All around him, the Yellow District, largest of all the districts of Tartarus, stretched on for several miles, blocks upon blocks of small huts provided for the miners and laborers forced to work for a government that cared not whether they lived or died. And all around, red hands blazed like angry fires painted over the stone and brick, palms spread, fingers outstretched. The Red Hand of the Resistance. The symbol of the movement, a sign that the Yellows, though despondent, had not completely given up.
Sporadically, Micah’s eyes fell on people sitting in huddled masses outside buildings and in alleys. Dressed in rags, bloodied and broken, these people looked less than human, hidden in the shadows with wet, hungry eyes peering out of the darkness. Seeing them sitting there, trembling, sharing blankets for warmth and comfort, made Micah sick to his stomach. But this was the way of Tartarus. Grown men reduced to living like dogs, nothing to their names, no family to keep them company.
This could have been Micah. If not for Booker, this would have been Micah. There were so many things he hated about his brother, so many traits he resented and abhorred. But the truth remained; if Booker had not come for Micah that day, Micah would likely be one of these starved, emaciated monsters dwelling in the darkness, forced to work, to die, for the president’s precious oil. Or worse. God, so much worse.
He pushed onward through the gloom, forcing himself to block out the emotions of the Yellows he passed. This was the worst part of the journey, seeing the men who hope and joy had left behind. He moved silently on nimble feet, making his way to the hovel that had become Booker’s haven for miscreants.
Booker’s encampment was nondescript, the remains of a decaying building that had been half-built before being abandoned completely. On the surface, it would have been useless without a roof or insulation to keep the weather out. But in Tartarus, it provided just enough shelter to stay protected and was just enough inconspicuousness to keep the EP’s away.
As Micah picked his way through the rubble and decay, he could hear the titterings and quiet jeers that often accompanied the broadcast of the Games. His mind swirled with clouds of amusement and joviality. Stepping through a rickety old door, he was at once enveloped by a large open space, one that had most likely been intended for use as a warehouse. Now, it served as a meeting place and refuge for Booker and his men. In the corner of the sizeable room, a small television set had been mounted. It flashed wildly as a group of men whooped and laughed, sitting around it on the cold stone floor, eyes glued to the screen.
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