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Finalizing Plans; Private (curse you, firefox, for eating my subtitle!)
Topic Started: Oct 13 2011, 01:17 AM (1,740 Views)
MurderWeasel
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((Aaron Hughes continued from Everybody Knows))

Aaron was in a foul mood as he returned once more to the residential area. He had apparently totally failed to hit the girl in the sawmill, once again accounting for some player's less dangerous ally. Worse still, the guy, to Aaron's recollection, hadn't even killed anyone. That was going to do some damage to his image. Of course, it wasn't like there were that many people left to talk with. Thinking through the people who were still alive, at least the ones Aaron could remember, he couldn't even figure out if any non-killers were left. That was a bit of an odd thought. He'd have to reassess how he grouped people. He'd have to make sure not to keep racking up unnecessary kills, so he could blend in with the less-dangerous mass of small-time killers.

He knew a few people who were on his own list, though. Ivan was still around, somewhere. That was a serious problem, especially since he'd started killing again. Aaron had underestimated his subtlety, it seemed. Ivan had taken a nice, relaxed approach, probably sitting pretty with his prize weapon and waiting until near the end to show his hand. Now that he was a relative nonentity again, he could sweep the other survivors. It was a good thing Aaron was familiar with his tricks.

Ema Ryan was another to watch out for. Apparently, she'd killed a lot of people, including Raidon. Aaron would have been more worried had he not crossed paths with Raidon himself; as it was, he was positive the boy hadn't gone quietly. Besides, Ema had made too big a name for herself. No way she'd last past the end of the day, unless she could take all the remaining survivors on her own.

The last real concern was Aston Bennett. Aaron wasn't entirely sure, but he could have sworn that had been the name of the girl who had stumbled across them right before they got rid of Milo. That meant she knew who Aileen was, and might be able to piece together to at least some degree what all had transpired. Aaron felt fairly confident that he'd be able to deal with her if they met. She hadn't been too heavily armed, and a shot in the back bespoke a certain degree of stealth and ambush tactics that Aaron wouldn't let work on him.

He'd decided to come back to the residential area as soon as he'd heard that it wasn't a danger zone. It gave the most options, offered the most cover. He'd just find somewhere to camp again, maybe even the same house as before. Since he was starting to give up on finding anyone else to recruit to his side, it was time to think about taking up position on an upper floor and shooting anyone who came past. Killing people still wasn't necessary, but thinning the ranks a little couldn't hurt now. There were twelve of them left at most. That wasn't so bad. Lombardi alone had killed around a dozen people, and he'd almost certainly been playing stupid. Aaron figured he could probably deal with the last four or five, given a proper position and sufficient armament. They'd fight amongst themselves before then, wear each other down. It wouldn't be so hard.

So he was walking down the streets in town. He had avoided the town center. The lines of fire there were too open. It would be a good place for other people to go and get killed. Nothing more.

Aaron was paying perfunctory attention to the street-level stuff, but his real focus was higher up. Windows, doors, alleyways, and the like flickered by in his peripheral vision as he scanned second stories for people with guns. It would not be surprising at all if the entire remaining group of students headed here. They couldn't go anywhere except the small cluster comprised of the residential area, the infirmary, and the docks. The docks held nothing of interest, and the infirmary was picked over. People would come here, and someone might be thinking the same way Aaron was.

Aaron was counting the windows as he passed, trying to judge distances, watching for a good spot to shoot from. He was near the rec center. He'd be at the house he'd been in before any time now. If nothing better came along, that would have to do.
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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Closer, closer. Nothing better was catching Aaron's eye. Alright. That was it, then. He'd go back into the house he'd used before. He saw it, now. Still nobody in the windows. Good. Aaron kept himself fairly low, kept his gun in hand. It wouldn't do to get killed for a stupid reason.

There. The door. Quickly, quietly. He slipped in, checked to see that everything was still how he'd left it. It all seemed in place. Nobody had messed anything up. The wall had accrued no more damage. The doors looked like they hadn't been opened or shut. He'd just have to search the area before heading upstairs. It wouldn't do at all to miss someone down here, then get shot once they became curious about the sounds.

He checked the kitchen, the closets, the restrooms. No one. Then it was back, back to the area near the entrance of the house, near the stairwell. If nothing had changed, he'd be clear to head upstairs.
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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The first Aaron knew of something being amiss was the touch of a gun to the back of his head. He froze, stood completely still. Whoever it was wasn't all that smart. The fact that he was still thinking was evidence of that. He'd let his guard down, had relaxed because everything seemed to be going alright. Bad choice. That didn't make the situation unwinnable. He just had to wait and see what this assailant wanted. He'd slipped his gun back into his pocket before coming back in here. That had been a good choice. He had to stay calm, stay reasonable.

The voice was faintly familiar. That was a bad sign. It would be best if it was someone he knew from school, but had not seen on the island. Somehow, he doubted that was the case.

Slowly, carefully, he followed her instructions and spun, taking a half step back at the same time so that the muzzle of the gun could clear his nose.

Oh. Her. This was going to be interesting.

"Hello, Aston," he said. Best to keep his tone conversational. Time to review: what did he know about Aston? She wasn't very smart. She'd seen him with the group, right before Milo died. She didn't know what had gone down, not exactly, because everyone who did was dead. She did know that he'd been traveling with a group, that they were all dead. She knew that he had killed Aileen. She didn't know Aileen too well. She'd been looking for someone, too. He could work this.

"You ever catch up with Quincy?"

Of course she had. He could dimly recall that announcement.
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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Aaron wasn't expecting to be hit. The smack to the forehead sent him sprawling. He could feel the blood trickling from his scalp, but he managed to restrain his fury. Losing his temper in the wrong way would get him shot. There would be plenty of time to freak out, plenty of time to take revenge, once he had turned the tables. Aaron raised his hand to his forehead, wiped away the blood. His face stung. He ground his teeth slightly. Aston was saying she'd killed Quincy. She was saying he needed to give her a good reason, or she'd kill him too.

Time to give her a good reason.

"Let's see," he said. "Maybe, for a start, because I actually care enough to try to help you? Maybe because I've spent the time since I last ran into you tracking down a killer who murdered my fucking friends? You remember when you met us? Right after you left, Charlie and I scared everyone else off, because we knew the terrorists might be coming for us, and we didn't want anyone caught in the crossfire. Aileen said she knew how to get the collars off, but she killed Milo instead, then ran off. We tracked her down, but she'd teamed up with Raidon and Fiona, and they killed Charlie in the shootout. I was able to run them off, though, and finally tracked her down. Right after I'd dealt with her, some other guy attacked me. I don't even know why. I've been getting the short end of every fucking stick on the island, and now you're going to shoot me for trying to find out if I could help with what you were doing last time I saw you, because you're playing or something."

It wasn't hard to add the appropriate whine to his voice, while still keeping himself sounding decent enough. It wasn't challenging to add the edge of angry complaint. Aaron just had to repurpose his actual feelings, to utilize his indignation at being ambushed and hurt. He had to make himself out as the victim, without sounding totally pathetic. Whether Aston bought it or not, she was at least listening. He was hoping if she didn't believe him, she'd hit him again, berate him, maybe. When she'd hit him with the gun, she hadn't been watching him closely, hadn't been paying attention to his hands. He could have pulled his gun, could have turned this from a hostage situation into a standoff. He'd just been too surprised, hadn't been prepared for it. If she dropped her guard at all again, that would be his mode of action.

It was always good to have backup plans. Once Aston was out of the way, the path off this island would be clear.
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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"Because you're smart, probably," Aaron said, after pausing for a couple seconds. He'd been ready for this. It wasn't optimal, but he knew what to do. The key was to keep talking, to keep Aston associating with him, to keep her from being able to talk herself into doing anything rash. She'd killed two people, to his knowledge. One had been the object of her revenge. The other, she had shot in the back. That meant she was having emotional issues, probably. It meant it would be hard for her to look Aaron in the eye and pull the trigger. It meant he had a pretty good chance.

"There are a dozen people left, Aston, maybe less. Anyone who would trust someone else at the drop of a hat is dead by now. I'm very, very lucky to be alive, and it's only because I wised up. I'm sure neither of us trusts the other fully.

"That said, you're one of the few people I know at all. I know you haven't been going around plotting to murder people all game. You know the same about me. I can't say that about the others. I don't even know what Ema Ryan looks like. Right now, you're the closest thing to an acquaintance I have left."

He made sure to act like he was calming down a bit as he spoke. The key here was to change this into a conversation. What he and Aston were saying to each other was totally irrelevant. What mattered was making sure that she was paying attention to him, that she was acknowledging him as a person. It was absolutely key to disrupt whatever process she used to work herself up before killing people. It didn't matter if she threw him out of the house. As long as she didn't shoot him, Aaron 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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It was funny, how Aston said they weren't so much alike. Aaron was inclined to agree, but for very different reasons. They were both out to win, both out to succeed whatever the cost. Aaron was just better at it. He knew when to share and when to keep things to himself. He knew exactly what sort of threat Aston was, now. She, on the other hand, knew next to nothing about him, aside from misinformation.

"I'm not looking to ruin any lives, Aston," he said. "I'm not going to 'win' this thing. I'm pretty much spent. I've tried the whole game to accomplish something productive, to get people out, and you know what? My whole group missed the boats. We watched the damn things sail off, all because we went back to look for Aileen, even after everything she'd done. I think I'm going to die trying to do the right thing, trying to make one last little impact in this game."

He took a deep breath, ran his left hand through his hair. It was matted by now, greasy and unpleasant. He needed a shower. He almost certainly looked awful, looked pathetic. He looked up, though, looked her straight in the eyes.

"Look, Aston, I don't want to fight. You have to do what you have to do. Good luck winning. Me, I'd rather not get gunned down by you. I'm not any threat to your plans. Let me go, we'll never see each other again."

With that, Aaron moved a little, preparing both to stand and to launch himself out of the way if Aston got spooked.
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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As she started to laugh, Aaron realized he'd messed up. Somewhere in there, he'd tipped his hand. For a few seconds, he furiously tried to figure out where he'd slipped up, but then he clamped down on that train of thought as irrelevant. This was going to get ugly. Aston was graciously warning him. As soon as she was about to fire, he'd move, sideways and towards her. He wanted to close, to narrow the gap between them. The closer he was, the harder it would be for her to keep her gun in position. He just had to escape the first shot. Easy.

She'd just need to move it. She'd just have to stop pointing it at him, just for a second. There was no way he could fail now.

She didn't move it. Instead, she pulled the trigger. Aaron flinched, half-dodged, but nothing happened. Maybe she left the safety on. Maybe she forgot to load it. Aaron didn't know or care. His reflexes kicked in, and he was moving, to the side, just like he planned, and he was drawing his own pistol as he went, aware that there were four shots loaded, aware that the spare clip was in his left pocket, aware that he could probably change it before Aston could even get another weapon drawn.

That was for the future. Right now, he was livid. He wanted to curse her, to scream at her. He wanted to reply with a cool and collected quip, to demonstrate his superiority. He wanted her to suffer. He wanted many things, because she had dared to try to kill him.

What he got was a moment to smile as he fired the first shot in her direction. It probably wouldn't hit. It didn't have to. Here, in an enclosed building, there were only so many places to go, and he wouldn't miss forever at point-blank range.
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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Things went better than planned. The first bullet made contact. From there on out, the power balance irreversibly shifted. The second shot missed. Okay, suboptimal, better to kill her instantly, but she was still bleeding and he was still armed. Two shots left in the clip.

He fired them when he had a good shot. Both made contact, but neither seemed fatal. Aston slipped into the kitchen. That was good. Aaron knew the kitchen. There was no rush. He stalked slowly after her, releasing the clip from his pistol and slotting the new one in, quietly cocking the gun. As he entered the kitchen, he took a shot, missing Aston but shattering a window on the rebound. Aston managed to duck behind the counter, out of sight. It was good cover. Aaron was pretty sure he'd have a hard time shooting her through it, were he inclined to try.

That didn't really matter. Aston couldn't see him, either. There were only so many places she could pop out from. He made sure he had a clear line of fire to all of them, then just waited. Aaron wasn't the most patient person in the world, but there was a difference between waiting for something and savoring victory. He could do the latter for a long, long time, just so long as it wasn't preventing him from actually attaining that victory.

Sure enough, Aston soon broke cover. Aaron smiled, pulled the trigger, and shot her in the chest. She dropped down again, out of sight, but he could hear her moving. She had to be dying now, had to be bleeding out, had to be regretting all her petty little insults of a few moments ago.

She had to be burning for revenge.

That was why Aaron couldn't just let her crawl off to die in a ditch somewhere. There were potentially ten other people out there. While she wouldn't be a direct threat to him again, there was a chance she'd stumble across someone else and warn them. That was a risk Aaron didn't feel like taking.

She was cornered, now, wounded. She was no longer a serious threat on any physical level.

He moved closer, when a flash of motion drew his attention. He flinched backwards for a second, and in that time Aston darted off, showing that she still had more energy left than he had credited her for. Aaron ducked back behind a chair, taking cover of his own to the degree he could in case she'd tossed a grenade in the pack. Five seconds passed without an explosion. Aaron could hear her running, as much as she still could. That was fine. She was wounded. She wouldn't get far. He had all the time in the world.

He went to her pack, picked it up, and slung it over his shoulder, then headed after her, never breaking into a run.

((Aaron Hughes continued in The Might Sparrow))
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
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Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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