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OFFICIAL SOTF CHATROOM
I can't id myself either. I'm pretty sure Robin is mibbit tech support. That's what the members said yesterday.

Leaving Me Lonely Still
((Jennifer Perez continued from Final Third Foul))

By the time Jennifer finally stopped moving, it was night. There had been uncharacteristic announcements, Danya threatening them, blowing up collars, something about breaking cameras. Jennifer didn't care. She couldn't focus, couldn't concentrate, could barely even follow the words. It was too much. She felt like she was being pulled in a thousand directions at the same time, felt like she was going completely and irrevocably insane. She was scared, not of death by detonation or of players or of horrible accidents, but of herself. She kept flashing back to it, Jimmy, covered in blood, the corpse (Phil? Not anymore) lying on the ground, her smile, the moment of impact, the shattering chunk of wood. It was all just so unreal. So strange and different. She'd just let herself go, once again, let herself act on a whim, and she'd nearly killed someone. That was scary enough.

What really frightened her, though, was that she hadn't. She hadn't done it. At the very end, when she'd had the perfect opportunity, when all the restraints, all the reasons to hold back, had been stripped away, she'd found herself unsure. And then she'd surprised herself. Jennifer did not like surprises. Not when it came to her own psyche. She had always assumed that she was a powder keg, just waiting for the right trigger, the slightest slip of self control, to set her off. Since the start of this awful game, she'd been in a struggle to hold herself back, to protect everyone else from her. She'd lost. She'd lost, completely and utterly, had lost her direction, her morals, and yet she had still pulled through. All her fears, all her panic, all her stress and worry over the years, and she hadn't even know herself, hadn't even based her fears on reality.

Had she been wrong, at the beach? Wrong to challenge Jimmy? Wrong to spare him? There was no answer. They were beyond ethics. Beyond anything the world had prepared them for. Now, all that was left was what mattered to her. She'd sworn not to become anyone's entertainment. Sworn not to lose herself, not to allow herself to be changed by this game. Had she failed? She couldn't say. Surely none of her friends at home would have recognized her. Surely her parents, her brother, would have been shocked at her actions. Just as surely, she didn't feel bad. She didn't feel bad about anything anymore, and that terrified her.

But what could she do about it? Nothing. Fuck it all. Life was short, right? Best to just do her best. She inhaled deeply, exhaled. Opened her eyes (how long had they been closed? How long had she been sitting against this old tree, breathing in the damp air of this swamp? How had she come to be here?). Stood, legs and arms protesting, stomach rumbling. She hadn't had any food in... a day? More?

Fuck it. She'd been defeated when it came to acting a part in this game. Didn't mean a thing. She still had a role to play, still had things she wanted to do. Still had reasons to live.

"What you did doesn't matter. What you do doesn't matter. We're all going to die here, Jimmy. The only choice we have left is how we do it. And Jimmy, whatever you've done, whatever anyone else has done to you, you always have a choice. At the end of the day, you can always decide who you are. No one else can take that away from you."

Had it really been Jimmy she'd been talking to, there, or had it been herself? She'd spoken those words without grasping their significance, spouting the very platitudes she had been unable, no, unwilling to understand her entire life. Happiness was not the avoidance of conflict. It was not total peace. Happiness was doing selfish things sometimes, doing selfless things sometimes, and, in the end, just doing what was right.

And now, that meant she had two people to find. Nick and Maf. Goals. Something to do, somewhere to go. Always moving. Always walking. After all, what better way to bleed away the pain?

She wasn't scared anymore, so she started off.

An hour later, she was still moving. She stepped lightly, moving from dry spot to dry spot, always on the lookout for someone, for something. She held the icepick in her hand, now, used it from time to time as a tool, as help when she had to navigate particularly challenging areas. Her wrist was no longer sore.

The world was dark. It was night, late night. Maybe very early morning. Probably that. Probably the announcements would be soon, more deaths, more killers.

She paused, looking at a pool of stagnant water. It glowed in the light of the almost-full moon, reflecting a rippling silhouette of the overhanging branches. Somewhere in the distance, insects were buzzing. A frog croaked. As she stood still, the world was calm, peaceful. No gunshots, no explosions, just quiet for a time. No matter where she went, no matter what she did, she could always find moments of peace. Could always find something worth just standing and looking at, something to take away the fact that she was alone, that she had driven friends away and lost others to murder.

She was crying quietly before she knew it.

Nation States
Hahaha... yeah, it forces, erm, extreme actions sometimes. We've been subject to some on crime laws. Searches are now illegal. Somehow, crime is still low, so whatever.

Blackout
((Just gonna add right here that all GMing in this thread is approved and stuff))

The girl was squinting into the light. Trying to get a look at her captor. Shifting around. Doing something. What? This could be bad news. Kimberly had no clue if Liz was armed. She didn't snap the gun up, though. Not yet. No way.

Then, the girl was lunging at her, a knife in her hand. Kimberly didn't even have time to think. She kicked out, impacting Liz's hand, sending the knife spinning into darkness. A second later, she realized she had made the right choice, realized that shooting Liz there would not have worked, would have probably ended in both their deaths. That wasn't why she'd held her fire, though. Oh no. It wasn't that simple.

Liz went flailing backwards, letting out some sort of strangled cry, and Kimberly went right after her. Pressed her foot into the other girl's back. Damn, times like these made her so thankful for nice, heavy boots. She went ahead and flicked the hammer of the pistol. Made a nice dramatic click, even if it didn't do shit else. And Liz, Liz was pleading with her. Pleading for her life or something, though it was kind of hard to tell since she'd only struggled out that one word. And oh, it was sweet, it was so sweet. Her entire time on the island, Kimberly had been thwarted, had been hurt and robbed and ignored and defeated, and now the tables had turned, now she held all the power, now someone was actually pleading with her. She held someone's life in her hands.

No.

Not just someone. That was selling this situation far short of its true importance and glory. Kimberly had her gun to the head of Liz Polanski, the girl who was probably the only thing giving hope to half the students on this island. The girl who had been playing roulette with all of their lives as chips. Man, it was fucking simple to be brave, to be rebellious, to be willing to make the big choices, just so long as it wasn't your life on the line. But hey, second the tables turn? There's some truth for you. Who was Liz, the great rebel, the brave one-girl resistance? She was some pathetic little creature, beat to shit and not even able to talk right.

Liz was coughing and making these awful choking noises, so Kimberly let her turn around. She gave out a little snort, looking down at Liz. Yeah. Some fucking hero.

And here it came. The bargaining. Of course. It wasn't a surprise. None of this came as a surprise, not now. Kimberly was pretty sure she had this girl pegged, pretty sure she could mess with her triggers some. Self righteous bitch. She was explaining things, trying to clarify her goals, trying to beg a bit more time. And the worst thing? She wanted to keep fucking up the cameras. She just didn't get this. Didn't have a clue what she was doing.

Time to change that.

Kimberly held the pistol, pointed straight at Liz. Locked eyes with the girl. Smiled. Oh yes, Liz. You think staring me down's gonna help you? You think maybe I'll repent just because you're reaching out, making contact, reminding me you're human? Tough shit. Maybe that'd work on Kris, or Sarah, or someone else, but I know what I'm doing's no good. I know I'm being awful, and I just don't give a damn.

The smile broadened. She held it for a few seconds. Kimberly hoped Liz was confused. Hoped she was trying to figure out what was going on. Fuck, maybe she even thought Kimberly was actually going to let her go.

"Oh, come on," Kimberly finally said. "If I was just planning to shoot you, we'd have been done with this shit about a minute ago."

Keep smiling. Make these next words count.

"Liz, I'm not a bounty hunter. I'm not a player. I don't give a fuck if Danya's offering a shiny toy to whoever blows your brains out. This isn't about that. This is just us. See, you and me? We've got a bit of a score to settle."

That sounded about right. Now, she just had to wait. Wouldn't be long now. Not many options when it came to responses to that sort of statement.

Rugga's scribbles
So, I was told that Rugga's doing requests (because I can't read and didn't notice) and would like to request Kimberly. Er, if you have time and all, but if not, no worries.

The Horrors of Dom's Sketchpad
That's awesome, Dom! I missed this thread when you first put it up, but those are quite good. I love the Evo finalists.

Passive GMing
Alright, everyone. I’m taking off my mod hat here for a moment to discuss something that I’ve seen a lot of throughout V4, but especially recently. I’m hoping to mitigate this somewhat by bringing the subject up, explaining it, and providing examples as to why it is problematic and should generally be avoided. This isn’t a mod’s ruling, or a roleplaying guide, or anything like that. It’s a request, handler to handler, to be aware of this issue and try to avoid it.

The issue is Passive GMing. By “Passive GMing”, I mean GMing that falls outside what we normally consider GodModding. Megami addresses GMing here, defining it as follows:

Quote:
 
First and foremost, the word "godmod" has many different meanings. Listed below are the ones relevent to our roleplay.

1. Godlike modification.
2. To control another person's roleplaying on an internet forum or chatroom.
3. To control a character who is, for all intents and purposes, invincible. That is to say, no attacks or techniques will work against said character and s/he recovers instantly from anything that happens to him or her.
4. To use your character to decimate other characters without giving them the chance to fight back. For example, "Janie shot her crossbow at Marcus who dodged the close-range shot with ease before running up to her and ripping her arm completely off."


For the purposes of this thread, I’ll be focusing definitions two and four. When I talk about Passive GMing, I’m describing behaviors that do exactly what is described above, controlling other peoples’ characters and limiting their responses, only in ways that achieve these results without directly wresting control from the handler. There are many ways this takes place. Here, in turn, are the most prominent ones:

1. The Overly-Long Speech

This is when a character talks for a very long time, especially during a tense scene, without leaving a chance for anyone else to react. It goes doubly if they are also taking actions while speaking. Basically, the problem here is it assumes the other characters are not reacting/interrupting/leaving/whatever. Now, if your character’s the sort of blowhard who would just talk over everyone anyways, and the situation isn’t going to devolve into combat, this isn’t really an issue. After all, it’s not that no one else is acting; it’s that your character doesn’t care.

And example of a problematic post follows (these are gonna be pretty exaggerated):





mimefan:
As Alexia opened fire, Tim dived behind a log, panting with exertion. Sweat ran down his forehead, mingling with the blood from the knife wound sustained in the earlier fight. He quickly searched his pockets for a new magazine. Time was of the essence. Every second was another chance for the girl to get a drop on him, to kill him.

Deckmaster:
Alexia’s shots missed the boy as he hid behind a log. It made her angry. Very angry.

“Coward,” she spat. “You think you can escape like that? Go crawling into some little hole and hide there for the rest of your time? You think you can maybe escape or something? Think you’re better than the rest of us? Well, let me tell you something: you aren’t. You’re just another pathetic little worm, just another step on the ladder to freedom.” She slammed another clip into her MAC-10. “I was like you once. I thought we could get out of this the peaceful way. I thought that only a fool would go shooting whoever they saw. I was wrong, and you are too. The only way out is to play. The only way to get anywhere in this game is to fight for it, to wrest every second of life from the Grim Reaper himself! Was it Lovecraft who said, ‘and in strange eons, even death may die’? That’s what we’re doing here. We’re killing Death, even as he takes the forms of our classmates, our friends and lovers, our siblings and cousins, our rivals and our passing acquaintances. That girl you sued to copy math answers from is gone. All that’s left of her is her hollow shell, a grinning demon laughing to itself about how it, it and not you, will be able to go home and see its family again. Well, guess what? To me, you are the demons!

With that, Alexia launched herself over the log, landing in front of the boy, who seemed to be digging for ammunition. She prepared herself to fire.





Now, at first glance, that doesn’t look too awful (quality of writing aside). On closer inspection, though, it becomes pretty clear that Deckmaster is taking extreme liberties with Tim. That speech is quite a mouthful, yet it is assumed not only that Tim has not taken the opportunity to move, but that he hasn’t even reloaded throughout this. Realistically, Tim could have been blazing away from a few seconds into that diatribe, or been running away or sneaking off or something. Deckmaster, however, is too concerned with looking cool to respect these options, and thus Tim looks like an idiot who just sat still when he could have made a dozen better decisions.

Really, it’d be awesome if folks paid more attention to dialogue as actual spoken words. It takes time to say something, despite what certain popular roleplaying games may have to say on the matter, and it’s not fair to other handlers to rob their characters of the opportunities that time provides.

2. The Dialogue Remix

This is a tricky one, but is probably the most common thing on this list. It often comes about as a result of someone going overboard on their dialogue, as in the first example. Basically, this occurs when handlers incorporate the dialogue of other characters into their own posts, adding their characters’ responses, without consideration for whether it makes sense or not. In most cases, quoting other people is fine. It can really help the flow of scenes. Other times, though, you get stuff like this:





Kongfuzi:
Alex saw the boy walking towards him. One of his friends! It truly was his lucky day. As the boy got close, Alex waved, shouting, “Hey there, Bubba! How’ve you been? Awful mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, huh? At least you’re a friendly face.”

Joemomma Kenobi:
Bubba stalked the trail like a junkie in search of a hit. His nostrils quivered at the scent of fresh blood. Yes. His prey was near. He could see it, could see the boy he would kill.

”Hey there, Bubba!” the prey called.

“Hey yourself, moron,” Bubba snarled. “I’m gonna gut you.”

”How’ve you been?”

“I’ve been better, but since I’ve got some fresh meat to rend from the bone, well, I guess you could say I’ve been worse, too,” he said, twirling out his double deagles.

“Awful mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, huh?”

“What do you mean ‘we’, dead man?”

”At least you’re a friendly face.”

“You wanna kiss this friendly face?” Bubba said, opening fire. “’cause it’s the last thing you’ll ever see.”





Kongfuzi:
Alex walked up to the group, smiling, trying to seem benign.

“Hey guys,” he said. “You seen Pontius anywhere?”

Deckmaster:
Alex asked if they’d seen Pontius anywhere. Alexia paused. Pontius? He was that freak in the armor, right?

“Yeah,” she said. “We saw him an hour ago, on the slope of the volcano. He said he was gonna get some sleep, so you may be able to meet him.”

Joemomma Kenobi:

Alex approached the group.

“Hey guys,” he said. “You seen Pontius anywhere?”

Bubba knew from the get go that this guy was trouble. he could smell it, could almost taste the stinking sweat of deception.

“No,” he said. “We’ve been traveling together for a day, and we haven’t—“

“Yeah,” Alexia cut in. “We saw him an hour ago, on the slope of the volcano. He said he was gonna get some sleep, so you may be able to meet him.”

Bubba reached for his double deagles, but restrained himself, settling for shooting Alexia a nasty glare instead. She had ruined his masterful bluff, and potentially doomed Pontius through her stupidity.





As you can see, there are situations where inserting dialogue makes things very awkward. In the first example, Alex’s responses stop making any form of sense as soon as Bubba makes his violent intentions clear. In the second, Alexia is cast as unable to take a hint by disregarding Bubba’s plan; however, this is clearly not Deckmaster’s intent as, at the time of his post, Bubba hadn’t even voiced his plan. As a rule of thumb, if your character’s dialogue will change the meaning of already-written dialogue set after it, you shouldn’t wedge it in without the permission of the affected handlers.

Note that this also applies to reordering actions (2.5, Action remixes, I guess). If you cram your character’s actions in before those of other characters that have already been written, it is very unfair to the handlers who have already posted if it changes the scenario their characters are reacting to. Your character shouldn't start shouting for a ceasefire retroactively if the posts prior to yours detail the start of a gunfight. After all, who knows? Maybe, had your post actually been there first, the fighting characters wouldn't have started.

3. The Ninja Stealth Thread Entrance

Characters come and go in threads. It’s part of how things work. Unfortunately, some characters seem to come a bit more... stealthily than others. There are many circumstances in which people can reasonably bump into each other with little to no forewarning (tunnels, night, forests, ambushes, etc). There are also many times when it is totally unreasonable for a stealthy approach to be possible. In those situations, it is very important to not post your character walking right up into striking distance of everyone else present. Of course, if there are no violent intentions on either side, and the approached character(s) seem relaxed, it may be fine. It’s still more polite to give a chance to prevent a standoff from occurring in melee range.





Deckmaster:
Alexia was standing on the beach, over the corpse of the fallen Pontius. The tears in her eyes did nothing to distract her from the situation. The brains leaking slowly from his ears, where they had been ruptured by the hypersonic drill, the missing middle fingers, taken as grizzly trophies. She couldn’t take it anymore. She scanned the beach, looking in every direction, searching for something, anything to take her attention off the corpse of her lover.

“Why, Bubba?” she screamed. “Why did you kill him?”

mimefan:
((Tim Sillery continued from wherever))

Tim happened to reach the beach fairly quickly after hearing the shots. It was a wide open, empty expanse, broken only by the screaming figure. In an instant, he recognized her: the harlot from the forest! So, her squeeze had been slain? Excellent. It was time for a little revenge.

Tim jogged across the beach, pulling his ninja sword from its scabbard. Stopping behind her, he pressed it into her back.

“Maybe he was doin’ him a favor, huh? You ever think maybe getting your brains melted is better than living in a world with a freak like you? Now, hand over your guns, your own, and the one you stole from me before! Move and I’ll spit you.”





It’s absolutely insane for Alexia, who is clearly being fairly vigilant, to not notice Tim coming across the beach to hold her at knifepoint. Realistically, she should have had time to run, shoot Tim, or do some combination thereof. Basically, play nice when entering threads or approaching groups.

4. The Not-So-Subtle Cue/Dig

It’s easy to develop plans for things. It makes sense to want things to go your way, or to have set ideas on what is “realistic” in a scene. That does not make these ideas gospel. It is very, very easy to insert little cues into posts, things like “presumably causing him great distress” or “likely stopping them in their tracks”. This should be avoided, unless it is from a character’s perspective (as in, your character is making these assumptions regarding outcome, regardless of reality, as opposed to an omniscient narrative voice implying them).

Worse still is when there are little potential insults hidden in posts. “There was no way he could survive unless he was some sort of alien superhero”, or “Clearly, any human being possessing even a modicum of intelligence would agree”. These basically take a preemptive shot at handlers who do not conform to the poster’s desires/expectations. They imply: “If you are a decent writer and your character is not a Mary Sue alien superhero, they should be dead now.” This often forces handlers to invent contrived situations to explain not taking the suggested course of action, if they do not wish to undertake it or to have their characters look unrealistic.





Kaldskal:
Pontius looked around, searching for an escape. None was immediately present. The beach stretched in all directions, but he couldn’t run faster than a bullet. He had no choice but to attack. With a roar, he charged Bubba.

Joemomma Kenobi:
Bubba danced backwards, out of reach of the flailing boy, spinning his double deagles free. He opened fire at point blank range, using the precision accuracy for which he was renowned. If Russian assassins trained for decades in the heart of Siberia couldn’t dodge his bullets, it was highly unlikely this moron could, unless he was secretly a wizard. Also, the bullets were armor-piercing.

Kaldskal:
Pontius groaned as his armor was pierced. Lacking magical training, he had no hope, and fell, dead, to the ground.

JoeMomma Kenobi:
Bubba cut off Pontius’ fingers and peed on his corpse.

((Bubba Dover continued elsewhere))





This one doesn’t really come up that often, but I see it enough to want to draw attention to it.

Of course, again, this is when this stuff comes up in a narrative perspective, not a character’s POV. Stuff like this: “Mary Sue said, ‘Oh, yes, we should all hurl ourselves like lemmings into the sea, building a floating island of corpses that the survivors (me) can cling to, outside the danger zones, to wait for rescue/the final four!’ Clearly, any human being possessing even a modicum on intelligence would agree.” is probably fairy benign, as it is presumably Mary Sue thinking these things.



So, basically, I am bringing all this up and making all these examples because I’ve seen a good deal of this stuff going around. I honestly do not believe that people intend to be GMing each other, and I’m hoping that pointing out these issues and illustrating why they are problems will help reduce their occurrences.

If anyone has any comments/other forms of Passive GMing/whatever to discuss, feel free. I’d just request that there be absolutely no calling out of people or naming of specific handlers/characters/threads/whatever. This is to bring attention to a problem and hopefully address it, not to lash out at folks who may have done these things.

Final Third Foul
Shouting.

Threats.

A gun.

Fuck it.

No way they'd shoot her.

No way they'd shoot Jimmy.

Not a thing she could do if they did.

Someone tossed a spear or something.

Big fucking deal.

Jimmy was coming closer.

Screaming.

Yelling.

Waving that stick.

Trying to kill her.

Someone was actually trying to kill her.

Death.

The end.

He wished that on her?

Smile.

A flash.

Why had she moved her arm like that?

Splinters flying everywhere.

Jimmy toppling, confused.

Shocked.

Disarmed.

Helpless.

Jennifer blinked.

Her wrist hurt.

Not badly.

What now?

The answer should have been simple. It was easy. He had attacked her. Tried to kill her. Murdered Phil. Jennifer had been expecting her reflexes, her automatic reactions, to carry her through this, to cause her to fall upon Jimmy, laughing and shrieking and cutting and stabbing, to extract vengeance, satisfaction, blood and guts.

There was none of that.

Jennifer simply stood, looking down on the boy. Watching him grope for a weapon, start backing away. Automatically, she followed, matching his crawling pace. Smiling still.

On some level, she wasn't surprised at all by what came next. Oblivious to the others, totally ignoring Maria, Duncan, Cassidy, Marco, and Alex, she locked eyes with Jimmy as he spoke, as he threatened her and the others. Then, she spoke.

"I know what those words mean.

"Don't think that way.

"You're worth more than that."

Not her own words. Not her own thoughts, but someone else's. Something someone had said to her a lifetime ago. Something that seemed fitting now.

She kept going, and now the words were different, now they were her own.

"What you did doesn't matter. What you do doesn't matter. We're all going to die here, Jimmy. The only choice we have left is how we do it. And Jimmy, whatever you've done, whatever anyone else has done to you, you always have a choice. At the end of the day, you can always decide who you are. No one else can take that away from you."

She blinked a couple of times. Her grip on the icepick was loose. She glanced around. People here. Lots of people.

Jennifer shivered. What the fuck was she doing? A quick glance at the body, just a body, not Phil anymore. Nothing she could do to help him. Nothing she could do to help anyone. All her calm, her cool, was evaporating, leaving her aching and terrified.

Without a word, she raced to where her bags had fallen, scooped them up, and just kept running.

Get away.

Get away now.

((Jennifer Perez continued in Leaving Me Lonely Still))

Blackout
((Kimberly Nguyen continued from But I Might Die Tonight))

Three more deaths. Three more people had been blown away just like that, a push of a button, not a chance to do anything to save themselves. Lucy Ashmore. Alex Rasputin. Trent Hunter. Nobody Kimberly gave a shit about, though it was interesting that a killer was on the block. Maybe it really was random. More likely, though, Danya was calculating every move. Rasputin had been a second tier player, hadn't done anything since the first day. Killing him simply told the others that they weren't safe. It meant that, all of a sudden, there was a legitimate threat to Lombardi, Ishida, and Gabriella (and Kris, can't forget Kris...). Now, all the big killers could die in a split second, no matter how badass they were, no matter how skilled, how many kills they had under their belts. They had to be pissing themselves right about now. That was something Kimberly could smile over.

Yeah, had to be calculated. Danya was blowing up the boring people and the people who could make a point. Maybe he was blowing up people in Liz's path, too, forcing her to see the effects of her actions. That would make sense. It also meant that Kimberly wouldn't have long to fuck around, lest she become an example herself. Things would need to be quick. Efficient. She swung her grappling hook by the rope between her fingers. Too bad. Quick wouldn't be any good. Not for the level of shit this girl had put everyone on the island through. Kimberly was pissed. So pissed. Absolutely fucking seething. And yet, it might have to be quick.

She kept moving towards her goal.

She'd picked the tunnels because they were close, and because they were a good place to hide. A good place to hole up for a little. A crevice a rat could worm its way into. Oh yes, someone was bound to be hiding here. Several someones, if Kimberly was right. She'd be shocked if there wasn't something here more worthwhile than those fools on the mountain. Even if she didn't find Kris and Liz, perhaps she'd be able to find someone else hurt, someone else with a grudge to bear. The more the merrier, when it came to vengeance.

So in she went, into the darkness, the shadows. She paused, tucked her grappling hook into her belt, brought her flashlight to hand, turned it on. No point tripping and fucking her arm up any more. No point getting in trouble, getting hurt. She had a job to do. It would be hard enough as it was, strangling the life out of someone. Hard to dig the spikes from her grappling hook into flesh. Hard to listen to the screams. And yet... she'd have to do it. Have to be strong. Have to keep control. Anything else, any failure to turn this around, would mean her death. Would mean that she was weak, worthless. She did not need help. She did not need fucking babysitters. She was just fine, thank you very much. Probably doing a hell of a lot better than Sarah and Bridget.

That thought hurt her, a little. Her former companions were probably out there right now, cheering Liz on, wishing her success. What would they think when they heard the girl's fate on the announcements? Would they regret saving Kimberly's life, regret stitching her back together on that beach, regret the fact that she still drew breath?

She paused for a second. Inhaled deeply. Hacked and coughed as the scent of blood invaded her nostrils.

When she could breathe calmly again, a couple of seconds later, she had her answer: She didn't give a fuck what they thought.

Wasn't like she'd made them help her. Wasn't like she'd been particularly subtle about her goals. Wasn't like she'd hidden the fact that she was a dangerous, potentially violent person. She'd told them before that escapees were fucked. No way around it.

The odor was strong, getting stronger as she walked. She didn't know why, but it drew her, beckoned her onwards like a magical song. There was something worth seeing here. She had not yet come across a corpse., had not yet been forced to stare any death in the face, except for her own inevitable one. Best to get it out of the way, best to be ready, to be steeled when she chose to act. No restraints would hold her back. Nothing could be allowed to divert her from her purpose. Rounding a corner, Kimberly prepared herself for the worst.

It was close, damn close. She'd been expecting someone naked, bleeding from all their orifices, guts cut out and hanging, maybe strewn around and knotted. Instead, it was just a boy, just a boy with his neck blow out, blood spattered all around him. A dead boy. A boy she recognized.

"B148, Daisuke Nagazawa, eliminated. This is your teacher, Kwong Lei, signing off."

This, this boy, this body, this was everything Kimberly feared, everything she couldn't control, everything that waited for her if she failed. This could soon be her, neck gone, blood pooled. She couldn't let that happen. Couldn't.

She wanted to run. Wanted to vomit. She didn't do either. She forced herself to stay. Forced herself to speak.

"Hello, Daisuke."

Her voice was raw, broken. This was a stupid way to conquer her fears. This would achieve nothing. This would lead nowhere. She was doing it anyways. Forcing herself to confront this. Forcing herself...

Daisuke's pack was still next to him. Undisturbed. Nobody else had been by yet.

All of Kimberly's life experiences, all of her socialization, fought with her desire to procure any little advantage she could. But then, she stopped and actually considered things. Daisuke was dead. He wouldn't mind. Kimberly would be dead soon, too. She'd never have to put up with anyone giving her shit over this. Never have to face any consequences for this action. The only rule here was strength, and she'd need all the help she could get on that front. If it meant stealing a dead boy's shit, well, so be it.

Glancing around, making sure she was alone, Kimberly steeled herself. It'd be quick. Snatch and go. So simple.

She darted forward, grabbed the pack, backpedaled. Paused about fifteen feet from the corpse. The smell was terrible. Overwhelming, almost. The bag was held awkwardly over her wrist, her own bag over her shoulder, her flashlight in her right hand. Fuck you, Kris, for each of these inconveniences.

So she dropped Daisuke's bag, dropped her own, propped the flashlight up, casting light on the proceedings, and began to transfer items. She abandoned her own first aid kit entirely. Nothing worthwhile left in it, not after the beach and her little self-repair job. Daisuke's was full. Good. Then, on to the food. Looked like he still had a good amount, and water, too. Into her bag it went. Finally, she found a small, black box. It was heavy. It had bullets in it.

Oh fuck yes. Daisuke had had a gun.

Unfortunately, the weapon itself was not in the bag. There was only one thing that could mean. He'd had it on him. Kimberly took another deep breath, instantly regretted it. Fought down the bile rising in her throat. Daisuke had a gun on him. She had to get it.

She put the magazine in her bag, shined her flashlight on the body, looking for a telltale glint or reflection. Nothing. Damn. Someone else might have already gotten to it. But if that was the case, why was the bag untouched? No, maybe he'd given it away.

Then again, maybe not. She had to check.

So she went back to Daisuke's body, slowly this time, taking in every detail. The pool of blood. The ragged shreds of flesh where his neck had once been whole. The lack of a collar. His bloodstained camouflage jacket.

Only one way to do this.

Slowly, gingerly, Kimberly reached out and began patting the corpse down. It made her skin crawl. Made her want to cry. Made her want to slap herself silly for having ever liked horror stories. Luckily, she found the lump before long, before her squeamishness could overcome her dedication. Inside the jacket. Damn. She managed to work it free, though, managed to get a hold on the heavy metal object, awkwardly balancing it with her flashlight. She retreated once more to her bag. The gun was slightly bloodstained. It seemed Daisuke had leaked at death, seemed that his jacket had soaked through. The whole thing made her feel dirty.

Didn't matter. She could deal with dirty. She could deal with just about anything if it meant facing Kris on even grounds next time.

The manual was in Daisuke's bag. The gun was called a Jericho 941F. Kimberly read by the light of her flashlight, read and learned more about guns than she'd ever thought she'd have cause to know. Ejected the magazine, counted the rounds. One chambered, seven in the first magazine, eight in the second. Enough. More than enough. She was tempted to test fire the thing, but in such enclosed quarters that would be a bad idea, so she simply reloaded it and crammed it into her improvised rope belt. Then, it became a matter of figuring how to juggle the gun, bag, and flashlight. In the end, she taped the flashlight to the top of her bag, which she hung over her neck and shoulder. It didn't put pressure on her wound, at least, not that much. Good. The light cast by the flashlight was a bit more erratic, a bit less aimed, but she could live with that.

Time to go. Time to go change the fucking world. Time to go get a little revenge. It was the lesson again, what Jeremy had taught her. To get what you wanted in this game, you needed strength. You needed power and follow through.

Kimberly had both in spades now.

So she kept walking, a smile on her face. Oh yes. This will be sweet, Kris. So sweet.

Five minutes later, she stumbled across the girl. There was a pool of water. A pool of water, and an unconscious girl, lying on the ground, just lying there without a care in the world. Kimberly could only tell that the person was alive because she could see her breathing.

The scene gave her pause. The girl was dressed kind of weirdly. Looked pretty damn beat up, too. Looked like she'd seen better days. Kimberly's immediate impulse was to help her, to offer her assistance. To do something, anything. To provide what little comfort she could, just like the others had for her on the beach. Thing was, as her flashlight swung around, she could see that something was wrong with the girl. Specifically, something looked like it was wrong with her neck. And that face, Kimberly had seen that face before, could almost recognize it from school.

No way.

No fucking way.

Kimberly flipped the gun's safety off. Tried her best not to cackle as she adjusted her shoulder, facing the beam from her flashlight right into the girl's face. She kept the pistol down for now. Too perfect. It was all too perfect. Finally, she had finally caught a fucking break in this game.

She spoke, and now her voice was under control, betraying none of her manic glee.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"

But I Might Die Tonight
The girl ranted a bit, went on about being quiet and such, blah blah blah. Didn't matter. It wasn't like Kimberly actually gave a fuck about being noticed. It was like this girl was under the impression that there was an actual point to this exercise, that Kimberly wasn't just fucking with her in order to make her make a nasty choice. Damn, she was slow. Kimberly didn't even bother responding to the girl's question about her arm, just smiling and cocking an eyebrow. At least that worked. At least this person seemed to be assuming that Kimberly was a credible threat.

Didn't make it much better. Then, the guy over there had to go and start yelling, like it didn't matter at all if anyone knew they were here. Well, fuck him too. The girl waltzed off, completely ignoring the fact that, had Kimberly had a gun, she could've just blown her away. This whole situation was one huge mess, and it was seriously pissing her off. There had to be something more worthwhile to do. Something that would actually get her towards one of her goals—because yes, she had two goals now, didn't she? There was Kris, Kris with her gun and her kills, and Kris still needed her share of comeuppance. But there was also Liz, little innocent Liz going around getting Daisuke killed. Liz with a bounty on her head, with the potential to really fuck up Kimberly's day just by accident. All this going on, and yet here she was playing games with dumb people. And then, icing on the cake, someone else started screaming, too. Just what she needed. More people yelling. Make it another circus like the beach.

No way. She was so over this shit. So ready to be off and away and just plain doing something rather than going through yet another round of painful introductions among people who never gave a fuck about each other in school, yet another tense standoff while people assessed the truth of each other's statements, yet another awkward moment as the nerds and the jocks sat around singing fucking hippie songs or shit like that.

So Kimberly did not follow the girl. Instead, she grabbed her things again, huffed a sigh, and started walking. A part of her, a very petulant and angry part, wanted to shout something nasty over her shoulder, wanted to tell the last newcomer that he was stumbling into a den of psychos or something. But no, she was better than that. It wouldn't do to let her emotions run that far out of control. Quite simply, the best option was to leave and let 'em sweat about who she was, what she was doing. She hadn't given them her name, right? For all they knew, they'd just had a nice little chat with Clio Gabriella. For all they knew, she was off to grab her AK-47 so she could waste the lot of them. Yeah, let 'em stew about that. No point getting involved.

Not when there was work to do. Her life could end at any moment, no warning. At any second, she could just be gone. One thing Kimberly was sure of, though, was that when her time came, she didn't plan on having a single regret. And that...

That meant she had a few little visits to pay to a couple of phenomenally careless girls.

((Kimberly Nguyen continued in Blackout))

Happy Holidays!
That is totally awesome. Well done.

Rugga's scribbles
Wow, I can't believe I forgot to comment here. These are totally awesome, Rugga. I really like your style and the way you do eyes.

SOTF Characters (Taking Requests!)
That is absolutely and completely wonderful, Little! Thanks a ton!

Aimless
Enjoyment went out the window in a hurry when some girl turned up with a gun and pointed it straight into Isaiah's face. As far as things went, this was a pretty bad surprise. Especially since she seemed really high-strung, twitchy and nervous and, oh, hey, probably racist too. What a surprise. Yeah, black guy out minding his own business until you drop in, clearly he's gonna cut you up and rape your corpse or something. This whole situation was really getting Isaiah pretty steamed, which was probably not the best thing given that he now had to grovel his way out of being shot on really shaky pretenses.

"Woah," he said. "Hang on just a sec there, please. I'm not gonna hurt you. I don't want to kill you or anyone else. I don't have a weapon, and if you don't feel comfortable having me around, say the word and I'm gone. I'd just really appreciate it if you didn't shoot me."

Was that sufficiently conciliatory? He had to hope so. It was fascinating how quickly a situation could go way, way south. Fascinating how quickly the sparks of faith in his classmates' general sanity and good intentions could once more be threatened. And then another sound Isaiah had heard clicked, several seconds belatedly, and he tried to glance around without moving his head, searching for the interloper. Someone over there, some guy. Just great. More people to come mess up his night.

Smile. Try very, very hard to look nonthreatening. Pray for the best.

When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open
What on earth was so difficult to understand about the phrase "hands empty"? It was such a simple request. Basic stuff, show you weren't hostile, that sort of thing. And yet, no, here was this guy, this guy Aaron didn't even know, waltzing around with his gun out. Either joking or inciting an incident. Turning everything way more messy than it had to be. For extra excitement, there was that other guy, dressed all nice. Two new people, people who knew each other. People who had issues with each other.

Instantly, Aaron came up with a large number of possible explanations for the situation. The easiest, of course, was that it was a trap. These guys were tag-teaming them, preparing some of ambush to separate and disarm them. The seeming stupidity of both people involved played into that, made them seem harmless. Of course, he wasn't quite happy with that explanation, because the hostility between the two seemed fairly genuine. This led him to believe that something else was going on. The suspicious one, of course, was the guy with the gun. He'd chosen not to disarm himself. This meant that he was stupid, arrogant, or had a trick up his sleeve. His words were at odds with his actions; while he presented an affected aura of cheerful jest, he also took a physically threatening position.

Aileen asked who they were, and Lily called the guy out on his tasteless joke. Aaron could work that. His first instinct, of course, was to push a little bit, see if he could provoke a more heated emotional response from one or both. The best option for that would be to simply invite the gun-wielder to shoot the other guy unopposed. Unfortunately, doing so wouldn't really be a wise move in terms of group cohesion, whether or not Aaron had any pans to let him carry it out. No, Lily had to be humored. She was Aaron's best supporter. That meant taking her side here.

The guy without the gun introduced himself as Milo Taylor. Aaron recognized the name, but couldn't quite place why. Wasn't the guy retarded or something? Just what he needed right now. Then again, if he wasn't dangerous, there was a chance he'd actually be useful, easy to get to help out. None of that pesky contradictory nature so many of Aaron's compatriots seemed to have (and speaking of such, where was Richard?). It took him a second, but Aaron had a plan.

"Yeah, Lily's right," he said, shifting the pistol to cover the guy with the gun. "That's not a very good first impression to make. So, how I see it now, you've got two choices. You can piss off, and we'll pretend this never happened and go our seperate ways, or you can prove yourself trustworthy. If you want to stick around here, you either put that gun down, or you take the clip out and put it a little ways away. Chambered round, too." Aaron was very, very glad he'd taken the time to read the manual for his gun. It'd have just been a lovely surprise for someone to have a single shot when Aaron thought they were dry.

Without shifting his gaze, he said, "And Milo, if he sticks around, you could be a great help by frisking him for surprises."

Oh yes. If there was something absolutely certain to upset this guy, Aaron was fairly sure it'd be having Milo's hands all over him. Three ways things could go, now. The guy could turn out to be smart, walk away from what was clearly a bad deal. He could be trusting, follow the instructions, and probably end up better off in the long run.

He could also be dumb and start something. Aaron was near a big, solid tree, just in case. No point getting gunned down over something stupid.

Introduction Thread
Hi Randomness and Pippin, and welcome to SOTF! If you have any questions, feel totally free to ask me or any other staffers (we have colored names). Also, be sure to check out the chat and the Mini. We hope you enjoy it here!

Introduction Thread
Welcome back! It's good to see you here again!

Right now, there are a couple of characters up in the Adoption Zone. Also, check out the chat (we've changed servers since you were last here) and the Mini (also new, and pretty awesome). Yeah, that's pretty much all. Welcome back!

But I Might Die Tonight
((Since Kimberly's a ways from Sierra, and Mimi's been Away, I'm skipping here))

Someone had fucked with the collars. Someone had fucked with the cameras. Someone had died for it. All to be expected.

What was not to be expected was that the person who'd blown up was not the one who'd been monkeying the system. That made it pretty damn easy to tell what had happened. Someone had actually pulled it off. Someone, in this case, was Liz Polanski. A name with an attached face, nothing more. Not one of Sarah's group. So, this Liz Polanski had messed things up. Had gotten the terrorists all hot and bothered. Well, good for her, except for one little thing. She'd gotten someone else killed. There was a face for Daisuke, too. Kimberly didn't really give a fuck, though. Nah, what was eating at her was that it wasn't only Daisuke who'd been on the line. It was each and every one of them. There were what, a couple hundred people left alive? Say two hundred. That means there was a half a percent chance of Kimberly getting popped instead of Daisuke. A one-in-two-hundred shot of her exploding instantly, no chance to look her attacker in the face and spit at them, no chance to take Kris down with her. Bang. Gone. All because some bitch had to play hero.

Kimberly's anger was not hot. It was not cold. It simply was. She was wrapped up in it. Forgot where she was. Someone had risked her life. No opt-out like with Sarah. No chance to dive to the side like with Kris. No, just Liz Polanski treating Kimberly like an object, like some sort of fucking game piece. Yeah, Kimberly, fuck her, I wanna get off this island, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes. Fuck that. Fucking player, that's what she was. Do whatever it took to get off the island, and who cares how many people die? No better than Maxwell or Clio or Kris. No, worse. Worse than them. At least they'd had the guts to watch when they pulled the trigger. This girl, she was a coward, hiding behind some sort of moral high ground. She hadn't killed anyone, hadn't risked any lives. Oh no, it was that big nasty terrorist with the remote. He was to blame. If he'd just let poor little Liz fuck his system, none of this would've happened.

The only thing stopping Kimberly from taking off right at that second, from slipping into the night to find this Polanski and choke the life out of her, was that there were still people around. Still this girl she was menacing and shit. Drop the calm act, and any authority was lost. Any hope of controlling things, gone.

The girl in front of Kimberly had talked. Had introduced herself, blabbed and blabbed. Kimberly didn't say shit. Deal with a nervous talker, best bet's to just let 'em go. Let 'em dig themselves deeper and deeper and watch 'em squirm. Compulsive talkers, they just kept talking, even when it hurt them, even when they knew they shouldn't.

And hey, even better, there was someone over there by the girl's friend. Oh, this was gonna be good. This was gonna be real fucking good. Time to break the silence.

"I think maybe we should just chill, make sure there's nothing going on there that could be dangerous first," Kimberly said. Talking nice and quiet. All the authority she could muster in her voice. "I think it'd be real dangerous if you rushed off before we know that won't lead someone back to me. I mean, fuck, I've been quiet and all for a reason. If I'm gonna get spotted anyways, well..."—a shrug of her shoulders, emphasize the towel covering her left arm, remind this girl that there's no way to tell what the fuck was in that hidden hand—"no real reason to keep quiet."

Smile. Hey, girl, your choice. You wanna call my bluff? Go ahead. If you're gonna make it anywhere on this island, you've gotta be willing to take some risks, make some mistakes.

The night air was cool. Calm. All the panic from the announcement gone. Everything nice and peaceful again. So quiet. So serene. Just how Kimberly liked it.

Final Third Foul
Jennifer was becoming intimately acquainted with the concept of tunnel vision. She had eyes only for the boy in front of her. She watched him, watched him hitting himself with that stick for some reason, spattering bits of blood everywhere. Huh. Blood. Strange, that. A few hours ago, all that blood had been coursing through Phil's veins. Now it had no purpose. Now it was nothing more than a sticky substance decorating a chunk of wood and a boy. In the end, it all went that way. They were nothing but component pieces, thrown together by whims of chance, gifted with cognition by luck.

The boy was Jimmy Brennan. School chew toy. Nothing but a bunch of meat and blood himself. Not even in very good condition. He was looking at something. Not at Jennifer, at least, not with undivided attention. That pissed her off. Sent a furious rage boiling through her veins. It wasn't an unfamiliar feeling, oh no, it was routine, a part of daily life. She'd simply always choked it down. Always smiled and laughed it away, burned off her anger in all those healthy and constructive ways that society spent so much time ingraining into its members. But there wasn't any more society, not now. Now there was nothing but the moment, nothing but the present, nothing but Jennifer and Jimmy watching each other, and yet he wasn't paying good attention. She shot a glance over her shoulder.

Marco. Alex. It was simply too much. They'd followed her? They'd come after her, even after she'd made it clear she didn't want them? Yeah, big fucking help they'd be. A killer and a failed friend. Fuck them.

"You two," she said. Monotone. Loud, but not yelling. Never yelling, oh no. Always calm and composed in the face of conflict. Always there with a kind word and a smile to defuse things. And oh, how she was smiling now.

"Fuck off." Still calm. "I've got this. And I don't think we should travel together anymore."

More people, other side, screaming or shouting threats. Something. What the fuck? Couldn't they see they were making things worse? Couldn't they see that they weren't wanted?

To them: "You too. Beat it."

Still smiling.

And Jimmy, doing his self-flagellation thing.

Talking to her. Telling her to get him.

She could.

So easy.

So simple.

Just a few little movements. A matter of minimal exertion.

Stick against metal?

He was fucked.

So why wasn't she moving?

Jimmy yelling. Working himself up.

Of course.

The smile broadening.

Come on, Jimmy.

You wanna do this?

You don't wanna talk?

Fine.

I'll fucking play.

Jimmy rushing at them.

Impossible to tell where the others were.

Impossible to care.

Jimmy, stick held high.

Still the smile on her face.

She stepped into his way.

Raised the pick.

Defensive posture?

Fuck if she could tell.

Never once been in a fight before.

Never once thought it would come to this.

And yet, it all made sense.

Standing, facing the oncoming boy.

One of them would have to give.

A little giggle escaped.

I'm not gonna back down.

It's all on you.

Flinch, fucker.

Or don't.

Introduction Thread
Welcome, new folks! Any questions, ask one of us staff members (we have colored names). Also, check out The Mini and the Chat.