Dallas could feel the heat of this place beating his mind and body down. The heat of this abysmal prison made the air harder to breathe in. The heavy pickaxe Dallas had been given was uncomfortable to grab due to the heat. It beat off of the rocks and made Dallas' heart rate never go down. To his left was Rorik, and his right was Lukina. Minimal clothing on both, much like the rest of the inmate population. Nobody had seen Arianne. The others who had been taken were nearby as well.
Paradise. The surface of this world was a snowball heal. But beneath it was hot, rolling lava. The Taianese used this place to mine their special brand of unobtanium. So they transformed it into a labor camp. There were no guards. Only a Taianese man up in the office looking down on them as they worked. The prisoners were free to do as they pleased. If you worked, you got food. If you did not work, then you'd starve.
Dallas would look at Lukina and Rorik and he'd notice they were both losing weights. Growing thinner by the day. How long had they been here?
"So." A raspy voice said from behind the Kowlooni. Turning about Dallas would see a smarmy little man. He looked like a skeleton, topped with thin greasy hair that had not been cut. He wore a breechcloth and nothing else. "The boss told me to tell you when rations happen, the tax has gone up. Two-thirds of your food and water this time. Got it?"
Her eyes moved to Dallas for a moment, "You need to move," she commented gently. She had lost track of time. Her gaze shifted to the gaunt vulture that was demanding payment. Even in the depths of hell there were pecking orders, and they had not climbed to the top of it. The half-elf was loath to attract more attention and she wanted to learn more about this place to facilitate an escape. If they died, these... people would not care for any reason other than the sudden decrease in rations it would present.
His time here so far had not been easy. For starters, it seemed like everything was always the lowest level's fault. It didn't help that they were mining for such futuristic material with such outdated and terrible equipment. Lastly, they barely had enough water to drink that didn't evaporate from the heat. Some would resort to collecting and drinking their own sweat to quench their thirst. It had made him into an insomniac, who'd sleep for a couple hours in the down time he had before going back to work.
Nevertheless, Dallas was still Dallas and he still had his caveats. He'd already been secretly giving part of his rations to those who'd been damned to hell with him, and he played a good show that he was going on okay despite it. He was trying to keep everyone together, no matter the cost. It was something for him to try to keep everyone somewhat at ease before the work would kill them.
To Dallas, this was his time to repent.
With that, he didn't wait for a response. He swiftly bounded off to spread the new order of the day.
Rorik, worked furiously. He was a young man, and while the body fat on him was fading off, his sweaty flesh and muscle structure became more apparent. He dug. Pick ass swinging with everything he had, crushing through the rocks. "You heard him. If we don't dig more that means fewer rations."
She nudged Dallas and dropped her voice low, "We could try for the surface... maybe... I can catch a signal or something..." She readjusted her grip on the pick axe and started crushing rock again. She was long past caring about the purpose of the movement as anything other mindless labor. Everything was all wrong. She could not get a sense of the pulse of the place, it was like its soul was gone or perhaps, there was never a God inside this planet to begin with. The thought chilled her despite the searing heat.
"Don't get down, we'll get through this. We just don't know how. Let's get some food in our stomachs and get to thinking. We're no good starved any more than we are." He gave a faked smile and continued to work away despite his arms beginning to want to fall limp to the strike and following vibrations of the rock beneath them.
They had no guards, so he could only guess that there was no reason for them to attempt an escape. There was either some buffer between the mines and the surface or even worse was that there was something outside keeping them in that wasn't the Taianese or that worked to their clockwork ideals. Ever still, they couldn't stay here. If they stayed it would kill them slowly and painfully. His mind was awash with thoughts, both of the current state of the world but now of something deeper and darker. He had died and was revived to live in this purgatory. Was this payment for living his life the way he did?
It certainly was hot as the hell she read about in her grandfather's books. Did Mara claim her after all this time? No, her soul had been offered to someone, something else.
This was penance for all the lives she claimed but the job wasn't done. The star hadn't died. They needed to escape. Her thoughts swam with plans, it was too damn hot.
Her vision darkened and red spots filled her vision.
She collapsed on the harden earth.
"Dammit! Come on, you need rest." While Dallas lacked the strength he did with his cybernetic arms, he wasn't weak. At least, he wasn't weak yet. Hoisting her up onto his shoulder, he began the hike back from this shaft's end towards the shantytown that they were all ordered to live in.
He yelled to the appointed shaft foreman, gesturing with his free hand towards their quarters. "I'm taking her to get rest, she collapsed. There is a vein or whatever of this shit probably another quarter mile down, I kept hitting dirty chunks of it." It was his only real excuse to take the two of them off the shaft, he was only hoping it was going to work.