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Mizore was sweating, shaking. Who knew a sprained knee could be so painful? And now, and now she could talk, say the things she'd wanted to say ever since she'd gotten on the island, before she'd gotten on the island, whenever anyone casually advocated killing people Victoria Logan, because this guy was asking her about it, so damnit, she could tell him. And she was a little afraid, because maybe she wouldn't do it well, but mostly she wanted to speak, and speak for a long time you'll put your two cents in, because you've got a gun, but I'll put in three because history owes me one.

Sierra Manning. How is Sierra Manning feeling?

And she spoke quietly, precisely. "I'm guessing she's shocked. I'm guessing she's sad. And I'm guessing she's very, very afraid. And I think I'm guessing she's angry too. And there are so, so many ways she could become a killer, now. She could come after you for revenge. It's classic. But perhaps you think that only ends with you. Only ends with you, perhaps, getting shot in the face by an enraged girlfriend. It doesn't. It ends, perhaps, with her getting paranoid--she's less and less safe now--shooting someone she thinks is you, reminds her of you, reminds her of someone who shot Omar. Or maybe just reminds her that the island is a terrifying place, because people hunt other people, good people, she knows he was a good person, in pursuit of some ideal of justice--so what does that say about her safety?"

Sierra Manning wasn't getting anywhere. Typical. Julian Avery probably thought she was talking in hypotheticals. Time to show him that he wasn't the only one paying attention to the announcements.

"You're going to say I'm feeding you hypotheticals, while I'm sitting in front of a real killer--someone who's killed before, and presumably has no qualms about killing again. But most of the murders on this island have been one-time kills--by people like my hypothetical Sierra, people angry or upset or fucking paranoid, acting in terrified self-defense, or what might be self-defense, or what might be pre-emptive self-defense or what surely, surely is justified revenge--I know how violence works." Not as well as Raidon did, not as well as those who'd known vicious violence in their pre-island lives, but life in a commune, police raids, protests, Black Bloc and keeping up with the newspapers had to count for something. "Omar was a one-time killer. Are you going to kill all the other one-time killers too? Or just stick to the three and five-time killers like Sarah Atwell and Raidon here?”

Pause, breath, furious and softer. "There's no such thing as a bad apple. It's a stupid, stupid concept. Every kill, and not-to-kill is a choice--including Raidon's choice not to shoot you, when I was not in fact standing between him and your chest." She waits a beat, to let Julian realize that yes, she's not actually standing between him and Raidon, and yes, the bad bad serial killer had the chance to murder him, but didn't murder him when he had the chance. And continues not to murder him. The biggest secret is that people aren't at all like iron. We're quicksilver. An edge slips into her voice, that comes out in too many curses, too much intensity. "So when you say people have made their choices by now--I disbelieve. They're still making their choices, every fucking day. And you think you can stop the island by killing all the bad apples?"

Many people believe there are no bad apples, in theory. Mizore believes it in all seriousness. This makes her different from the vast majority of people. Perhaps it makes her crazy. Perhaps it makes her wise. Perhaps it makes her impragmatic, or hopelessly naive. Un-debatably, it makes her certain when she speaks.

But now she is winded, from talking, from speaking, from all that certainty. So Julian gets to speak now, quietly, his voice sharp, cutting, trying to draw blood. There is no mercy here.

"He told me he was gonna kill as many as it took to make sure Sierra got off the island. And there was no way I was gonna talk him down from that. And you got Max and Reiko out there, killing as many as it takes to win this for themselves. So you and me can argue philosophy long as you want. But in that time, those pieces of shit are gonna be adding to their bodycounts. And until you can tell me with a straight face that the island is a safer place with people like those two alive than it is with them dead, I'll stick with my plan."

It is not obvious that Mizore is firing back. It is not obvious that she has a trap laid for Julian. But she is, and she does, even though she is as soft-spoken as he. But only he can tell she has met his eyes and will not let go. "And Raidon--the island would be better off with him dead as well?"

"I ain't worked out the math yet. And if you keep your promise about limping in front of bullets, I'm not gonna be thinkin' about that one too hard."

Mizore scowls. That's a coward's answer, a non-answer. Wimp. Stand up for what you believe. Don't think I'll back down because you're offering me a safe way out.

She has wanted to say what she has said now for a long time.

Bur ahe is scowling, still, to start. "Then the question still stands. Naoko saved my life. Back in a danger zone. What is a saved life worth? One dead? Two? Who are your bad apples, Julian Avery? How do you decide who can't be redeemed?" Break pause and then, yes, she's been paying attention to the announcements. She's been paying attention, wanting, for a moment like this, for a talk like this, because these words and a listener are what she's wanted since before the copters took them to the island. "Kris Hartmann--we haven't heard about her for a few days. Has she gone back to the light side? Is she protecting someone like me now? What about Sarah Atwell, the torturer? She isn't dead, and yet she hasn't killed. for a few days. What is she doing? If you find one of them now, and they're not the evil you thought they were--what will you do then? Will you kill them even so, to punish them for their sins? Have you decided they're your bad apples, never to contribute to the good of our short island lives again?"

Her face was twisted, in something not quite dissimilar to fury. Zealotry, maybe. But she still has her facts, her announcements she remembers, and she's still not done, she's not done yet, though her voice goes softer. She is, perhaps, coming to a close, perhaps preparing for another barrage. "Ivan Kuznetsov, the best killer on the first day. I've heard he's now protecting some wee girl. And Clio Gabriella's just been shot--this is good, yes? But I'll be surprised if her boyfriend, Simon Telemon, does not show up in tomorrow's announcements. And yet it has been nearly a week, and you act as though people have made their choices. You act as though killing murderers won't spawn more murderers, more fear, more revenge cycles gone wrong."

Radio Asuka, the communalist pacifist graffiti artist, has wanted to fight this war for so damn long. And it shows.

And Julian, Julian Avery, man with morals and missions and a mandate shaped like a gun, looks entirely appropriately overwhelmed.

Radio Asuka has to stifle a smile.

And Julian looks at Naoko Raidon and, in the politest tone possible, asks "What made you decide to save her, Raidon?"

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Broken Like the Sun · The Felled Forest: North