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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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((Isaiah Garvey continued from Milk of Human Kindness))

The day had come and gone. Isaiah had not found his quarry.

Of course, the terrain had not helped, not in the slightest. From the beach, he had found himself in this boneyard of trees, picking his way over branches, scrambling over loose dirt, always watching for the guy from before. He just wanted to make sure the boy was alright. Or, failing that, wanted to see his body, wanted to bury him, too. It was the least Isaiah could do for someone loyal even to a dead friend.

Unfortunately, his search faced several challenges. To start with, he didn't know the guy's name. This meant that the announcements would be completely useless for determining whether or not he was still alive. Really, though, it was not the most important thing. Whether he succeeded or failed in this search, he would soon enough find something else to do. Of this, he was entirely certain.

He had, in the process, managed to at least refill his water bottles at a stream. He'd also drunk as much as he could there, hoping to delay a need to restock again for as long as possible. The stream was probably contaminated with tropical parasites or other awful things, but he was pretty sure that they wouldn't be able to take hold before the end of this experience, in whatever form it came. Besides, what would a tapeworm live off of? It wasn't like he had much to eat.

The wandering had given Isaiah a lot of time to think, to reflect on the course of events. He had tried to figure out a better strategy, tried to come up with an ingenious plan for escape or a way to eke out a moral victory. Finally, though, he had concluded that both things were impossible. People had already killed. That meant there would be more killings. There was no forcing that genie back into the bottle. Sure, it was possible that the final dozen or so would resist, would die together as a statement of solidarity, but at that point, things would be so far along that playing would actually be a viable strategy. It would require a very strong group to throw the game back in Danya's face so close to the end.

And escape? How? Danya would blow anyone's collar if they hit on a tenable plan. Even if, by some miracle, they did disable them, they would be stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere. The terrorists could gun them down, bomb them, or starve them out.

So, that left him with the same option he'd first been drawn to. He would live, and he would do his best to do the right thing, and he would stay true to himself and his faith. He would help others as best he could, and Lord knew they needed help. And then, in the end...

He wanted to face death without fear. That was proving somewhat more difficult than he'd imagined, though.

Pulling himself over another log, Isaiah found himself looking over a monotonous sea of the same terrain. It was broken only by a few features. Of these, the one that caught his attention was two shapes in the dark. Either they were people, or they were very tall stumps, trees broken off far above all the others around them.

It bore investigation, whether it was the boy he sought or not. Isaiah started moving in their direction, not making any real attempt at stealth, but not loudly announcing his presence, either. If it was someone looking for trouble, he would slip away. If it was somebody friendly, perhaps he would be able to stop with them for a while.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Late Dawns and Early Sunsets · The Felled Forest: North