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I Will Follow You into the Dark; Private. Day 8
Topic Started: Apr 18 2011, 01:06 AM (5,623 Views)
MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Jennifer Perez continued from And A Buck Short))

Jennifer was running out of breath and sweating more than usual as she and Melissa made their way up the mountain. That wasn't a good sign. It spoke very clearly to the atrophy of her physical condition. At the start of the game, she'd been able to run around for hours and hardly feel it. She'd always been in good shape, at least when it came to walking places. Now, she was having to stop for rests every few minutes.

She had a stitch in her side, on top of everything else. She was so fucking exhausted, yet she didn't really feel comfortable voicing any concerns or complaints. After all, she'd outlived the majority of her classmates. She still had all her limbs. Fuck, she hadn't even bled on the island, hadn't even scraped herself up to any notable degree. Did that put her in the minority?

Right now, she didn't fucking care. They were heading to the top of the mountain, or as close as they could get. From there, they'd have an even better view than they'd enjoyed at the groundskeeper's hut. They'd be able to keep track of the other students, and maybe get some more rest. They'd be able to see trouble coming and escape before it got particularly dangerous. The biggest concern Jennifer had was that someone else would already be there, with the same idea. As long as they weren't hostile, though, that would be fine. Maybe they could even keep each other safe. It would make it important to convince Nick to stay calm, if he showed up, but she hoped she could do it.

They were getting fairly close now. She was sure of it. Then, she happened to glance up and notice a crutch hanging in a nearby tree. The sight was so incongruous that she paused for a second, blinking at it. It took her a full twenty seconds to examine her surroundings more closely, to note the ledge up above, where it had presumably fallen from. The world was almost blurry. Jennifer realized she hadn't had anything to drink in a while.

She turned towards Melissa, gestured to the tree, and said, "Hey, um, China Woman. Do you think we could maybe, um, take a break from fighting evil for a quick rest? Your, um, sidekick could use a drink."

She tried to smile and keep the tone light. No need to show that she was having trouble. No need to be serious. Everything would be fine.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Tythanin
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[ *  *  * ]
(I am so late. Melissa Li continued from And A Buck Short.)

Melissa hated mountains. Oh, she hated them before. She hated them ever since she had come across a mountain...this particular one, actually, earlier in Survival of the Fittest and had to climb up it. Mountains were tall, had little shade, and because a mountain is a mountain, they were always an uphill climb and that was tired and made her body hurt like all hell. If she had a choice...if she somehow obtained the power to manipulate terrain at will, she would cast down all mountains like an angry, vengeful god and laugh as all the little mountain people begged for her forgiveness. They would cower before her, the Cruel One, as she struck all mountains (even Mt. Everest) from the world and laid bare the land.

Melissa paused for a moment, blinking as she wiped away the sweat from her forehead. 'Okay, that was kind of weird.'

Her breaths were coming out in hard gasps as she lugged her pack over her shoulders. It had been...hell, she had lost track of time since they had left the groundskeeper's hut and they had taken very little in the way of breaks along the way. She didn't know how Jennifer or herself could keep such a grueling pace, but somehow they had done it and they had arrived at the mountain...somewhere. Waiting...for Nick or something. She was tired, she didn't really care why they were here on the mountain, a pair of insignificant specks that were waiting for yet another insignificant speck.

But at least they were alive. Tired, hot, thirsty, but alive. Melissa dimly heard Jennifer ask if they could take a break and she nodded, dropping her bag before letting her legs collapse beneath her. She landed on the ground, groaning as she tucked in her legs. "Ah...damn. Remind me...if I ever get kidnapped for Survival of the Fittest again? Remind me to like...never get anywhere near another mountain. For as long as I live. Mountains are just bad luck. They're Satan's horns, you know."

She gave a weak laugh, closing her eyes and resting her head against her knees. She was tired. There was no other explanation for...what just happened. She wasn't the type of person to joke like that, but there it is. Melissa groaned, just taking this time to suck in a few precious gulps of air.

"I hate mountains..."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It seemed Melissa was just as tired as Jennifer, maybe even more so. She didn't sound like she was having such a great time right now. She made some comment about mountains being Satan's horns. Jennifer thought about that for a second, bounced it around in her head. She'd never figured Melissa for the religious sort. Maybe it was just a figure of speech, but maybe Melissa actually believed in a higher power.

Jennifer wasn't very devout. Fuck, who was she kidding? She was, on her most spiritual days, an apathetic agnostic. Mostly, she just thought that this life was what you got. Anything else, you couldn't really count on, just hope for. She hoped pretty fucking hard that there was an afterlife, that she wouldn't just end here, wouldn't just not exist in a few days, but she didn't believe it at all. She'd be rotting away soon, bugs eating her skin and fungus growing in her guts.

That wasn't the right thing to think about. She took a drink of water. This was still some of the stuff from the creek. She was probably poisoning herself with nasty chemicals from the mine tailings.

In an effort to reign in these thoughts, she said to Melissa, "Yeah, mountains can be, um, kind of tough. Not as, um, not as nice as walking around town."

She sighed. Her walks had been her therapy, the special alone times that kept her sane and happy. Most of the good things in her life had come to her as a result of walking. Melissa. Maf. They were her real friends, not the cluster of younger students she spent so much time hanging around with. Sure, those kids were good for a chuckle every so often, but Jennifer could never have come to them with personal troubles. Still, she'd been something of a surrogate older sister for them. She wondered what they were thinking right now. Wondered if any of them were watching. In all likelihood, they were just as surprised at Jennifer's continued survival as she was.

She glanced around for a camera, and, finding one, gave it a little wave.

Hi, everyone at home. I'm still here, I guess.

Then she took another big sip of the water. Fuck, it was hot out. The liquid was even lukewarm.

"I, um, I think maybe we should, um, stay here for a bit," she said to Melissa. "That, um, if you don't mind, I mean."

That said, she ducked into the shade of the nearby tree and plopped down, sitting cross legged on the dusty ground. Before, she would never have gotten her skirt dirty like this. She'd have sat on her backpack or something. Now, she didn't care. The garment had seen far worse. It was something of a miracle that it had only a few minor tears below the knees.

After a few seconds, she said to the air, "This sucks."
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Nick Reid continued from Bait and Switch))

The announcements had come and gone once more. Twenty-nine people had been killed. Twenty-freaking-nine. Another record. Probably. Definitely a record, just not 100% on the "another" bit. Nick hadn't really listened to all of them, but he could've sworn that they'd set a record previously. But at any rate, twenty-nine was an enormous amount. The class, it seemed, had lost its collective mind. A couple girls had killed each other, and then a couple of boys. A few got themselves killed in random accidents that forced him to ponder whether there would've been a bodycount on the class trip had they not even been abducted. But what worried him most-

Alex White made his shocking debut by shivving William Hearst and Rena Peters.

Alex white. The second person he'd met, and the first who'd almost killed him. There were times, holding four feet of beautiful high-carbon steel in his hands, that he felt sure he could take on all comers. And then there were times when a more sobering idea took over - he'd just imagine Alex White, or some other slab of meat, doing his best to kill him. What in the world would he do? Size wasn't everything, of course. It sure didn't give you an easy win in a sword fight. But it was also far from trivial, especially in the brutal winner-take-all matches on the island. He recalled pounding away at Maf with the same degree of success he might find in cutting a tree down with a frozen herring. And if you took someone with less fat, more muscle, a personal grudge, and the power of experience...

He needed to get off the island, as soon as possible. There was another way out, one that had a door unbarred by Ivan and Alex and Maxwell - and he knew precisely how to find it. That was what kept him going. Kept his legs pumping step after stupid bloody steep thorn-entangled step.

But of course it would hardly be simple. Also disturbing was the news that Liz had died - or, rather, how she'd died. Gunned down personally by the terrorists running the game. Which meant that if he tried to start something once he'd freed himself of his collar, or maybe even if he didn't, he might find himself outnumbered with well-trained, armed-to-the-teeth adults. He'd need some advice, some support, some comfort. And that was why he was climbing a mountain.

Hut or mountain? He'd made what he hoped to be the right choice. The note said that they'd move on if the groundskeeper's hut proved too dangerous. That was what he was banking on. It was, of course, silly to think of any location as safe in the slightest. But there couldn't not be some murderer lurking there. It was a hut; it was, basically, a space designed for living in. The rest of the island was not. There were, of course, two other areas - the town or whatever and the mansion - that would also offer a roof over one's head, some insulated walls, a bed, maybe even some other comforts of home. But the hut would be easily defendable and somewhat out of the way. The only advantage, albeit a big one, was that he'd know when he was done searching. The mountain was a little trickier: one could even say, provided they had a dry enough sense of humor, that it was as big as a mountain.

He stopped for a rest. He'd reach the top sooner, if he was correct about his location, or later, if he was wrong. And from there - well, he didn't know quite what, honestly, but he'd figure that one out at the proper time. At the moment, however, he was more concerned with getting something in his stomach. He wasn't, come to think of it, entirely sure when he'd last eaten. Really, it just wasn't something he'd been bothered to do much about. What did bother, or at least just annoy, him were the molotovs he'd been carting around. None too light, and every cracker tasted by now like licking a tailpipe. Making rather too big a show for the cameras of pretending his flashlight collection and tangle of wire didn't exist, he-

"This sucks."

-nearly inhaled his cracker. He coughed hard, sputtered, tried out wheezing for a second, suppressed a sudden inclination to go the whole nine yards and just vomit up the whole noxious meal.

"What," he managed to croak. "Really? I'm- Jennifer, that's you?"
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
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"Ah...you're telling me." Melissa said with a sigh as she continued to rest, casting a tired glance in Jennifer's direction. "Everything sucks. The food, the weather, this whole thing sucks." She laughed a bit. "Sorry...sometimes I can't help but ramble...it's like...you're so tired that the controls you impose on yourself just pop open and you just let whatever exit your mouth. I'm sure it's something like that..."

She was all set to fall silent again and just go back to minding her own business when she heard a somewhat familiar voice. Turning, she saw the last person she had honestly expected to see again. Nick Reid was standing right there, looking dumbstruck and no worse for the wear. Although considering that he had already looked like shit, adding a few layers of dirt and other crap didn't really make him looking much different. 'Well...at least he's safe...I'm sure Jennifer will be happy.'

Melissa looked over at her friend. Now that she thought about it, was Jennifer happy? After all, Nick had been on the announcements just hours before...but Jennifer still had wanted to wait. Well...she was sure things would still be fine. So she gave Nick a small smile and a quick wave, just to make sure he knew she was there as well.

"Hey Nick. Had a hard time...huh?"
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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Melissa agreed with Jennifer's assessment of the situation. She talked about how she felt like she couldn't avoid rambling, how her stops had been stripped away. Jennifer could relate all too well. After all, hadn't that happened to her repeatedly now? It was what had caused her original falling out with Nick. It was what had happened on the beach. She'd learned all too much about herself in those moments. She'd learned that she could be a total fucking bitch for no good reason. She'd learned that she could hurt people on a whim.

She'd learned that she just couldn't kill.

She still wasn't quite sure how she felt about it all. She was disappointed by some of it, sure, but she didn't hate herself. It was strange. She'd somehow always assumed that she would hate her unrestrained self, loathe everything that she became when the restraints were off. She didn't. She was a bit ashamed of some of it, of her parting words to Marco and Alex, and she wished she hadn't done some things, but she really didn't hate herself.

Her thoughts were interrupted by another voice. A new arrival, but a familiar one. One she hadn't quite expected to run into so soon, even if he was the reason for their trip up the mountains.

Nick.

She shouldn't have wanted to see him. She should have been furious that he had killed again. She should have given him a piece of her mind. Instead, she smiled cautiously. She was glad to see him. Sure, she was hurt and disappointed and more than a little scared, for him and everyone else (though not for herself), but it was still just nice to see him again.

She'd untangle the knot of her feelings later. Melissa spoke first, greeting Nick. Jennifer followed, saying, "Hi, Nick. Are you, um, alright? Water?"

She held the bottle out towards him, hand shaking a little. Just from fatigue, though. That was it.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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Misty Browder
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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Still reeling mentally from the force of his abrupt discovery, Nick closed quickly in to a nice conversational distance. The usual emotional cocktail - surprise, joy, apprehension, relief- was swirling around his mind, this time with an entirely new ingredient. A sort of feeling that he cuoldn't quite put his finger on. It wasn't quite satisfaction. Definitely not peace. Incredulity, perhaps? That was a good guess. It certainly fit. The only problem was a real lack of anything earth-shatteringly unbelievable. The meeting, granted, was quite the stroke of luck, but that wasn't the first time-

He dropped the thought midway. No, maybe it wasn't just luck. Oh, definitely. No luck involved. None. That was the source of his mind-bending disbelief. He'd left the perimeter of the fair totally lost. Just one vague notion to check off, and that would've been the end of his clues. But then, then came the true genius. He'd found the girls' note. Read it. Extrapolated. Inferred. Guessed - correctly. And not only that, oh, definitely not just that, he'd left that mirror house with a master plan in place. The power to take a third way out, an exit strategy that went beyond screwing the system just to see how many of his classmates' collars he could get blown. Surely Jennifer wouldn't agree, but once the collars had been beaten for the second time, Danya would have no choice. Simply put, he needed Nick. Needed the ingenuity, the cleverness, that raw collar-destroying intellect. Let Nick die, and Danya could get a short-term rating boost. But if he let him live, Danya wouldn't have to worry about subversive activity ever again. Not on Nick's watch.

Another throaty cough pulled him back into the present. He took the proffered water gratefully, wetting down his throat and replying in reverse order.

"Fine," he said. "Just got a bit down the wrong tube." Two thoughts occurred simultaneously, one being that maybe Jennifer wasn't talking about his experiment in respirable rations, and the other being that of course there was no technically wrong pipe, because the power of speech came with a larynx situated in a manner that made choking not only possible but rather facile in some situations. The second thought was unnecessary in the extreme, but before he could fully harangue himself, another flashing idea made him decide to spare the mental rod. That overpowering flow of thought was in fact exactly like his vulnerable larynx, a side-effect of something that allowed him to be so much greater than he was. Something that made him a Survivor. The Fittest.

He took another swig. The water didn't taste like something you'd pour into a fuel tank, which was a refreshing change. Capping the bottle, he cleared his throat and began a response in earnest.

"Hard time? Oh. No. Heck, if you don't count that guy behind the truck, that's only one attempt on my life," he said, still gripping the bottle aimlessly in one hand. "Oh. Oh, no, wait, two. I guess h- um, she counts too. Crossbow," he blurted after a second's pause. "Pulled off some diplomacy, I guess. I mean, I didn't get shot, obviously, so I did something right. Normal day, basically. Not too busy. You guys?"

He waited for their response, mind drifting quickly astray. Was one of them going to mention the announcement? They'd heard it, right? How he'd just gone ahead and slaughtered some other kid? How could they just smile and wave and ask how his day was? They knew what had happened. And it hadn't been long since they'd split, either. Jennifer had spent a good bit of time with him, and he'd acted civilized with her, more or less. And the same arms he'd squeezed her to his chest with - Marty was dead because of them. He saw no reason to think he'd undergone some radical change. So they had to know they were hanging out with a top-tier danger now, that they had been. Was there not a fear for their own life there? Were they glad to see him at all, or just pretending out of fear or obligation of some sort?

Nick felt an uncomfortable twinge in his gut with the depth of his second-guessing. He snapping back to attention, listening but also watching. Watching for the glint of camera lenses. Looking for a spot that they didn't quite cover, at least not very well. He could talk for days, really. And he probably would, if he let himself. But if he focused, they'd have all the time in the world in just a few minutes.
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
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[ *  *  * ]
Jennifer seemed fine with meeting Nick again, offering him a bottle of water with a slightly shaking hand. That was good. There wasn't any yelling. No crying. No shouts of betrayal or accusations of murder. Perfect. That was the Melissa wanted it. That was the way she liked it. It was easier to talk like this. To understand each other and understand the situation. Nice and peaceful discussion....wasn't that always the best way to resolve disputes? Even disputes that involved murdering your own classmates?

Nick took the bottle after a cough, gulping it down before offering an answer to her question. Melissa remained silent throughout, just listening to him as he stammered and stumbled awkwardly to the finish line. He kept it light. Airy. Didn't have that much substance in it. A summary of a summary...he left out the part where he had killed someone as well. That made sense. At least it showed that Nick wasn't proud of his feat. That he wasn't willing to go "Oh yeah, there was this kid. Killed him. It was fine. No problems."

Still...to leave it just at that was unsatisfying. A silence fell among the group and Melissa fidgeted a bit, wondering who would be the first to break it. To her, the subject of the announcements hung in the air like a bull in a china shop. You knew it was there but you just wanted to pretend it wasn't and that it wasn't just ruining everything and destroying all the pretty little plates and dinnerware because they were just so pretty and something so nice should be destroyed.

"So..." The word slipped out of her mouth before she knew it. "We've uh...we've been fine. Yeah. Just walking. Talking. Thinking about things. Waiting for friends, you know. The like. Just heard the announcements too...actually."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
It was all nice and casual. Polite chitchat about being on the wrong end of lethal weapons and such. Nothing new for Nick, nothing that difficult to imagine for Jennifer. He chose to gloss over the other boy he killed. She chose not to make any attempt to draw information out of him. She didn't like what he'd done, but, for all she knew, he could have been being completely upfront. It could have been pure self defense. More than that, he'd apparently talked his way out of another fight. If he was trying to avoid more fighting and death, could she really fault him?

Maybe she could. Maybe she should. It didn't matter. What was important was that they were together again. She could keep a better watch this time, make sure Nick didn't get into any other fights. If she had to, she could get between him and other people. After all, any vigilantes would have a hard time killing someone innocent, right? They wouldn't blow through her and Melissa just for revenge.

She didn't say anything just yet, though. She simply sat and waited. She was trying to figure out where to go with this, what to say. What to do.

Finally, she took a deep breath, feeling her lungs expand, enjoying the change in internal pressure, then released the air and let Melissa do the talking.

Melissa brought up the announcements. It was unavoidable. Jennifer wasn't going to shield Nick from the repercussions of his actions, but she wasn't going to force the issue, either. She just smiled a little, and said, "Um, yeah. We've been, um, alright. Actually, um, got a little bit of sleep last night. Pretty... um, pretty hungry, but that's probably how everyone, um, how everyone is now, right?"

She hadn't really meant to whine about being hungry. Of fucking course she was hungry. She was in the process of starving to death. All of them were, and they couldn't do a thing about it, except maybe eat the corpses, and she would never do that. Better to die, doubly so since she'd be dying anyways. Still, she was about ready to start eating pine needles again soon, just to feel a little less empty, never mind if they had any nutritional value. The last experiment with them hadn't killed her, so she'd probably be fine doing it again. That was a fairly benign solution.

That was for later. She forced her focus back to Nick and Melissa for the moment, ignoring her stomach, just enjoying being together with the people she cared about again.

Well, most of them.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder
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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
So. Walking, talking, announcements, sleep, hunger. Nothing new. Nothing surprising. Typical island watercooler (waterbottle?) talk.

Announcements.

The topic hung in the air heavy as the stench of rotting flesh. He was thinking about it. Jennifer was thinking about it. Melissa was thinking about it. He knew they were thinking about it, and they knew he was thinking about it, and everyone knew that everyone else knew that they were thinking about it. And it was so nice to pretend that there had been no announcement, that Marty was still alive, that he hadn't betrayed their trust in the most spectacular fashion possible.

And it was so hard not to play along.

"Oh," he said, seizing a second's pause. "Yeah, I haven't really - well, just now, obviously, but I guess I haven't really been all that hungry. At all, really."

Light conversation. Skirting around the dead elephant in the room, just having a little chit-chat about how he was wasting away before their eyes. How he wasn't even skipping meals, but he didn't even feel like eating. Maybe, he thought, it worked kind of like hypothermia. He'd just watch his body grow thinner and thinner and weaker and weaker until he'd just crash and never wake up. Never feel a thing. There was something attractive about the idea, and that something wasn't much of a mystery. The problem, of course, and didn't there always have to be a problem, was that it would probably take a couple of weeks. He didn't have that kind of time.

He let the words stand for a couple of dangerous seconds, dangerous for the possibility that the silence would collapse itself into a singularity of pure awkward and suck the whole Earth into its maw. But it was better than-

"...Ok, we're not kidding anyone here. I'm fine with talking about the announcement. I just-" He swallowed, forced himself back into composure. "Let me rewrap this thing, I'll still pay attention."

He waved his free hand lazily, then turned to his bag. There was a camera just to his left, and presumably a shaky coverage spot exactly underneath it. Lifting the bag and taking a few paces, he waved the water bottle in search of a good place to set it down. Finally tossing it lightly to his side, he reached into his bag and popped open his medkit.

He'd make it all worth it.
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
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[ *  *  * ]
Melissa remained silent a Nick said that he was willing to talk about the announcements. That was cheering. No "Go away." or "Shut up." A...weak admission, sure, but an admission nonetheless and he wasn't really being...well, he wasn't really doing anything, to be honest. Not that much sorrow, not that much anger, not that much denial or justification...perhaps at this point, it was just a fact of life. Something that happened and could be dealt with rationally and calmly like it was just another thing. Melissa could understand that.

She couldn't help but wonder if the people back home could understand that. They had seen everything had happened, of course. They had seen every single detail and event in this through their televisions, their streaming video, their...whatever. She still didn't know why they wanted to watch it. Morbid curiosity? Watching a relative or a friend struggle? Placing bets on who would win? Melissa hoped it wasn't the latter...to have something like that occur would just...just show how far on the moral compass humanity had fallen.

But even if they could watch it...did they understand what was going on? They weren't here. They weren't on the island. They saw it across a screen, a barrier that separated them from the emotions and feelings that ran rampant through the place. And that...well, that was probably okay. They needed that. Imagine if they didn't have that barrier separating them emotionally from everything...life would be a lot more interesting, to say the least.

"Um...well..." She began, looking at Nick somberly. "I just want to know what happened and why...that's all."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nick hadn't been hungry. That wasn't good. Jennifer wasn't all that versed in nutrition, but wasn't loss of appetite usually a bad sign? She was pretty sure the body eventually consumed itself, broke down its own muscles and organs just to keep the brain going. She didn't want to think about that happening to her friends, or herself, for that matter.

Bodies were just things, right? Was it so disturbing that things decayed?

Nick distracted her by talking about the announcements. He was also dealing with his hand. Had it been hurt when Jennifer had first met him? Was that the wound she'd helped him treat? She couldn't really recall. Nick had so many injuries it was hard for her to really keep them straight. It was amazing he could hold together as well as he was. It made Jennifer stop and consider her own physical condition a bit more. Atrophy aside, she was still fine. Still uninjured. She felt a little bit guilty about that. What made her special?

It was so fucking stupid.

Melissa kept moving the conversation along. She wanted to know the circumstances of Nick's latest killing. Jennifer didn't. She didn't want her perception of Nick to change. Until the secret was out, all potentials were equally valid. As soon as Nick spoke, though, he would be condemned or vindicated. It was like that experiment she'd heard about in science class, the one with the cat. It had some German name she couldn't remember right now. Didn't matter. Nick was probably about to tell them.

Would she stick with him if it had been murder?

Probably. She felt dirty just thinking it, but she doubted she would leave him now unless he murdered someone in cold blood right in front of her. She was so fucking dependent, so fucking scared of being by herself. Nick and Melissa were the only two people she hadn't alienated in some way during her time on the island. They were her support network. They kept her sane.

"Um, but, um, but only if you want to talk," she said, rather lamely. "If it's, um, painful, we can wait a bit."

She felt like she was betraying Melissa here. Fuck. Why couldn't it just be easy? Why couldn't Nick have kept things under control?

Why couldn't it all just get better?
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Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Three pairs out, looks like six left. Eighteen batteries, that's two stacks of five and two of four. Just go with 16 and make it even?

He wasn't, of course, rewrapping his arm.

Three dissected flashlights lay in front of him, with another six waiting to be gutted. The confines and limited visibility of the bag worked to impede his progress, but at least he was safe - for the moment. Long-fingered hands moved like a pair of dancing spiders, grabbing, twisting, sorting, spurred on by a rising feeling of hope that clashed with creeping paranoia. He was directly underneath a camera. And he had some pretext, some concealment, the advantage of surprise. Maybe they couldn't see what he was doing. Maybe they wouldn't blow his collar even if they could. It was all chance. Something that had kept him alive so far.

He hated chance.

And, of course, they wanted to talk. Or at least Melissa did. Jennifer wanted - what, really did she want? Fine with her if he didn't go all the way with the issue, let it fester in the air between them. Fine with her if he bowed out, pretended like nothing was the matter, postponed the moment of judgment. She, again, just wanted to lift the burden, try to make his life a little more bearable. But it hurt enough already, and there was nothing they could do to make it hurt any less. What could he have done? He could've run away, taken the note and gone off in the opposite direction. They wouldn't have to hurt each other any more, but uncertainty and loss would make it unavoidable in the end. But meeting up, trying to comfort each other... the deeper the bond they formed, the more they supported each other, the deeper it would hurt when that bond was forcibly, inevitably shattered. It would break them along with itself.

"No," he said. "No, it's fine. That's just - it's like putting a band-aid over a gunshot or something. It doesn't really help at all. You can just pretend like it does and, um, you're still bleeding and crap. Or something."

"But really, it's well, not really simple. I just don't want to sound like, some horrible whatever, but it's gonna happen anyways." He turned away from his work momentarily. Fragmented explanations rolled through his mind, all potentially damning.

He turned away and kept his back to them, concentrating on keeping his face straight for absolutely nobody in the world. "I'll just be flat-out plain here. I happened upon a girl. Anna Chase or Anna or Chase or whatever you guys call her. So she was a little freaked out I wonder why, and then the guy - Marty just bumrushed, totally went nuts at me, with this."

He pulled out the Jutte, turning just long enough to check for comprehension on their faces. The next part would be important. Looking at the little dagger in his hands, seeing it coming at him in Marty's hand, spinning, reaching, hammering the point home with awesome, perfect, impeccable aim...

"...and then, well you know, or maybe you don't, I know I've talked about it, but I do heavy fighting. SCA. Some other stuff too. Well, I did, I don't think now I could ever -" He cleared his throat, trying to flush the lump away. "That doesn't really matter, it's just, I don't think he even felt himself hit the ground."

He took a couple deep breaths. Tried to calm himself as he peeled the insulation down from the ends of the wire-

Oh please no.

He froze completely. Even his breath caught on its way out. Four stacks of four batteries each lay wrapped in medical tape in front of him. Alternating positive and negative, so if he peeled the wire back and laid it down in a winding pattern, he could hit all of the terminals. And that wouldn't work. He needed - he counted quickly - one, two, three connections besides the main wire to get the correct current pathways.
Improvise, improvise...

Another second of deer-in-the-headlights shock, and then his hands and his mouth moved at the same time. "But it was just so fast, he attacked and I reacted and one of us was going to die and I know this probably sounds so bad but I know he didn't suffer and can - could you really wish for more on this island?" His face flushed, sweat moistening the grime on his temples, hands wrenching away in a frenzy, trying to twist a little medkit-issue pair of scissors apart. He was on shaky ground. Maybe past the point of no return. But really, was it so bad? He'd died so quickly, so peacefully...

He broke one of the stacks in half, strapping one onto the end of two of the three remaining stacks. The last two batteries he fished for, wrapping them quickly and completing the third stack. Three stacks of six. Eighteen batteries. Twenty-seven volts. Who knows how many amps. Checking the line with his finger - positive, negative, flip, positive, negative - he strapped down the broken scissors, one on top and one on the bottom. Heartbeat rising with anticipation, he taped down one end to the free negative terminal, and then, scarcely daring to believe it, stretched a piece of tape across the bare wire, moving it to touch the positive end...

Sparks popped. Metal melted.

"Look. I'm the same Nick Reid that stepped onto that bus a week ago. And this is really freaking important, because Nick doesn't try things, he does things. And if you wanna see that in action, you better get over here."

"Right now."
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
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[ *  *  * ]
Melissa shot a look of surprise at Jennifer when her friend suddenly spoke up, giving Nick a chance to delay his explanation...perhaps put it off forever. She hadn't expected that...definitely hadn't expected that at all. It wasn't that Jennifer was stabbing her in the back or anything. To call it that would be a grave over-exaggeration and really would be a disservice to all of them. Maybe she felt a little bit hurt...just enough that her mind immediately worked on trying to find reasons on why she wouldn't feel hurt at all. But it was fine. It wasn't like Jennifer was telling him it was okay to never talk...that they didn't want to hear it. Now that...that would have been a bit more upsetting.

Fortunately for her curiosity, Nick decided to just say it straight out and began a fragmented summary of the events. Melissa watched him silently, feeling a bit more respectful towards him as he explained what happened in a straightforward, matter-of-fact tone. It was nice. Refreshing. No dancing around the topic of the death and the way he finally got to the kill, after a brief history of "This is why I could do this", it was quick. That was it. She felt a bit envious of Marty...to die quickly without much pain, who wouldn't want something like that?

Melissa definitely did. She just wanted to delay the death part for as long as she could.

And then Nick was done. The explanation finished and now he was...he was doing something and Melissa had no clue what it was. She heard a spark, saw nothing else...and then he told them to get up and over so he could show them something. She looked at Jennifer curiously, wondering why she hadn't thought about that little thing in his hands earlier. It could have been a weapon or a gun. He could have just as easily turned a weapon towards them...threatened their lives and Melissa didn't even think about it at all.

Was it trust in Nick? ...No, of course not.

But she trusted Jennifer and Jennifer trusted...cared for Nick and that's all Melissa needed. A friend of a friend...was a friend.

So she got to her feet and walked over to Nick's side, curious at what sort of modern marvel he was going to put on display. "What're you doing?"
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Jennifer felt pretty fucking embarrassed as Nick ignored her proffered respite and instead just went straight to the explanation. As it turned out, it had been self defense. Maybe it was Nick's fault in some strange way, since he'd most likely been attacked by someone seeking revenge or to protect a friend. Nick did have a reputation, after all. His very presence could appear a threat, especially without Jennifer and Melissa there to mediate and help defuse any situations.

That wasn't important, though. It was close enough to self defense for Jennifer to accept it. Not like it. Not respect it. She could live with it, though, and it seemed Melissa could too. The group was whole again, the tension smoothed over. Nick was already moving on, already focused on something else. He was doing something in his bag, something more complicated than just re-wrapping his arm. Jennifer wasn't concerned. If Nick wanted to kill them, there really wasn't anything she could do to stop him. If he'd wanted that, though, he'd have already done it. He knew their armament, or lack thereof, since the closest they had to a weapon was still Jennifer's icepick. He'd noticed them before they saw him. He'd had plenty of opportunity, but he'd called attention to himself.

Besides, Jennifer just couldn't believe Nick would intentionally hurt her. That meant he wouldn't hurt Melissa, either, not with how much the other girl meant to Jennifer.

He finished whatever it was and called them over. Melissa got up and walked to him. Jennifer moved to follow suit, letting her packs fall to the ground first. She was stiff, so she didn't hurry too much. Even with Nick's encouragement, she was still a few seconds and steps behind Melissa.

Something about Nick's words struck her as odd. She'd always been a little bit off put by people speaking about themselves in the third person.

Her slightly delayed arrival was fine. This wasn't a race. Nick was going to show them something. Maybe some trick to cheer them up. That would fit with the odd speech pattern from before. He could just be affecting the mannerisms of a stage magician or something.

"Um, yeah," Jennifer said, trying to catch a glimpse of what he had. "What have you, um, got there?"

Fuck. Her feet had fallen asleep while she had been sitting, and now her legs had that awful pins and needles feeling. She really hoped Nick had something to take her mind off of that.
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