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Riddles Of Monsters
Topic Started: Apr 3 2011, 02:25 AM (3,530 Views)
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[ *  *  * ]
(Mizore Soryu continued from The Dead Flag Blues)

It was a place to rest.

The forest. Rough terrain. Not good for Mizore's ankle. Not good for Raidon's injuries--had the cut hurt his lung? She didn't know a damn thing about how organs worked. She could treat a sprained ankle, a bleeding arm, but not this.

Julian had been silent.

Come back.

She wished he would speak.

But he was carrying the bags, his bag and Raidon's. And he was carrying Raidon, in both his arms.


But he looked like a broken doll.

Hold him and never let go.

That was a bad thought.

The inland woods was good. The inland woods was good because it was hard to find people in. The sawmill would have been better--dry wood, flat floors for Mizore's leg--but she'd insisted on going through the Inland Woods.

That way nobody could see Raidon and shoot him.

Yes. That was a good idea.

Julian had hardly protested. But he was pale and sweating now, and Mizore had been keeping her ankle in check and we need Raidon to walk if we ever want to get there so they stopped.

And Julian put Raidon down on a bed of moss, tenderly, and Mizore liked Julian a little more.

Which was odd.

Wake up, Raidon. Wake up.

Because Julian was probably going to betray them horribly and then wouldn't that be nice.

The woods, at least, were beautiful. Crickets, frogs, birds moist air, twilight, close to rain. Still misty, like the swamp, which should have made Mizore uneasy but there are so many things that should have made me uneasy and yet they haven't. Spanish moss, long from the trees, that wrapped around the glade they were in, tall twisted trunks, and Julian breathing heavy, and Raidon thank God still breathing.

Julian put him down, and Mizore went over to him, and touched his forehead once. Best not let Julian see.

So she went and set up camp like a good girl, the kind of good girl who doesn't have an overly large interest in keeping a serial killer alive.

I love you.

It was a delicate balance, that.

There was a stream nearby. They didn't have much water left. Julian suggested boiling the stream water to preserve their own. Yes, they'd have to do it in the canteens Danya gave them, and yes, they'd eat melted plastic and die of cancer in forty years, but really it was a good idea.

Mizore agreed. She did half the work, even with her bum leg. Insisted. Trying to be sweet. Get on his good side. Then he won't see you're in love with a murderer.

This didn't seem like a sustainable plan.

But being alone, by the stream, was nice, refreshing. Almost like meditation. Easy there, not to feel the two guns in her sweatshirt pocket. So easy to pretend you're innocent.

But she was not innocent. And she couldn't meditate, not now, not here. Not shepherding two killers. Not when Raidon could wake up. Not when Julian is alone with him.

So she hurried back.

Raidon was there, still safe. Julian was nowhere to be seen. She bent down over him, feeling the guns heavy in her pocket. Killer.


"Raidon." She said.

And he opened his eyes.

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
He wouldn't meet her eyes.

Not that she wanted to meet his either. She knew she was judging, killer, player, scared and scared and scared and scared. She knew there were things she wanted to keep hidden. She knew my heart is on my sleeve, I've never been very good at this. Not meeting his eyes, was better, yeah? Better.

Doesn't mean it didn't hurt like a bitch.

And he was groaning now, in pain, and she was touching him, tiny touches, pushing his muscles, pressure points, gentle, to ease the pain. The knife wound was not wide, but deep, and I really should have stitched that up before.

But she hadn't been thinking, then. Not that that was any excuse.

"Hold still." She said. "I'm going to need to stitch you up."

And he was silent, cold and tense when she unbuttoned his shirt, ragged and filthy. Below that, his chest was shivering; back scarred and beautiful tattoos and I've almost forgotten how to paint.

She had a clean t-shirt in her bag. Knotted it, gave it to him. "Bite down."

Don't move, and don't scream.

He closed his mouth, silently. The first-aid kit was admirably stocked; she knotted the thread and kept herself from cursing as she put the needle in his skin.

He hissed, as she stitched, but nothing else happened.

And as she finished, she shook her head. Not for him, but for her, because I can't stay here anymore. She needed to get away from this boy who wouldn't say anything to her, and I would have let him kill again, because he had art on his back and pale lips and knew the implications of what he was doing and somehow I find that irresistible, idiot girl.

But the spray can was almost out and her wax pencils were ruined, and she couldn't use a goddamn painting to find herself now.

So instead she left Raidon, hissing with pain, bent over. Touched his back, picked up an empty canteen, said lamely "I'll be back," and left him, bent over. Ran--no, hobbled--to the stream.

Raidon could defend himself now. From Julian, from everybody. He was awake, and he wasn't looking at her, and she needed to think.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. And the stream was cool, and she could scoop water into her mouth, imagine it tasted faintly of lime. Like a messy girl, a child, because really I couldn't feel like more of a baby right now.

Only then did she realize she still had the tweezers, the needle and thread in her hand.

And she could see a boy, a reflection in the water. She looked up, and he was no longer made of splashes and ripples, sitting on a tree stump. His arm was bloody, and he was stitching it up badly, hissing curses while he did it, and she winced as he put a needle into his skin because you're doing it wrong.

And yes, he was probably dangerous, because at this point on the island, nearly everyone was.

That said, he shouldn't have to sew up his arm like that.

So she stood up, slowly. Put up her hands, showing the needle and tweezers and thread. The boy saw her, but didn't startle.

"Hey. I'm Mizore Soryu. I'm not playing, etcetera etcetera, you can see I'm not holding any weapons, but you're really screwing up what you're doing to your arm. Want me to help?"

The boy was looking at her, more fascinated than startled. Well, that was nice. It meant he wouldn't shoot her in a panic.

"I'm going to come closer now, unless you tell me not to. Are you alright with that?"

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
He sounded nervous as all get-out, which made sense, considering that Mizore had appeared out of nowhere brandishing tweezers and thread like a maniac. But he let her come closer. She knelt next to his arm to examine the roiled thread, and he obediently lowered his shoulder.

"I'm going to need to take this stitching out." She said.

He nodded, and clenched his teeth. And she had no blade, so she used the tweezers to pick apart the knots, pull out the thread, until there was nothing left but a bloody tangle of polymer fibers.

He hissed in pain, but didn't scream. The wound re-opened, and Mizore held up her hand in the "one second" gesture. Ran to the stream. Turns out, trying to tear off a bit of your shirt-sleeve is hard. She pulled a thick ribbon out of her hair instead. Soaked it in the stream. Went back to the boy, Jonathan Blake, who was holding his arm and shaking, a little bit. Sorry, sorry! Turns out pain can fuck you up.

She pressed the cloth against his arm.

"Thank you." He said.

And when he stopped shaking, and stopped clutching his shoulder, she started stitching again. Before she put the needle in, she told him to bite down on the cloth. She couldn't give him anesthetic, but on hellmurder island, screaming was a deeply stupid idea.

He bit down. She stitched. He breathed in and out, slowly, and didn't scream.

Talk. Talk, distract him, talk.

"I'm Mizore Soryu." She said. "I think I already said that. I'm an artist, I've been drawing stuff around here and will probably keep doing that until I die, although right now I've almost run out of spray paint, which is a problem. Back in the real world, I had a tag, Radio Asuka. It got me into college, which is pretty cool, or was, at the time. You likely don't care about any of this, but I'm talking to keep you distracted."

Maybe he'd know who Radio Asuka was. That would be cool. Between the player killer and the serial killer, she could really use a goddamn fanboy right now.

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Oh no.

She was stitching up this stupid boy and--ugh, it was the kind of thing she'd been tricking herself, the entire island, telling herself she didn't have to worry about, and now it came up, here of all places, when she was already halfway through this boy's arm--

Mizore had seen it back in Saint Paul. The short-term boyfriend who'd called her sister a "nip". The old mayor's aide who'd refused to be treated by her father. The sneering parents at school who'd called her five-year-old drawings "Jap finger paint". Whoever this Jonathan Blake was, he was racist--not the loud, obnoxious kind, thank goodness, or she might have yanked the needle out of his arm right then, but the kind who flinched away from her touch a little too much (yes, even though I'm sewing his arm up) and made slimy fake conversation full of fake expressions like "I dare say", which really was something that no one except Brits and people pretending to be Brits said ever.

So now she had to make polite conversation with someone who was clearly like "yug, a Jap" in his head, which was annoying, but maybe he was redeemable, he probably just had crappy parents or something, and it's not like I'm going to start being uncivil on the island now, when I've gotten this far without being shot.

"I've been painting…pictures." She said, lamely. It was hard for her to talk now that she was this far in the stitching; even irregardless of the fact that this guy was a random racist, she needed to concentrate. "Place is--a memorial. Not going to--kill people. Not going to wander around doing nothing like a wanker either. So I--paint. After a few more days, nothing of us is going to--be here. But something will."

There. That seemed like a good enough explanation that had the added benefit of being true. Take that, racist Jonathan Blake.

Except being racist was kind of a worry, not even just an irritant, because perhaps Raidon and perhaps Julian would come looking for her, and one was a Jap and one was black and both were killers and that could be a problem. And Jonathan Blake had a gun too, she could see it when she twisted her head to see the upper part of the tear across his arm. It was where he could reach it, once his arm was no longer in pieces. So that was troubling.


She'd resorted to violence before. And Jonathan Blake already seemed to be in enough pain not to notice.

Be careful.

She pushed the needle in, a little harder, a little faster than necessary, just to make Jonathan go "Ah!" like he did, close his eyes. A moment's butterfly eye-flutter was all she needed. The gun was by her foot; she could put her fingers around it without looking. Best not to be looking while she did this. Best not to give him any clue.

She would have flung it into the forest, if she had time. If she could risk making any noise. Instead, she pocketed it, making sure it didn't clatter against Julian's pistol. Two guns in my sweatshirt pocket.

She would have to throw them away when she got the chance.

A mutter, a murmur, as Blake opened his eyes. "Sorry about that."

He nodded. Seemed to understand. There were tears in his eyes, and Mizore didn't feel satisfaction.

Instead, she finished sewing up his arm.


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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
Jonathan Blake, Jonathan Blake--what to do with Jonathan Blake?

"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 existence, depending on which way you look at it..."

He looked at his arm, consideringly.

"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, that one was easy.

"You need to leave." Mizore said. She pocketed the thread, the needles, the scissors easily. "You need to stay away from the rest of my party. I'm traveling with some dangerous people, and you'll probably--you'll probably be shot again."

To say that, she felt like a vassal, a strange fairy. Something larger than herself. It was odd. The sort of feeling that made her want to paint again, get out the last of her spray-paint and cover the trees.

And he stood, achingly, and Mizore's heart leapt to her throat. Because she still had his gun, like she still had Raidon's and she still had Julian's, and like Raidon's and Julian's, she wasn't giving it back. And this man--this man was going to check for his gun, and he might panic. Become violent. Like you do, on hellmurder island, you know, when some unknown chick has just stolen your gun which for some reason you thought was a form of defense.

Oh crap.

How well can I lie?

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
See, there had always been something wrong with this picture.

She didn't know many people at Bayview, but Jonathan Blake was not a name she had ever heard. And he talked oddly--she had put it down to racism, and then incredible stress, but it wasn't that at all. He was British, and he hadn't managed to cut the British-isms from his speech; not now, not on the spot, not when she had found him in the woods.

So now he was the person she absolutely didn't want him to be, the person she had prevented herself from recognizing he was. Maxwell Lombardi. The king of the killers. More dangerous, even, than Naoko Raidon.

The last person she had wanted to find.

See, now there were choices. One was to escape, somehow, and pretend she'd never found him. Currently, that would probably involve getting out the gun and shooting him in the leg--which would likely be a death sentence for him. She wasn't sure she was entirely comfortable with that. And that assumed that trying to get the gun out didn't result in her getting any more injuries (that Raidon or Julian might ask about), or worse yet, her accidentally shooting him someplace very fatal. The idea of randomly killing someone, even the King of Killers, by mistake, disgusted her.

Also, his hand was on her neck, and this was uncomfortable, and she wanted to use her free hand to try and get him off.

The other choice was to scream, and deal with Raidon and Julian when they got here. After all, of the four people who might soon engage in an altercation, she was the only one with anything more lethal than a flashbang.

Being a pacifist on this island was interesting. And to think, in the beginning, she had just wanted to draw pictures.

Trying to draw her gun now was too risky. And besides, this guy was annoying, and jumping to conclusions that weren't even true, and if she was going to be sympathetic to killers, she at least was going to favor the ones, like Julian and Raidon, who thought things through.

So she had absolutely no regrets about opening her mouth, and screaming, as loud as she could, in his face.

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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[ *  *  * ]
He was near-unconscious now, Maxwell Lombardi. Jonathan Blake. She hadn’t liked him.

The biggest secret is that people aren’t at all like iron.

Player. Serial killer. Rough hands around her neck, striking her face. She was, she reflected, a lucky girl. She’d never been physically manhandled before. Where he had touched felt hot and sore.

We’re quicksilver.

Raidon Naoko. On the ground. I’m surrounded by killers, and killers, and killers. She wanted to cry. She wanted to giggle hysterically.

But no. Keep your cool, Mizore Soryu.

There’s very little like iron in us.

She wanted him to die. Maxwell Lombardi. He scared her in every way Raidon didn’t.

Are you morally prepared to kill me, Naoko Raidon?

Raidon was prepared. Raidon, she could die from. Raidon knew what a kill was, what every kill was. He’d chosen to give up himself, to bet it all on a chance of surviving—but he knew what he was doing, and what waited for him at the end. Mizore appreciated that.

Maxwell Lombardi did not know what he was doing. He was playing, rushing, not thinking—not knowing what he took, not morally prepared to murder anyone. If she had died to him, her death would have been meaningless.

For some reason, that sickened her.

And she had to save his life.

There’s very little like iron in us.

In Mizore’s mind, there was no such thing as a moral compass. Nothing was conscience, nothing was inconceivable, unless you made it so. Yes, there was revulsion, instinctive disgust, to shy away from confrontation, to shy away from death, but there were mental gymnastics that made instinct irrelevant, every time.

He tried to kill me!

He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

The island would be safer without him.

I wouldn’t be the one hurting him.

He saved my life. I should let him have his revenge.

A gun kill. It’s quick and clean.

I couldn’t stop him if I tried.

Mental gymnastics. Every time.


She shook her head.

“No.” She said. “We’re not killing him.”

And the goddamn caveat, to make her feel tougher, to buy her more time.

“Not until we talk to him, at least.”

Because, of course, Raidon and Julian wouldn’t pay attention to her if she had said we just shouldn’t kill him, because we’re not going to let the game get to us. Because we’re going to stay good people, even if it takes all the willpower in the world to do so. Because we’re not going to let some terrorist dictate our actions, because every time he does that, he’s proved some bullshit about humanity that I don’t want to be true, that I want to throw some force-of-will at until it’s not true, because I will not accept the fact that every human is a monster, given enough opportunity. I will not accept this fact, even if you shoot me for it.

She coughed. Her throat was still sore. Fucking Maxwell Lombardi. Her thoughts came out inarticulate, stiff, a nasty approximation of the words in her head.

“We’re humans. We’re going to act like humans. I don’t care about what you said about Little Crow earlier, we’re not going to act like that. We don’t have to.”

Julian, or Raidon, had brought a bag. She unzipped it, pulled out gaffer’s tape. She was going to have the sadistic pleasure of tying strangle-man up, if nothing else.

And then, from the shore:

"Hello, students of Bayview Secondary School. My name is Jaxon Jeremiah. I'm here with a group of people who can get your collars off and take you home."

She wanted to laugh and laugh for the goddamn joy of it.

Because now there was no confrontation. There was no fighting Raidon Naoko and Julian Avery for something she didn’t want to do but very badly wanted to believe in. Or there was no inevitable hatred and disappointment, and the wounded look in Raidon’s eyes, you don’t understand, and the just-as-inevitable self-loathing for being in love with someone who had killed and killed and killed again and showed no signs of stopping.

Because now there was a rescue. A goddamn miracle.

And they could race to the boats.

“Let’s go.”

(Post-order-skipping done with the approval of threadmates)

(Mizore Soryu continued in The Cavalry Arrives)

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

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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