"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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Nathan Caudle (STAR Defense Squad, known to his comrades as Nate), stood on deck, watching the island get closer. He was itching for action. For years, he'd wanted nothing more than to turn something around on Danya, to destroy him utterly and make him pay for all the wrongs for which he was responsible. The exact method was fairly secondary in concern; what mattered was that Nate wanted to burn something.

And now, he had a chance. Thanks to Brynn, they had everything they needed. They had the island's location, previously secret to all but Danya's inner circle. They had information on the collar design changes, and, specifically, they knew how to exploit a last second fix in order to tie up the collars for a good while. After what the one girl had pulled, it required physical action on the part of the folks at HQ to initiate a collar explosion, even for things as mundane as danger zones. Stopping that sort of thing was a simple matter of having a more powerful signal at a closer location. Sure, the terrorists would probably be able to outjuice STAR given twenty minutes of time, but since they were dealing with an assault on their headquarters at the same time, Nate was pretty sure they had bigger concerns.

And thus was his group able to run roughshod over this carefully-crafted game to snatch everyone they could get their hands on and then run.

Well... not quite everyone.

They were leaving the players.

Nate had argued long and hard for this particular side of the plan. He wasn't about to forget the atrocities he'd seen over the years. He wasn't about to say that any murderer was more deserving of life than their victims. In Nate's mind, pulling the trigger sealed their fate.

That wasn't the argument that his side had used, of course. Plenty of people had come close to playing themselves during their times on the island. Nate didn't think highly of them, but he knew when to fall back on logic. The points had been simple.

People played the game because they wanted to survive. They assumed that killing optimized their chances of doing so. They were wrong. Nate could explain the math behind it. The fact that the last three winners had been big killers was a total fluke. That didn't matter, though. By refusing the players, they made a stand. They put forth a solid demonstration of fact. Those members of the Senior Class of Bayview Secondary School who had turned to murder were all fucked. If they didn't bring everything down around Danya's ears, well, hey, next season those kids would look back and remember poor little Maxwell Lombardi being left behind when the cavalry busted in, and they'd look at the guns in their hands and they'd ask themselves, "Is it worth it?" and maybe the answer would be just a little harder.

No absolution for the murderers. Justice in action.

Yeah, sure, Nate had promised that, on the off chance they did manage to totally destroy the terrorists, they'd come back and grab everyone, killers and all, on the second run. He doubted that would happen, and intended to see the lot of them jailed if it did. For now, though, the concern was running the people who weren't insane, who weren't twisted or vicious or monstrous, back to the nearby island where they had the helicopters stashed. Logistics for this had been a total bitch. Most of the V3 people were still in Australia. Nate wasn't sure how many of them even knew this was going on. It was a bit too close to home for a lot of them. Potential for bad flashbacks and other dangerous distractions. Potential for security leaks from the less disciplined ones.

Nate was hoping for a decent haul. Nabbing thirty students per ship would be ideal, would leave Danya's game with peanuts. At last count, the survivors numbered in the mid-eighties. Of course, realistically speaking, that would never happen. They'd be lucky to get a dozen at each grab point. Anything was a success, though. Anything at all.

The boat was nearing their destination. As it closed, Nate shouted out for one of his assistants to check the gear. It was all in order. Everything seemed to be working just fine. Nate didn't like that. Nothing ever went perfectly.

"Check again," he called.

After a few seconds, the girl he was talking to replied, "It looks pretty good, only, uh..."

"Yeah?"

"Looks like that group from before is still on the island making repairs. Greynolds and friends. They're supposedly being recalled for defense, but..."

Nate frowned.

"Keep an eye on things."

The last thing Nate wanted was a squad of heavily-armed terrorists dropping in on him. The odds were good that, like the patrol boats, they would soon be frantically scrambling back to base to save Danya's fat ass, but he couldn't be at all sure of that. It wasn't worth risking his life, and the lives of the other STAR members here, on.

And then, they were there. The trip from the large speedboat to the beach, undertaken in a small raft, was surreal. The next few hours were going to be the biggest thing the group had ever been involved in. Nate almost wished he could have been with the assault squad, handling the actual important side of things. Still, this would have to be good enough.

Nate got himself oriented, then whipped out the amplified megaphone he had. His earplugs were already in place. Wasn't a student nearby who was gonna sleep through this.

"Good morning, death island," he called out. "We're here with your friendly taxi service, offering an all-expenses-paid trip back to the good ol' USA for all of you non-murderous sorts out there. Killers, players, and cannibals welcome too, for the bullet-in-the-head special, if you want the easy way out of this.

"But wait! There's more. Come now, and you get to give Mr. Danya a nice big 'Fuck you', plus you get a free Happy Meal when we hit shore. This is a limited time offer, though, so you better move fast, 'cause the seats on this boat are hot, and once they're gone, they're gone.

"Oh, and if I find out you murdered someone on your way here but weren't on my happy little list of sociopaths, I swear I'll put a bullet straight through your skull."
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