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(Liz Polanski continued from Hideaway)

Cyrille LaBlanche. That was her name. She was one of the few people Liz hadn't immediately taken a dim view of in school. And now she was dead.

Her bag was beside her. She looked inside it. Supplies, but no weapon. She took the roll of adhesive cloth tape out of the first aid kit and put bandages over the name. No more G062, Cyrille LaBlanche. It was Liz Polanski's bag now.

Leaning over the corpse, she took a penny and a quarter out of the last pocket of her cargo pants, licked them and laid them on Cyrille's eyes. It was pagan, but at least it was something.

Her plan had failed. All her decisions within the plan had been logical. She knew this. But she had failed to predict human nature. As usual. Apparently people didn't want to stay away from players. They wanted to kill them. So she would pretend to be something other than a player. She would make alliances. Like a real person. She would escape.

Make alliances. That required working with people. Unpredictable people.

Wouldn't that be fun.

She set to work on the net.

She worked by the light of the flashlight, tying knots into the parts she cut, sealing them over with adhesive tape, and testing. The net scraped a little now when it came out of the gun, but it was otherwise functional. Good.

She worked by the light of the flashlight, which was unwise, but she was in an alcove, tucked away and unshootable by any kind of ranged weapon. And anyone who saw the light and decided to close in on her would have to cross a sheet of gravel first. In that time, Liz could put her hands on the cosh and flip up the knife.

Her hands were blistered. The palms, not the fingertips, at least. The blisters were swelling up, filling with fluid. Her feet were in the same. She had peeled her boots off to let those sores get some air. The plastic inside the shoes had warped. She scratched at the inside until it was relatively smooth again. Cyrille had packed aqua-tinted aloe (for sunburns) and a pair of extra socks. Navy blue. Liz rubbed the aloe on her hands, her feet, her face, and put the socks on. Less pain.

She slipped on her shoes again. Slightly more pain. But it was alright. Standing up was a careful task. Time to look for relays in the mountain.

She taped a piece of gauze over the light to mute the glow, put her knife in her left hand, and stepped out of the alcove.

And that's when she heard the scream.

Haruka Watanabe. Quiet girl. Worked at animal shelters. Had just crashed into Frankie Fiamatta (stoner, soccer, crazy, dangerous), and they had both fallen to the floor. It was a miracle neither of them had noticed her.

She wanted to pull back into the alcove, but then Frankie started shouting.

"The fuck was that for?" Frankie barked at the girl. "What the fuck did I do to you, you stupid cunt?!"

And now Liz was out of the alcove, knife out, shoulder blades raised.

"Hey, are you even fucking listening to me?" Frankie looked like she was going to hit Haruka. "I'm fucking talking to you, listen to me!"

And Liz walked forward, and shoved Frankie Fiametta out of the way. There was no use bothering with words there. She knelt over Haruka, bent over her, really. Protective? I'm being protective?. The girl's face was streaked with tears, and she was whispering, frightened.

“I d-don’t wanna d-d-die."

A stutter. Liz put the knife back into her shirt, and held her hands up, so Haruka could see them. No weapons. This seemed to calm the girl a little bit.

She lowered her hands enough to push the hair out of Haruka's face. "Hush, kid. Hey. Everything's gonna be alright." Lies, but maybe she could believe them. This kid seemed to need them.

"I've got a couple ideas for escape plans, but shhhhh, don't say it loud. I don't know how sensitive the cameras are here. We're gonna get out."

Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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