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Another Animator's Concern
It looked like Alyx Fox had another slow night ahead of her. All of her friends were busy, and she had already finished her backlog of work. That left her with a complete blank space over how to spend the rest of the evening. She could crack open one of her old DVDs. That was always fun. She just picked up the Legend of Korra box set, so that could be a good way to kill a few hours. Maybe she could pick up her DS and put some work into Dragon Quest V. It had been a while since she put a few good hours into that.

... Of course, there was always the ever-present option to get back on Nation of Animation and check out the BartToons situation. And honestly, she was pretty sure that was what she was going to wind up doing. It was a situation that she never thought would happen. Of course, nobody really thinks that someone they are connected to could wind up being kidnapped or... whatever was going on at the moment.

Honestly, she knew about the Kingman incident before it hit the forum. She lived about a half-hour away from the town, so she heard about it as soon as the news first hit. Plus, even though she had graduated college four years ago, she got a frantic phone call from her mom that afternoon asking where she was and if she was okay. She had never heard her mom sound so terrified, and that call really stuck with her.

BartToons disappearing at the same time didn't hit her as hard but it still hit her. However, she didn't think that she would be as affected as she was. He was just someone who happened to be a user on the forum where she was an admin. By all means, he was just another anonymous face behind an avatar and a username. When it was explained like that it sounds like the most distant, casual connection that anyone could actually have. People have come and left the forum since its beginning. It was a good social group and a great place to talk about stuff, but aside from a few people, most of them were just online acquaintances. It wasn't something that most people would consider a particularly strong bond.

With him going missing, though, the forum really showed their true colors. Traffic on most of the forum had gone way down while the topic on BartToons remained active. Information hounds like Great Detective and Grave, who usually spent their time searching out spoilers and development details, were now using their talents to seek out whatever they could find about the Kingman incident. There seemed to be at least one person in the thread at all times, looking for any new source of knowledge on the situation.

Once BartToons' mom showed up in the thread, though, that's when she really felt the full effect. Like a couple of other members, she thought that it might be a troll hacking the account for a sick joke. But when she saw that it was the real deal, she couldn't help but wonder how the poor woman must feel. She just discovered one day that her son was gone. Gone. Alyx may not have had any kids of her own, nor did she plan on having any, but she felt incredible sympathy for the mother's plight. She offered her e-mail address to her through the PM system in case the other woman wanted to chat, but she didn't really expect a response. After all, she was just some random internet denizen. She didn't imagine that she would really be the poor woman's first choice for dealing with grief.

Alyx pulled out a notebook and started flipping through it to appreciate her pet project: Steel Shells. She had been working on it since her freshman year of high school, with so many sketches and scripts that she had to buy a second notebook before she started keeping all of her work on the computer. Page after page of armored beetles, landscapes, and character portraits jumped out at her, memories of long nights spent perfecting every last detail of their designs.

After over a decade of work, she had finally reached the highest point in her career. She had gotten a callback from a studio that saw her pilot, and an offer for a series was now on the table. This was the greatest achievement thus far in her life, and by all means she should be absolutely over the moon.

Unfortunately, she got the call the day after the Kingman story broke. She was very happy to finally bring her career to the next level but at the same time, that excitement was diminished by current events. She hadn't even mentioned it on Nation of Animation yet. Yeah she knew that they would be super psyched to hear about it, especially since she had talked about her work in the past. But with how much the mood has been dragged down, she just couldn't find the motivation to do so. Maybe they would appreciate some good news, but she worried that she would look selfish by cheering herself during a crisis.

Sighing, she placed her notebook back on the shelf and took a look outside her apartment window. If all went well with negotiations, she would be moving to a place closer to the studio. It would be her first time moving across state lines, and it would bring a whole new set of sights that she would have to get used to, but if it was for her dream, then it would be worth it. Of course, getting away from a place that now held some pretty deeply negative memories would probably be good for her as well.

After a few minutes of musing, she got up and headed to her computer. Might as well check and see if anyone on the forum has dug up anything new yet. Maybe there was some good news. The missing kids could have been found and they could be on the way home right now. She wanted to believe that this was true, but she had never been good at kidding herself.


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Death Is The Only Freedom...
Bart leaned against the wall, watching Kizi pass by as she went to talk with the new girl. He found himself retaining a cautious optimism about their current predicament. Had he considered the various ways that things could go wrong? Yes he had. Actually, those thoughts had been some of the first to flow through his mind every morning on the island. Things were different now, though. There was a plan. They could actually get something done, something that could help everyone. That gave him hope.

He stayed back while Kizi handled the negotiations. Both of them coming to the new girl with the proposal might have given off more of an intimidating aura than they would have liked. Besides, he had accepted long ago that he was by far the worst talker of their trio, so he was fine with not handling that part of the job. He would just keep trying to be a reasonable member of the group, maybe a mediator if things got heated again like they did the previous night.

He continued to observe as... wait. Something didn't seem right. There was a weird sound coming from somewhere in the room. It sounded like... crackling, with a sort of low gusty noise alongside it. Whatever it was, it just didn't sound right. Actually, it sounded kind of like...

The sight of the shelf falling over and slamming to the ground finished the thought for him, bringing a plume of flame along with it. The fire began to spread at an unnerving pace, threatening to engulf the whole room if nothing was done. Before anything else, though, he saw his bag dangerously close to the encroaching blaze. Moving before he could think, he ran to collect his supplies before the flames claimed them.

He managed to save his bag, but looking up revealed a new problem. Kizi and the new girl were n the other side of the room, and the growing wall of flame separated him from them. His heart sank as he looked at them. Things were going so well! Everything was about to turn around for them! They were so close to making their community!

He looked back at the entrance behind him, with the flames slowly creeping toward it, before turning back to the girls. He had to do something to help. He didn't know what he could to, but he had to try something. He couldn't just leave them to die! Problem was, he had no idea how to soothe the flames even a little, leaving him without a plan outside of watching in anguish. He watched Kizi try in vain to break through a window before disappearing off to the side, crying out for Bart and Clarice to save themselves.

Clarice! Bart had totally forgotten about her! He frantically jerked his head around, looking for any trace of her. If she was still in the library, then he couldn't see any trace of her. "Clarice!" He called out, hoping that she would be able to hear him and show herself. "Clarice!" His calls received no reply, making him worry that Clarice may have already succumbed to the flames.

He looked back at the area where Kizi had once stood, then back at the entrance. The fire was getting worse by the moment, and he was sweating from the heat. He wanted to stay and help the others, but his sense of self-preservation was taking precedence. He shouted for Clarice one last time before running out the open entrance.

Once he was outside, he took a look back at the library, the fire burning inside gradually taking up more of the view from the doorway. Feeling powerless to do anything more, he fled to what he hoped would be a safer place.

(Bart Cappotelli continued in Bart's Nightmare))

OFFICIAL SOTF CHATROOM
General Goose
Feb 26 2017, 04:50 PM
Aura
Feb 26 2017, 03:30 PM
My avatar has disappeared and I cannot access the SOTF chatroom, although I can still see the Mini chat for some reason.
I see two accounts in the user list marked as "aura?", one avatarless, one with avatar - might have something to do with it?


Never mind my previous message. I figured out how to log out and fix it.

OFFICIAL SOTF CHATROOM
My avatar has disappeared and I cannot access the SOTF chatroom, although I can still see the Mini chat for some reason.

Dysthemia Morte
Rene nodded in agreement as she listened to Blair's criticism of the whole SOTF concept. To be honest, Rene never would have thought to bring up any arguments against it aside from the whole part about them being forced to kill each other, which was such an obvious problem that it wasn't really worth debating. However, Blair was right. They weren't testing who was the fittest to survive in a hostile environment. With the random weapon assignments, danger zones, and other dickery, the terrorists were pretty obviously just entertaining themselves with this whole mess. Yeah, it was sick, but that was why they earned the brand of "terrorist", now wasn't it?

It was a line of conversation that probably could have provided some brief source of entertainment for both of them. Too bad someone else decided to butt in out of the blue. That was a trend that seemed to be becoming disturbingly common for them as of late. She turned to see who was calling out to them, and this time it was easy to out a name to a face. It was hard to miss Wade in a crowd, and even harder out of one. Probably helped that she knew him decently well, though. It was surprising how a few conversations about League of Legends can familiarize one with their peers.

Blair had elected to take the not-giving-a-fuck approach to introductions. Strategically, it probably wasn't the best move, but they still had a two-on-one advantage, and now they could still have fun despite being so rudely interrupted. So if Blair wanted to screw around, then Rene was game.

"Yeah, we're basically the sisters of destruction out here." She followed up her ally's description of themselves. "We've been wrecking so much shit that they're afraid to talk about us." To take the facade further, the flexed a nearly nonexistent bicep and gave a toothy, over-the-top smirk. "Yeah, you're lucky you didn't explode when we looked at you just now."

Was it stupid? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. By that logic, why not just go for it?

Death Is The Only Freedom...
It was a little difficult for Bart to come up with words to describe the way the new girl tore into her bread. If he had to put something together, he would say that it was an unusual combination of hunger and utter glee. He couldn't really say that he had ever experienced that combination of emotions himself, but he was pretty sure that he could get a good idea of the way she was feeling just by watching.

He stood at the wall, next to Kizi. He offered her a smile, content with the situation at hand. They were relatively safe, they were happy, and they were calm. It was the best start to a day they had experienced yet. If he was the type to believe in omens, than he would say that it was a sign of good things to come for them.

"Hey Kizi." He lowered his voice and leaned over to speak to her. "Do you think that we should, uh... invite her into the group? Like, officially?" He reached up to scratch an itch that had just materialized at the back of his neck. "I mean, if you and Clarice are cool with it and all."

Death Is The Only Freedom...
In concordance with Clarice's invitation to the new girl, Bart stepped aside to clear the way further in. "Yeah, um... there's still a couple of nice chairs inside." He said, trying to sound inviting. "If you want to sit down, I mean."

He hoped that things would turn out well with the new girl. If they did, then she might join up with them, and Kizi's plan of forming a community of non-players could get off to a good start. They already had the library as a pretty decent shelter, and even though they wouldn't be able to stay there forever because of the danger zones, if they had enough people, they could probably travel wherever they needed to go next safely.

Yeah, that could really work! He smiled a little as the idea ran through his head. They really did have a chance after all. Maybe this would get Clarice to change her tune on the whole idea. Maybe this was the beginning of their big movement. All it took one one little thing to happen before something huge was set into motion, after all. The new girl showing up could be that turning point for them.

For the first time in a while, Bart was feeling optimistic.

URGENT: BartToons Missing?
Nation of Animation > Important Announcements > BartToons Missing?

BartToons
This is BartToons' mother. I was just going through his room, and decided to check on his computer on a whim. This was the last website that he had been on before he left, so I decided to log on. I'm not sure why. I suppose that I just wanted to see what he was doing.

As much as it hurts me to say it, I must confirm that yes, my son has been missing since the kidnapping, and I am almost certain that he was taken. My family has had a hole in it since that morning, and I am praying every day that my son returns to us safely.

Finding this thread was a bit unnerving, considering how quickly you were able to deduce that my son was missing. But at the same time, I can't help but feel touched that you cared enough to take note of it. I sincerely appreciate the support I've seen. It makes me happy that my son has people who also want him to be safe.


Medussssa
When I saw BartToons' name, I thought that he was back and posting again...

Lady of Blades
So did I. I guess that this is 100% confirmation that he's really gone, then.

11037
How do we know that it's really her, though? Couldn't it be some hacker who's doing this just to fuck with us?

8-Ball
I don't think this board's really big enough for hackers to target us, especially to do something as pointlessly cruel as pretending to be a missing member's mother.

11037
You can never be sure, man. There's some pretty sick people out there.

Vixen Supreme (Admin)
I checked the source. It's coming from the same IP as all of BartToons' other posts. She's looking pretty legit.

Ma'am, if you're still reading this thread, I want to express my sympathies for what you're going through, and we're going to try to stay on top of the situation.


Grave
Yeah, don't sweat it about the information. A few of us are pretty good at digging. Once anything comes up, we'll know.

BartToons
I'm sorry if I gave anyone false hopes. I just wanted to say something to express my views on the situation.

zIg zAg (Admin)
No one is blaming you, ma'am. I'm sure that most of us would have done the same thing in your shoes.

8-Ball
Well, now that family is officially involved, what do we do with this thread?

Medussssa
We do what we've been doing, I guess. Just keep an eye on what's going on and hope everything turns out okay.

Spellcaster
Agreed. It's not like there's much we can do, but we might as well do what we can.

Grave
He's one of us. It's our duty to know everything we can.

Hen With a Tie
We're a community. It's what we do.

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Death Is The Only Freedom...
With his energy bar taken care of, Bart instinctively crumpled it up and looked for the nearest trash can. Surprisingly, despite the state of the room, he managed to find one that still looked to be in pretty decent shape in the corner. He walked over to it and tossed the little ball of plastic packaging inside.

While he was taking care of this task, he noticed the girls heading to the door to investigate a voice they heard outside Since he was already up, he elected to join them and see what was up. He stood behind Kizi and Clarice, trying to get a good look through the doorway to see who they were dealing with.

He had no clue who the girl on the other side of the doorway was, a situation that had become all too familiar to him on the island. Strange how it took being kidnapped for him to realize that he knew almost nothing about the vast majority of his classmates. She didn't look too dangerous, but he wasn't too sure if he could really put stock into first impressions anymore. Heck, he wouldn't have ever thought that he would have to be afraid of any of his classmates in the first place, but he was in a different world now.

The girls seemed to be doing a pretty good job of explaining what was going on, or at least better than he would have been able to. Feeling that he didn't have much to add, he waved from his position behind the other two.

"Yeah, uh... we're good here."

Death Is The Only Freedom...
Okay, things looked to be under control now. Well, that wasn't really the right term, since they never really spiraled out of control in the first place. Maybe it would be better to say that tensions had cooled between the trio, since they were taking a bit of a break from their debates.

Without any real plans for the rest of the day, Bart just sort of meandered around the library, checking the shelves to see if there were any books that looked interesting enough to pass the time with. Regrettably, the selection of titles regarding his specific interests was incredibly limited, bordering on nonexistent. With no other options at his disposal, he decided to read the book he had been assigned as a weapon, which he had surprisingly not even bothered to open yet.

Despite the title, it did very little to help him stop worrying.

-

The night was difficult. Bart elected to take the first shift to keep watch, hoping that staying awake longer would help him get to sleep once the time came to lay himself down. At this point, the guard work wasn't really disturbing to him anymore. It scared him the first time he had to stand guard while the others slept, but at this point it was just sitting in a nearly pitch-dark room and hoping that nothing happened. That didn't keep him from getting spooked every time he heard a sudden noise, though.

Once he handed off the guard post, he still couldn't find a restful sleep. He couldn't force himself to fall into slumber, so he simply laid motionless until sheer exhaustion pulled him under, still worrying about his surroundings as he essentially played dead on the ground. Even then, he couldn't escape the same memories of Jennifer's shooting that had plagued him since the incident, replaying in his mind in the form of nightmares. Not even his dreams could provide any respite from the harshness of the island.

-

With morning came the announcements, and with the announcements came a reminder of the previous day's events. He visibly flinched when the news of Jennifer's death was relayed over the intercom, but if either of the girls noticed, then they didn't see fit to point it out.

Once the announcements were finished, the girls dispersed to other areas of the library, leaving Bart sitting alone as he ate an energy bar in an attempt to counteract his poor rest from the previous night. He moved closer to his bag, since if something did arise, he would prefer to have it in arm's reach so he could access his supplies immediately.

He was hoping that wouldn't be the case, though. As far as he was concerned, the best thing that could happen right now was a day where nothing notable actually happened to them.

Dysthemia Morte
((Rene Wolfe continued from Calm Before the Storm))

Another incredibly uncomfortable night passed, making way for yet another ungodly shitty day ahead.

Rene wasn't usually the pessimistic type. She liked to approach each day with at least a somewhat positive outlook. Unfortunately, when the best she could hope for out of any particular day was that she would be granted the privilege of continuing to breathe, that tended to take a lot of sunniness out of the way that she looked at things.

It certainly didn't help that she had a pretty good feeling that she was losing weight. Not in the healthy 'finding a diet and exercise routine that works for you' way, but more of the 'I'm starving and running around a borderline-deserted island' sense. She had been surviving almost solely on crackers and water, with about one energy bar per day. Wasn't there a quote about how man cannot live on bread alone? Well, Rene was trying that shit, and she was inclined to agree.

The announcements had offered her no encouragement either. More people died. Some she knew, some she didn't. She had a feeling that she should probably feel more affected than she did about this, but after three announcements almost exactly like it, she couldn't muster up much of a response aside from general grief at their situation. She didn't know whether this meant she was becoming numb to it, or if she was headed for a breakdown later on. She just hoped that she lived long enough to find out.

Once she was finished with her morning crackers, she walked over to where Blair was lying in the sand and sat next to her.

"Hey. Room for one more?"

Death Is The Only Freedom...
Oh no this really wasn't going in a positive direction. Kizi was starting to sound angry, and Clarice still wasn't on board with the plan. Not only that, but the frequency at which Clarice was blinking was starting to make Bart worry that something might have gotten into her eye. He wasn't necessarily afraid that the two would come to blows over this, but considering how stressful the situation already was with the isolation, injury, and losses that they had already suffered and would continue to suffer in the future, he couldn't completely count out the possibility.

"Hey, uh... can we just calm down?" He raised his voice to try to get the girls to pay attention to him, hopefully calming the quarrel just a bit. "We're all on the same side, okay? I don't wanna risk losing, uh... what little we have just because we can't come to a clean consensus here."

It was a weak argument, and he knew it. Thinking under pressure was never one of his strong suits. If he wanted to do something useful, them he needed to actually come up with an idea of his own.

"Hey, why don't we, uh..." His eyes moved around the room as he tried to find something that would help him come up with a suggestion. Nothing really got his brain going until he saw Clarice's freshly-applied bandage, which gave him some semblance of an idea. "Could we just stay put for a while so Clarice can rest, then, uh... we can get back to figuring this stuff out?"

Creeping Doom
Yeah, things didn't get any less awkward once they exchanged names. Actually, considering that Blair just up and left at that point, a good argument could be made for the idea that things were getting considerably worse. With Rene's only ally heading out the door and her not really being familiar with this Alan fellow, she didn't see many options for this particular interaction going forward.

Instead, Rene took the option that she was pretty sure had been keeping her alive this whole time: stick with who she knows.

"Hey Alan. I'm Leaving's friend, Also Leaving." She quipped. She knew it was a really bad joke that had probably been used thousands of times before, but that didn't matter to her at the moment. She squeezed past the boy and headed out to catch up with Blair.

Man, the past few days had just been chock-full of brief, uncomfortable encounters, hadn't they? hopefully that wasn't a trend that would stick around.

((Rene Wolfe continued in Dysthemia Morte))

Creeping Doom
All right, exposition. Rene got the lowdown from Blair on why she thought Caedyn was a no-good scoundrel who would stab them in the back after a friendly handshake. To sum things up, it was a typical case of a friendship gone sour. Rene couldn't really take sides on the issue considering that this was really the first she'd heard of it, but she was going to accept Blair's position on things since, well, the two of them sticking together had gone pretty well so far, and there was no reason to throw a wrench into that.

Then a third voice barged into their conversation. That certainly wasn't normal, nor was it welcome. Asshole, as he would be known until his actual name was revealed, was standing a fair distance away from them with a pipe lying at his feet. Two words came to mind. The first was weird, and the second was suspicious.

Blair reacted angrily, and Rene couldn't really find it in herself to blame her. They were just fine, then Asshole came along and stuck his nose into their business. The comedienne crossed her arms and glanced at the newcomer, using her head to gesture towards Blair.

"I'd listen to the lady. Out with it, buddy."

Death Is The Only Freedom...
"I think we should go along with Kizi's idea." Bart repeated his stance on the subject. "None of us are fighters, so we don't have any reason not to go for a peaceful route, you know?"

He couldn't really understand why Clarice wasn't going along with them. Well, actually he could, considering that she had a story behind her reasoning, and a pretty logical one at that. But even so, he didn't want to give up hope on their chances. Just throwing up their hands and saying that non-players couldn't be counted on would essentially be the equivalent of saying that they were doomed to die no matter what.

"Can you just, uh... give it some thought?" He asked Clarice. "We don't really have a lot of other options right now."

Death Is The Only Freedom...
Bart felt a little better once Clarice's wound was covered up, in the sense that he no longer felt like he was on the verge of vomiting. He took a step away while Kizi did her part to help out in order to give her enough room to work.

Kizi mentioned an idea, a plan to get a bunch of like-minded students together in some sort of mass alliance. If they had a large group of people looking out for each other, then they would have a better shot at keeping each other alive. He liked this idea. He liked it a lot.

"Hey, um... I agree with Kizi." He piped up. "People helping each other, right? I like that."