"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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When Liz woke up, Mirabelle offered her wine.

Could be poisoned.

But no. It wouldn't be poisoned. There were much easier ways to kill her, so many easier ways. And this Mirabelle chick--Belle had found her. Let her break the cameras, risk killing her. Stayed by her while she slept.

There was no reason not to trust Belle.

But I...

And Liz wanted to trust Belle. Liz was powerless on her own. With Belle--oh God, she couldn't remember much about Belle, her powers of knowing gossip were slipping away with burnt skin around her neck--with Belle she could do things. Ruin Danya's game. Get off the island.

I want that.

Belle's wine burned her throat, but she kept drinking, passing it back to Belle in companionable silence. It woke her up. And alcohol, even grape-alcohol, was good for infection. Right?

Companionable silence.

She hadn't had it since she'd gotten on the island. Everything had been action, reaction, trying to act, trying to escape. Sleeping in a tree, constant exhaustion. Running. Her throat had burned even before now.

And she had never found someone she could trust.

But I trust this kid.

Maybe because it made her chances better. Maybe because there was no choice. Maybe because Belle looked tired and somehow old, and Liz was used to trusting that.

Trust you.

And Belle began to speak.

"I came looking for you," She said. "I...I can fight, but that's pretty much all I can do." Pause. Beat. "And there's no shortage of people who can fight, here. Who can fight better than me, if they got any sort of weapon. Much less a gun." She grimaced. "I got...I got distracted. I was picking fights I couldn't..." She trailed off. "I want to go after Danya," she said. "He's...all the evil that happens here is his fault. I'm not saying we're blameless, but...but it couldn't have happened if it weren't for him."

She was looking at her hands now. Shame? Liz couldn't tell. She had always been bad at picking out emotions.

And Belle spoke simply now.

"I needed to find you, Liz. I needed someone who could free me."

Faith. Agh. Someone was putting faith in her. No, no, no, no. Liz felt like enough of a failure already, fluttering, unsure and running for her life. She had a plan--really, she did--but it depended too much on other people, on Danya's ignorance and the intelligence of everyone she'd collected gossip on and hardly knew. It had variables it's not a very good plan, it's incomplete, it doesn't have contingencies and it was sloppy, and it would totally fall apart as soon as anyone decided that they knew where Liz Polanski was and wanted to kill her. And you have faith in me?

"I don't know if you've got a bigger plan," Belle continued. "But Danya put a bounty on you, and he hasn't killed me yet. Whatever you're doing, I...I want to help out. Try to protect you. But I've...I've got kind of a thing I need to deal with." Another pause from Belle, this one seeming internal. "A girl. A killer. We agreed to meet at the Sawmill tomorrow." She shrugged. "If you, uh...if you don't have any plans, I think I need to..." She trailed off, and restarted. "I can't forgive anyone who could lose that much hope. Enough hope to start..."

She cut herself off again, and Liz winced. A killer. The other drama on the island. The drama Liz had been ignoring, perhaps trying to pretend didn't exist but that's why Danya's so cruel in the first place. We all have weapons. We're all trying to kill each other. Escape wasn't supposed to even be in the game.

And Belle had a killer she wanted to catch. A grudge. Liz felt herself twist in annoyance--can't you see this is more important than a killer? She wanted to laugh at her own arrogance for the thought. After all, if Danya hadn't caught Mr. Kwong, she wouldn't have begun smashing cameras so vengefully. She would have hid. Been sensible.

Not tried to beat Danya at his own game.

"If you don't have any other plans." Belle said in the dead air. "We could head that way."

Liz lay her head against rock, and thought about it. In truth, she wanted to go back to sleep--her head felt heavy still, and the wine, placebo or no, wasn't helping. But the alcohol had stung her throat, and trying to sleep with sharp, throbbing neck pains didn't seem like it would work.

Pick up the pen, the paper in trembling hands. Begin to write.

MY PLAN IS CRUDE. I DID NOT EXPECT THE BURN OR THE BOUNTY, ALTHOUGH I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE.

I FIGURE I SHOULD SPELL IT OUT TO YOU--RIGHT NOW I WANT TO BREAK CAMERAS IN AS MANY ZONES AS POSSIBLE, AND LEAVE INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO GET THE COLLAR OFF WHEREVER I CAN.

That wasn't--that was hard.

THE CAMERA BIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. IT'S HOW THE TERRORISTS KEEP TRACK OF US. MORE CAMERAS DOWN, MORE PEOPLE CAN ESCAPE--MAYBE BY FUCKING WITH COLLARS LIKE I DID, MAYBE A DIFFERENT WAY. WANT AS MANY ZONES AS POSSIBLE SO THEY CAN'T DZ THEM ALL. WANT TO HIT ALL THE ZONES EVENTUALLY.

GAVE YOU THE PLAN. WANT TO GIVE IT TO MORE PEOPLE DIRECTLY AS WELL AS INDIRECTLY. NEED TO FIND SUPPLIES TO MAKE IT GO AGAIN (THE PLAN, I MEAN); MOST LIKELY IN THE REZ DISTRICT OR THE MANSION. NEED TO FIND PEOPLE WHO WON'T KILL ME, SO I CAN GIVE THEM THIS STUFF. BUT THE DANYA-PEOPLE WILL BE WATCHING ME, HOPEFULLY WATCHING ME TOO MUCH. I WANT PEOPLE TO CLEAR OFF THEIR COLLARS WHEN I'M NOT AROUND--THAT WILL FUCK THE TERRORISTS UP.

ONCE MORE PEOPLE GET COLLARS OFF, THEN WE CAN FIND WAYS TO GET OFF THE ISLAND. RIGHT NOW, MY FOCUS IS MAKING AS MANY BLACKOUT ZONES AS POSSIBLE.

Passed the page, full of cramped handwriting, to Belle. Belle read it, squinting, and frowned. Liz shrugged.

WE CAN GO WHERE YOU WANT.

Stop being powerless, Liz. She'll decide you're useless. She already thinks you're useless. She's seen your neck. She's going to kill you for the bounty.

Liz closed her eyes. I don't want to die.

Paper again.

IF YOU COULD PROTECT ME, IT WOULD BE A BIG HELP.

Belle nodded.

Liz felt way too weak. This girl could betray her. This girl could rip her throat out. And she was depending on her because you have no choice.

And she suddenly felt the urge to cry.

No. No. You're not that girl.

She still had the weapons in her pockets. And she still had Daisuke's gun.

Trust her.

The wine hadn't poisoned her yet.

Trust her.

You need to. You won't get home otherwise.

Trust her.

Liz Polanski, you need to have more faith in other people.

Trust her.

Liz Polanski emptied her pockets. Net gun, crackers, kitchen knife. Search and rescue, compact mirror, semi-automatic pistol.

YOU'RE THE FIGHTER. DIVIDE THESE UP INTELLIGENTLY.

Trust her.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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