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Late Dawns and Early Sunsets
By the time Alex looked up and started to address Isaiah, the runner was fifty feet away and not slowing down.

It was... well, no way around it, he wasn't really being brave or helping anyone. Thing was, as soon as the fists had started to fly, it became pretty clear that nobody here wanted or needed his help. The swearing, the punching, the blood, it was all the worst of everything Isaiah had ever thought about his classmates, come true before his eyes. This was what he'd feared, what he'd expected to meet everywhere, what he'd been so pleased to momentarily escape.

The absolutely brutal part of this situation was that it wasn't anyone's fault. Alex had goaded Jimmy. That was wrong. Jimmy had retaliated through escalation. That was wrong. Isaiah hadn't been able to do anything to stop it, had actually helped it along with a little cutting remark of his own. That was wrong.

But if three wrongs didn't make a right, layering on a fourth wasn't going to bring them any closer. The only way to break the fight up now would be violence. The two boys hadn't seemed super thrilled with Isaiah to begin with, and while the thought of unifying them in brotherhood and a common goal was wonderful and touching, the fact that that goal would almost certainly be beating the stuffing out of Isaiah for interrupting their little dance removed the luster of the plan pretty quick. So Isaiah had taken a second to watch, making sure they weren't throwing around anything that looked like it'd actually get one of them killed, and then he'd split. He was pretty sure he was making the right choice. Pretty sure his mission here, whatever it was, involved actually accomplishing something instead of preaching to a brick wall.

He heard Alex's question from somewhere behind him: "...Isaiah, right? Want to answer a question for me?"

Lord help him, but he couldn't just bail on a line like that. Slowing for just a second, he tossed back over his shoulder, "I'll give it a pass today, but thanks for the offer. Maybe a rain check?"

And with that, he kept going, hopping over the logs, hoping he wasn't going to be chased down and clobbered, hoping he could find some people who actually wanted a hand instead of spinning his wheels like he'd done so far.

((Isaiah Garvey continued in Aimless))

November Mid-Monthly Rolls - with bonus fluff!
The deadline to play cards has passed.

SOTF Characters (Taking Requests!)
Awesome, Little! Thanks a ton!

November Mid-Monthly Rolls - with bonus fluff!
Fifteen hours to play cards.

SOTF: The Program
We now have 50 characters, but the cap's been stretched a tiny bit. Since the theoretical start date in this is tomorrow, anyone who still wants in should probably get a profile up ASAP (or, if you have one that's been critiqued but not approved, get it edited). If you're in, be prepared; weapons and conclusions are going up, and we don't want folks going inactive.

November Mid-Monthly Rolls - with bonus fluff!
One day and nineteen hours to play cards.

Dang. Two posts in and my top two are already taken.

Well, here goes anyways:

Feo Eleri Smith, by Sunny. Feo is an awesome character, plain and simple. She managed to be involved in some genuinely touching moments, and, given the characters involved, that's saying a good bit. Feo is a really well-rounded character, with charm, assertiveness, and enough bite to always be fun. Plus, she was involved in an actually tasteful sex scene, which takes immense talent. Sunny deserves mad props.

Liam Brooks, by MK Kilmarnock. Ricky's characters are all great, plain and simple. Brook has reached a special level of awesome this month, though. His reactions in the tunnels, his range of emotions during his brief meeting with Tiffany, all of that combines for some of the best writing we've seen this version. I've always liked Brook, but now he's one of my clear favorites. Great job, Ricky. Keep it up.

Eiko Haraguchi, by Solitair. Eiko is an amazing character, because she manages to pull together some of the more difficult to RP character elements masterfully. She's a foreign exchange student, and shows very strong aspects of her original culture, but still has a very detailed personality outside of it. She's a bit of a manipulator and schemer, but is at the same time a sympathetic character who you can actually get behind. This month in specific, her reactions to some very tough situations have been spot on, and she's been a joy to read. I look forward to seeing where she goes. I'd like to give nods Eiko's frequent threadmate Peter Siu, who has been an excellent read since the start of pregame as well as throughout V4, and is, I see, getting the respect he deserves in the other nominations.

My family annoyed each other enough that I got home a day early. Whoo!

60,000 Posts
Wow. 60,000 is an awful lot, especially given the size of a lot of our posts.

I wonder what our wordcount is.

Madelyn Prowers
Basically, you just say you're interested in the character. Then, priority is handled according to the chart at the bottom of this post. If people are tied, the staff will decide who gets the character. You probably fall into the highest priority group, since you've been around before but did not have a V4 character. I'm not 100% sure of that, though.

Either way, the adoption threads are left open for a week, then bids are checked and priority figured out.

Hope that helps!

When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open
((Aaron Hughes continued from Where Do You Go From Here?))

Into the woods they went, though not the nearby woods, due to an inopportune danger zone rotation. Aaron was somewhat twitchy and uneasy. Despite his confidence in his plan, he was still saddled with questionable help. There were a lot of ways things could go very wrong. More than that, he felt constricted by the metal collar around his neck. He could get it off, if he had to. He was pretty sure of that now. The thing was, this wasn't the sort of thing that would work multiple times. He'd have a couple minutes to get his whole group free, assuming nobody was watching him as he started, and then there'd be alarm bells going off all over the terrorists' headquarters, people panicking, the whole lot. There would be forces dispatched to kill him and anyone else he managed to release.

So the removal of collars was secondary. It was a failsafe, something to bail them all out if the other tricks he had up his sleeve didn't work for some reason. The primary goal, the ultimate form of rebellion and the best step to freedom, would be to take down the cameras. This was what Aaron hoped he could do. Disabling the cameras was a death sentence, though, so his only hope was to knock them all out at once. One big bang, and the terrorists wouldn't be able to see who was flipping them off or shooting people or whatever, much less who had destroyed their precious equipment. The only tricky bit would be making sure everything went down exactly as planned. One hiccup and they'd all be dead. If Aaron couldn't be completely certain that everything would go right, if he couldn't guarantee that the cameras would all die at once, he'd get the collars off first.

He was lost in thought again, unfocused on his surroundings and his followers. It felt like it had been some time since he had slept. A day? Two? That was probably not a good thing. Were his allies even following him anymore? It was certainly possible that they had drifted off somewhere. At the moment, Aaron was feeling kind of apathetic towards this whole leader role. He liked having people listen to him. Liked doing good things. Liked getting a little respect, for once. The responsibility could be grating, though. He wondered what would have happened had he not encountered Tom on the first day. Perhaps he'd have gone off on his own, holed up somewhere, schemed and waited and enacted his plan ages ago. Maybe lives would have been saved. Then again, maybe it would have been too much. Maybe he'd have started playing to win.

The need to kill others to survive was something that, disturbingly enough, Aaron did not find that hard to understand. It was, however, something he couldn't do. It was repugnant and repulsive, but he got why people went down that path. After all, in the end, it was the only way people who lacked the smarts for escape could survive. What was morality in the face of death? Dying for ideals was stupid. The only reason to do it was when death was assured, when it made no difference.

Aaron was no idealist. He could play the hero, sure. He'd done it for years, every few weekends, with a cape and a foam sword. But all heroism was just play, just acting. Everyone left on this island had selfish reasons for everything they did. No hiding from it. People protected others because it made them feel good. They killed because it let them live longer.

They led escape groups because one person was a lot more screwed than twenty when a squad of armed terrorists showed up.

Aaron sighed. Also, being a leader meant he could get a guard set up and get some rest soon. He needed it. Needed to pull his thoughts together. He'd gotten a bit ahead again, so he scribbled more into his notebook, keeping it shielded from the cameras.

He looked around for one, shot it a smile. How funny, that the instrument of their captivity was to be so key to their liberation.

I will be gone from tomorrow until Friday, without internet access. I'm visiting my grandmother for Thanksgiving, and my computer is not friends with her network.

But I Might Die Tonight
((Kimberly Nguyen continued from The Long Road Home))

Choices. Right? Wrong? Who gave a fuck anymore?

Certainly not Kimberly.

She'd left the group like she'd left everything she didn't need, discarded them much the same as she'd discarded her spare clothing back on the beach. It wasn't that she didn't care. It was that she couldn't afford to let anything get in her way and slow her down. She was going to find Kris. She was going to find the bitch and make her pay. It was a fixation. A dangerous one. The odds were actually pretty damn good she was going to die attempting to get her payback.

Thing was, she was going to die no matter what. No way around that. No point pretending otherwise. A girl with one good arm, wielding a grappling hook? Yeah, not really a prime contender there.

She was trying to tell herself she didn't care. Trying to tell herself it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Push the fear back. Push the yearning for life to the bottom. It was too much to confront now. Mortality could wait 'til she was well and truly doomed. Angst was a damn fine way to waste a life when it wasn't in danger, but now that any second could bring a bullet through the skull, Kimberly found she couldn't bring herself to care about some dumb lines of melodramatic poetry.

And she'd never been that good at the whole scene anyways. Never had the right sort of exaggerated sadness and self-pity. Kimberly had never in her life cut or otherwise intentionally injured herself. She had never contemplated suicide except when she thought it was what she was supposed to do to get in the right mood for writing, and even then she hadn't taken it too seriously.

The hilarious thing was, Hermione Miller, preppy model girl, had gone and one-upped Kimberly, queen of the dark. She'd actually worked up the guts to blow her fucking head clean off. That was some real street cred there. Kimberly thought back to that day, the lunch room, the disgusting non-fat cake she'd shared with the girl who no longer existed. Remembered the awkward exchanges, the ride to the party, the detour. Remembered her glimpse into Hermione's life, into the world she inhabited, a world where fatless cake was a fucking treat. Remembered the creeps and the weirdness and the pressure. Wondered if maybe Hermione had always had the grimmer existence.

Not like it really mattered. Kimberly hadn't cried when she heard of her friend's death.

She was not going to cry now, either, no way. No reflections would bring her tears. She found herself lighting her cigarette, though, the same one she'd been fiddling with for over a day now, saving for a moment like this.

Well, Hermione, at least you're done now. At least you left on your terms. Best fucking way out of this game. Made your own choice for once. I hope it didn't hurt too much.

An exhalation: smoke winding its way skywards from her mouth, its haze blurring the stars. Friends dead and friends alive, and still Kimberly lived, and still the game went on.

And still she hungered for a little bit of closure.

Yes, because Kris still lived too, and they had a bit of a score to settle, didn't they? Kimberly flexed the fingers of her left hand, just slightly. She could move them again—just the tiniest bit, not even making a fist—and avoid engulfing her arm in complete agony. Maybe it was the low-grade painkillers from her first aid kit that she'd started taking. Maybe she was actually healing a little bit. It didn't matter. Kris had hurt more than her arm.

Another drag on the cigarette.

She was on the mountain. The sun had set some time ago. The climb had been somewhat difficult, but now she was at a spot where it seemed safe to rest. Kimberly glanced around for a seat, found a promising rock, and sat down, the few chains on her skinny jeans jangling and clinking against the rock, her improvised cape hanging loosely, hiding her injury. She looked around, at the trees, the stars, the glowing ember hovering in front of her face.

She was going to live the fuck out of her last few days, and spending a little time appreciating the scenery seemed a good enough way to get a jump on that.

Late Dawns and Early Sunsets
Jimmy Brennan was not okay.

He was also a foul-mouthed little prick. Isaiah had been prepared for this possibility. It did not make his situation any more pleasant. The rant, the swearing, it got on his nerves more quickly than he could have imagined. Good thing he had some self restraint, or he'd have just stalked off again, leaving the boy to moan and froth his hate at the stumps and the night.

But that was not the right thing to do. All humans were deserving of compassion, and it was important to remember that events had shaped Jimmy Brennan into the pathetic mess he was now. Specifically, a kick to the crotch had shaped him this way. Isaiah chose to temporarily deceive himself into believing that that was the only reason Brennan was such a nightmare, that he'd cool down or something any time and would be a perfectly respectable (albeit highly temporary) companion.

But then another guy had showed up. He started talking, deciding to goad Brennan, to taunt him. The funny thing was, this ticked Isaiah off even more than the sniveling little wretch at his feet. Sure, you could think awful things about other people. It was only human. You didn't go and say them, though. You didn't just run your mouth off and spew venom and hatred at the people you should have been struggling to keep safe, struggling to unite with in the face of this most terrible of tragedies.

Isaiah opened his mouth and became an instant hypocrite.

"Yeah, 'cause it's real badass to stand there and taunt a guy who just took a shot to the nuts. Like, you think you'd be doing better in his shoes? 'For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.' -Matthew 7:2."

That... was undeniably not the best diplomatic decision in this very tense situation. Perhaps a moment of reflection was in order. Isaiah fell silent, waiting for the reprisal he assumed was imminent, trying to steel himself to do the right thing this time and not snap back. He would take the high road. Besides, it wasn't like he was going to win this debate.

After all, leading into an argument with a quote that could instantly be turned back on yourself wasn't a very sound strategy on the best of days.

Still Going Strong
Marco performed admirably, making the decision Jennifer had been too cowardly to take responsibility for. Phil was accepting, Alex was grateful. Thing was, he was being too grateful. Too calculated. Jennifer was not a naturally suspicious person. There was no fucking way she could claim to have very sound judgment. But the one thing she knew well was people, and Alex's request was setting off all sorts of warning bells. He wanted to stand in the middle? Might as well just say that he didn't give a fuck what happened to his human shields. Why on earth would he be so upfront? He wasn't good in a fight? And, what, Jennifer was fucking Wonder Woman (and where the fuck was China Woman, at that? Keeping off the announcements, thank goodness)? And Phil, beat to within an inch of his life, he was real menacing, right?

No, no, that was too harsh a judgment of the newcomer. She was on edge. Skittish after the events thus far. That had to be it.

And so, she said, "Um, yeah, no problem, Alex."

Weight at her back, still comforting, for no good reason. Yes. Alex could walk in the middle. Because there was one little thing he was forgetting.

And so, she said, "I can take rear guard."

A smile. Small, hidden. Did Marco and Alex even know she was armed? Didn't matter. No fucking way was Jennifer going to let their group disintegrate. No fucking way was she going to let Phil get hurt again. There was a difference between compassion and idiocy, between being a pushover and being inept.

As they started to walk, Jennifer furtively reached behind her back, running her fingers over the icepick, remembering the tunnels, the note she had dropped in them somewhere and not had the inclination to go back for. She couldn't let her guard down now, couldn't die yet. She still had a lot of work to do.

((Jennifer Perez continued in Final Third Foul))

I am still alive
Just for a bit of explanation, the spin off is run by one of our admins (Clueless) and moderated by other SOTF members, including myself. I feel like the quality over there is at least as high as it is here, and we've had some awesome games already. It was designed as a place for people who got eliminated from V4 proper, missed the cap, or joined late.

However, there is the option of adopting an inactive, too, if you want into V4 proper. Can't believe I forgot that in my last post.

I am still alive
Hi, Mikey! I do remember you. As Inky said, check out the Mini. There are ten slots still open, and registration runs 'til next Sunday. It's cool to see you around again.

SOTF: The Program
Registration for The Program has been extended for a week, so there's still time to get a character in. At the moment, we still have ten open slots.

Submit characters here.

Late Dawns and Early Sunsets
Everything flew to pieces faster than Isaiah had seen before. So little trust, so little empathy. The boy was Jimmy Brennan. Someone Isaiah had heard of in school, never in a flattering light. Jimmy Brennan was supposed to be a whiner or a poser or something. Supposed to be a phenomenal pain. That really didn't seem to merit attacking him out of hand, though. Of course, if what Carly said was true, if Jimmy had attacked her earlier, maybe that changed the situation some.

Maybe it didn't.

It wasn't like Jimmy's name had been blazing across the announcements for days. It wasn't like he had a killing streak and a Best Kill Award behind him. He was just a boy, a scared boy who'd been kicked in the crotch, and Isaiah simply could not take him seriously as a threat.

Carly was moving on. So was Jasper, following her, apologizing for running off. Isaiah nodded at him, said, "Good luck." No real time for anything else. Then they were gone, leaving Isaiah alone with the small boy. He wasn't sure what to do, exactly. Would Jimmy be mad at him, since he'd been talking to the others? Would he really be an insane psychopath, immediately reacting with violence? Would he just be a constantly-annoying buffoon, a curse to deal with, a divine test of patience?

Only one way to find out, the way that Isaiah had to take. The compassionate way.

He walked over to Jimmy, and lowered his hand, in case the boy needed help.

Then he said, "Hey, man, you alright?"

Where Do You Go From Here?
((I think getting moving may be the best move here, actually. We can timeskip between threads))

Situation under control. The people causing trouble hit the road, after being all sullen and threatening. Aaron didn't even flinch as the boy pointed the gun at him and brandished the sword (a nice sword, Aaron realized he wanted a sword), no matter how much he was inclined to to. No, he had to maintain his composure, had to stay unshakable, and this guy would never shoot him, not with this size of group around. Nobody outside the group could know that Aaron had the only gun in it.

Gunslinger boy scratched something into the ground, but Aaron was just so sick of this stuff that he ignored it completely. Aileen turned up, noting that the area seemed to be rather poor in terms of security. Wow, what a totally astute observation. No way Aaron could have guessed that from the half dozen sideshow freaks crawling out of the vents, the hordes of dangerous and questionable people on their way here from everywhere, emerging from the sewers, the back alleys, and seemingly even spontaneous generation.

Aileen was suggesting another house, or helping Bounce. No, that wouldn't do. Aaron was sick of this little town, sick of everything here, sick of these surprises. He'd feel better out in the wilderness again. Better once there was some space between him and everything going down here.

There were a couple little things he still had to do before moving out, though. Then he'd be ready to kiss this place farewell forever. They'd be clear of this island in a few days' time. No problem.

"Agreed, Aileen," he said. "We'll get out of here in a sec. Just got one last thing I need, if my plan's going to pan out."

Richard came up, asking where Tom was. Great. Aaron was not going into that little sob story again, no way, not with the tension thick in the air, not with everything seemingly ready to explode at any second. So good thing Lily was handling it. Anyways, if she was willing to give Tom the detail he needed, to repeat the important parts of Aaron's story, that would lend the whole thing some awesome authenticity. Hear something from one person, it's rumor or biased information. Hear it from two, and it starts to sound an awful lot like fact.

Bounce was absolutely set on going off to her meeting. She still hadn't named the person she was linking up with, but that was fine. Aaron figured it would be Alice. Then again, she'd likely have just said that. Aaron knew Alice, knew she could... well, okay, of Aaron's friends, he'd probably trust her least, all things considered. Nothing personal, just her sort. Always the quiet ones.

Irrelevant. What mattered now was that Bounce had made a request and a suggestion. She'd be bringing more people to the group. that was a very good thing. Also, having her along would improve their chances greatly. Once they got their collars off, she'd be their mastermind, teaching them how the terrorists thought, what the students in past versions had done to beat them (because didn't they throw a couple terrorists onto the island each season or something? That was just what Aaron needed right now).

It was time to get things done here. Time to get moving.

"I think we're going to head into the woods for a bit, Bounce," Aaron said. "I've got a few ideas I want to check the viability of. After that, I think we'll hit the sawmill, see if there's anything there left to dig up. Should be a day or two, if you want to hook up again there. Let Will and Alice know if you see them, okay?"

And then, surprising himself, he added, "And hey, watch out. I know you know your way around here, but make sure to stay safe, okay? Don't let anyone get the drop on you. We need you."

That handled, Aaron turned back to his team and said, "Hang on a sec, guys. I've got one little thing to take care of still."

Ducking into the house, Aaron went to the opposite side from the stairs, gun kept out, watching carefully to make sure he was in the clear. He gave the kitchen a cursory glance, then slipped in, rummaging the drawers as quickly as he could. Had to be here somewhere. Somewhere. Yes.

Two pairs of rubber gloves, the sort used for washing dishes. Awesome. Just one more thing, then.

A scan of the kitchen revealed that anything at all like a knife had been taken. There was, however, a nice stainless steel salad spoon, about the length of Aaron's forearm. He grabbed it, leaned down near a power outlet, gave the area another glance, and then knocked a hole in the thin drywall, making a fist-sized opening. Perfect. The power to the island had been cut, so he'd be perfectly safe with what he was about to do.

Reaching in, Aaron grabbed a handful of wire, then yanked as hard as he could, and started wrapping it around the huge spoon. Once he had about ten feet each of the five or so wires in the clump (a process which tore up the wall even more) he pulled them to the refrigerator, a nice, heavily built model. He hooked the bundle through the gap between fridge and door, so the wires were caught in the hinges at a thin point. Another moment found a stiff enough fork to brace in the hinge.

Three good slams of the door drove the handle of the fork into the thin wires, weakening them to the point that Aaron could break them by hand.

He had moved quickly. The whole process had taken no more than four minutes. Stashing the wrapped spoon and the gloves, Aaron headed back outside, moving quickly, still paranoid that the guy from before would come crashing through a window, guns blazing. He glanced around. As far as he could tell, no one had died in his absence.

"Got it. Let's get going. I'll fill you in once we're away from here."

And with that, it was time to move again, time to put this cursed, chaotic city block behind him. Far better to pull this trick where nobody would expect it. In the city, there was a chance the terrorists would see it coming. In the middle of a forest? No way. After all, to the best of Aaron's knowledge, he was about to try something no one in the history of SOTF had ever done.

Which, given the simplicity, didn't speak too well for those of the past, but hey, Aaron wasn't about to complain.

He started walking, gesturing to the others to follow.

((Aaron Hughes continued in When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open))