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A Slight Change of Plans; See Midmonths
Topic Started: May 18 2011, 06:37 PM (5,808 Views)
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Nathan Caudle (STAR Defense Squad, known to his comrades as Nate), stood on deck, watching the island get closer. He was itching for action. For years, he'd wanted nothing more than to turn something around on Danya, to destroy him utterly and make him pay for all the wrongs for which he was responsible. The exact method was fairly secondary in concern; what mattered was that Nate wanted to burn something.

And now, he had a chance. Thanks to Brynn, they had everything they needed. They had the island's location, previously secret to all but Danya's inner circle. They had information on the collar design changes, and, specifically, they knew how to exploit a last second fix in order to tie up the collars for a good while. After what the one girl had pulled, it required physical action on the part of the folks at HQ to initiate a collar explosion, even for things as mundane as danger zones. Stopping that sort of thing was a simple matter of having a more powerful signal at a closer location. Sure, the terrorists would probably be able to outjuice STAR given twenty minutes of time, but since they were dealing with an assault on their headquarters at the same time, Nate was pretty sure they had bigger concerns.

And thus was his group able to run roughshod over this carefully-crafted game to snatch everyone they could get their hands on and then run.

Well... not quite everyone.

They were leaving the players.

Nate had argued long and hard for this particular side of the plan. He wasn't about to forget the atrocities he'd seen over the years. He wasn't about to say that any murderer was more deserving of life than their victims. In Nate's mind, pulling the trigger sealed their fate.

That wasn't the argument that his side had used, of course. Plenty of people had come close to playing themselves during their times on the island. Nate didn't think highly of them, but he knew when to fall back on logic. The points had been simple.

People played the game because they wanted to survive. They assumed that killing optimized their chances of doing so. They were wrong. Nate could explain the math behind it. The fact that the last three winners had been big killers was a total fluke. That didn't matter, though. By refusing the players, they made a stand. They put forth a solid demonstration of fact. Those members of the Senior Class of Bayview Secondary School who had turned to murder were all fucked. If they didn't bring everything down around Danya's ears, well, hey, next season those kids would look back and remember poor little Maxwell Lombardi being left behind when the cavalry busted in, and they'd look at the guns in their hands and they'd ask themselves, "Is it worth it?" and maybe the answer would be just a little harder.

No absolution for the murderers. Justice in action.

Yeah, sure, Nate had promised that, on the off chance they did manage to totally destroy the terrorists, they'd come back and grab everyone, killers and all, on the second run. He doubted that would happen, and intended to see the lot of them jailed if it did. For now, though, the concern was running the people who weren't insane, who weren't twisted or vicious or monstrous, back to the nearby island where they had the helicopters stashed. Logistics for this had been a total bitch. Most of the V3 people were still in Australia. Nate wasn't sure how many of them even knew this was going on. It was a bit too close to home for a lot of them. Potential for bad flashbacks and other dangerous distractions. Potential for security leaks from the less disciplined ones.

Nate was hoping for a decent haul. Nabbing thirty students per ship would be ideal, would leave Danya's game with peanuts. At last count, the survivors numbered in the mid-eighties. Of course, realistically speaking, that would never happen. They'd be lucky to get a dozen at each grab point. Anything was a success, though. Anything at all.

The boat was nearing their destination. As it closed, Nate shouted out for one of his assistants to check the gear. It was all in order. Everything seemed to be working just fine. Nate didn't like that. Nothing ever went perfectly.

"Check again," he called.

After a few seconds, the girl he was talking to replied, "It looks pretty good, only, uh..."


"Looks like that group from before is still on the island making repairs. Greynolds and friends. They're supposedly being recalled for defense, but..."

Nate frowned.

"Keep an eye on things."

The last thing Nate wanted was a squad of heavily-armed terrorists dropping in on him. The odds were good that, like the patrol boats, they would soon be frantically scrambling back to base to save Danya's fat ass, but he couldn't be at all sure of that. It wasn't worth risking his life, and the lives of the other STAR members here, on.

And then, they were there. The trip from the large speedboat to the beach, undertaken in a small raft, was surreal. The next few hours were going to be the biggest thing the group had ever been involved in. Nate almost wished he could have been with the assault squad, handling the actual important side of things. Still, this would have to be good enough.

Nate got himself oriented, then whipped out the amplified megaphone he had. His earplugs were already in place. Wasn't a student nearby who was gonna sleep through this.

"Good morning, death island," he called out. "We're here with your friendly taxi service, offering an all-expenses-paid trip back to the good ol' USA for all of you non-murderous sorts out there. Killers, players, and cannibals welcome too, for the bullet-in-the-head special, if you want the easy way out of this.

"But wait! There's more. Come now, and you get to give Mr. Danya a nice big 'Fuck you', plus you get a free Happy Meal when we hit shore. This is a limited time offer, though, so you better move fast, 'cause the seats on this boat are hot, and once they're gone, they're gone.

"Oh, and if I find out you murdered someone on your way here but weren't on my happy little list of sociopaths, I swear I'll put a bullet straight through your skull."
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It didn't take long for someone to show up, luckily. Waiting made Nate a bit nervous. He was feeling a little twitchy, feeling a little like maybe there were better things he could be doing with his assault rifle than just standing around holding it. He was feeling just the littlest bit regretful that he wasn't attacking HQ right this moment, getting his revenge in a more direct and satisfying fashion. Saving lives was important, but Nate wished he could have been there to personally ventilate the smug fuck in charge of this whole sick show.

So it was a welcome distraction as the boys made their way up, even if they were a reminder of how relatively inconsequential this job was. Still, Nate could hope some killers showed up. His warning had been fair enough, loud and clear enough, that anyone with sense should stay away. He figured that any big killer who actually turned up was now totally fair game. Besides, they wouldn't be able to get everyone clear. The least he could do for those left behind would be to remove a couple of the cruelest and most dangerous psychos.

But he had to focus on these two boys. He had to figure things out, see if they were coming or not. He nodded at the girl manning the fancy equipment, and she got working, preparing things. Nate could tell these boys weren't on his blacklist. He knew that list like the back of his hand, knew Lombardi's stupid red streaks and Brooks' sick grin. The confirmation, as the boy called Garrett shared their names, was superfluous but appreciated. He wanted to fight, eh? Nate liked this guy already.

"Well, well," he said. "Welcome to our first couple lucky visitors. I think I can probably find somewhere to put you to work. I mean, if you wanna come and all. If you're having a blast here and have some kinda sick obsession with running for your life, maybe not, since we can't leave anyone once we get their collars off. But, man, there's a chance we're gonna be in some deep shit if some sore losers decide they want our boat or something. What's your load out?"

Yeah, he could find something for this boy to do. Nate could use every able hand. They might not get to drive their boat up Danya's ass, but that didn't mean they were going to just sit around twiddling their thumbs.

There was another girl there already, too, looking like she was on her way.

Never a dull moment.
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"Good," Nate replied to Garrett with a grin. "If it looks like shit's about to go down, I'll make sure you get something better. In the meantime, you can use that to nab anyone unfriendly who comes by and kick 'em until someone with a gun gets there."

Garrett wandered towards the boat, and the girl with the gear chased after him, getting to work on his collar. Nate didn't bother watching. If it blew, he'd hear it, and he'd know that they were all utterly fucked. It'd mean Danya was still on the ball, and, in all likelihood, Greynolds and the others were heading their way with all the high-tech weaponry they could ever desire. Much as he wanted to get Danya back for everything, Nate really did not feel like tangling with the death squad.

The was no explosion.

Another boy turned up. Harun, he was called. He introduced himself, explained that he had, in fact, killed somebody. Self defense, though. Whatever. He wasn't on Nate's list. Good enough. Nate hated murderers and players, but couldn't begrudge someone actions necessary to save their own life. Sure. He didn't have to respect them, didn't have to think happy thoughts and remember to send them cards on their birthdays. He just had to let them get their collars off and hop on the boat. Easy as pie.

"Yeah," he said. "You're cool. Golden. Fine. Whatever. Go over there."

He gestured distractedly to Garrett, then looked away, already focusing his own attention on the next person. This guy looked like he'd seen better days. He was clearly wounded and winded. He also didn't identify himself. That pissed Nate off. He liked having things nice and easy. He knew what everyone on his list looked like, but that didn't mean he didn't appreciate a heads-up. He was probably just tense, though, stressed by this all. It didn't help that these people seemed to think this boat was going to drive straight off to HQ to join the fight. Nate would have loved nothing more than to start some trouble, but these students had been trapped on an island, malnourished and abused, for over a week. They wouldn't be in fighting condition.

Maybe they would be able to help later. Maybe not. Nate didn't know. That wasn't his part of this.

"Yeah, yeah, come on," Nate said to the boy. "Over there."

He was about ready to let business as usual resume, when he realized something. If a killer showed up now and he shot them, he'd probably catch hell for it later. He'd probably get called reckless or unfair or something, never mind how badly each person on his list deserved a quick death for their crimes. The thought of even one of them walking away from this sickened Nate.

So he'd give them at least a bit of a warning. Picking up the megaphone again, he called out, "This is your captain speaking again. As always, if you want to live, choose STAR airlines. Boats. Whatever. Anyways, the following people are not invited to the party:

"Maxwell Lombardi, Reiko Ishida, Raidon Naoko, Hayley Kelly, Ema Ryan, Kris Hartmann, Ilario Fiametta, Liam Brooks, Rachel Gettys, Quincy Jones, Peter Siu, Jimmy Brennan, Nick LeMonde, Teo Weinstock, Janet Binachi, Ericka Bradley, Alex White, George Leidman, and Joe Rios, all of you are not invited. Unless, of course, you want to die."

There. He'd fulfilled his duty, and, if he was lucky, maybe provided sufficient goad to get any of them who were nearby to actually come argue.
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As the flow of students steadily decreased, Nate continued to glance around, making sure there were no unpleasant surprises in store. Not a single killer or player had seen fit to grace his beach. It was a real pity, too. He'd been ready to make his point with bullets, ready to smoke some smug fucker. Lombardi would've been absolutely perfect. Really, though, any sick, sadistic monster would've done. All the better to make the people next season reconsider. All the better to mess up Danya's game once and for all.

The players were nothing more than Danya's goons, his pets and disciples. They were the sort of people who came up with ideas like SOTF. It was fitting that they lost their lives to it. They might be a new batch of killers, but they were no different from those of past versions, of Test Run Eight.

Nate had never forgiven them. Never even come close.

"Get moving." A voice from his radio. "You're gonna have company soon. Looks like a couple patrol boats decided there was something more important to do than saving the boss."


Nate hadn't been expecting that. Their group was about as poorly-armed and prepared for conflict as could be. They could tangle with some half-starved, crazed, murderous high-schoolers with hardly a bullet to spare. A boatful of armed and trained operatives was a different story altogether.

"Pack it in, people," he called. "We're going. Now. Collars are top priority. If they've decided to make a point, they may have some tricks ready there, too."

The last collar came off the last student, and Nate gestured them on, running himself. No time to spare. No time to mess things up. Within minutes, they were on the boat, roaring across the ocean. Pursuit would take time. It would be uncoordinated, he hoped. It would still be their heads if they got caught.

He just hoped the assault team had had a smoother time of things.

Of course, the rescue attempt and its aftermath were not broadcast live. The terrorists still had enough control to cut the feed. When it did air, half a day later, the only shots were from an extreme distance. It was hard to tell what was going on, hard to identify the students moving around. The boat was nearly invisible.

The film cut to another shaky shot, clearly from the deck of a boat, of a pair of distant explosions, though what exactly was blowing up was impossible to discern. Text scrolled over the screen:

"An attempt was made by a military organization to rescue some of the contestants in this season of Survival of the Fittest. The lives of many students were lost as a result of the actions of your governments. Any future attempts will be met with an immediate and total detonation of all collars."

Then, a list of block red letters scrolled over the screen, lasting over a minute:

G125, Jacqueline Myrie: DECEASED
G047, Samantha Ridley: DECEASED
B128, Joss Joiner DECEASED
G085, Alice Blake: DECEASED
B008, Peter McCue: DECEASED
G014, Yelizaveta Volkova: DECEASED
G046, Alexandria Jackson: DECEASED
B056, Raymond Dawson: DECEASED
G048, Kaitlin Anderheim: DECEASED
B140, Cisco Vasquez: DECEASED
B121, Allen Birkman: DECEASED
G105, Isabel Guerra: DECEASED
G122, Mizore Soryu: DECEASED
G106, Sarah Tan: DECEASED
G001, Bridget Connolly: DECEASED
G003, Hui "Sarah" Xu: DECEASED
B042, Brendan Wallace: DECEASED
G010, Anna Chase: DECEASED
G082, Felicia Carmichael: DECEASED
G077, Andrea Raymer: DECEASED
B138, Garrett Hunter: DECEASED
B142, Harun Kemal: DECEASED
B041, Simon Telamon: DECEASED
B105, Jeremy Franco: DECEASED
B132, Jay Holland, DECEASED
G079, Eiko Haraguchi: DECEASED
G018, Acacia Salinger: DECEASED
B073, Michael Moretti: DECEASED
G005, Jennifer Perez: DECEASED
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