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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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((Carry on with post order. But Kari needs to not be adopted.))
((Kari Nichols continued from Pearl and Destiny))

Kari was running, running, running. Her throat hurt, her legs were leaden, but she kept on going.

And then, the thought: Why?

It was a good question, actually. Why exactly was she running like that anyways? It couldn't be for her own benefit. What was she trying to desperately to recapture? Was it the magic of pulling a weeping, defenseless girl away from the sea, or Rein's overly helpful mannerisms? Or perhaps the joy of having three highstrung students carrying guns, ready to accidentally mow each other down at the slightest provocation?

The reason, she surmised, was guilt. She couldn't let everyone else down. Not again. It was already so selfish of her to run off alone while they all slept, altruistic as she thought herself to be in her repeated justification. Really, it was close to flat-out abandonment. And abandonment isn't how things got done. You got things done by working hard, putting in the hours, studying the situation, giving your best and more. Honestly, they'd be fine without her. Maybe they'd grieve her death or lament her betrayal or react however to whatever they'd thought she'd done. And there would be one less gun-toting high-strung teenager with them. Two was plenty of coverage. So why was she trying so hard to find them? Actually, she thought, it was for her own benefit after all.

At last she stopped kidding herself, stopped lifting her feet like she was running when she was really proceeding at the pace of a nice stroll. Walking now, and thinking about her options. What was the optimal way to play? She'd get back to the group, sometime, somehow. But after that, what would happen? Or, worse, what if she failed to find them after all? Once more she'd be trying to climb unassisted to the top of the heap. It would all turn out okay, one way or another. The weapon in her hand would make sure of that.

She stopped briefly for a rest. Something was going on not far away, but it would hard to tell what or where or even if it was real. Sound so quiet it was felt more that heard. Whatever it was (even if it was just her imagination), it was nothing she couldn’t handle with her cold metal companion in her hands. The process of unfolding the stock was by now almost boring in its routine, and yet hearing the firm clicks that signaled its security made her heart quicken its pace. Stock folded, all was well. Stock ready – well, there was no telling what would come next.

She fingered the trigger and hoped desperately that she could find the nerve when the time came to pull it.
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Missing Those Lost · The Felled Forest: North