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I Will Follow You into the Dark; Private. Day 8
Topic Started: Apr 18 2011, 01:06 AM (5,536 Views)
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nick was shaking, trembling with excitement and anticipation. This was it. The big one. It wasn't just a birdsnest of tape and wire and batteries sitting in his bag. It was his redemption, a ticket home. Vindication. A blend of simplicity and sophistication, an answer so beautiful it had to be right. Applied physics at its best. The ratty spirals of tape, the broken scissor contacts, the lumpy coils of wire, conspiring together to create the most awe-inspiring electromagnet he had ever seen.

If he was right, it would destroy their collars with no kickback, simply vaporize the microcircuitry and destroy their explosive potential. And if he was wrong? He wasn't. Simple as that. He'd run it through so many times over in his mind, tracing pathways, visualizing field lines and fine wires until he could almost feel the Lorentz force shoving his fist away.

But there was no time for admiration. He had a window - twenty seconds? Fifteen? Heaven forbid, five? - in which to act, a narrow timeframe to destroy their collars before Danya could do it for him. Jennifer and Melissa were there, standing to either side of him. Even without seeing them he could feel them. The warmth, the energy, the vitality, the sound of them breathing in and out, scarcely rising above his own heartbeat.

Words spilled from his mouth in a frantic rush, piling upon each other in their haste to fly off his tongue. He opened the bag wide. Showed them - and the cameras, if they had an angle - his jury-rigged device.

"Look, they've probably caught on already, I've got like ten seconds tops. Electromagnet, pop your collar off, no boom. 95% sure. You in or out? Two seconds!"

They were all clear.

With his left hand he grasped the coil, searing and smoking with an energy he couldn't quantify past "ridiculous." He reached out towards Melissa. She was first, most awkward to reach. Positively shivering with excitement now, he felt the magnetic field sink its claws around her collar, felt the metal pushing back with invisible force, waved the coil once...






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Time to Spare
[ *  *  * ]
'What the heck is that?' Melissa thought to herself as she saw the weird looking mess of...stuff that Nick was hurriedly making in his hands. Wires, tape, batteries...they were all mashed together in some sort of hodgepodge gizmo that one would expect to see at a swap meet, sold by some unsavory mad scientist-type character. It was one of those things you'd seen in the movie that with one push of a button, you'd find yourself in the future with no way to get back because your time-traveling thingamajig had malfunctioned (all because of a single hair from your family dog).

But this was no time to contemplate the amazing movie scenes that could be crafted from the thing that Nick held in his hands. He was excited...more excited than Melissa had ever remembered seeing the boy. His hands were shaking. He was happy. Probably running on adrenaline or something like it. She felt her heart pound in her chest, wondering just what it was that was so important. The energy he was giving off was contagious and when Nick finally revealed what he was holding in quick, rapid-fire bursts of words, she couldn't help but feel a surge of glee.

This could be it. Their escape. Their chance...if Nick was right...and he had to be pretty damn confident for a 95% chance although she would have preferred full 100% confidence. She knew what the collars could do. She had seen Kayla's neck after hers had exploded and Melissa had no desire to come out of this in the exact same shape.

But imagine what they could do if Nick was right. They were free...well...as free as one could possibly be. They could help the others. Without the threat of death looming around people's heads...it'd be easier, so much easier. It was an ideal solution. One she hoped would work.

They had no time. Nick was motioning with the thing urgently and she tossed a quick look at Jennifer before stepping forward, giving him a quick nod. She didn't even know why she was volunteering her head first. It seemed kind of selfish, actually. Freedom! A chance for actual, blessed freedom from this game and here she was, stepping up first and taking away the chance to let Jennifer be the first to achieve it. But something was bothering her...

Well, it was obvious. It was that 95%. Even if he was 95% certain it would work, what was that 5% then? An error, a failure? Would it not do anything at all? Would it trigger her collar? She didn't want to think about that...but perhaps it would be best. Just to make sure that it worked before letting her friend take it. So she closed her eyes as she saw Nick approach her, that...that contraption of his coming closer to her neck.

What the fuck was she doing?

This was Nick Reid, accomplished killer, fighter, and now makeshift inventor? She was pretty certain they never covered "How to disable the explosive collars in Survival of the Fittest" as a part of their physics class or chemistry class or any class back at Bayview. Why was he so confident? Did he actually know how the collars worked or was he just tossing ideas to the wind, hoping that the theory of "Shooting electricity at something electrical will totally disable it"? Melissa felt her muscles tense...she had to restrain herself from breaking away as she felt Nick's magnet come close to her skin and then brush off.

She wanted to run. She was getting scared. Nothing happened after that pass. Was it not working? Was it all a failure?

The second pass.

Still nothing. What the hell was going on? Shouldn't it have done something now? She really wanted to bolt. Just to take a step back and say, "Yeah, looks like it didn't work, let's just move on, shall we?" Just wanted to...she didn't know what the hell she wanted now. Why was it taking so long? Was Nick taking longer just to increase the tension? Make it more dramatic for the people at home? No, that was a dumb thought and Melissa felt irritated just for thinking it. He wouldn't do that.

Her eyes squeezed shut tighter as the machine came back again. Seconds seemed to lengthen into minutes as thoughts raced in her mind. She had promised to stick with Jennifer for as long as possible. That's why she was here. Because she was Jennifer's friend, Jennifer was counting on her and she was counting on Jen. That's the way it worked. Friends helped out friends. Friends stuck together. Even in something like this...yes, that's how it was supposed to be.

Her hands clenched into fists.

Third time's the charm.


G098 - Melissa Li - DEAD

She never did get to return Felicia's yearbook.
Edited by Tythanin, Apr 28 2011, 09:35 PM.
"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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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nick gave a quick explanation of the purpose of his device, then asked if they were in, if they wanted to be involved in his plan. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Freedom. the possibility of escape, of a future beyond this island. They just had to trust him. Time was of the essence. They had seconds to respond.

Looking back, Jennifer could never determine which answer she wished she had been about to give.

Part of her wanted to believe she had enough common sense to stop things in their tracks. It'd have been a simple matter to laugh like it was a joke. After all, it was clear that Nick wasn't sure it was going to work. Had he been, he would have tested it on himself, or maybe on Jennifer. Laughter would have been cruel, hurtful. It would have been another blow against a boy she cared about. It would have been entirely out of character for her, but what wasn't these days?

Part of her wanted to believe that she'd been about to step forward and volunteer herself. Then, perhaps, fate could have rolled along as it was meant to, and Jennifer could have died before Melissa. She could have been spared the pain of watching her—well, no use dancing around the issue, Melissa was by this point fairly well her best friend, after all they had been through together—best friend die in front of her. Maybe Melissa could have kept going. Could have survived. Could have gone home.

The reality, though, the one Jennifer would never quite be able to fully believe, was that she just wasn't quick enough on the uptake to have any action in mind. Everything was too sudden, too shocking. She didn't do anything. She just stood and watched as Nick waved his device over Melissa's collar.

Nothing happened.

He did it again.

Nothing happened.

Jennifer let out her breath.

It was all going to be fine.

She shifted her foot.

Nick did it a third time.

Things were different.

Jennifer watched Melissa die.

There was no comprehension.

No recognition.

No emotion.


For about two seconds.

Then she screamed.

Then she started backwards.

Then she tipped over.

Her legs were still asleep.

Then she landed on the ground.

A patch of grass stopped it from being too bad.

She didn't scrape her hands.

Then she realized that her icepick wasn't in her skirt.

It was still in her bag.

Against the tree.

Behind Nick.

Too far.

So she just started crying again.
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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i love him, i love him, i love him, i love him
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Ma'afu Tuigamala continues from The Dream Was Just The Same))

There was a bang.

And Maf sprinted faster than he'd ever run in his life, overshadowing all the days before him. Even though he'd been trekking uphill for a while, his energy was far from gone, the opposite. Jennifer was here, she was so close, he could find her at last...

All those nagging feelings of guilt and regret were gone now. He'd sorted that out back at the mirror house slash graveyard, and now he had purpose, a real meaning, a real goal where he could find solace in the fact that if he died, right now, at this very minute, he would die knowing he at least got close to accomplishing something.

So when he heard that explosion some distance away, his heart almost stopped.

But it didn't, and instead he mentally injected himself with steroids and ignored the fatigue, the pain, the overwhelming possibility that Jennifer was involved in that explosion...

He was clumsy, he was loud, he wasn't even bothering to hold back the disgruntled grunts as his foot went astray and knocked into a sharp rock, where he was quite sure for a few split seconds that he'd just broken something. But no, he kept on going, even in the face of certain almost imminent death up that damn mountain.

But that explosion wasn't all. It came with a scream.

And even though it wasn't a voice, it was damn well good enough for him.

He didn't falter, he didn't stop, he just kept going up that mountain until suddenly
level ground. But he didn't see Jennifer at first, in fact he wasn't even sure in a few scary nanoseconds that Jennifer could have been alive. An explosion, a collar explosion, a small pack of C4 attached to the jugular did not mean one could scream.

But it wasn't Jennifer, or lack of Jennifer, that caught his attention in those first seconds in what should have been the best moments of his life. Instead, it was the certain person, that same certain person, who he knew from first hand first-person experience was a cold-blooded murderer, who was now standing over the bloodied corpse of a girl he knew an age ago as Melissa Li.

Maf's eyes...changed. They no longer reflected a kind soul who was looking like the lost puppy he'd acted the part of, but they were threatening. His eyebrows threatened to slice open the bridge of his nose, and for those threatening few seconds, he was motionless.

The bag zipped open ferociously again, and now the man who was searching for what he wanted for so long that he wasn't going to let anything stop it stood there, in the midst of a death of a mutual friend, pointing a gun at a murderer and also a technical mutual friend.


A staggered inhalation. His finger was clenched tight enough that even the slightest mistake, the slightest change in his attitude elevation, could change so many people.

And the scariest thing, the scariest thing he'd ever experienced on the island...

Was that he wasn't sure if he cared or not right now.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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I can't sing but I wrote you a song

Wrong notes but the melody's so clear

When I'm lost, I'm still close to gold

cause I found my treasure in you
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
The world shattered.

There had been happiness kindling in his heart, real tangible joy at having beaten the system, saving his friends, outsmarting the terrorists. Shown his worth. He made one swipe, two, three, his heart rising with the confirmation of that which he scarcely dared to hope and yet couldn't help but believe. It was going to work, they were going to be free, they could go home. Saved by his own brilliance-

It was like stepping inside a lightning bolt. It was so blazingly fast, deafeningly loud, shockingly visceral. Not just a little boom and a gout of flame. The shockwave pounded his eardrums into his brain, slammed his hand into a mousetrap, kicked him full force in the sternum. Launched a fireball that seared and blinded and plastered atomized gore over his sweaty face.

An eruption so powerful it left his mind totally blank.

Seconds slipped by while nobody was looking. Jennifer screamed. Thoughts poured back into his mind.


He could register only the barest sense of shock.


The feeblest protests against harsh, unbreaking reality.

No. No, no, no. Please. Please be a dream. Please don't be real. Don't be real. Please, no.

Everything he'd ever known could be a fake. Let reality unwind itself for all he cared, let everything he'd ever known be just a counterfeit of a dream, let the universe boil away into nothing just as long as it meant those last five seconds never happened.

Reality stood its ground.

There were times when he'd been speechless, where he'd even experienced a momentary stupor of thought. But this... He could only stand rooted to the spot as wave after wave of emptiness tested the bulwarks of his mind. The plan had been a risk. He'd known that full well. But the risk wasn't - it wasn't supposed to turn out that way. It was supposed to be daring. Empowering. Fun, even. He'd put the collar together in his mind. Circuits, sensors, detonators, capacitors, wires, batteries, explosive. Just a puzzle for him to solve. Extra credit. Basic principles - and bookkeeping.

And there he was. Nick Reid, the most spectacular failure in four bloody years of Survival of the Fittest. Steeped in the blood of his would-be ally, unable to offer the slightest comfort in return to the girl who'd given him so much. He'd be dead without her, most likely. She was crying. just crying, looking as terrible as he felt as he hammered impassiveness into his face so hard it seemed on the verge of breaking. He just wanted to bury his face in his shoulder, let her rest her head on his, squeeze her against himself and invite the world to go screw itself.

But that couldn't happen. Not now, not in the future, not ever. He wasn't a hero or a victim or an innocent bystander or anyone else that deserved her comfort or even to touch her. He'd been right the first time they parted. He had no business sullying her with his presence. And yet, running away would be the worst thing he could do. She'd be alone then, nobody to support or protect her, maybe even wracked with guilt about how she hadn't managed to save everyone, make everything all better. How she hadn't done the impossible and made everyone happy again.

He'd have to stay with her, at least until she found her balance again. And then? He had no idea what. The only thing he could do then would be to leave her with some food and water and his wishes, a hope for her death to be a quick one. Just like Melissa. For a moment, his careful facade slipped.

He should have died instead of her.

He became aware of a crashing sound not far away. They've found me, came the first ridiculous thought. He didn't know who "they" would be; his list of people willing to kill him contained, to his knowledge, every person on the island. There were, of course, a few standouts. Maxwell, Maf, Alex, probably another handful he'd forgotten. People he'd come to blows with and failed to kill or get killed by. Ivan. Tabi, maybe. One of Anna's friends, or Marty's, or Will's, or David's and so on. Heck, he even thought he recalled hearing something about a bear...

He wasn't too far off. Maf, from the tunnels. A kid who had to have a constitution score of 20. He'd been searching for Jennifer too, watched him kill a man, took Nick's pummeling fists and knees like they were nothing. And in his hands - Gun.

The object planted itself firmly, immediately into his mind. He'd seen so many guns in the past week, and all from the same freaking direction. The weapon held no fear for him now. He wasn't going to get shot. It hadn't happened the first dozen times, and it wasn't going to happen now. He wasn't going to stand like a deer in the headlights, watching chance dictate the remaining span of his days. He was going to do something about it. And that something didn't involve negotiation.

"No. Just, no. Leave. Put the gun away."

Neither boy moved.

"Okay, then," he said, laying one hand on the hilt of the sword thrust through his belt loop. "You've got five seconds to put that thing down and God help you if you think I'm joking."




Deep breath. Swallow. Hand on the hilt. Crouch. Coil.




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Had she bruised something?

Her legs still weren't working right.


Fuck this all.

Melissa was dead.

Lying on the ground.


You could have saved her.

You should have saved her.

Some superhero.

Deep breaths.

Choke back the tears.

A crash.






Not quite what she'd expected.

He had a gun.

He was angry.

Nick too.

This was supposed to be happy.



They all meet.





It's tense.

She calms them down.

Happy ending.

Fat chance now.

She was afraid.

More than that, though:


This was all wrong.

Too late to stop the fight.

Too late to do anything.

Always too late.

Nick had moved.


The two last people she cared about were going to kill each other.

It didn't matter who won.

No one could win.

One sure thing:

Jennifer would lose.

Stop this.

She started crawling towards her bag.

Stop this.

Stop this now.
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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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]

Maf was done following instructions, just doing what everyone told him to. No more.

No more was he going to stand idly by as once again, someone who just couldn't stop doing what he was doing to so many different people did it once again, and once again had the gaul to ask him to leave him alone.

He was up to his knees in over one hundred and seventy dead people, he wasn't going to let him get away with this any longer. He'd just killed one of Jennifer's best friends...who was next? Jennifer? There was nothing stopping him, no matter what, he just had to make sure that Nick didn't do anything more.

But killing was off the table.

Not to Nick though.

So what was he supposed to do now?

Well, Nick made that very decision for him. He charged.

Okay, this was it. Maf had to do it now. Just...close your eyes and tighten your finger.

Nick was getting closer.

Do it.


His hands couldn't move.

Nick's hands were at his side.

Maf's mind was screaming.

Do it.


His hands couldn't move.

Nick was close enough to see the tears in his skin.

He was supposed to pull the trigger now.

But they weren't moving.

C'mon, move.


Pull the trigger, you can do it.

But Maf's hands wouldn't move. He couldn't do it. It wasn't that he wouldn't do it, it was physically impossible for him to pull his finger in and discharge. He looked into his eyes, as they reached so close he could reach out and touch them, feel the veins pump fluid...

It was funny, in a way. In all the places that someone like him could be useful, it was here, in his most dire of times, that he fell short.

Which hit him like a hilt to the gut and a tackle to the upper body a split second later. In any normal situation, an assault like this wouldn't have meant anything. Nick was substantially weaker, smaller, and a hilt to the gut hurt no more than a fly to the gut. But this wasn't a normal situation, there was no way on earth that these sets of events could even scrape the concept of a normal situation. He was tired, fatigued, and hadn't gotten real exercise in a week, nothing substantially more intimidating than a real run, anyway.

Add onto that the unexpectedness of the assault and the ground underneath him having quite the unsubstantial footing, and you have yourselves a situation on your hands.

Maf tripped over. He fell over, in some way eerily similar to what happened to Quincy at the warehouse
which was not important now
and in the dimness of the day's light, he could see Nick moving with that sword. He felt a sharp pain in his back, something was digging into the back of his head. Did he hit something? He was standing over him, about to swing it down.

His breath was sharp, and fleeting. Leaving him. It could be his last one, but Maf saw down his self, and watched his foot lay in between Nick's feet. There was no time for thinking now. Maf was just acting on pure, concentrated instinct. His life was in serious danger, unparalleled to the warehouse, hell it overtook the warehouse by a mile.

His foot swept to the left. It bucked his legs, sent the strike to the side, where it could have embedded itself in his skull had he not been any quicker, or at least what anyone in his situation would naturally conclude. Naturally.

As Nick fell, Maf scrambled to his feet, clumsily and slowly. His eyes stuck on Nick's figure, holding that sword with such a purpose.

He didn't want anyone to die here. No one more.

But Nick was making it hard.

Maf strode forward, his head spinning like a top set to overclocked speeds, and wasting absolutely no precious seconds here, clasped his left hand over Nick's wrist, and his opposite hand to the sword. He ripped it out fiercely, no concern for Nick's wellbeing, not that he even deserved it in Maf's eyes.

"Now. You've got five seconds to explain yourself now Nick. 'And God help you if you think I'm joking'," Maf let the mirrored words sink in, just because...he didn't even know why he was doing that...

So much bitterness in his voice, every little bit of hate was just bubbling to the surface after all these years.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

I can't sing but I wrote you a song

Wrong notes but the melody's so clear

When I'm lost, I'm still close to gold

cause I found my treasure in you
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Nick sprinted over uneven ground, jumping in a harsh zigzag to frustrate Maf's aim. Whether that artifice was what kept him safe or whether it was simply Maf's own stupid unwillingness to pull the trigger on a sextuple-murderer, he wasn't sure. But there was one thing he did know: if you hesitated in SotF, you were as good as dead.

He bent his knees, gripped his weapon, powered up and forward, drove the hilt of the weapon into Maf's gut and his own shoulder into the boy's chest. The effect was nothing short of miraculous. Maf slipped, lost his footing, fell backwards. It surprised even Nick, who scrambled to keep his own footing. He'd bowled the kid over. Right onto the ground. Absolutely vulnerable.

No hesitation.

Righting himself completely, he whipped the sword free of the belt loop, placed his right hand on the blade, took one step forward and plunged it-

Right into the ground. He fell forward after it, hitting the earth with a mixture of confusion and frustration. Maf had managed to strike back, take him down in return. That wouldn't do. He hopped back to his feet just after Maf, heaving himself off the ground with his sword. He swung the swordpoint out of the ground in a wide arc, feinting high before coming in low, moving with deadly speed and power, driving home to shatter Maf's kneecap. Or at least that was the plan. In reality his swing was arrested midway by one meaty hand closing around his wrist, followed shortly by one around the blade.

He jockeyed for position, tried to aim the tip at his opponent, but there was an almighty jerk and blade and handle ripped free from his hands. The ferocity of it was shocking, frightening even. Nick's formidable grip broke almost instantly, his lifeline of a weapon wrenched free with a force that brought tears to his eye.

And that wasn't the worst of it. Maf was gloating. Insulting him, seeing how deep he could cut his his words. Adding insult to injury in the most literal way. He probably thought he'd won, thought he'd saved Jennifer, thought he'd brought a quick end to a gleeful murdering spree. Nick clenched his teeth, seething with resentment, roiling with waves of hot anger. He'd would show him. He'd show him just how wrong he was.

"Why should I explain myself to a dead man?"

He slipped the jutte from his back pocket and drove forward. His breath was coming harder now, his arms and legs alight with the warning of fatigue. He had to finish this, fast. Before he wore out completely, before he lost the element of surprise, before Maf used his superior range to run him through.

He pressed forward like a man possessed, scanning the battlefield, determined to take seize any edge he could find to overwhelm Maf's defenses. He snatched at the sword with one hand, nudged the tip aside and jumped in to strike, looked for something that would take him inside Maf's defenses, where he could end it all with a stab between the ribs.

He found the something.

Melissa's sword. It was just lying there, abandoned, shining in the sun. He could win with it. Quickly. He just needed to fight his way over, grab that beautiful shining blade. There was no doubt, absolutely no doubt in his mind that once he seized Melissa's weapon, engaged Maf in a real, honest-to-goodness swordfight, he'd find himself the victor the space of a breath. He could see himself already, making great flashing arcs of blood and steel, carving through flesh and bone, cutting Maf down like a tree.

He tested the tip of Maf's sword with the jutte. He just needed to get over there...



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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]




She hated it.


The icepick had found its way into her hands.

Stand up.

Her legs felt better.



Maf went down.


Nick too.

Definitely fear.

It was all going wrong.




She hated it.

They were back up.


The two remaining people she cared about.


Trying to kill each other.

Always have to play peace keeper, eh?

Fuck it.


Deal with this.

Stop it.

A quick glance:


Still dead.

No waking up from this.

And still:


Jennifer was furious.

She was terrified.

She was sad.

Not crying anymore, though.

One step towards the conflict.



Pulse increasing.

Breathing speeding up.

Like at the beach.


She'd do it.

She'd stop it.

She'd fucked up one time too many.

Glance at Melissa.

One time too many?

Many too many.

She was supposed to be good at this.

Her one fucking skill.

Suddenly applicable.

All her normal words were gone.

Her speeches.

Her sympathy.

Her persuasiveness.

All that was left:

A plea.

"Just stop."

Too quiet.

Too weak.

Too useless.

She raised her voice.

Spoke loudly.


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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i love him, i love him, i love him, i love him
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
In all his days of imagining how it could possibly end, a sword-fight never even came to mind. Of course, it wasn't a sword-fight, really, but a sword taking on a dagger, something that was nothing compared to a sword.

But that wasn't what mattered right now, technicalities. He wasn't expecting that new weapon to come out, or him to fight back more. Maf should have expected it, the same thing happened all those days ago. Nick had no hope, yet he was fighting anyway.

'The cornered rat will bite the cat.'

Nick was one hell of a biter it seemed.

The dagger ground against the tip of the sword, with power unknown. Instead of trying to press forward, Maf instead slowly started backwards, and pushed the tip of that...thing, in Nick's hands, away. But he didn't give up. He tried again, trying to slash at his neck now. Maf brought the sword up in defence, and it clanked soundly in defence. His attack didn't linger this time, he brought it back and struck forth, faster than before.

Maf once again stepped backwards. Whether he liked it or not, this was bad for him. He could lie to himself and say that it was safe to do what he was doing, but Nick had him right where he wanted him. Nick must have known by now. He knew that Maf wasn't going to kill him, known that if he pushed all the right buttons, all the right motions, he'd just be a big fat marionette for him to control in his own game.

But what could Maf do about it? With each strike Nick took at him, with each parry, block, and dodge, Maf found himself being thrown further steps backwards. Throughout this, he told himself that it'd be alright. It'd be alright, Nick couldn't kill him.

I just have to wait it out, what am I gonna do nex-




"Um, thanks again for the ride. And the food."

"No problem. Just...don't get involved in that again."


They say a voice can change everything.

Maf wasn't sure who 'they' were, but they were right. Jennifer's voice broke through the fight like she had her own blade, cutting away the opponent and lifting Maf as metaphorically as possible off his feet. As Nick's next attack clattered off his own sword flinchingly, it broke through to him, clear as the first day they ever spoke. The day she tried to fight his battle for him.

But he couldn't let this happen to him, or to her. However much he didn't like it, Nick had made this battle about him, not Jennifer, not anyone else on the whole damn island, but about Ma'afu Tuigamala and Nicholas Reid.

And this was wrong. It went so wrong. Maf took his eyes off his opponent for only a brief few seconds, and that was all it took. All it took for the whole thing to flip itself on its head and shit like crazy.


Nick must have seen him falter, and took this as a give. Before he knew it, there was a sharp and stabbing pain, overwhelming all his senses, on his waist as Nick's blade punctured his side, just missing his pelvis, and miraculously missing organs and the very important things that would help him die faster, before it was yanked out just as quickly.

This didn't do jack-all to the pain though. Maf let out a yell, almost a scream, and fell to his knees as he felt his own blood seep through his shirt, out the new piercings in his side. Now is where it got blurry for Maf. Through the pain, he didn't drop the sword. The gun was gone, a long time ago now, irrelevant. He didn't see it, didn't feel it, but as his hand was brought to his side, in some sort of attempt to grab at the wound, keep himself from bleeding out any more than he must have already been, he sliced through the air in front of him.

He could have sworn he felt resistance as the blade clattered to the ground beside him. But all his efforts were towards controlling the pain, and stopping himself from doing anything rash.
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I can't sing but I wrote you a song

Wrong notes but the melody's so clear

When I'm lost, I'm still close to gold

cause I found my treasure in you
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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Nick rushed forward, jabbed, darted back out again. He'd done this sort of thing a hundred times before. Taking on a swordsman with just his little backup surprise. Coming out on top more often than not with the less experienced fighters. It hadn't been real back then, though. Back in St. Paul. Back in the old life. This wasn't a bridge battle, or a zombie match, or a bearpit. This time he was playing for keeps.

He tested the tip of Maf's sword - no, his sword, darnit, his sword that Maf was temporarily borrowing. The sword he'd won with his bare hands. He tested the tip, at any rate, with the weapon in his own hand. He needed to think. Look for openings. Imagine himself back at the park, battling a spearman. You had to get inside, avoid the point, throw the weapon wide and rush in. Do it right, and there was nothing they could do.

He pushed at the sword, swatted like a cat, tried baiting thrusts with his own body. Several times he closed in for the kill, and several times the opening proved too fleeting, his style too conservative, and he was forced back out of the killzone.

A word flitted through his mind like the memory of a fading dream. Stop. He shrugged it off. Stop? It was pointless, counterproductive. Why had he thought the word stop? It was clear, so abundantly clear that someone was going to die. Either he'd out-think and out-fight Maf, or - screw the second option. He'd out-think and out-fight Maf no matter what. He wondered where that though had come from, anyways. There wasn't anyone else there to say it. Just him and Maf and the jutte and the estoc, locked in their deadly dance until one of them was gone.

Stangely, Maf's eyes flicked away, as if he'd heard it too. That was his chance. Darting in, uninhibited, instinct and experience screaming out against the waste of a single precious second, he engaged the estoc, threw it wide, rammed the jutte forward.


It slipped in with that feeling that was like nothing else on earth. That shhhk sound, the resistance of human flesh, the insane knowledge that you were stabbing a human being, trying to kill someone and not doing a bad job of it. It was horrible, insane, bone-chilling, nightmare-inducing. And so fulfilling. It meant you were doing something about your situation, doing something about the competition, coming another step closer to home. And it resonated deeper still, darker still. It meant, through sheer revulsion, that you were still capable of human feeling.


It meant so much.

They didn't know what it was like not to feel. What it felt like to stumble through school and home in a daze, wearing that grim little face that wasn't a face, just pure unadulterated impassiveness. Carelessness. Apathy. There was an idea, it seemed, that emotion bred only weakness. The unshakable, unfeeling assassin. The endlessly logical Vulcan, genius unimpeded by feelings. They didn't exist. Stoicism wasn't a show of strength. It was a denial of all that it meant to be human, a thinking, feeling, imagining, creature with a brain that ran off of emotion. There was nothing to fall back on without the ability to feel. No hidden reserve of knowledge or strength. Just an endless waste, an expanse of nothingness that would rub one's mind raw and prolong every miserable second of it. It was instinct that made him ditch the drugs that stabilized his emotions into a flatline, all the way back on the first day. And then he'd carried on, half-denying the flood of adrenaline and endorphins and all those other chemicals that made his brain tick, half-terrified at the prospect of having to wrench it all out with a price paid in blood.

He pulled the weapon back, brain sparking like a loose power line. There was something else he knew. Jumping back, darting out of the way, moving just a little slower than he could have.

Pain exploded across his face, a searing agony more intense than anything he'd felt in his life. It almost obliterated his senses, sending him crashing to his knees, blacking his vision for a fraction of a second.

But when it flickered back, not all of it returned.

Blood. He was covered in it. Spattering, spraying, gushing, oozing, crusting over, flaking off, tacking skin together as it dried. He'd seen it all, felt it all, smelt it all. There was no shortage of it. Maf's blood trickled onto his hand from the bloody jutte. Melissa's blood daubed his shoes a muddy, dirt-caked rust. And his own blood oozed through his fingers, soaking his free hand clamped tightly over what was no longer an eye.


The exclamation tore from his mouth almost of its own volition. He had to do it. There was no other possibility now. He could see clearly now his future. And it all depended on pressing the attack, keeping the offensive, never for a second letting up.

Breathing heavily, drenched with sweat and blood, he hurled himself again at Maf.




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They didn't stop.

For a second, she misunderstood.

Thought they hadn't heard her.

Thought she hadn't spoken loud enough.

Thought she hadn't given it her best shot.

Thought there was still something she could do.

Thought she just had to raise her voice.

Thought she just had to cross her fingers.

Thought it could still be okay.

Maf turned.

Finally noticed her.

Nick didn't.

But nothing changed.

Nothing shifted.

No one threw down their weapons.

No one called for a truce.

No one asked for understanding.

No one apologized.

No one explained.

There was no miracle.

Just more fighting.

More aggression.

More anger.

More blood.

She hoped it wasn't for her sake.

No one dead.


Only a matter of time.

No other way for this to end.

She couldn't stop it.

She was helpless.

She realized that now. She'd done her best. She'd been sure it would change things. Sure it would fix them and make the world go back to normal. Sure that Nick and Maf would calm down and talk it out. Sure that it would somehow make Melissa's death have some meaning. It didn't. Nothing changed. Jennifer's best friend had died in front of her eyes, and now the only two people she still cared about were killing each other in front of her. This was what Survival of the Fittest was all about, wasn't it? This was the truth of the show, of the experience. It wasn't about dying. Not entirely, at least. It was about taking everything away from the people who didn't die. It was about making you watch your entire world fall apart. It was about burying you under the reality of your thoughts and fears. It was about giving you just enough hope to hang yourself with. It was about teaching you that dreams didn't come true. It was about leaving you a broken, sobbing wreck. The death was nothing but the end. Perhaps, for some, it was even merciful. Maybe some people had faith in a better world afterwards. Maybe Melissa had. Jennifer, though, knew there was nothing. There was here. There was now. There was Nick. There was Maf. There was blood and stabbing. There was inevitable death. There was heartbreak. There was knowledge. Intrinsic knowledge. Horrible knowledge. The knowledge that this was the end. Maybe not the end of her life. Probably not. Either potential victor would let her live. Either would take her along with him. Either would care about her. Either would try to keep her safe. Either would watch as she was eventually shot in front of him, or would die in her arms. Here, now, this wasn't the end of her existence. The end of something, though. Happiness? Not quite the right fit. That had been over a week ago. Any signs otherwise had been the emotion's death throes. Maybe togetherness. Yes. That was it. There would be no more togetherness. She would be with one of them, but they wouldn't be together. She would be alone with someone else. That was how most people were on the island, she realized. Just different people, lost and alone. She had never been alone before. She had been without people, but she had known that there were others out there she cared about. She had had goals. Hopes. Friends to look for. Friends not to look for. Friends. She still had friends. She would still be alone. She didn't quite know why, but it was the truth. There was nothing in her future now. Nothing but loneliness. Nothing but more of the same. Nothing but tagging along with whoever came out on top. Nothing but being a hollow shell trying to play therapist to a damaged husk. Nothing but regret. Nothing but reminiscence. Nothing but wishing for the past. Nothing but fantasizing about better days. It didn't matter who won this game. It didn't matter who won this fight. There was no winning. Jennifer didn't think she could look either in the face, though she knew she would travel with the survivor for the rest of her life. She wanted to die. She wanted to hide. She wanted to be at home. She wanted Melissa. There was just too much. Too much. It was crushing her.

This all took two seconds to realize.

A second later, as blood sprayed from Nick's face, as he started to yell, Jennifer found her escape hatch. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't good. Probably wasn't healthy. She would hurt Nick, hurt Maf, hurt herself. She had to take it, though. It was what she'd always done when the conflict got too bad, when she couldn't calm things down, when she was completely helpless and alone and out of options.

She took off, away from the fight, away from the pain, away from Melissa's body. Somehow, she maintained the presence of mind to grab one of her packs on the way.

It was the one she'd packed for the camping trip. The one containing the clothes she would never wear again. The one that didn't have any water, or food, or medical supplies, or map, or compass, or flashlight.

It was the important pack. The one she needed.

And she left the conflict behind.

((Jennifer Perez continued in Better Days))
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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i love him, i love him, i love him, i love him
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((So fucking sorry about the wait, personal shit has just been getting in the way lately))

It hurt so much, so fucking much, the gaping wound in his side was pulsing a small current of blood, staining his shirt and the skin beneath it like dye. It wasn't controlled, just getting larger and larger and larger as the pain kept growing and growing and growing; all his senses were snapped towards it, his hand feeling the wound, twanging with pain every time his clumsy fingers ventured through the roughly cut cloth and into his own body. The the nerves would light up like a fire, sending a grunt of displeasure up his throat, uncontrolled, but he had to control it.

Jennifer wanted him to stop. He'd stopped. Maf had even stopped raising the sword in his defence now, and now look where it lead him. Bleeding. In so much pain.

But Jennifer didn't see it that way, she was gone. The only ones left on the mountainside were himself and the guy who just gave him a permanent reminder of what he'd done-

-and Maf had unintentionally returned the favour.

Never in his life did he imagine what it would be like to see what was happening in front of him. Nick was clutching his face, dangerously close to his eye, where blood was dripping out, almost the mirror image of his own wound, but...


...that was him.

Whatever it was, Maf did it.

He'd broken his mental promise from all those days ago. Maf did have it in him to harm someone, but as far as he was concerned, it wasn't him harming someone, it was just an accident.

...accident. That didn't resolve him of guilt at all, it was still his fault.

He should have known that.

But it wasn't the time to be thinking. It was the time to be acting. Nick was screaming, the blood covering almost his entire body, now that he saw it. He could see the spit spray through the air, the ferocity in his lungs and in his words flung through the air, leaving nothing to the imagination.

And then he flung forward.

Nick closed the space quicker than Maf could comprehend, and quicker than he could think.

But basic instinct took over him.

This was it.

He was going to die here.

Jen would remember a murderer.

Nick would write him down as a notch.

Bret would get the satisfaction of seeing him die.

Jason and Nathan and Brook would get the satisfaction of not having to put up with him again.

Worst of all, he'd die here, and everything he'd ever done so far on the island would amount to nothing.

Maf never even got to say one word to Jennifer, only the mere fragment of such.

Maf never got to find out what happened to Brook.

Maf was never going to apologise.

To everyone he'd dissapointed.

For doing what he did.

For hurting someone.

For hurting Nick.

For lying to them.

To himself.

Which was why it didn't fly through his head when the basic instinct of the human body took over. Maf's left hand left the wound, and clenched at the sword as Nick got ever so close again. The dagger was almost close enough to pick at his teeth, and Maf swung the sword in front of him. Instinct.

There was an almighty tear. A knife through a raw steak.

And Maf's hands felt warm.
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I can't sing but I wrote you a song

Wrong notes but the melody's so clear

When I'm lost, I'm still close to gold

cause I found my treasure in you
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Come, sweet death))

I'll kill you I'll kill you I'll kill you I'll kill you I'll kill you

He ran. The ground pounded beneath him. His heart pounded inside him. The world spun around him.

Just him and Maf, alone in the world. A world of blood and pain and blood and death and blood. Thick, pungent, salty blood staining his teeth and reddening his tongue. Endless, gushing, slippery blood running between his fingers, down the back of his hand, along his arm. Crunchy, rusted blood on every flat and fold of his body. And above it all, more persistent than the dribbling warmth, more pervasive than the smell of iron,


It was what drew the world close around him, obliterating everything but him and Maf, bound their fates so that only one could ever walk away. A maddening, frenzied pain that would have a man splitting his fingernails against his opponent's bones before the end, just to spite him. They'd die together, a thousand stab wounds apiece, cut and jabbed and bled to death.

But he could end it right there.

He was flying through space, rushing forwards ever faster, flushed with purpose. Driving his starved, reedy body towards the massive boy with the massive sword. Maf was moving, too. Nick watched the estoc whirling in an arc, glimmering and bloody, beautiful and deadly. The motion wasn't practiced, the aim not precise. A telegraphed swing. So simple to dodge. It would be the work of an instant, just a tiny sidestep and the point would skim his billowing jacket instead of ramming through his side. Half a dozen instinctive movements flashed into possibility. One of them fired.

He moved.

The point missed his side.

It hit him dead-center instead.

He surged forward, feeling his body splitting around the cold steel as it passed deeper into his gut, watching his blood run in gushing rivulets down the blade, over Maf's hands. He threw a wild stab, but his target was retreating, moving back, drawing the sword out and leaving a gaping hole behind. Nick took a faltering step, dropping onto one knee.

It's over.


No more.

"Hah. Ha, hah."

I'm done.

He laughed. His throat seized, his stomach tore, his entire body shook like a leaf, but he laughed. He vomited up each syllable, bubbles of blood and spit and bile popping over his lips, splashing his cheeks with tendrils of sticky ooze. But he laughed nonetheless. He wanted to grin. He wanted to cry. He wanted to live. He wanted to die. He wanted to touch off every emotion he'd ever locked away, feel them surging through his body as they shot off like fireworks. There was so much to do, and so blessedly little time to do it all in. So he laughed.

Over. The word hammered itself into his mind. It was all over. Everything.

He was going to die.

He rose unsteadily to his feet, pressed the attack for the hell of it. Grabbing, parrying, creating openings he was too slow and weak to take advantage of. It was his last fight ever. He was bleeding out. Exsanguination, that was the fancy word for it. Not that it mattered. Not that anything mattered now. There was nothing on earth that anyone could do to him now. No one could save him. No one could damn him. There was only pain and bleeding and dying to do. He was never going home again - except that this was his home now. His new home for his new life, where all that he'd become lay rotting in the caves and on the grass.

He staggered forward, still laughing, still floating on a cloud of pain and adrenaline. There was an opening there, an opening no one but him would ever take. An opening that wasn't really an opening.

Starting as fast as his quaking legs would move him, he moved forward. One hand swinging the dagger toward Maf's gut, the other stretched out to intercept the tip of the sword.

The bloody point slid into his outstretched palm.

It didn't stop there.

He stood silently for one second, looking at his ruined palm, tracing the blade where it protruded just past his elbow. He stood for just one second before Maf released his grip. The sword fell. He collapsed. The crossguard hit the ground, wrenched his bones apart, pushed every pain receptor to its white-hot screaming limit and beyond, blocked out all his other senses with the explosion of agony.

Pain wracked his body, pain so intense he wondered that he hadn't died of it already. He was lying on his back, staring with one eye at the brilliant sun overhead. It wasn't a bad last thing to stare at. The progenitor of life on Earth, the silent witness as four billion years of evolution ticked off another failed attempt. Everything else was growing dim, fading away, swirling into blackness.

But he didn't mind.

His ruined arm was just a little split, a burst seam on an empty shell of a body housing an empty shell of a life. A life that was finally, mercifully, over. There would be no more coasting through existence in a haze of antidepressants and sleep deprivation. No more expectant silences by doctors and psychologists. No more quiet sobs drifting under his door while his parents thought he was asleep. No more wondering if there would ever be a light at the end of the tunnel, no more gazing at a bottle of sleeping pills and pondering for just a second how nice it would be to take them all at once. No more wondering if his endless thoughts would ever leave him at peace. The stage of his mind would be finally, mercifully, blank. The last curtain call. The end of thought. Oblivion.

He couldn't laugh. He couldn't breathe. His mind was spinning away, shutting down, dissolving into nothingness.

For the first time in a long, long time,

He smiled.

B055 Nick Reid: Deceased
93 Students Remaining



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i love him, i love him, i love him, i love him
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((Recommended Listening))


There was nothing there on that mountainside.

A few drips of blood scattered from the end of a blade, tip to the sky.

They joined another blade.


The blade he stole from Nick.

Lying on the ground, just as wet as the blood from the body.

And Maf's body.

Still flowing deep.

It was so clear now. The breaking darkness as the sun finally took over the scene after minutes of motionless idling. Light crept across the uneven ground, slowly reaching that small patch of land.

Maf's eyes broke to watch it creep.

It reached Nick.

He blinked.

And just like that, the full impact of what he had done swept over him. His normally strong legs buckled beneath him like rotted tree trunks under pressure, and his upper body followed suit. Maf doubled over on the ground, his hands clawing at the dirt, and the contents of his stomach bubbled over after a minute of violent coughing. Cups of violent green bile forced its way up his throat, and burnt badly enough and smelling noxious enough to almost start the whole process all over again. Sure enough, once what he thought was the final mouthful of acids and waste splattered to the ground, the violent coughs started all over again, and his stomach emptied itself on the mountainside once more.

When his head finally stopped hanging low, he looked back up at the body...and this time he stopped acting and his mind started dragging itself out of proportion.

I killed him.

It wasn't possible.

I killed Nick Reid.


I had the sword, I could have just run, but I killed him.

There was no excuse. He hadn't been forced to kill, Danya hadn't won. He couldn't have just proven him right, if he hadn't been so eager to look for Jennifer when he knew, he KNEW that Nick was going to be here. No, he hadn't just suspected, he'd been certain to a tee that he was here. And he'd charged here, not even thinking.

And now Melissa was dead, and Jennifer was gone, and Nathan was nowhere, and Nick was dead, and Liam was somewhere having just killed again, and he was just like Liam now, and Jason, killers.

There were no words to describe, in English, in Fijian, in any sort of language, the amount of shame, and guilt, and every encompassing emotion that was pecking at his metaphorical liver as he stood planted there on his hands and knees, rooted to the ground, just unable to look away from the horrific scene that was all his fault.

And this was it now.

This was the beginning of the end.

Nobody would ever want to even think of being near him ever again. He would die, and Jennifer, and Nathan, and everyone else who was still out there, each of them their own percentile, wouldn't see him again as the same person. He felt different, a new mask. It wasn't his choice. He didn't want to be painted in this colour for the rest of his life, but this was the hand he was dealt.

The most painful thing in the world was knowing that it was all out of his control. He had no say in this. It was way beyond that now. Maf didn't even realise the red flag of choice was waved in front of his face a long time ago, but since he'd been so single-mindedly focused...

It was still so silent on that mountainside...

But he couldn't stop.

There was still time.

His own conscience was overwhelming him, but to everyone else he wasn't a killer yet. His name was still Ma'afu Tuigamala, and...and he had to make sure he could find Jennifer again. He had to find her, because...because if she could still want to find Nick, after everything he'd done, after all those people he'd killed, and she'd forgiven him, like Maf knew that someone like Jennifer Perez could do...then she had to do the same for him.

She had to.

He'd never stop feeling guilty, he'd never get over it, he'd never take this in his stride like so many people seemed to be doing thus far, but it was a step in a direction.

But even though he wanted to do this so badly, it seemed fate had other plans.

It was such a bad position to be kneeling in for such a long time. Such a bad angle, the wound was being drained faster and faster each minute, and the moment he tried standing up, taking his bag from a short distance away through tiny steps, his head was rocked by a rush of dizziness.

No no no way, not now...

Every step felt staggered, every breath felt weak. He'd lost so much blood Maf couldn't even tell which way was up anymore, it all blurred into a single direction: downwards.

Which was where he ended up going.

His legs gave way once more, but this time there wasn't nearly enough energy in his arms to catch him. He hit the slope, and his body followed.

Maf fell down the mountainside, and before he could even rationalise a way out, he passed out.

But he kept on falling.

((Ma'afu Tuigamala continues elsewhere))
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I can't sing but I wrote you a song

Wrong notes but the melody's so clear

When I'm lost, I'm still close to gold

cause I found my treasure in you
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