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The Dead Flag Blues; (Private)
Topic Started: Mar 12 2011, 01:24 PM (1,616 Views)
Little Boy
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STICK IT IN ZEE BOOOOOOOT~~~~
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((Roland Harte continues from -.-- -.-- --.. ))

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death


Roland didn't know how long he'd been running for, scrambling through the mud and filth of the swamp. Silence stretched for miles around him, and crouching, ankle deep in the muck he became aware just how acutely alone he felt. He gripped his knife in his hand, keeping it close to his chest, scanning the foliage.

Where the fuck are they?

The scene had been pure chaos. Gunfire and shouting, senseless violence, a senseless attack.

I'll kill him for this.

There was no hesitation in his mind. His blood lust had been increasing with every passing second, as he pieced together details of the attack in his mind.

Keep moving. Find him. Slit his throat.

It was his only objective now, his only task. The message had gone out, and he made sure the others had gotten out in turn. They were after him he knew. Raidon, and the rest of his posse, lost in the swamp, tracking him, to finish him off like a wounded dog. Isabel and the others were elsewhere by now, safe. What Raidon didn't know was that tables had turned. He was no longer the hunter. And Roland had no mercy to give to a monster like him.

Keep moving. Find him. Slit his throat.

Roland had no idea what company Raidon was keeping, but he counted three of them before they'd burst in on the group. A girl he was unfamiliar with, and Julian Avery- a kid Roland recognized from the track team. What they were doing with a five time killer like Raidon he didn't know. Lackeys maybe, kids with the same bloodlust and sadism that drove Raidon to murder five innocent people.

It doesn't matter. I find them, I kill them. Take their gear back to Isabel and the others. Can't risk letting them live, not after that.

Roland still couldn't believe he hadn't been shot in the initial attack. It was pure dumb luck that the group had fled. But it was that same dumb luck that had allowed Roland to feign injury, luring the attackers deeper into the swamp, away from the others. He'd ran fast and hard, despite the muck and grime and outpaced his perusers. Now all that was left was to double back.

Double back, take them from behind. Risky.

But it wasn't like he had any choice. The others had shit for weapons, not a gun among them. Plus, Leila was injured, she wouldn't be able to get far. It had to be him.

And I've killed before. What's the problem with adding three more notches to my knife?

The thought unsettled him. He'd already decided to bury his attackers, even Raidon, as a sign of respect. But his unease persisted.

Come on. I'm not like Raidon. I have justification, back then at the fair, I even had justification then. Stay focused Roland. Watch and wait...

Roland sank down in the muck of the swamp, edging his way up against a tree, scanning the path he'd made through the muck. He'd splashed and made a ruckus at first, to ensure the group would have no trouble finding his tracks. But as he descended deeper into the swamp his inner woodsman took over. He avoided breaking branches, tried his best to obscure his tracks in the limited time he had. It was tense frightening work. He had no idea where his enemies were anymore.

True. But they have no idea where I am either.

He grinned, toying with his blade.

Find him. Slit his throat.
Edited by Little Boy, Mar 12 2011, 01:24 PM.
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(Naoko Raidon continued from -.-- -.-- --..)

Come on, Roland, you miserably bastard, where are you.

This is simple, or it should be. He had learned the hard lessons of Alice and Victoria quite well; likewise the lesson of Maddy Stone. When someone represents a threat to you, there is no point at which they cease to represent a threat; they are always a hazard, a danger. Julian Avery is a risk, but an acceptable one; there is no point at which Julian has done anything more than threaten.

Drawing a knife, Raidon understands. Drawing a knife in this place is a sign that you're still sane; it makes it clear you recognize the danger you're in and are going to do everything you can to survive that danger.

Diving for the knife, on the other hand--that's less an action meant for self-defense and more a clear sign of aggression. He was moving to attack. And Raidon is sure as hell not going to trust Roland to leave him be after this.

Stay alive. That's the important point. And Roland is the exact kind of person Raidon can't trust on that account.

I'm not getting strangled again. I'm not going to get almost shot. I'm going to stay alive.

Keep wading through the dirt, keep looking for this dangerous boy, because Raidon is going to survive and that requires aggressive sons of bitches like Roland Harte to die.
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The gunshots cracked in the air behind him, but Roland kept running. Somewhere to his right was Dave, sprinting through the muck as fast as he could. And then, just as suddenly as he was there he was gone, lost in the foliage. Roland wanted to curse. It wasn't fair. Somewhere behind him he heard shouts, a scramble. Raidon still had the gun. He couldn't stop, he couldn't look back. Roland gritted his teeth.

This isn't fair. This isn't FAIR!

Of course it wasn't fair. It was Survival of the Fittest. The entire game was rigged against him from the start. He'd never play, never give in. Not like Raidon. Not like Alex. Not like Robert...

Finally he had to stop, standing knee deep in the water, Roland looked back over his shoulder to see three figures making their way ever closer. He was panting hard, but he could keep going.

The others can't.

Frantically Roland looked around for any sign of his friends. Off to his left was movement in the brush. Kitty and Isabel, trying to make their way through a muddy patch. Roland whipped his head back around. Dave was nowhere to be seen. He hadn't seen Leila since they'd brought her back to the mat. The others were likewise gone. His heart pounded in his chest. Leila couldn't get far. They'd be sitting ducks, just waiting for Raidon to stroll up and blow their brains out.

That bastard. I can't just run. I need to do something.

He looked down at the knife in his hand.

I need to do something.

Roland turned and began to struggle through the muck towards Isabel. The girl fell in the water just as he made it to her side. Casting a hurried glance back over his shoulder Roland stopped, helping her right himself.

"Isabel, we can't get far with them after us like this."

A gunshot rang through the air, close by. Roland's head snapped back, but he could see no sign of the attackers. He turned back to Isabel.

"Scatter, try to meet up somewhere later. I'm the only one with a weapon, I'll take off, distract them for awhile. Find the others, make sure they're okay. I know you'll do just fine."

Isabel protested. Roland shook his head. It wasn't the time for heroics.

“Don’t be stupid, Isabel. Get out of here. You’re gonna fucking die if you stay her!. I’ve got this covered. Just go. Make sure that the others are safe!"

That finished, Roland turned to Kitty. The blue haired girl looked infinitely better then she had days ago, when they'd first encountered at the fair. Roland could see the fear in her eyes, the knowing that death was right behind them, ready to jump up and take them.

She's not going to die. I saved her before, I'll do it again.

Roland gritted his teeth. But how? He just had a knife. How was he supposed to take out three players, armed with a gun? It was suicide. But he couldn't back down, he wouldn't. Marines didn't back down and they didn't run away.The thought of Kitty laying face down in a swamp dead to the world was enough motivation for him. The gears in his mind began to turn. A plan formulated.

"Kitty, before I go, I need to ask you for a favor."

-------------

That had been... What? A half hour ago? It was hard to tell. Enough time had passed between then and now for Roland to doubt his plan a thousand times over. The risk was high. His death was looking more and more likely with each passing second. But he couldn't back down. Raidon had shot first, Raidon had been looking for an excuse to open up. And for that, Roland was going to make him pay.

He sunk lower in the muck, up to his chin. It was near possible to see him now he was sure. Coated in mud, huddled against a tree. The only thing above the mud was his right hand, in its grip a small strange object. Roland tensed and waited.

-------------

He saw him. Naoko Raidon. The boy looked absolutely terrible. Covered in dirt, his gun out, scanning the trees as he pushed his way through the dirty water. He hadn't spotted him yet. But Roland Harte had seen him. And that was his first mistake.

His fatal mistake.

Roland waited, watching behind him. As he recalled there were two more, Julian and a girl. Whether they were armed he couldn't say. It was better to be safe then sorry. His heart beat in his chest as Raidon made his way closer and closer to his hiding place. Roland pressed closer against the tree, mumbling an 'All Father' silently to himself. Below the muddy water he gripped Charlene tighter.

No mistakes. No hesitation. Not like Robert. You saw him, with your own eyes this time. No. You saw both of them. Distraction. Get in behind, go for the head. Slit his throat.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Raidon had passed him, unnoticed. This was it. Do or die. Most likely die. But he couldn't go back. There was no way he could face Kitty, telling her he'd let their attackers live. And the prospect of Raidon coming back, attacking a second time? They wouldn't be so lucky. Roland had know idea if they'd actually killed anyone in the first attack, but it didn't matter. Raidon was dangerous. He was a player, he'd given in to the game. And players deserved to be killed.

Like Robert. Right?

Focus Roland, focus!

Slowly and silently, Roland rose out of the muck, carefully making his way ever closer to the unsuspecting boy. He ran his fingers over the small object in his right hand as he padded his way closer, keeping his knife out with his left hand, ready to throw if Raidon suddenly turned.

Into the thicket on the left. Throw it there, he'll see the movement. I come from the right side in.

He took a deep breath to steady himself. This was it.

Roland threw the smoke bomb into the tree line and sprinted forth.

Edited by Little Boy, Mar 13 2011, 04:53 PM.
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Julian will take care of Soryu--of that, Raidon has no doubt. Aside from which, none of the rest of the group was predicated towards violence--only Roland Harte, who took when he realized how outgunned he was.

Roland is near, though. Raidon is sure of that.

It's only a vague sort of sense--the occasional dim splash of water, the uneasy sloshing of feet through muck, the rustle of something in the trees and underbrush. Raidon had focused on none of the rest of the group; he had only concern for Roland Harte.

How to explain.

Victoria had come after him--had fired without hesitation as soon as she'd seen Raidon again. Raidon could not hold this against her--had their positions been reversed he would have done the same. It was precisely this fact that made him certain he had to kill her; if she was acting as Raidon would, then she would eventually try for him again.

Beyond that, Maddy Stone had reminded him that even the least-founded grudges could prove threatening. He had held her at gunpoint, true--and wasn't that a lesson in caution, if he treated everyone he met so harshly he would make enemies too numerous to be dealt with--but her master plan had been mass suicide, and the idea, given what Raidon had just been through, had chilled him to the bone.

Soryu was right; he shouldn't treat the others on the Island as potential players, and he should not even threaten them if he was not prepared to kill them. However, he had learned the opposite lesson equally well--those prepared to threaten violence outside of self-defense were likely to use violence themselves.

So, Roland Harte. So, a moment of clarity and certainty in the bog of confusion that his life had quickly become.

Still, he was in danger, and he shouldn't forget that. Roland might have only had a knife, but Maddy had only had a set of rosary beads, and that had nearly cost him. As an afterthought he stopped where he was, alert for any danger, and began to fish around in his bag. He'd read up on how to operate the damn things, he was sure he could-

A rustle, behind him. He turned, and smoke burst out in front of him and obscured his gaze. It blinded him, sent tears coursing down his cheeks as he blinked furiously, trying to dispel it; it choked him, made it hard to breath. He staggered back, gagging as he tried to force something anyway down his throat, tried to expel the smoke or inhale pure air, tried to--

A peculiar force, slipping against his shoulder. For a moment there was nothing but a sort of stunned confusion--Raidon had never felt anything like that in his life. And then...

Then it began to throb, and Raidon pitched back into the mud. It washed over him, washed over his eyes, his mouth; watched over the burning wound that was threatening to drive him into unconsciousness.

As blackness began to obscure his vision, he flailed weakly with his right arm; the now-armed flashbang slipped loose and rolled in the general direction from which he'd been attacked.
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Roland looked at Kitty, his hair muddied, desperation on his face. Raidon wasn't far now. He was coming. Coming for him. He needed to move fast if his team were to survive. There was no time for pleasantries. Roland bent down, rifling through Kitty's pack. Finally his hands closed around what he desired, a smoke bomb, one of the same that Kitty had used back at the fair ground.

This will give me the edge. He won't be expecting anything.

Movement. Roland snapped his head back up, looking in Kitty's eyes.

"Kitty look, we don't have much time to talk. I need one of these if I'm going to lure them away." He said, raising up the smoke bomb for her to see. Without giving her time to react he stuffed it in his pocket, his heart already pounding as he considered the coming task.

He bit his lip unsure of what to say. A sense of dread had been gradually creeping through him. This was a goodbye speech.

Don't think like that.

"Keep everyone together when I'm gone. Isabel is smart, same as you. Stick with them and you'll get out of here Kitty, I promise."

Don't give them last words. That'll just burden them more. Run Roland. Run and hunt, and prove your worth.

He took off, sprinting and splashing in the water, slashing at branches and making as much noise as possible. Isabel was yelling something. He didn't dare look back. He had a mission now.

"YOU BASTARDS! YOU SHOT ME! YOU FUCKING SHOT ME!" He screamed, beating the blade of his knife against the water. There was no turning back now. Raidon was as good as dead.

"FUCK YOU RAIDON! COME AND GET ME IF YOU'VE GOT THE BALLS! COME AND GET ME!"

"I SAID COME AND GET ME!"

-------------

The smoke bomb exploded, instantly engulfing the surrounding swamp in a noxious poison. Raidon vanished in the haze, coughing and swearing in confusion. Roland faked left, twirling his blade around from a backhanded grip, holding the handle with both hands, like a batter getting ready to swing. It was do or die. He entered the smog, holding his breath, each step bringing him ever closer to his enemy.

Found him.

The smoke had its advantages, but Roland was just as blind as Raidon was. The smoke burned his eyes as he drove forth through it, searching for the boy. For a panicked second, Roland was sure that the ruse had failed, that Raidon had vanished into thin air, gone from the Island, never to be seen again.

The thought relieved him. And then, like a demon looming out from the dark, Roland saw him. And his grin returned. He raised the knife, bringing it back like a batter would, coming closer, ever closer to the boy.

Kill him.

The murderer was confused, looking away, trying to find out where he's coming from. There was no time for sympathy. He wasn't human anymore. He was a murderer, a monster, someone who had given into the game. Raidon didn't deserve a name anymore. He was an animal, and he would be treated like one.

Kill him.

Finally the murderer realized. It was too late. The murderer began to turn through the smog, but Roland was already a top him. With a might yell Roland, clutching his blade in a death grip, swung. Despite the pain, he willed himself to keep his eyes open. He was going to do it. The murderer was gagging on the smoke, too stunned to do anything else.

I'm going to do it!

His blade bit flesh, and tore through, the full force of Roland's 6'5, 210 pound frame behind the blow. Deep into the shoulder. Raidon was sliding now, falling downwards into the mud, as if he were in slow motion. And then Raidon was gone, sinking below the mud, and Roland felt something on his face, wet and sticky.

Robert!

A jolt of surprise ran through him. That was all it took. Suddenly, the blade was gone from his hand, embedded deep in the shoulder of the sinking boy. Roland pitched forward, stumbling and tripping over the tangled roots lurking just beneath the water. The gun was gone from Raidon's hand. Roland let out a grunt of surprise as he went down hard, the cold water drenching him.

"Shit!"

Roland rolled, struggling upwards to his feet. Raidon was down, the hilt of Roland's knife sticking out of his shoulder, drenched in muck and blood. His heart pounded at the sight. For a second he was frozen to the spot, watching with a mixture of fear and awe at what he'd managed to do.

"Jesus Christ..." He breathed.

No time! End it!

Roland shook his head, clearing his doubt away. The murderer was down, but that didn't mean anything in Survival of the Fittest. If Roland was to end this for good he'd have to be... Thorough. With a yell he jumped forward, towards his downed foe. This was it. He was going to finish him.

Rushing forth, Roland saw the small object slip from Raidon's hand before he had a chance to properly react. His eyes went wide with fear, his confident strides grinding to a halt in the muck. He lifted his arms, struggling to shield himself. There was no time. He'd waited far too long, and now the tables were turning. Roland gritted his teeth, knowing deep down in his gut what was going to happen and for the first time on the island feeling truly... afraid.

Flas-

The object exploded.

And as he sunk into white noise, Roland began to scream.
Edited by Little Boy, Mar 14 2011, 12:11 PM.
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Thick stuff filled his nose as the fainting Raidon tried to inhale, and in an instant his eyes flashed open. The flashbang, from that distance, should have incapacitated Raidon even further, but submerged as he was beneath the oozing muck (which was roughly the consistently of jello), the blast did little--he was focused on reaching the surface, scrambling as best he could with his shoulder throbbing, sending deep, mind-raking waves of pain out through his body.

Out, still blinded by the slimy ichor in his eyes. He spat, trying to clear some of it out, ran a hand over his face, tried to understand why he wasn't dead, where was his gun and who was screaming and-

Oh.

Roland was stumbling backwards, hands over his face. Raidon could see, however, that something had gone horribly wrong; streams of blood ran all along livid red blisters across his face, and his nose was horribly bent. His glasses had been broken; the one eye Raidon could see through his hand was wet with blood and tears; a small sliver of glass was actually protruding out from beneath the eyelid, glinting dully.

A flashbang is not intended to be anymore than a weapon for incapacitating foes. From as close as Roland was, however, the concussive forces a stun grenade can generate are more than sufficient to shatter glass and break bones. Worse, from so close, the heat such a grenade generates is enough to cause very serious burns.

Raidon knew none of this before using the flashbang, but now, seeing the result, he understood that even something theoretically meant to reduce harm can be pretty damn brutal.

Roland was still screaming. And after the initial shock of how fucked up his face looked, Raidon remembered that this was the boy who had just stabbed him.

He glanced down--towards his left shoulder. Towards the deep, undulating pain, like fiery mist creeping piece by piece through his body. There was no part of him that didn't hurt; his shoulder out to his chest, his legs, his arms. He could still barely breath; his mouth felt thick and oily, and it hurt even to breathe.

Raidon had known pain before, however. And this was not going to beat him.

He reached for the blade, still embedded in his shoulder, and did not hesitate even for a moment; he drew it out in one quick pull.

He screamed, as he did it--a quick, wordless sound, all vocalized pain. As soon as he had the knife in his hands he closed his mouth and took two steps towards Roland.

The blade slipped into his stomach with frightening ease.
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Ethan Kent turned to regard the cliff, looking it up and down, an apprehensive look on his face. He whistled, rubbing sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. Impressed. And well, intimidated. He looked down at the squatted form of Roland Harte, unpacking the climbing gear. There was an uneasy feeling in his gut as he considered the other boy. He didn't look intimidated. He looked eager, ready for the challenge.

"You've got to be kidding me."

Roland looked up at the other boys words, a little surprised to be completely honest. The hike out to the cliff face hadn't been long, just a quick jog from Alex's car in truth. And the cool breeze flowing in from the lake was more than welcoming, especially considering how uncomfortably hot he'd been on the ride up. Roland turned to Ethan, a slight smirk on his face.

"You were so confident when I suggested it." Roland said, gesturing in the direction they'd came from. "You could go back if you like. Hang out with Cisco..."

Ethan gave a short laugh, turning to look at the cliff face once more. Roland continued to unpack his gear. He'd be scaling it with or without assistance, and the way things were going, he was hoping for the latter. Ethan didn't seem like the most capable person, despite his boasting upon arrival at the cabin. Roland doubted he'd ever even been Rock Climbing. Still, company would be nice, especially on a nice day like this.

"This is insane. You're gonna fall off and die, and I'm gonna have to tell Alex the bad news."

Now it was Roland's turn to laugh. He adjusted a pair of climbing gloves on his hands, then took a moment to slick his hair back.

"Oh come on Ethan, don't back out on me now. Help me get the ropes up. Let's laugh in the face of death for a little while."

---------------

The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze


It wasn't fair. He had been close, so close. But right or wrong, it didn't matter anymore. Roland knew what would come next. And he was afraid.

The pain in his face was unlike anything he'd ever known. It was as if someone was grinding down glass, stabbing it deep into his face, again and again. A mind-numbing agony, replacing his thoughts and memories with the all encompassing white-hot stinging ache of the present. Roland screamed throughout it all, not a shout, or a cry, but a full out shriek filled with torment and comprehension, echoing out into The Swamp, drawing the attention of all unlucky enough to hear it. The shout of a boy soon to be dead.

Roland stumbled back, away from the floundering form of Raidon, his hands inches from his face yet not daring to touch it for fear of what he might find. His nose was broken, he could tell that much. Twisted and bent to the side in some horrific mockery of what it once had been. His ears were bleeding he realized through the pain, his own shouts mute, far off, as if from a great distance away. A terrible ringing noise filled his immediate surroundings. His vision- oh god his eyes.

His glasses had been blasted back, into his face. A bizarre whiteness was all he could see from his right eye. From his left eye there was nothing. It wasn't black, it wasn't white it was just- nothing. As if there had never been an eye there at all. Roland could feel blood, wet and sticking dribbling down past his chin and he knew in his gut that this time, it wasn't Raidon's. And somehow, through all of this mind numbing pain, he realized over-top it all that it wasn't just his eyes.

It was too much. Roland felt as if his brain was about to disintegrate, simply click off, overwhelmed by the waves of agony shooting through him. His entire face was alive, stabbing him with every movement he made, punishing him for every scream.

And he couldn't stop screaming.

Roland fell to his knees, desperate to find some end to his suffering. With shaky hands he bent down, splashing muddy pond water on himself, his face. The water wasn't much, in fact, it was probably doing more harm then good. But Roland wasn't thinking of the long term. The water splashed over his face, drowning his shrieks of agony to a mere whimper. Roland fought for control, for some kind of clarity though his pain.

It's not FAIR!

He'd been so close. Raidon had been there, right in front of him. If he'd hit him a bit higher up, if he'd noticed the flash before he charged, if he hadn't have paused, had simply pushed Raidon down, drowning him below the muddy water... A million possibilities sprang to his mind. It simply wasn't fair. He wasn't meant for this. But Survival of the Fittest was no place for 'What-If' games. Roland was going to die, and that was the end of it.

But it's not supposed to! I'm not!

Roland wasn't afraid to die. He was terrified. He wasn't ready yet, he had people to see, things he'd yet to accomplish. He couldn't die before Danya. He couldn't die like so many others, cursing the mad man with his last breath. He was different. He had meant it when he swore Danya's demise.

I meant it. I meant it- I- I can-

Carefully Roland reached his hands up to his face, gingerly feeling around, checking his wounds. His nose was bent sickeningly to the right, it had been sheer luck that the force of the blast hadn't fractured it and sent pieces of bone flying back into his brain. That miracle had bought him what, minutes? His guts churned, and Roland felt for sure he was going to puke. He was shaking all over, his breaths coming in short panicked gulps of air. His finger reached up towards his right eye, hitting something, sending a shock wave of pain throughout his body. Roland began to whimper in fear, struggling not to puke all over himself.

My- my glasses. Stuck in my eye. Glasses stuck in my eye...

The realization of what had occurred struck Roland almost as hard as the initial blast had. He was going to die. Even if by some miraculous twist of fate allowed him to escape Raidon's clutches, he was going to die soon, blood loss or infection. His life was over, there would be no revenge for Roland. He felt like crying. His vow, his hope to one day live and outlast the twisted bastard who'd dropped him on this rock- he'd thrown it away. And for what? Allowing a few average kids to escape?

"I could've made it!" He shouted, his words coming out in a garbled, near incomprehensible stream.

Blood leaked down from his eye, dripping off his face. Half heartedly he reached up, wiping it away. The pain was still there, dulled by the water, but ever present. Roland staggered to his feet, unsure of just what to do.With every panting breath he let out he could feel a part of his resolve slipping away. There was movement behind him. Raidon.

Roland turned awkwardly in the muck, looking for his foe. His vision hadn't exactly returned, but from his right eye he could make out shapes from the white, blurs and colors, ever so slightly shifting together, creating patterns.

I'm never going to see again.

It was a stupid thought, given the situation. He would die within the hour, of that he was now sure. His wounds were draining him of his strength, quicker then he could have ever thought possible. Roland gritted his teeth, stumbling back the way he'd came, his hands outstretched and shaking, trying to find the other boy.

It's not fair. This can't be happening. I can't be dying. I can't die. I need to find Danya. He's gotta be close by. Gotta kill Danya. Need to- before I die-

Roland's calm melted away. His thoughts were screaming at him, giving directions he could not possibly obey. Danya wasn't there. It was just Raidon, a boy he'd known for most of his life, who he'd seen in the halls and in English class, who had had a locker just down the hall from him for the better half of his last semester. A face in the crowd. Someone he'd never suspected of anything like this. And now? Now Roland was going to die by his hand. It was ridiculous. It was so ridiculous he cried out, a choking, pitiful laugh from nowhere. He continued to stumble forth through the muck, his hands outstretched, hoping to grab at something, Raidon's collar, his hair, anything.

I need to kill him. I need to- I told Isabel. I'd keep them safe, I'd- I can't let him come back for them.

It was becoming clear now. Somehow through the pain and the fear, Roland saw it. A small blurred figure, emerging from the muck of the swamp. Raidon. His target. If he couldn't have Danya, he'd have Raidon. Roland advanced, pain racing through him with every step. He was nearly there. Raidon was a blur, but the boy couldn't possibly expect another attack, not now, not so soon. A smile began to crack through Roland's broken face.

I can't kill Danya. But I can kill you. I can take you with me. I can make sure you don't hurt anyone, murderer. You're a murderer. I'll kill you. I'll break your neck, drown you under the water.

Roland's pace increased. The blur was moving, shifting. He could make out splashes, somewhere close by. It had to be Raidon. He'd have his vengeance, for what the boy had done to him, for what he'd taken away.

I'm not dying alone!

There was a shout as the blur leaped forward, colliding with Roland.

Robert!

Suddenly a new pain erupted from his gut, and for a second Roland was sure he'd been shot. Roland didn't scream. He couldn't manage that. Desperately he scrambled, bring his right arm around Raidon's head, crushing it against his chest. His left hand shot down to his gut, grabbing hold of his-

Charlene. He stabbed me with my own knife. Son of a Bitch stabbed me wit-

A strange choking, gurgling noise escaped from his mouth. His left hand closed around Raidon's wrist. Blood was already leaking from his stomach, spilling into the swamp below. He didn't understand why he was laughing. Blood dribbled down his chin, leaking from his mouth.

Lung. The bastard hit my lung. What a clever bastard. He stuck me with my own knife.

Roland couldn't stop. Gripping Raidon's head in his chest, Roland let out another choking laugh. Raidon responded, twisting the blade, sticking it deeper through his gut.

"Stop! Stop it isn't funny!" Roland shouted, his words neigh incomprehensible. He was giggling now, crying and laughing and not making any sense.

I failed. I failed on both counts. Quick. So quick.

His laughter died away, his breaths coming in painfully short gasps. It couldn't be that long now, he realized. Raidon had cut his life span down to minutes, rather then hours. He supposed he should thank him in a way. Less time meant less apologies. Less things to dwell on, less pain to feel.

It's not fair.

Roland let out a tortured grunt, twisting Raidon in his grip. Suddenly he felt nothing for the boy, his anger returning. He felt a strange dull sensation arising from his gut. No, not long now. Roland whipped Raidon's head back and forth, trying in vain to do something, anything, cause him any small amount of pain.

"Bastard. You're not fair. You're suppo-" He breathed. It was hard to talk. Far too hard to talk.

Going to die. I'm going to fucking die, right here. Another victim. I couldn't finish him. What's that say about me? What's that say about everything- about...

"ROBERT!" Roland cried out. He couldn't understand why. Wherever Robert was, Heaven or Hell, he couldn't hear him. It was pointless. His entire life on the Island, pointless.

They'll die without me. They'll die, and Danya will win. It's not fair. I could have saved them. I could have. Oh Christ.

Roland felt his grip on Raidon's hand loosen. Feeling the advantage, Raidon pressed on. The other boy cut upwards, firmly planing Roland's own blade in his gut. Roland felt a bizarre relaxed sensation flicker through him, overwhelming the pain, if only for once. He let out a grunt. So. This was it.

So much left unsaid.

"You fucki-" He couldn't finish. It was too much. Roland began to fall. Suddenly Raidon was above him, looking down. There was splash, and Roland knew he was underwater.

It wasn't supposed to be me.

He choked at first, struggling upwards, only managing to keep his lips above the water. Roland coughed as the muddy water filled his lungs, desperately trying to spit it out. It was no use. He dipped below the surface again before sputtering up, his arms flailing in desperation, reaching up to Raidon.

As if the other boy would lend him a hand..

He was so weak. His heart began to pound. Desperately he struggled to remember the 'All Father' knowing he'd gone just a bit too far for it to matter any. He sank down deeper, watching as the blur he knew to be Raidon moved to stand above him.

Kitty... I'm...

BANG.

Roland opened his mouth, seawater rushing into his lungs. Raidon was gone, vanished from his sight. Replacing it was red, misting through the water, covering everything. Roland panicked, choking, unable to breath. A terrible burning leaked through him, from his torso.

Little- excess- bastard-

Roland couldn't finish his prayer. He couldn't finish anything. Images of Kitty and Isabel drifted through his mind, images of Robert Lerger, his guts spilling upon the floor. It wasn't fair. He knew how the game worked. By all accounts, he could have won it if he'd tried. But instead here he was, just another victim, disgusted with himself. Raidon had won in the end. Danya had beat him in the end. He knew his father was watching him sink below the surface, watching his sons desperate last moments.

He had failed everyone. He'd fucked with Danya's game, and paid the price. Nothing new in that... And yet... Maybe...

Raidon was above him, staring down like the Grim Reaper himself. Roland's world faded from red to black. The last seconds of his life. Roland prayed for Isabel. He prayed for Kitty and Winnie, and Helen and even Dave.

Not... fair. Kill him... Gonna... Kill him.

Raidon or Danya, it no longer made a difference.

Roland closed his eyes.

B137 - Harte, Roland - DECEASED
Edited by Little Boy, Mar 16 2011, 01:04 PM.
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Arms--one enfolded around his head, pulling him crushingly tight against Roland's chest, the other dashing down to his hand--the one that held the knife--and wrapping around it tenderly, almost affectionately. From this close, when Roland gurgled and frothy blood spilled out his lips and dribbled onto Raidon's scalp, Raidon could hear it not only from his mouth but also from his throat--could hear the slow rise of blood as it bubbled up Roland's throat.

His grip around Raidon's wrist was tender; the sound he was making was a weak, giggling laugh.

"Stop it," Raidon whispered, and shoved the knife further in. I don't want to hear this I don't want to feel this for the love of God just die quietly won't you?

Through the dirt on his hands, he couldn't even feel the blood the knife had drawn.

"Stop," Roland cried weakly, his right hand pawing at the back of Raidon's head; his next words were too obscured by pain and by blood to be understandable, but Raidon could hear the despair.

Roland's grip around his head tightened, and suddenly Raidon was being pulled from side to side. His kneck ached; his left side burned as though it was aflame, and every moment he spent in Roland's grip prolonged the agony. Grimly he held onto his knife, as Roland's weak left hand tried to force the blade out; he gritted his teeth as the wound in his shoulder scorched out through his body, pulled by Roland's flailings.

"Bastards," sobbed Roland. "You're not fair. You're not-"

Raidon tuned him out. It was too hard to listen, and too hard to focus through his own pain.

"ROBERT!" the boy screamed.

Who? Raidon wondered.

Roland's struggled weakened; his grip around Raidon's wrist relaxed. Without thinking Raidon seized the moment and shoved the blade deeper, farther, he wasn't going to let this fucking son of a fuck go, he was too dangerous, he attacked without a thought and without hesitation and

There isn't time for talking when your life is on the line.


So. Knife to the gut. Let's drain his life piece by piece.

"You fuckin'-" Roland began, and without thinking Raidon stepped backwards, withdrawing the blade and giving Roland a quick shove. He fell soundlessly, effortlessly; without looking at him Raidon turned and began to look for his things. He heard the sounds behind him--the splashes of water, the desperate coughing and wheezing, the gasps as Roland struggled to get air into his lungs, struggled to stay alive for even one more...

His bag he found entangled on a bush, much to his good luck; everything inside it had survived, although the bag itself was rather worse for wear. He slipped the knife into his pocket and turned, looking for...there. His gun was half-submerged in the swamp's ooze, barrel down; as Roland flailed behind him, Raidon picked it up and cleaned it as best he could. He was dimly worried; you couldn't use a gun that had been dirtied...

It's getting hard to think.

Raidon blinked, trying to clear some of the vestigial darkness from his eyes to no avail; blackness ringed the corners of his vision. It was hard to breathe, hard to move; his chest was one trembling mass of pain.

There were still weak splashes behind--desperate, erratic sounds, droplets of something-or-other scattering themselves across Raidon's wet back. They spread slow ripples, first through his body and then through his mind, a creeping awareness of something...what? What was he trying to remember?

He turned back to Roland, struggling to the surface, fingers flawing at the air.

He stabbed me.

I stabbed him.

I wonder how long he'll struggle.


"Better this way," he muttered to himself, and lifted his gun.

The gunshot should have been louder, he thought. He could barely hear it, could barely see the red mist which burst up from where Roland had been as his body stopped flailing towards the surface.

He couldn't decide whether Roland had deserved it or not. And, to be honest, he no longer cared.

Weakly he tried to put his bag back around his shoulder; as soon as it rested his entire left side twinged and he gasped, stumbling towards the bush it had rested on in the first place. Christ, it hurt; it was as though something crawled through his insides, tearing at whatever it could find nearby. He could almost feel it, a solid knot of hurt where the knife had slipped in.

"Gotta go," Raidon mumbled. "Find...find Soryu. Find..."

He stumbled on a little further, until he hit a half-submerged root and collapsed against the great rotting husk of an old tree. "Gotta go," he mumbled. "Gotta..."

It was so hard to see...
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(Mizore Soryu and Julian Avery continued from That Morse Code Thread)


Raidon. Bleeding. In the swamp.

No. No, no, no, no, no.

He was slumped over in the water, and Mizore's thoughts were twisted and swampy and black; terrible anger at him and incredible terror that he was dead.

Knife boy, she had seen. Knife boy was dead, half-sunk into the water, too much blood in a pool around him for Mizore to entertain the idea he was alive. She hadn't been able to bring herself to flip him over, and she hadn't been able to bring herself to mourn.

But to Raidon, she rushed over, splashing through the water. The knife floated near him. She paused once, to pick it up and throw it hard towards the trees.

He wasn't dead. She could hear him breathing, ragged and shallow.

Raidon.

She didn't say it out loud.

She picked up his head, brushing back his hair. His forehead was hot, beads of sweat clustering on her hand. He looked up at her and she wanted, suddenly, very very badly, to kiss him on the forehead.

Can't have that.

She pushed him up, supporting his head, supporting his chest. He gasped, coughed hard, and began breathing easier.

She leaned him against a tree. He tried to say something, mouth something, but no words came out. She didn't care. He had nothing to say.

Then she took his gun.

It wasn't difficult, although it involved a certain amount of ruthlessness on her part. She pulled on it, from his hands, and he clung to it like a sick kid to a teddy bear. White-knuckled. This wouldn't do.

Her first aid kit had alcohol wipes inside. She used one to sanitize her right hand, making sure to get the dirt out from under her nails. She made sure everything was spotless.

Then she pushed her hand into the wound in his shoulder, as deep as she could go.

The reaction was immediate. He seized up, tried to scream, but his throat wouldn't make it. Instead he breathed out, spasmed forward, but she pushed him back, away from her, and on his gun hand, his fingers went slack, and she took the pistol. Easy-peasy.

His face was red. She suddenly wanted to slap him, very, very hard. Even went so far as to bring her hand back.

But no. That made no rational sense. That was petty.

He didn't betray you. Stop acting like this.

Somehow, figuring out how to open the gun was easy. Clips and rounds, she knew these things. They were pedestrian fixtures of movies. Comic books.

She could peel the bullets out of a gun.

Clips of seven. She dropped the bullets in the water. A pile of metal beads under the murk. She stirred with her hand until they seemed scattered.

One bullet left now.

Julian would come. Raidon had started shooting. No sane man would let him live. No man who's made it his mission to kill the killers would let him take another shot at this.

One bullet for Raidon then. For Maxwell Lombardi, maybe, in Raidon's mind, if he could aim well enough. Really, though, it was so Julian couldn't shoot him. Wouldn't shoot him. Mutually assured destruction.

A stupid plan. But Mizore couldn't think of any better.

One bullet left for Raidon's gun.

It made her sick.

Raidon was still awake. He was amazing. He should have passed out from the pain. He wasn't using his energy talking anymore; he wasn't a fool. He was watching her.

She had taken the bullet out of the clip. Bullet, clip and gun. She held them in her palms now, at Raidon's eye level. Best not to make him work.

"I'm giving you one bullet. You say you want to kill Maxwell Lombardi? You've had a lot of practice. One should be enough." She couldn't keep the nasty edge out of her voice. "Until then--watch who you shoot."

And she lifted his head as he tried to say something, because now, perhaps, he had something to say.

A snapped twig. A crack in the thicket. Mizore nearly dropped the gun, turned, stood, her leg throbbing. No more killing today.

Julian was standing there, cold disbelief and disapproval on his face.

"So we're giving him another bullet now. That's what we're doing."

Something like disgust in his voice. Mizore, tense and annoyed, couldn't help but imitate his tone. "Yes."

That was the wrong answer, the wrong way of saying it. They were injured. Julian had been their ally. She couldn't afford to alienate Julian now. Julian would shoot them both, or leave them to die in the swamp. She shivered.

"Really. We just saw what happens when he has bullets." Julian's tone of voice hadn't changed. Why would it?

You really think I'm going to leave him without a fucking deterrent when you're around? You'll kill him if he's helpless. It's your fucking moral duty. Her voice was sharp-edged, brittle. "You two seem to have your brilliant plan of killing Maxwell. Shouldn't I give him a chance as well? Or do you just want me to turn him over to you without a chance of--"

And Julian stepped toward her, and he was much bigger than her, and much less injured, and Mizore would have fought him then and there if he had tried to get through her, because Raidon's not going to die today. But he spoke instead, right over her words, and his anger matched hers.

"Shut up. There's no plan, there was never any plan, and you fucking know it. This was about keeping him from killing anyone else, and it didn't work--"

"So what are you going to do now? Kill him?" Adrenaline and anger let Mizore stand without flinching.

Voice over hers, but more level this time. "I had a clean shot at his head while you were fucking around with his gun. I didn't take it."

She wanted to cough. "Why not?"

"Because someone told me not to kill people, and I listened."

What? "Will you continue to listen?"

"Yes."

That was unexpected.

Tactics, Mizore. He's doing this to get under your skin. He knows this is what you want. He knows and he knows and how could he not kill Raidon right now? Raidon just killed another person. Unprovoked.

No sane man would not want him dead.

Raidon had fallen unconscious now, finally. He looked gentle that way, asleep.

She turned to Julian.

"The rest of the rounds for this gun are gone, unless you decides you're going to go digging around in the swamp; I don't think he's capable of it. If he's careful, you get your plan, he and you kill Maxwell Lombardi. If he panics, he shoots at the first person we see, he'll miss with this kind of fuckery on his shoulder. And if he panics, you'll have plenty of chance to kill him."

She didn't like playing games with other people's lives like this. It was cold. It was based on too much she couldn't control, the probability that Raidon couldn't repeat what he did to knife boy with a fucked-up shoulder, the probability that he was even capable of not being terrified of every living person they happened to bump into. The probability that Julian wouldn't just shoot them both now, in disgust, his clever words aside.

He waited. For a long time. When he spoke, his words were cold with loathing.

"You're not. Fucking. Listening."

Pause. He licked his lips, then continued speaking. "All due respect, I don't think he's really capable of being careful right now. You wanna tell me killing Roland was part of some rational master plan, I'mma call bullshit on that. I've seen him kill twice now. Both times were sudden. They were instinct. They were for no fucking reason. You give him another bullet, you are literally throwing another innocent person's life away. Unless you wanna bet that we don't stumble into anyone else who looks at him funny till we find Max."

"Then what do you suggest I do?"

Julian looked pained. Then he exhaled, and held out his hand. "Give me the gun."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"Haven't thought that far ahead yet." He sighed, seemed to realize how that sounded. "Not gonna shoot him with it." Sighed again. "Not gonna shoot him with my other gun either."

"Please think that far ahead. I will sit here as long as necessary. Given that Naoko is injured, I suspect he will too."

Julian's words exploded from his lips. "Fuck, I dunno. Maybe give it to someone who'd only use it in self-defense." Shrug. "Maybe throw it into the water. Or maybe you can just cut out the middleman and do that yourself."

He looked at her. Pointedly. Not falling for it. Narrowed eyes. "And then how am I to keep you from shooting Naoko as soon as I turn my back? I have seen him more than once on this island. I trust his ability to be pragmatic more than your ability to forgo doing something that--that if I gave you the gun would be both gainful and moral."

A few seconds of silence.

"You're pathetic. I can't wait to hear who he kills next."

And he turned.

And he walked away.

No.

She didn't want Julian to leave. She was injured, Raidon was injured. That wasn't the reason. She didn't want Julian to leave. If she could keep Julian here, that meant she was right. That meant she was doing the right thing. She wasn't supporting Naoko blindly because you're in love with him like a crazy person, you've gone cracked on this island, you're clinging to the one person you shouldn't be clinging to, some pacifist you are--

But Julian was leaving.

And she started to cry.

She could hear noises behind her. He had stopped. He was kicking a nearby rock. "Fuck!"

And he turned around and Mizore could see him, and he really did look pained now. "I'm sorry."

He was sorry? She wasn't doing something right. She wasn't sure what the right thing was, yeah, but she likely wasn't doing it, she was likely displaying bad judgement, irrationality, the odd strainings of a cracked mind. And she didn't feel very good about herself anymore.

And she told that to Julian. "What? You're right." She scraped her arm over her eyes. Weeping sucked. "I'm just trying to make--make the least people dead, okay? And I don't want you--I don't want you killing him. I don't want--I don't want--he saved my life. Maybe I feel like he doesn't deserve to be shot by someone of the likes of you. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm absolutely pathetic, and deluding myself beyond--beyond all rational human belief. Just leave, leave, okay? Leave!"

And Julian wasn't shouting over her, but his words were damn close. "Listen to me, LISTEN to me. I am NOT gonna kill him. It's taking everything I have right now to not just shoot him dead right now, but I'm doing it. And if he doesn't get his gun back, it'll get a lot easier. Mizore. Please. Just give me the - fuck it, just throw it away yourself. I don't even want the damn thing."

It's taking everything I have right now not to just shoot him dead right now, but I'm doing it.

That kind of resolve, she could appreciate.

And she needed Julian on her side right now. They needed Julian on their side. Raidon, when he woke up--it would be better if Julian was there.

Mizore hardened her face.

Then, undramatically, she tossed the bullet to Julian. Underhand.

"There. No more bullets. Happy now?"

Julian nodded. He seemed to be staring at the metal. Good for him.

She put the gun back on top of unconscious Raidon. "He can use it to scare somebody when he wakes up."

Injuries. He was sinking deeper into the water. She pulled him up, then put a hand on his forehead. It was still burning.

"Let's go to the infirmary. There'll be things for my legs there, and his injuries. And we're as likely to find Mr. Lombardi there as anywhere else."

Julian saluted his assent.

So I guess I'm party leader now. Weird.

She flipped out her first aid kit, started cleaning Raidon's shoulder. He was floppy when he was unconscious, not so much deadweight as rag doll. Julian came over and put his bag, her bag over his shoulder. Good man.

She spoke up. "So. What happens if I ask you now to surrender all your bullets but one?" She wondered if she should be surprised that she could speak to him in a friendly tone after her defensiveness earlier, and decided she was not. Anyway, she was trying to get something from him. "They won't defend you. They just kill others. And right now, the only other to kill is him, which I'm trying to prevent."

Pausethink. "Or me. But that would be pointless."

Trying to explain. "If you want to go into Lombardi's hideout with a full clip or seven, relatively fine by me. But until then--" How to say this? "--I want to be able to sleep tonight."

Julian's response was a little too fast. "Fine. When we're making camp for the night, you get the gun. You can put it wherever you like. In your bag. In your clothes. In a hole in the ground. Nobody needs to worry about getting shot in their sleep. In the morning, I get it back again."

"Why do you need it back?"

Julian sighed, snorted. Looked at Mizore like she was naive. "Because if you think one bullet is enough for a firefight, or if you think we're gonna have time for you to hand me back the ammo if we happen to run into Max or whoever else wants to pick a fight with us, you're not being very realistic."

Julian had perhaps put himself at a major disadvantage by letting Mizore get comfortable with him, Mizore reflected. At the very least, it allowed her to speak honestly. And pissily.

"You think you can defend yourself with a gun, then? Or you think we'll come on Maxwell by surprise? Because if the latter is the case, perhaps I should start trawling the swamp for Raidon's bullets. I wouldn't want him to go undefended either." She winced. That hadn't come out right. Or rather, that had come out nastily sarcastic, which wasn't wise.

Time to come straight with him. "Julian. I can't trust you. I'm sorry. I'm tired. I'm injured. You could shoot him a thousand times during the day. You could shoot him whilst I'm limping. You know he's helpless. I could do nothing to stop you. Please."

Look at him. Look at him. Don't turn away. Look at him. If he shoots you now, if he shoots Raidon now, you're going to be looking at him. You're going to face the consequences of your decision. You're going to face being wrong.

She wasn't wrong.

It took him a while. But he took the gun out, checked that the safety was on, and finally tossed it to her.

"Don't do any bullshit where you take bullets out. Just don't. It's a stupid fucking idea that ain't gonna do anything but get us killed. And if we see Max, or we see someone who's maybe gonna try and take us down, you give it back to me. That's me. Not Raidon, not keeping it for yourself." He sniffed. "How's that for trust?"

Mizore was pathetically grateful. Not that she was going to say that, of course. But she did let a smile show up. "Thank--thank you." She wiped her nose with her wrist. No use dripping all over the swamp. "And I understand. About the gun thing."

God, how can I approve of that? Maybe she didn't. But relief was a powerful force.

And Julian scooped Raidon up in his arms. "Let's go."

(Mizore Soryu, Julian Avery and Naoko Raidon continued in Riddles Of Monsters)

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