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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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((Kimberly Nguyen continued from But I Might Die Tonight))

Three more deaths. Three more people had been blown away just like that, a push of a button, not a chance to do anything to save themselves. Lucy Ashmore. Alex Rasputin. Trent Hunter. Nobody Kimberly gave a shit about, though it was interesting that a killer was on the block. Maybe it really was random. More likely, though, Danya was calculating every move. Rasputin had been a second tier player, hadn't done anything since the first day. Killing him simply told the others that they weren't safe. It meant that, all of a sudden, there was a legitimate threat to Lombardi, Ishida, and Gabriella (and Kris, can't forget Kris...). Now, all the big killers could die in a split second, no matter how badass they were, no matter how skilled, how many kills they had under their belts. They had to be pissing themselves right about now. That was something Kimberly could smile over.

Yeah, had to be calculated. Danya was blowing up the boring people and the people who could make a point. Maybe he was blowing up people in Liz's path, too, forcing her to see the effects of her actions. That would make sense. It also meant that Kimberly wouldn't have long to fuck around, lest she become an example herself. Things would need to be quick. Efficient. She swung her grappling hook by the rope between her fingers. Too bad. Quick wouldn't be any good. Not for the level of shit this girl had put everyone on the island through. Kimberly was pissed. So pissed. Absolutely fucking seething. And yet, it might have to be quick.

She kept moving towards her goal.

She'd picked the tunnels because they were close, and because they were a good place to hide. A good place to hole up for a little. A crevice a rat could worm its way into. Oh yes, someone was bound to be hiding here. Several someones, if Kimberly was right. She'd be shocked if there wasn't something here more worthwhile than those fools on the mountain. Even if she didn't find Kris and Liz, perhaps she'd be able to find someone else hurt, someone else with a grudge to bear. The more the merrier, when it came to vengeance.

So in she went, into the darkness, the shadows. She paused, tucked her grappling hook into her belt, brought her flashlight to hand, turned it on. No point tripping and fucking her arm up any more. No point getting in trouble, getting hurt. She had a job to do. It would be hard enough as it was, strangling the life out of someone. Hard to dig the spikes from her grappling hook into flesh. Hard to listen to the screams. And yet... she'd have to do it. Have to be strong. Have to keep control. Anything else, any failure to turn this around, would mean her death. Would mean that she was weak, worthless. She did not need help. She did not need fucking babysitters. She was just fine, thank you very much. Probably doing a hell of a lot better than Sarah and Bridget.

That thought hurt her, a little. Her former companions were probably out there right now, cheering Liz on, wishing her success. What would they think when they heard the girl's fate on the announcements? Would they regret saving Kimberly's life, regret stitching her back together on that beach, regret the fact that she still drew breath?

She paused for a second. Inhaled deeply. Hacked and coughed as the scent of blood invaded her nostrils.

When she could breathe calmly again, a couple of seconds later, she had her answer: She didn't give a fuck what they thought.

Wasn't like she'd made them help her. Wasn't like she'd been particularly subtle about her goals. Wasn't like she'd hidden the fact that she was a dangerous, potentially violent person. She'd told them before that escapees were fucked. No way around it.

The odor was strong, getting stronger as she walked. She didn't know why, but it drew her, beckoned her onwards like a magical song. There was something worth seeing here. She had not yet come across a corpse., had not yet been forced to stare any death in the face, except for her own inevitable one. Best to get it out of the way, best to be ready, to be steeled when she chose to act. No restraints would hold her back. Nothing could be allowed to divert her from her purpose. Rounding a corner, Kimberly prepared herself for the worst.

It was close, damn close. She'd been expecting someone naked, bleeding from all their orifices, guts cut out and hanging, maybe strewn around and knotted. Instead, it was just a boy, just a boy with his neck blow out, blood spattered all around him. A dead boy. A boy she recognized.

"B148, Daisuke Nagazawa, eliminated. This is your teacher, Kwong Lei, signing off."

This, this boy, this body, this was everything Kimberly feared, everything she couldn't control, everything that waited for her if she failed. This could soon be her, neck gone, blood pooled. She couldn't let that happen. Couldn't.

She wanted to run. Wanted to vomit. She didn't do either. She forced herself to stay. Forced herself to speak.

"Hello, Daisuke."

Her voice was raw, broken. This was a stupid way to conquer her fears. This would achieve nothing. This would lead nowhere. She was doing it anyways. Forcing herself to confront this. Forcing herself...

Daisuke's pack was still next to him. Undisturbed. Nobody else had been by yet.

All of Kimberly's life experiences, all of her socialization, fought with her desire to procure any little advantage she could. But then, she stopped and actually considered things. Daisuke was dead. He wouldn't mind. Kimberly would be dead soon, too. She'd never have to put up with anyone giving her shit over this. Never have to face any consequences for this action. The only rule here was strength, and she'd need all the help she could get on that front. If it meant stealing a dead boy's shit, well, so be it.

Glancing around, making sure she was alone, Kimberly steeled herself. It'd be quick. Snatch and go. So simple.

She darted forward, grabbed the pack, backpedaled. Paused about fifteen feet from the corpse. The smell was terrible. Overwhelming, almost. The bag was held awkwardly over her wrist, her own bag over her shoulder, her flashlight in her right hand. Fuck you, Kris, for each of these inconveniences.

So she dropped Daisuke's bag, dropped her own, propped the flashlight up, casting light on the proceedings, and began to transfer items. She abandoned her own first aid kit entirely. Nothing worthwhile left in it, not after the beach and her little self-repair job. Daisuke's was full. Good. Then, on to the food. Looked like he still had a good amount, and water, too. Into her bag it went. Finally, she found a small, black box. It was heavy. It had bullets in it.

Oh fuck yes. Daisuke had had a gun.

Unfortunately, the weapon itself was not in the bag. There was only one thing that could mean. He'd had it on him. Kimberly took another deep breath, instantly regretted it. Fought down the bile rising in her throat. Daisuke had a gun on him. She had to get it.

She put the magazine in her bag, shined her flashlight on the body, looking for a telltale glint or reflection. Nothing. Damn. Someone else might have already gotten to it. But if that was the case, why was the bag untouched? No, maybe he'd given it away.

Then again, maybe not. She had to check.

So she went back to Daisuke's body, slowly this time, taking in every detail. The pool of blood. The ragged shreds of flesh where his neck had once been whole. The lack of a collar. His bloodstained camouflage jacket.

Only one way to do this.

Slowly, gingerly, Kimberly reached out and began patting the corpse down. It made her skin crawl. Made her want to cry. Made her want to slap herself silly for having ever liked horror stories. Luckily, she found the lump before long, before her squeamishness could overcome her dedication. Inside the jacket. Damn. She managed to work it free, though, managed to get a hold on the heavy metal object, awkwardly balancing it with her flashlight. She retreated once more to her bag. The gun was slightly bloodstained. It seemed Daisuke had leaked at death, seemed that his jacket had soaked through. The whole thing made her feel dirty.

Didn't matter. She could deal with dirty. She could deal with just about anything if it meant facing Kris on even grounds next time.

The manual was in Daisuke's bag. The gun was called a Jericho 941F. Kimberly read by the light of her flashlight, read and learned more about guns than she'd ever thought she'd have cause to know. Ejected the magazine, counted the rounds. One chambered, seven in the first magazine, eight in the second. Enough. More than enough. She was tempted to test fire the thing, but in such enclosed quarters that would be a bad idea, so she simply reloaded it and crammed it into her improvised rope belt. Then, it became a matter of figuring how to juggle the gun, bag, and flashlight. In the end, she taped the flashlight to the top of her bag, which she hung over her neck and shoulder. It didn't put pressure on her wound, at least, not that much. Good. The light cast by the flashlight was a bit more erratic, a bit less aimed, but she could live with that.

Time to go. Time to go change the fucking world. Time to go get a little revenge. It was the lesson again, what Jeremy had taught her. To get what you wanted in this game, you needed strength. You needed power and follow through.

Kimberly had both in spades now.

So she kept walking, a smile on her face. Oh yes. This will be sweet, Kris. So sweet.

Five minutes later, she stumbled across the girl. There was a pool of water. A pool of water, and an unconscious girl, lying on the ground, just lying there without a care in the world. Kimberly could only tell that the person was alive because she could see her breathing.

The scene gave her pause. The girl was dressed kind of weirdly. Looked pretty damn beat up, too. Looked like she'd seen better days. Kimberly's immediate impulse was to help her, to offer her assistance. To do something, anything. To provide what little comfort she could, just like the others had for her on the beach. Thing was, as her flashlight swung around, she could see that something was wrong with the girl. Specifically, something looked like it was wrong with her neck. And that face, Kimberly had seen that face before, could almost recognize it from school.

No way.

No fucking way.

Kimberly flipped the gun's safety off. Tried her best not to cackle as she adjusted her shoulder, facing the beam from her flashlight right into the girl's face. She kept the pistol down for now. Too perfect. It was all too perfect. Finally, she had finally caught a fucking break in this game.

She spoke, and now her voice was under control, betraying none of her manic glee.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"
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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