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New V5 Reduced Activity Notices
I'm moving into my dorm tomorrow and starting classes on Monday, so there'll be less activity from me while I settle in and also because homework and classes.

Needles and Pins
((Alice Baker continued from World's End Girlfriend))

This place was as creepy as she could've expected. There was a tangible atmosphere of dread, and with the dingy rooms and eerie quiet, Alice couldn't help but feel like any second someone (or, more fantastical, something) was going to jump out at them.

So when Raina turned the corner into Aiden Slattery, Alice took a loud gasp and stepped back, nearly falling back down the stairs in the process. Recovering her wits, she recognized Aiden. He was one of those talkative energetic people, who wore Alice out in conversation.

Still, he seemed nice enough, and Johnny seemed happy to encounter him. Plus, Scarlett was with him, and Alice enjoyed Scarlett's company. So there didn't seem to be much issue.

Still, Alice felt uncomfortable in the presence of so many unfamiliar faces. So as the group coalesced, she hung back by the stairs, ostensibly keeping watch for potential arrivals.

Rolodex of Hate
Hrmm, Noah had a point, but there was stuff bothering her still.

"Yeah, I guess. But, you know, those people in the video were supposed to be friends, and that kid murdered the other one. I know they could be lying, but..." Blair bit her lip. She didn't want to believe her friends would shoot her in the back, literally at that. But if it was her or them, there was the chance they'd pick them.

Hell, wouldn't she choose herself?

It was an unpleasant thought. She didn't want to die, sure. She hated to say it, but some of her classmates probably deserved to go home more than others, and if she wasn't at the top, she was at least higher than some of them. The CF was bad, sure, but she still deserved to live, right?

...Fuck that. That was psycho talk. Nobody here deserved to be murdered. That was just deplorable. She didn't deserve to die, but she could not possibly justify murdering someone out of some kind of fucked-up superiority complex right? Right.

Blair sighed and shook her head, looking down at the ground. "You're probably right, I guess. This early most people aren't going to be wanting to kill us. We just need to avoid the ones that might, and they should be pretty obvious. I mean, we're not killers, right?" She cracked a grin.

World's End Girlfriend
Alice gave a weak smile at Johnny as he passed. She turned around to look into the damp, foul room. While she was glad that she wasn't spending the last of her days in there, she still worried. There was the very real chance people were already dying, or would be soon.

She didn't want to die. It was such a naïve, obvious concept, but applied so aggressively to this situation. She was scared. But fear accomplished nothing. She had to be brave. Wasn't that what people said? Courage is bravery in spite of fear? So she had to be smart, resourceful, and brave.

Also sneaky. But for now, she'd stick to this group. Likely a larger group would be a more risky target. So sticking with people early on, when the killers haven't got as much resolve, seemed a safe bet. She could always slip away if things went poorly, if they got into danger.

Alice closed the door behind her, and started making her way back up the hallway with the other two.

((Alice Baker continued in Needles and Pins))

Rolodex of Hate
Blair was still a bit lost in thought, but Noah moving away from the door made her look up. Oh, Sandra wanted to leave. Blair wondered why. Did she have to go to the bathroom or something? She hadn't struck Blair as wanting to run off, and unless there was somewhere to be there was a lot of risk in going solo.

Looking back at Noah, Blair paused to collect her thoughts. What had they been talking about? "Danger zones might be bad, yeah." She said slowly, like she wasn't even sure that she meant it. "If we go to the...south? Yeah, south tip, maybe it'd be harder to get away without running into people."

She shrugged. "I mean, if you want to find people I guess that's a plus. But is that what we want?" Truth be told, there were people she'd like to run into, and some people she hoped she didn't run into because they'd fight. Certain people, she thought, would definitely play along with this BS. Still, she had some friends who she'd like to see again before she got shot in the face or whatever.

Blair shuddered, then started coughing again, her throat still burning from the bile. Too soon for jokes about dying, definitely.

World's End Girlfriend
While Johnny's metaphor was...colorful, it did convey the point. The room was cold, damp and musty, and the tubs of water did not look appealing, or sanitary. Perhaps moving on would be better than staying here.

These two seemed confident, Alice wondered how much of it was bravado. Surely they couldn't be this sure that they'd beat this organization? The group had been doing this for almost a decade, and the last incident had gone off with no rescues or survivors beyond the 'winner'. If they were going to live, Alice doubted it'd be the acts of teenagers that would save them.

Still, no point further arguing. Johnny seemed enthusiastic about Raina's potential, and though Alice didn't know the other girl very well, she seemed to be reasonably intelligent. She'd not run into anyone else thus far, so perhaps people might not be as violent as she'd expected, at least not right away. The 24-hour deadline would change that, most likely. Though Alice was pretty sure they'd never acted on it before, if nobody ended up dying they'd probably kill at least some people, even if they didn't blow up the entire class.

Besides, what was the worst that could happen? If they wanted to kill her, she'd already be dead.

"Alright..." Alice quirked an attempt at a smile, without much success. "If you guys really want my company, I'll come along." She stepped out of the room and held the door open for Raina and Johnny.

SOTF Grand Map of Doom! v6
This is cool. Good luck keeping it updated!

If I could dibs lavender that'd be swell. If not, turquoise also works

Plutonian Wharf
"Yeah, let's go!"

Grinned, adjusted the strap of his bag, and started to make his way towards the building that had been pointed out.

He was excited. He was going to go fishing on a remote island. Who knew what he might find here? This was going to be fun. Just him, Jasper, and Arthur, hanging out. Maybe they'd run into some more friends, too? Henry hoped he'd meet up with Jae soon.

((Henry Spencer continued in Self Doubts and Hurricanes))

Rolodex of Hate
Even though Blair nodded slowly, but she wasn't really listening.

Yeah, sure, bottlenecking was fine. Finding a strategic location to set up in sounded fine. The southern tip of the island? Fine. It was almost funny to her. Who cared? Who cared what they did? Blair had a plan; stick to the most affable armed person, flirt if necessary, and cling to them like a life preserver. Literally, if need be.

Of course, that plan meant she relied on Noah Whitley for survival. And though it wasn't like she was going to suddenly change her mind, since, you know, it was working, it also meant she was passive. A passive game would be tough. Worse if she died; she'd literally accomplish nothing.

And then there it was. Death awaited, or whatever clichéd phrase you liked. They were all going to die, except maybe one. Jennifer's face wasn't quite solid anymore; it was morphing into one of terror or pain, in Blair's distorted vision. She saw a frightened girl dying, and that image chilled her to the bone.

It would probably haunt her for the rest of her short, frightened life.

Blair was so intent on these morbid mullings that she didn't notice Sandra's clenched fists. She just stood there, lost in thought, a pensive look on her face.

Plutonian Wharf
Arthur had a gun.

Henry sharply inhaled as he identified the object in the guy's hands. Then he relaxed, because as Arthur said, it was just a paintball gun. He smiled at his new companion.

"Do you have actual paint, like, in ball form? Or just the applicator?" Henry tilted his head, examining the device. He knew some of his classmates had a paintball interest, but he'd never tried it himself. How unfortunate; perhaps Arthur could demonstrate?

Not on him, of course.

An anxious look crossed Henry's face like a cloud, but he recovered quickly. "We were just planning on hanging out, you know? It's a nice day out." In truth it was a bit brisk, but Henry was dressed relatively warmly as usual. Arizona's heat never really bothered him, truth be told.

"What about you? You wanna join us? We were thinking of finding some sticks and twine. You know. For the fishing." Henry smiled again.

Rolodex of Hate
Blair nodded meekly, but inside she was quite pleased with herself. Okay, it wasn't like she was a master seductress or something, but she was at least accomplishing her goal of getting the guy with the crazy weapon to protect her. So who cared if he would have done it anyway? Whatever works, and all that shit.

Peeking into the room, Blair followed Noah to meet up with Sandra in a less pukey room. It made her a little uncomfortable that Noah was blocking the doorway. Logically, she doubted he was aiming to trap them, but her fight-or-flight instinct was definitely going haywire as a result. Then again, maybe that was a good thing?

Noah posed the question of the day. What do you do when you're trapped on an island with your survival counting on other people dying, and other people's survival counting on your death? Well she didn't want to stay on that island, for fuck's sake. But did she have a choice?

"It'd be good if we could figure out how to get the collars off." Blair said, and immediately regretted it. "Shit, but they're watching. We can't be too obvious about it or they'll just kill us." Not to mention, of all the fields of science she'd studied for fun, electrical engineering and explosives was not one that she'd covered in much detail. Fat lot of good that did for her, then.

"I..." She sighed. What was she going to spend her life doing? It'd been an easy question before; travel the world, experience new things, enjoy life while she had it. Dying early put that in perspective, at least. But dying here kind of put a damper on that.

Clearing her throat harshly, Blair looked at Sandra. "What do you think? What should we do? What can we do?"

World's End Girlfriend
Alice winced at Johnny's harsh comments. Did he think she hadn't considered that? It wasn't like dying alone was appealing to her, but if she was going to die here, did it really matter where or how? Eventually she'd have to leave, according to the so-called rules; the Danger Zone thing would force her out.

As for the rest..."I'm sure Raina is brilliant, I really am. But can she figure out how to get us out of here when, as we speak, these people are watching and listening?" Alice said, softly, glancing up at a glint of shiny glass near the room's corner.

Her gaze moved to the ground, and she continued, "I just don't think I'd be able to do anything to help even if there were some kind of plan. I'm not that smart or anything..." Alice gave a wry grin. She knew her limits; she didn't know much about engineering, wiring, explosives, technology, geography or anything that might help. She could play music and draw with a tablet and write crappy fanfiction; that was about it.

Still, the temptation to not be alone was strong. Surely she could find a compromise. "I guess if, you really want me to come with you, I could tag along. But only until we find a place where people aren't likely to look for us. To hide out, you know. Then I'm staying, with or without you guys."

She held up the coil of bunting. "This is what I got assigned, so...I doubt it's much help. I don't even know why I kept it, really." Alice shrugged.

Plutonian Wharf
Jasper flung the bottle into the water. Henry was going to chastise him for littering, but then he was distracted by a fish he thought he saw in the water by the pier. Oh man, it looked like some kind of grouper. Or...was it? Henry couldn't tell. He really wished he had a fishing pole now, though.

Suddenly, a voice came through the area. "Hello!" Henry called back to the person. He recognized Arthur; he was a pretty swell guy. Didn't he have a sister? "We're okay right now, Jazz-man just scraped his hand on a glass bottle." He grinned.

"Luckily we have vanquished the offending object!" Henry raised his hand in triumph, nearly tripping as the length of bullwhip tangled around his leg and yanked him off-balance. He sat back down. "I'm okay. All good."

Then he blinked, and said, "I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay." His breathing started to speed up, and his face went pale. Then, he was back to his usual smiley self. "Do you want to go fishing with us?" He called to Arthur.

Rolodex of Hate
Blair gingerly sipped the water before capping it. It did help, a little.

"I woke up on the bridge. I threw away my weapon-it was useless, a big heavy shield-and walked. I saw Jennifer, and before I could say anything she jumped. And that's what happened."

It was a lie, of course. Blair didn't really want to lie, but did she have another choice? The two were both armed, it seemed. If they thought she had a part in Jennifer's death, they might turn violent. At the very least, they'd chase her away. And right now, Blair didn't need to deal with that.

She needed to think, needed to plan, needed something, anything to cling to. She didn't want to die pointlessly. Well, she didn't want to die at all, obviously, but fuck if that was going to happen. She had very little control over her own existence right now.

And Blair was used to being in control. This was a new feeling for her, being helpless. Normally she had her parents or Ms. Cole or her friends to fall back to when stuff went badly. She was totally alone, now, though; everyone here could be either one of her enemies, or someone she used to trust but couldn't rely on anymore.

Blair was scared, just like everyone else here. But she was smart, too. She'd always been smart. And she could talk her way out of situations, too; that was a skill she carried from home. What she didn't have was a way to protect herself. No weapon, no anything.

But here was Noah, a perfectly ordinary, nice-seeming guy. He was armed, and good-intentioned. She could use that, use him. Not to kill people; there was no way she'd manage to talk someone into committing murder, at least not yet. But if she hung around him, he'd be a deterrent. A sickly girl with no weapon? Easy target. But with a bodyguard...

This might actually work out okay. It wasn't like she was hurting him. She was like a pilot fish; mooching, but not in a way that negatively affected her host. Just sort of hanging around, relying on his protection. Noah, or someone else if necessary, could be the shark; protecting her by proxy.

That sounded like a plan. And with that in mind, Blair forced a smile.

"I think I'll be okay now. Thanks. Uhm..." Blair looked over at where Sandra had been. She seemed nice enough, but Blair wasn't too worried about her. "Do you...need to go talk to your friend? I'd...like to hang with you guys, if that's okay. I'm still a little freaked out, is all."

She hugged herself, looked at the entry door with a nervous expression.

World's End Girlfriend
To be entirely honest, Alice hadn't anticipated being invited along.

She looked at the two. Johnny and Raina...they were friends or something, weren't they? Alice didn't keep track of al the social connections at school, but she wondered what it was like, to wake up next to someone you cared about. She was flung back to the chapel, thinking about finding her friends, wanting to see them, hug them, spend time with them.

Watch them die.

It was nightmarish. Bryony wasn't cut out for this. Hell, nobody was, except ironically the people who most deserved to be here. Alice couldn't off-hand name someone from her school who deserved this, though. It was cruel.

And now these two were bring up that same choice, to come along, find her friends, and..."And do what?" Alice said. The door swung fully open. She stood there, still tiny and meek-looking, almost certainly, but Alice tried to hold herself up a bit stronger now.

"I...I appreciate your offer. But if we just walk around this place, eventually we'll run into killers. One person has to kill every day, that guy said. People are going to do it, I'm sure. And I don't want it to be me that dies." Alice took a breath. "If there's a rescue, if someone comes here, that's the best shot at going home. And I just want to go home." Her voice broke there, and she started whimpering.

"So...so I don't want to go anywhere where there'll be a lot of people, because that's where the ones who are desperate will go. Sorry, I appreciate the offer but...Where would we go?"

Rolodex of Hate
The foodie girl, Maria whatserface, ran out past Blair, who could barely tell who it was through her fingers.

This was so unfair. She didn't do anything that bad, did she? She could be a bitch at times, sure, but what kind of girl was always a perfect little angel? It didn't matter anymore, did it. The strong, the ruthless, the amoral; whatever classification you wanted to use, one group would pull out a survivor, and that person had to kill someone.

It had occurred to her, with a growing dread, that it might not count that Blair had merely startled Jennifer off the bridge. As horrible as it was, she hadn't exactly pushed the other girl to her death; the blood on her hands was indirect, not from true malicious or violent intent.

If Blair wanted to live, she might need to kill someone again.

Could she do it? Doubtful. She wasn't exactly the peak of fitness. Her strength and stamina were lacking, and though she could skate well that didn't translate to fighting. And she was unarmed. Still, if she found the right situation...

What was she even thinking?! She could maybe, maybe kill someone, but would she? Should she? Those were way harder questions. Realistically, she offered the least amount of value for survival. She wasn't going to live very long even if she did go home. And having the stomach to kill was, quite literally, not something she possessed as of now.

So lost in these thoughts was Blair that it took her a second to realize Noah was talking to her, still holding that jai alai or whatever it was. Blair looked up at him, and for a moment something strange happened. She was angry, angry at him, furious that he had seen her so weak and vulnerable, and angry at herself for letting it happen.

Her face was still neutral, though, when she said, "Yeah, no, I'm okay. I..." Oh god, was she going to tell him what happened? "I saw someone die. Jennifer something, tall, glasses? She killed herself, jumped off the bridge." Blair's voice was still frail, wobbling with potential tears.

Plutonian Wharf
Hah, it was a bottle! Henry was right, as usual.

To add even further to his triumph, Henry successfully located his medical kit, from which he obtained a small latex butterfly bandage. "Here!" He said. He briefly considered tossing the bandage packet over to Jasper, but the wind would probably carry it into the water or something which would be awkward.

So he handed it to Jasper instead.

"You probably need to disinfect it too." Henry pointed out. He moved back to his bag to double check for a Neosporin or something. It sure was convenient they had these first aid kits here. Otherwise someone might get hurt.

"Got some disinfectant!" Henry turned around and held out an alcohol pad. "Wipe this on it so you don't get an infection." Geez, going through the bag with one hand was challenging. He didn't want to put down the bullwhip, though. His fingers were still tightly wrapped around the handle of it, the body of the whip laying across the pier like a dead snake.

Rolodex of Hate
Blair, coughing from the acrid burning in her throat, wiped her face. She slowed her breathing, stepped back into the hall and sidled up against the wall to give the other two room to step away from the puddle of puke. Her innards hurt, and the taste in her mouth made her wish she had a whole tube of toothpaste to clean it out with.

First, though, she needed to talk. These two didn't seem to be actively murderous, at least not yet. If they were, she thought grimly, she'd be dead already. "Noah, and...Maria, right?" Blair said, almost at a whisper's volume. She was just about to offer her own name when another person arrived

Blair whipped around with a gasp, startled as the other girl entered. In all honesty she'd been so busy being sick that she hadn't recognized the incoming sounds of footfalls. "Sorry, you...surprised me." She said, her voice soft. "Sandra, isn't it?" She knew Sandra a bit better than the other two, having seen her around at the skate park on occasion. She was nice, but Blair didn't really know her beyond being kind of hyper.

"Sorry about the mess, I..." Blair felt her stomach cramp again, and she winced. Holding in her emotions was causing her physical pain, the trauma of what happened to Jennifer, it was too much. Not listening to Noah's comment, she staggered away from the group, towards the lobby, where she sat down on a bench.

Then she put her hands over her face and started crying.

Plutonian Wharf
Henry jumped back and nearly fell off the dock when Jasper cried out as his bag apparently bit him. Wait, something in the bag did it. Maybe there was a biting thing in his bag, like a puppy! Why-

Henry froze again, face blank once more.

"Y-you okay Jasper? Wait, I asked that already." Henry tilted his head, looking concerned at his friend. He was bleeding from his palm, which looked unpleasant. The human hand was a sensitive area with a disproportionate number of nerves and blood vessels due to its importance. Hopefully Jasper wouldn't get a scar there, that'd be inconvenient if-

"Oh!" Henry exclaimed suddenly. He set his bag on the ground and started going through it again. "Hang on, I might have a bandaid or something if you want. Fishing buddies don't let each other go around getting hurt, right? Plus it's unsanitary to touch fish with cuts on your hands, you could contract fish-handler's disease which can result in sepsis."

Glancing back, Henry peeked into his friend's bag. Seemed like Jasper had a piece of glass in there. That was awfully unfortunate. Hopefully if it was like a bottle or something whatever was in it didn't spill out. Although it would definitely spill if it was in a bottle. Maybe it had contained a refreshing beverage and Jasper had drunk it? And then forgotten it was in there and it broke and now he'd cut himself.

How rude. It was probably a soda. Pop culture has been very violent lately, after all. There were far too many soda jerks around these days.

Rolodex of Hate
After a few moments, Blair managed to recover her wits and stop hacking. Panting slightly, Blair looked over at the girl. Her name was...Maria or something? She had a food blog or something, and Blair knew next to nothing else about her other than that. She hadn't even seen the thing itself, just heard about it. Was it even a blog? Whatever.

There was also a guy in the doorframe, who Blair at least knew a bit better. Noah was one of those comedian types, and while Blair usually found that kind of thing annoying, at least Noah wasn't the type to screw around in class. So points to him, she supposed.

Wait what the fuck was he carrying? It looked like a plastic sling-ball toys, Jai alai or something, made of metal and was that a sawblade he was putting in it? Oh shit. They were both armed. She was not. This could be bad.

Blair raised her hands above her head, trying to maintain a steady breathing rate, and said, "Yeah, I'm all for clam. Uh, calm. Sorry." Damn, she was mixing up her words, she was so nervous. "No but seriously, if you guys are cool, I'm just gonna...rest, yeah."

An intense pain went through Blair's stomach, her body's protest against her running around carrying a heavy bag for like half an hour.

Then she puked, damn-near projectile style, sending half-digested remnants of her last meal across the floor.