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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:17 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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"I said down, you ****ing animal!"

Daz felt someone grab his hair and force him down to the ground. His arms were pulled out from under him and pushed against his back with a booted foot. He struggled and spat, tears mixing with his spit and pouring on to the ground.

They had killed her. Right in front of him, they had killed her. Daz would have gone quietly. He wouldn't have struggled, if only to save his mother. She had never talked about revolution, about the government or rebellion. She just wanted to live.

"No, no!" Daz screamed out into the courtyard until something foul was shoved in his mouth. His nostrils flared as his nose and mouth filled with the flavour of petrol.

Were they going to burn him alive? Daz didn't expect to become a martyr, but if it was what he had to do, then so be it. Even if the revolution was toppled, it still burned in people's hearts to see these bastards in hell.

The footsteps and shouting stopped, replaced by an eerie silence. The pressure on Daz's arms was released as a pair of cuffs were secured around his wrists.

"Let me see his face," a woman's voice broke through the silence. Daz was lifted up, again by the hair, and he found himself looking up at a severe-looking woman in a form-fitting suit and tall black heels. She was in stark contrast against the soldiers surrounding her, but she seemed to hold more power.

Daz's scowling face was jerked to the left and right as if he were a prized show-horse. The woman contemplated for a moment before nodding and waving a hand. "He'll do."

Daz was hauled up by the arms. As a soldier went to remove his gag he bit hard on their fingers, spitting muffled curses. The words weren't understandable, but the message was clear.

The soldier wiped the blood on to Daz's jacket. "Keep it then," he jeered, hand on his weapon.

Daz was now being treated carefully, like some sort of cargo. The soldiers forced him to walk, occasionally prodding and pushing him, but now it seemed like there was something keeping them from bashing his skull against the ground. Just who was that woman? She wasn't a member of the council, as Daz knew each one of their disgusting faces by heart.

As they marched, Daz looked over to the centre of the courtyard. They had moved her, taken her away before anyone saw. She would be pronounced missing, but everyone would know.

A bag was placed over Daz's head, and everything went black.

Daz was forced to sit down. He recognized the feeling of a seat in a standard travel ship. He heard the sound of engines being prepped, then lurched forward as the ship took off.

Daz couldn't move, and could barely breathe. He could feel his throat closing on him and the oxygen in his lungs dying to barely nothing. He fought to stay awake, but he couldn't keep himself from slumping over as the remaining life in him was wrung out.

"He's passing out," someone said, "push him up."

When Daz awoke, he was in a rudimentary metal cage. He felt like a whipped zoo lion.

"He's awake! Get the camera on him!"

Daz blinked and shielded his eyes from the sudden blinding light pointed at him. What was going on? Was he dead, and this was his punishment?

"Come now, stay awake, stay awake."

A bucket of cold water was thrown on him, suddenly sending his body into full awareness. The scratches and bruises on his body screamed as he jumped up and grabbed the bars of the cage.

"Let me out," Daz snarled, locking eyes with a woman in a government-issued uniform. She smiled pleasantly, looking down at a clipboard she held in one hand.

"We certainly will, Mr. Lagoau. First, you have to take this."

A bag was thrown into the cage. It was made of green fabric, with a single opening closed by a drawstring. As Daz reached for it, he realized he was wearing new clothing, made from the same material as the bag. It was like some sort of jumpsuit, with a number embroidered on the left breast. So he was a prisoner.

"Are we ready? Rolling?" The woman turned to speak with people Daz couldn't see. She turned back to face him.

"Welcome to The Maze. Reach the centre, and you get out. Good luck."

The front of the cage opened, and Daz was forced forward. He turned around, intending to launch himself forward, but he found himself hitting a wall where the cage used to be.

Daz spun around, attempting to find out where he was by anything. He knew the streets of his city by heart. Every landmark, every side street. But instead of the familiar towers and platforms he was used to, he was greeted by cold marble walls going far above his head, and a dirt floor.

What the hell? Daz thought, touching one of the walls. It was extremely smooth, with no imperfections that he could take advantage of to climb to the top. He could almost see his reflection in the shine.

Wherever he was, he was trapped.

Daz slowly started to process what the woman had said. He was in a maze. A maze prison?

They had given him a bag. Daz turned and began rifling through it. It was filled with silver packages, about the size of his hand. He knew them well as rations, foul-smelling and -tasting things that kept you alive, but not much else. At the bottom of the bag was a hunting knife in a sheath. So they had given him a weapon.

As he unsheathed the knife and held it in his hand, he thought to ancient gladiators and wrestlers, forced or paid to fight for entertainment. He spun around, looking toward the sky as if to see faces, or cameras, peering towards him. There was nothing but open sky, as gray and miserable as it looked.

There was a rumbling from behind him. Daz turned and saw as the wall began moving towards him. Slowly at first, then speeding up. Shoving the knife in its sheath and drawing the bag shut, Daz began running. His heart dropped when he saw the wall in front of him, also moving. He was going to be crushed to death.

It was a maze. There had to be a corner to turn, or somewhere to go. Daz ran until he saw a path to the right. His thighs began to burn. I'll only die with one of those sons-of-bitches on the end of my knife, he thought bitterly, fighting to reach the path before the second wall passed it.

He launched himself to the side, hearing a disturbing crunch from behind him. The blocks had met with such force that they had cracked and broken. Daz imagined his body broken up in the rocks, his life reduced to a smear of blood and guts between two stones.

Get to the centre when the maze could move on its own. Seemed simple enough.

--

Daz had been walking aimlessly for an uncountable measure of time. All he knew was that he had eaten 2 of the 12 rations when they were broken into 4 pieces and eaten only when he was sure he was going to die. The sky had remained an abysmal matte gray, keeping him from telling time by the sun. He had gone from marble walls to hedges with vines woven throughout, and hadn't seen any other creature besides a rat, which he had tried and failed to kill and eat, and a rotting corpse, whose flesh had been too rancid to even go near.

He was going to lose his mind before he died of hunger or thirst. He stumbled forward blindly, not noticing the fissures in the damp earth.

A misplaced foot caused the ground underneath Daz to collapse, as if it had simply been a caked-on layer of earth over a massive hole. On impact with the ground below, his foot exploded with pain, causing him to cry out in pain. His arms and hands were also scraped and bloody, as the ground was covered with some sort of sticks with sharp edges. He couldn't tell under the light of the sky.

Daz reached his hand around blindly, relieved when he felt that his bag had fallen beside him. At least I can eat until I die, he thought blithely.

There was no way up, from what he could tell. The walls were some kind of slimy substance, like a mixture of dirt and wet moss. They went almost straight up in a square. The hole he had made was quite large, covering a quarter of the square.

The only thing he could do was shout for help, like any would come. Daz hadn't spoken in so long, he almost forgot how to. He coughed and cleared his throat, before shouting in a cracked voice.

"Help! Please god, find me!" He slammed his fists against the wall in anger, resting on his side to not put pressure on his foot, which screamed every time he placed it on the ground.

Please.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:36 pm 
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The fluorescent light flickering stirred the prisoner from her slumber. It took a couple of blinks for the woman's eyes to adjust to the stark white walls, she still had to squint even after her vision had cleared. She rolled her head round, trying to ease a knot that had formed in her upper back from sleeping upright for so long. She wasn't exactly certain how long she'd been in the jail cell, it must've been a week. No, maybe longer? Time had no meaning anymore. The girl had had the same meal for the past... however long. Lumpy potato mash and a cup of water, something that barely kept her alive. Perhaps that was why time had distorted so much.

She knew where she was, at least. This was the place they brought prisoners they planned on executing. No doubt hers would be public, if the council had any say in her fate. She wondered why they had waited so long, if they were going to kill her they might as well get it over with. The waiting was the real punishment.

The hatch that covered the cell doors only window was opened and a woman stood on the other side of the door. One of the council women. If Cora was more awake, she would've been able to put a name to the matured face. Alas, she couldn't even tell if the woman was wearing a look of anger or disappointment. Not that the girl really cared at this stage.

She pulled herself up, slowly and carefully as her limbs began to wake up. She felt sore and stiff, having to use all the energy she had left to even be able to walk to the door.

"Your punishment has been decided." The woman stated, looking at her through the glass.

So, today was the day? That must've been what she meant. Cora didn't seem to feel any emotion to the news. She'd dealt with the fear of dying, it was better than being stuck in this hell hole.

"I die today." She stated, giving the woman an emotionless stare.

"No. But some might say your fate is worse then death." She replied, flicking a stray black hair out of her eyes. Which was a pointless act because it fell right back in it's place afterwards.

The heavy metal door swung open to reveal two soldiers stood either side of her. Now that the doorway was open, Cora could hear the other prisoners. Some shouted, demanding to be let out, begging for mercy. Others simply moaned and wailed as if they'd gone crazy in this place. She wouldn't be surprised. The one soldier grabbed her arm, pushing down on one of her bruises and pulling her out of the room. He began to drag her down the corridor behind the council woman. Her feet scraped across the floor, unable to keep up with the speed of the soldiers that walked alongside her.

"Where am I going?" She asked, but there was no response, just a small sadistic chuckle.

Once they'd left the prison, a man stopped the woman in her tracks. "She has an extra stop first." He began, giving Cora a look of disgust before pulling the woman to one side. She couldn't make out all of the muffled words but she got the gist of the conversation.

"...Producers think she should look more rough..."

"Rough?"

"Yeah, you know. For the entertainment...
...I don't know...
...Couple of cuts? Get it on camera."

In the end, the redhead decided to stop trying to understand their conversation. Camera? Was she going to be put on a poster or something? The girl assumed she probably looked bad enough already, but what did she know? And that's when a black bag went over her head and she was dragged off.

She'd passed out at some point, because when she came back round she was sat down, straps across her chest were holding her in place and the bag was pulled off of her shortly after she lifted her head.

"Okay, okay, here we go." One man called, pulling a camera round so it was in Cora's face. She looked confused, furrowing her eyebrows as she tried to work out what was going on. Was she being filmed? There were bright lights behind the man, they were so bright she couldn't make out the room she was sat in or if there was anyone else with her. In her haze of thoughts, she didn't realise straight away that her hair was being grabbed. When she turned to look, she saw a woman with a pair of scissors, chopping at her hair with no real plan of action.

"What are you doing?" She asked, trying to jerk her head away. The woman pulled her head back afterwards, rolling her eyes as she continued working her way through the prisoners mass of red hair. The more she tried to fight the hair dresser off, the more she got angry and the camera man got excited. Apparently she was playing right into his hands. If that was the case, she wouldn't make another sound. She sat still after that, silent.

Once the haircut was finished, the woman handed Cora a mirror. She reluctantly looked at herself, her mouth dropping as she studied the person staring back. The first thing she noticed was her hair. What used to be healthy red hair that sat just below her chest was now a messy bob with random layers that made her hair look flat in some places and matted in others. She moved to look at her eyes, lifeless green eyes that had dark circles around them. She saw the tears streaming before she felt them. The camera man zoomed in on her face at this point, to which she angrily kicked it back at him, screaming at the intrusive man.

After that act of rebellion, a soldier emerged from behind the lights, giving her a hard hit against her head to knock her out.

---


Cora woke up in a metal cage, her head pounding from the punch she'd felt before. She crawled forward, her hands wrapping around the bars as she tried to pull them down.

"Rolling." Someone called, causing the confused woman to look up, noticing her father stood in front of her. He looked uncomfortable, like he'd been forced to be here and it wasn't something he actually wanted to do. Or perhaps that was her imagination telling her that.

"This is for your crimes against the government and the council. For rebelling against the system and planning a mass attack, you have been entered into The Maze. You--"

"Maze? Dad? What's going on?" Cora interrupted, but he didn't even look at her. He took a deep breath and continued.

"You have this bag to keep you alive. Find your way to the center and you get out. Good luck." He muttered, chucking a red bag at her before walking away.

She looked down at the red bag, noticing it was the same colour as her jumpsuit. She pulled it open, looking through the contents. 5 black throwing knives. She run her finger along the blade as it sliced into her flesh. They must've been sharpened before she was given them. She watched the blood trickle down her finger before looking back in the bag, there was some kind of belt with five loops. It must be to put the knives in. The last item in the bag was a small box, inside there was a small tube of anti-septic cream, a bandage and 5 plasters. She decided not to use one on her finger, the cut was too small to cause any serious problems.

When the redhead looked back up, the cage had disappeared, replaced with 3 white marble walls. She stood up, turning around to notice a long corridor. When she looked up she saw the grey sky. This must be the maze. She picked out the belt from the bag, fitting it round her waist before putting the 5 knives in the holes. They fitted well, but were easy to access. She wondered what it was she was supposed to be fighting.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the wall behind her began to move forward, coming towards her with speed. They want me to get on with it. She thought, her heart beginning to race as she put the bag over her shoulder and began running. She was surprised with her energy levels, wondering if they'd managed to feed her somehow whilst she'd been asleep. Maybe she wasn't ready to die after all. Once she'd past a little red mark that was etched on the wall, she noticed that the wall stopped moving. Now she was stuck with a choice, left or right?

---


Days, maybe weeks had passed. No, it couldn't have been weeks could it? Cora wouldn't be alive if it had been. The girl had walked round the marble walled maze for what felt like forever, until the walls slowly transitioned into hedges. She had tried to climb them, but to no avail. There were thorns on the branches that made it impossible. She'd managed to deal with any injuries she'd given herself from trying to escape and not used her first aid kit. The only thing she desperately needed was food. She began to wonder if the weapons were to be used on anyone else. So far she hadn't met any danger. Was she truly alone in this maze?

A call for help answered her question, as if by magic. She perked up from her slow walk, looking around for the source of the noise. Had she imagined it? Possibly. She decided to trust her instincts and follow the noise.

"Hello?!" She shouted, her voice a croaky mess. She began to run in the direction she thought the call had come from. Adrenaline was the only source of energy that was giving her the ability to run. "Hello? Can you hear me? Where are you?" She shouted again after clearing her throat.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:16 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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Daz leaned his shoulder into the wall and slowly lowered to the ground. He was dirty, bleeding, and broken.

He had always been a clean person. Well, as clean as one could be living on such a low level. As a kid Daz knew he couldn't afford to be sick, so he washed himself meticulously every day and washed his hands religiously. He had always been so cautious, not wanting to injure himself like so many other boys did. Sometimes his friends would climb the railings and buildings to spy on the upper levels, but Daz always kept his feet firmly grounded to the platform. Of course, he couldn't completely avoid being hurt. Everyone got roughed up by the soldiers at some point.

"Ha, haaa," Daz wheezed, letting noise escape his mouth. It wasn't quite a laugh, just a broken sound to confirm to himself that he was still alive. The sticks that lined the ground dug into him, making it impossible to be comfortable. He began collecting the sticks underneath him and throwing them away, hoping to find a smooth surface underneath. No luck.

There was a sound. Faint at first, then growing louder into the familiar thumping of footsteps. Daz straightened, grabbing one of the sticks to protect himself. The hunting knife in his bag was forgotten.

"Hello?" Daz called, trying to look up to see if anyone was coming. If it was a soldier then so be it, he would die. But maybe he wasn't the only person put in the maze. It wouldn't surprise him that the government had created some sort of twisted game to crush the fragments of rebellion.

The footsteps were incredibly close, and it was now accompanied by a woman's voice. She sounded panicked and hoarse, much like himself. She wasn't a soldier then. The remaining ground floor above the pit began to crack as the unseen woman ran over it. The fact that it didn't break immediately, as it had done for him, suggested that she was lighter.

"Stop! Jesus Christ, stop! You're going to fall in!" Daz raised his hands to his mouth, wondering in the back of his mind if doing that even made your voice louder. "I'm down here."

What if she left? The sudden thought hit Daz like a smack to the face. She had no reason to help him if she was trapped as well. Loneliness hadn't been a problem moments ago, but now that there was some person above him, living and breathing, he wanted to cling to the connection.

Getting out of the pit was a priority as well. His body was screaming at him to survive, no matter what it took. Would this person even be able to help him? He wondered if the woman had been given a bag like him. If by some miracle, she had a rope, he could get out easily.

"Who are you?" Daz asked, heart pounding. IF he could just talk to someone, to hear another voice would be a miracle.

"J-just stay where you are, or something. The ground isn't stable."

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:02 pm 
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Cora ran at full speed, knowing the call for help could be a trap. If it wasn't though, it meant she wasn't alone and it meant someone was in trouble. She barely noticed the ground crumbling beneath her feet until the voice called for her to stop. The redhead stopped dead, looking down at the grassy floor and furrowing her eyebrows. She could see that the floor wasn't stable, but it didn't seem to properly break where she was. Her eyes scanned across the floor until she noticed the hole in the ground - the voice that she'd heard had come from there.

A male's voice. He sounded panicked, weak. She wondered if he had been in the maze the same amount of time as her. Perhaps longer? Was he part of the rebellion? Did they know each other? She tried to focus on his questions rather then her own.

"Okay, okay." She said to herself, stepping forward lightly as she tried to keep her balance. "I'm heading to you now, hang on." She replied to the voice, slowly crouching down to the floor so she was crawling. She figured she'd move steadier on all fours. "I'm Cora, you? Are you hurt?" The woman asked, trying to keep the panicked stranger talking so he'd calm down.

The grass felt much more artificial now that she was concentrating on it. Her hands pressed into the floor, stinging her slightly from the small cuts she'd got from trying to climb up the hedges. She hadn't realised then how far the council had thought about the maze, but the small thorns had sliced her up bad enough for her to finally understand. Everything had been carefully thought through, perhaps even this had been planned.

The redhead had finally reached the edge of the hole, her fingers gripping around the edge as she peered down.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:16 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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Daz sighed in relief as the woman seemed to slow, but didn't leave. She was going to help him.

Maybe he had been right, that this maze wasn't just a personal punishment, and was designed for members of the rebellion. It gave him hope to think that they at least were still alive. He closed his eyes and saw several familiar faces. Daisy, Nox, and Peter had all escaped the humiliating battle. If they were caught like Daz, maybe they were in the maze.

But there were so many that were already dead. Some Daz had seen shot or stabbed in the attack, others killed in the streets as 'examples' even before it had even happened.

Cora. There was no significance to the name in Daz's mind. He'd say it was a nice name, if pleasantries weren't a waste of energy in his situation.

The ground above Daz seemed to stop cracking. Cora must have found a way to crawl over. He couldn't help but admire this unseen person. She was smart, and was staying when she easily could have run the other way. He tried to imagine himself looking down at a stranger, and was terrified at the thought of selfishness.

"Daz, my name." He began to speak more thoughtfully now that he had a lifeline to cling to, but it was still squeezed through his throat in panic. "I think I did something to my foot. I don't know what, but it hurts like a ****ing." Daz bent his injured foot towards himself, holding his calf just above his ankle to keep it from touching the ground or bending. His shoe covered his full ankle, and he couldn't will himself to take it off to see the injury.

Daz raised his eyes back up to the hole and saw a face peering over the edge. Choppy red hair, a round face, and full lips. He was surprised to feel that it was familiar. He had seen it before, somewhere else, but he couldn't place it.

Compared to the rotting corpse, at least, it was a beautiful sight. Tears began to fill Daz's eyes, to his own shock. His canthi began to burn as he rubbed the moisture away with his dirty green sleeve.

"I've seen you," he began, "somewhere befo-" Daz's voice trailed off as he realized where he had seen her face. Up on a balcony, smiling and waving. Looking down at a crowd where some clapped with enthusiasm, others shouted curses and were carted away. Sure, she had been younger, but it was unmistakably her.

Shaking with anger, Daz began shouting and pointing above his head. "What the hell are they planning? Is this a joke, some sort of sick trick? Did they think I wouldn't know your face? Well I do, Cora! Your father is a monster, and so are you!" Daz tried to stand, but sank back down, breathing heavily. His eyes didn't stray from Cora's face.

"Well then, are you going to play with me, put my corpse on a stick? I'm honestly surprised that they'd send the daughter of a council member to do it. Makes a better show, hmm?" Daz laughed, wiping the spit from shouting off his cheek.

Daz abruptly scrambled to find his bag, rifling through it to reach the bottom. Ration packs spilled out, but Daz didn't seem to notice or care as he drew out his hunting knife.

"I will fight." Daz raised the weapon in front of his face. He was unable to hide his eyes, which resembled that of a frightened, trapped animal's.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:41 pm 
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Cora wasn't necessarily surprised by the man's reaction, she was used to it. People naturally connected her to her father and therefore thought she was evil. It was justly unfair. But just because she was raised by a member of the council doesn't mean she agrees with any of his beliefs. She sighed, trying to ignore the shouting and figure out a way to get the poor survivor out of the trap.

When he held out his knife, she held her hands up as if surrendering. "Calm down, please." She replied softly, pulling the bag off of her shoulder and throwing it over the edge, she kept hold of the straps so it dangled down. It was a risky move, the stranger could just take her supplies and then she'd really have nothing. Then again, it didn't matter, without any food she'd be dead soon anyway. That's when she noticed the ration packs that had spilled out of the mans bag, her eyes widening as she felt her stomach pang with hunger.

"Grab onto my bag, I'll try and pull you up." She suggested, trying to keep her voice calm. She couldn't tell from where she was positioned if he'd be able to reach, but it was the only idea she had. "There's a first aid kit inside, we can try and patch up your injury when you're out." Cora continued, her other hand gripping on the edge again, ready to begin pulling if the man decided to take her offer of help. She noticed he was wearing the same jumpsuit as her, only a different colour. Clearly he was a member of the rebellion, she wondered how many others might be within the maze's walls. She was just thankful to find another human being.

"You dropped your ration packs." The redhead pointed out, though it was more for her own selfish gain, she desperately needed food and he desperately needed first aid. They could help each other.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:38 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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Daz looked around, expecting Cora to pull a gun out, or for soldiers to jump out from behind and drag him out of the pit. Instead, Cora seemed to pull back and let out a sigh. He lowered the knife slightly in confusion, before raising it again as she began to speak.

Calm down? How could he, when he was stuck in a trap and being threatened by an enemy?

"Calm down? I-what?" Daz watched in confusion as Cora threw a bag over the edge, dangling it by the straps. His immediate instinct was to reach out and snatch the bag, but he didn't move from his defensive position. He noticed that the bag was the same make as his own, only a brick red compared to his forest green.

All he had to do was grab the bag, and he was out. That's what she said. Daz gazed into her eyes for several moments, barely daring to blink. He wanted to jump inside her skull, to read her intentions as easily as a book. All he could see was earnestness, which was easy to fake. He'd seen it enough on the lower levels. Children would beg for food or money, professing to be poor innocent souls, but when nothing was given, would draw a knife and force it from you.

A first aid kit sounded nice. Most of Daz's wounds had bled over enough to scab, so he wasn't in need of any bandages, but a splint for his foot would be a miracle. It was just in front of him, dangling slightly out of reach.

Still holding the knife, Daz pushed the rations back into his bag and put it over his shoulder. He stood slowly and began shuffling over, keeping as much of his weight on his uninjured leg as he could. He stopped just shy of reaching the bag.

If Daz took the bag, he could have the first aid kit. He also wouldn't be able to get out. It was possible Cora was lying, and that the bag was filled with useless junk. She seemed so willing to put it over the edge that it was likely the case.

Cora was unmistakably Klive Whittle's daughter, but would the government really go through such a trick to torture a low member of the rebellion? Sending in a council member's daughter to make a rebellion member feel safe, before stabbing him in the back, seemed like an overexertion. But if she wasn't a trick, then why was she here? She couldn't be a member of the rebellion.

It wasn't possible. People on the upper levels didn't change, or car about the lower ones. They had everything they wanted. No one would sacrifice that for some half-baked attempt to escape the cameras.

If it was a trick, and Daz let her pull him up, she could kill him before anyone stopped him. That is, if anyone came to stop him.

Daz took the last few steps, planting his good foot into the wall and grabbing one side of the bag. He readjusted the knife in his hands and grasped the other side, still keeping the blade at the ready.

Daz's bad foot hovered just slightly above the ground, his weight supported by his foot in the wall, which he began to inch up. He would have to try to jump up while swinging out to avoid the ledge formed above him, as Cora pulled on the bag.

"Okay," Daz said, "I'm ready."

1, 2, 3.

Daz pushed off with his leg, letting his bad one give him momentum like a pendulum. He felt the bag go taught as he ended his swing and Cora pulled like she said she would. It was only a moment, but Daz felt like he hung in the air for several seconds, his heart pounding in his ears. In a snap, it was gone, and he felt himself hitting the ground in an uncontrolled tumble.

Thankfully, Daz didn't hit his foot. He shook his head, orienting himself on the ground. He had pulled Cora's bag from her hands on the upswing, and it was lying on the ground beside him, along with his hunting knife. He quickly reached for it.

Cora was sitting just an arm's reach away. Daz gripped the handle of the knife, remembering that the ground was weak. He took a careful shuffle forward before grabbing Cora's shoulder and pushing her down, swinging his knee over her and raising the knife to her throat, while digging his elbow into her other shoulder.

Just do it, Daz thought, tightening his hand. His breathing was heavy as he stared into the redheaded woman's eyes that were inches away from his own. He realized that his arm was trembling, and that he couldn't control it. Do it!

If it had been a trap, soldiers would have jumped out already. Daz couldn't deny it. His face was full of emotion and intensity as he thought.

Maybe she was just another failed rebel like him. There was no point in slitting her throat.

"AAAAAHHHH!" Daz screamed in frustration, releasing the pressure from Cora's shoulder and slamming the knife's handle into the ground beside them in pent-up anger. He pushed back from her and sat, injured leg stretched forward, other leg bent to the side underneath him.

"That's some damn strong fabric," he managed, gesturing to the bag with his free hand before resting his face in his hand.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:56 pm 
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Cora pulled the stranger up, just as she said she would. It wasn't easy, she didn't have much strength and she was even weaker from lack of food and rest. Nevertheless, she managed to get Daz out of the hole.

Everything after happened so fast that it was a blur. She had a knife to her throat and was pinned down by the mans body weight in a matter of seconds. She didn't say anything, not wanting to irritate him. Her eyes flicked between his and all she could see was intense anger and frustration. The girl realised that despite the fact her heart was racing, she wasn't afraid. He seemed conflicted, maybe he was coming to his senses.

Daz screamed into her face before moving off of her but she didn't move straight away. The redhead was preoccupied with trying to catch her breath. She felt like she'd been punched in the gut, winded. Any air she tried to draw in escaped her, she held a hand to her forehead and shut her eyes. Images flashed before her; the prison cell, her father, her hair.

The prisoners comment brought her back to reality and she sat up slowly, pushing the hair out of her face and turning her attention to Daz. "Well, it wouldn't be interesting if you died in the hole, would it?" She stated, assuming the mindset of the council. She moved to sit on her knees momentarily before she cautiously crawled closer to him.

"Can I take a look?" She asked, pointing at the mans shoe. Cora was unsure of his reaction, would he allow her to look at his injury? She wasn't sure she'd even be able to help, but he wouldn't last long if he could barely walk.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:11 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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Daz watched Cora with tired interest. He saw that she seemed to be having trouble breathing. Had he hit her accidentally, or was it from pulling him up? It was likely the latter, seeing that Daz's arms ached and his heart pounded, and he hadn't even been on the lifting end. She wasn't an overly small woman, but Daz outweighed her by height alone. It took serious strength, willpower, or both to lift him out the way she had. It had been a sacrifice. Still, Daz didn't feel completely at ease with her. He let his focus drop to his lap. He could see that his hands were red and raw from holding on to the bag.

Daz looked up as Cora spoke and nodded. The woman seemed to understand right away, speaking in a cynical tone that rang through the voice of rebellion members. It was all about entertainment value. How interesting would it be to watch someone die in a pit? He wondered how the corpse had died. Did the person have to face some sort of trial, or did they simply die of hunger or thirst?

Even if her voice held that tone, it was still hard for Daz to believe that someone so close to the top would give it all up. From where Daz had been raised, he didn't think that people just did things from the goodness of their hearts, or consideration of other people. There was always some sort of reason.

As Cora shifted closer, Daz drew into himself slightly, but didn't move away. When she asked to look at his injury, he hesitated, hand lowering to touch his shoe.

"I don't know if I can take my shoe off," he muttered, "it hurts." The shoe didn't have laces and simply slipped on, and Daz was hesitant to try and move it. Yet he knew that if he didn't, he probably wouldn't be able to move far.

Gritting his teeth, Daz berated himself. Was he a child? He could take the pain, couldn't he? He gingerly grabbed the heel of the shoe and pulled slowly, teeth gritted. It was a duller pain than before, and more like a throb, but he still longed to get away from it, to stop pulling and to fall asleep and let the world slip away forever.

Daz wanted to be the one who could fight through the pain, the one who could pull their shoe off in one fluid motion with barely a whimper. He couldn't. But he continued to slide the shoe down painfully slowly until the heel reached the middle of his foot, where he managed to pull it off without disturbing his ankle.

Now that he could see his foot, he saw that it was tilted in slightly, and a bruise had formed below the bone. "I think it's just sprained," he tried to say calmly, but the appearance of the injury bothered him. He'd had a few sprains and breaks from fights and running around in the lower rings. They had been treated, but the slow way, that required as little medical equipment as possible. His mom couldn't afford the type of stuff in the upper rings that fixed bones almost instantly, and repaired bruised tissue like nothing.

Cora had mentioned her first aid kit. It was unlikely the council had given her any type of miracle equipment, but it had to be something.

"You said you have a first aid kit. What's in it?" Daz asked. He thought about his own bag. If there were other prisoners in the maze, maybe they had different items, forcing them to work together, or tear each other apart.

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Cora squinted her eyes, studying the bruise. There wasn't anything in her first aid kit that would help him with a sprain, but she opened up her bag anyway, so the man could see that she wasn't lying. She pulled out the box, opening it to show him the plasters, bandages and anti-septic cream.

"I'm sorry. I don't have anything for that." She sighed, giving him a sympathetic look. "You need to keep it elevated but, we should probably get out of here soon." She suggested, naturally assuming that they would travel as a pair now. She had realised early on that it's not wise to hover in the maze. The council had ways to make her move along if she did, they needed to keep their viewings high and someone sat down resting wasn't exactly fun to watch.

The redhead looked up, there were 3 ways they could go from the square they were sat in now. She remembered which one she had come from, it probably wasn't the right way. Before the greenery it was just marble. The other two exits didn't give any hints as to where they went either. How were they supposed to figure out where the center was? She wondered if they had some kind of tree house or higher level that they could use to have a glance at the maze as an overall. Probably not. Maybe there wasn't even really a center, but then that wouldn't be a very good TV show.

Cora returned to her current situation, eyes flicking over the poor soul. He seemed to be in a lot of pain and she was relieved she hadn't been severely injured too. She was just hungry.

"Do you think... I could possibly have one of your ration packs?" She asked, feeling embarrassed to ask. She hoped Daz didn't think that was the only reason she'd helped him.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:48 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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"Damn it," Daz looked into the first aid box in disappointment. It had some useful items, but nothing that could help his ankle. Seeing the box at least made him feel more at ease, knowing that Cora was telling the truth.

Hating the idea of moving, Daz still had to agree with what Cora said, giving her a nod as his eyes remained fixed on his ankle. They had to move to solid ground, at the very least.

Daz remembered the words of the woman with the clipboard from when he had been thrown into the maze. Reach the centre, and you get out. How were they supposed to find the centre when they didn't even know where they started? It was probably a lie, and just a cheap way of motivating anyone tossed in the maze. A small glint of hope to chase. Getting out was a prize to fight for, but what would happen? Prison or death.

What way could they go? Daz looked up at their options. The first was where they had both come, so he ruled it out. The other two paths had little to differentiate between them. If he was forced to choose, he would take the path to left, since they wouldn't have to skirt around the hole Daz had just moments ago been rescued from.

Cora spoke, and Daz's mouth tightened. There it was. Of course she wanted something from him. Of course, he had needed her first aid kit, so he wasn't entirely innocent. The kit had been a dud, but there was no point for Daz to keep the rations to himself.

"Yeah," Daz said, taking his bag from off his shoulders and taking out a ration packet. He had only been eating quarter portions himself, but as he looked over at Cora he wondered if she had eaten anything since being in the maze. She appeared unhealthy as he looked closer, and when she had opened her bag to show the first aid kit, he hadn't seen any glint of silver.

Daz slid the full ration packet to her. He deliberated for a moment over his knife, which he hesitantly placed back in his bag.

"We can crawl to the path over there, then I'll have to use your shoulder to walk." It was unspoken, but Daz knew that they would be travelling together.

"I'm sorry for what I said. About you. Not your father." Daz managed the apology like it was being pulled out of his very being. It was pointless, but he felt compelled to say it. He still didn't entirely trust Cora, but now she seemed to have shown helpful intentions, even if she was seeking something in return.

As Daz looked at Cora, he noticed her hair, jagged and cut short. He put his hands through his own hair reflexively. It was messy, but not chopped in the same way as hers. Whatever had happened, it didn't seem like her own conscious choice. But what did Daz know about trends in the upper levels?

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Cora wasted no time ripping open the packet and tucking into the ration. It was dry and tasted bland, but it was food nonetheless. She only ate half, knowing that Daz didn't have many and she wasn't sure if he'd even be willing to share them all. Cora wasn't used to being hungry, she was privileged enough to always have plenty of food on the table, all prepared and cooked by professionals. She'd gone from riches to rags in such a short amount of time, she was still adjusting.

She nodded at Daz's next suggestion, looking over her shoulder at the pathway he'd suggested as she place the other half of her food back inside the packaging and into her bag. When she turned her attention back to him, he apologised and she noticed him looking at her hair whilst running a hand through his own. She gathered he was probably wondering why it was such a mess.

"It's okay, I'm used to it." Cora replied, twisting a chunk of her hair round her finger. It flopped down when she released it, the curl slowly unwinding back to her normal waves. "They cut my hair before they chucked me in here. Guess they wanted me to be an example to wealthy kids." She pondered out loud, feeling a lump in her throat.

There was calm for a couple more minutes, until the ground began to shake again and chunks of the floor began to fall through. Cora's eyes widened as she looked around the square they were in. If they weren't quick, their pathways to escape would no longer exist. She jumped up, throwing her bag over her shoulder and grabbing onto Daz's bag. She slipped it over her other shoulder, ensuring it was secured. Both hands extended to the stranger, a look of panic plastered over the womans face.

"Quick, take my hands." She instructed, struggling to keep her balance.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:59 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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So Cora hadn't eaten recently, judging from the way she tore into the ration as soon as it was in her reach. Still, she seemed to leave half of it in the packaging, to Daz's surprise. She still kept it, putting it in her bag for later. She was smart, then, understanding that simply being alive was more important than feeling full.

When Cora agreed with Daz's plan, he sat himself up and began slowly sliding his shoe back on. It was easier this time, since he could anticipate the exact feeling of the pain. He would have rathered leaving it behind, but he had no idea what kind of terrain they would be going through next.

While Daz adjusted the heel of his shoe, Cora commented on her hair. Daz hadn't meant for her to notice his observation, and felt slightly uncomfortable at her mentioning it. An example to the rich kids. So she had left her life behind for the people of the lower levels, and was being punished for it. He wondered what she had done, if she had fought or worked on the inside. The leaders were always mentioning informants on the inside. Perhaps she had been one. Daz was disgusted at the idea of a council member willingly putting their own child in a torturous game like the maze.

Daz didn't respond, letting a silence build between them. He focused on reducing his heart rate, breathing slowly in and out. It was a false sense of calm, but the danger that he constantly felt around him was now static background noise. He allowed himself to close his eyes, but it only lasted a moment as the ground began to tremble and shake.

They had been still for too long. Daz reached for his bag, but it was scooped up by Cora. Confusion flickered over his face for a moment before he realized that she wasn't leaving him. She stretched out her hands and Daz took them firmly, eyes a panicked mirror of her own. She didn't have to take as much of his weight this time, as Daz was able to jump from his good leg, just before the ground below them completely collapsed.

Daz stood by standing on one leg, the other just brushing the ground. His hand rested on Cora's shoulder, using her as a crutch. He looked at the now fully exposed pit behind them. The sky had lightened enough that he could now clearly see the bottom. They hadn't been sticks, but bones.

Human or otherwise, Daz felt sick looking into the hole. He forced his eyes to the sky and let out a long breath. He turned to look ahead of them. The same hedges as before, stretching several hundred meters before stopping. He couldn't see if there was any other path ahead. His stomach turned at the idea that they had just trapped themselves in a dead end.

"Now we walk." Daz adjusted himself on Cora's shoulder, making sure he wasn't placing too much weight on her. "Did they say the same thing to you about the centre?" He didn't know how they'd find it or if it even existed, but they would try. What else could they do?

Daz grabbed his bag from Cora's shoulder and put it on his own. He still didn't feel at ease, despite being saved by the woman twice. He would fend for himself from now on, with no need of rescue.

Hopefully, he thought.

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Cora was amazed that they had managed to avoid laying in a bed of bones, she looked over her shoulder at the hole, gulping as she realised that could have been both of them. She wondered who the bones belonged to, other rebels that hadn't made it this far? It made her stomach churn and for the first time she considered the possibility that her father couldn't be rescued. How could anyone support such an act?

"Yes, they did." She replied to Daz, holding onto the wrist that was slung over her neck, her other arm wrapped around his waist. She hoped that they could walk at a decent pace, not wanting the audience to become bored and force them to run again. She didn't think they'd be able to escape next time, not with Daz's ankle in the condition it was.

"What did you do to get in here?" She asked, hoping he wouldn't think she was prying too soon. Part of her wanted to know, if they were going to travel together they would have to get along. The other reason she picked such a topic of conversation was that she hoped it would be interesting enough that the council wouldn't feel the need to hurry them along. Cora assumed that Daz was part of the rebellion, perhaps he was part of the big attack that had ultimately failed the make any kind of impact on the council.

The redhead noticed that the sky seemed to dim, as if nightfall was upon them. Had the day passed by already? She didn't think she'd been walking for that long. They would need to find somewhere reasonably safe so that Daz could rest, he needed to elevate his ankle if he had any hope of it healing. The pathway they were walking down seemed to go on for a while, until they came to a crossroads. To the left, there was more greenery, straight ahead seemed to lead to somewhere dark, she couldn't see too far into the distance. If they went right, it seemed that the greenery grew more sparse until it disappeared all together, something white taking over the walls. It didn't seem to be the marble from before, it shimmered slightly, light bouncing off the rough, jagged edges. Ice?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:45 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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If there were other contestants then they would have been told about the centre as well, as vague a piece of information that it was. Daz kept himself from flinching as Cora grabbed his wrist and waist. His body was on alert, feeling attacked even though there was no longer any danger. He just wanted to keep moving, despite his injury. It was something to do that gave him purpose.

When they began walking, Daz cursed the pace they were taking. It was slow, and for the first few meters he had to adjust himself until they found the motion that allowed them to fit together.

"I fought and I lost," Daz commented in response to Cora's question, smiling tersely. He didn't want to get into the details of the failed attack. Or more so, how he had ran when things didn't go well, and was flushed out a few days later.

Another silence grew between them, the only sounds being the soft thumping of their feet and the rustle of clothing. Daz wanted to ask her the same questions in return, to know the story of how a council member's daughter had ended up in a prison for rebels, but his own cagey response likely wouldn't help her to open up. As the sky began to darken he reluctantly spoke, keeping his eyes fixated on the view ahead.

"I was in the attack on the council building. There were bombs that were supposed to go off, and they didn't. We charged anyway, since we knew we wouldn't have another chance. It was practically mass suicide." He swallowed forcefully, supressing the lump that had been building in his throat. "We took some soldiers by surprise, managed to enter the building and kill some officials in the lobby before reinforcements showed up." By that point Daz had dropped his weapon and ran, slipping through a secondary entrance, but he kept that part of the story out. "Some of us were killed right there. I guess I was one of the lucky ones, to end up here." Daz gestured to the thorned hedges to their right.

"And what about you?" Daz asked as they reached a crossroad. He peered down each, leaning forward to get a better look. The path to the left appeared the safest, but he knew that it couldn't be so black-and-white. The darkness ahead of them reminded Daz of the tiredness he felt, and the dull pain in his legs and arms. If he could just close his eyes for a moment... but who knew what was in the shadows. He couldn't tell what led to the right, but he could see the hedges start to disappear and be replaced by something that looked sharp, glistening, and highly uninviting.

"The left looks the safest, but hell if they didn't put some tricks in this place," Daz grimaced.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:46 pm 
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"I know the attack you mean." Cora replied, closing her eyes momentarily as she remembered watching it on a news broadcast. "I had already been arrested at that point, but I was supposed to be fighting beside the other rebel fighters." She informed Daz, gazing down the left pathway when he suggested it was the safest route.

The redhead pointed down the right path, "If that's ice, it'll be good for your ankle." She suggested, shuffling slightly to move most of the weight onto her other leg whilst they deliberated which way to go. Neither of them seemed to want to keep moving forward. The dark was intimidating, uncertain. She was sure the darkness wouldn't last forever but she was in no mental state to deal with entering it.

Once they'd decided on a path, she'd finish her story, knowing there wasn't much more to say. "I betrayed the council and joined the rebel fighters." She wondered how Daz had survived the attack, she saw the numbers, most of the rebel fighters were killed in action. She assumed he was simply skilled with a gun, or whatever weapon he had at the time. Cora thought he didn't look like much of a soldier, but she didn't either, they'd both been weakened, scarred by whatever torture the council deemed necessary for them.

Cora pondered over his choice of words. He deemed himself as lucky, though she was unsure as to whether he was purely being sarcastic. She thought about her own situation, did she consider herself lucky? She'd technically escaped death twice. The first time when she missed the big attack and the second time when she was thrown into the maze instead of being killed. She wasn't sure what she'd have picked if she'd had a choice, she felt uncomfortable with grasping onto the small hope of escape. She didn't even know if it was genuine.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:31 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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So Cora had missed out on the fight. Daz wondered how she had been arrested prior to the attack. She must have done or said something to show her true affiliation to the rebel group. He wasn't sure if it meant she had been in the maze for longer. For all he knew, they could have been released at the same time, or she could have been tortured longer.

Daz wondered if Cora had ever shot a gun or used a weapon of any kind before. He wasn't exactly an expert himself, but learned to shoot from the rebel leaders, and had constantly carried a knife to protect himself in the lower levels. Cora likely never had to use a weapon for true self defence in her life, but perhaps shooting was a popular game to the elite. If Cora had been in the attack, she probably would have ended up as a corpse like so many others. Lucky her.

Betrayed the council, of course. The statement was about as generic as Daz's first comment to her questioning. He didn't expect them to become close friends. Both were beaten and frightened for their lives, leaving little room for a feeling of compassion and camaraderie.

The ice would be good for his ankle, but it would also unfortunately be a cold and slippery path to take. Daz didn't know how long ice would last if they simply took some from the walls and went another way. He looked at the ground ahead, where the hedges began to transition into the frozen walls. He couldn't tell if the ice took over the ground as well, but if it didn't, perhaps it was the best option.

For an upper level girl, Cora seemed to know a lot about taking care of a wound. He had had little interaction with upper level people of his age, but Daz had just assumed they were never taught that sort of thing, since their injuries could be cured in a moment by doctors always prepared to help. There were doctors in the lower levels too, of course, but not the overly trustworthy kind. It was better to let a wound heal over time than to gamble money on someone who may or may not be able to help.

"You're right." Daz kept his thoughts of the pampered people of the upper levels out of his tone, though he longed to ask Cora if she had been as indulgent and selfish as them. "If the ground is safe, we can try going that way." Daz wondered if Cora was beginning to grow tired from him using her as a crutch. Even when trying to avoid putting most of his weight on her, he couldn't help relying on her to keep from walking on his injured leg.

Whatever this maze was, it wasn't just a throwaway project. To create and maintain ice like that in a single area seemed impossible, even with the technology of the time. Daz looked up to the sky again, realizing that it was likely fake for the first time. Why would they let them see open sky? They had to be contained somehow. Every aspect controlled, everything decided. They could and would only escape if the council let them.

It didn't seem likely. Even so, they had to try.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:18 am 
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Cora nodded, turning right and gripping onto Daz's wrists in case one of them slipped. She slowed the pace of their walking down once the hedges began to transition, taking small, deliberate steps. The ice didn't seem to move onto the floor, it was still the rough texture it was for the marbled walls part of the maze. Though, looking ahead there seemed to be... snow?

What a strange environment to put in a maze. The redhead couldn't quite believe it, she looked at Daz, wondering if he'd noticed it too. They'd freeze if it went on for too long, neither of them had much meat on their bones and the jumpsuits didn't seem to be thermal. "I don't think the floor will be icy, but it's going to be cold. What do you want to do?" She asked, her hand reaching out to touch the ice on the walls - yep, it was real.

She wanted to ask her companion before carrying on because, he was the one who wouldn't be able to make a quick getaway if something went wrong. They needed to get his ankle sorted fast. She shifted so he was closer to the wall, signalling for him to get on the ground and touch his ankle to the ice. The sky was still getting darker, she wondered what was going to happen when nightfall was upon them. Is that when monsters would appear? Or other contestants? They needed to find a place to hide.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 10:10 pm 

the stars look very different today ★

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Daz hesitated before lowering himself to the ground. It was cold but the ice hadn't spread, like Cora had said. Daz pressed his ankle against the wall. He anticipated the bite of the ice, but it was more shocking than he had prepared himself for. He clenched his teeth to avoid shouting, but he couldn't keep an uncomfortable hiss from passing through.

Gradually the pain began to be replaced with a tingle, then numbness. Daz looked up at Cora. He had rarely been asked to make his own decisions. He tended to follow others, or was told what to do. It had rarely bothered him, knowing it was a way to live his way safely. Until he had joined the rebellion, at least.

And look where that choice had led him.

The pain in his ankle was gone, but Daz still know that he couldn't put his weight on it. Otherwise he would just injure it further.

The cold that had saved Daz from the throb in his ankle started to prickle at his skin. If they went that way, there was a possibility that they would freeze and die. Though the jumpsuit wasn't threadbare, it didn't seem built to conserve heat.

Would freezing to death be interesting enough to their possible audience? Daz slowly lifted himself up using Cora as a support, but with less urgency. He would take their chances going down the path.

"We'll keep going this way." Daz said firmly, trying to show some semblance of leadership and decisiveness.

The lights were beginning to fade from the sky, but it didn't appear to be getting any colder. Daz tried to recall if either of them had some sort of way to light their path. He didn't think so.

"Why would you give it up?" Daz asked, a bit more harsh than he had intended. "That life in the upper levels. Why the hell did any of us matter?"

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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 9:02 am 
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Cora stood by whilst Daz sat on the ground, her eyes flicking between where they'd come from and where they were going. If attackers came from both ends they'd be screwed, though it didn't seem like there was any kind of danger from other beings. Not yet, anyway. When he stood back up, she held onto him again, surprised that he wanted to keep going. He didn't seem the kind that would take such a big risk, then again if he was in the rebellion perhaps he was a risk taker.

She continued to walk, the first few steps mainly the pair getting their bearings until they returned to their slow pace from before. She wondered if the ice had helped at all, but before she had a chance to ask Daz had already asked her a question.

"You sound like the council members." She commented, raising an eyebrow at him. If everyone thought like that there'd be no rebellion. "I don't know, one day it just clicked... that the system was wrong. Why should I never go hungry and live a lavish life just because I got lucky with who my parents are?" She mumbled, weary that she was somehow coming across as a spoiled brat. "I wasn't making the decisions but I still felt guilt every time I passed a hungry child or injured mother. So, it was time to do something about it." She shrugged.

The redhead looked away from her companion, squinting her eyes to try and see ahead, the light was dim and she struggled to see very far ahead.

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