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The Hills Are Alive; Topic closed
Topic Started: Sep 28 2010, 12:35 PM (3,200 Views)
BetaKnight
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In some cultures, what I do is considered normal.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Aislyn McCreery continued from Random Spawns are a Bitch))

Aislyn kept her eyes trained on the ground in front of her, carefully placing her steps to avoid stepping on any sharp objects. She had been brooding since leaving the swamp and fully intended on continuing her dark mood today. Normally, a decent night’s sleep and a refreshing swim would help her put problems into perspective but today she had to do without both.

She could hear Felicia huffing and blowing up head of her. ‘She sounds like some kind of animal in distress,’ she fumed silently as she brought up the rear. ‘At least I’m in back and not counting on her to watch my back. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then my chain is in need of serious reforging.’

As she caught up with the other girls, she could only stare incredulously as the much smaller girl did her very best Julie Andrews imitation while Felicia found a spot for herself on the floor. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Neither one seemed to be concerned with making sure the area was secure. Nobody was watching for threats.

‘I guess you don’t have to worry if none of your stuff gets stolen and crazed bitches don’t hop out and threaten you.’

Aislyn’s eyes darted around the clearing as she wished for the millionth time that she’d gotten a better weapon assignment than that damned Rubik’s Cube. ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ She could hear her father’s teasing tone in her head as the familiar admonishment came to mind. ‘Nobody likes a whiner or dead weight, Cess. Adapt. Improvise.’

“Overcome,” she said aloud, finishing the mantra. Aislyn began to scour the ground for a decent fist-sized rock. “Hey, do either of you see a sturdy looking tree limb or stick laying about? “
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BetaKnight
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In some cultures, what I do is considered normal.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Aislyn tried to ignored the sleeping girls as she relentlessly scraped her stick with the coarse, fist-sized rock she had found. She tried to stay focused on the task at hand, namely, grinding down the edges of the stick to make a sharpened point. Holding the branch at an angle, with sure, steady strokes, she worked, determined to create a weapon to defend herself with. While the task was physically demanding, it wasn’t exactly visually or mentally stimulating.

As she watched the other girls enjoy their peaceful slumber, she found herself apply more force to the stick than was absolutely necessary. The methodic rasping of the stone on the wood filled her ears. With each stroke of the stone, her irritation began to grown into something more. Treacherous, poisonous thoughts began to creep into her mind.

Let’s just take a nap.

On a mountain.

With no cover or anything.

Just in case the crazies come back.

We can be completely helpless.

Easy targets for even the clumsiest hunters.


Slowly, Aislyn’s gaze travelled from Melissa to Felicia before resting on Samaya’s peaceful form. It would be so easy to just end it here for them. It would almost be a mercy, an act of kindness to spare them from the indignities and cruelties that some of the other students would surely inflict upon them. They would never know or feel a thing. She was fairly certain she could make it quick and painless for them.

But she couldn’t do that. This was her team. Her team...who were sleeping on the ground without a care in the world. They were relying on her to keep them safe while they slept. She couldn’t betray that trust. The situation wasn’t hopeless yet. They had only been here a little over a day. There was still time. Her thoughts drifted to a comforting starry night from the not too distant past.

________________________

It was easier to talk to her father about his job and their lifestyle and what that meant for the future when the only illumination came from the comforting, flickering flames of their campfire and the distant twinkling of the stars overhead.

The McCreerys were a tight-knit and loving family, but neither father nor daughter was entirely comfortable with things that were ‘touchy feely’. The dancing shadows cast by the firelight obscured enough that neither one of them had to be embarrassed about witnessing any awkward displays of emotion. Aislyn prodded the fire with a stout stick, causing the fire to flare briefly before settling into muted glow. The dark, as her father liked to remind her, was your friend.

Setting the stick aside, she absently twisted her fingers in the hem of her shirt as she tried to figure out how to approach the topic. Even though her father had been a sailor for as long as she could remember, the final few days leading up a deployment never got any easier. It seemed so selfish to ask him to reassure her when he was the one heading off to an active combat zone.

“Penny for your thoughts, Cess.”

Her father’s gruff voice startled her. Aislyn looked up from the fire, her eyes wide. “Wha…what, Dad?”

Across the fire, her father lifted his metal coffee mug and gestured to her hands. “You’re twisting up your shirt there pretty good. That usually means you’ve got something on your mind. So why don’t you just tell ole’ Dad what it is you’re thinkin’ about?” He raised the mug to his lips and took a deep drink while knowingly watching his daughter.

“It’s nothing. It’s stupid,” she mumbled, feeling like a small child again.

“Ah, so it’s the old ‘you’re going away and leaving me’ bit again, is it?” he asked in a knowing tone.

Aislyn blushed hotly, cringing a bit. “Well, when you say it *that* way, it really does sound stupid,” she barked, unhappy with her father for his teasing. “I mean, why should I be upset that you’re going to a place where people get killed on a regular basis.” She tried to swallow the lump that had suddenly appeared in her throat. “Why would I worry that one day you’re gonna go and not come back? You’re right. It’s stupid.” Staring at the sullen embers embedded in the ash, she willed herself not to cry.

Sighing, he put aside the coffee mug and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Aislyn, we’ve been through this before. This is what I do. I go out with a team, we kick ass, take names, and come back home to brag about it. You know that no matter what happens, I will always come back. SEALs don’t –“

She finished the statement for her father. “Leave other SEALs behind. Yeah, Dad, I know,” she sighed. “It’s just…what if something happens while you’re gone? Like that train bombing in Spain? Or the one in London? What if something like SARS sweeps Italy and they won’t let you guys come back? I don’t want to be alone if something like that happens.” Aislyn squirmed in her seat, uncomfortable at the amount of vulnerability she was revealing.

Her father stood and walked around the campfire to sit beside her. Settling down, he picked up her stick and began to poke at the fire. “Aislyn Grace, what have I said to you every year since you started school? What does the note that goes into every emergency kit and deployment package I have ever given you say?” All teasing was gone from his voice. He studied his only child out of the corner of his eye as he moved small pieces of wood around.

“Not to worry. That you love me and if something has happened, to sit tight and wait for you to come and get me,” she mumbled as she leaned against her father’s comforting bulk. “But-“

“No ‘buts’,” he said, his tone serious. “There are no ‘buts’ to that statement. You are the most important thing to me in the world, and if you need help, I will come and get you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a natural disaster or a man-made one. I *will* come and get you. Your job is to hang on until I get there. And I will get there. Because there’s nothing in heaven or hell that can stop a SEAL for coming to get a team mate.”

Not trusting her voice, Aislyn nodded her head. After a moment, she cleared her throat and spoke, her voice low. “Thanks, Daddy. I’m sorry.”

Her father slung his arm around her shoulders, giving her a reassuring squeeze. “Hell, I’m nervous too, Cess. And I know we do this song and dance every time I go. But never forget, you are the most important thing in my life, and I will always come if you need me. Even if I have to *walk* back from Iraq. I will come. “

“I know,” she whispered, her voice almost inaudible.

Giving his daughter one last squeeze before releasing her, Lucas McCreery leaned back and studied the fire. “Now that we’ve got that out of the way, why don’t we make some s’mores before we call it a night? And you can tell me if you can finally pick out the Northern Cross,” he said, gesturing at the sky.

“Sure thing, Dad,” Aislyn said, discreetly wiping a few stray tears off her face as she got out the s’mores supplies. “I’m pretty sure I’ve got it nailed down this time.”

____________________________

The rustling of some leaves snapped Aislyn back to the present. ‘Stupid stupid stupid!’ she silently chastised herself. ‘You’re on guard duty! You don’t get to wander down Memory Lane! You’re lucky nobody got killed by your inability to focus!’

Hefting her makeshift spear in one hand and the rock in the other, Aislyn cautiously crept towards the edge of the clearing, where the sound had originated. Weapon at the ready, she waited for the inevitable attack. When none came, she lowered her arm, feeling incredibly foolish. Relaxing a bit, she walked back to the other girls.

“Rest time is over, ladies,” Aislyn called out as she neared them. “This isn’t a secure location. We’ve got to keep moving.”

Seeing no immediate movement, she took a deep breath before barking out the three girls’ names in rapid succession. “FELICIA! MELISSA! SAMAYA! GET YOUR ASSES UP! IT’S TIME TO GO!”
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BetaKnight
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In some cultures, what I do is considered normal.
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Aislyn watched the other girls’ outpouring of grief as they crowded around Samaya’s corpse. She knew she was supposed to feel something at the passing of the other girl, but they had barely known each other. It seemed wrong to carry on and wail over a relative stranger. She knew she was supposed to feel sad, but in all honesty, she actually felt a little envious of Samaya. The hard part for her was over.

Leaving Melissa and Felicia to their own devices, Aislyn grabbed Samaya’s duffle and began rifling through it. Grieving was a luxury they couldn’t really afford. Like most emotions, it distracted you from what needed to be done. The remaining girls were proof of that. Someone had to be level-headed if they were going to make it out of this. Later she would cry. Now she had work to do.

She began making a pile of items to take and items to leave. ‘Extra rations are a take. Sad as it sounds, one less mouth to feed now. Flashlight is a definite take as well.’ Aislyn fished out Samaya’s first aid kit and contemplated the object. She had her own, and it would be nice to have more supplies in case they needed them later on down the road.

However, extra weight meant extra energy expended. Taking it with them now would deny some unknown hostile to it. Unless she stashed it somewhere. Which might be the best idea since it meant that if the supplies were lost or stolen, she could come back to a hidey hole and replenish what had been lost.

Unless someone finds it and takes it. Then all my supplies go to support the enemy’s actions against me.’ She caught her bottom lip in her teeth and worried it as she weighted the pros and cons of using Samaya’s gear to create a fall-back pack.
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BetaKnight
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"You're just um...taking her things?"

Aislyn could practically *hear* the judgment in Melissa’s tone and she nearly flinched. Sure, it looked bad but it wasn’t as if she had WANTED to be doing this. Like she was ENJOYING it. She desperately wanted to round on the other girl and snap at her. ‘Oh, yes, Melissa. I’m just taking her things. Because I’m a fucking ghoul and I like to loot the dead for shits and giggles.’

Instead, she stayed silent, not trusting herself not to lash out at the meek girl. Aislyn could feel Melissa’s eyes on her as she continued her perusal of Samaya-the-recently-deceased’s belongings. She tried to stay focused on the task at hand, sorting items into three distinct piles. A definite ‘to take’ pile, a ‘to store and hide’ pile, and the ‘to leave behind to throw people off’ pile.

"Do...do you want me to help carry anything? Um...I could take the first aid kit. Maybe if we split it up...That way it won't be...that much heavier, right? I'm sorry, I've never had to think about...you know, things like this before. It's kind of hard to deal with...especially since so many people are already dead."

‘Oh, like I’m an expert on this kind of shit? Like this is a fucking walk in the park for me?’ Snatching up one of Samaya’s infamous low-cut tops, Aislyn wound the material around her hand, twisting it violently and imagining it was Melissa’s neck. ‘First she practically calls me a grave robber, now she’s all for taking the stuff because now, NOW, she’s figured out it would benefit her. Fucking hypocrite,’ she silently seethed. Just as she opened her mouth, preparing to lay into Melissa, Felicia’s trembling voice stopped her.

"Aislyn, I-I..."

Aislyn looked over at Felicia and saw how utterly fragile and destroyed the other girl looked as she sat by the corpse of her friend. Turning her head slightly, she watched out of the corner of her eye as Melissa tried to make herself useful as she dithered around the piles. Some of her impending rage dissipated. As much as she would feel better if he indulged in her temper tantrum, it wouldn’t improve their situation. Besides, the other girls were practically in shambles as it was. Few people had ever been witness to one of Aislyn’s fits of temper, and those who had had described the experience as extremely frightening. And that was the last thing she needed, to frighten her companions.

Heaving a sigh, she motioned for Felicia to come over. “Okay, look. Here’s my plan. If we’re gonna make it until someone gets here to help, we have to help ourselves and utilize all of our available resources. That includes Samaya’s stuff.”

Making sure to look each girl in the eye, Aislyn continued in low tones. “Yes, it sounds cold, but Samaya doesn’t need it any more. She’s fine now. We?” Pointing her finger, she moved her hand in a circular motion, making sure to include all of them in the gesture. “Are not fine. Not by a long shot. We’re going to have to do some stuff that might seem questionable, but the reality of the situation is that we’re not playing by normal rules any more. When it comes down to it, it’s us or them. And I’m going to pick ‘us’ every time out.”

Aislyn paused, letting the thought sink in. “I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit here and fall apart. I’m not gonna give anyone the satisfaction of rolling over and playing dead. As of right now, we have only one rule. Whatever it takes for us to walk away is fair game. Got it?” She stared at them, watching their expressions. Would they sign on or would she have to cut them loose as dead loss?
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BetaKnight
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In some cultures, what I do is considered normal.
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Aislyn warily nodded as the other two girls agreed to the new game plan. They still seemed very…brittle. Brittle was a good word. As if the wrong word or gesture from her was going to shatter and destroy this fledgling partnership.

At Felicia's request, Aislyn dug through Samaya’s clothing, looking for the largest item. She straightened with a grunt as she found something suitable. Shaking out a sleeping shirt, she handed it to the other girl. “This is the biggest thing I could find. It should cover the most. We should probably weigh the edges down with rocks, so it doesn’t blow away or anything.”

Spotting the toe of a shoe sticking out of the small heap of clothing, Aislyn fought the urge to cry out. Pulling the shoe out, she eagerly dug around until she found the other. Smiling gleefully as she sat down, she quickly stripped the shoelaces out of the shoes. Gathering up one of the spare t-shirts, Aislyn tugged and tugged until she split the shirt at the seams.

Having torn the shirt into two pieces connected only by the v-shaped collar, she set about removing the neck of the shirt and ripping it in two. Carefully folding each half of the shirt into roughly foot-sized pieces, with some trial and error, Aislyn managed to secure the pads to the soles and sides of her feet by using the neck and shoelaces to tie the material in place.

Cautiously climbing to her feet, Aislyn took her new make-shift shoes out for a test drive. She could still feel rocks and other objects through the material, but she was less likely to be jabbed in the foot by some foreign object. It wasn’t the best solution, but it was something.

The shoe issue dealt with, she turned back to the piles. Humming to herself while moving decisively, Aislyn picked up the darkest hoodie sweater Samaya owned and tied the hands of each sleeves closed before zipping it up. She grabbed the drawstring in the hood and pulled it as tightly closed as she could. Satisfied with the results, she put half the food and all but one of the water bottles into the sleeves and body of the jacket.

Holding the jacket by its bottom hem, Aislyn paced about, trying to find a good hiding spot. Along the edge of clearing she spotted a gap in a small group of bushes. Still holding the jacket upside down, Aislyn shoved the jacket into the space, leaving it looking wadded up. Hopefully, if someone else found it, they would just dismiss it as a discarded piece of clothing. She repeated the process with a pair of pants and the first aid kit, map, and compass.

Feeling relieved that they now had a back-up store, Aislyn gathered up the remaining food and offered it to Melissa. “If you’d like to carry it, you can. I’m gonna keep the flashlight if that’s okay with you. If you want, we can split this food and each take some, that way, if any one of us loses are supplies we don’t lose everything.”

Picking up the single unpacked water bottle, she opened it and poured some of the water into her mouth, making sure she did not touch her lips to the bottle. Swallowing slowly, savoring the drink, Aislyn tipped the bottle towards Samaya in salute. 'May flights of angels sing you to your rest, Samaya. God speed.'

She mutely held the bottle out to Melissa and Felicia, inviting them to share the drink with her.

“I don’t want to be any bigger of a bad guy, but we’re going to have to get moving. We should try to find a secure location to hole up in for a little while, so we can sleep and eat with at least some security. I’m thinking we should hit up the residential area, or maybe head towards the fun fair. There’s bound to be some buildings we could use around there.”

Pulling out her map and compass, she tried to orient herself in the proper direction. “I know we’re all tired and hurting but remember, we only have to make it until help gets here. Then we’ll be okay.” Stowing her equipment, she took the opportunity to throw some of Samaya’s clothes around. ‘That way, anyone who comes will think everything’s already been taken and will move on, leaving our stuff secure.’

Gathering her bag, her stick and her rock, Aislyn set out.

((Aislyn McCreery continued in Can't I Just Die A Disney Death))

Edited by BetaKnight, Nov 13 2010, 11:43 PM.
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