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All's Fair; Private
Topic Started: Jan 2 2011, 07:24 PM (4,121 Views)
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[ *  *  * ]
(Mizore Soryu continued from Ghosts)

Mizore was lost.

She had tried to go to the Parish, she knew, tried to follow the map, but somehow she had gotten wound about and ended up going back to the Residential District. Closest thing to a city on the island. Mizore had always loved cities.

And that's when the announcements came on.

Radio noise. Blah blah. The person who'd gotten her collar off--Liz Polanski?--was apparently continuing to resist, giving the terrorists ants in their pants. Good for her.

"…then Raidon Naoko went ahead and shot Alison Walworth and Madison Stone in rapid succession. I must say, Mr. Raidon sure knows how to bring some of that drama back to shootings…"

Oh.

And Mizore, on a rock looking down at the city, had to sit and think.

Killer. That was the thought she forced. She had to see him as a killer now. For her own safety.

The next thought came laughing, unbidden. Radio Asuka, darling of the midnight police. Since when have you cared about safety?

Laughing, running through foggy nights, the flips and wheels of parkour. Dangerous colors. Living in a desperate, drugged-up commune. Since when?

So that was no argument.

And she was thinking of his skin now, what she had seen, and his voice, smokey, fogging her mind, but making everything clear.

You yelled at him. When he was holding a gun to your face. Are you gonna do that again? Do you think he'll hesitate to shoot you now?

The island had changed him. Just as it had changed her.

And you think of yourself as steady. Think of how it must have changed him. He's probably gone.

But he wasn't. He couldn't be. She could hold him in her mouth now, the taste of him, metallic, desperate, real.

Sensory idiot.

She got up off the rock. Her plans hadn't changed.

Down, down, down, down into the residential area. Stumbling, kicking off rocks, diagonal paths. She knew which house she was looking for.

Yes. Scott McGregor had died here. And the boy with the skinny back, who she had painted with quotes from "The Hollow Men", he was still here, undisturbed. Someone had come into this house recently though. Shoe marks scuffed the carpet.

Listen.

Someone was running the shower.

Mizore's first instinct was not to meet him. To get out of this house and find another. But that was stupid. If someone was vulnerable enough to get into the shower, that person was probably not an incredible murderer. And asking someone where Raidon was--well, it likely wouldn't turn up any results. But it was something.

Also I really need someone to talk to to make sure I'm not going batshit. That thing.

So she padded up the stairs.

The shower was definitely running. Some clothes were tossed off outside the door. Mizore picked a shirt up cautiously. Scents, sizes, styles could tell gender and a recognizable garment or a name label might be nice right about now...

I know these clothes.

A shirt for a skinny boy. The gentle scent was unmistakable.

Naoko.

In a lifetime of impulsive actions, this might have been the most impulsive of all.

Bite your lip. Calm your head. Open the door.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
A flurry of comic-book noises greeted her. Mizore tried to catch what was happening, but only got the last part--a gun, the gun, falling thunk onto Raidon's head, causing him to collapse sideways, naked as a jay, onto the bathroom floor.

Radio Asuka couldn't help but stifle a giggle. This was the stupidest situation--Raidon, naked, perfect and deadly, covered in a scaly blossoming yakuza tattoo, lying on the bathroom floor like a slapstick character, and herself, dead as a doornail, feeling her chest bubble over with some combination of relief and primal happiness until she wanted to laugh aloud.

But laughing out loud was a stupid plan. That would probably just make her more dead. As it was, all her vaunted mental discipline was being used to suppress an unfortunate grin.

Her thoughts were fizzing and popping like champagne. Don't be a little girl. He's hurt. He's likely not as giddy to see you as you are to see him. Her face could smooth without concious effort, unreadable. She could keep her thoughts in line, put breaks between them like slow poetry, control her efforts, her mind. Fade giddy joy from her lips.

I love you, Raidon Naoko.

But that was not a thought she would think through the implications of.

Instead she picked up the gun on the floor. Held--picked it up so she held the muzzle toward herself, awkwardly. My spraypaint's almost gone anyway. Raidon was in a ball, clumsy and compressed, reaching his hands awkwardly from the center.

After some thought, she placed the gun in front of him. No need to press it to his hands. The metal was cool and heavy, sculpture metal. Resiliant.

"Raidon." She said. "Raidon."

He looked up. Her voice tapped out a beat.

"The offer of shooting me still stands. If you don't want to do that, we should get you an ice pack."
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Mizore couldn't speak.

This had happened already, more on the island than it had ever had before. But here, on the wet tiles, it felt suddenly as though if she opened her mouth, water would come out, the water from the girl's bathroom, the puddle in the cave, the chipped fountain she had arrived by, even the water, hardly potable, she had brushed her teeth with the first night. Lakes of water. Seaweed, urchins, tiny silver fish, salt and stones all in her mouth. She was like a selkie, with a sea inside her, waiting to burst.

She could not open her mouth. The room would fill with water, and then something would die.

Instead she pulled Raidon's face to her chest, clumsily, the years of caring for damaged commune kids kicking in. She pulled his head toward her chest and brushed back his hair, too gentle, silent, because if she spoke something in this room might break. She could feel the veins near where the gun had hit, a steady, stinging pulse. He hissed and pulled back when she got too close to the break in the skin.

And she ran her fingers through his hair, and he was silent, and she was silent.

Time passed.

An hour, maybe.

A minute.

The tightness in the air faded, until it was only air again, and Mizore could breathe (had she not been breathing?), and words stumbled awkwardly, through her mouth, into her chest, how long have I been silent?. Her voice felt creaky when she spoke.

"We should get you an ice pack. Bandages, maybe. You're bleeding."

Don't leave it at that her mind commanded.

Her words were clumsy, slow and soft. "I missed you."
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
"I've been thinking of you." he said.

And she swallowed.

Because now there were things she wanted to say.

No, scratch that. There were things she wanted but didn't know how to say them. Mizore's desires had always been simple; paint cities, have good conversations, live warm and sheltered and fed. And now, this Hellmurder Island situation--which she thought would, if anything, simplify her desires. paint them stark in black and white against the walls of her mind--was complicating things.

She was in love with a killer. This was likely unwise.

She thought that most of the things he did related to the island--including killing, obviously, but also his belief in the inevitability of his own moral screwups--were stupid. She hadn't known him at all before the island. She would probably yell at him again, if he were to start on that kind of crap--which at this juncture might get her shot, because she really had no idea how much savage trauma he might have gone through.

So anything she said, she was probably juggling death by saying it. And my spraypaint isn't even empty.

This required some thought.

Or maybe it didn't.

She was on Hellmurder island. She'd seen the echos of death all around her, the conversation with Janet, Zach's friend's breakdown, Kari's inability to let go of her gun. Raidon had been shadowed by it, from the moment he pointed a gun at her, every kill on the announcements confirming something that didn't need speaking. She was going to die, and she was going to die soon. She was a pacifist, the sort who'd been trained to carelessly risk her life for abstract causes. Death was…new, perhaps. But not unexpected.

Mizore had lived a beautiful life, a life full of risks.

But you've never fallen in love. And your spraypaint's almost done.

And it was Radio Asuka who grinned.

"Regardless of whether there are ice packs, we should get you dressed." She said. "It'll get cold like this."

Words, gentle, practical, strange. Raidon was staring at his hand--she started to follow his gaze--and then he was looking directly at her, and she could have gasped of it. A kalidescope, cutting ruthlessness, sorrow, thoughtfulness and passion, fear and grim determination, and something that made Mizore feel taut inside, overfull of words and wit and tongues.

And it was so easy now. She could say it. Whatever fear she thought she had was gone.

I wonder if I was even afraid in the first place.

Raidon dressed slowly, shivering as he did so, pained. She kept her fingers fluttering over him on the excuse of helping him with clothes, touching tiny bits of skin. He was vivid, still, and cold as ice.

And his clothes were on, he was sheathed in faint power now, and Mizore, to her small surprise, still felt as comfortable with him as she had before. And he sat on the bath mat, and she knelt on the floor, the cold white tile floor of this poor domestic bathroom, and she said "I want to stay with you."

That was about as blunt as she could possibly be.

And now she was not looking at him anymore, looking at her fingers, spread bloodlessly on the tiles. "I'm a pacifist. We discussed this before. You've killed people--and I've no illusions that you did it all in straight self-defense. You want to live. You'd kill me to live, I think. I think I'm comfortable with this."

Staring, grindingly, at her fingers still. Explaining herself. Her needs. "I'm going to die. There's no way I'll survive this island. I traded my weapon for spray paint, and I'm glad of it. And now I've painted quite a lot of murals. My paint is almost gone, and I don't think I'll find more. But--" pause, breathe, breathe. "--I like you a lot. In the romantic-type way. I've never had that before. I want to stay with you. I haven't the slightest expectation that you'll protect me. But to be quite blunt, I'd rather take a bullet for you than die any other way." She looked up at him, forced a grin. "And I'm an activist-provacatour. I've trained for this bullet-taking shit."

He wasn't looking at her. He was looking at the gun, unreadable.

She picked up his hand, and kissed it.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Mizore wanted to scream.

It was stupid, really. Something out of a song. She'd poured out her heart to a boy--it wasn't like she had anything to lose, really--and now he was flipping out and running away. And she looked down, and she flushed, and more than anything she felt embarrassed, that Radio Asuka had made that confession, that Naoko Raidon had seen her so needy, when she was supposed to be the cool kid on the island, and now everything was aborted, done, and she was heartsick (like a damn teenager) before even having a boyfriend.

He had skittered out into the hall. She'd said something wrong. She'd repulsed him. And he was white and breathing hard, sweating, hyperventilating, and he said "Don't you get it, Mizore? I've already killed to live."

And all she could do was fume.

Get it? No, Raidon. I'll probably be much more scared of death when it comes for me then I even think I will. Having trained for protests is likely no substitute. But I like you. Can't I have that? Can you not understand that I'm going to die anyway, and I'd like to kiss you just once, goddamnit, without thinking of my own mortality?

Then her eyes caught where his finger should have been.

There are some things that can kick Mizore Soryu right out of her self-absorbed teenage stress. Seeing that someone is missing a finger is one of them.

"Raidon," she asked. "What the hell happened to your finger?"

Sometimes, Radio Asuka can be a grown-up. She can pull a bag toward her, find bandages and disinfectant, begin unwrapping the cloth like a homemade professional. She can think coldly and incuriously, and she can click her tongue. "What happened?"
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
"Noticed that now, did you?" Raidon asked, laughing a little. "Noticed that after you finished kissing it?" He lifted up the injured hand to show the missing finger, uncovered and somewhat raw. "Guess I know where your focus was."

Why was he being so spiteful? Why so much hate? Was he even angry? Was he even offended? Was he just scared?

"I tried to do it without hurting anyone," he said simply. "One gun's not gonna give me the edge on this island, not like when there are killers like-"

He was stopping and starting, stuttering, trying to justify himself. And Mizore, Mizore smiled grimly, because she'd seen this shit before.

"…I couldn't have…"

Liar.

Maybe she was in love with him, maybe she'd just been rejected by him like the most uncool kid on earth, but that didn't mean she couldn't tell when he was talking absolute bullshit.

And what kind of edge is two guns going to give you anyway? Put a pistol in each hand and shoot like John Wayne? Unless I'm way mistaken, you don't even know how to do that.

"Bullshit." She said.

But he didn't hear her, because a bullet was going into the wall behind him.

And he grabbed her, squeezing her (ow), and practically threw them both into the bathroom, and at this point Mizore thanked herself for anger, because she could stay the fuck calm in all of this. Which, in her case, meant pushing Raidon off her as soon as they got into the bathroom (she may have pushed him pretty hard, she might feel bad about that later) and running back out the bathroom door, like any dumb pacifist, right into where bullets might come whizzing at her.

Well, if she was going to be shot, she was going to be shot where people knew what they were shooting.

A thing that many people don't know about Mizore Soryu: she's a free runner, and a fairly competent one. Endurance isn't her strength, but technicals are. Which means that she can run, put her arms onto the banister, straight as girders, jump, swing her legs between her arms, and end up sitting on the top of the banister, arms holding her there, looking down at the hallway, where Victoria Logan was standing, pointing a gun to the top of the stairs with a tormented look on her face.

"Hey," Said Mizore. "Are you okay? You look pretty fucked-up. And can you please not shoot me? I did some of the pretty paintings downstairs, so I'm obviously worthwhile to society, or something, and if you want to shoot me later, I'll let you, I guess. I don't have any weapons on me."

Victoria looked at her wildly. Oh great. Mizore had no desire to try dodging bullets; it didn't seem like a plan that worked, especially with sparkly jeans, sparkly hair, and a very loud t-shirt. Well. More goddamn talking.

She looped her legs around the banister, used that for balance while she put her hands up. "I'm going to jump down there. I'll keep my hands up. Is that okay?"
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Two shots, from behind her.

Mizore gasped, choked air, and fell.

Banister. She was on a banister. And two shots startled her, made her jerk back one of her legs, and suddenly she was in free-fall, instinct kicking in almost early enough.

She caught herself on her leg, dropped and rolled, smashed her kneecap clumsily against the floor, and screamed. And then the scream turned into coughing, so much coughing, because Victoria was bleeding, and it wasn't in a good place, no it wasn't in a good place, and Victoria was gasping, and Mizore was trying to remember things she knew about medicine breathe in cider vinegar to mitigate the effects of tear gas, make sure everyone has taken out their contacts, don't panic but what did she know about someone who'd apparently been shot?

She crawled over, screaming in pain at her knee (because why the fuck should she not be screaming, it hurt) and got to Victoria, bleeding Victoria, looking up at her with glassy eyes. The blood was coming somewhere from her chest, spurting, much more actively than Mizore thought it should be and she grabbed something what did she have? pulled off her shirt and pressed it down on Victoria's chest and said "it's gonna be alright. It's gonna be alright."

She'd been here before. Protests and raids. The most important thing to do was not to panic.

She was panicking. She was trying to calm Victoria down, but she could hardly see her over her own tears because Raidon, it was Raidon and what had she been thinking, that he would magically stop killing people as soon as she showed up? He's a killer, he's a killer but fundamental attribution error was stupid, God, Mizore was stupid, Mizore was stupid.

"It's gonna be alright." She said. "It's gonna be alright."

But it wasn't going to be alright.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Mizore was cold.

Her lips were numb, light blue. They were stiff--slurred speech, no speech.

After they'd got a good way, the white bear said "are you afraid?", but she was not afraid.

She was afraid.

Who knew that blood stopped pumping when the heart stopped? She'd expected some affect of liveliness on the two bodies that were beside her. Instead there was nothing, pools of blood, motionless and calm. They say interred bodies look alive. But live people moved.

It was too, too cold here. Her fingers trembled. If she could think of something to say, she could try and speak, but speaking, she knew, was hard. She had no shirt on. Slowly she wrapped her hands around her chest, blocking out the cold, too cold, too cold.

If she cried, would the tears freeze on her cheeks?

She was heaving, spasming.

She hadn't eaten anything since the bread in the cave.

She was trying to vomit on the bodies.

It wasn't working.

Help.

Help me, please help me.

Raidon had killed them. Raidon, surrounded in vivid light. He was so bright, Raidon, Raidon.

You killed them.

I hate you I love you I hate you I love you I hate you I hate you I hate you

Raidon, Raidon, Raidon was putting his hands on her shoulder, and she was heaving, thrashing, trying to get away, her mind was thrashing, trying to get away, Raidon, Raidon tangled up in her brainspace, get away, get away! but she was thrashing, silent, because her lips were numb and she couldn't speak.

Get away!

But he wouldn't get away. She couldn't get away.

Help me.

Because they were dead, they were dead, they were dead.

Get away from me!

She thought I was Alice.

She tried to vomit again.

Raidon's hand was on her shoulders.

Don't die on me.

Something. Principles. Morals. All the things she'd thought were so important. Never leave her. They were her. She had them, only them, they tied her to the ground.

They hurt, it hurts, it hurts.

She pulled away from Raidon. Tried to speak through numb lips.

"Yyyyou're--you didn't need to shoot them." She was looking at him now, turning her head, glaring. "She-she-she-she was talking to me. You don't need to be so scared."

No. Not eloquent enough. She needed to get less sobbing, less cold. Stop hurting. Stop feeling the air squeezed out of her lungs, like toothpaste in a tube.

And I'm gasping and my lungs hurt.

So she sunk down. Quietly. And she breathed.

Radio Asuka

had never been quiet.

Speak.

"Raidon." She said (still quiet, still breathing staccato, scared and heavy). "You shouldn't have done that."

He opened his mouth. She covered it with her hand.

"No. You don't get to do that yet." She stood up, took her hand away. "You-you-Jesus, Raidon--" and the words came out, angled, pitched oddly and there. "You're better than this! You're better than this! You know what you're doing! You know what it is to take a life away! That's them--now they're just a husk! They're not people anymore!"

She was backing away from him, screaming. "You know what you're doing! You know what you're doing! People here, think they're just playing a game with their guns and their stupid, trying not to think about it because they think they can avoid it but you can't! You know what this is! You know what this is! And yet you kill! Jesus, Raidon, I was talking to her! She thought--" a sob broke from her throat, let me continue "she thought I was Alice! I was Alice to her! And what do you? Trick yourself into thinking she and he are more cold-blooded than you? You know what you're doing, you know what you're doing, and yet you keep doing it because you're scared!" She grabbed him by the shoulders, pushed him back. "What are you scared of?"

And she was crying again, tears rushing down her cheeks, done with all her vaunted mental discipline. "Are you scared of death? Because you're going to die, just like them! Do you really trick yourself into thinking this kind of bullshit ups your chance of survival? It doesn't! We're all going to die--do you want to die doing this?"

And she was crying and crying and crying and crying, and she slumped down again, because standing was hard, standing was hard right now, and damnit, she didn't have a shirt on right now, and she was cold.

And crying.

And cold.

Death is just another country.

She pushed a gun toward him, ugly, skewed, sloppy. "What are you waiting for?"
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]

There were so many things that were so tempting right now.

She leaned up against the wall, obedient. Her knee hurt, enough that she wanted to start sobbing again, not from terror, but from pain.

Nuh-uh. No.

It was pain, it was terror, it was weakness and sheer confusion. It was being eighteen (eighteen! Feel your age!) and not knowing what to do.

Violence is never the way.

Principles, all principles. Principles she had based herself on, forged into her very core, the one part of her that wouldn’t change when the rest of her went quicksilver, experimenting with self, identity and taboo.

Violence is never the way.

And yet there were two bodies at her feet. And Raidon, with grim hope in his voice, was telling her why he’d killed them.

She had, arrogantly, viewed herself as the most hopeful person on the island. The others had despaired, fleeing death. She had accepted death, used her paintings as her hope. And yet—

“We’re not all going to die. Someone is going to survive. Maybe more than one person. Maybe a whole fucking army of us.”

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

How could she call herself hopeful?

Do not go gentle into that good night.

She had accepted death. He hadn’t.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

There had been fear of death, her own fear, when Mirabelle Nesa had pushed her down the hill, when she’d been so grateful, with her new can of red spray paint. Raidon was also afraid—he could deny it all he wanted, but the boy she had seen in the bathroom was miserable, paranoid and scared.

And yet, she wanted him to be right. She wanted the epiphany, that she had accepted death, that he had fought for life, that Victoria, Jacob made sense because life is beautiful.

It would be so much easier if he was right. If fighting was the answer—they had been given tools to fight. She could fight. She could fight for her life and his. She could fight.

“Every murderer I kill, every resources I get, every weapon I acquire gives me an edge.” He said. “Every enemy I eliminate leaves one fewer complication.”

She could fight, and she could kill, because he was beautiful and life was beautiful.

But what would Danya say?

Mizore was a prideful sonofabitch. Danya would love it. And she had been so damn proud to spit in Danya’s face.

But life is beautiful.

But life was beautiful. And fighting was tempting. She could fight for her, fight for him. God, it would be simpler.

“I intend to live. And I couldn’t…couldn’t stand to watch you die.”

And something ugly in her heart leapt at knowing he would kill for her. We all want to be loved.

And she wasn’t sure if he’d finished talking, so she stayed silent. Her crude risk-reward assessment didn’t favor killing. She didn’t like the idea of playing Danya’s game. But playing would let her stay with him, and God, she wanted to stay with him now, sink against him with her watery knee, and let herself fight…

But if I do that, then what am I?

And he had stopped talking, she was sure of it now, and she was speaking, slowly, without thinking of her words.

“If you think we might survive—“ she started. “Playing Danya’s game doesn’t help your chances. Not until the end, anyway. Doing what you’re doing, now—you just get people mad at you, like Victoria, because you hurt Alice, or people attacking you, like Maddie Stone. It’s not—it’s not particularly good risk-reward.”

Her smile was sarcastic. Arguing for pacifism because it made sense on the risk-reward assessment is not what she expected to be doing.

“And if you expect the army to rescue us—if you expect whatever the hell Liz Polanski is doing to fly to the rest of the island—if you’ve got any proper hope that more than one person might survive this damn island,” her voice shook, “playing Danya’s game—accelerating it with every kill you make—is not—is not the best way to do that.”

I intend to live. And I couldn’t…I couldn’t stand to watch you die.

There was pain in her knee, and a small, squeezed smile on her face.

“I’m a graffiti artist, a freegan vegan pacifist communalist anarchist. I made myself that, once upon a time, when I decided to become someone.” Was she even making sense now? She felt like she was, but she knew most people hadn’t gone through the bizarre process of self-creation. There was no guarantee Raidon would get a damn thing she was saying. “Survival of the Fittest—it’s meant to change us. Make us scared. Turn us into folk who think killing is a fine idea.” She turned. Tried to sit up. Winced when pain from her knee made her nerves stop. “I guess—damnit, I understand why you kill. I’m not that dumb, not anymore. You’re fighting, because if there’s a chance for life, you’re fighting for it. You said maybe I think you’re weak—maybe you think I’m weak for giving up, for refusing to kill because—well, I’ve never even told you why I don’t kill. Only that I won’t do it.”

“Here’s –here’s something that might surprise you. I don’t even entirely know my reasons for not killing. There’s probably a mix of them. Maybe I’m a punky artist chick who wants to be different. Maybe I’ve run the same damn risk-reward assessment that I ran up there, and concluded the same things—although that would mean I’d be okay with killing once I got to the final four, which I don’t think I will be. There’s probably a good bit of deep-seated moral conviction in it—I’ve seen dead bodies before, though not quite in this context, and I don’t—I don’t have, and I don’t want the right to do that to somebody. I’m not even sure I believe in God, but that seems like a deal that should be decided by a higher power than me. Death is scary. It’s not what I want to dole out. And people are so astronomically stupid about violence—they jump to it as a solution before it needs to be, all the time, every time, the prison system, revenge, riots, we might as well not be the most creative and awesome species the universe has ever seen if we’re such messes of blunt, base instinct. ‘S probably why I became a pacifist in the first place—I wanted to show people there was another way.”

“But here? I don’t know if there’s another way. Danya’s pretty much cooked us so we’re all going to die, and being a pacifist’s not the solution—not if I want to live. So I guess I just stick to it because I’m a prideful son of a bitch. He wants to turn us into—into monsters, maybe he’ll call us, or people so drunk on hope that we pick up guns and shoot our friends because maybe we can put our life back together once we’re done. And I don’t want to turn into that. I want to stay how I’ve always been. I want him to watch me on television and spit, because I won’t become a pet monster of his. I’m afraid if I—if I start clinging to the hope he wants us to have, I’m not me anymore. I’m not the freegan vegan pacifist communalist anarchist. I’m the girl who used to be Mizore Soryu, changed like everyone else changed. So I guess—I guess you’re right. I’m dooming myself because I’m a prideful sonofabitch, and I want to tell whoever started this game to fuck it, even if it means I die.”

Raidon had stayed silent, staring. She reached her hand out, wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead, but her eyes went past him, to Jacob, to Victoria. She thought I was Alice.

She wanted to say she understood what he was doing. She did understand what he was doing. All I have of value here is violence and the thread of violence. I don’t have time for diplomacy, and neither do you. Every murderer I kill, every resources I get, every weapon I acquire gives me an edge. Every enemy I eliminate leaves one fewer complication.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

But all she could see was Victoria’s smile, and Jacob’s hollow fury.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Raidon was staring at her.

“I can’t stop you from killing on your own.” She said, finally, helplessly. “And I wouldn’t, even if I could. This is your fight.” Her eyes were closing, no longer forced dryly open by the pain in her knee. “But I will not let you kill on my behalf, and I will not—I’ll do everything in my power to prevent anyone around me from murdering anyone else. It’s what I do. I suspect this means I’m leaving you now, and that’s okay.”

She could not force a smile, but her voice remained calm. She unbent her legs, stood up, and nearly screamed as her knee gave out from under her.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Naoko Raidon kissed Mizore Soryu.

Mizore was wearing nothing but a bra on top, his arms warm around her, her skin raised to his touch, shivering. She could feel everything, skin vivid, and warmth.
The shivers had nothing to do with cold.

Sun.

Let's get out of this country.

He could take her cold. They could stay wrapped together, live, I wish I could spend hours with you. I wish I could talk with you about every abstraction. I wish I could touch your skin.

I wish.

The air was full of wishes, floating gossamer like oil-slick rainbows. Bubbles bouncing about the room. Victoria, Jacob, Raidon and her, helpless, suspended in an arc of wishes. Possible futures, potential futures, some dead, some alive, but who knew? She could reach out and touch them.

Beautiful.

Reach out and touch them.

She broke from Raidon first. Shot them in the head to make sure they were dead. She didn't want to kiss him. It felt dirty, somehow. You saw him shoot them. You can't be in denial. The word she wanted to use now was 'sell-out', a favorite word of Life on Enceladus, but it was worse than that. Prideful sonofabitch. Killer-kisser. She needed to get away from Raidon. Away from the greedy part of yourself that wants to tell him that this is okay. Away from forgetting.

He shot them in the head to make sure they were dead. Some pacifist you are.

She looked away from Raidon, at the floor, at the blood. Shook her head. "We should go up stairs." He had--he had offered to bring her upstairs. "If you could help me," she said, distant and stiff, "I should put my knee up. Drain the swelling."

The mighty continents divide for the second time in history.

But she was hardly anything mighty. She was a shivering girl, in a ragged blue bra, her bloody shirt on dead Victoria Logan's breast. Once upon a time, you were so sure of yourself. Now she was nothing. A panicked breath. A teenage girl.

You're the daylight ghost that creeps, you're the empty city streets.

Raidon helped her up the stairs, whispering something that sounded like symbols and chains. There were bangs and knocks outside the house. She was worried. Let us get into the bedroom safety. Praying (to whom?), walking mechanically, trying not to rest too much weight on her bad knee feels like you don't have a body.

She felt like smoke and feathers. Ready to blow away.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Mizore was thinking about oceans, the sound of the sea in her ears. She'd seen the ocean with her family, when she was small, a vacation, tense and lonely when the first of her brothers was born. She had walked out into the dawn beaches in the mornings, in the calm, tasted the air, blue-grey and salty sweet.

Since then, she had been able to hear the ocean, in conch shells, cups and glasses, soda cans. Anything hollow, anything unsure.

And she could hear the ocean now, Raidon holding her. Why am I so calm? Mute judgement in her eyes. Killer. But hard to hate. Should I hate you? But his arms were behind her, bringing her up the stairs. Back to the tan-and-gold guest room, in the warm yellow light.

His words, he could think about his words, his words that had wrapped around her like symbols and chains. "You may not like it," he had said, "but if someone comes after us, you don't get to die. You can do that by yourself."

She wanted to kiss him again, perhaps. Gently.

She didn't have to judge right now. I'm hurt, she cried, looking for excuses. I don't need to judge, I don't need to condemn him.

Not yet. Not yet.

He put her down, back to the headboard. I'm being carried. He pulled the pillow that would have been behind her above her knee.

He looked tired. "H-hold on," he said, stuttered, slurred, so tired. "I'll…I'll be back."

And he left.

She wanted to wash out her mouth. Something cold. Without him was easier. Less conflict. Simple life, simple death. She painted, and she died. Nothing complicated occurred. None of these questions about who she was, or if falling in love with him made everything she stood for moot. None of this killing. You won't have to see it, but it'll still be there. But she wouldn't have to condemn it. Fight him. Make him give up his hope for life, because of her selfish self-identity.

He's better than that.

But what right do you have to judge him when you let every other killer on the island escape your scathing judgement scot-free?

But he's better than that.

What right do you have to tell him to give up hope?

Once upon a time, she had always been right. Now, she wasn't so sure.

She could hear Raidon puttering downstairs. The scrape of bags against wood. Looting the corpses. The thought came with all the requisite disgust.

But the disgust didn't last nearly long enough.

No. No. She wanted to hold him.

Head against the headboard. Knee propped on the bed. Help me. But there was no one to tell her what was wrong and right and I wouldn't believe them anyway.

No one to tell her. I want to touch him again. Just one more time. She had to leave, she knew she had to leave I can't be this, an accessory to murder but he was monstrous in her thoughts always there, why are you always here?

She could meditate, but he wouldn't blow away.

Creaking on the stairs now. He was coming up. She closed her eyes, pushed angst away, and felt, not emptiness, but just a desire to speak to him, hold him. You are my equal.

Words thumping in her head.

Load up your guns, bring your friends, it's time to lose, and to pretend-

He was in the doorway. "Hey."

The light curled around him. "Hey," she said, kind of lamely.

"Are you--I just wanted to check if you were okay."

Now I am. "I'm fine."

He was stumbling on his feet. So tired, too tired. I just want you to know who I am.

"I guess--I guess I'll--" He was not looking at her, but his eyes burned.

Sometimes the moments that should be so crucial, so important, are an impulse instead. "Raidon?" She said.

"Yeah?"

"I want you to kiss me."

Because you want it. I know you want it. I pulled away last time. And here I am, sitting on this bed like a Queen, and I will say what I please.

He didn't smile, but his eyes lifted. He came over to the bed, like slow night on the windowsills, leaned an arm against the headboard, and put his mouth to hers.

And she kissed him. And he kissed her. And it was the most comfortable thing in the world.

She didn't break away first, this time. It was he who broke away, his arm giving away on the headboard, and he toppled onto her lap, eyes fluttering, bruised. "Tired," he said apologetically, but he made no move to leave.

She pulled him up onto the bed. No undressing him, no sex, just letting him half-climb half-fall beside her. "Hush." She said. "Come to sleep."

Her smile was a little amused. He smiled softly back up at her.

Light off. Tucking his knees into the covers. All things she could do without her knee.

The clock ticked softly from the next room.

Right now, there was no conflict at all.
--------


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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