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Caught in a Moment
"Maybe you're lying. Maybe you're telling the truth. I don't know and I don't care."

She looked down at the lake the two girls were on the edge of. Mara saw her reflection holding a gun to Stacy, face obscured into blackness by her hair.

"Get up," she ordered, nodding her head and flicking the tip of the gun upwards. If Stacy had something stashed nearby she'd have to move noticeably to get to it.

"Miranda could have been trying to slit your throat and it'd be the same to me. I said I would find you and I have."

She took hold of the gun with both hands now to give it extra support. Her eyes narrowed fiercely, looking into Stacy's. Off in the distance some ducks floated slowly by, but they were just fuzzy spots out of Mara's focus which was entirely on the other girl.

"If not me, then it would be someone else, anyway."

Caught in a Moment
"Drop that. You won't need it."

((Mara Montalvo continued from A Human Work))

She held the H&K MP7 up to the back of head of blonde hair. Mara had stalked the island looking for the girl sitting below her and now she'd found her. Her heart beat sped up for an instant before leveling back out again. She'd walked heel to toe, taking an eternity to cross the green patch of grass just to make sure she wasn't heard.

She was single-minded in her focus, controlling her breathing and not announcing her presence until she was sure it was right. Mara stood sideways to Stacy, if she attacked she would have less body to aim at. Her elbow was tucked into her body so that she could absorb the kick when she decided to shoot. Mara had taken everything into consideration and approached the situation with the precision she would have once invested in school or any of her vast numbers of clubs and activities.

There was a certain pride she felt with having been so thorough with her hunt. It was a familiar feeling that she would have once felt from winning a pageant or a debate, but it was different than that. She did all of that for other people, to gain their love, their jealousy. This was hers and hers alone. It was all that she was now.

"I know you were never the sharpest tool in the shed, but you must know why I am here."

A Human Work
A sun beam fell over Mara's eyes and she woke with a start. Every time she woke up to see she was still on the island, it was a little less surprising. Her head still hurt a bit, a halo of an ache, but otherwise she was feeling much better. She'd gotten a full, uninterrupted night of sleep. It was almost unheard of.

It was also then that she noticed her head was on something soft. Mara pushed herself into a sitting position and saw a bag of clothes someone had put under her head. In fact, she didn't remember lying down. Owen must have carried her to the carpeted area and given her the bag as a pillow.

Her own bag along with the rifle were near a wall. She stood and retrieved both while looking around. She didn't see him, but since his bag of supplies was with her, it was a good guess that he probably wasn't far. He didn't have the stomach to stay with her and though she was grateful for the help, she had no way to repay him.

Good luck, meathead

Mara gingerly opened a window, got up onto a desk and hopped out, landing quietly on the grass outside. Bag on her shoulder and gun in her hand she moved swiftly away from the school.

((Mara Montalvo continued Caught in a Moment))

A Human Work
((Posting for activity. My character is going to stay unconscious until the ruckus wakes her up so feel free to skip to get everything done. I'll jump back in posting order when it's appropriate))

Mara lay on the floor with her arm outstretched, palm open. She felt someone place their hand on top of hers and curl their fingers. She slowly opened her eyes to see a girl laying across from her who looked an awful lot like her. Around her wrists were heavy, thick silver bracelets. Her clean, shiny black hair poured onto the freshly vacuumed carpet they both lay on. Her skin had the warm glow of honey and her inky black, almond shaped eyes danced over Mara with amusement.

"I hate you," Mara whispered.

The girl smiled a thin smile. She pulled her knees up slightly which ruffled the many-tiered pink skirt she wore. Around her neck were numerous silver link chains, holding lockets and trinkets of varying sizes.

"I hate you too."

She seemed impossibly beautiful. Even before the game Mara doubted that she looked like that. Her bandaged hand closed around the hand on top of it.

"You're not the pretty one anymore," said the reflection.

"No...." thought Mara. "I had a lot before, but none of it was mine. I survive because it's all that I am. I live for myself."

V5 Eighth Announcement
Sorry for the delay

The Secret Fate of All Life
He swallowed and reflexively put his hand over the wound. It was hard to breathe and his fingers twisted wretchedly, clutching his now slick shirt. Paris was experiencing pain on two levels. Yes, being stabbed with a knife is something that anyone would be able to recognize as terrible. However, competing with that was a sensation that was just as sharp.

It was something in his soul. There was something about the way he felt that was pain. He rolled onto his back, surrounded by a mellow sea of green. He felt betrayal welling up inside him, though it wasn't from Joachim's actions.

How can this be? he thought as he stared, wide-eyed up at the calm sky.

Fresh tears gathered at the corners of his eyes. They weren't like the loud sobbing from before, but quiet and slow, rolling down the sides of his face on their own.

"I....I can't" he choked out.

It couldn't be. He had to be right. He needed to be right about everything he'd ever thought. If he was wrong now, what else could he be wrong about? Was there nothing after he died? What if death just lead to an end of existence without any cosmic accounting for time on earth?

He had hoped, despite how his father was, that they would see each other again one day when they were both in the same place. He held on to those few happy memories they had together, replayed them like a worn out cassette when he was growing up and thought "At least maybe we'll see each other again." He'd done the same for Sven. Sven, who was his best friend. He would remember some treasured memory between the two of them, something that made him feel warm and happy and his only comfort was that he could see him again when the time was right. He went over those memories he cherished over and over like someone reading their favorite book. When he believed that there was a God with a plan and purpose he knew they weren't gone forever, just for a little while and he could have that happiness back if he kept on the righteous path.

But if he was wrong about the game, wrong about God, wrong that there was something after death, he would just be consumed by the black, empty nothing upon death. He couldn't take the thought of that. He couldn't process simply not existing and having his whole life be a waste.

"I have to be right, please," he prayed with his shaking hands clutched against his chest, "let me be right. Oh please."

As the minutes ticked by, slowly he did begin to feel better. Instead of the swirling, potent mixture of misery and agony he felt before, he started to feel hazy. He felt warm.

It was a test after all.

He closed his eyes and basked in the warmth of the sun, though he couldn't really feel it.

I knew it, I did. I just knew that it was. I'm going to be okay, he thought through the fog.

"I'll regain....my strength. In just a few minutes and keep going to win, just like I'm supposed to," he said dreamily.

His body was a mess of blood and torn flesh, but his smile was as dazzling as ever. Just before he drifted off a spike of fear shot through him briefly, but he dismissed it. After all, he believed that he would be fine, protected by the Lord.

He had nothing else to believe.

Paris Ardennes: Deceased

The Secret Fate of All Life
((Slight God mod approved))

Without thought, his quick reflexes went to work and Paris caught the other boy's hand as his back hit the bark. The wind was knocked out of him and he starred at the blade, trembling and inching towards his chest as they struggled for control.

Both hands and all of his strength were poised against the same from Joachim. He asked for strength. If there was ever a time for a higher power to lend him strength, this was the moment of truth.

And so when the blade finally closed the space and slid smoothly, slowly into it's new home he did not know which hurt more: the slice of the knife or the breaking of his heart. He looked up at Joachim, confused and disbelieving as he slid down the tree trunk.

The Secret Fate of All Life
"I'm supposed to win. I'm the most virtuous out of all of us and when I win it's supposed to inspire others. Good people would have to die, but there are always martyrs. When Moses doubted his ability to carry out God's plans God said he would help him. If you are supposed to kill me, I'll die. If you aren't, then I won't. There are no accidents."

"You're a paper doll. An empty vessel. Barely human. Sub-human. Maybe not always, but it's how you've chosen to cope. I knew it from the moment we met, but I thought it was how things were supposed to be. You're not human anymore, you're just like the knife you have there. You won't survive."

He meant it to be an angry statement, cruel even, but it came out gentle.

The Secret Fate of All Life
He sobbed, but it was unconnected to the knife. It wasn't fear that made him react the way that he did, it was pain. Pure pain that gripped his heart, wracked him where he sat and made him angry.

"I did everything for you, you know?" he said quietly to his knees. "I always looked after you."

The talking helped to control the sudden outpouring of emotion and now he just sat, quietly, looking dully at the swings. He brought one hand up to his face and haphazardly smudged away the hot tears. In the background the swings creaked steadily.

"People never really turn out how you thought they would be. They always leave. Sven, my dad... I turned around and you were gone. I thought if I stayed in the same spot for awhile maybe you'd wandered off. I know that this is probably just something to test me, I've had it relatively easy so far, but it's hard."

Paris pulled himself up with the help of the tree and stood silently for a moment, gazing at the other boy.

"Why were you supposed to find me?"

The Secret Fate of All Life
Why is this happening?

He thought he would be alright, a momentary feeling of being hurt, being offended. However, the more he thought, the more that he was alone the more that it seemed to grab hold of him. His heart started racing and his fingers trembled.

Haven't I....haven't I always done everything asked of me?

His eyes started welling up. He'd been alone for sometime, longer than he was used to since he was young. People were always around to comfort him if he was upset in the real world, but he hadn't found anyone.

Was I wrong? I...I trusted you. I put all of my faith into you and I never strayed. I never did. I didn't want to be like my father. Please. Please... Tell me what I did. Tell me how to fix it.

The tears started to spill over and his balled fist hit the trunk of the tree as he sunk down to hug his own huddled knees in the tall grass.

He heard someone approach and looked over to the set of legs. Somewhere in his distress with his hazy vision he thought it might be Sven. Looking up revealed that it was not. It was Joachim.

Paris kept looking up at him, his cold eyes that looked down and he recognized it. It was cold, with a little bit of distain.

Joachim was still staring at him.

"WHAT?" he barked, whipping back around. "What do you want?," he asked, fingers squeezing his knees tightly.

The Secret Fate of All Life
His fingers swept across the smooth, polished piano keys. With his eyes closed he looked as if he were perhaps in some kind of trance and his fingers moved of their own accord, the only part of his body moving as if they had their own will. They bent and swayed elegantly as the aqueous notes spilled, efflorescent in rich resonant tones. It had been almost five solid minutes of playing coming to a close as the last notes shifted from frantic to slow. The piece exhausted itself, rushing through the final third of the funeral song.

And just as he was almost done, an imperfect note pushed itself in, like a rock sticking out of a river. He stopped and opened his eyes. A mistake. He'd made a mistake. His fingers withdrew into his palm and he stared the errant key. His eyes grew dark and his mouth normally set in a blithe smile drew a hard line. In one sudden movement he brought his balled fist down on the key. He continuing to glare as a cacophony exploded around him, blaming the key and the piano.

((Paris Ardennes continued from Something Something Movie Reference))

Paris slumped against a tree in the quad. His only companion was the creaking of an old swing set that was sorely in need of oil, pushed to and fro by the wind. The green grass was tall enough from neglect that it would have tickled the back of his knees if he was in shorts.

He could feel a heat building up in his chest and bent his head low so that his bangs covered his eyes. Paris had lost his companion. They had gotten separated somewhere along the way. He was mighty annoyed that he'd lost his attack dog. There had been such certainty that he'd find him again soon, he had to, or else he had to be sent a replacement soon.

Paris let out a low growl and kicked the tree.

Maybe I am being tested.

V5 Eighth Announcement
I sincerely apologize for the hold up on the death of my character. Will be starting tonight and hopefully be done in a day or two.

V5 Eighth Announcement
I'm sorry I'm such a jerk and didn't consider this. Imma need more away time. I'm in the Tel Aviv air port going to Belgrade. I'll be back in America on the 8th.

A Human Work
Mara blinked rapidly. The world was starting to blur again. Her half lidded eyes went dull and she slid to the side slightly. She managed to correct and pulled herself straight again by holding onto the desk.

His words washed over her. She looked sad for a moment.

"There is ummmm, ah, nothing" she said, starting to trip over her words. "Th-that you can say. To dissuade me, I mean. You are right. It's that, I need a goal for now. Something achievable, it'll make me feel better. I don't.....know what that is. I never did anything to make myself feel better at home. Now I have this. I am good at it. So I will do it," she said in a distracted way.

Slowly, she stood back up, alternating clumsy movements and graceful ones. Mara took a halting step forward, looking like she might topple.

"Guess you're smarter than you look," she said quietly. Mara closed her eyes and fell forward onto Owen, succumbing to exhaustion.