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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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And that was that. Aileen was ignorant of one of the key tenets of negotiation: you should never make an ultimatum unless you are willing to accept all the options you offer.

She had contrived to force Aaron's hand in every way possible. She was goading him, insulting him, saying he was like Lombardi. Of course he wasn't like Lombardi. Lombardi had been an idiot, drawing everyone's attention and making himself the highest profile target on the island, reviled by players, wannabe heroes, and noncombatants alike. That was a terrible way to survive. It was the method of someone too caught up in their own newfound freedom, someone who had taken their eyes entirely off the end goal.

Aaron wasn't like that. He knew what he wanted, what he planned to do. He was going to win. Aileen had placed herself in his way. He actually did consider her alternatives, of course. The first one was tempting. He could go along with her, let her think she was in charge, let her call the shots and figure out for herself how futile everything was. Then, when her guard was down, he could get rid of her. The problem was, at that point, she might see it coming. She would surely be more prepared to defend herself than she was right now. She could even be laying a trap of her own, planning to kill Aaron as soon as he dropped his guard in the slightest. This was clearly the most opportune moment for getting rid of her. Anything later would be too risky.

Letting her go wasn't an option. As she pointed out, there weren't many people left in the game, and fewer still were potential allies. If Aileen was allowed to roam unchecked, she would warn them about Aaron, would let them know what he was up to. That would mean he would have to be even more suspicious of everyone he met. He would have to assume that they all knew. That was out of the question.

And then there was the last option. Kill her, make his own way. It was doable. It would mean starting over, but Aaron had been ready to do that for a long time. It wouldn't even be too hard. After all, he could back up his story better than almost anyone left in the game, and he was armed and mostly uninjured. He wasn't going to go on some killing spree. That was idiotic and counterproductive. he was going to play it cool, play it smart, and come out on top. There wasn't a shred of doubt in his mind.

Aileen said it was time to decide. Aaron agreed completely.

"Goodbye, Aileen," he said, and pulled the trigger.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder drawn by Ryuki
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