably.
Dr. Traverse: NOW WHAT?!?
Dr. Traverse turned sharply and stomped back to the door, opening it with such swiftness that even Jaze could feel the wind that it created. There, once again, stood Lord Lynx, grinning and carrying a suitcase.
Lord Lynx: Here's Jaze's suitcase.
Dr. Traverse made a series of indecipherable noises before snatching the suitcase away from Lord Lynx and then slamming the door in his face. In spite of everything, Jaze couldn't help but giggle at the absurdity of the image he just witnessed. His giggles ceased, however, when Dr. Traverse approached and tossed Jaze's bag into his arms.
Dr. Traverse: I reckon Lord Fuzzbutt will be sending some folks over to help you out. That's what usually happens. I'll get some spaghetti on. Your room is over there.
Dr. Traverse pointed to a door on the other side of the room and then toddled off to the kitchen without another word, leaving Jaze to survey his surroundings. The cabin was rustic, full of untreated wood and pillars that looked like, and indeed probably were, merely mildly sanded logs, accented above by more logs in a criss cross pattern. As though to put an exclamation mark on the entire aesthetic, the entire room smelled potently of cedar. The furniture matched the rest of the house, with naked, wood tables and chairs with plush cushions atop log frames. It was more than clear that Jaze would have to control his fire abilities well, even though there was a clearly-visible sprinkler system installed.
Not willing to distub Dr. Traverse any further, Jaze shuffled toward the door pointed out to him earlier. Inside, he found the decor much the same as everywhere else, with a large, wooden bed. Jaze dropped his suitcase on the floor and laid down on the bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what he should do next.
Jaze hadn't been on the bed long before there was another knock on the front door, causing the commotion to start all over again. Dr. Traverse said more would be coming, and he wondered who that might be. From this room, Jaze could already hear Dr. Traverse grumbling.
Dr. Traverse: Hrmph. Sooner than I expected.
Once again, the front door creaked open followed by a pause.
Dr. Traverse: Ha! Lord Fuzzbutt sends me a cat with wings!
Ryuu: Hiya! Is Jaze here?
Dr. Traverse: A talking cat with wings! Are they getting bored at the genetics lab or something?
With that, Jaze jumped out his his bed and ran out of his room to the door. There, he found Dr. Traverse standing in front of Ryuu, who was seated on the porch with his tail swishing back and forth.
Before Ryuu could squeak out a "hello," Jaze lunged and scooped him up, holding Ryuu in his outstretched arms.
Jaze: Ryuu, you drained Wishmaster's power, right? Can't you do the same to me?
Ryuu's eyes widened before he looked away.
Ryuu: I can't.
Jaze: You can't or you won't?
Still without making eye contact, Ryuu hesitated before answering.
Ryuu: Well... I guess, technically, I won't. If I did that, it might kill you.
Jaze bowed his head and gently placed Ryuu on the floor. Jaze sunk to his knees and buried his face in his hands.
Jaze: I don't want these abilities. I don't know who I might hurt.
Ryuu looked upon Jaze with sympathy in his eyes and ears flattened on the sides of his head as he placed his paw on Jaze's knee.
Ryuu: Kuro is sending a dragon over to help you train your abilities so that you can control them. I'm sure that will help.
Jaze slowly lowered his hands to his lap and looked Ryuu in the eye.
Ryuu: The dragon will be able to help you use your abilities of your own free will. No more losing control.
Jaze managed a small smile despite the tear rolling down his cheek.
Jaze: Control. That sounds good.
Jaze heard more footsteps on the porch and looked up through the open door. Looking up, Jaze saw someone he did not expect, his former history teacher.
Mr. McFadden: Jaze! It's really you.
Jaze's ears perked as he got to his feet.
Jaze: Mr. McFadden? What are you doing here?
Mr. McFadden gently put his hands on Jaze's shoulders and helped him the rest of the way to to his feet.
Mr. McFadden: The principal dropped by right in the middle of my class and said I had a call from Lord Lynx. That was quite a surprise. He said I could help you and I wasn't sure why, but Ryuu showed me some things and brought me here, so I think I understand now.
At this point Dr. Traverse spoke and Jaze had forgotten that he was even there.
Dr. Traverse: Just as scrawny as you ever was, Marc. I got some spaghetti on if you're staying.
Jaze was surprised to see Dr. Traverse and Mr. McFadden knew each other.
Mr. McFadden: It seems I have a day off, so I suppose I will, thanks.
Dr. Traverse clopped back to the kicthen while Mr. McFadden returned his attention to Jaze.
Jaze: You know Dr. Traverse?
Mr. McFadden nodded.
Mr. McFadden: I do. He saved my life when I was a kid, during the Carpathian Empire years. I came down with Red Fever. Shuichi found me and brought me to Dr. Traverse, who is the one who found the cure.
Jaze: I didn't know that.
Mr. McFadden: It's not something I talk about much. The Red Fever killed everyone in my family but me. But there's more than that. Come with me?
Mr. McFadden placed his hand on Jaze's back and smiled, but it was plain to him that there was significant sadness behind it. Jaze gave a quick nod and let Mr. McFadden guide him. Leading Jaze through the house, they arrived at the back door and entered the yard, surrounded by the trees and mountain rising up around him and the happy babble of the stream and pond next to him. In front of him, however, was unmistakably a gravestone, and Mr. McFadden was taking him directly to it. Carved into the stone was just one word: "Ricky."
Mr. McFadden: There were a lot of kids like me who lost their families. We lived together with Shuichi, Dr. Traverse, and many others who resisted Emperor Vincent. I was not a good kid. I'm ashamed to admit that I bullied Ricky almost every day. One day, the Emperor himself came to our hideout in the abandoned newspaper office and it was chaos, with people running everywhere. I pushed Ricky out of my way and he fell away from the crowd, and that made him an easy target. Vincent shot him right in front of all of us.
Jaze said nothing, allowing his teacher to compose himself during a long pause.
Mr. McFadden: I know what people say. "It wasn't your fault." "There's nothing you could have done." It's probably true, but it doesn't really help much, does it?
Jaze shook his head.
Jaze: Not really, no.
Mr. McFadden nodded knowingly.
Mr. McFadden: It gets better. The pain will always be there, but you learn to be happy again. It just takes time. If you ever need someone to talk to, you can come to me whenever you want, okay?
Jaze sat on the ground and pulled his knees up to his chest.
Jaze: Thanks, Mr. McFadden. I might take you up on that.
Mr. McFadden joined Jaze on the ground and put his arm around him.
Mr. McFadden: Call me "Marc." I'm not your teacher any more, after all. The good news is that we get to have Dr. Traverse's spaghetti sauce today. It really is the best.
Together, Jaze and Marc sat in silence by Ricky's gravestone until Dr. Traverse called them in.
All city pictures from SimCity 4