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He was near-unconscious now, Maxwell Lombardi. Jonathan Blake. She hadn’t liked him.

The biggest secret is that people aren’t at all like iron.

Player. Serial killer. Rough hands around her neck, striking her face. She was, she reflected, a lucky girl. She’d never been physically manhandled before. Where he had touched felt hot and sore.

We’re quicksilver.

Raidon Naoko. On the ground. I’m surrounded by killers, and killers, and killers. She wanted to cry. She wanted to giggle hysterically.

But no. Keep your cool, Mizore Soryu.

There’s very little like iron in us.

She wanted him to die. Maxwell Lombardi. He scared her in every way Raidon didn’t.

Are you morally prepared to kill me, Naoko Raidon?

Raidon was prepared. Raidon, she could die from. Raidon knew what a kill was, what every kill was. He’d chosen to give up himself, to bet it all on a chance of surviving—but he knew what he was doing, and what waited for him at the end. Mizore appreciated that.

Maxwell Lombardi did not know what he was doing. He was playing, rushing, not thinking—not knowing what he took, not morally prepared to murder anyone. If she had died to him, her death would have been meaningless.

For some reason, that sickened her.

And she had to save his life.

There’s very little like iron in us.

In Mizore’s mind, there was no such thing as a moral compass. Nothing was conscience, nothing was inconceivable, unless you made it so. Yes, there was revulsion, instinctive disgust, to shy away from confrontation, to shy away from death, but there were mental gymnastics that made instinct irrelevant, every time.

He tried to kill me!

He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

The island would be safer without him.

I wouldn’t be the one hurting him.

He saved my life. I should let him have his revenge.

A gun kill. It’s quick and clean.

I couldn’t stop him if I tried.

Mental gymnastics. Every time.


She shook her head.

“No.” She said. “We’re not killing him.”

And the goddamn caveat, to make her feel tougher, to buy her more time.

“Not until we talk to him, at least.”

Because, of course, Raidon and Julian wouldn’t pay attention to her if she had said we just shouldn’t kill him, because we’re not going to let the game get to us. Because we’re going to stay good people, even if it takes all the willpower in the world to do so. Because we’re not going to let some terrorist dictate our actions, because every time he does that, he’s proved some bullshit about humanity that I don’t want to be true, that I want to throw some force-of-will at until it’s not true, because I will not accept the fact that every human is a monster, given enough opportunity. I will not accept this fact, even if you shoot me for it.

She coughed. Her throat was still sore. Fucking Maxwell Lombardi. Her thoughts came out inarticulate, stiff, a nasty approximation of the words in her head.

“We’re humans. We’re going to act like humans. I don’t care about what you said about Little Crow earlier, we’re not going to act like that. We don’t have to.”

Julian, or Raidon, had brought a bag. She unzipped it, pulled out gaffer’s tape. She was going to have the sadistic pleasure of tying strangle-man up, if nothing else.

And then, from the shore:

"Hello, students of Bayview Secondary School. My name is Jaxon Jeremiah. I'm here with a group of people who can get your collars off and take you home."

She wanted to laugh and laugh for the goddamn joy of it.

Because now there was no confrontation. There was no fighting Raidon Naoko and Julian Avery for something she didn’t want to do but very badly wanted to believe in. Or there was no inevitable hatred and disappointment, and the wounded look in Raidon’s eyes, you don’t understand, and the just-as-inevitable self-loathing for being in love with someone who had killed and killed and killed again and showed no signs of stopping.

Because now there was a rescue. A goddamn miracle.

And they could race to the boats.

“Let’s go.”

(Post-order-skipping done with the approval of threadmates)

(Mizore Soryu continued in The Cavalry Arrives)

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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