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There were so many things that were so tempting right now.

She leaned up against the wall, obedient. Her knee hurt, enough that she wanted to start sobbing again, not from terror, but from pain.

Nuh-uh. No.

It was pain, it was terror, it was weakness and sheer confusion. It was being eighteen (eighteen! Feel your age!) and not knowing what to do.

Violence is never the way.

Principles, all principles. Principles she had based herself on, forged into her very core, the one part of her that wouldn’t change when the rest of her went quicksilver, experimenting with self, identity and taboo.

Violence is never the way.

And yet there were two bodies at her feet. And Raidon, with grim hope in his voice, was telling her why he’d killed them.

She had, arrogantly, viewed herself as the most hopeful person on the island. The others had despaired, fleeing death. She had accepted death, used her paintings as her hope. And yet—

“We’re not all going to die. Someone is going to survive. Maybe more than one person. Maybe a whole fucking army of us.”

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

How could she call herself hopeful?

Do not go gentle into that good night.

She had accepted death. He hadn’t.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

There had been fear of death, her own fear, when Mirabelle Nesa had pushed her down the hill, when she’d been so grateful, with her new can of red spray paint. Raidon was also afraid—he could deny it all he wanted, but the boy she had seen in the bathroom was miserable, paranoid and scared.

And yet, she wanted him to be right. She wanted the epiphany, that she had accepted death, that he had fought for life, that Victoria, Jacob made sense because life is beautiful.

It would be so much easier if he was right. If fighting was the answer—they had been given tools to fight. She could fight. She could fight for her life and his. She could fight.

“Every murderer I kill, every resources I get, every weapon I acquire gives me an edge.” He said. “Every enemy I eliminate leaves one fewer complication.”

She could fight, and she could kill, because he was beautiful and life was beautiful.

But what would Danya say?

Mizore was a prideful sonofabitch. Danya would love it. And she had been so damn proud to spit in Danya’s face.

But life is beautiful.

But life was beautiful. And fighting was tempting. She could fight for her, fight for him. God, it would be simpler.

“I intend to live. And I couldn’t…couldn’t stand to watch you die.”

And something ugly in her heart leapt at knowing he would kill for her. We all want to be loved.

And she wasn’t sure if he’d finished talking, so she stayed silent. Her crude risk-reward assessment didn’t favor killing. She didn’t like the idea of playing Danya’s game. But playing would let her stay with him, and God, she wanted to stay with him now, sink against him with her watery knee, and let herself fight…

But if I do that, then what am I?

And he had stopped talking, she was sure of it now, and she was speaking, slowly, without thinking of her words.

“If you think we might survive—“ she started. “Playing Danya’s game doesn’t help your chances. Not until the end, anyway. Doing what you’re doing, now—you just get people mad at you, like Victoria, because you hurt Alice, or people attacking you, like Maddie Stone. It’s not—it’s not particularly good risk-reward.”

Her smile was sarcastic. Arguing for pacifism because it made sense on the risk-reward assessment is not what she expected to be doing.

“And if you expect the army to rescue us—if you expect whatever the hell Liz Polanski is doing to fly to the rest of the island—if you’ve got any proper hope that more than one person might survive this damn island,” her voice shook, “playing Danya’s game—accelerating it with every kill you make—is not—is not the best way to do that.”

I intend to live. And I couldn’t…I couldn’t stand to watch you die.

There was pain in her knee, and a small, squeezed smile on her face.

“I’m a graffiti artist, a freegan vegan pacifist communalist anarchist. I made myself that, once upon a time, when I decided to become someone.” Was she even making sense now? She felt like she was, but she knew most people hadn’t gone through the bizarre process of self-creation. There was no guarantee Raidon would get a damn thing she was saying. “Survival of the Fittest—it’s meant to change us. Make us scared. Turn us into folk who think killing is a fine idea.” She turned. Tried to sit up. Winced when pain from her knee made her nerves stop. “I guess—damnit, I understand why you kill. I’m not that dumb, not anymore. You’re fighting, because if there’s a chance for life, you’re fighting for it. You said maybe I think you’re weak—maybe you think I’m weak for giving up, for refusing to kill because—well, I’ve never even told you why I don’t kill. Only that I won’t do it.”

“Here’s –here’s something that might surprise you. I don’t even entirely know my reasons for not killing. There’s probably a mix of them. Maybe I’m a punky artist chick who wants to be different. Maybe I’ve run the same damn risk-reward assessment that I ran up there, and concluded the same things—although that would mean I’d be okay with killing once I got to the final four, which I don’t think I will be. There’s probably a good bit of deep-seated moral conviction in it—I’ve seen dead bodies before, though not quite in this context, and I don’t—I don’t have, and I don’t want the right to do that to somebody. I’m not even sure I believe in God, but that seems like a deal that should be decided by a higher power than me. Death is scary. It’s not what I want to dole out. And people are so astronomically stupid about violence—they jump to it as a solution before it needs to be, all the time, every time, the prison system, revenge, riots, we might as well not be the most creative and awesome species the universe has ever seen if we’re such messes of blunt, base instinct. ‘S probably why I became a pacifist in the first place—I wanted to show people there was another way.”

“But here? I don’t know if there’s another way. Danya’s pretty much cooked us so we’re all going to die, and being a pacifist’s not the solution—not if I want to live. So I guess I just stick to it because I’m a prideful son of a bitch. He wants to turn us into—into monsters, maybe he’ll call us, or people so drunk on hope that we pick up guns and shoot our friends because maybe we can put our life back together once we’re done. And I don’t want to turn into that. I want to stay how I’ve always been. I want him to watch me on television and spit, because I won’t become a pet monster of his. I’m afraid if I—if I start clinging to the hope he wants us to have, I’m not me anymore. I’m not the freegan vegan pacifist communalist anarchist. I’m the girl who used to be Mizore Soryu, changed like everyone else changed. So I guess—I guess you’re right. I’m dooming myself because I’m a prideful sonofabitch, and I want to tell whoever started this game to fuck it, even if it means I die.”

Raidon had stayed silent, staring. She reached her hand out, wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead, but her eyes went past him, to Jacob, to Victoria. She thought I was Alice.

She wanted to say she understood what he was doing. She did understand what he was doing. All I have of value here is violence and the thread of violence. I don’t have time for diplomacy, and neither do you. Every murderer I kill, every resources I get, every weapon I acquire gives me an edge. Every enemy I eliminate leaves one fewer complication.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

But all she could see was Victoria’s smile, and Jacob’s hollow fury.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Raidon was staring at her.

“I can’t stop you from killing on your own.” She said, finally, helplessly. “And I wouldn’t, even if I could. This is your fight.” Her eyes were closing, no longer forced dryly open by the pain in her knee. “But I will not let you kill on my behalf, and I will not—I’ll do everything in my power to prevent anyone around me from murdering anyone else. It’s what I do. I suspect this means I’m leaving you now, and that’s okay.”

She could not force a smile, but her voice remained calm. She unbent her legs, stood up, and nearly screamed as her knee gave out from under her.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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