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Introduction Thread
Hi, BG, and welcome to SOTF (in a more formal manner than chat has already welcomed you in). Be sure to check out The Mini and The New Handler's Guide. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me or any other staffer (we have colored names).

Everybody Knows
And there was blood, and there was pain, and Erik was dying. Everybody was dying. Once upon a time, she'd prided herself on the fact that she was staying alive, that she was thriving while so many of her classmates, so many of the people she'd spent time with every day, were failing. She'd thought it maybe proved something. She'd thought it maybe validated her somehow. Here she was, with one arm fucked up beyond belief, and still alive at the halfway point, the final hundred, last fifty, twenty left. Now, right now, what mattered wasn't that she was still alive. What mattered was all those others who weren't, all those others who would soon be welcoming one more.

Erik wasn't making it. It was obvious to her. He spoke, he touched her face, he took his time figuring out what had happened, but Kimberly knew the whole time. She saw his arm, mangled beyond what had happened to her, and she saw his chest, with the bleeding holes, and she knew. It wasn't right. Whatever had happened, whatever had prompted this, it wasn't right. She'd lived longer than Kris, she'd fulfilled her purpose, and she'd found something else to cling to, and now, just like that, it was gone. She was adrift now, well and truly lost for the first time here. There was nothing to do. She had no idea who had murdered Erik. She wouldn't know until the next announcements, and by then, the perpetrator might also be gone. Besides, vengeance had lost its luster.

And Erik, Erik was on the floor, and he was panicking, and he had something important to say, but it wasn't some last second confession or final words of encouragement. He wanted her to go, wanted her to leave, to run, to be anywhere but here. He wanted to protect her. The comment about the killer returning, that was a lie. They both knew it. She didn't resent it. Everyone lied. Everyone tried to do what was best for those they cared about.

It was funny how rarely they knew what that was.

Kimberly didn't need protecting. Never had, except, perhaps, from herself. That, Erik had provided. Now, though, there was nothing left to worry about, nothing left to save her from. Things weren't going to get any worse.

"Erik," she said. "I'll... it'll all be fine. I want to help you, fuck, whatever that means."

"No," he said, and he squeezed her hand, squeezed it hard, so hard it hurt a little, but pain didn't matter now. "No, you don't — don't want you to see this, please, Kimberly, please, I don't want—" and he was crying now, was crying hard, and his breathing was all messy, and she couldn't even tell what he meant anymore. She couldn't tell what was lies and what was truth. "I don't want, don't want to hurt you. Partners don't, right, so please—"

Throughout it all, he never let go of her hand. He clung to her, and she was so lost and confused, and she couldn't even begin to tell what he wanted. She had to choose, had to decide whether to trust his words or his actions. Everything in her told her to ignore what he was saying, to assume he was lying. It seemed wrong, though. It seemed selfish. Kimberly rarely engaged in unnecessary duplicity. She had lived her life assuming that others were straightforward with her for the most part, and hating them when they weren't. To change now, to choose to prioritize herself, that would be the real lie.

And that was that. That was her answer, then. He wanted her gone, wanted to protect her from all the monsters she didn't believe in. And the worst of it, the thing that just fucking tore her up, was that she couldn't do anything to change his mind, couldn't argue him down, because there just wasn't enough time, because she would never have clarity.

She couldn't protect him, either. It wasn't her place to tell him he was making a mistake, to insinuate that he might spend his last moments some better way, that he shouldn't just lie there and die alone. It seemed awful, that idea. Dying was bad enough, but to feel the cold and the dark without anyone there to ground you, without anything to warm you up, that would be intolerable.

But it wasn't her decision, and so she stood, very slowly, her hand slipping from his, and she looked back at him, and she smiled as much as she could and she said, "Catch you later."

She walked towards the exit, made it maybe halfway.

No.

No, it wasn't right. No regrets. No more mistakes. And so she stopped, and she said, "Erik, I think we need to compromise."

She turned, and she walked back to him, and she sat down, but this time she didn't face him. She stared at the wall, straight ahead, and she reached her hand back and found his again, found the one that was still whole, and she squeezed it.

"I won't look," she said. "I won't watch. I promise I won't turn around unless you tell me to. But partners don't leave each other behind. Partners means we both have to deal with shit we don't want to sometimes, right?"

And she squeezed his hand again, and she smiled a little, smiled for real this time, even though he couldn't see it.

Everybody Knows
Kimberly laughed at his jokes again, laughed at the mention of running shirtless to distract people. She wished she had it in her to come back with something, something about how it'd be quite a change for someone besides a girl to strip in front of her, but she just couldn't. It was hitting her hard, for some reason. It was hitting her hard that they didn't have any more bandages, that they were just so worn down and battered and broken. It should have been different. They should have been celebrating still being alive. She was losing her grasp on what she wanted. She was losing track of her goals, losing her place in the moment. She wasn't happy, and it fucking sucked that she wasn't happy. This whole thing, it was starting to almost feel too much for her again. She absolutely could not let it overwhelm her. She couldn't let this spiral out of control. It was supposed to be simple.

And Erik told her it was going to be alright. He told her it was all going to be fine, and she didn't believe him, not for a second, but she knew that they'd fake it, just fucking pretend it was going to be cool, just act like everything was okay until it wasn't anymore.

Something was wrong with her. She was all over the place, flitting from rage to despair to apathy, chasing herself around and around. She tried to remember when she had last eaten, and found herself entirely unable to do so.

Fuck it.

She'd do her best. It was the only choice, the only thing she'd ever been able to do. She'd do her best, and she'd be happy with that. She would make it enough.

Erik was reaching out to her, and she clasped his hand with her one good one.

"Yeah," she said. "Yeah, it'll be alright. This game, all this shit—





—we'll make it our own."

It was enough to tell him all he needed to know. He leveled the pistol and opened fire.

((Aaron Hughes continued from Whistling in The Dark))

Aaron had heard only the tail end of the conversation. He had approached the sawmill carefully, slowly, and he had made sure to note everything that had changed. It was surprising, how many things were different now. The most telling was the new body, some guy Aaron didn't know, lying on the ground right outside one of the side buildings. The body was still relatively fresh. Perhaps he could have gotten a rough estimate of the age through comparison and observation, but that was wholly unnecessary. It told him a killer had been here fairly recently. it told him there might still be one around.

The urge to avoid conflict had told Aaron to leave, to walk away. The urge to put a round in Raidon before the finals had overruled it. The plan was very simple. First, Aaron would scout the perimeter. He would make sure there was nobody following him, leave some opportunities for any shadows to tip their hands. Then, he would check each building, would find out if anyone was hiding. If he encountered someone decent enough, he would play the savior, coming to rescue them from the gore and terror, recruiting them for his cause. If he found a killer, he would gun them down, add a notch to his belt, and enhance his credibility as a roving vigilante.

There was no way he'd lose out.

And so, everything had gone just fine until he reached the third building. There, he had seen the two of them, seemingly engrossed in tending the boy's wounds. He had found himself totally unable to recognize the boy, though his height was formidable. The girl, though, he could recognize. Kimberly something-unpronounceable. She would have been wholly unremarkable, except that she had finished off Kris Hartmann. He remembered that very distinctly. He made sure to track the people who were killing the killers. They were all at least somewhat dangerous, if they could take on the big opponents. He was pretty sure she'd killed a couple more people, too.

But it was her words that convinced him these two were playing, that they were responsible for that new body baking in the sun. It didn't matter who the boy was, whether he was a full-fledged partner or a simpering accomplice, though Aaron was going to assume the latter, was going to assume he had been injured in the fight and was now having doubts. He was still a threat. They were a partnership, and they were playing to win, and two-on-one was terrible odds. Better to narrow them here and now.

Thus the gunfire, six shots, enough to put a lot of lead in the air and to leave Aaron with some backup in case they survived and came after him. He wasn't going to stick around to admire his handiwork, not after what had happened with Raidon. The announcements would tell him if he'd been successful. In the meantime, he was going to make tracks back to the more open areas. The sawmill was a good location, but not one worth risking death for.

And so he ran.

Nobody pursued him.

((Aaron Hughes continued in Finalizing Plans))





She never even saw the responsible party, never registered anything beyond the sudden shock of gunshots. She wasn't hit. Somehow, she hadn't been hit in the assault.

That should have been a greater comfort than it was. Right now, though, she didn't fucking care. She could have been dying, could have been bleeding out, her guts spilling to the floor, and she wouldn't have given a shit. She wasn't important, not at all. There were other things to do, other reasons to worry.

"Erik?"

She was still holding his hand.

Whistling in The Dark
She left, just like that. Stupid girl, stupid reasoning. It was more irritating to Aaron than it should have been by any rights. She said she didn't mean to imply that he would kill her in her sleep, but she did exactly that. Most annoying was the fact that she was right. She had sounded fairly normal too, had potentially been one of the few remaining students who could reasonably join any group. She had perfect, and it had been ruined because she was just a bit too smart.

Aaron ground his teeth. Then he stopped thinking about how angry he was and focused instead on the other possibilities.

The girl could easily have been lying. She could have, for all he knew, been a player, scoping the houses for targets. She had his location now. If she was working with allies, she could be their scout. Raidon had had his ally. Who was to say he hadn't found another? Who was to say there wasn't some large group dedicated to cutting its way to the end, just to make sure one of its members got out alive? He might have just been pegged for elimination.

All of these things were improbable, but none were inconceivable. He had to get a move on, and soon. He'd wanted to do so anyways. He just needed a destination.

And there it was: the sawmill. It was defensible, with fewer access points and potential for complications. He could scavenge useful materials too, perhaps. It had served the group well enough. It would work just as well for a single person. He was sure there would be some sort of ambush point, too. Better still, while it was likely enough to be made into a danger zone, it had a safer mode of egress. The logging road was fairly narrow, and on either side were danger zones. That meant he could narrow down the potential ambush locations other people could use against him when he left. Also, if the terrorists decided to herd everyone into the swamp, he would be more ready than most.

Perfect.

Of course, there was the matter of not getting gunned down as he left the house. It would be just like someone to wait outside the door with a machine gun. Aaron slipped to the other side of the building, smashed a window out with his rock-filled sock, and hoisted himself through, carefully avoiding the glass. Outside, he took off quickly. He couldn't count on the girl not running around at the sound of the shattering window, ready to attack him.

He made sure to watch the area around him, though. Made very sure to be more aware than all the people he had spied on.

((Aaron Hughes continued in Everybody Knows))

Hard Deadline for ALL Rolled Deaths
Hey, everyone. Apologies for the massive confusion that took place here in the past day. Basically, this is all on me, because I communicated something poorly. The something that I communicated poorly was "If you can't have a death perfect and polished by the deadline, at least get a placeholder with as much detail as you can up so the game can still move along". This did not entail an extension of any sort, just an acknowledgment that if a death is not absolutely perfect on Monday we would rather see it posted in some capacity and then fixed or prettied later. This has been a common practice with several deaths in V4, and results in no further harm than the handler killing a character looking pretty silly if they don't actually go back and fill in their placeholder. It's a sucky situation, but basically we'd rather have a handler do something to get a character dead than have the staff take a character over and then take another week to roll them somewhere and kill them that way.

Unfortunately, my communication skills were poor in this case, and things got misinterpreted and things got posted in the wrong places. That is all entirely my bad. I'm very very sorry to everyone upset by this, and will endeavor to phrase things a lot more precisely in the future to avoid a repetition of this sort of incident.

Whistling in The Dark
The girl identified herself. Madeleine Smith, alias Maddy. That meant absolutely nothing to Aaron. The name Madeleine rang some bells, but he could have sworn there were at least two girls called Maddy in the class, so it wasn't particularly helpful. He certainly couldn't say if she had killed or not. She sounded scared, but fear in no way precluded murder. If anything, it made it more likely. As far as Aaron could tell, there were three types of players: the ones who played because they wanted to live, the ones who played because they were afraid to die, and the ones who just enjoyed it all. Anyone could be neatly slotted into one of those categories.

So, he was going to assume that Maddy might be playing. He was definitely going to infer that she was armed. Aaron would have been very surprised if anyone was weaponless this late in the game. There were enough corpses about for even the most peaceful to scrounge a gun or a blade somewhere. If he did things right, though, armament would never come into play. It was now a matter of dealing with Maddy, neutralizing her as a threat, feeding her enough line to make her trust him and not try anything funny.

"I should warn you, Maddie, I've killed two people," Aaron said. "Self defense. They were both minor players. Fiona Sparki and Aileen Borden. I'm not looking for trouble, but I'm not afraid to stand up for myself if you want to fight. If not, though, would you like to come in? It's safer in here, and I could use some company."

The plan was simple. Aaron made a confession of his own kills because doing so would compel Maddy to return the favor. He had also managed to couch a threat in his friendly offer, noting what had happened to the last players to cross him and thus implicitly suggesting that attacking him was a very bad idea. At the same time, he also made himself out to be an appealing ally if Maddy was afraid of players, because he had the ability to defend himself, and thus could also protect her.

Now she just had to give him some information. If she was a player, and was willing to admit it and not pick a fight, he'd send her elsewhere. It would mean she was stupid enough to be of no lasting concern whatsoever. If she decided that it was time to have it out, well, Aaron would have to kill her. And if she really was looking for someone to team up with, he'd have someone to throw in front of the bullets again.

There was no way he could lose.

The Rules
Welcome to V4 post-game. This is where you can wrap up the extenuating plot lines of characters rescued during V4. There are a few little restrictions/notes on metaplot information, though:

  • Realism rules are still in place. Your character may not become a secret agent, a serial killer, or anything else that breaks reality. Remember that these are high school kids, probably extremely traumatized ones.
  • STAR is not accepting recruits from among the rescued students. They will do what they can to help any students who do not wish to be returned home, but their influence is extremely limited when it comes to forging identities and such.
  • Post-game can cover whatever span of time you like, but do not reference things that will cause continuity snarls in the future. Remember that no SOTF games occur until at least 2011, and, more probably, 2012.
  • The terrorists do not hassle rescued students in any form. To all appearances, they have vanished off the face of the earth.
  • Bayview does, in fact, grant diplomas to anyone who makes it back.
  • Please check with the staff if you want to do anything that affects the world on a large scale, or if you wish to use the STAR characters or detail events between the rescue and the hospitalization in Canada.
  • No students are prosecuted for their actions on the island.
  • This board is for rescued characters only. If the handler of a rescued character co-writes something with you involving the family of one of your characters, or an NPC you wrote, or a character who did not make it to V4 proper, that is fine. Otherwise, the board should be left to the handlers of rescued characters.
  • By now, you know who all died except for perhaps 4-6 characters. You'll have to write around the winner. Also, remember that for three weeks, the broadcast is dead, so threads set in that time frame should not include knowledge of events on the island that occur after the latest announcement.
  • Post-game will remain open for eight weeks. At the end of that time, it will be closed, so that V4 actually ends with the epilogue.
  • The memories board will remain open for the first four weeks of post-game, in case anything still needs posting there. Then it will (finally) close.

Whistling in The Dark
Somewhere in the town, there were gunshots. Aaron was not surprised. It was inevitable that those remaining now would all be out to win. The key was to let them deal with each other. He could do that. He just had to find something productive to do to occupy his time, some way to bolster his own chances.

He wondered who had died. Probably one of the two in the theater. It didn't matter. If he saw either of them again, he would shoot to kill. Both had proven themselves potential hazards.

He decided that it was time to go. Sooner or later, someone would begin a systematic search of the houses, and he had no real intentions of getting caught up in another gunfight with Raidon or someone else like him. Aaron crept downstairs, and was heading to the door, when he heard the faintest squeak, followed by a couple of noises that could almost have been footsteps. They quickly stopped. Aaron froze as well. He was in a doorway connecting to the entrance hall, right out of sight. This was bad. Someone was there. Someone was probably creeping up on him, planning to take this house as a base and kill anyone inside.

There was only one thing to do.

"Hello?" Aaron called out. "Is someone there? This is Aaron Hughes. I'm not playing."

He gripped his pistol tightly. If nobody responded, he'd find some other way to leave the house. If someone did reply, he would assess them, and, if they were dangerous, eliminate them as expediently as possible. If he had stumbled on one of the few remaining innocents in the game, however, well, Aaron was feeling a little lonely. He could use a new team.

Everybody Knows
It was a vast difference from the attitude she was used to. In a way, it felt almost like she was lying, to herself and to Erik. She'd told white lies in her life, of course, but had always found them a little uncomfortable. She decided that it was acceptable here, though. Anything was alright to make the world a little more tolerable.

She had torn the shirt up. She remembered now, in a little flash that transmuted the irritation into something else. She'd torn it up on the mountain, and Erik had bandaged her arm with it, and she'd probably left all the fucking spare cloth on the bench or something when she went after Kris.

Introduction Thread
Welcome back, Acelister! I'm really glad to hear your life is going well, and it's cool to see you around again!

An entirely optional suggestion.
Hiya, wides!

It's an interesting idea. Some folks have definitely used their dead characters elsewhere (Llama) or brought them from somewhere else (Rocky).

Personally, I tend to create characters for specific stories, so once they are dead or done with their story I lose interest. I suppose it's that I'm not a fan of AU characters (blame it on years of following Star Wars stuff, and all the discon there), but I definitely don't think mine is necessarily the majority opinion. Anyways, everyone is always free to use their characters where and however they want, except for reentry into other versions/Minis/Mini-based AUs (except SC). So, yeah, just my take on things! :)

Scrolling Quote Suggestion Thread
Fell behind and decided to grab something really current to make up for it/buffer future stuff. Apologies for missing a month on changing this up.

MK's Mouth
Awesome episode, Ricky! I feel very silly for not noticing that the links are at the top yesterday. Anyways, I am really looking forward to next week's topic! ;) You make these interesting and fun!

Whistling in The Dark
((Aaron Hughes continued from Loyalty Rewarded))

It was interesting how unobservant people were, even at this late a stage of the game. Aaron had returned to the residential area, had returned, in fact, to the house where he had acquired wire all those days ago. His goal had been the same, and he had had an easy time claiming another couple lengths of cord. This time, he really was planning to use them as garrotes, if necessary. He wasn't looking for a fight or for trouble, but he knew that they would eventually come to him. It was now just a matter of choosing the time and place.

The ideal situation was the final area on both counts. He could sit things out until the end, keep calm and quiet and snatch anyone who passed by and didn't seem too psychotic. He was fairly confident he could still manage to win allies. He wasn't sure how many people were still alive, and how many of them were killers. That was one irritant caused by Aileen's little act of petty vengeance. His lists were gone, his data compromised. He could recall many of the killers, but not all of them.

It didn't matter. Aaron was on the second floor of the house, watching people. A girl had wandered into the movie theater side of the recreation center. Another had run from the other side of the building, pursued shortly by a boy who went in entirely the wrong direction, ending up following the first girl. Aaron made a note to keep his ears open for gunshots, and to watch who emerged from the building. Someone would probably die there. If not, he might have a new group already forming for him. Either way, attentiveness was important. It was time to start prioritizing, figuring out who was too risky to do anything but shoot on sight. Raidon had been ready for that particular technique, but Aaron was willing to bet that many of his other remaining classmates were not. Some people would be worth knocking out of the running prior to the finals, if he got a clear shot.

Aaron had also checked his ammunition. Thirty shots, spread between his gun and his spare clip. That was enough to put a bullet, maybe two, into every other person left alive. It seemed being frugal with ammunition was paying off. There was no reason to change his ways, though, no reason to pick fights he didn't have to. He also had his other weapons, his rock-filled sock and his garottes. He wanted a sword, had considered going to look for one, but it seemed improbable enough that he would have any luck that he hadn't bothered. Wandering aimlessly was dangerous.

The real problem was the boredom. Without company, Aaron felt twitchy and useless. He missed having a group of followers carrying out his commands, pointless or not. He missed having people to measure himself against, to outsmart and compete with. Upon reflection, he was inclined to deem the past day entirely unsatisfactory. Charlie and Aileen had both manifested sudden suicidal streaks, and had cost him dearly through it. They had managed to hurt him, even as all possibility of future defiance was removed. It was irksome.

So Aaron paced, and he checked the magazine in his gun every five minutes, and he strained his ears, listening for the sounds of gunfire, explosions, or other conflict. If nothing happened soon, he figured he would move out and find a better place to stay. The residential area was a sure bet for the danger zone treatment, based on the past trends. It was too large, too full of places to hide. The people in charge would want them out of it soon, and any players stupid enough to attack people directly but smart enough to employ basic strategy would camp at the points of egress right before the announcements and pick off everyone fleeing. It was what Aaron would have done if he was too stupid for the long view.

With a growl, he turned and stalked along the length of the room again. Who would have thought that winning could be so interminably tedious?

"August" "Midmonth" Rolls
One day, six hours, and twenty minutes for deaths.

"August" "Midmonth" Rolls
Two days, eight hours, and forty-four minutes for deaths.

"August" "Midmonth" Rolls
Three days, one hour, and seven minutes for deaths.

"August" "Midmonth" Rolls
Hiya, Chib! Inactivity kicks in at 14 days, not 6. You should be sure to get a post up within the 14 days.

Grim: granted!

"August" "Midmonth" Rolls
Four days and five minutes for deaths.

'Second Chances' (Interest Check)
Everett belongs to Acidic, assuming he still wants him when SC opens.

That means, for the moment, my only available character is Karl Chalmers. Anyone else becomes available as they die.