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Riddles Of Monsters
Topic Started: Apr 3 2011, 02:25 AM (3,620 Views)
Fiori
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The Fiorious One
[ *  *  *  * ]
((Maxwell Lombardi continued from Intermission))

Oh god...

It didn't take long for Maxwell to realise that, somewhere along the line, he'd made a terrible mistake. That all his most recent actions had led him to this point of no return, that he'd spent so long heading in the completely wrong direction. That he was too blind to realise what should have been such an obvious blunder, which could have been avoided so easily if he'd actually stopped and thought about it before it was too late...

...In other words, he'd managed to get himself lost in the middle of some godforsaken forest again.

...Where the bloody hell is the infirmary?!? Damnit, I knew I should have taken my father's advice and join the scouts back when I had the chance. I can't read a bloody map to save my life!

Tired and frustrated, the young Brit decided that it was best to once again take refuge underneath the faithful branches of a nearby fir tree that was seated at the edge of a flowing stream. Thankful for the opportunity to refill his nearly depleted bottles of water, he took the rare opportunity to quench his thirst without worrying about using up too much water again. His food supplies, on the other hand, were starting to dwindle somewhat. It wouldn't be long until he'd be forced to hunt and forage for his own food... Or, he could always simply acquire rations from the next person who crosses his path. That tactic had proven to be very effective in the past.

Anyhow, may as well get on with stitching up this injury whilst i'm still technically conscious...

After removing his top and the makeshift bandage he'd made for himself, Maxwell began to slow and painful process of treating the bullet wound in his arm. Thankfully, the bullet hadn't actually embedded itself into his arm. That being said, it still badly grazed it, and would need to be properly stitched up before he could carry on with the game.

Maxwell wasn't a doctor, but he knew the basics on how to treat an injury like this. After all, he'd once witnessed an injury not unlike this one being treated whilst he and his old colleagues had been out hunting one afternoon. After going through the process of cleaning the injury and making sure that it wasn't infected, the ambitious young killer then began to get to work on stitching the injury up. Little to say, it was an incredibly painful experience for him. Not to mention tricky, seeing as he wasn't able to use his right hand whilst his left attempted to stitch the wound up without any mishaps.

As he got to work, Maxwell took the opportunity to think back on a thought that had crossed his mind a few hours ago. Throughout his stay on the island, he'd managed to rack up a big enough kill count for even his most idealistic classmates to consider him as a huge threat. Undoubtedly, there were many players out there like the late Sarah Atwell who were specifically looking out for him. Not that he could blame any of them. He WAS the single most prolific player on the island after all.

Now that he thought about it, perhaps it would have been a better idea to have taken a more subtle approach to the game. Let other people play in his place rather than get his own hands dirty. That way, he would be able to stay innocent in the eyes of his classmates, which would instantly get rid of the problem of dealing with the hypocritical "moral high ground" player-hunters who were out for his blood.

At the same time though, he knew for a fact that it was impossible by this point to try and do that now, not after he'd already proven without a doubt that he was the most dangerous person on the island. Perhaps if he'd decided to play BEFORE killing Augustus he could have taken that approach, but ever since that moment on the beach where he'd found himself standing before two corpses, Maxwell knew that he had a huge target on his head. Sure, they were both out of self defence, but who on earth would trust HIM of all people?

Besides... In a way, he loved all the attention his reputation was getting him. After all, it wasn't as if he couldn't defend himself. Damn near all the morons who'd ever tried to kill him were already dead. Plus, he couldn't deny the fact that the thrill of the hunt was far too exciting for him to let some other schmuck take all the glory for himself. The more he thought about it, the more appalled he was to the idea of letting someone else take the spotlight whilst he cowers in the background.

If there was one thing Maxwell was certain about, it was that his reputation as the top killer on the island meant that everyone he met either respected his dedication to the game, or were terrified to be in his very presence. And, when it really came down to it, that's exactly how he liked it.

OW! Damnit, this hurts...
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[ *  *  *  * ]
As Maxwell continued to treat his arm to the best of his abilities, his thoughts drifted back to the subject matter of who on the island posed the greatest threat to him.

After all, whilst the competition must have been reduced to half its original number by now, that still didn't change the fact that there were many fellow players like him who were out there gunning for the number one spot. Sooner or later, once all the pacifists and cannon fodder had been dealt with, he was going to have to face hardened killers and borderline psychopaths. And whilst earlier in the game it would have made sense to let them go about their business removing the competition, such as when he decided NOT to kill a certain Clio Gabriella, eventually he was going to have to take on his fellow players one-on-one.

With this in mind, Maxwell thought to himself... Who WERE his biggest opposition?

Well, there was Reiko Ishida of course. She was still the second most prolific killer on the island, although recently she didn't seem to be particularly busy. Perhaps she suddenly realised how much of a twisted bitch she was and decided to throw in the towel, or maybe she finally reunited with that Chinese girlfriend of her's whose stopping her from playing the game.

Or maybe she just sucked at killing people, and she just so happened to be lucky so far.

Apart from Reiko, a few other names had been mentioned on more than a couple of occasions during the announcements, such as Raidon Naoko and Hayley Kelly. Sadly, Maxwell knew very little about either of them, but from the sound of things they weren't the kind of people to underestimate. If only he knew what they looked like... Oh well, not much I can do about that. Although, judging from Raidon's peculiar name, he's probably a foreigner of some description.

Another name which seemed to get mentioned a lot recently was Liam Brooks. A latecomer, from the sound of things, and a bloody determined one at that. Perhaps he was some loser who finally couldn't take the stress of the game and finally snapped when the pressure got to him, or maybe he'd been pussyfooting about for the first couple of days before finally deciding to man up and start playing. Either way, the fact remained that he was racking up an impressive bodycount at a fascinatingly fast rate. Best to keep an eye out for THAT one...

Then there was Nick Reid, that son of a bitch. A part of Maxwell was glad that he hadn't killed him all those many days ago, after the fool had nearly burnt him to a crisp with a misaimed Molotov cocktail. Still, thankfully it wasn't too late to repay the favour JUST yet, and sooner or later Maxwell was certain that he would get the chance to take care of some unfinished business.

There were probably many others he should worry about... The number of people who'd killed had grown to a ridiculous number since the last time he checked. People who had probably killed by accident, or regretted what they were doing the minute they realised the full extent of their actions. But there were also those who had just started their reigns of terror, and those who were deliberately looking out for outright players such as himself. Not to mention the numerous students out there with INTENTIONS of playing, but had decided to wait for the opportune moment to strike once the majority of their classmates where already dead. They would be the kind of people he would have to look out for in particular.

Argh! God DAMNIT, this stings! Am I even doing this right? Bloody FUCKING hell...

It didn't take a genius to figure out that Maxwell wasn't doing a particularly good job sewing up his arm. After all, the young Brit's knowledge and experience when it came to medical expertise was exceedingly limited, seeing as it wasn't a skill he ever thought would come in handy. Now that he realized how difficult it was, Maxwell made a mental note to learn some basic first-aid skills once he finally made it off this rock.

Christ almighty, i'm going to be here for bloody hours sewing this thing up. Guess I should be glad that I don't have to pry a bullet from my arm with a pair of pliers, but still......

.................Wait, who the hell is THAT?


He only glimpsed her out of the corner of his eye, but that was all Maxwell needed to realize that he was no longer alone. Standing there, looking right at him, was the most peculiar looking Asian girl he'd ever laid eyes upon.

However, rather then immediately grabbing his gun and opening fire on the intruder, Maxwell couldn't help but just sit there staring right back at her. There was something about this girl that perplexed. Heck, there was something about the entire situation he'd suddenly found himself that just wasn't quite right, and yet he couldn't quite figure out what...

...It was only when she introduced herself and offered to patch up his arm that he finally realized what it was.

She didn't recognize him.

Any sane person who knew who he was would have gunned him down on the spot, or at the very least run screaming for the hills. Maxwell was so used to everyone he met already being aware of who he was that he didn't think that there would be anyone like him who wasn't familiar with the majority of their classmates. Then again, maybe she was just being particularly saintly (read: imbecilic) and decided that it was a good idea to help out your fellow man, even if said man was the most prolific killer on the island.

Either way, this left Maxwell in an interesting position... Here he has a girl who, for whatever reason, was perfectly fine to stitch up his arm despite the fact that he could potentially be a dangerous killer. On the one hand, he could act all aggressive and try to pry some information from her by force like he'd attempted to do with Whatshername... OR, he could do the smart thing and take advantage of the poor naive oriental girl and get his arm stitched up by someone who actually knew what they were doing.

In the end, he decided to go along the latter.

"Y-Yes, sure, go right ahead..." he replied to her offer, putting on the best faux American accent he could manage. Which, as it happened, was pretty damn good. After all, whilst she didn't immediately recognise who he was, if he revealed his English heritage to her it might give the entire game away. Assuming, of course, that she didn't realise who he was. In which case he would simply claim that he was worried that she might of misunderstood him if she knew of his reputation.

In a worse case scenario, he could always just kill her and get it over and done with. No need to rush, though...

"Its, um, Jonathan by the way. Jonathan Blake."
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Fiori
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[ *  *  *  * ]
As he bit down on the cloth Mizore had given him, Maxwell began to wonder whether or not letting this strange girl stitch his arm up really was worth the intense pain he found himself experiencing.

Of course, deep down, he knew fine well that the answer was yes. And that this girl's act of kindness towards him was a godsend considering his reputation on the island. But that didn't change the fact that he was under a tremendous amount of pain at that particular point in time, and that it was taking him a lot of willpower not to react violently to his temporary companion's attempts at treating his injury.

DAMNIT, this stings! This bloody nip better know what she's doing...

The fact that Mizore had began to drone on about her lifestory didn't help matters. In all honesty, whilst it was nice to be able to have a friendly conversation with someone for once, the young Brit couldn't help but find this girl to be UNBELIEVABLY boring. He couldn't have cared less whether or not she was an artist, or that she apparently had a tag back in the 'real' world by the name of Radio Asuke. Her only saving grace as far as he was concerned was the fact that she was somewhat cute... Well, kind of cute anyway.

Still, if he was to continue this facade of being some polite American suck-up by the name of Jonathan Blake, it would mean pretending as if he didn't find everything this girl had to say to be tedious drivel.

"Oh no, not at all. As far as i'm concerned, any kind of conversation beats having to dodge bullets, especially seeing as the last girl I met tried to blow my head off..." he replied, removing the cloth with his free hand. "Damn psychopath nicked my arm... God, if only I knew what her name was. All I remember was that she had blue highlights in her hair, and ran around with her shirt off for some reason. Apart from that, I can barely remember a thing about her..."

Of course, a part of him suspected that Mizore wouldn't know who the girl he was referring to was either. Still, there was always the small possibility that she'd recognize the vague description and mention a name, and it didn't hurt to try to use this opportunity to figure out more information about his chosen targets.

"Radio Asuka you say? Can't say I've ever heard of it... Still, you seem to be doing a much better job at surviving then I am. If you hadn't of shown up, I'd probably of messed this up and - AH! - gotten an infection or something..."

He winced again as Mizore continued to sew his arm up, telling himself over and over again in his head that this would all be worth it in the end once she'd finally finished her work. What happens afterwords, however, was something he'd yet to consider. So many options to choose from...

"So, you've be drawing stuff all around the island? What kind of stuff, dare I ask?"
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[ *  *  *  * ]
Maxwell continued to nod along to what Mizore had to say, still pretending that he didn't it all to be pointless drivel.

After all, in Maxwell's opinion, the idea of making random pictures all over the island sounded like a complete waste of time. Nobody was ever going to see them, after all, with the exception of a handful of students who'll be dead within a few days anyway. Unless someone managed to find the island after the game was over, all Mizore was achieving was making the island look a little prettier.

The fact that she didn't sound particularly confident about her own survival didn't help. Seeing as preserving his own life was Maxwell's No1 priority, the idea of accepting death with open arms was practically alien to him. Hence the reason why he never found the idea of sacrificing your own life to be as noble or courageous as many people seemed to think it was. If a person didn't care enough about their own life to waste it in such a senseless manor, then why did they bother living in the first place? Frankly, as far as Maxwell was concerned, such people didn't deserve the praise that so many people seemed to give them.

Of course, he didn't outwardly show his disapproval of Mizore's actions. If anything, in a way, he was quite glad that she was a definite non-player with no real hope of survival. That meant that as long as he kept this facade up, he wouldn't have to worry about her deciding to stab him in the back at some inopportune moment. Whilst he'd originally planned on simply killing her the moment she'd finished stitching his arm up, he was beginning to quite like the idea of sticking around with this girl for a little longer. He could use a meatshield bit of company after having to deal with the competion entirely by himself for the past week or so.

Naturally, he still fully intended on killing her the moment she proved to be of no use to him... Or the moment she finally grew a braincell or two and realised that he was that Maxwell Lombardi fellow who kept on getting mentioned during the announcements. Whichever came first.

Until then, he continued acting as if he was some naive yank instead of the dashing Englishman he really was (Although it had become somewhat evident that he'd accidentally let his accent slip one or two times already... Thankfully, though, Mizore didn't seem to take any notice.)

"I see... Geez, I wish I'd thought of doing something like that. All i've done so far is hide and avoid getting shot at, which until recently has proven to be a fairly good strategy. Fucking dangerzones... Still, I guess it must of been quite risky for you to do all those paintings whilst trying to avoid all the psychop-AH!"

Now THAT hurt. Probably a lot more then the others if Maxwell had actually been concentrating. It was so painful, in fact, that he barely even noticed that Mizore had taken the opportunity to tuck his pistol into her sweatshirt pocket. Which was quite lucky for Mizore, seeing as if Maxwell HAD noticed this he wouldn't have wasted any time in killing Mizore right there on the spot. Thankfully though, the young Brit was far too distracted by the pain to focus on his gun, and by the time he opened his eyes again Mizore had already sucessfully hidden it.

"Sorry about that." she said before continuing to work on his arm.

I should bloody well hope so...

Despite being thoroughly irritated by the painful jab, Maxwell stayed silent as Mizore finished her work, not even showing so much as a scowl as she made the last couple of threads. Once she'd finished, the ambitious young killer took the chance to look over his fixed arm, wincing when he realised just how obvious the injury looked. There was no way he would be able to fully recover from this. It was a scar, just like the one on his left cheek and the one just below his right ear. Yet another constant reminder as to what happens whenever he lets himself get carried away.

After flexing his arm a couple of times to test it out, Maxwell slowly got up and put his black shirt back on, making sure to place his red tie in his pocket without Mizore noticing. He wasn't sure why, but somehow he got the feeling that putting it on right now wouldn't be a good idea. The last thing he needed was to provide even more clues as to his actual identity.

Once Maxwell had put the shirt back on, he turned his attention back to the short asian girl who'd stitched his arm back and decided that a proper thank you was in order. After all, despite the fact that this girl happened to bore him senseless, the fact still remained that acting like an ungrateful bastard wouldn't of been the gentlemanly thing to do. Besides, in all honesty, a small part of him WAS genuinely thankful that she was there to help him out. Plus, it wasn't every day that he came across someone whose first instinct wasn't to point a gun in his face for once. Even someone like Maxwell wasn't cold-hearted enough to not appreciate selfless help when it was given...

...Especially seeing as he could now take full advantage of the girl's naivety to suit his own ends.

"I.... I know I must have already said this a hundred times by now, but... Thank you. You have no idea how grateful I am to see a friendly face right now. To tell the truth, you're probably the first person i've met on this island who hasn't immediately tried to gun me down on the spot. I guess that either makes me one of the luckiest guys alive or one of THE most unluckiest in existance, depending on which way you look at it..."

He paused for a moment, taking the opportunity to look over his arm again before he resumed speaking.

"Still, like I said, thanks again for stitching my arm up, can't imagine how I'd of been able to do it without your help... I just wish there was some way I could repay the offer."

Well.... One thing does immediatly leap to mind, but that would probably be taking this one step a LITTLE too far.
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Fiori
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Well, this was disappointing.

As it turned out, little miss meatshield already had a couple of dangerous friends herself, and that there was a good chance that he could end up with another firefight on his hands if he didn't leave as soon as possible.

Pity. He was beginning to get used to the idea of having her around as well.

"Oh... I see....." He said, a crestfallen look on his face as he turned towards his belongings. "Well, I guess there's no point in trying to convince you to let me tag along anyway. Just hold on a second, I think I've got something in my bag which you could probably put to better use then I ever could..."

That was a lie, of course. He had absolutely no intention of giving Mizore anything that could actually help her. However, that didn't mean he wasn't planning on giving her anything at all... On the contrary, Maxwell fully intended to thank Mizore for all her selflessness with a quick and painless bullet between the eyes. There wasn't much point in letting her go unharmed, after all, seeing as doing so at this stage in the game would be rather counter-productive. But at the very least blessing her with a relatively painless demise was the least he could do to thank her for her generosity.

He didn't immediately go for the gun, however, instead opting towards grabbing his bag and rummaging through its contents to buy time. After all, where was the rush? He still had one or two questions to ask before removing her from the face of the isle...

"By the way, um. Theres this girl i'm looking for by the name of Tabitha Gweneth. I don't suppose you've seen her around by any chan....."

...Wait.

Where the hell is my gun?

WHERE the HELL is my fucking GUN?!?


He eyes darted all around the log, all around the possible places where it could have fallen. Nothing. He tried looking in his bag for it. Still nothing. He even tried looking UNDERNEATH the bag. Still fucking nothing. Where on earth had it gone? He was absolutely certain that he left the bloody thing lying down beside him, and now... It had completely vanished. Completely fucking disappeared! But... HOW? It was RIGHT HERE! Its not as if it could just suddenly sprout legs and walk off!

Unless...


Then it clicked.

...Oh, you sneaky bitch.

He slowly turned his head towards Mizore, a hateful scowl on his face. "Clever girl... For a moment there, you almost had me fooled."

Without wasting so much as a second, Maxwell dashed from where he was standing and slammed Mizore against the nearest tree, his hand clutching her neck as he pinned her against its trunk with all his strength. Meanwhile, his free hand grabbed her by the wrist and twisted it, making sure she couldn't draw his gun with her free hand as her other tried desperately to pry his fingers from her neck. However, Maxwell was much stronger than she was, and no matter how desperately she struggled he refused to yield as he continued to relentlessly scold her.

"I should have guessed that there was some kind of ulterior motive to all of this, nobody in their right mind would be so selfless at this stage in the game... You're just a thief, aren't you? A little con artist who's only real intention is to steal other people's things whilst acting all friendly and sincere. I'll admit, it was quite a devious ruse you nearly pulled off. What better way to get close to someone than to offer to treat a grievous injury? Then, once their attention is elsewhere, snatch their weapon and make up some bullshit about having dangerous friends in order to scare the victim off before he realises that he's been duped. I bet you came up with that entire story completely on the spot, didn't you?"

Admittedly, he was probably jumping to conclusions, seeing as there were probably hundreds of reasons why she'd decided to steal his gun. Not that it really mattered to him at this point, he was far too enraged with the fact that he'd nearly been robbed by to give a damn about the reasons why. As far as he cared, the fact that Mizore had the gall to steal from him in the first place was enough to earn her a significantly less painless death sentence to the one he'd originally planned on blessing her with.

"And here I was, thinking that I'd finally finally met someone with a conscience. But you're no better than everyone else on this godforsaken rock, are you? That's the way this game seems to work... You either look out for yourself, or die a martyr. And personally, I've got no intention of dying anytime soon, so that kind of narrows my options, doesn't it?"

Little did Maxwell know, however, was that what Mizore said about having dangerous friends was far from a bluff. A fact that Maxwell would soon learn the hard way.....
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In hindsight, Maxwell probably should have expected Mizore to react by screaming right into his face.

He knew that she wasn't just going to stand there and accept the accusations he was throwing a her. However, he partly assumed that she was going to react by begging for her life, or maybe even trying to come up with some half-baked excuse for why she had the audacity to steal what was rightfully his. Hell, he had even anticipated the possibility of her going for her gun with her free hand, although he was quite confident that he'd easily be able to break her wrist first if she dared to try anything like that.

But when Mizore began to screech like a banshee right into his face, the young Brit was briefly taken off guard by the sheer suddenness of it. Jesus, I didn't even think it was humanely possibly to scream at such a high pitch!

However, it only took a couple of seconds for him to recover from the initial shock, after which he didn't waste any time in slapping her across the face as hard as he possibly could. "SHUT UP! Don't try that bullshit on me, its not going to work!".

That silenced her. There was now a big red mark on the left side of her cheek were his hand had made contact with his face, and her terrified eyes were now firmly focused on his.

"Now then, where was I... Ah yes, now if you don't mind, I'll be taking my gun back now......." he said menacingly, his hand reaching out for the inside of Mizore's coat. For a brief second, Maxwell considered the idea of taking his frustration out on Mizore in a manner similar to what he had planned with Sarah Atwell before he'd been so rudely interrupted. However, that thought never went beyond its initial stages, because the moment Maxwell began to reach his arm out he suddenly stopped as some unseen figure began to threaten him. What the?!? Well, I guess she was telling the truth about her dangerous friends after all...

He turned his head towards the newcomer, and irritated scowl on his face. Unsurprisingly, he didn't recognise the boy who stood before him. He seemed quite tall, and his ethnicity was up for debate, but apart from that there wasn't anything particularly special about him. That being said, the sword that he was pointing at Maxwell caused him to raise his eyebrow in curiosity.

If there was one thing Maxwell loved more in the world than good literature and classical music, it would have to be his keen interest in swords and fencing. He could recognise the make of this boy's sword just by looking at it. A Chinese jian, unless he was mistaken. A very impressive weapon by all accounts, and whilst Maxwell personally preferred something more along the lines of a rapier or an estoc, he couldn't deny the appeal of a weapon so masterfully crafted as the one in this other boy's hands.

So naturally, Maxwell had virtually no intention of running off like some kind of coward. No, that kind of action was beneath him, especially seeing as he could easily take this bastard out without him even realising what had happened to him. However, that didn't change the fact that he still stuck in a fairly sticky situation. He could try to grab his gun from Mizore's pocket, but something told him that doing so would leave him wide open to attack. Then again, if he was quick... No, it was far too risky. A much better idea would be to figure out some way of distracting him so he could make his attack whilst his guard was down.

It didn't take long for Maxwell to figure out a way to do so, a confident smirk on his lips. "Well, if you wanted her THAT badly, then here..." he said, grabbing by her shoulder and shoving her in the boy's direction. "...TAKE her!"

The boy obviously hadn't expected him to make such a move, judging from the way he clumsily opened his arms to grab Mizore as she stumbled over towards him. That was enough of a distraction for Maxwell to make his move, the ambitious young killer taking the opportunity to run up towards the two and deliver a kick to Mizore's back, pushing her and and his opponent over and landing on top of one another. As this this happened, the boy let go of his sword, allowing Maxwell to swoop down and make a grab for it.

However, before he could retrieve the magnificent blade, Maxwell was distracted by the sound of a second opponent running towards him, brandishing a wavy dagger his hand as his eyes locked onto Maxwell's. Great, another bloody oriental... Why is it that half the fucking island seems to be infested with the bastards?

Whilst this second opponent seemed quick, Maxwell's reactions were faster, and he easily managed to grab him by the wrist before he could bring his dagger down on Maxwell's neck. After taking the opportunity to note the vengeful look in his eyes, Maxwell quickly responded by delivering a brutal punch to his opponent's stomach, followed by a quick movement that allowed him to deftly kick his opponent in the back and send him flying face first into the ground.

However, Maxwell's victory was short lived, and before he could even begin to gloat Maxwell briefly spotted his first opponent out of the corner of his eye shortly before his fist made contact with the side of Maxwell's face.

The young Brit stumbled back, his hand feeling where he had been hit and he dodged the blows that his opponent attempted to rain upon him. Whilst he couldn't tell for sure, Maxwell was almost certain that the big lummox had managed to dislodge a tooth, Bastard! Oh well, nothing a little bit of surgery can't fix up within seconds...

Not wishing to be on the defensive any longer, Maxwell quickly began his counter-attack, delivering a harsh shin kick to his opponent's ribs followed by another to his leg. He jumped back immediately afterwards before his opponent could retaliate, a sadistic smile on his face as he circled his target. Of course, he hadn't forgotten about the other boy who seemed dead set on killing him, and anticipated the blow that he attempted to give him before delivering a painful counter-attack that sent his oriental opponent flying backwards once again.

It was at this point that Maxwell realised that it wouldn't be wise to try and take on two opponents at once, so ideally he should take one of them out quickly before they finally gain the upper hand and overpower him. After all, its only a matter of time before he'll begin to tire out and drop his guard, and the last thing Maxwell wanted was to give his newfound friends a chance to dogpile him.

After several minutes of fighting off two people at once, Maxwell eventually found his chance to take one of them out when he noticed that his first opponent had left himself wide open, giving him the perfect opportunity to rain his own series of blows on the smug bastard who had honestly tried to threaten him. To his credit though, the son of a bitch managed to block the first couple of strikes, but it wasn't long until one of Maxwell's punches made its way past his defence and struck him right across the face, followed by another swift blow, and another, and another...

Then, after landing a series of hard blows, Maxwell decided to finish it off with a vicious roundhouse kick to the face, knocking his opponent off his feet and landing him face down in the dirt. A victorious smile crossed Maxwell's lips as he admired his handiwork, taking the opportunity to spit down onto the body of his fallen foe.

"Well, one down, two to g-" WHAM!

The moment Maxwell turned to face his remaining opponent, he found himself on the receiving end of a particularly painful hook that actually managed to knock him off his feet, the young Brit looking up from where he fell to find the Japanese boy hold something metal in his right hand. Sneaky son of a bitch...

He clutched his recently stitched wound as a wave of pain suddenly flowed throughout his body, forcing himself onto his feet to face the enraged boy who stood before him. In all the excitement, Maxwell had almost completely forgotten about the fact that he still needed to recover from his injury, the pain of which only occurred to him after he actually took note of it. Goddamnit, I should be resting this arm, not getting into more fist fights... Damn, I'll deal with this guy quickly, kill Mizore, then head out. Sounds like a perfect plan.

There was something about the boy standing before him that intrigued him. It wasn't just the hateful look in his eyes, or even the fact that he was probably the fourth asian person he'd bumped into on the island, but judging from all the bruises and injuries on his body the man had obviously seen just as much action as he had. Was it possibly that the son of a bitch standing before him was one of the many fellow players he'd heard about during that announcements?

Either way, the fact still remained that he tried to kill him earlier, and as far as Maxwell was concerned that was a good enough excuse to show him what had happened to damn near everyone else on the island who had ever dared to lay a finger on him.

And so, the two began to fight one another once more, only this time Maxwell managed to toy with his opponent a little seeing as he didn't have to worry about his friend interfering for at least a while. He dodged a punch, attempted his own counter-attack, missed said counter-attack, blocked another punch, recoiled from a well aimed kick, delivered his own kick in response, and so on and so forth until the two of them were practically sweating.

Maxwell's eyes once again caught the metal cylindrical object that his opponent was using as a poor man's knuckleduster. Getting hit in the face once with that thing was bad enough, but getting hit with it twice was something he'd much rather avoid. So naturally, the next thing Maxwell did was make a grab for it and attempt to pry the blasted thing from his opponent's grasp.

But struggled briefly, but after one swift kick the chest his opponent had been knocked onto his back, and Maxwell held the cylinder in his own hands. Maxwell couldn't help but smile smugly as he noticed how his opponent began to grovel before him, blocking his eyes with his arm. HA! At least this idiot can tell when he's been beaten. Now I just have to...

...Wait, is that a pin in his hand?


He looked down at the cylinder, his confident expression turning into pure fear within seconds

It was a grenade.

And his opponent had the pin.

"CHRIST!"

Whilst Maxwell had been quick enough to throw it away before it could go off in his hand, it had only flown a few feet away from him before a deafening bang killed his hearing, and a bright white light blinded him to his surroundings. For a moment he just stood there, his hands covering his eyes as he screamed in agony. FUCKING HELL!!! Son of a bitch, where is he?!? I'll ripping his fucking heart ou-

He was suddenly and violently interrupted mid-thought as an unseen fist made contact with his face, sending his dislodged tooth flying out of his mouth. This was soon followed by another punch, and another, and a whole host of others as Maxwell found himself on the receiving end of a vicious beatdown.

He couldn't move. He couldn't see. He couldn't even properly hear what was happening around him. All he could tell was that someone (possibly even more that one person) was currently beating him to within an inch of his life.

And there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.
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And then, once again, Maxwell Lombardi found himself all alone.

He wasn't entirely sure how long he lay there on the brink of consciousness, the bright sky above him slowly dimming as an entire hour passed by without him moving a finger. If any onlooker were to see him right now, they would have assumed that he'd died from the vicious beating he'd received or was in the process of dying.

His body was covered head to toe in bruises, his lips split and a black eye ruining his once perfect face. His tongue felt an empty spot in his mouth were one of his teeth used to be, the sickening taste of blood coating the inside of his mouth. The threads holding his arm together had barely managed to survive the beating, although that didn't stop it from aching painfully. Every single part of his body felt as though it was on fire, and whilst he was fairly certain that nothing too important had been broken he knew for a fact that it would take time to completely recover.

Not that it mattered. The fact that he'd been beaten senseless by some random schmuck whose name he didn't even know was the least of Maxwell's worries at the moment. Nor was the fact that he'd been left completely weaponless by that thieving harpy Mizore, or that his ego had been thoroughly ripped to shreds by the whole ordeal. No, the subject that Maxwell couldn't stop thinking about as he tried desperately to get back onto his feet was the fact that throughout his stay on the island all he'd managed to achieve was demonize himself in the eyes of the world whilst the rest of his more "innocent" surviving classmates managed to get away scot free.

Whilst he'd barely been conscious in the minutes following his beating, he'd been conscious enough to hear that there was apparently a mass escape in progress. Not a theoretical one, or an optimistic thought, but a genuine escape plan. All this time, Maxwell had assumed that such a thing was virtually impossible, but from the sound of things that was exactly what was going on.

Which meant that all this time, he could have simply waited to be rescued rather than turn himself in public enemy No 1.

He thought back to that eventful morning on the beach, as he stood there on the sand beside the sea with a gun in his hand and two fresh corpses as company. Corpses who had died by his very own hand. It was at that moment that he came to the decision that playing the game was the most pragmatic option in his situation, seeing as sitting around and praying for some miracle to occur would have gotten him killed. Escape via nonviolent means, whilst ideal in the long run, was considered to be an impossible outcome back then. Now though, it became painfully obvious that if he had simply waited and focused on survival, he could have joined in on this escape and left the island guilt-free.

But instead, the only thing he'd managed to achieve was becoming the bad guy.

A myriad of thoughts and feeling began to swim about in Maxwell's head as he slowly moved onto his knees, his heart beating at an impossibly fast rate. He felt furious, shocked, terrified, distressed, confused and anguished all the the exact same time. What did this mean?!? What had he actually achieved after all of this?!?

Nothing, that's what. Nothing but the scorn of every living person on the planet who wasn't a sadistic sociopath like himself. He'd gotten so caught up in all the excitement, so focused on surviving at any cost that he had sacrificed his humanity for a cheap thrill. Even if he managed to win, everyone back home would curse and berate him, provided he wasn't executed on the spot for all his actions. If he had been the sole survivor, then at least he would be able to gain some sympathy for that very fact alone. But with this escape, dozens of others would have survived alongside him. And unlike himself, these people would have survived without having to commit a series of unforgivable atrocities along the way. They had all waited for this event to arrive, and had been rewarded for their patience with a trip home. Whereas he had taken the easy route and damned his soul to hell, enjoying the unprecedented pleasures that this game had to offer.

After an entire hour of nothing but silence, Maxwell finally let out a prolonged moan of anguish as he frantically clawed at his hair, a moan which soon turned into pitiful sobs as Maxwell began to cry openly for the first time in years. How could this have happened!?! A few hours ago, he'd been in more-or-less top condition. His determination was strong, his ego was confident. But now, he felt weak and puerile, like a shell of his former self. He wanted desperately to turn back time to the moment where he had made his grievous mistake and right what was wrong, change the past so that he could save his future.

It wasn't as if it was too late to redeem himself, was it? Make amends for what he had done, turn a new leaf so to speak. Save his soul before it was truly too late to do a single thing about it? Maybe he could try to protect others or something instead of killing them, try to find some way to look good in the eyes of the audience. Grovel for forgiveness at the feet of those whose loved ones he had harmed.....



.....No.



Slowly, but surely, Maxwell's repentant weeping began to take a more sinister turn. Instead of crying like a little baby, he began to chuckle, which itself grew in intensity until he found himself giving out the most demented laugh he ever had in his entire life. His tears had turned from those of anguish to those of sheer joy within seconds and he continued to cackle wildly.

Jesus Christ, what the hell am I thinking?!? I can't quit whilst i'm ahead! Why, doing that would be such a waste of time! I've already made it THIS far without breaking, so there's no point in pussying out now just because of some doomed rescue effort!

His confidence slowly returning, Maxwell finally managed to find the strength to stand up, briefly leaning against a nearby tree as he regained balance. His laughter had began to die down by this point, instead replaced with a particularly cruel grin.

Yes, that's right... Those idiots think that they can all escape and live happily ever after, don't they? That just because some megaphone says that theres a way home that it can be achieved with ease. Imbeciles. More likely, they'll all wind up dead before the end of the day. Which would just leave him with all the smart people who knew from that start that escape was nigh impossible. Not without earning it anyway...

Besides, why should HE care what other people think? The only thing that mattered to him was that he survives this ordeal, nothing more, nothing less. So why should he give a damn whether or not he fits in with their ill-conceived notions of morality? Everyone is someone else's antagonist in some way or another. He just so happened to be the bad guy for a lot of people simply because they're between him and getting off this accursed rock in one piece.

So what if I have to play the villain in order to survive? If I have to sacrifice my humanity to stay alive, then so be it. I'd rather live in infamy then die a martyr. One gets to enjoy living out the rest of their life in luxury whilst the other dies painfully for some naive cause, so its an easy decision to make as far as I care.

It was at that point that the burning pain in his arm reminded Maxwell of the fact that he was still in pretty bad shape after his little scrap with the Japanese boy, something which he hoped to pay him back for before someone else got the bastard first. For some reason, he doubted that the nip who'd proven to be a much more dangerous threat than he first realised would have been able to leave with the rest of the escapees. Maybe it was just blind intuition, but somehow he got the feeling that he too knew what it was like to have killed several people in order to survive. Who knows, maybe Maxwell had heard this guy's name on the announcement several times and never even realised it. Hmm, Liam Brooks? No, name doesn't really suit him. Chris Hartmann? No, that doesn't suit him either...

...Raidon Naoko? That sounds kind of Japanese-y. Hmm...


Either way, what mattered now was that Maxwell needed to find someplace to take a good rest and heal up, even if it was just for a single day. Thankfully, Mizore hadn't taken any of his bags along with her, which was good considering the fact that one of them happened to have a spare set of clothes for him to wear. His current attired had seen far too much action, after all.

And so, with his confidence firmly reassured, Maxwell gather his stuff together and slowly made his way in the direction of the nearest building he could find. Where that would lead him however was something he wasn't entirely sure of, not that it mattered. Soon he wouldn't have to worry about such things.

After all, whether this escape is successful or not, the fact remains that a good portion of the competition will be removed by the end of the day. They were almost certainly past the halfway point by now as it is already, so with any luck he should be off this island before the end of the week.

Now THAT was something to smile about.

((Maxwell Lombardi continued elsewhere...))
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