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Keep Yourself Alive; Whether you want to or not. (TOPIC CLOSED)
Topic Started: Nov 13 2010, 03:31 PM (3,685 Views)
MK Kilmarnock
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((Ivan Kuznetsov continued from Peacemaker))

No place on the island would ever truly be safe, not from the sickening rules and twists of the game. Two souls on the island, trying to run from the spirit of violence that had consumed so many, had found a small bit of protection in a patch of woods that had kept them safe for an entire day. Almost as if in response to their attempts of survival, the next batch of announcements, complete with that jovial yet cruel voice, had lifted off the roof of their home and forced them to run again. The collars dictated their lives; they were marks of slavery... slaves to the will of the terrorists and of the game.

Life had become trivialized and turned into a sport, where defeat quite plainly meant death. The only connection to the outside world came in the form of cameras, where anybody with a television set could watch their plight. That concept had never left Ivan's mind. Everything that happened in that room, with the blood of their slain teachers washing the floor and that man announcing what was going to happen to all of them, none of that would ever leave, even if he had happened to survive this... which he wouldn't.

As Ivan and Tabi neared the far southern reaches of the island, the scent of the salty breeze greeted them both once more. Such a smell brought Ivan back to where he had awoken on the island, and the promises he had made to himself in order to make him content. He remembered... before anybody had bothered him, he had resigned himself to a peaceful death, watching the waves roll in and out. He thought the naiive thought that the game probably couldn't last more than a day, and then everybody would all die at the same time just as they had lived... a single class of students, all close with one another.

So when the two reached the edge of the cliffs, only to have the expected and endless expanse of ocean before them, the rising sun was nothing but an ill omen. It was nothing more than a reminder that another day filled with killing and dying awaited everybody on the island, threatening to stain the rocks red with blood much like the sunrise was painting them now.

"... So, now what do we do?" Ivan asked simply, staring ahead while setting down his bag. The umbrella that he once had as his faithful 'weapon had now been tucked away safely inside his daypack, and the shotgun took its place as the object held in Ivan's left hand. He looked to Tabi for the answer, wanting to know what she wanted to do.
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Nov 13 2010, 03:33 PM.
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MK Kilmarnock
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At first, Ivan wasn't quite sure how to take Tabi's gesture. Offering him her bread was nice, but when it all boiled down to it, also fairly impractical. He had his own bread, and didn't need her pity or stupidity by offering hers. What was going to happen when the both of them chowed down on that bread and then it was all gone? She'd be asking Ivan for his, that's what would happen. It made more sense and was just as easy for them to stick to nibbling on their own bread without having to swap spit or anything else nasty like that.

All the same... it was a really nice thing to offer.

"It's alright... I have my own," he spoke softly. Not that he was particularly hungry anyway... as an athlete and the son of another, Ivan embraced the fact that you need a good breakfast each and every day for a balanced and healthy diet, but the island had done wonders to kill his appetite, particularly this morning. The worst part? He still couldn't decide if this was just because he was never starving in the mornings and the stress of being away from home further affected him, or because Keith's face remained burned into his mind.

Will I ever be able to escape that? Do I even have to worry about it for too long? ... Probably not...

Watching the sunrise alongside Tabi had done a lot to hinder the lingering effect of Ivan's nightmares, as temporary as the effects may have been. When was the last time that he had really sat down and watched the sunrise, so similar in appearance to a sunset but with so many other nuances and meanings? He searched himself to find the answer, struggling to remember back as far as his earliest year of high school, and he still couldn't find a time where he had sat down and really taken it all in, even with Louis. So much that he hadn't done, that he really had taken for granted in life, and there was no way to enjoy it all now, no way to take it all back.

... I'm sorry, bro.

Ivan's eyes traced upwards from around the sun, looking up at the sky's gradual chance to amber from red, then to the light blue of day. He could just barely make out the last signs of night's darkness fading out of view behind the trees. As he brought his attention back, he thought he saw something that just didn't fit in. His tired mind focused, taking a second or two to realize what he was looking at, what was straddling the chain-link fence, not moving or showing signs of life, resting atop sections of the fence covered in what looked to be crusted blood...

He immediately tensed up, the memories of the savage murder coming back in full-force. Ivan had only seen two dead bodies on the island thus far, and he had caused one of them. Number two was now the focus of his attention - his pained, train wreck, bile-fascination attention. The cries, the screams, the branch coming down again and again and again... there was no stopping it. The announcements said that others were killing, but those words were meaningless bullshit.

"Hey. It's Imraan, Imraan Al-Hariq."

Fuck.

FUCK.

FUCK!!!

Things weren't bad enough to have a dead body just hanging there admist what was otherwise a beautiful setting. No... somebody had just gotten the drop on the both of them. If they had chosen to shoot right away, then Tabi, Ivan, or both of them could've been dead right then and there. In a frantic moment, Ivan spun and rose to his feet, just about every hair on his body standing on end.

Things had gone from worse to very, VERY much more terrible. The new arrival wasn't just any person who could be a threat, it had to be the tallest damned kid in Bayview Secondary. There were a lot of those kicking school with a crowd like Roland Harte, Craig Hoyle and Robert Lowe, but this guy had to go and be one inch taller than ALL of them. Even at the distance he was now, Ivan felt the need to tip his head back slightly to look the boy in the eye.

Oh, and he had what looked to be a shotgun. Brilliant.

"I'm not gonna shoot."

Yeah, there was some real comfort. If the skyscraper of a boy wasn't going to shoot, then what the hell did he want? He could say something like that all he wanted, but all it took was a nice adjustment of that shotgun at Imraan's waist, pointing it right at Ivan, and blam... shot would be sent shooting through his body, probably killing him in an instant or so. Then move the barrel an inch to the side, do the same with Tabi. Or maybe Imraan planned to get Ivan out of the way so he could have his own plans with Tabi. There was no way to be sure, and no way to defend himself as, in a ridiculously stupid move, he had forgotten to pick up the shotgun that was still at his feet.

Brilliant, Ivan... you're going to die, now. What else did you miss!?

Keeping Imraan in his sights, Ivan jerked his head in both directions, looking for other students who may be hunting him. One direction seemed to hold nothing, but the ice in his blood grew a little colder when he saw, far off in the distance and simply watching them all, none other than Robert Lowe.

What is this... the day of the goddamn giants!?

If there was a list of things in Ivan's heart comprised of the hardest things he had ever done, then standing in front of Imraan right now and fighting off the trembling rocking away at his body was at least number five. Finally, the larger boy had said something more... that he wanted to talk to him. All in all, though, it was too difficult to fathom... was he about to die here, or not?

Don't watch Louis... don't watch...

"The hell do you want...?"
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So, Imraan wanted to know just how Ivan had gotten the shotgun? It seemed like a pathetic question to ask... the announcements outright said to the whole world the crimes the Russian had commited, though not in the detail that Ivan would remember forever... at least until somebody killed him. Yet there he was, on the receiving end of the Middle East's messed up version of the Jolly Green Giant's questionnaire.

The answer was saved for the moment by the sharp crack of the PA system working its way up once again. They had all just suffered through a round of the announcements, so Ivan was just as unprepared as everybody else was likely to be, almost jumping out of his sneakers.

Hit the deck?

Shove Tabi out of the way?

Try to repeat how he handled Clio?

Ivan's brain rattled out suggestions at the noise and, even when his racing heart managed to confirm the identify of what he had just heard, he struggled with what actions he should have taken. Imraan seemed even more distracted, apparently looking skyward to try and find the source of the noise. A second or so of this sight passed before the Russian's lungs welcomed a short gasp. This could be the chance to save both their lives, to reach down and pick up his shotgun before the tower of a man could have a chance to react.

It was a gifted thought two seconds too late. Before his daring (and incredibly stupid) maneuver could actually take place, the momentary distraction seemed out of the way. Everybody was now paying attention to everybody else and, as Ivan stared up at Imraan, he could only hope that he was going to survive long enough to hear the end of these unwelcome surprise announcements.

The voice he then heard surprised him.

Mr. Kwong is... alive!?

There shined a twin glimmer of hope and fear behind his green glasses, completely obstructed from Imraan's view. Mr. Kwong was Ivan's favorite teacher: a real hardass in every sense of the word, but if you weren't a goofball and did your homework, his unsurpassed skill as a teacher would really shine through. The terrorists had not yet killed him, which was wonderful. At least, it was, until the question arose... why would they keep Mr. Kwong alive?

Ivan got his answer in the address to one 'Liz Polanski'. Like many of the other high school kids, the name rung a few bells, but she was not a friend of Ivan's, so there was nothing coming to him besides maybe one of the many pretty faces in the hallway. And this pretty face... could very well have him killed.

Ivan resisted the urge to look to Tabi, instead listening for some telltale beeping that might tell him his time was up... or maybe hers. He got neither. After the second most uncomfortable pause he had experienced that day, the voice spoke up again, saying 'Dice-K Japanese-name' was eliminated. This wasn't any time to be letting out held breath, though. Not yet.

"... I got this shotgun..." Ivan began after another period of silence, "... as a terrible reminder of what I've done. Yes, I'm a killer. I murdered Keith." He was more resolute in saying it this time, no matter how much it pained him. If Imraan intended to execute a murderer, this would be his chance. "But Tabi had nothing to do with it, so please don't shoot her."
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Dec 6 2010, 04:46 PM.
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It was too late for his big break, his one moment to shake off Imraan's oppression just long enough to get his hands on that shotgun and force the fellow athlete... fellow student to leave. That moment had passed thanks to Ivan's hesitation, and he very well may have doomed himself. Maybe it would be fine if it was only himself he was condemning, as Ivan was sure he was going to die anyway (even if not quite like this). Tabi was dragged along with him, and perhaps Imraan was going to kill her too, citing guilt by association.

"I'm not gonna shoot her Ivan..."

That only offered so much relief. Words were nothing; Imraan could go back on that any time he wanted to. Once Ivan was dead, torn to bits by that nasty weapon in the taller boy's hands, Tabi would hardly have time to scream before she was next. All that out of the way, it still offered SOME relief. Imraan wasn't a psycho out to get everybody, it seemed. No, he was one of those glory-seekers out to kill all of the players, which Ivan was now labeled amongst thanks to his deeds. Hell... in his case, the situation was even worse than if the guy was just a raging nutjob, but now he was explicitly out for Ivan's blood. At least it would only be his own spilled.

"But you know what, you killed someone, you don't deserve that shotgun..."

This was it. Ivan's eyes, hidden behind those dark lenses, closed. He only hoped that he had more time to get to a camera, at least tell Louis goodbye, and to tell him to look away from the screen.

"I want you to pick it up, OK-- I want you to pick it up SLOWLY, and then I want you to toss it off the cliff there."

His eyes opened again. His body locked up, his mind equally faltered. Was he about to be given another chance? Another way out, if he was fast enough? With the way things were, Ivan would have to get the shotgun and level it before Imraan could get a shot off. The way the situation was, however, there was no standoff in the cards. In order to get Imraan to leave, Ivan would have to shoot first. This thought closed the doors even before Imraan locked them and threw away the key.

Ivan wouldn't even be trusted to do the deed... of course. He couldn't blame the guy for that, because he hadn't been there to see what happened. But... then, what exactly happened that was to be witnessed that he couldn't just know from listening to the announcements?

You killed somebody, Ivan. Stop justifying it... all the guy was armed with were a few scraps of paper. He's right... you're wrong. You don't deserve that gun, you certainly can't kill again, and your carelessness might cause the death of another girl. Oh, and it was a girl who depended on you. Good job.

"Y... You're right..." Ivan choked, lowering his head. Tabi was probably liable to throw the gun away any second... she was just as able to stand up in the face of this crisis as he was. His run on this island was over. Imraan wouldn't just let him go after this... after all, Ivan was still a murderer, and that was the end of the line. "I don't... I don't deserve... anything."
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Awaiting his death took all the time in the world. To simply wait to die was a regrettable thing, but Ivan would rather he die with dignity than run from Imraan. To run would just prove he was a monster trying to escape his punishment. Then again, no matter what he did, he was still a monster. Louis was always a fan of this 'show', and would constantly annoy his big brother with all the wild and crazy antics that James Brown, Branca Braunstein, and whoever else was doing on the island.

"You know that show's just a stupid fad, as terrible as the rest of reality TV. Nobody likes it but you."

"Yeeeeeeeah that's bullshit, Stum- I mean, Ivan... Everybody in my grade is watching it!"

"Proving, once again, your entire year is comprised of idiots. ... And mine, actually."

"Pfft, you need to get out more! Come on, bro, let's go! Put 'em up, put-... oh god, wait, not the noogie! No, NONONO NO I'm sorry! UNCLE! UNCLE!!!!"


Louis was probably watching, just like the rest of the city, the rest of the country. They all knew what he did, so who was to say that he wasn't a monster? That's why there was no home for him anymore, no victory waiting for him at the end of this hellish tunnel. He'd return to society, but they'd always look at him. They would always know what he did, and it wouldn't take long for Keith's parents or cousin or whoever to seek justice, whether through law or vigilantism.

The only home he had was the one he now sought to relive in his mind, waiting for his final moments. And so, Ivan kept his head low, waiting for Imraan to speak the death sentence until... words came from somebody else. They were strong, pleading, and carried with them more iron than any forged weapon on the island. Most surprisingly of all, they came from Tabi.

Ivan turned to look to her, the pain in his heart ousting that of his arm, or the pounding headache of stress following Imraan's arrival. She had been there when he did what he did, and had been in such shock and distress. All that time they had been companions of a sort, she could never really look at him, get close to him, trust him... and that was sensible, given who the girl was travelling with. If Ivan had wanted to kill her, he could have easily managed, moreso with his new weapon. He felt like a weapon, a sharp blade or a defective gun, and Tabi had to always tread carefully around him lest she risk injury to herself.

And now, she was defending him in the face of a man literally a foot taller than either of them, and carrying a weapon that could blast them both away before they could move more than three feet. Ivan felt like Tabi always owed him so much for what he had done for her; saving her from Clio, dragging her along and protecting her (committing a terrible act in the process), saving her from Nick... but she never owed him anything, not after the pain he caused her.

But she gave everything anyway.

He forced back the tears; now was not the time for crying, not yet, though his voice was completely choked up. Or it was, before the loud blast of gunfire evacuated all of Ivan's thought processes, and instinct took over. Before his next rational thought, he lept to Tabi with his injured arm forward and and pushed her to the ground, collapsing downward next to her. Was she dead? Was he dead? There was no time to wonder about that, since he had dove within arm's reach of their last shot at salvation.

Screaming in pain as well as fear, with a healthy dose of unmitigated fury, Ivan grasped the Pancor Jackhammer with his right hand, sat up and swung it to face Imraan, clasping the weapon with his other, dirt-caked hand. He hadn't been shot, at least... for some reason, the weapon seemed to be fired high, missing them, but he prayed Tabi had not been hurt. Right now, the immediate concern was to level his own weapon at Imraan.

"I've changed my mind! I'm not dying yet, so get out of here!"
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A steady arm held the weapon the best it could, only supported by a shot of faith and the adrenaline running through it. Imraan may have left, but the words that he spoke had left their mark with Ivan. For this moment, at least, this morning, death had been avoided. Unfortunately, though, the tall boy's decree had struck harder than any bullet ever could. His arm trembled as it ran out of the last of its burst of energy, until it finally fell to his side.

"Don't let me hear you on those announcements again. I'll come back. I promise that."

His crime had still not been cleared from his conscience. Others also knew of his deeds... it had been a few days and there were plenty of other killings, but it was now clear that the terrible spilling of blood committed on the mountain that day was not forgotten in the minds of others. Ivan was now branded, and those who knew and loved Keith, or maybe just felt truly vigilant, would not let him rest. He had not been forgiven.

But somebody had forgiven him. Maybe she had not absolved him of his sins, but Tabi's words washed over Imraan's and kept them from eating away at his mind. He was branded all the same, but her faith in him was so strong... not to mention surprising. She meant what she said. There was no time to doubt it, not that Ivan would. She stuck her neck out like that, faced off against a man who was a head taller than the both of them, and could have blown them away. Ivan looked at his own killing tool, the instrument that bluffed them both to safety, thanks to Tabi's stalwart defense.

He hadn't even taken the safety off.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Ivan took a ragged breath and looked to Tabi.

"... We have a long day ahead. What do you say... about getting out of here?"

((Ivan Kuznetsov, continued in Meet Again))
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Jan 4 2011, 11:50 PM.
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