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A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
Happy new years my GMT bros.

Stay Frosty
It was like something out of a damn movie.

It was like something out of one of those TV dramas.

It was like something out of... well, Survival Of The Fittest.

But frankly, for all that chance reunions always seemed unlikely, contrived, Bounce couldn't give a flying fuck what the odds were. A sense of overwhelming, crushing relief hit her like a freight train, because dammit, this was Alice, this was her only real friend and the only person that Bounce knew, absolutely knew that she could trust. Victoria was sort've okay by proxy of being Alice's girlfriend, but from a personal, selfish perspective, Alice was the only person on the entire island that Bounce could be 100% solid guarantee sure of.

The anxiety and nervousness were blown away in an instant. Not destroyed or shattered, but pushed back to the furthest corners of Bounce's mind, back from the surface for the time being. She stopped trembling the second that familiar voice called out to her. Amazing, really, that anything of that sort could be so calming, but what the hell ever, Bounce wasn't about to complain. Anything that could stop her from coming apart at the seams was a-okay in her book.

Naturally, at that very instant, the little voice that wouldn't shut up was chattering away in her head. It wasn't a split personality, or a touch of schizophrenia. It was just knowledge. Plain knowledge. The result of having watched and rewatched, analysed and dissected, critiqued... of having done all these things to every series of SOTF to date. And this persistent little voice was saying something. Well, no. Reading something.

Funny thing I've noticed, actually. For how many people there are on the island, they always seem to manage to find their friends easily, don't they? Well, maybe it's just lucky coincidence, maybe the whole thing's fake, or maybe it's just a quirk of how the place works. You know, they find people because they're looking for them, and looking hard. Or maybe we just notice the ones that DO find their buddies, and forget to take into account all the ones that spend the entire time searching and never actually manage to succeed.

Anyway, quite a lot, I've noticed, this happens, and then what? Everything goes to shit is what. The reunion is broken up by an enterprising player, tragedy, people get killed just as they find who they're looking for, etc, etc. That seems to happen a hell of a lot too, even asides from when you get the archetypal devoted pair of travellers and/or lovers. See, I think it happens not because of some contrived set up by the 'directors (I think it's real, FYI), but because of how people react in that situation. They just found their friend or girlfriend or whatever, so what's their natural reaction? They switch off is what. Their suspicion goes, their alertness goes because let's be honest, they're just plain happy to see whoever they're meeting.

And in the crucial time where it's all relief and happiness? Well, that's when they present an ideal target.


Bounce stiffened in Alice's arms... then almost tore herself clean out of the embrace, the paranoia returning like a sledgehammer. Never drop your guard, NEVER drop your guard! As Bounce's eyes raked the area, panic gripping her... they alighted upon ...well it didn't matter who upon, somebody was there, and the only damn advantage that Bounce had was telling her that history indicated that their intentions were bad.

"Get down! Get down right now!" Bounce hissed, a fleeting thought crossing her mind that as greetings went, there were better, then hit the deck alongside the fountain.

It fucking hurt. Goddamn paving.

Bounce's hand was scrambling, scrambling, stuck behind her own back, delving into her pack. She'd seen something before, when she'd checked her bag out, something near the unwieldy can of gasoline. It'd tired her the fuck out for all this time, but damn if Bounce as going to throw away her only weapon, especially when it was actually useful. Especially when Bounce had - come on where was is - when Bounce had...

Her fingers closed on a small, metallic object. A cuboid of steel.

Yes.

A lighter.

A HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
Somebody invent SOTFST already.

OFFICIAL SOTF CHATROOM
Slight problem. The chat isn't allowing me to identify myself (as either Cluevara or Jennifer), telling me that it's not a registered name. Which they both are, obviously, I'm logged in as them. This also means I can't op myself, also a problem.

Also, seriously, who the heck is the Robin dude? Is he one of the operators? If not, I don't see why he should be loitering constantly around the room when he's not a member and hardly ever seems to actually speak. It feels like an eavesdropper.

TEW
Actually there's something else here that would be lovely to get help with. My competence with making graphics extends no further than paint, and as such, the logos for most of the companies as of now look... a bit crap, to be honest.

Logos are 150x150 in size, if anybody who dabbles in such things could give me a hand, I would be very very grateful (particularly since I plan to extend this project to something on the board, since I doubt there are many people who actually play this game around the place). Design input is very welcome and I don't mind whether people use the initials or the full company name. I'll try put down what sort of promotion each one is to give people a better feel.


Companies:

AHF - American Hardcore Federation. Naturally, a very hardcore promotion, very gritty and daredevil.

ASCW - All-Star Championship Wrestling (Canadian). Comedic and family friendly, for our wrestling fans, think a bigger and more mainstream CHIKARA. They don't take themselves very seriously.

BPW - Breakout Pro Wrestling. Neil Sinclair's promotion, quite traditional, but with enough mainstream and modern elements to stop it from seeming old fashioned.

BPC: Burning Pride Combat. Ilario Fiametta Jr's promotion, quite outlaw and risque.

DANGER-Zone (Japanese): A young promotion with strong emphasis on death-defying stunts and hardcore action, mixed with a degree of comedy skits.

LOTRSW - Land of The Rising Sun Warfare (Japanese): A pure wrestling promotion, best described as 'puroresu dilute'. It's a lot more intense than most, but has been toned down a fair bit to prevent injuries to their talent.

P4W - Power 4 Wrestling: A very modern promotion that keeps itself mainstream enough to not eliminate 'entertainment' fans.

PWC - Pro Wrestling Central: Performance orientated, no-nonsense promotion, but without being so extreme as to be purely about the wrestling itself.

RA3K - Rebel Alliance 3000 (Japanese): Promotion that tries to hit the balance between performance and entertainment.

RSW - Revolutionary Survival Wrestling: Very old school, by the book promotion.

SCW - Spontaneous Championship Wrestling: Mix of performance and popularity. Fast-paced action.

SOTF - Survival Of The Fittest: Hardcore, purports to be edgy but is actually quite mainstream.

TTPW - Tag Team Pro Wrestling (European): Preferably a logo which says 'Tag Teams RULE!'

TEA - Territorial English Alliance (British): Strongly performance orientated, very intense promotion, which still doesn't mind the odd segment.

V2 - Version 2.0: Gritty, fast paced action.

TEW
Thanks Frank, these will help.

Fell Tidings
((Rosa Fiametta continued from How To Win Friends and Influence People))

As night fell on the third day, it occurred to Rosalia Fiametta how fucking sick she was of having to run around. How things had ended with Jeremy had made running her ass out of there ASAP absolutely essential, but Rosa's burning muscles certainly weren't thanking her for it. She was a lot fitter than she had been in the past, but the Fiametta wasn't cut out for this constant exertion. An athlete she wasn't. This was getting to be a bad habit - two panicked flights in as many encounters, Rosa really needed to start picking and choosing her meetings a little better. Still, at least she'd made it out of both situations unscathed, so that was something to be thankful for even in the face of her tiredness and stress.

That fucking lying little asswipe Jeremy... Rosa glowered to recollect his attempt at bluffing his way out of his deceit. How close he'd come to fooling her made her blood boil. Hitting him the way she'd done had been very theraputic, but no less than he'd deserved. If he hadn't got snarled up in his own story... even thinking about it started to raise Rosa's ire again.

Also, her back was killing her, but really, she only had her own stupid self to blame for that one. Much as a skintight white tanktop without a bra was... persuasive, it wasn't exactly practical. Especially when turned near invisible via sweat. Rosa briefly wondered how many people had been tuning in for a glimpse, then decided she had more important things to worry about than modesty.

Putting a hand on a tree to help her catch her breath, the Fiametta swung her duffle bag from her back, dumping it on the ground. After recovering to a reasonable degree, Rosa looked down at her bag, then looked around, sweeping for cameras. Then she sighed. "Fuck it," she said under her breath, before looking up again. "Fuck it," she repeated, a little more emphatically. "Look if you want, you bunch of virginal losers, it's the closest you'll ever get to the real thing."

With that, Rosa stripped off her tanktop, tossing the garment carelessly to one side. Flipping the bird in no particular direction, Rosa returned to her duffle, picking out the first shirt and bra that came to hand. Unhurriedly, the Fiametta put on the underwear, then pulled the t-shirt, a generic red number, on over her head. It looked a little odd in combination with her mini-skirt, but whatever, Rosa wasn't exactly trying to make a fashion statement. That done, Rosa straightened up and looked at her surroundings. It was getting dark, very dark, and she didn't fancy her chances of going without mishap whilst stumbling around at night. Much as she hated having to put off her search, even for a moment, it didn't look as though she had much of a choice.

Sighing again, Rosa reached into her bag and rolled up a couple more of shirts, fashioning a makeshift pillow, which she placed at the base of a nearby tree. With the sole coat she'd packed acting as a duvet of sorts, Rosa lowered herself onto the forest floor, wincing as the underbrush dug into her body. Far from ideal but then, what was she to expect on this island? Certainly there weren't any hotels around the corner. Shivering slightly, Rosa slowly fell into a fitful, wary sleep.

~*~

It was a poor night, rife with anxious awakenings and long stints of lying deathly still, holding her breath and trying to determine if some sound was a genuine threat, or an imagined one. Rosa snatched a few hours sleep, but in the conditions, she was lucky to get even that. As the sun rose, signalling dawn on Day four, the Fiametta was almost grateful to see that she could get moving again. Massaging a crick out of her neck, Rosa stood grimly alongside her tree, waiting and listening for the telltale screech of the PA.

Rosa felt a familiar swell of anxiety. What'd she do if Ily or Frankie was dead? There didn't seem to be any conceivable option. Even in this extreme situation, Rosa couldn't fathom being without either of her triplets. There were a permament presence in her life, even when they weren't there. The previous evening, Rosa had heard phantom voices going through her head as she exposed herself - a cry of disgust from Ilario, followed by demands she cover herself up immediately, a derisive snort from Frankie, chased up by a fusillade of insults. For them to just be... gone...

No. She couldn't contemplate it. Mercifully, the PA starting up prevented her from venturing too far down that path. Immediately, a name struck her. Vera Osborne, the very girl Rosa had run into in the ranger station back on day one. It seemed an age ago now, seemed totally unreal that she could have been killed in the sort space of time since their meeting. She didn't, however, dwell on it for long.

Ilario.

He wasn't dead.

But Jackson Ockley was.

Jackson Ockley, never one of the popular kids, and definitely no looker, but smart enough.

Jackson Ockley, the loner, yet who just seemed quiet rather than aloof.

Jackson Ockley, who her brother had killed yesterday.

Every vestige of strength went out of Rosa's legs, she crumpled to her knees instantly. Her face was a blank, eyes staring straight into the forest floor. What the fuck. What the actual fuck. That didn't make sense, it didn't - couldn't add up. Ilario, of ALL the people to kill somebody, Ilario!? Apart from that time he'd picked a fight with chief asshole Sturn, Rosa couldn't recall her brother throwing a punch in anger in his life. He was the sensible one, the one that ran after her and Frankie, trying and failing to keep them both in line. And now they were expecting her to believe he'd fucking murdered somebody!?

Rosa swore profusely in Italian and slammed both fists into the ground, before placing her forehead between them both. Pressed against the dirt, the Fiametta trembled. She couldn't tell whether it was anger or sorrow. Eventually - Rosa couldn't tell how much time passed, she straightened up. Staring into space, her expression formed into a scowl.

"Ilario Fiametta III... you have a fuckload of explaining to do when I catch up with you."

((Rosa continued in Beyond Awkward))

Rugga's scribbles
Of course you already know of this, so it's here for posterity and for me to say I likage your arts.

Rosa Fiametta... with whatever cheescake pinup levels of fanservice are, since that seemed to be the range. O_o

Happy Holidays!
Hell.

Yes.

Happy Holidays!
As an extension to this, the 24th, 25th and 26th can be considered exempt from inactivity, because let's be fair... it's a busy time for people. If they have Christmas stress, they don't need to be rushing to get posts done.

Roll Cameras!
Old premise, new version. What if... the characters from SOTF really WERE actors, shooting scenes for a genuine TV show? Any V4 characters are welcome, and you can RP them either as actors 'playing' the students, or as having the same name as the character they're portraying. RP behind the scenes, mid shoot, discussion with the other actors, whatever you want, perhaps the actors aren't all that much like the characters they play...

Oh, and if you want to use other people's characters, ask first, eh?



~*~


"Serafina! Serafina come back!"

The young Italian actress whirled around, somehow managing to look both furious and threatening whilst wearing a dressing gown (she was dressed underneath, albeit not particularly modestly). Her pursuer, a middle aged man in an immaculate white suit, shrank back. Serafina's eyes were smouldering and the man, Alberto his name, knew full well that now wasn't the time for an argument. No, this was placation and damage limitation to the maximum. Alberto could see the signs. Time to batten down the hatches and attempt to weather the storm.

"Three scenes Alberto! Three scenes!" Serafina yelled, the agent wincing as the twenty-one year old treated him to the full benefit of her impressive range. "When you found this role for me, I was under the impression I would be keeping my clothes ON!" - moments previously, the director had handed Serafina her script and dropped the bombshell that for the earlier parts of the series, Serafina's character - Rosa Fiametta, was going to be involved in a number of sex scenes. She... hadn't taken the news well.

Alberto groped for an appropriate excuse, snatched at the first one that seemed serviceable. "But Serafina! This is a major role! Think of the exposure!"

Serafina's mouth sealed itself into a hard line. Oh shit. "I would prefer 'exposure' to not refer to my breasts in this case, Alberto. Urgh, I should have listened to papa! I only put the movie part on hold whilst checking this Survival of the Fittest show, I could contact the director. In fact, I think that's what I WILL do!"

Damn, the movie deal. Serafina had been acting for almost ten years already now, taking roles practically from when she was a kid. First in some inane soap opera, which had served at least to boost her profile. Then, Serafina had landed a major supporting character in a feature film, attracting very positive reviews for her performances. A few parts here and there in the following couple of years and then... two big offers had hit the table at the same time. Option A, leading role in some gushy romance tale, stereotypical as it got - a modern day prince 'rescuing' a modern day princess. Option B, the role of a major character in the fourth series of the ludicrously popular TV serial Survival Of The Fittest.

SOTF was a moneymaker, no doubt about it, and popular? Sheesh, just look at guys like Adam Dodd, the dude who played the leading man of the first season. He was a Hollywood darling. Alberto KNEW that this was the right option, he just had to convince his client of that. Wholesome romance was all well and good, but he certainly didn't want Serafina being typecast. The only route from there was down. Okay, last shot.

"Serafina PLEASE give it a try! What was your father's motto?"

Serafina paused, cellphone halfway out of her pocket. Then she recited. "Try everything once. You might just like it," she snorted. "Including pretending to have sex with three strangers?"

Alberto grimaced. "I mean, Serafina, that this kind of role is HUGE. There may be some elements that you don't like in the script, but just think about the gains to YOUR career. Even if the character gets written out early, this Rosa is a big part of the early section of this season. You can't help but gain."

The Italian actress seemed to waver, just a little. "Can we at least discuss how this is going to pan out?"

Smiling inwardly, the agent nodded. "Perhaps we can convince them to tone it down, perhaps even cut a couple of the scenes entirely."

Serafina sighed. "Okay Alberto... I'll give this a try. Do you think they can stick to angles that won't show my breasts properly?"

"We'll talk about it, I promise."

Whew, another temper tantrum negotiated. Serafina really was the epitome of a fiery Italian...

Nothing But Soundwaves
"No! No! This isn't- that wasn't- ETAIN pleasepleaseplease Etain you can't leave me I love you! C'mon I said - I actually said - oh please Etain Etain nonono I l-l-love yoou!"

Kris couldn't help but babble. Every emotion she felt, every thought that she'd never said, should've said, they all came rushing out of her at once. And... they fell on deaf ears. Either they were dead, or they were uncaring, or they were disconnected, lapping up the drama, fixed to their TV sets. But for Kris, there was nothing beyond Etain, the very moment. She clung to him, as if that could hold life, draw it back, and all the while the words spilled from her, carving through the tears, until in the end, only two sentiments were left. Over and over.

"Etain it's all my fault I'm sorry I'm so sorry, Etain I love you, I love you... I'm sorry."

And she did. She'd loved him - she still loved him. Kris had been in love with him for a long time, maybe even longer than she even realised. Maybe from that first time Etain had rolled up to her in the skate park and introduced himself in that memorable, wonderfully distinctive accent of his. Etain had always been there, always supported Kris, encouraged her to finish that line, perfect that new trick, share in her triumphs, help her pick up and move on from her defeats. A shared passion for a hobby, maybe, but... something more the whole time, Kris realised that.

The thrill when he'd asked her to go to prom, that keening anxiety when Kris had introduced him to her father, desperately wanting more than anything else for him to approve of Etain. How that night, she'd felt like the luckiest girl ever born, how she'd felt so dreadfully uncertain of whether or not to kiss him. How when they'd finally said their goodbyes, Kris couldn't think of anything except him. Anything except whether he had just asked her as a friend or...

And Etain had... he'd felt the same way. Why else... why else would he have stuck with her after everything she'd done? That wasn't friendship, that was something more. So she'd... Kris had really got him killed. Somebody had been gunning for her and instead Etain had been ...

Kris blinked. They were still here. Etain's killer was still...

She sat up, reluctantly letting go of Etain, although she was still on top of him. Her head snapped around, wild, staring eyes seeking the attacker. Kris looked like hell, not that she would have cared even if she knew about it. Etain's blood was all over her face and body, staining her skin and turning her hair a deep pink. Through the crimson mask, pain-filled brown eyes roved, a spark of madness glimmering within them.

Then...

"WHERE ARE YOU!?" Kris screamed, her body shuddering uncontrollably. "Why Etain!? WHY HIM DAMMIT YOU FUCKING FOTZE!? He did nothing! He wasn't responsible! Just because I l-love him doesn't - HE DIDN'T DESERVE THAT YOU SON OF A WHORE! What'd Etain do!? He isn't me! HE DIDN'T EVEN FUCKING DO ANYTHING YOU BLOODTHIRSTY SON OF A BITCH! IT WAS ME! MY FAULT! WHY ETAIN YOU WORTHLESS CUNT!?"

Cool Ranch
Alan Rickhall, the guy with the slight accent. Jessie wanted to say drama club. Jimmy Robertson, footballer, got beaten up badly towards the beginning of the year. She knew him, at least a little. Even so... they weren't exactly helping things out here. Jessie was sure that neither of them meant any harm, but jeez, with tensions already high, the last thing any of them needed was for a couple of guys to stumble gaily in before the initial encounter had even been resolved. Bad timing, to say the least.

Mike looked like he was maybe about to say something in response to Jessie's bold (foolish? Naive? No, she knew the risks) when, of all things, the PA system rumbled into life. Jessie slowly let her hands drop to her sides, looking around in confusion, as if that would help her discover the reason for the abrupt change in schedule. There was a fleeting, very fleeting hope that it would be some friendly gentleman on the address, telling them that they needn't be worried, Danya had been dealt with and they should just sit tight to be saved.

No such luck.


~*~

It's cliche... but it was the last person I ever expected to hear speaking. How could any of us? So far as we knew, he was dead, gunned down w-with all of the others. Those weren't his words though... they were Danya's, Danya speaking through him. Not until the end did he let any of himself through.

In some ways... In some ways I almost think he had it worse than us.


~*~


And just like that, they'd blown Daiskue's collar. Daisuke Nagazawa, the kid that had only transferred into Bayview at the beginning of senior year, from... was it California? California sounded right. Jessie never really got to know him, he was... distant, even though she'd tried to make him feel welcome (like she did any transfer, a friendly face meant a lot). Not even killed in this sick game, just... blown up out of nowhere. On a whim, as a warning, almost.

Lord almighty... please give me strength.

Mr. Kwong had sai- ...No. Danya had said through Mr. Kwong, that they should kill Liz Polanski, kill one of the only people with the courage and the smarts to actually take on the game. Liz... nothing sprang to- wait. The short, gothy type girl, the one that aced every test in every math class. And now, now there was some kind of bounty on her head.

Would some people out there be stupid enough, selfish enough, to try and take Danya up on that? ...Yes, yes they would.

Which meant she had no time to waste here. This was foolhardy to the extreme, but there was no way - no way on God's green Earth that Jessie was going to let something like that fall by the wayside. It couldn't take a back seat (well... perhaps, Jessie was a little guilty to admit, Imraan). If Jessie could somehow help this Liz... heck if she could even find her...

Maybe... maybe she could prevent another DK.

Jessie stopped in her tracks.

"Sorry," she said flatly. "I can't ignore that. ...Good luck, guys."

Then she spun and started running as hard as she could.

"God protect all of you."

((Jessie continued in Shaker))

Introduction Thread
We're willing and able. Drop by the chat (I'm sure I've seen you there) and/or PM folks. You'll find people are very helpful around here.

Stay Frosty
((Where Do You Go From Here? --> Bounce))

This was beyond bad. Beyond awful. How the hell had she managed to screw things up this much? Meeting Aaron's group had been a boost, even if she hadn't been sure what to think of him, but dammit it'd delayed Bounce. Too long. And that, frankly, was her own damn fault. How much more stupid could she get? After all the versions of SOTF she'd watched, all the groups she'd tracked, Bounce STILL hadn't considered that splitting up would be a bad idea. How often had she seen that? Groups not sticking closely enough together, travelling too quickly, not keeping their stragglers alongside them.

Not often something as crowningly moronic as going separate ways through a sizeable town, though. Wasn't she supposed to be the guru here? Bounce's strength, her only edge was her knowledge, and yet she was still making the dumb mistakes. Splitting up had been the first, not heading out to meet the rendezvous early had been the next. And now... she was in the dead centre of the place Bounce rated as the most dangerous on the island. Alone.

Nice going, Yelizaveta. Nice going.

Bounce had spent much of the previous night stumbling around in the dark, caught up in the panicked hope (or delusion) that if she ran around enough, she'd run into Victoria eventually. Never mind she'd told her to move on if she didn't show up for the meeting, or that night-time adventures were a good way to run afoul of enterprising players. After realising that she was going to collapse from a combination of exhaustion and nervous breakdown, Bounce had sheltered for the night in one of the abandoned houses, bunking down in the bottom of a wardrobe to snatch a couple of fitful, uncomfortable hours sleep.

After the announcement, Bounce had stayed holed up inside for a little while longer, trying to reason through her options and not making a very good job of it. She probably spent more of the time attempting to hold herself together. That had gone... okay. Bounce had cried for a bit, but quietly, and since she hadn't had a full on panic attack, she really had to count it as a success. A small one, but still a success. She'd been about to leave when the next announcement had arrived.

Unexpected, and it most definitely meant that something was awry. Danya didn't just break his schedule for fun. Bounce knew that very well. Had there been some kind of fault, like last time around? Maybe somebody had-

Oh yes. Yes they had.

Somebody - Liz Polanski, had done it. They'd figured out how to disable the collar. That hadn't been stated explicitly, but really, what else could it have been? Nothing else would warrant an announcement. Regular interference was a detonated collar. Which meant... which meant Polanski had somehow managed to stop them from blowing her up. There had been a tremor of hope, which had been immediately suppressed by a feeling of utter uselessness.

Three versions, Bounce had watched. Every tactic, every attempt. And she still couldn't come up with the first idea how to get out of there. Yet somebody else had. She'd been so resigned to thinking that it was impossible that she hadn't even considered-

Well, didn't that just make her a big ball of useless?

Bounce had meandered around town for a little while longer, more or less aimlessly, the hopes of finding Victoria completely vague and tenuous at best. It was the wandering of a girl who simply put, had no damn idea what to do or where to go. She hadn't met anybody... yet, but it seemed to be inevitable. Somehow, she'd managed to put herself in an even worse position than that she'd started it. At least then, she'd had an ally.

Abruptly, the street gave way to an open area, some kind of park. At the centre of it was an elaborate fountain. Bounce blinked, then winced. Nice going, Lizzie. Not only was she still in the town, she'd somehow managed to make her way into the direct middle of it. If nothing else, she should've tried to head on out of there. Instead she'd wound up... here.

Bounce cast about for a short while, keeping an eye out for threats (as if seeing them coming would do her any good). Then she spotted them. Bodies. She stopped and stared at the pair of corpses by the fountain, one massive, one diminutive. The first she'd seen. Bounce trembled, just a little, not really noticable unless somebody were right next to her... but she didn't stop. Couldn't make herself.

In fact, it barely registered that her collar let out a shrill beep, up until the announcement started up all over again. Bounce tore her eyes away from the bodies to look around wildly, her eyes unfocused. Somebody was causing some serious trouble, that much was clear. And playing roulette with everyone at the same time. Somehow, Bounce couldn't quite bring herself to care.

Fuck. Fuck. You're losing your grip Lizzie! Calm down. Seriously, calm down RIGHT now.

Bounce crouched down on the ground by the fountain, held her head with both hands, pushing hard at the sides of her skull.

Muttered to herself. "Hold it together. Hold it together... come on, hold it together..."

Day Four's Third Announcement
Apart from the Danya dialogue, the second part was all Spoiler. Thought I'd clarify. Give her hugs.


-- This announcement can be considered to take place on the evening of day four.

Day Four's Third Announcement
The atmosphere at HQ was tense. Everyone was on edge. It wasn’t every day that someone like Achyls, someone who had been with the group so long, was terminated. It had been terrifying to watch, not to mention uncomfortable. After all, even if he had warned the man, Dennis Lourvey had been involved pretty heavily in the collar department as well. He knew that any systemic problems would spell serious, serious trouble for him, and the fact that one person had managed to defeat their security meant that more could. The solution was simple—of course it was; the collars were too well engineered for anything too advanced to have much hope of working.

Some of the others had seemed confused when watching the footage. They couldn’t even begin to comprehend what had happened. Lourvey, on the other hand, understood perfectly. The Polanski girl had realized that removing the collars was hopeless, but had simply found a different method of dealing with things. The collar around her neck was still fully functional, still entirely armed and operational. She had simply found the reception ports for the radio signals and blocked them up with an impenetrable layer of aluminum. It was a logical solution, something Lourvey knew he should probably have anticipated during the design stage. Past contestants had been so set on removing collars, so set on ridding themselves of the symbol of their captivity, that most of the security efforts had been put towards making that impossible. Disruption of the signals was an entirely different matter.

Lourvey knew that it was possible for the situation to be replicated. There were many kids on the island. Many chances to find a little blind spot in the camera network. All it would take was for another person to play scientist, and Lourvey would be in serious jeopardy. It was absolutely imperative that he fix the situation, and fix it right away.

Unfortunately, this was a bit more complicated than it sounded. He’d spent most of the time since the surprise announcement staring at his monitor, willing a plan to form. It was all logistics. It wasn’t like they could put the game on hold, call all the students back for a hardware adjustment. There was no possible way to change the engineering of the collars now. Sure, for the next version he’d already come up with a dozen ways to avoid this. That didn’t do him much good right now, though.

He stared at the monitor, watching the text blur as his eyes defocused. Something. There had to be something. Some way to fix this mess. It was probably simple, too. One simple solution to counteract another. It was right there, on the tip of his mind.

“Hey, Lourvey, any thoughts on Best Kill?”

The words jolted him up, shook him out of his stupor. His initial reaction was anger. Like he had time to think about the Best Kill Award now, when his life was on the line. He tried to see who had called, disguising the movement of his head by wiping his brow, seeing if it was someone he could snap at for disrupting him when he was so close to the—

Click.

Best Kill.

It all fell into place.

“Get Danya,” Lourvey said.

Then, turning to the others in the room, he started speaking. It took a second to get their attention; over the past few hours, he’d become more a part of the scenery than an actual participant in events. Now, though, he had something to say. Something big.

“We can fix it now,” he began, hoping he was right, hoping he hadn’t missed something and just disturbed the boss without reason. Better to brief the others now, so if they spotted any flaws, any at all, he could BS some other reason for calling Danya.

“So, the collars need to receive a signal to blow them up, right? And she prevented hers from doing that. It’s a problem, but only because we can’t send that signal. The bomb still works fine, and she’ll still blow up if she tries to yank the thing off.”

So far, so good.

“Now, there’s one situation where we don’t have to send a signal to the collars to blow them up. That happens if the collar is in a danger zone. As soon as it realizes that, it starts a timer, and the person has three minutes or so to get out. A signal is sent to initiate the process, but after that it runs on its own. Once they are out, the tracking system realizes this and sends another signal turning off the danger zone timer.

“We can use this. Because, see, there’s another use. It only comes up once each day, but there’s one student protected from one danger zone every day. The winner of the Best Kill Award. Then, we broadcast a signal to their collar constantly while they are in the specific zone they are allowed access to, suppressing the countdown as long as the signal is received.

“That means, to stop another stunt, all we have to do is make the entire island a danger zone.”

Somewhere in there, Danya had turned up. Not good. He was quicker than Lourvey had thought. The boss had a surprising ability to turn up where he was least expected.

“Explain,” he said. His tone said more, said it had better be a good explanation. Lourvey gulped.

“W-well,” he said, his confidence flagging. “It s-seems like we could just make the whole island a danger zone. S-start the countdown on every collar. Then, we use the system normally used for the Best Kill winner to suppress the countdowns. That means that, if anyone else did the same thing Polanski did, or found a weak spot in the network, well...”

Danya was smiling. Lourvey had no idea if that was a good sign or an awful one.

“...t-their collar w-would start beeping,” Lourvey continued, “a-and they’d have about three minutes to get clear. Of course, if they’d disabled their collar’s ability to receive, they wouldn’t be able to do that, and...

“Boom.”

Danya glanced around at the other techs in the room, searching, perhaps, for signs of dissent, for the same problems Lourvey had hoped to iron out before this presentation. Nobody said a thing.

“Do it,” Danya said. “I don’t think this is going to be mentioned on the announcements. I think anyone clever’s going to have a little surprise today.”

That said, he stalked out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, a sigh went throughout the room. Someone clapped Lourvey on the back, causing him to cough.

“We’ll have to do a bit more manual work on DZs,” he said, “but it should all work fine. We should be able to get the computer set up to not broadcast the suppression signal to anyone in a DZ soon enough.”

Suddenly, the room was buzzing with activity again, as everyone got to work implementing the changes.

That evening, right before the announcement came on, the collars of every living student on the island—except one—gave a single beep in unison.


~*~


MR. DANYA, I THINK YOU'VE GIVEN ME A WAY TO WIN YOUR GAME.

Liz's hands wrote slow, painfully, cramped. She bit her lip until it was bleeding. It's a game. Just a game. Treat it like a game, and play to win.

She shivered, under all her sweaters. She was thinking emotionally, irrationally. There were things to do before she played chicken with Danya.

She sat herself in a blind spot, and made one hundred and three copies of Plan Faraday. One hundred and three. It was a lot. Hopefully enough. One hundred and three was a number that made her grit her teeth. It was nothing good, that number. If they knew about Mr. Kwong, maybe they knew what numbers she liked and hated too.

And they wouldn't think she'd make one hundred and three copies of any fucking plan.

Then, in her tiniest handwriting, she wrote a note that might save her life. It was a very small hope.

She sighed. Pocketed the plans, all one hundred and three copies on folded paper. Pocketed the two knives, the mirror, the pad, the paper, the pen, the net gun and her worn lipstick. She was getting ready to run. After this, there would be a lot of running.

No. That was the wrong order to do things in. She took the lipstick out of her pocket. Wrote on Winnie's sweatshirt, in big, inky letters COLLARS HAVE MICS. She wasn't sure this was true, but she assumed it was. Better safe than sorry. And anyway, it was better than any other explanation for why she wasn't speaking.

Then she took off Winnie's sweatshirt and lipstick-wrote the steps to Plan Faraday on Cyrille's yellow halter top. This meant getting briefly naked in the middle of the forest, which was troubling if someone tried to kill her. But no one tried to kill her. So she was safe.

The shirt was inked with words. It looked vaguely punkish. She tied it back on, and carefully zipped up Winnie's sweatshirt over it.

Then she showed the pad to the camera.

MR. DANYA, I THINK YOU'VE GIVEN ME A WAY TO WIN YOUR GAME AND MAKE YOU LOOK DUMB.

Flipped the page. New, blank, lined. She wrote large again, painfully.

TWO HUNDRED CAMERAS IS NOT VERY MANY CAMERAS.

Flipped the page.

IF YOU'VE BLOWN UP TWO HUNDRED STUDENTS, YOU LOOK LIKE A PUNK.

That one was hard to write. Flip the page. Keep going. Lie. Lying on paper is fine.

IF I'M THE ONLY SURVIVOR, I'VE WON.

She flipped the page again. Her thoughts were not coming in the right, chronological order. This was disturbing.

But there was only one more thing to say here.

LET'S PLAY.

She pocketed the pad and pen, took out her knife, and gouged the lens out of a camera.

And another camera. And another camera.

The PA system crackled to life. The voice of Danya was calm, laconic, at odds with what anybody would expect.

"Evening children... my aren't we having a busy day? It seems that one of your number has no regard for the rest of you. Gee, I tried to warn you about that Liz Polanski, but she just won't stop playing roulette with your lives. Much as it pains me to say this... somebody came up with the unlucky number.

G004. Lucy Ashmore. ... ... now where's that button? Oh yes, there it is. ... Eliminated."

And another camera. And another. Gouging out the lenses carefully. She could smash later. When she had more energy. When she had to run.

"But that's not all kiddos. Why, as we speak, little Liz is continuing her destructive ways, sabotaging my valuable equipment. Help me help you, children. If you take her out, then, well. My fingers won't slip again.

Oops. Like then. B045, Alex Rasputin, eliminated. Oops! My my, aren't I clumsy today? There goes B149, Trent Hunter as well!"

There was no use trusting him. He probably lied. She should have told him--should have told him she'd give herself up in exchange for Mr. Kwong's release. But it was too late now. Anyway, they were terrorists. And she wasn't smart, with people. They could double-cross her in an instant, and she'd probably never know, unless Danya laughed in her face about it.

He probably would.

That was a glum thought. She should have eaten before doing this.

Another camera. Another. This was easy. She could cut through them like butter.

"Well kids, that's it for now. Do try to get rid of that pest, hm? Next time, it could be your head. Oh, and, speaking of executions. Miss Polanski? I'm dangerously close to having a ... ahem. Word with teacher dearest.

Mull that one over for a bit, will you?

Sayonara!"

Now, perhaps, was time to run. She had to cover as many zones as possible before she--

Before I die.

Well, that wasn't a cheerful thought. But it was inevitable.

She had one-hundred and-three plans, plus one on her shirt, and one note that could hopefully buy her a little time. And she was full of energy now, energy that was probably unhealthy, considering how little she'd eaten.

But energy. That's what she needed.

She ran.


~*~


Sparky tried not to look at... well, most of the things in the room that weren't her monitor. The dark stain on the floorboards. The empty terminal where Achyls had sat. Her colleagues - not because she thought they'd resent her, because she didn't want their sympathy. They'd been here before (well, except maybe Dorian, but he'd had to work with Danya for longer than almost anyone), but Sparky didn't care for the understanding. She was shaken up, yes, but overall not in too bad a state.

It hadn't been her first time.

Things were quieter now, a little less busy after the frentic activity necessary to install Lourvey's countermeasures. He was a smart man, damn smart. Sparky wondered where Danya had found him, then if the big man had some sort of leverage over him, or he just enjoyed the challenge enough that he didn't care he was getting paid to ensure the death of kids. She'd never asked him, it was a no-go subject around the base. If somebody told you, then great, but you never, never asked why.

Sparky understood that well enough. Her reasons were her own, private. She certainly didn't want any of these guys to know of them.

There'd been talk earlier about sending some kind of team out onto the island. Sparky hadn't been able to catch much of the conversation, since it had been time for her shift and if they knew what was good for them, they weren't late... but it had been interesting. Naturally, it was Richards and Baines she'd overheard. Neither of those two knew how to keep their mouths shut.

Thing was, Sparky didn't know whether this 'team' was for maintenance or for law and order (so to speak). If the former... they'd be needing one of the technicians, a role Sparky very much did not want to fulfil. Out on the island... face to face with those kids. That'd be bad. Very bad. Operating from HQ was one thing, having to meet them personally... Sparky doubted she could handle that. On the other hand, if people were being sent out to martial some of the more disruptive students, they'd need quite some firepower. After all, the kids (...kids, jeez, some of these guys were probably her own age) were armed.

Sparky felt a slight note of unease. If a squad was dispatched, they'd wind up with a skeleton crew...

There was a snap and Sparky practically jumped straight in the air. A choked back laugh came from behind her and the technician whirled to see Melvin Carter behind her, a smile on his usually implacable face. The big man held up a hand and clicked his fingers. Sparky stared for a second, realising where the sound had come from, then hung her head.

"You were completely spaced out there. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting that. I just wanted to get you focused," he cocked his head to one side. "You're looking tired. I can get one of the back-up techs rotated in, if you want. A lot of people struggle with fatigue in their first version."

Sparky shook her head quickly and forced a smile. "M-my shift is over soon, Mi-... Carter. It's just been busy, I'll catch up on sleep soon."

Carter frowned and nodded. "If you're sure," he stepped back from her work area and took up his station in the corner of the room.

Looking back to her monitor, Sparky breathed a quiet sigh.

It was almost relieved.


(1st section credit: Killer Vole
2nd section credit: storyspoiler)

How to Win Friends and Influence People
He was scrambling, he was trying to find a lie, he had to be. It was just too familiar for it to be anything else. Rosa had been there - a detail not quite being right, getting picking up on and holes being punched in the story. She'd dealt with it from this side before too, a couple of boyfriends that weren't exactly loyal, getting snarled up in their own lies. Their expressions... they'd been near identical to the look that Jeremy had on his face now. The pauses for remembering... they were just the kind of shifty tactic somebody would pull when they were groping. And he was groping, hard.

Maybe the bright side was that he wouldn't get to grope in another fashion.

Every word out of Jeremy's mouth dug him a deeper hole, built up Rosa's rage. She let him keep talking though, perhaps for too long... because in it all, she had a hope. A little, tiny glimmer, but a hope nontheless. That her paranoia was wrong and Jeremy really was just getting things muddled because he didn't expect to be second guessed, not because he was making it up on the spot. Because, whatever the nature of all of this and how downright dirty the 'deal' was... Rosa wanted to see Ilario. She wanted to see Frankie. She wanted to tell them both that, well, she really did care about them, that for all the shit they put each other through (especially the two girls to Ily), they were her siblings and she loved them a lot. Damn sight more than any of the rest of her family, anyway. Fuck Junior, it was her brother and sister that really mattered to her, in a weird, half-hating kind of way. It wasn't Ilario Fiametta III's fault that Ilario Fiametta Jr didn't give a fuck about his daughters, played favourites... they weren't the same guy.

But Jeremy continued to speak, and his story tied itself in so many knots that even that faint ember was snuffed out. Contradictions, twists and turns, correcting himself in the middle of the next sentence, as if he was taking a complete stab in the dark - what kind of answer was 'a nice shirt'? - no shit Ily would be dressed well. Not to mention apparently being able to calm him down whilst having a conversation at a distance. Right.

Time to show Jeremy some of that notorious Fiametta temper.

Rosa screamed a string of Italian curses into Jeremy's face, practically unitelligible even to anybody who spoke her first language and then drove her knee as hard as she could into his groin. Not happy with that, as Jeremy folded up, Rosa wound up then punched him straight in the face, the impact sending a jolt through her body and hurting her knuckles to boot. She swore at him one last time and then... well, then she ran like hell.

Rosa wasn't a lunatic, nor did she want to beat the shit out of Jeremy... just hurt him. The suckerpunch got her point across.

But now it was back to square one.

((Rosa Fiammetta continued in Fell Tidings)

November Mid-Monthly Rolls - with bonus fluff!
Che Cluevara
Dec 6 2010, 03:43 PM
Slamexo has volunteered (and been accepted) to write Lucy Ashmore's death.
...Disregard.

Away
More of an apology than anything else.

I'm sorry, people - anyone and everyone I've held up, be that with staffy things, moderating, or on posting. For the most part, everyone has been extremely and unduly patient about it and I feel very guilty, especially with my own hardline stance on breaking post order and maintaining activity. In honesty, I probably should've made an away post sometime last week, but for whatever reason, I decided not to and have hence been letting things drag on my account.

Essentially I've just been very drained, my sleep schedule has been utterly fucked and I think that a term's worth of late nights has been catching up with me. This has been a rough one at school work wise (well, it is my final year, I suppose), and the entire combination has just resulted in me being very worn down and unmotivated in my SOTF stuff.

Either way, the term ends this wednesday and then it's Christmas break, where I will hopefully be able to recharge some batteries (my GOD I needed this weekend, by the by). I'll be cranking out some posts presently. Muchos apologies to those I've inconvenienced with my negligence.