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The SOTF Theme/Genre discussion
MrMissMrs Random
Mar 31 2014, 10:12 PM
... Sorry could only think of somewhat villainous examples at the moment. XD
Hah! I feel like this is my LIFE, man. For whatever reason, our villains are far more prominent than our other dudes.

The SOTF Theme/Genre discussion
Yeah! I feel like each version has a central - or a few central - themes that surround them as they develop and evolve. It's aided by the community growing as a whole, too.

Themes, I feel, depend on the eye of the beholder. I know a certain person with a PhD in Balance has a very different take on Paris Ardennes than the general consensus.

TurtleTyrant - are there any kids you've read that have a theme you can find?

BDA Quote Nomination Thread #6
"I multiplied. Then I subtracted. That's what we do now. That's how we keep the most people around."

The SOTF Theme/Genre discussion
So, one of the big things that has always intrigued me about roleplay is discussing themes. Since roleplay is such an interactive medium, and large amounts of our narrative are reactionary, theme and the ability to weave it throughout a creative work is hard - especially when the point of view switches every post.

My intent behind this thread is to kind of open a discussion about your characters - or other characters - on the subject of theme. For instance - my own character, Brandon Baxter, was written with the intent of constantly weaving restraint into his posts, and have a turning point to his story be where he lost it.

Another example I'd point at is Theodore Fletcher, who, when looking at his story from a broad perspective, had a theme of reaction and desperation constantly surrounding him. The only pro-active choices he made got him far worse off and - eventually - got him murdered.

What themes can you spot in V5, or SOTF in general? Do you have any thematic influences in your own writing?

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
Andi was yelling - no, exploding - and pushing him, and all Hansel felt was this vague numbness, this cold and weary feeling settling in the pit of his stomach, a rock gnawing at the lining.

It was different this time - the kill. Something about having Garrett pinned and alone, purposefully blinding him with a hand on the back of his skull, making sure he couldn’t see Andi’s approach, had him feeling less secure. Like his actions were more than necessity, more than a drive to be the survivor of the game.

Garrett’s death hadn’t brought him any sort of relief, or satisfaction. It hadn’t been done because he was directly in between Hansel and his goal, or because he needed to establish a presence of someone who wasn’t to be trifled with. It hadn’t been to gain Garrett’s supplies, or to steal a weapon, or to defend something, or to manipulate.

Ultimately, it had been about the game all along. It had been Hansel seeing Garrett and knowing that he was an adversary. It had been about getting the jump on potential competition, and the drive to best him.

It had been about survival of the fittest.

And, all at once, those fucking words that Garrett had put into his head, those four little words that he’d been so blessedly clear of when he had focus, direction, came rushing back in the cracks that Garrett had left in his wake.

You could be wrong.

Hansel wiped an errant streak of sweat from his cheek, lifted his eyes to the sky, and exhaled slowly. He stooped to pick up his bag - heavier now, impossibly heavy - and stared downwards at Garrett’s body, eyes closed, facing upwards, arms askew. With the toe of his boot, Hansel fixed his arms so that they were straight and at his sides, making him look almost peaceful.

“I did.” Hansel said, quietly. “I did win.”

With that, he stooped to snatch up his stetson, beat the dirt off of it with his free hand, and followed after Andi.

((Hansel Williams, Arcadia ))

The Alignment Thread V5 - Halfway Mark
Lawful Good - Xavier Contel
Neutral Good - Sara Corlett
Chaotic Good - Carlos Laz
Lawful Neutral - Rosemary Michaels
True Neutral - Amaranta Montalvo
Chaotic Neutral - Tyler Lucas
Lawful Evil - Naomi Bell
Neutral Evil - KK
Chaotic Evil - Paris Ardennes

Persy and Naft's Excellent Critique Adventure
Naft and Persy's critiques are more insightful and colourful than Doc's. Pass it on.

(P.S - if you are Doc and you read that, I am joking. If you are not Doc, I am not joking)

Critique: Meera Steele

U-RAH. I’ve been wanting to do a critique on the day a character died for a while now, but never got the chance to till now. Feels nice man.

The sick and twisted mind of Persona Persivelle, ladies and gents! How about you get us started on Meera Steele Battalion while I contemplate the heavens!

Okie doke, my opinion on Meera can be summed up in one word: Solid. But anyway, Meera is nice to see as Watcher does improve as they continue to write her. There’s the common pitfalls of a new handler in sotf, the dialogue of other characters in posts, the narrative can come off as really wooden at times, etc. However, Meera is also supported by another common trait amongst newer handlers, and that is that Watcher has Meera’s actual character down to a point. Watcher knows who Meera is as a person,and that allows her her own quirks and buttons and what not.

I know that there were a lot of people (myself included) that kind of grumbled about early game threads because they all felt same-y. However, after going on back through and reading these kids for this very thread, I’m noticing that a lot of the griping was likely just because so many were being bombed in all at once, because I’ve yet to get grumpy at an opening thread retroactively reviewed. Just some food for thought! As to Meera - I have to agree with Unpy! Meera’s a classic case of studying the evolution of a character growing as the handler grows too. She’s always had a strong voice and characterisation, but what really improved as she went along was her narrative - helped in no small part by those that she encountered. Garrett Wilde and Rosemary Michaels being two fairly notable names and faces on the island that Meera had significant contact with. Her story is a somewhat slow build, but it picks up speed with each new thread she enters, and almost always contributes significantly to scenes, even as a somewhat background voice.

Mmhm, I find that Meera works well as a team member in the Joey-Rose-Mer trio. (I feel like give that group a name. The Three Wise-guys.) She seems as a good strong middle man to Rosemary’s more tactical side and Joey’s adventurous portion, creates a nice balance within the group. They have a plan and everything! I do want to call out one of your posts, however:

Rosemary
 
Venice was the blow that hit hardest.

Meera
 
Of all the deaths, Venice’s hit her the hardest.


Reading those two posts consecutively...it was a bit distracting, and I think it’s fair to say you could have took some time to pretty it up a bit so they were less identical.

If I have one critique of the group itself, it’s that the group dynamic doesn’t hold too well by its own. Rosemary’s by far the center stage of the show, and so Meera and Joey kind of fade to the back of the room whenever it’s just the three of them together. When there’s something to actually do - face down Paulo after Becca died, confronting the softball girls - I feel like Meera comes out as the full force that she is as a character. But the scenes where it’s just dialogue and milling about don’t resonate well with me. Meera seems a character that’s dictated by what’s going on around her as opposed to her own personality, and that lends itself to a somewhat lopsided reading experience. I also think that watcher plays it a little too safe for my liking in terms of post content - the only really cool stuff I saw was shorter posts to kind of mask, temporarily, what Meera’s thoughts are on a subject - best seen with the Rosemary/Joey/Meera sequences. Where watcher does play with length and pacing, I found myself enjoying it immensely, but there aren’t too many narrative risks taken. I’d love to see more of those thrown in.

Mmhm. That about covers everything for me. Also, I keep picturing her wearing glasses for some reason, it’s really weird.

What kind? Like, hipster?

Black wire frames.

Nerd.

NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Favorite Quotes

Persy:
Quote:
 
"I'm not suggesting we give up," said Meera. "No matter what, that's not an option for me."

Mm, really voiceful dialogue, stuff like this was really great osee when it showed up.


Naft:
Quote:
 
Survival of the Fittest...guess I'm not the fittest, then.

She hoped—

Let me just soapbox here for a moment, and say that normally, I really don’t like this kind of thing. The whole long, drawn out death, the realization that everything was going to be alright, the forgiveness and wonderment of finally being given rest. That type of death doesn’t appeal to me at all. But, purposeful or not, watcher in night took the formula of ‘realization upon death’ and basically twisted and transformed it. Instead of a villain character redeeming themselves upon death - which is far and away the most common theme we see in these types of deaths - we see a generally good natured character filled with self loathing and near hatred for their actions on the island, resulting in them being denied not only final words, but final thoughts. The only thing I would love to see more in this type of thematically sound concept is stronger language - watcher had the arc and the style down pat, but the language wasn’t harsh or biting enough, needed to really be beefed up so we could see it. Powerful, powerful stuff.

Final Grades:
Naft:B-
Persy:B

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD.

I fucking hate you so much.

V5 Halfway Plastic Hammers
The Plastic Hammer Awards!


The Basics

Handler Name: NotAFlyingToy (NAFT)

Your Trademark Character: Hansel Williams

Current Status of Trademark Character: Being a dick.

Favorite Character: This is a super hard question, but I’m going to go with Ciel’s Carlos. There’s a bunch that can fit in here, but he leads the pack for the moment.

Favorite Weapon: I really like the AF2011. Really sweet looking gun.

Favorite Scene: Hmmm. Recent memory would be Maddie and RJ discussing life in a car.

Favorite Death: Grim’s Karen had a beautiful death and it doesn’t earn enough props.

Favorite Quote: “You don’t get to be the fucking hero anymore.” -- Summer Simms, Paraphrased.

Favorite Post: Garrett Wilde’s deathpost wrapped up his story in a neat little bow, and also gave me an opening for a new chapter in my own character’s story, so I need to represent him here.

Favorite Location: Probably the shipping yard.


Characters

Best Character Development: It’s hard to argue that Summer didn’t have the largest character leap this version so far. That it was 100% believable hammers it home.

Best Game Impact: There’s a couple of people that could go into this slot, but I’m going to namedrop Mara because she’s interacted with a good amount of big names.

Best Innovation: Innovative as in bringing something new to the table? Summer for sure. I’ve waxed poetic about it in her Wiki page, though, so I’ll let you guys look it up for a deeper analysis or whatever.

Best Realism: Mirabella strong went from being kinda meh to having a lot of grounded, really raw and visceral moments. Poor girl.

Best Heroic Character: Definitely Steven Salazar. I’d also argue that Kyran Dean is a heroic character, if one’s willing to compromise their idea of heroic slightly.

Best Villainous Character: To nobody's surprise, Paris Ardennes.

Best Tragic Character: Mirabella has had a rough few days. Alternate answer is Fiona, Andi and Sven's kid, who at best will have no dad and a murderer mommy.

Best Humorous Character: Not many come to mind. Michael Mitchellson is fairly consistently amusing.

Best Tactics: Tempted to give the nod to Paris for skilled manipulation. Instead giving it to KK for being one of the few to stick to their plan. Something is definitely working for her, despite it somewhat slipping of late.


The Sympathy Award: Ian Williams.

The Empathy Award: Carlos Laz

The Gone-Too-Soon Award: Michelle Wexler and Natali Greer. :(

The He-Had-It-Coming Award: Max or Travis. Edge to Max.


Scenes and Deaths

Best Tragedy: Probably Karen's again.

The Stomach-Churner: Katy's death. It was and still is the only scene in SOTF that had me saying "oh my God" aloud.

Best Impact: The Only Winning Move appears to be the death of any hope of making it out alive for both handlers and kids. We're all now in it for the long haul.

Best Comedy: Man, this is too hard. I'm going to abstain because nothing's really jumping out at me.

The Sunglasses-and-Explosions Award: Everyone Dies. Also where “The Hanley Treatment” was coined. (Lookin’ at you, Persy!)

Best Feeling-Inducer: Gonna say Katy’s death again, here!

Best Drama: Mara and Summer, eatin' doughnuts. It’s like two live wires waiting to electrocute one another.

Best Surprise: Shamino giving all of our collars a little beep was genius. Those that did react to it made it an excellent reaction.


Predictions, Preferences, and Positions

If you could change ANYTHING that has happened thus far, what would you change? I would supply SOTF with better board themes. It's looking tacky up in this.

V5 Final Four: List them! This can either be an ideal list, or IC or OOC predictions. Michael, Tyler, R.J, and Matt. Four quiet guys stuck in a thunderdome.

Who of the surviving characters are you cheering on to win V5? Andi so that Fiona won't live alone, Ian because I can relate to the dude.

How do you predict the ending of V5 is going to turn out? Nobody wins. Villains rule with an iron fist. Say goodbye to your heroes.

:)

How much did you enjoy/not enjoy V5? I loved the shit out of it.

What do you like the most about V5? I've forged some great friendships here and written some of the best stuff I've ever produced I think.

What do you think could have been better about the version? The inclusion of the Raging Judge Magnum.

How do you feel about V5 compared to prior versions? I could write an essay on this, and have ranted and rambled on at length about it. So of course I can’t pass up an opportunity to do so again. V5 for me is the most logical leap from V4 - where V4 explored the theme of no true heroes lasting past halfway, V5 posits the question - were there any to begin with? Instead of a blend of heroes and villains all doing their best to stick to their guns, it appears that in this version we have a scale from gray to black, with a few white dots desperately clinging to life in the midst.

What do you think of the overall 'SOTF' story? I came to this conclusion somewhat recently, but I think that I prefer to think of SOTF as two separate trilogies, splitting between V3 and V4. V1-3 will always have a place in history and my heart as being the zanier ancestor to V4-5, but there’s an almost complete separation of thematics - V4 and V5 center on realism and grit and exploration of morality with more variety and grit.

I’m going to abstain from going ham on the concept and writing about it at length, but I love where V5 fits into the niche of the story. It shows a more complete evolution and helps chart the concept’s growth from its early V1 days.

How do you think V6 will differ from/compare to V5 and prior versions? Hopefully, we’ll see the evolution continue. If we’re following the Star Wars pattern, V6 will be when the kids create a giant death catapult and invade the terrorist base, blowing it to kingdom come while Greynolds holds one of their heroes hostage and tries to get them to join the ACT.


Talk About Yourself

What has been your favorite thing to write in V5? Toss up between Right Down The Line because I got to contribute meaningfully in another character's story, and Hansel’s P90 Pickup where I wrote a pretentious oneshot. I love writing pretentious oneshots.

Which of your V5 characters was your favorite to write? I loved them both pretty equally while I had them. Baxter might have the edge because his story’s thematically complete and he was easier to get in the head of.

What are you proudest of in V5? Doing the first SOTF dual critic thread with Unpy, and apparently doing enough right so that people kept reading my stuff.

What do you wish you could improve? Attention to detail and ability to read everything.

What is your favorite V5 memory? Making veiled (and not so veiled) references in #balletdeath about crackships.

What else would you like to share? Anything goes! PM me if you like getting caught in the rain.

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
As Garrett collapsed on top of him, and warmth spurted upwards, splashing against the back of Hansel's hand that was still clutched in the smaller boy's hair, Hansel felt a weird sense of relief, followed by melancholy. Garrett's pressure ceased all at once, no longer seeking to choke his life out and instead stiff and broken in death.

Hansel pushed him off, freed of the dead weight, and lay in the soaked ground. Just breathing, gulping in air as a starving man, waiting until the spots around his vision cleared away. He didn't look at Andi, didn't look at Garrett, didn't look at Mirabella and Ami as they made their hasty retreat.

He just breathed.

When he was sure he wouldn't pass out, keel over, or collapse - when he was sure that his legs were solid beneath him, Hansel got to his knees, shuffling over Garrett's body, and beginning to pat through his pockets. This was the most degrading part for everyone involved - delegating the victim to rotting carcass and the murderer to a vulture.

But it had to be done.

He found a small journal, a few sheafs of paper, things that he transferred from Garrett's pockets to his own. A pencil, snapped in two from the scuffle, a wrapper - things he discarded. He went over every scrap - every inch - of the other boy's clothing.

And when it was all said and done, Hansel reached hesitant fingers towards Garrett's face, paused, frowned.

Closed the dead boy's eyes.

Standing, his back to Andi, he slid his hands into his pockets, staring out at the cliffs for a long, quiet moment. His breathing was under control, and he hadn't come out too bad from the fight. He was better off than fighting Tyler or Theo, had less scrapes and wounds than Ray or whoever had thrown the golf ball at him when he stole Aileen's and Owen's shit.

Hansel was improving.

He turned to appraise Andi, now, eyes studious, quiet, as he took in her form. Then, he repeated the same words he'd said to her as the wounded, deformed cat had stopped breathing, trapped beneath his palm.

"Good work."

The Place
"For the love of all that is fuck, would you two quit your goddamn bitching!?"

To the right of the two, sitting at a counter that hadn't been there before - unless you really squinted - sat a boy in a blue jersey, the number 67 emblazoned on the back. He swiveled in his high-backed stool, bearded face coming fully into view of the two chess players, his countenance dark, menacing.

In Baxter's hand, a plastic bottle was clenched.

He had listened to the two debate and poke and be righteous with percieved fury and held his tongue, but it was only after Carlon's response to Garrett's latest statement of how nobody changed that he decided to jump in, a scowl on his face. Quickly, he glanced at the game of chess, and just as quickly dismissed it as nerd shit before continuing.

"Holy christdicks, I can't believe I'm the one that needs to spell this shit out for you fuckheads. You're literally in the one place that's supposed to be free of judgement of peers and posturing - we've finally been given some fucking peace and some respite from what happened down there. And what the fuck do you two morons immediately do? Go at each other."

Baxter laughed, shaking his head, and rose from the stool to stalk off.

"Move the fuck on."

New V5 Reduced Activity Notices
I'll be taking an extended vacation (somewhat forced) for an indefinite amount of time from SOTF, meaning that my hours of operation on the site will likely be limited to a few days a week (roughly 1-2 hours at a time). I very much doubt that this time will be utilized on chat or other, similar instant messaging systems, so likely the best time to contact me will be via Site PM.

I'll direct an absence thread on Mini to here as well.

I apologize in advance to those of you that are currently in a thread with me, and advise that you not hope for immediate or consistent posting schedules from me. If this means you need to ditch a thread, you are absolutely welcome to do so and I harbour no ill will.s

Thanks.

Naft makes SotF related images
Posted Image

No I am not done with the Summer Simms images. Yes I know this took me too long to think up.

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
Slamming knees into Hansel's hip kept him sharp, kept him lucid, as Garrett's hands inched slowly but surely towards his throat. He tried to pitch, rotate, throw the smaller boy off of him, to no avail.

The world began to dim as Garrett got his fingers around Hansel's throat, causing him to splutter and thrash, his knees shooting upwards to block another of Garrett's driving strikes, hands reaching upwards to grip at the boy's hair, tugging Garrett downwards, hoping to obscure his vision, keep it focused solely on himself.

If this had been a true thunderdome, Hansel would have been in a bad spot. If this had been a true schoolyard, circle of jeering thunderdome, he would've had to limp home with bruises and scars and a fat lip.

But this wasn't a real thunderdome, not in any sense of the definition he'd been taught.

Because in a real one, you weren't allowed backup.

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
Hansel's one advantage was size, and Garrett's surprise attack had taken that from him. The only conscious thought was twice in two days as yet another assailant had gotten the drop on him, disarmed him.

But this time, his reaction was up to par as he released the FAMAS the second Garrett drilled into him, and folded it up as the smaller boy landed atop him. He was ready for the knife strike, and caught the boy's wrist in his grasp, with his right hand, utilizing his longer reach to snag it before it became dangerous.

With a vicious twist, he attempted to curl Garrett's hand up and around, trying to get him to drop the knife as the blade knicked the skin of his forearm. Simultaneously, he swung his left elbow, catching Garrett on the chin with a resounding clunk, accompanied by a stabbing pain that lanced up to his shoulder.

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
The mystery of the word thunderdome had been finally solved for Hansel when he had been walking home from school, and had witnessed a defining sight. Two young boys stood in a circle of their peers, in the middle of the street, and had beaten the hell out of each other while the crowd had jeered and laughed. He'd approached, mesmerized, stood quietly for a moment, before asking what they were fighting about.

Ain't a fight, man. They're thunderdoming. Like boxin', only no hits to the face. Two men enter, one man leaves, you know?

Hansel lifted a brow - a disbelieving brow - at Garrett, then.

Two men enter.

"What has to be done," he repeated, mockery filling his voice, nodding sympathetically.

One man leaves.

"Always were full of shit, Wilde. P-pretty words, and shit."

As he said the words, the FAMAS lowered, pointing towards the grass at their feet.

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
When Hansel had first heard the word thunderdome, he had assumed that it was some kind of place in Seattle, a hotspot that he, as a new addition to the community, would discover after a while. But then it was utilized as a verb. Thunderdoming. To thunderdome. One who thunderdomes.

As for Garrett... well, he always did talk too much. He mentioned killing, and to that, Hansel shrugged again, letting the silence linger as he studied Garrett's face, eyes flitting back and forth between left and right eye.

"You aren't a saint," he said, by way of explanation.

Garrett was harder, though. He had a knife, and was harder. Two things that Hansel didn't trust. That, coupled with who he assumed was Bella standing within eyesight...

He should just shoot the prick. Put him down, here and now. He'd killed people who had hurt him less. Fuck, he'd murdered people he had hardly known.

And yet...

"That supposed t-to put us on - what? Even k-keel?"

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
Hansel lifted a shoulder, his face grim. The only response he could think of, at that moment.

He shifted again, his eyes darting to the treeline, then back up the cliff to where Garrett's companions stood. He could just make them out over his shoulder, semi-obscured by his head. The knife in Garrett's hand, the flecks of blood on it, shone in the sun, danced over his eyes as he fully took his once-rival in.

The way they stood, face to face, reminded him of a word that had been tossed around the schoolyard when he first moved to Seattle.

Thunderdome.

"So," he said, drawing the vowel out as he pointed his chin at the knife, and the specks of blood upon it, "you puh-hut that there, or did someone else do it f-for you?"

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
Hansel wasn't really sure what he expected the reaction to be, but it wasn't Garret marching down to face him. As the distance closed between them, he felt the change in him, the change in Garrett, widening. They had been here for six days - six short days - and already they couldn't claim they were the same people that had roamed the Aurora halls.

And suddenly, as if no time had passed at all, Garrett was mere meters from him. Hansel shifted the gun higher, pointed it at the other boy's chest, as if to say close enough.

Leaning slightly, he glanced back over his own shoulder - a quick peek - before taking Garrett in fully.

"Dunno about you," he began, his voice habitually lowering, chin raising, "but I've h-had a terrible week."

All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else
He'd seen them before they'd seen him, and that was key.

((Hansel Williams, Learned something from yesterday.)

Hansel didn't have his P90 on him as he stepped out from behind a tree, the FAMAS gripped between his hands as he watched the grouping of three, taking two large steps away from where he had emerged. He meant to say something, do something. Be aggressive in some way, scare them off, maybe try to angle to get Garrett alone.

But he just stood there, gripping his gun, glaring at them. If the past couple of days were about exorcising demons, and Theo was the first on that hit list, then it seemed almost natural - fated - to find Garrett here.

He didn't open fire, he didn't run away, and yet both impulses were strong. So he stood, in the interim, and watched.

Waited.

Learned something from yesterday.
Bag in hand, he waited for the train to arrive. The bench he was on was cold and deserted, the uncomfortable plastic digging into the seat of his pants, making him shift fairly frequently as he attempted to get comfortable. The bag in his hand was small and heavy - dark red, like his shirt, carrying just the bare necessities he’d need for his trip. He wasn’t sure exactly how long he had been waiting for the train, just that it had been long enough to be incredibly annoyed that it hadn’t yet arrived.

“They don’t really like those aboard,” said a voice.

He looked up, his eyes coming into contact with bright green, a mole on the left cheek, small nose. The boy was smiling, hands in his pockets as he stared down the tracks, a dreamy expression on his face.

“Beg your pardon?” he said.

The green eyed boy nodded towards the red bag. “Those. They aren’t totally accepted.”

“They aren’t allowed?”

“Ehh, they probably wouldn’t stop you from bringing it aboard. It’s small enough to not get in the way, right?”

He glanced down at it, hefted it, the weight suddenly seeming unreasonably hard to lift. “Yeah, shouldn’t.”

“You’re probably okay.”

He nodded as the green eyed boy smiled again, reaching to rub at the back of his neck awkwardly, kicking at the pavement with a white tennis shoe.

“Hey, you play soccer at all?”

The question caught him off guard. “What?”

“Soccer. You ever play?”

He shook his head, slowly. The green eyed boy’s smile faded a little, his shoulders shrugged, eyes still staring down the tracks.

“Oh, hey, sorry. Didn’t think there was anyone else-”

“You can’t bring that on the train.”

He blinked, shifting to look at the girl who had marched up, hands on her hips, to interrupt his conversation with the green eyed boy. The girl’s eyes were large and dark blue, her tan accentuated by her short, dark brown hair.

“Yeah, we were just-” he began, pointing towards the green eyed boy.

But the boy was gone. Before he could squint to see where he had gone, the girl bent lower, obscuring his vantage point until all he could see was a dented nose and those eyes - staring down the tracks, where the green eyed boy had watched.

“Didn’t hear me? You can’t bring it. It’s too big.”

“What? It’s tiny.” Though the bag was feeling far too heavy. Carefully, he set it down on the bench beside him, flexing his fingers from the strain.

“Doesn’t matter. Look, I’ve seen a few people get on in front of me, and anytime they had one of those, they had to leave it behind.”

“I can’t leave it behind,” he said, glancing down at the bag, “because I need it.”

“What, you got gold in there?”

“No, just essentials.”

The blue eyed girl let out a huff of breath, rolling her eyes at the distance, where the track was swallowed by a dark tunnel. “Whatever. I’m just filling you in on what I heard.”

There was a stretch of silence, disrupted by the repeated tapping of the blue eyed girl’s shoe on the pavement. After a time, she spoke again.

“You have pretty bad arches, you know.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Arches?”

“Yeah. Balls of your feet. You should get ‘em operated on - otherwise you’ll never be able to play.”

Now, his brows furrowed in confusion. “Play?”

“Okay,” she said slowly, exaggerating the word as if speaking to an obstinate child, “Hospital, then tennis.”

He stared at her blankly for a moment, shook his head. “You’re not making any-”

“Waiting for it to arrive?”

A thin, shorter boy, with grey-blue eyes and messy brown hair lounged beside him, leaving the bag between them.

“Yeah, I-” he turned to find the girl, but she, too, was gone.

“It’s probably going to be a while,” said the brown haired boy, lounging in his seat. He pointed down at the bag, curiosity colouring his expression.

“S’at yours?”

He nodded, slowly. “I already know that I’ll have trouble bringing it.”

“Well, they don’t mind it sometimes. But it looks pretty heavy.”

He lifted a shoulder, dropped it. “I need it to come with me, so I’ll be taking it on the train.”

“Sure, sure,” said the boy. Silence descended again as they sat with the red bag between them. After a time, the boy stretched and stood, his eyes on the dark tunnel down the tracks.

"I'll take first watch." The boy said, easily.

All he could do was nod at the boy, dismissive.

The stunted conversation was interrupted by an echoing dragging sound, reverberating around the station. As he searched for the noise, his head whipping around in all directions, the boy with the brown hair vanished.

Suddenly, the bench he was seated on caved, falling inward around the bag as he was lurched to his feet. It was a twisted V of plastic and metal, crushed together as if hit by a brutal force.

In the center of it all sat the red bag.

“The fuck are you doing here?”

A black haired boy stared at him, arms folded, a similar small black bag to his own cuffed around his wrist.

“I’m waiting for the train,” he said, glaring at the boy. He didn’t like this boy. Something about him-

“With that?” the black haired boy said, pointing at the bag that had destroyed the bench.

“Yes,” came his irritable response.

“You’re an idiot, then.”

“Look, I’ve been told by everyone in this place so far that I can’t take my bag on the train. There isn’t any sign or anything that I can’t. Do you know from personal experience or something?”

“Nope!” came the reply from the black haired boy.

“Then why-”

The boy was gone. He sighed in frustration, slamming his hands against his thighs, crossing his arms, unfolding them, pacing slightly as he waited, waited, waited.

“You coming?” came the voice of a boy with a goatee, dressed completely in white.

He stared at the goatee-adorned boy, stared back at the little suitcase. “Aren’t you going to give me shit about that?”

The boy in white rolled his eyes. “Why would I care what you bring?”

“Everyone else seems to think you would.”

The boy in white shrugged a shoulder, scratching at the back of his neck. A pair of gloves, dangling from a chain around the boy’s throat, peeked from under the white suit jacket, hiding the shiny silver tie from view. “No skin off my nose, man.”

He stared at the boy, a frown on his face. The boy smirked back.

“Tell you what, man. You carry that on in here, and you can take it with you.”

But he couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t. The bag was too heavy to lift. It had destroyed the bench under its weight, even.

“Well? What’s it going to be?”

“Fuck you.”

The boy in white laughed. “Look, I don’t know what they told you on the platform, but it’s almost definitely untrue. The advice they gave only takes on a life if you allow it to.”

He stared at the boy in white, still and watchful.

“So,” the boy in white said, drawing the vowel out, “are you coming?”

He scowled. Squeezed a fist. Took two steps back.

“Alright,” the boy in white said, the doors to the train car closing.

“Your loss.”

----

((Hansel Williams, Fill your hand, you son of a bitch.))

Hansel found the P90 right where the announcement had said; in one of the four school buses with the steaming tray of lasagna right near it. He had left Andi waiting for him while he had left to go secure the gun - and the food - with the promise of sharing both with her.

Carefully, he peeled back the lid of the lasagna, and closed his eyes as he inhaled, the teasing scents of tomato sauce blended imperceptibly with the beef, delicately strewn with seasonings and teased with a hint of garlic and melted cheese. Carefully, he dipped a pinky finger into the mixture, licked it off of his fingernail.

For the first time in six days, a genuine smile bloomed across Hansel’s face as he slid to sit, his knees bent as he rested his back against the beaten up, ripped to shreds seats of the bus. Carefully, he unwrapped the plastic fork and knife set - complete with little paper napkin - and set the styrofoam container on his lap.

The first cut released a stream of steam into the air, the scent doubling as tomato sauce, cheese, and meat splurged over the white plastic, darkening it as it dragged through the pasta. Hansel stabbed it gently with his fork once he had a small cube, lifted it to his mouth, and closed his eyes as the explosion of flavour on his tongue played havoc with his senses - a wonderful medley of decadent tastes filling his mouth, the heat warming his teeth, coating his tongue, sliding slowly down his throat.

He sighed. He smiled. He chuckled a little, a short, choked sound that was muffled under his breath as he sliced into the lasagna again.

He ate and kept eating until a quarter of it was in his stomach, and felt satisfied with nourishment for the first time in six long days.

Then, he covered the lasagna up. Re-wrapped the used fork and knife. Dabbed at his face with the napkin.

He put the SMG into his duffel bag, and, with one arm secured around the lasagna tray and the FAMAS strap around the other, he set off to find Andi again.

((Hansel Williams, All Battles Are Fought By Scared Men Who'd Rather Be Some Place Else))