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Blackout; Private thread between Kimberly Nguyen and Liz Polanski (with possible guest appearance by ???)
Topic Started: Dec 24 2010, 05:07 PM (3,751 Views)
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[ *  *  * ]
Liz stumbled forward.

She was hitting cameras, knifing them, keeping herself in constant free fall as she moved towards the tunnels. Her throat burned. She was resolving not to listen to anything else Danya said; dead students, no, torturing Mr. Kwong, no. She had to win. Losing was not something Liz Polanski stood for.

There were better ways to do this, she knew. Finding friends. Using hand signals. Doing something subtle and people-smart. But Liz was not subtle or people-smart. She could hope that people wouldn't murder her on her feet, but in fact, she didn't know. And certainly going up to the first person she saw and trying to talk them into helping her--for some definition of talking--wouldn't work.

So she was smashing cameras, zig-zagging, taking care to black out promising nooks and crannies, hiding plans in them, plans and aluminium cans--she couldn't hide matches, she couldn't hide fire, hopefully people would be smart enough to make their own fire, do it without getting blown up. You've got to have more faith in other people, Mr. Kwong had said. Well, she was having faith in them. Faith in their intelligence, at least.

Blackouts. The terrorists can't see you. I hope you use these, other people.

Dark spots and plans. Plans in plain sight, and plans hidden. One-oh-three plans. That's a lot of paper.

But the dark spots were best. Maybe other people had their own collar-disabling plans, less harmful ones, that they could do in the blacked-out corridors of the island. I'm helping. I'm helping. Really.

Don't think about the kids who died.

Danya, you fucker.

Don't think about your throat burning. The way your eyes ache. Death. Just smash cameras. Smash cameras and leave plans. Mechanical and easy.

Dear fuck.

Fuck crying. Fuck pain. Pain is just a message. You can ignore that message.

You need to have more faith in other people.

She hated doing this. Leaving a trail of plans like Hansel and Gretel. Hoping people would find them. Be smart enough to implement them smartly. Hoping she had said enough, all one-oh-three times she had copied it down. Leaving things to intuition and chance made her sick.

Hush up. You're sick already. Trust things to work out.

Things never worked out.

Liz stumbled through five zones this way.

Inland forest. Ranger station; Ethan Kent was propped outside, some girl was inside. That was a no go. Detour to the Southern felled forest. The crevices of the mountain. The destroyed cell phone tower. Falling down into the mines, knifing the cameras in the miner's shack. Her energy was unhealthy.

Then to the tunnels. The tunnels, so fast.

She collapsed.

Open your eyes. Close your eyes. Open your eyes.

It wasn't the worst place to collapse. She was in a rock-spiked cavern, big and open, spotted with moonlight and water on the floor. The stones beneath her were cool. The problem was, she couldn't move. Her muscles had given out. Dead. Done. Her throat was ragged.

With some effort, she could twitch her fingers.

Well. She needed a drink of water. With some effort, she cupped her hands and stretched out far enough to grab water from the nearest puddle. It trickled through her fingers. Again. She saved enough to drink. It tasted organic and disgusting.

Drink more. It will keep you going.

She cupped her hands, and drunk more effectively this time. Got her left arm rotating. Splashed her face. Cool water felt good. Licked her salty lips.

Come on, drink more. Ignore the pain.

She pulled herself up onto her knees--she felt like an old woman now, bones creaking. Joints ached. She dumped water onto her face, drinking whatever came into her mouth. Again. And again.

Ignore the pain.

She ignored the pain, and let water trickle down her face. Her senses were dull, now.

But her eyes felt bruised.

Everything was heavy. She fell over again, from the effort of lifting her arms.

Sleep.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Kimberly Nguyen continued from But I Might Die Tonight))

Three more deaths. Three more people had been blown away just like that, a push of a button, not a chance to do anything to save themselves. Lucy Ashmore. Alex Rasputin. Trent Hunter. Nobody Kimberly gave a shit about, though it was interesting that a killer was on the block. Maybe it really was random. More likely, though, Danya was calculating every move. Rasputin had been a second tier player, hadn't done anything since the first day. Killing him simply told the others that they weren't safe. It meant that, all of a sudden, there was a legitimate threat to Lombardi, Ishida, and Gabriella (and Kris, can't forget Kris...). Now, all the big killers could die in a split second, no matter how badass they were, no matter how skilled, how many kills they had under their belts. They had to be pissing themselves right about now. That was something Kimberly could smile over.

Yeah, had to be calculated. Danya was blowing up the boring people and the people who could make a point. Maybe he was blowing up people in Liz's path, too, forcing her to see the effects of her actions. That would make sense. It also meant that Kimberly wouldn't have long to fuck around, lest she become an example herself. Things would need to be quick. Efficient. She swung her grappling hook by the rope between her fingers. Too bad. Quick wouldn't be any good. Not for the level of shit this girl had put everyone on the island through. Kimberly was pissed. So pissed. Absolutely fucking seething. And yet, it might have to be quick.

She kept moving towards her goal.

She'd picked the tunnels because they were close, and because they were a good place to hide. A good place to hole up for a little. A crevice a rat could worm its way into. Oh yes, someone was bound to be hiding here. Several someones, if Kimberly was right. She'd be shocked if there wasn't something here more worthwhile than those fools on the mountain. Even if she didn't find Kris and Liz, perhaps she'd be able to find someone else hurt, someone else with a grudge to bear. The more the merrier, when it came to vengeance.

So in she went, into the darkness, the shadows. She paused, tucked her grappling hook into her belt, brought her flashlight to hand, turned it on. No point tripping and fucking her arm up any more. No point getting in trouble, getting hurt. She had a job to do. It would be hard enough as it was, strangling the life out of someone. Hard to dig the spikes from her grappling hook into flesh. Hard to listen to the screams. And yet... she'd have to do it. Have to be strong. Have to keep control. Anything else, any failure to turn this around, would mean her death. Would mean that she was weak, worthless. She did not need help. She did not need fucking babysitters. She was just fine, thank you very much. Probably doing a hell of a lot better than Sarah and Bridget.

That thought hurt her, a little. Her former companions were probably out there right now, cheering Liz on, wishing her success. What would they think when they heard the girl's fate on the announcements? Would they regret saving Kimberly's life, regret stitching her back together on that beach, regret the fact that she still drew breath?

She paused for a second. Inhaled deeply. Hacked and coughed as the scent of blood invaded her nostrils.

When she could breathe calmly again, a couple of seconds later, she had her answer: She didn't give a fuck what they thought.

Wasn't like she'd made them help her. Wasn't like she'd been particularly subtle about her goals. Wasn't like she'd hidden the fact that she was a dangerous, potentially violent person. She'd told them before that escapees were fucked. No way around it.

The odor was strong, getting stronger as she walked. She didn't know why, but it drew her, beckoned her onwards like a magical song. There was something worth seeing here. She had not yet come across a corpse., had not yet been forced to stare any death in the face, except for her own inevitable one. Best to get it out of the way, best to be ready, to be steeled when she chose to act. No restraints would hold her back. Nothing could be allowed to divert her from her purpose. Rounding a corner, Kimberly prepared herself for the worst.

It was close, damn close. She'd been expecting someone naked, bleeding from all their orifices, guts cut out and hanging, maybe strewn around and knotted. Instead, it was just a boy, just a boy with his neck blow out, blood spattered all around him. A dead boy. A boy she recognized.

"B148, Daisuke Nagazawa, eliminated. This is your teacher, Kwong Lei, signing off."

This, this boy, this body, this was everything Kimberly feared, everything she couldn't control, everything that waited for her if she failed. This could soon be her, neck gone, blood pooled. She couldn't let that happen. Couldn't.

She wanted to run. Wanted to vomit. She didn't do either. She forced herself to stay. Forced herself to speak.

"Hello, Daisuke."

Her voice was raw, broken. This was a stupid way to conquer her fears. This would achieve nothing. This would lead nowhere. She was doing it anyways. Forcing herself to confront this. Forcing herself...

Daisuke's pack was still next to him. Undisturbed. Nobody else had been by yet.

All of Kimberly's life experiences, all of her socialization, fought with her desire to procure any little advantage she could. But then, she stopped and actually considered things. Daisuke was dead. He wouldn't mind. Kimberly would be dead soon, too. She'd never have to put up with anyone giving her shit over this. Never have to face any consequences for this action. The only rule here was strength, and she'd need all the help she could get on that front. If it meant stealing a dead boy's shit, well, so be it.

Glancing around, making sure she was alone, Kimberly steeled herself. It'd be quick. Snatch and go. So simple.

She darted forward, grabbed the pack, backpedaled. Paused about fifteen feet from the corpse. The smell was terrible. Overwhelming, almost. The bag was held awkwardly over her wrist, her own bag over her shoulder, her flashlight in her right hand. Fuck you, Kris, for each of these inconveniences.

So she dropped Daisuke's bag, dropped her own, propped the flashlight up, casting light on the proceedings, and began to transfer items. She abandoned her own first aid kit entirely. Nothing worthwhile left in it, not after the beach and her little self-repair job. Daisuke's was full. Good. Then, on to the food. Looked like he still had a good amount, and water, too. Into her bag it went. Finally, she found a small, black box. It was heavy. It had bullets in it.

Oh fuck yes. Daisuke had had a gun.

Unfortunately, the weapon itself was not in the bag. There was only one thing that could mean. He'd had it on him. Kimberly took another deep breath, instantly regretted it. Fought down the bile rising in her throat. Daisuke had a gun on him. She had to get it.

She put the magazine in her bag, shined her flashlight on the body, looking for a telltale glint or reflection. Nothing. Damn. Someone else might have already gotten to it. But if that was the case, why was the bag untouched? No, maybe he'd given it away.

Then again, maybe not. She had to check.

So she went back to Daisuke's body, slowly this time, taking in every detail. The pool of blood. The ragged shreds of flesh where his neck had once been whole. The lack of a collar. His bloodstained camouflage jacket.

Only one way to do this.

Slowly, gingerly, Kimberly reached out and began patting the corpse down. It made her skin crawl. Made her want to cry. Made her want to slap herself silly for having ever liked horror stories. Luckily, she found the lump before long, before her squeamishness could overcome her dedication. Inside the jacket. Damn. She managed to work it free, though, managed to get a hold on the heavy metal object, awkwardly balancing it with her flashlight. She retreated once more to her bag. The gun was slightly bloodstained. It seemed Daisuke had leaked at death, seemed that his jacket had soaked through. The whole thing made her feel dirty.

Didn't matter. She could deal with dirty. She could deal with just about anything if it meant facing Kris on even grounds next time.

The manual was in Daisuke's bag. The gun was called a Jericho 941F. Kimberly read by the light of her flashlight, read and learned more about guns than she'd ever thought she'd have cause to know. Ejected the magazine, counted the rounds. One chambered, seven in the first magazine, eight in the second. Enough. More than enough. She was tempted to test fire the thing, but in such enclosed quarters that would be a bad idea, so she simply reloaded it and crammed it into her improvised rope belt. Then, it became a matter of figuring how to juggle the gun, bag, and flashlight. In the end, she taped the flashlight to the top of her bag, which she hung over her neck and shoulder. It didn't put pressure on her wound, at least, not that much. Good. The light cast by the flashlight was a bit more erratic, a bit less aimed, but she could live with that.

Time to go. Time to go change the fucking world. Time to go get a little revenge. It was the lesson again, what Jeremy had taught her. To get what you wanted in this game, you needed strength. You needed power and follow through.

Kimberly had both in spades now.

So she kept walking, a smile on her face. Oh yes. This will be sweet, Kris. So sweet.

Five minutes later, she stumbled across the girl. There was a pool of water. A pool of water, and an unconscious girl, lying on the ground, just lying there without a care in the world. Kimberly could only tell that the person was alive because she could see her breathing.

The scene gave her pause. The girl was dressed kind of weirdly. Looked pretty damn beat up, too. Looked like she'd seen better days. Kimberly's immediate impulse was to help her, to offer her assistance. To do something, anything. To provide what little comfort she could, just like the others had for her on the beach. Thing was, as her flashlight swung around, she could see that something was wrong with the girl. Specifically, something looked like it was wrong with her neck. And that face, Kimberly had seen that face before, could almost recognize it from school.

No way.

No fucking way.

Kimberly flipped the gun's safety off. Tried her best not to cackle as she adjusted her shoulder, facing the beam from her flashlight right into the girl's face. She kept the pistol down for now. Too perfect. It was all too perfect. Finally, she had finally caught a fucking break in this game.

She spoke, and now her voice was under control, betraying none of her manic glee.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"
V7:
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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[ *  *  * ]
Light. Too much light.

Too much light makes the baby go blind.

Liz rolled over. "Wug."

Someone was shining a flashlight in her eyes. Oh brilliant. And it was speaking.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"

It sounded like a bad supervillain line. Liz cracked her eyelids, just enough to see who was holding the flashlight.

Squint. Look. Squint.

Kimberly Nguyen. Emo scene. Concerned about her image. Sharp and mean. Liz did not relish being caught by her, of all people.

Open her eyes more. Stay out of the flashlight. Turn, draw back. There's still a knife in your hand.

Kimberly--Kimberly, yeah. Was probably out to kill her.

There was still a knife in her hand.

Kill her. Kill her now.

Knife low. Legs coiled. But God, her body screamed.

And she lunged at Kimberly, her chest puffed, and the rest was pain and slow-motion, Kimberly kicked the knife out of her hand. The impact sent her sprawling, hitting a rock, torn flesh, and her back curled, helpless, protective. Scream cut off by a throbbing windpipe, air expelled, harsh and silent.

And Kimberly had a foot on her back, a pistol click behind her ears, and Liz had never felt more vulnerable in her life.

Not crying.

Instead, choking, "Please", like begging was going to do her any good. But it wasn't crying.

Not dying like a pathetic person.

Not choking. Not crying. But she was trying to speak and coughing now instead, trying to speak with pen and paper nowhere near her, breathing water in her throat, gurgling, spitting, disgustingly, and she could hear Kimberly chuff, and finally words.

"…going to break as many cameras as I could get to. You c-could kill me now, or you could kill me after I've fucked Mr. Danya up a bit more."

She rolled over now. Facing Kimberly, face up, mouth gaping because it wasn't going into any other position. Looking in Kimberly's face, making eye contact, something she'd always had trouble with in real life, eyes shiny, reflective, moving.

And Kimberly's face was a grinning rictus, tense and smiling.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Just gonna add right here that all GMing in this thread is approved and stuff))

The girl was squinting into the light. Trying to get a look at her captor. Shifting around. Doing something. What? This could be bad news. Kimberly had no clue if Liz was armed. She didn't snap the gun up, though. Not yet. No way.

Then, the girl was lunging at her, a knife in her hand. Kimberly didn't even have time to think. She kicked out, impacting Liz's hand, sending the knife spinning into darkness. A second later, she realized she had made the right choice, realized that shooting Liz there would not have worked, would have probably ended in both their deaths. That wasn't why she'd held her fire, though. Oh no. It wasn't that simple.

Liz went flailing backwards, letting out some sort of strangled cry, and Kimberly went right after her. Pressed her foot into the other girl's back. Damn, times like these made her so thankful for nice, heavy boots. She went ahead and flicked the hammer of the pistol. Made a nice dramatic click, even if it didn't do shit else. And Liz, Liz was pleading with her. Pleading for her life or something, though it was kind of hard to tell since she'd only struggled out that one word. And oh, it was sweet, it was so sweet. Her entire time on the island, Kimberly had been thwarted, had been hurt and robbed and ignored and defeated, and now the tables had turned, now she held all the power, now someone was actually pleading with her. She held someone's life in her hands.

No.

Not just someone. That was selling this situation far short of its true importance and glory. Kimberly had her gun to the head of Liz Polanski, the girl who was probably the only thing giving hope to half the students on this island. The girl who had been playing roulette with all of their lives as chips. Man, it was fucking simple to be brave, to be rebellious, to be willing to make the big choices, just so long as it wasn't your life on the line. But hey, second the tables turn? There's some truth for you. Who was Liz, the great rebel, the brave one-girl resistance? She was some pathetic little creature, beat to shit and not even able to talk right.

Liz was coughing and making these awful choking noises, so Kimberly let her turn around. She gave out a little snort, looking down at Liz. Yeah. Some fucking hero.

And here it came. The bargaining. Of course. It wasn't a surprise. None of this came as a surprise, not now. Kimberly was pretty sure she had this girl pegged, pretty sure she could mess with her triggers some. Self righteous bitch. She was explaining things, trying to clarify her goals, trying to beg a bit more time. And the worst thing? She wanted to keep fucking up the cameras. She just didn't get this. Didn't have a clue what she was doing.

Time to change that.

Kimberly held the pistol, pointed straight at Liz. Locked eyes with the girl. Smiled. Oh yes, Liz. You think staring me down's gonna help you? You think maybe I'll repent just because you're reaching out, making contact, reminding me you're human? Tough shit. Maybe that'd work on Kris, or Sarah, or someone else, but I know what I'm doing's no good. I know I'm being awful, and I just don't give a damn.

The smile broadened. She held it for a few seconds. Kimberly hoped Liz was confused. Hoped she was trying to figure out what was going on. Fuck, maybe she even thought Kimberly was actually going to let her go.

"Oh, come on," Kimberly finally said. "If I was just planning to shoot you, we'd have been done with this shit about a minute ago."

Keep smiling. Make these next words count.

"Liz, I'm not a bounty hunter. I'm not a player. I don't give a fuck if Danya's offering a shiny toy to whoever blows your brains out. This isn't about that. This is just us. See, you and me? We've got a bit of a score to settle."

That sounded about right. Now, she just had to wait. Wouldn't be long now. Not many options when it came to responses to that sort of statement.
V7:
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 feral fear Liz had felt was fading. She was still in pain, still soaked with cold sweat, but her temples were pounding a little less, and her thoughts were coming organized now.

And Kimberly had a score to settle with her.

What?

The shiny toy made sense. The not being a player made sense. But Liz--and here her head ached, she should have drinken more water--couldn't grok the score. Something--probably one of the people she had killed with the cameras. And here her thoughts were coming confused again...

Don't think about that.

Well. Kimberly had all the power in this relationship anyway. Liz hoped she liked it. She could sort of dully understand what might make Kimberly so gleeful to have her trapped under the gun--Liz had been a reluctant sub in sex enough times to taste when someone else had that power. So now Kimberly could do what she wanted to her, and more than likely, Liz would figure out this cockamamie 'score' she wanted to settle.

Time to start asking questions. Scrape your hand forward, find the pad and the pen.

ARE YOU GOING TO TORTURE ME?

Deliberately melodramatic. Might throw Kimberly off.

And it was a good thing to know.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Liz was looking for something. Kimberly paused a second to glance around. If the girl was searching for the knife, trying to rally for another attack, Kimberly was taking her arm out. After all, couldn't have any last-second, unexpected heroics getting in the way of things. She wasn't really expecting that, though. Besides, like she'd thought, the knife had fallen somewhere nice and far away, out of sight.

Turned out Liz wanted paper. Paper and a writing utensil. Okay, that was fine. Kimberly would let her grab 'em, communicate or show her magical escape plans or whatever the fuck she wanted to do. There was one little, tiny thing to take care of first, though, because no way in fuck was Kimberly gonna get taken out by the most obvious trick she could think of. After all, Liz had weaponized her very presence; there was a damn good chance she was gonna shove her plans at Kimberly and count on Danya to do the rest. Best to preempt that with a little aside.

Even as she read the words, noted the lack of an escape plan, Kimberly was talking off into the air.

"Don't go blowing me up. I'm not going to help her."

And then, the words clicked, and Kimberly smiled. Torture? It was... she wasn't gonna deceive herself on this: it held a certain appeal. It had been lurking in her mind for some time now. Her goal was to punish Liz, wasn't it? What better way than through pain? And yet, that question had an instant answer. Pain would be a stupid way to deal with this girl. Causing pain was something suited to punishing Kris, perhaps. Not Liz.

"Nah," Kimberly said, all nice and casual. "I figure it's probably not worth it. Whatever's fucked you up seems to have been more thorough than I could ever hope to be, and hurting you'd be kinda pointless anyways. By the time I cut off enough bits to stop you from messing around, you'd be dead."

See, Liz? I can be blunt and shocking too.

"I think we're gonna take a little walk, actually. Get the fuck up."

Yeah, she knew how to even the score now. Wouldn't be hard at all. Liz seemed more resigned than scared. That was bad. Fuck that. An unresponsive audience was one that would be unreceptive to the message she was trying to convey here. It was pretty damn important to Kimberly that Liz come to understand exactly what she had done, exactly what she had stolen, not just from Kimberly, but from everyone else on the island.

And what better way to teach than through a little field trip?
V7:
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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[ *  *  * ]

Liz was more resigned then scared.

If Kimberly wanted to kill her, she would have done it a while ago. If Kimberly wanted to torture her--well, hopefully she would have said so. She seemed like the kind of person who would say so. There was nothing Kimberly could do, other than killing her or putting her through more incredible pain, that Liz could possibly be scared of. If Kimberly wanted to talk her ear off, she could go ahead. It didn't make Liz any deader.

It's just delays.

So Liz stood up. Slowly. Wearily. God, her bones ached. She felt like an old person. Immediately her mind started pulsing ways to build up her adrenaline, get her feeling unnaturally healthy again. Ready to run.

Don't be crazy. You can't run.

Nah. Whatever tweaked revenge-alternative Kimberly had planned for her, she was pretty much gonna take it.

Just delays. Till you can break more cameras. Fuck--fuck the terrorists up more. If they're going to take Mr. Kwong, they're going to play a losing game.

Yeah. Losing game.

She stumbled. Her legs could hardly hold up under her. She didn't' know if it was the burn or the sleep that weakened her so much. Whatever it was, it didn't seem repeatable. Dying is a funny thing…

Shook her head. She wasn't going to think about dying yet. Too much to do.

And now there was Kimberly, Kimberly here, holding her up on her stumbling legs like a friend. Walking with her, mocking smile, leading her somewhere deeper into the cave. Wherever Kimberly was going, Liz was going to go. Helplessness was a sick relief, in a way. Suddenly she didn't have to hold herself up.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Keep going.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
And off they went. It was a stumbling, awkward, awful trip, made worse by the fact that Liz couldn't seem to fucking stay on her feet. This meant Kimberly had to very casually stuff the gun into the lefthand pocket of her jeans, reaching across herself and all that shit, so she could actually help Polanski along. Right now, she just had to hope her hostage didn't get that her left arm was fucked. Didn't really seem like Liz was that analytical at the moment, though.

They walked, and Kimberly smiled at Liz. Yes. This was how it had to be. Shooting holes in Liz, though a mildly attractive idea, wasn't really worth shit when it came to revenge or accomplishing anything. No, real payback meant hurting someone. Kimberly understood hurting. She understood that, bad as physical pain could be, it was nothing compared to when someone did a number on your psyche. It was something Kris had taught her, something Jeremy had driven home. The physical abuse she had suffered at their hands had been painful, crippling even, but what burned was what it had shown her about herself.

It was time to show Liz Polanski a couple things about herself.

As they staggered along, two injured girls using each other for support, Kimberly's gimmicked flashlight holder swung side to side, sending crazy shadows flickering over the walls, lending the whole situation an almost surreal feeling. Kimberly could imagine flames dancing around them. Whatever. In the past, at the start of this, maybe she would have reveled in it, imagined it as a setting for a horror movie or a short story or something. Now, all it did was make her pause for a moment, ponder whether there was some way she could use it to dramatic effect, then give up and keep moving.

Yes. Wouldn't be long now. Damn good thing Kimberly could remember paths pretty well. It'd just be around this corner. She could smell it. This was the tricky part, the place where she could really fuck up and wind up in trouble. As they turned the corner, Kimberly abruptly ceased forward momentum, sidestepping and depriving Liz of support. Counting on that to distract the girl for a second, she clawed the gun free again, pointed it at her captive. Stepped back, behind Liz. She gave her shoulder a little twist, setting the bag swinging again, flashing light sporadically over the dark form up ahead. Moments of clarity slipped through: blood pooled, body there.

How d'you like this, Liz?

And Kimberly smiled so broadly, and she said, "Come on. Get a bit closer."

A nudge from her boot to encourage movement.
V7:
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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[ *  *  * ]
Liz fell.

Body. There was a dead body, a dead boy in front of her, tacky with blood. Her hands almost slid into him.

The body smelled rank, strong.

She looked at the corpse. A voice at the back of her mind told her to get as much information as possible out of this scene. She wanted to know who the face was.

Daisuke Nagazawa.

The first kid she'd killed.

A stomach twist. A dent in her detachment.

"What do you want me to learn from this?"
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Did Liz know who that was on the floor? Impossible to say. Really, Kimberly didn't much give a damn, anyways. Either she got a reveal, or she got to twist the knife. Win win. And Liz, Liz wanted to know what she was supposed to learn from it. Learn? Yeah, okay, there was a lesson here. Kimberly was trying to teach her something, that was for sure. But... to just say it would be inelegant.

"That's Daisuke, Liz," Kimberly said, instead. "He's dead because you fucked up your collar."

For just a moment she was tempted to go on, to launch into a speech or something. Say how Daisuke almost certainly had friends, family, maybe a girlfriend or a little sister or something. Thing was, she didn't really know or care if that was true. More than that, an obvious guilt trip probably wouldn't work on Liz. She was a rebel. Kimberly knew the sort. Fuck, Kimberly was the sort herself. Lay a heavy load of guilt on her, sure she'd feel it, but she'd also be pissed, resistant, less receptive. That wasn't what needed to happen here.

No, this was one to play nice and slow, nice and easy.

"This was his gun, you know."

Never mind that she hadn't answered Liz's question yet.
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Daisuke Nagazawa. Had he and Kimberly been friends? Liz couldn't remember. It was the sort of thing she knew as Liz Polanski, weirdo and eavesdropper extraordinare, but now her head was fuzzy, her throat stung, and she could feel the beginning of a nicotine headache coming on. Smoking was out of the question--now and ever, with her neck like this. Need to go to a hospital.

Daisuke Nagazawa. Back to Daisuke Nagazawa. He was in front of her, he was dead, he smelled. Strongly. It was making her embryonic headache worse.

Danya had stopped blowing up collars now. She'd won this particular game of chicken. People could be safe now. Blackout zones, she'd dropped her plan, and maybe there were people cleverer than her--not burning their neck off, but they could use the blackout zones to do something useful. Maybe get everybody out.

Yeah, that would be nice. Unlikely though. Liz was not an optimist.

And it was hard to think happy thoughts when there was a corpse in front of her.

Sick stink in this claustrophobic room. She could vomit now all over Kimberly's shoes but getting any kind of crap in her throat would be too painful. Speaking had taken a lot out of her--vomiting was a bad plan--bad plan--bad plan--

No. She could dry-heave anyway. She hadn't eaten.

This would be one of those things. One of those things where Kimberly asked her in a pained voice why she had killed Daisuke. And Liz would answer with the thoughts and schemes swirling around in her head, her odd brand of lateral thinking, and her exhausted anger, and Kimberly would be converted, or, more likely, hurt her, kill her, but she could take pain, it's not like pain was new or even interesting.

So. Come on, Kimberly. Get this shit over with.

She had energy now. Pained, but still. She should be moving, not watching a bloody corpse-show.

Pen and paper. Still in her hand. WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF THIS?
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Aw, look, Liz didn't like being all up and close to a dead body. Wasn't that heart-wrenching? She was still human, deep down inside, or some shit like that. Only, hey, wait, no. Liz was a wuss. A coward. Couldn't even bear to deal with the consequences of her actions. Crazy thoughts: Make her kiss Daisuke. Make her get up real close and make out with a corpse. But no. No, that wasn't right, wasn't the right thing to do here. This wasn't about fucking Liz up. Well, okay, that was actually exactly what this was about, but it was about fucking Liz up in a very specific way.

And Liz was just gonna play along. What other choice did she have? It took strength to get what you wanted, and Liz had already burned through her stock. Kimberly vaguely wondered if it'd crush Liz to realize that she didn't even like the results of what she'd tortured herself for. Whatever. Everyone had to reap the rewards of their actions. Kimberly was totally prepared to deal with hers. Fuck, someone could round the corner at any moment, and if someone else saw this little scene, the shit would really hit the fan. A player might gun the both of them down, get a gun, two kills, and a special weapon in one go. A misguided "hero" wouldn't be very pleased about what Kimberly was doing, would try to stop her and save Liz, no matter what it took. If it came down to it, though, if someone tried to play savior, Kimberly was more than willing to plug Liz on the spot. No way was she losing this match. No regrets.

And Liz was writing. Ha. Good. Though she could still talk, just not much. Kimberly had to remember that. Had to keep everything straight, not let anything turn the situation. Liz showed her the words, the flashlight's beam flickering over them, and Kimberly just started laughing. Laughing and laughing, but not closing her eyes, stare and gun still fixed on Liz. Let it drag for a couple uncomfortable seconds.

"Liz," she said, "you stole the words right out of my fucking mouth. What is the point of this? Are you happy?"

Just wait. So many ways this could go now. This was the branching point. Liz's answer would say a lot about her, would determine Kimberly's avenue of attack. She had more than enough. The end, though, that was something she had all planned out pretty much any way this went.

Beautiful.
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Kimberly laughed and laughed and laughed. Liz tried to breathe while she laughed, tried to avoid coughing from the dank air, when coughing tore her throat, made her want to sit in a ball sobbing and be absolutely useless. Whatever the shit this girl wanted, being annoyed at this colossal waste of time just made her laugh. Great. Two points for the unhinged.

Not that she was in a place to talk. Her temples felt bruised.

"Liz," she said, "you stole the words right out of my fucking mouth. What is the point of this? Are you happy?"

What the hell is the point of this?

The nicotine headache was hitting now, hard. Liz could get used to the smell, but now she had her temples to worry about instead. Squeezing them hard wouldn't help. She needed another goddamn painkiller…

Fuck that. She was dehydrated. She needed water.

Kimberly was laughing and laughing and laughing. Or she had been a second ago. It was a little unsettling. Would Kimberly give her water? Be kind to her? Kimberly had no reason to be kind to her. Kind kind. But she wouldn't answer the question until Kimberly gave her water. No, she wouldn't. Something in her wasn't working right. She wanted to fix it.

"Water." She mouthed. A little sound escaped. Kimberly was looking down at her, what was the word? glowing with power. Glowing. Gloating. She liked where she was now. Power.

Liz stashed that information away for later, when she was more cognizant.

Right now she needed water. And Kimberly was looking down at her, reacting to her whispered plea, smiling and amused.

Yeah, no. Fuck later. This information was useful now.

"Please." she said, forcing sound, forcing spit. "I can answer you." She wanted it to come out as disdain. It came out as desperation. Guess I'm fucked. "I just need water."

Kimberly smiled. Turned. "Water?"

Smile, pearly whites. And Liz nodded because water, yes, water was what she wanted, and she didn't care how dumb she looked to get it.

Kimberly kept an eye on Liz, kept the gun on Liz, when she pulled the water from her bag. Her left arm was fucked-up; Liz was briefly glad, cached the information. The process was slow, tantalizing, probably like Kimberly wanted it, and Liz didn't know she could crave water so badly, crave that she'd beg it from her scorched throat.

But no. It wasn't just that. It was cognizance. She needed her mind back.

Kimberly rolled the bottle to her so Liz had to scramble and get it, nearer to Daisuke's corpse, getting the blood under her fingernails. She opened it and drank it gratefully, losing some on her face in eagerness. Falling to the ground again, dropping the bottle when she swallowed, because her throat hurt so much she gasped, and choked a little, coughing sour water into her mouth and swallowing it again.

Cognition was returning. Yes. She could think. She could rub her temples now, with her wet bloody hands, and feel the pain subside, from a pounding sting to a dull ache. Kimberly's question. She needed to answer Kimberly's question, so the girl with the gun could be happy, so she could go on her merry way.

What the hell is the point of this?

Paper. Pen. She could write, albeit slowly.

WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

She showed it to Kimberly.

THAT'S THE GAME. IT'S A STUPID GAME. IF WE TRY TO LEAVE, GET OUR COLLARS OFF, HE KILLS US.

Turn the page.

I'M GOING TO DIE. I FUCKED MY THROAT UP, AND PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO KILL ME. I'M NOT AN IDIOT ABOUT THAT.

She showed Kimberly this. Kimberly chuffed a little and nodded for her to go on.

She did. BUT THAT FUCKER GOT MR. KWONG. SO I'M GOING TO FUCK UP HIS GAME.

Turn the page.

I WANT TO GIVE PEOPLE WHO AREN'T ALREADY DEAD BETTER THAN NIL CHANCES. MAKE BLACKOUT ZONES. DROP MY STUPID PLAN. HOPE PEOPLE THINK UP A PLAN THAT'S LESS STUPID THAN MINE THAT MAYBE THEY CAN USE THE ZONES FOR.

Turn the page. She could write smaller now, if she took a little more time with it.

I GUESS YOU'RE PISSED THAT DAISUKE DIED. BUT DAISUKE WAS GOING TO DIE ANYWAY. WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE UNLESS SOMEONE FUCKS UP THIS GAME. SO I'M DOING IT.

RIGHT NOW I'M GOING TO DIE. YOU'RE GOING TO DIE. WHATEVER PEOPLE YOU LIKE OR HATE OR WHATEVER ARE GOING TO DIE. THAT'S HOW THIS STUPID GAME IS PLAYED.

AND IF TWO PEOPLE AREN'T DEAD WHEN THIS SHIT IS OVER, THEN HE HASN'T WON.

Close the notebook. Her paper was almost out. She would have to get on that.

Cognition. She was back in business, albeit with a burnt throat and a semi-serious nicotine headache. And a crazy girl with a gun.

Good day, good day.

She looked up.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Hey, look. looked like Liz wasn't doing so hot. In fact, she was the one person Kimberly had encountered who seemed to be in even worse shape than she herself. Well, excepting Daisuke, of course. And Liz was looking up, just looking up with this awful look in her eyes, like a puppy that'd just been kicked by someone in steel-toed boots. And she was trying to say something, trying to speak again. Croaking and wheezing and shit. It was... actually, it was messing with Kimberly some. Not how she'd expected it to, either. She was supposed to be feeling sympathy or something, supposed to be feeling a bit of pity, even though she didn't give a shit about whether Liz had strep throat or was choking to death on her own bile or whatever. But she didn't. She didn't feel sorry. She felt, well, no way around it, no mincing words, not while she was being honest with herself. It felt damn good, looking down at Liz while she struggled.

So Kimberly didn't do shit, just stood and watched and smiled. Yeah, Liz. You want something? C'mon, let's hear it.

And then Liz was pleading. She wanted water. Water? That's it? All this, and it was just water? That... something was wrong. Couldn't be that simple. A trick? Maybe Liz had another weapon. Wasn't a gun, or she'd have reacted sooner. A smaller knife? Or maybe she'd go for a disarming blow, try to take the pistol. Had she noticed that Kimberly's arm wasn't in good shape?

Oh fuck this. She'd give Liz the fucking water and get an answer. Sure, she could wait, make her sweat, dehydrate her further and further, but at the end of the day, Kimberly wasn't all that patient a person. It wasn't like it was gonna hurt her to expedite this process a bit.

Well, okay, maybe it was, because there was no way in hell Kimberly was going to take her gun off Liz for a second. That meant she was going to have to try something new, something she hadn't done before. Something she really wasn't even sure she could do. Time to bluff a bit, put on a show. Time for a bit of feigned confidence, because dammit, she was not going to look weak in front of Liz in this moment. So she turned, smiled even more broadly, showing off her teeth, and said, "Water?"

And Liz nodded, all nice and obedient, so eager to please. This was right. This was how it should be.

Kimberly twitched her shoulder, shifting the bag around to her front without dropping her aim from Liz. Luckily, the zipper was hanging in front of her left hand. Had the bag been the other way, she'd have just given up and marched Liz to a puddle or something. But no, she could do this. She would do this. Fuck Kris. Fuck her arm. She would do this.

It was not a quick process. Kimberly slowly shifted the bag into position, wiggled her fingers a bit, got hold of the zipper. The movement to open it was more of the chest than the shoulder, thankfully. Even so, it sent a nice wave of pain shooting up and down between shoulder and elbow. She didn't cry out, didn't scream or gasp or tear up, but it was close. She got it, though, got the bag open four or five inches. Dipped her hand into it. She could still feel things just fine with her fingers. It took some effort to push the pain down to the point where she could recognize the sensations, though. Still, the bag wasn't that full. Some bread, some crackers, a first aid kit which had popped open.

There. Bottles. She had two full ones, refilled in a little stream some time before. She grasped one by the cap, risked bending her elbow to try to bring it out. Bad choice. The pain made her hand spasm, dropping the bottle back into the bag. Dammit. She took a couple deep breaths, forced herself to calm. Tried again. This time, instead of messing with her elbow, she just slowly, carefully shifted her torso, withdrawing the bottle inch by inch. As soon as it was clear, she let it fall to the ground, gave it a kick, maybe a bit harder than was strictly necessary, sending it rolling towards Liz. It passed her, coming to a stop by the body. Ah well.

Liz drank. Kimberly pushed the pain from her mind, focused on the cool gun in her good hand.

And then Liz was writing, showing her phrases, sentences. They were gonna die, Liz, Kimberly, everyone. Kimberly gestured for Liz to continue. Turns out Liz was pissed that Danya had the math teacher. She wanted to help other people. Wanted to give them a chance. Lots of self deprecation in there. Lots of assumptions. Liz thought Kimberly was pissed about Daisuke. Thought she didn't get that they were all fucked. Kept coming back to that, again and again.

The weird thing was, it let Kimberly respect her a bit more, since, well, they had something in common. Just a bit. Of course, she still had some things pretty wrong. It was enough to get Kimberly giggling again. She choked that down after a few seconds, though, breathed in, out. Spoke.

"You're selling me short, Liz. I don't give a fuck about Daisuke. I guess you don't get it.

"I know I'm gonna die. I know you are too. I've known it a while. Known it since the first day, Liz. You know what happened? I met Kris Hartmann, right at the start. I didn't know she'd already killed Reika. I thought we could maybe team up, fuck this system over, get clear. And you know what? The bitch shot me in the arm and left me for dead.

"So, after that, I was a bit less trusting of folks, you know. But it didn't do shit. I got robbed. Beaten. And you know what? None of those things comes even close to the worst thing that's happened to me here."

In her head, this had been very clearly planned. She would deliver a brief speech, tell Liz exactly what she was doing wrong. In practice, it wasn't going that way. She was getting mad. Furious. Losing control of herself. When that happened, there was only one way to salvage things, only one way to maintain power over the situation.

Kimberly just let herself go.

"I'm sitting on the mountain, just sitting there, and all of a sudden the announcements come on, tell me someone's fucked around, and someone else gets blown up. You know what, Liz? Four people died. Four people died, and none of them had a chance. None of them saw it coming. None of them could fight back. You say we're all gonna die? You're fucking right we're all gonna die, but that doesn't mean you should get to pick how and when. You're safe. You're throwing away other people's lives. You know what, shit, maybe you're right. Maybe you can get us off here. But hey, did you ask Daisuke if he wanted to be part of your operation? Did you ask any of them if they wanted to lend you a hand? Like fuck you did. Liz, you risked my life. There are what, two hundred of us left? That means each person blown up for you, there's a half a percent chance that's me. I'm gonna die, Liz. I've accepted that. But I'm gonna die on my terms, not because you got bored and found some new way to piss off Danya. You're being selfish, making other people's choices for them."

As she spoke, Kimberly's voice rose in pitch, nearing a shriek. Her hand trembled, but the gun was still straight enough.

Come on, bitch. Move. Do it. I dare you.

But Liz didn't move, and Kimberly found the worst of her fury spent. Besides, she had circled back to her original point, back to where she'd been going this whole time. Her voice was calmer again.

"You know what's wrong here, Liz? With this whole situation? It's not the killing. I mean, sure, that's bad, but the real evil is that they took our freedom. They took our futures. Danya took away our right to decide what happens to us.

"And you did exactly the same thing."
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"You know what's wrong here, Liz? With this whole situation? It's not the killing. I mean, sure, that's bad, but the real evil is that they took our freedom. They took our futures. Danya took away our right to decide what happens to us."

"And you did exactly the same thing."

---------

Those words echoed in Liz's head for a long time.

Liz was not a moralist. Ethics had never been something that came on more than an instinctive level for her. Sometimes things were right, sometimes things were wrong. Sometimes things were so wrong that you had to inconvenience yourself making them right, because no one else would. All of this came instinctively to her, a morality she'd learned, it seemed, from nowhere.

So this was the first time she had to think about such things. Albiet, between corpses and guns, it wasn't easy.

"So," she said. "I'm a killer."

It seemed correct to say it, somehow, not write it. And after the water, her throat hurt less.

She looked up at Kimberly for confirmation. Kimberly would know these things.

Kimberly nodded. Smiled.

"And you're saying I'm no better or worse than any of the other killers on the island?" Liz was speaking quietly. Trying not to hurt her throat.

Kimberly was silent this time. Perhaps she didn't want to give Liz any help.

Liz thought for a while. Her hands hurt less, so she used the chance to lean back and find a more comfortable position on the rock.

Finally she spoke, checking her throat before she did so. "I guess I'm okay with that."

Kimberly looked very taken aback. "Really?"

But Liz wasn't looking at Kimberly now. Liz was looking up. This was an intellectual problem now. Maybe Kimberly could help her, but first she had to puzzle it out in her own mind.

"I guess…I guess I would have liked it better if I could have been a good person. Especially at the end of my life. It seems like a nice thing to end your life as." Liz's words were coming slowly, reluctant and thoughtful. Morals were not as clearcut as proofs, but you could work with them the same way--a premise, an answer, and the steps to get there. "I've never really thought of myself as a real person, and being a good person is part of that. But I haven't really had to choose until now. I didn't have the power to effect anything important. I certainly didn't mean to, this time. I just wanted to survive."

That was tangential. What she wanted was tangential. It was what she had gotten that was interesting.

"But I burnt my throat and they have Mr. Kwong, and I'm not going to be able to go back to University, no matter how I play this. And I don't think--no, I'm sure they're not going to let him go, either."

This was more complicated then she expected. Took a moment to collect her thoughts. Counted powers of three. Hid away thoughts of Mr. Kwong.

"So I suppose I could either be good, or I could mess up the terrorists as much as possible. If I were good right now, I'd kill myself, I think. I wouldn't put anybody else at risk. I think that's what being good is. But I decided it was more important to mess up the terrorists as much as possible. I guess because I'm mad. And I haven't got anything left to lose. So even if all I do is create black spots where other people can work in, I suppose I did something? I don't want to be ineffective."

Oh, that was disorganized. Time to wrap up.

"So I guess my…vengeance, if that's what it was? Has become more important than being a good person. Which is kind of sad. But it's true."

"So I suppose I'm a serial killer. I wish I wasn't. But it's better than the alternative."

All this seemed correct. As long as she didn't think of Mr. Kwong--Mr. Kwong and all his stupid hopes that she'd become a good person.

She didn't like disappointing him.

But it was too late now.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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