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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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It had been two days since the attack. The base should have been back in order, at least to a major degree. They had sustained a lot of damage, but nothing irreparable. No, the critical damage had been to morale. The fact that the game was proceeding as well as ever did nothing to shatter the pall that had been cast over the base. It was almost as if they'd lost, as if they'd been entirely defeated. In a way, perhaps, they had.

Christina Stockton certainly didn't feel good about things. The loss of some of the students was something she could accept, something that, on some level, she could even come to believe might not be all bad. The identity of the attackers, though, was much, much more worrying. She was one of the members of the AT who could still remember everything that had happened all those years ago, back when she'd been new on the job. Having something out of the past blindside her was not her idea of a good time, especially not on the tail of a grueling mission. Their defeat of the problem causer and their repairs of the cameras all felt pretty damn hollow right now.

She was sitting in the tech room, filling in for the depleted staff, watching endless shots of the island. It was all excruciatingly boring. She'd taken to counting the corpses she recognized from her own sojourn ashore. It was all that was keeping her awake. She almost envied Lourvey. At least redesigning collars involved mental work. For all she knew, though, he found it totally tedious and repetitive.

She didn't realize she was being watched for close to a minute. It was only the subtle shift of shadows as the person standing behind her fidgeted that tipped her off. She turned around slowly, expecting Wilson or Greynolds ready with some new task. Instead, she saw Shamino Warhen, gesturing for her to follow him. She stood and walked out of the room, glancing nervously behind her. The techs pretended to be engrossed in their work. They had lost all curiosity when it came to each others' business. The bloodstains nobody had quite managed to scrub away provided plenty of continuing unpleasantness. There was no need to pile on any more.

In the hall, Christina said straight away, "Did I do something wrong?"

"No," Shamino replied. "You looked like you needed a break to stay sharp. Besides, I have news."

Released from her nervousness, Christina pulled a pack of cigarettes from her pocket, selected one, and lit it.

"What have you been doing?" she asked Shamino. She had barely seen him since the attack, a notable oddity while everyone else was pulling double shifts.

"Intelligence," he said. "Trying to figure out what went wrong, what the fallout is. Lots of time on the phone, connecting with assets. We're pretty sure we've found the general area where they took the missing students."

That elicited a raised eyebrow.

"And?" Christina prompted after a few seconds.

"And nothing. We only have a rough picture, but it's enough. They got them inland, got them guarded, and we're understaffed. If they'd hidden somewhere isolated, maybe. As it is, time to cut our losses. Keeping them watching their backs means keeping them hidden, means keeping our own location quiet."

And that was that. Forget almost thinking it was okay that there were survivors, Christina was mad about this. She also knew that they were making the right call. It would be a total waste of resources to hunt down the rescued students. Besides, what would they do with them? Throw them back into the game, with all the advantages that came with even a day of rest and proper nutrition? Kill them? They couldn't afford to fixate on revenge. As soon as V4 was over, she imagined they were going to have some serious restructuring to do.

For the moment, all that was left was to ride this out, to make sure there were no bugs in the final days of the game. Soon, V4 would be nothing but an unpleasant memory.

"I have to talk with Greynolds now," Shamino said. "Back to the monitors, Domino."

She sighed, flicked her cigarette at a trash can and missed, and turned back to the door into the monitoring room as Shamino stomped it out for her. Nobody commented as she entered and returned to her seat.

Greynolds was almost beginning to understand the routine of the announcements. Almost. It all still felt uncomfortable, but at least now in a familiar way. Maybe after V4, things would be different. They would pretty much have to be.

For now, though, there were deaths to read. Quite a number of them, in fact.

"Greynolds here," he said through the speakers all across the island. "Another announcement for whoever's left.

"First off, Celeste Beaumont decided to spend some quality time in a danger zone instead of leaving when I told her to. Bad move.

"Garry Villette was blown up by a grenade fired by Kristina Hartmann. She didn't have time to savor her latest kill, though, since she was stabbed in the back by Kimberly Nguyen.

"Next off, we had quite the serial performance. Rachel Gettys, Neill Robertson, and Nathan Choultard were all shot fatally by Liam Brooks, who was killed in turn by Jason Harris.

"Reiko Ishida opened fire on Joe Rios, killing him. Then, Jimmy Brennan crushed Samya Franklin under a stack of shelves. He also shot her. Overkill, much?

"Jessica Pentangeli couldn't take it anymore, and threw herself off a cliff. Hayley Kelly killed Janet Binachi in a firefight, Madeleine Smith shot Trent Savage, and Aaron Hughes blew away Fiona Sparki. Peter Siu then gunned down Marry-Ann Warren. Notice a trend, survivors: guns are actually fairly useful. It might be something to consider if you plan to continue living.

"Ema Ryan brought an end to a wounded Hayley Kelly. That's the third notable player to die in one day. Finally, Charlotte DuClare eventually died of blood loss due to wounds inflicted by Raidon Naoko, and Teo Weinstock managed to blow himself up with a backfiring stolen gun.

"Since there are only twenty-eight of you left, we're going to have to condense the rest of the game a little bit. As such, you all need to head for the northern section of the island. Everything else will become a permanent danger zone. We'll give you a little extra time, since it's not possible to do that all in ten minutes, but don't lag or you'll lose your head. To be clear, the Coastal Woods, the Mountain, the Fun Fair, the Inland Woods, the Ranger Station, the Southern Cliffs, the Mansion, the Gazebo, the Destroyed Cell Phone Tower, the Mines, the Groundskeeper's Hut, and the Hall of Mirrors are all permanent danger zones. Those traveling between the Swamp and the rest of the island are advised to stick very closely to the Logging Road. Finally, we were impressed enough by Mr. Brennan's performance to replace the weapon he lost. It'll be waiting for you in the Town Center. Everyone else, stay out of there for the day.

"Until tomorrow, then. Keep it safe. Greynolds out."

And, the rolls:
1. Aileen Borden (KamiKaze)
2. Alex White (Dr. Nic)
3. Peter Siu (Solomir)
4. Jason Harris (Fanatic)
5. Raidon Naoko (Grim Wolf) - (Jonny, Roll Null used)
6. Jimmy Brennan (Little Boy)
7. Meredith Hemmings (zombiexcreame)

As always, three days for cards and DZs (the extra time is IC only), seven further for deaths.

Finally, congratulations to Jonny, who wins a Roll Null for the death of Charlotte DuClare.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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The Eleventh Announcement · Announcements