Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]
V5 begins now
May 31 2013, 04:20 PM
Curse my limitless procrastination and recent obsession with MtG, I missed the deadline!

Oh well, perhaps I'll adopt someone, save them from an ignoble death by inactivity. And I guess technically this means Riley gets to live...
There will be a place to tell stories with folks who missed the trip, too. :)

The General SOTF Discussion Thread
A quick count (this may be wrong!) suggests that only 36 rostered characters have not debuted yet.

MurderWeasel's Brutally Hardcore Realism Litmus Test
Nah. Scales aren't super useful, I think, in large part because a whole lot comes down to execution. Also, it tends to turn things into a shaming-game, whereas I find it more useful as food for thought.

The General SOTF Discussion Thread
This is not scientific at all, but from what I've observed, I think the top three most referenced older characters thus far are:

1. Riz
2. Brook
3. Maxwell

Which makes sense, since players always get discussed. I also discounted Sierra and Josie, as they were in the tape; counting them they win by a mile.

The Unofficial V5 Student Roster
Ooh, this is super cool. Well done!

Introduction Thread
Hiya, Bramzter! Welcome to SOTF!

I see you've found all the resources! Feel free to PM me or any other staffer if you have any questions (staff have purple names). We hope you enjoy it here!

Thread Titles Have Never Been My Forte
"That's your job," Adam said. "I don't do hugs."

He especially didn't do hugs if they came with piss. Maybe, just maybe, if babies were involved and he was wearing bad clothes, and even then it was a real long shot. Here, when he only had the spares he'd brought for the trip? No way. He hoped Maynard had kept track of his own personal bag, so he could change later. Otherwise, Adam would have to lend him some clothes. Of course, even putting aside the difference in their heights, doing so would be tough, because he couldn't exactly come out and say that he knew what had happened. That would humiliate Maynard, and the boy didn't need a side order of shame to go with his inevitable-death shake. But then, going, "Dude, wanna borrow my pants?" out of nowhere didn't leave a very good impression either.

This would've been way easier if Paulo had been here. He'd've just flat out been the asshole and brought it into the open, and then they could've moved on. Paulo was out there, somewhere, Paulo and Cooper and some of the other guys (and girls, since Mallory had started coming around. Adam really wasn't sure how he felt about that. It wasn't like he was ideologically opposed to fighting girls, just, the logistics of it sounded like they'd be really... awkward). It would be good to find his friends, especially since they knew how to take care of themselves. Adam knew the guys, knew they wouldn't give in to this bullshit.

So, come to think of it, why were they standing around here, talking about hugs and staying in one place? There was ground they could be covering, right now. They could be making progress, finding Paulo and Cooper, and Adam didn't want to wait on that a second longer than absolutely necessary. The tapping of his sword was picking up pace. He had a sheathe for it, but that was still in his pack. No sense messing around getting a weapon out if someone was already coming in screaming bloody murder.

"Guys," Adam said, "I think we should go find more people. I've got some friends I'd like to find."

Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch
Steven chuckled a little, more in relief than out of any humor, when Sharon came to the same conclusion as him about the water under their bridge. As she rummaged in her bag, he realized, a little sheepishly, that he was still wearing the jersey. He pulled it back off his head, stuffed it back in his own bag. Maybe they'd need spare material for bandages later, though he hoped that wouldn't be the case. There would probably be better opportunities to collect materials anyways, but at the moment he wasn't going to abandon any resources that weren't patently useless. He had to be logical, here.

It made it all the more embarrassing when Sharon produced a map from her bag. Steven hadn't really explored the contents of his pack beyond the jersey right up top, so he'd missed all the other useful stuff. They'd need to do a full inventory sometimes later, when they were safer. For now, he pushed the first aid kit aside, saw his own map and a few other loose objects, found some food. That was good to know about. He transferred four of the bars into his pockets. There was no guarantee he wouldn't lose his bag at some point, and he didn't really feel like starving because of that.

Then he turned his attention fully to the map. He bit his lip a little, looked at the key.

"I'd say we're either in the northern or southern town," he said. "It looks like there's a lot of overlap. This area looks too built up to be anything else, and I don't see anything that makes me think we're in the nuclear living area. Might be able to get something more in a second."

Shielding his eyes with his hand, Steven looked upwards, searching for the sun. There it was, nice and bright and cheery, still coming up. He was pretty sure it was rising, at least. That meant he probably knew the rough direction of east, which in turn would let him extrapolate the other cardinal directions.

Then he was struck by another thought, a recollection of something he'd just glanced over. He turned back to his bag and sifted through it. For a moment, he thought he might not find what he was looking for, that he'd been mistaken, but no, there it was: a compass. Consulting it, Steven saw that his earlier estimate hadn't been a particularly accurate one, except in the loosest of ways.

Of course, knowing the directions didn't really tell them anything about where they were. It was just a thing to do, a way to exert a little more control, in this case through the gathering of facts.

"I think we should go north," Steven said. "That way, the town butts up against the sea, so people won't be able to approach from as many directions. It'll limit our options if we have to bail in a hurry, but if it gets made a Danger Zone, everyone else there will probably have to run too, so there shouldn't be anyone between us and a way out."

Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch
"I guess, now, we make a plan," Steven said. That much was obvious, but he was talking to buy time while he actually thought of something better. He wanted to come up with a brilliant plan to get them out of this situation, but the problem was there was nothing. The terrorists had spent a lot of time preparing this. The rescue last time had been primarily an external affair, an armed group of paramilitaries launching a raid, using some sort of insider knowledge. To the best of Steven's understanding, nobody had managed to do more than inconvenience the terrorists from inside a collar, and only at a steep cost. Was it worth dying to make some flunky miss a coffee break? That didn't sound like a very good deal.

No, Steven was going to drive a hard bargain for his life, and he didn't plan to have his final accounting measured in the pain he caused others. Two wrongs did not make a right, and if he had to remind himself of that sometimes, well, then that was what he would do. For now, the little paragraph of his story that he was working on was getting himself and Sharon somewhere safer.

"I think we should get out of the open," he said. "I don't think many people will freak right away, but it only takes one. We can try to find something to defend ourselves with, but that's a second priority."

He wanted some time to think about that. The key word there was defend; they didn't need lethal weapons, just something to make any assailants think twice. A big chunk of wood, maybe? A piece of rebar?

"We could either climb down and set up in the tunnel, or head into town. Personally, I like my clothes clean, so I'm up for finding a building. It's probably quieter down there, though."

He gestured vaguely off the bridge, towards the trickle of sickly water. Gonzo journalism was all about delving into society's dirty underbelly, but Steven really would have preferred to draw the line well before literally wading through the fossilized shit of a dead city. Besides, it was probably a health hazard down there. That was enough of a rationalization to write it off as a hiding spot, unless Sharon was really attracted to the idea.

And if she was? Now that he thought of it, Steven's job was to keep her sane. Maybe a quick reminder of that would get them back on the right track.

The General SOTF Discussion Thread
I thought of what I was gonna say on my Yearbook Scrawlings but then forgot.

Guys, I am so so proud of everyone here, for a reason that sounds kinda stupid but is a huge deal to me. SOTF's grammar has, on the whole, improved in leaps and bounds since the start of V5 pregame. I see people who used to make typos every third sentence clearly slowing down and taking the time to do some proofreading and editing, and even if it's still not perfect, it just makes things read so much better and look so much nicer. I'm sure this has been a lot of work for people, so I just wanted to give everyone a huge thumbs-up and say to keep up the good work.

Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch
Steven wanted to respond with something flippant, some quip or jab or other way to make light of the situation, because thinking about staying sane this early wasn't really what he wanted to do. No, he didn't want to be sane himself, so how could he possibly take responsibility for a friend's sanity? How could he take charge of one of the few tempers in class that ran hotter than his own? It wasn't right or fair. Sharon shouldn't have put him in this situation, not when she'd seen the way he was teetering on the brink, and he shouldn't accept, because he'd be making a promise he was destined to break.

"Deal," Steven said. He smiled and held his hand out.

Because what else could he do? Like he was going to tell her no? Like he was going to abandon a friend, one he was blessed to find in such trying times? Not a chance.

So instead, he'd do his best, and what was the worst that could happen? If he failed, they'd die, possibly horribly. If he didn't do anything, they'd die, possibly horribly. So he wasn't in any worse shape than before, and now he had something else to do, some sense of purpose. His missing recorder didn't bother him so much now.

It was all very artificial. He was setting goals so as to break the world down into small, bite-sized chunks, the same way he sometimes wrote his stories one painful paragraph at a time, forcing them out when the inspiration wasn't coming. It did nothing to the size of the overall project, but it let him better wrap his head around it, let him take it in stride. So his project was to keep Sharon sane, and to do that he would need to keep himself sane.

But that was only the start, wasn't it? Even when working a paragraph at a time, it was vital to keep the whole story in mind, and this was a story that ended with most or all of them dead.

So how best to make it from the hook to the concluding paragraph? How to end up with a satisfactory piece of work?

"Sharon," Steven said, "I'm gonna level with you right now. I don't have a clue what's going to happen here, and I don't think our chances are very good. Being honest about that's part of being sane, I think. And not changing, that's admirable, but I think I can do you one better:

"Not changing might be a false hope. Life changes you, no matter what. So let's say, if we've got to be changed by this, we make sure it's for the better."

And that was the start of a plan, the outline of an article. It could use a little spit and polish, but the skeleton was there, and with that, the situation made just a little more sense.

Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch
Steven wasn't sure how to follow up that howl. Maybe breaking something would've been nice, but there was nothing around to break. He wasn't usually the sort for physical methods of blowing off steam, but right now, there was nothing he could do, and a little power, even over something silly and inanimate, would have gone a good way towards letting him focus. Absent any opportunities for wrecking things, however, he just stared into the distance, eyes losing their focus.

Until, that is, a voice spoke behind him. Steven took a deep breath and turned, though he already knew who he'd find. The voice was surprisingly deadpan, but only because this wasn't a situation in which he'd expect his friend to keep a cool head. The comparison between their demeanors came crashing down on him, gave him a little perspective. He was out of control, and that had to change, for everyone's sake.

"Hey, Sharon," Steven said, turning. He dragged his left hand over his lips, cleaning off a speckle of saliva. His voice was a little hoarse, a little ragged. He swallowed. "Some vacation."

He wanted to laugh, but couldn't muster the energy. He was feeling a little better, just having a friendly face around, but the fact remained that he and Sharon were probably both going to be dead in the next week. It put a bit of a damper on the reunion.

Steven glanced around, keeping an eye out for anyone else. He didn't doubt that many others might be nearby, and while he did not expect most of his peers to turn to murder quickly, he knew a couple would, without a doubt. They'd made little changes to the rules, he'd noticed. He knew enough about the workings of Survival of the Fittest to catch that much. Now, daily murder was required for them all to survive, whereas before suicide had sufficed. He wondered what had prompted that, but didn't muse too much over it. There would be time later, perhaps.

He almost hoped there wouldn't.

Introduction Thread
Hiya, Silent! Welcome to SOTF!

Take a look at the Mini, the chat, and the New Handler's Guide. If you've got any questions, feel free to PM me or any other staffer (we have purple names).

V5 has just started and applications for new characters are closed, but adoptions of inactives will get going pretty soon, and a new Mini will start before too long. Don't worry about a lack of experience; I'd never RPed before either when I started here. We hope you enjoy your time here!

Thread Titles Have Never Been My Forte
"I'm fine," Adam said. Maynard took a few steps in his direction. The boy looked a good deal worse for the wear. It made Adam glad he'd taken a few moments to get himself straightened out. His image was important, especially in a place where looking soft could get someone killed. Maybe he'd need that cigarette sooner than he'd thought.

Another voice called out, and Adam spared a glance for its source. Natali Greer, someone else he knew of more than knew. She didn't seem to be causing trouble, though, so she was good in his book. He gave her a nod.

"'sup, Natali?" he said. If they were gonna play casual, he could do that. He'd be cool as a cucumber. They were all cool, no murder going on. Not yet. Maybe they'd all be real cool for a whole day and explode all at once. That didn't sound so good to Adam, but he wasn't really sure the alternative beat it. The kids who came out of this, they were pretty messed up, as far as he knew. Hadn't one killed some guy after getting loose, and ended up in jail? The recollections were frustratingly vague.

And here he was, messing up and thinking again. He focused on the sand, so bright in the sunlight, on the sea, on the crash of the waves and the call of a few gulls. There weren't as many here as back home. Probably not enough garbage for them to eat.

"You guys holding up alright?" he asked, returning his attention to the other two, thoughts sufficiently stifled for the moment. Maynard clearly wasn't holding up alright, but Adam wasn't the sort of dick who'd rub the guy's face in it. Better to offer him the chance to fake like it was all okay. Adam took a little closer look at him. Were his pants wet? He tried to keep his expression blank. Thank goodness for practice. He really hoped his time on this wretched island wouldn't all smell like piss, though. That wasn't going to make getting murdered or blown up or whatever any less awful.

The sword kept on bouncing against Adam's leg, tap tap tap. It wasn't quite rhythmic, but hey, he had more important stuff on his mind than keeping a beat.

And God said, "Man, what are you talking about? I sent you a helicopter and a boat."
((Enter Lydia Robbins))

In some ways, finding the shotgun was the hardest part of all.

Lydia hadn't been hit too hard by the gas. She had clear pictures of everything that had happened in that big room. She could remember Mr. Davidge taking a bullet, could remember the surprisingly-young Danya's speech. She knew it was all true. When next she'd woken up, outside this monstrous shopping mall, she'd immediately pulled herself up and headed inside, dragging her backpack and purse and duffel bag along with her. Fear was her companion and her pursuer, fear that someone would kill her, that someone would kill all of them, that it would be really slow and painful. She was afraid to die, and she didn't even know why.

She had raced up the stairs, bags bouncing off her legs, feet slapping on the steps. She stumbled once, but was able to catch the handrail and avoid smashing her face into the floor.

The upper area was circular, that much was clear at a glance, which was all Lydia afforded it. Lydia didn't bother scoping anything out. She ducked into the first store she found, one that was filled with racks of records and CDs. It was as good a place as any, better than most. Nobody would come here. There was nothing of worth here, and nobody of worth, as well, because Lydia was no survivor, no hero, no killer or defender or anything, really. She knew a little of what had transpired during the past cycles. She knew, at least, who had gotten out due to their own actions.

The first two, they'd both been boys, boys who tried to save other people but only managed to protect themselves in the end. The third, he'd been crazy, a real psycho who got off on torturing and killing people. The fourth had been kept going by anger. They were all unusual people, people who could rise to this sort of occasion and take action, people who didn't worry about what would happen and who threw themselves fully into anything.

Lydia could barely make up her mind what jewelry to wear in the morning. She didn't have the self control to keep her eating down. She was nothing, nothing but another kid who would die, like the hundreds of others this predicament had claimed before, and she wasn't okay with that but she also knew that there was nothing she could do to change it.

Lydia was not one to pray out loud. She was usually not one to pray in the middle of the day, either, preferring to keep things to a few special times. She did not turn to her religion every time things got tough, but if there was ever a moment for divine inspiration, this was it. So she closed her eyes and had a heart to heart.

Why? she asked, first thing. Why take us? Why sentence us to die? But, no, that wasn't really fair. God didn't explain Himself. He sometimes did things that were baffling to humans, wars and plagues and natural disasters, but who was she to question where Job had not? So she thought a little apology, and started again, with a new track.

What now? she asked. What do I do? I know I can't kill anyone, so that means I die unless we get saved. I don;t think we're going to get saved, or at least I can't count on that. And I know that death is not the end, that death is not evil, but I don't want to die. I have so much I want to do, and life, it hasn't always been great, but it's not been bad, and I don't want to wait so long to see my family, don't want to miss their lives here on Earth. I'm scared.

And there was nothing, no response. She gritted her teeth and shifted her weight. She was squatting behind a rack of CDs, a bunch of covers staring down at her. One was lime green, with a creepy, grinning baby face on the cover. Its eyes were pitch black.

She knew that one. Tubthumper. I get knocked down, but I get up again.

No, please and thank you, I think I'll stay down this time. I think I'll stay down, stay sitting here on the ground. With God a no-show, it was just the best thing to do. Stay and get shot and go to Heaven and call it a wash. That would be easy. It was as safe as things came. She realized she was crying, tears and snot mingling on her face. At least she had some tissues in her purse.

Lydia blew her nose, crumpled the tissue, and pitched it on the floor. A few seconds later, she pulled herself to her feet, plodded over to the discarded tissue, picked it up, and found a garbage can for it. It didn't matter if the store was wrecked; Lydia was no litterbug. It was important to treat the world with respect, even if it didn't return the favor.

She wanted some food to calm down. There was supposed to be food in her bag, and it wasn't like a little emotional eating was going to make her life any worse right now, so Lydia went back to the pack and knelt and unzipped it, and that was when she found the shotgun, and it was the single worst thing that could possibly have happened to her, because it was the voice of God Himself speaking right to her. Not in words, of course; she was no schizophrenic, but the meaning was clear enough:

Now now, Lydia, He said, you've given up awfully easy, haven't you? We can't be having that. Now, I know you're a sad fat girl who's had a tough life, and I know you've been good and faithful, and I know that this is a really bad day for you. I get that. But I didn't put you on this earth to give up when things get tough. I didn't put you on this island to sit around and cry and eat yourself to sleep. I put you here for My own reasons, and sitting around is pretty low on that list. You're not powerless. I have given you this shotgun, to use as you see fit, and I trust you to do me proud with it. I trust you to not be an agent of evil. And maybe, maybe you'll never need to use this shotgun. Maybe you'll never be in a spot where it matters, and maybe you'll never make a difference, but you have the ability to try. You have free will, and free will exists so that you can make choices, and—yes—mistakes. But, Lydia, if you sit down on your butt now, if you sit down and just wait and eat and let someone kill you, that's all on you. That's your choice, and it's your right to make it, but I don't think it's the right choice. So come on, up and at 'em. You know what they say, what the message I sent you with that CD means: You're never gonna keep me down.

But what do I do? That was the question running through Lydia's head, but there sure weren't any signs to help her answer that one. It was the big one, and she was alone, no flashing neon signs telling her to go out and protect people or try to run an escape or anything like that. She couldn't do these things, wasn't smart or strong or fast enough. It was just her and a shotgun, and that was terrifying, but she couldn't just sit, not now that she knew there were other options.

She wished she'd never gotten hungry, had never opened her bag. She'd made her peace. Someone cou;d've come along and killed her, and she'd have never known about the shotgun, and it would've been so simple and alright, relatively speaking. But she'd just had to think with her stomach, and now here she was. Her appetite was gone, to boot.

She didn't bother poking through the rations. Instead, she lifted the shotgun free, very gently. She took out the manual. It was complicated, hard to read, but over the next half hour or so she figured out what it all meant. She loaded the gun. She chambered a round. She made very, very sure that the safety was on.

Then she picked up her bags and gave a nod to the CD rack and tottered a little as she walked out, back into the open mall. No hiding. Not now. Not when there were things to do.

She really did wish she knew what they were, though.

V5 begins now
The Burned Handler
May 29 2013, 04:06 AM
I thought of a not-stupid question! The people back home have no idea what happened until early July going by the prologue - will the "back home" section be set then?
Primarily, yes. If you want to do something between the times, it's cool; everyone just has a very different idea of what happened to the kids.

In fact, here's the rules post for the "Meanwhile, at home..." section! It's been done for a while, but we couldn't post it because it spoiled the broadcast delay.


V5 begins now
Quick clarification, by the way: the food bars the students were issued are high-energy emergency ration type things, like 1,500 calories per bar, and would be labeled as such. Just heading stuff off at the pass there, in case I was vague in the prologue.

Thread Titles Have Never Been My Forte
((Enter Adam Morgan))

This was some real heavy stuff going on. Adam hadn't really cared all that much about Disneyland. Well, he'd maybe been a little bit excited about Disneyland. Mickey Mouse was kinda creepy, but there'd be roller coasters and stuff, and maybe the guys could've slipped away and had a session somewhere in Disneyland. Fighting in Disneyland would've been pretty hardcore, in a sort of ironic, twisted way. Only, Adam was pretty sure they were in for a fight a whole lot more hardcore than anything in the Magic Kingdom could ever hope to be. He was trying real hard not to worry.

Keep cool. That was what he'd spent so much time practicing. He was pretty sure his face was composed. The tear streaks had come off alright, with a little spit. He was, right now, focusing on not thinking. That was the way with tough stuff. Someone's beating on you in the ring, tune out. Don't focus. Try not to feel the pain. Adam had a good deal of experience trying to not feel pain, but that was usually when he could remember that the pain would eventually end. Technically speaking, all pain came to a final halt, but of the sort it was even more painful to contemplate.

At least he had a sword. It was hefty thing. The terrorists had taken a look at Adam, in his leather jacket, and had said, "Man, this guy's a badass, so he needs a real weapon, but he's too badass for a gun, so give him a sword. That'll do him well." It was good to think of the terrorists talking like that, like how he and the guys shot the breeze. It made them relatable, and gave him this little nugget of hope that maybe they'd change their minds and call it all a day without blowing out necks or forcing people to kill or any of that stuff.

Because Adam was a fighter, but he wasn't a killer. Well, more than that, even in his crazy power fantasies he wasn't a killer. Okay, he killed Al Qaeda terrorists and stuff, mowed down legions of bad guys and all, especially during paintball, but that was different, because here there weren't any bad guys around. Not a one in sight in all those rows of chairs, just other students. And even if Adam didn't always care for all his classmates, he didn't want any harm to come to 'em. It was why he stepped in when assholes got nasty with the freshmen, only here everyone was a freshman again and the assholes were out of reach behind some computer screens holding little red buttons that could blow Adam up if he got fresh.

And even then, even if he had the guys who'd been up on the stage right in front of him, he didn't really think he'd be able to muster the strength to do anything other than beat the shit out of them. Because fighting wasn't about killing. It was about competition, sometimes, or blowing off stress, or making a point, and Adam was pretty sure killing didn't do any of those things in any way that a good old fashioned clobbering didn't also do.

Maybe he was missing something. He knew there'd been some real crazy people last time around. Some guy gunned down like a dozen kids only to pop himself in the end, and there was a crazy midget or something, and a boy who acted like a bear. Maybe some of the details weren't very clear—Adam had sort of tried to stay away from the news, and aside from the occasional resurgences on TV in the past few years, which often took the form of some girl yelling at a camera, things had been pretty quiet. Danya was dead as Bin Laden, and about as relevant to the world.

But here Adam was, thinking after all, and that was getting his blood pounding. He was fidgeting with his sword, tapping it against his leg as he walked along the sand. That was a bad idea. The sword was sharp, dangerous. He stopped, turned his focus to what was around him. There was beach, sea, a boy lugging a huge-ass spear thing. That was a distraction, a way not to think. Adam could see the guy was having a bit of trouble. He could relate; his own bag was slung over his shoulder, his pack from home over the other, the sword in his right hand, but it'd taken some fussing when he'd woken up. He'd only been conscious for about fifteen minutes, but he'd started walking first thing. Staying still could lead to thinking. It could lead to all kinds of bad stuff. So better to move, to move and never stop moving.

So Adam kept moving in the direction of the boy. He wondered if he should light a cigarette to look more badass. This was a good place to look like a badass, so Adam had a leg up on that front. But the boy, he didn't really look like the sort who might out-badass Adam. He didn't look like he'd out-badass the average accountant. So the cigarette wasn't needed. Besides, the pack was in his back pocket, and he couldn't really reach it with his left hand.

The boy was Maynard, Adam saw. He was one of the many people Adam mostly ignored in school every day. Right here and now, though, Adam had no inclination to keep mostly ignoring him. Someone else, some random guy from school, represented a little link to normalcy, especially since he clearly had no clue what he was doing with the weapon he held. Normalcy was good. It kept the thoughts at bay.

So Adam waved with his left hand, and his right tapped the sword against his leg. He wasn't too far away, a few dozen feet, but coming from the side so maybe he hadn't been seen yet.

"Hey, Maynard," he called. "Over here, man."

Should've actually thought up some thread titles before flipping the switch
((Enter Steven Salazar))

The world worked in mysterious ways. Uncertainty was the only thing that was ever really a safe bet. God had a plan, but damn if it didn't come off as a little perverse at times.

Steven Salazar had always wanted to make the news. Of all the possible ways he'd hoped and dreamed of that coming to pass, or even had dreaded in his more cynical moments, Survival of the Fittest had never crossed his mind as a real possibility. Yeah, sure, he knew about it. Everyone knew about it. The seniors of Aurora High had all been getting out of middle school last time it'd rolled around. Steven had followed it a good bit, simply by virtue of reading the papers. He'd watched the information as the events unfolded, the kidnapping and the deaths and the rescue and the return of the various survivors. Some of them had popped up again over the years, but he'd never really thought much of them. B-list celebrities milking a tragedy at worst, damaged kids clinging to the past at best, maybe with a legitimate axe to grind, but haunted by specters in any event.

Danya had been dead. It had all been over.

But that was clearly not true. Here he was, in the middle of nowhere, a metal collar around his neck and a bag lying next to him. His assigned weapon was spread in his lap. It was a hockey jersey, one from Bayview Secondary School, that school all those B-list celebrities and damaged kids had attended back when they were still normal people. He'd not really known why he was even opening his bag, but it sure hadn't been with the aim of finding an extra shirt.

Steven was someone who liked to act. He needed to be in the thick of things. It was why he interjected himself into his articles, why he so enjoyed the works of Hunter S. Thompson, in whom he saw a kindred spirit. And yet, right now, he'd have given anything to be nowhere near the middle of this mess. He wanted to be home. He wanted to be in an argument with his grandparents. He wanted to be in a full body cast in an intensive care unit, sure, that worked, hearing about all of this on the news while waiting for his bones to mend.

But he was here. He was here, and barely clinging to his self control, just sitting here on the pavement and looking at that hockey jersey. Slowly, he stood and shrugged it on, never mind that it fit loosely and clashed with his outfit. He was on a bridge, over a tunnel from which a tiny trickle emanated. There were buildings all around, and that was about all he could really take in. Everything else, the gunfire, the speech, it was all there, real and lurking in his mind, but there was no time to process it. There was no way to understand it all, none that presented itself immediately.

So Steven took deep breaths and fell into his old habits. He smoothed his shirt and the jersey he wore over it. It was important to make a good first impression, and in an unknown situation greater formality was the best bet. He rolled his shoulders, worked out a little stiffness. His right hand fell to his pocket, to switch on his tape recorder. After all, what else would a reporter do in a news-worthy situation if not give an unvarnished account of it?

Steven's wallet was there in his pocket, but that was it. His recorder was gone. And he wasn't a reporter anyways, not here and now. He was a kid about to die in Survival of the Fittest, just like the poor bastard whose jersey he was wearing, and there really was no dodging that.

He took a deep breath, really filled his lungs, and then let it all out in the loudest inarticulate cry he'd ever loosed.

Establishing your characters and writing good opening posts
What with v5 starting up in 3 minutes or 3 days or something

It was closer to three minutes. ;)