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And God said, "Man, what are you talking about? I sent you a helicopter and a boat."
Topic Started: May 29 2013, 01:15 PM (2,369 Views)
MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Enter Lydia Robbins))

In some ways, finding the shotgun was the hardest part of all.

Lydia hadn't been hit too hard by the gas. She had clear pictures of everything that had happened in that big room. She could remember Mr. Davidge taking a bullet, could remember the surprisingly-young Danya's speech. She knew it was all true. When next she'd woken up, outside this monstrous shopping mall, she'd immediately pulled herself up and headed inside, dragging her backpack and purse and duffel bag along with her. Fear was her companion and her pursuer, fear that someone would kill her, that someone would kill all of them, that it would be really slow and painful. She was afraid to die, and she didn't even know why.

She had raced up the stairs, bags bouncing off her legs, feet slapping on the steps. She stumbled once, but was able to catch the handrail and avoid smashing her face into the floor.

The upper area was circular, that much was clear at a glance, which was all Lydia afforded it. Lydia didn't bother scoping anything out. She ducked into the first store she found, one that was filled with racks of records and CDs. It was as good a place as any, better than most. Nobody would come here. There was nothing of worth here, and nobody of worth, as well, because Lydia was no survivor, no hero, no killer or defender or anything, really. She knew a little of what had transpired during the past cycles. She knew, at least, who had gotten out due to their own actions.

The first two, they'd both been boys, boys who tried to save other people but only managed to protect themselves in the end. The third, he'd been crazy, a real psycho who got off on torturing and killing people. The fourth had been kept going by anger. They were all unusual people, people who could rise to this sort of occasion and take action, people who didn't worry about what would happen and who threw themselves fully into anything.

Lydia could barely make up her mind what jewelry to wear in the morning. She didn't have the self control to keep her eating down. She was nothing, nothing but another kid who would die, like the hundreds of others this predicament had claimed before, and she wasn't okay with that but she also knew that there was nothing she could do to change it.

Lydia was not one to pray out loud. She was usually not one to pray in the middle of the day, either, preferring to keep things to a few special times. She did not turn to her religion every time things got tough, but if there was ever a moment for divine inspiration, this was it. So she closed her eyes and had a heart to heart.

Why? she asked, first thing. Why take us? Why sentence us to die? But, no, that wasn't really fair. God didn't explain Himself. He sometimes did things that were baffling to humans, wars and plagues and natural disasters, but who was she to question where Job had not? So she thought a little apology, and started again, with a new track.

What now? she asked. What do I do? I know I can't kill anyone, so that means I die unless we get saved. I don;t think we're going to get saved, or at least I can't count on that. And I know that death is not the end, that death is not evil, but I don't want to die. I have so much I want to do, and life, it hasn't always been great, but it's not been bad, and I don't want to wait so long to see my family, don't want to miss their lives here on Earth. I'm scared.

And there was nothing, no response. She gritted her teeth and shifted her weight. She was squatting behind a rack of CDs, a bunch of covers staring down at her. One was lime green, with a creepy, grinning baby face on the cover. Its eyes were pitch black.

She knew that one. Tubthumper. I get knocked down, but I get up again.

No, please and thank you, I think I'll stay down this time. I think I'll stay down, stay sitting here on the ground. With God a no-show, it was just the best thing to do. Stay and get shot and go to Heaven and call it a wash. That would be easy. It was as safe as things came. She realized she was crying, tears and snot mingling on her face. At least she had some tissues in her purse.

Lydia blew her nose, crumpled the tissue, and pitched it on the floor. A few seconds later, she pulled herself to her feet, plodded over to the discarded tissue, picked it up, and found a garbage can for it. It didn't matter if the store was wrecked; Lydia was no litterbug. It was important to treat the world with respect, even if it didn't return the favor.

She wanted some food to calm down. There was supposed to be food in her bag, and it wasn't like a little emotional eating was going to make her life any worse right now, so Lydia went back to the pack and knelt and unzipped it, and that was when she found the shotgun, and it was the single worst thing that could possibly have happened to her, because it was the voice of God Himself speaking right to her. Not in words, of course; she was no schizophrenic, but the meaning was clear enough:

Now now, Lydia, He said, you've given up awfully easy, haven't you? We can't be having that. Now, I know you're a sad fat girl who's had a tough life, and I know you've been good and faithful, and I know that this is a really bad day for you. I get that. But I didn't put you on this earth to give up when things get tough. I didn't put you on this island to sit around and cry and eat yourself to sleep. I put you here for My own reasons, and sitting around is pretty low on that list. You're not powerless. I have given you this shotgun, to use as you see fit, and I trust you to do me proud with it. I trust you to not be an agent of evil. And maybe, maybe you'll never need to use this shotgun. Maybe you'll never be in a spot where it matters, and maybe you'll never make a difference, but you have the ability to try. You have free will, and free will exists so that you can make choices, and—yes—mistakes. But, Lydia, if you sit down on your butt now, if you sit down and just wait and eat and let someone kill you, that's all on you. That's your choice, and it's your right to make it, but I don't think it's the right choice. So come on, up and at 'em. You know what they say, what the message I sent you with that CD means: You're never gonna keep me down.

But what do I do? That was the question running through Lydia's head, but there sure weren't any signs to help her answer that one. It was the big one, and she was alone, no flashing neon signs telling her to go out and protect people or try to run an escape or anything like that. She couldn't do these things, wasn't smart or strong or fast enough. It was just her and a shotgun, and that was terrifying, but she couldn't just sit, not now that she knew there were other options.

She wished she'd never gotten hungry, had never opened her bag. She'd made her peace. Someone cou;d've come along and killed her, and she'd have never known about the shotgun, and it would've been so simple and alright, relatively speaking. But she'd just had to think with her stomach, and now here she was. Her appetite was gone, to boot.

She didn't bother poking through the rations. Instead, she lifted the shotgun free, very gently. She took out the manual. It was complicated, hard to read, but over the next half hour or so she figured out what it all meant. She loaded the gun. She chambered a round. She made very, very sure that the safety was on.

Then she picked up her bags and gave a nod to the CD rack and tottered a little as she walked out, back into the open mall. No hiding. Not now. Not when there were things to do.

She really did wish she knew what they were, though.
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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VysePresident
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Long-winded, meticulous, & thoughtful. Mostly long-winded though.
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Chase Rodriguez continued from "Through Eyes of Love and Cold Glass"

Waking up in the decrepit Old Navy store had been a less than pleasant experience for Chase. Perhaps it was just blind luck, perhaps it was somebody's idea of a joke, but he'd woken up right next to a tacky shirt with a twisted, grinning skull on it, just as he was starting to remember just where he was.

Surprisingly, it hadn't really bothered him as much it probably should have. It probably had something to do with how out of it he was, between the anesthesia and a more general lack of sleep. Personally, given how tired he'd been on the trip, he suspected the anesthesia had been overkill on the terrorists' part. He'd spent so much time trying to put one last touch on that last project the night before the trip that'd he'd barely gotten any rest at all. Not that his resulting exhaustion had stopped him from bringing a notepad and a couple pens to doodle with at the hotel.

Of course, the terrorists had taken those things away, trading him for the bag he was now lugging around on his back. In it were some basic things to keep him alive for whatever twisted end he was going to meet, and he'd also found a weapon, albeit a particularly cruel one. To be specific, a small silver box containing three pills filled with cyanide. At least, that's what the note inside had implied, with the "Cyanide for Dummies" tips it had listed on the back. There had even been a poorly drawn image of a stick figure choking on the ground.

Apparently, it was supposed to be funny.

He'd looked through the bag again, desperately hoping that somehow it was all just a joke, and he'd gotten a weapon he could actually defend himself with. He wanted something that he might use to scare people off, hopefully without actually fighting. Chase had no desire to kill anyone, let alone in cold blood, which was all the cyanide was capable of.

Not surprisingly, his search had been fruitless, and almost mechanically, he'd swept everything back into his bag. The only option available to him seemed to be to search the mall for any signs of life. Several of his friends were also here, including Yukiko, and the thought weighed heavily on his mind. It was a relief to realize that Miriam, at least, wasn't in any danger. He'd felt bad for her, having to miss the trip after breaking her leg, but now he was extremely grateful for it. It was what had kept her off this island with the rest of them.

So, with no better plan of action coming to mind, he'd left the shop where he'd woken up, and was now wandering the mall, searching in hope that perhaps he'd be lucky enough to bump into someone he knew, perhaps even Yukiko. He'd been a little unsteady on his feet when he first tried to stand up, apparently an after-effect of the anesthesia. However, thankfully, it seemed to wear off quickly as he got his blood circulating, and he was moving quite comfortably now.

The mall was almost eerily intact in spots. There were a few odds and ends lying around the place that he had to be careful not to trip on, but otherwise it looked like a mall should. He almost had the feeling that he'd somehow walked in after closing hours by mistake. There was a Banana Republic store to one side, the goods in the foggy glass looking for all the world as if someone was expected to buy them. There was a Pay Less Shoes on the other, with dusty ads for footgear hanging around the door. Then, he turned around the elevator shaft, just as a girl carrying a gun came out of one of the stores.

"Oh, crap!"

The exclamation came out choked, and barely audible. His first impulse on seeing the gun in her hands was to turn and run, all other thoughts lost in the moment of panic. However, his body had already determined that freezing was an infinitely better strategy, and so he stayed there for one agonizing moment. That split second seemed to drag out for an eternity, as he thought about his family, and Miriam, and how he hoped they wouldn't have to see this, before he realized he recognized her.

"...Lydia?"

They hadn't exactly known each other well, but he remembered chatting with her occasionally. She'd struck him as being pretty cool and friendly, and had even let him ramble on about art that one time. She'd seemed to be a pretty decent, unselfish person, and finding some like her was probably a very lucky thing. Still, he didn't move too far from the corner of the elevator where he'd been standing. His scare a moment ago had left him extremely aware of the shotgun she was carrying, and he was a little hesitant to approach her, in case she turned out to be jumpy from the pressure of their predicament.

Now that his initial panic had started wearing off, he realized that she looked like she'd just been crying. Her eyes seemed to be bloodshot, and he could see a little light reflecting off her face. Oddly enough, this had the effect of calming him down. Here was somebody who looked to be having a harder time than him. He didn't know her all that well, but she wasn't a stranger either, and he felt like he ought to try to help in some way. So, lttle more than a moment after his initial exclamation, he found himself making a awkward attempt to talk with her like he would when he found his younger sister crying.

"Hey! Are...are you alright?"
Constructive criticism is always welcome! Feel free to send me a PM if you have any pointers or feedback you'd like to share!

Character #1: Boy #37 Ian Williams - Now with 55% less self-insert.
Designated Weapon: Polaroid Instant Camera With Film (Enough for 8 photographs)

Past - | 1 | 2 | (Current thread - Birds of a Feather)
Pregame - None
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | (Final Thread - Glass
)
Character #2: Boy #66 Chase Rodriguez - Adopted from Pippin.
Designated Weapon: Silver Pill Box Containing Three Cyanide Capsules

Past - None
Pregame - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (Last seen in - Diversions)
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | (Final Thread - Drawing to an End)



(Relationships Planning Thread #Pi)
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"I'm fine, Chase," Lydia said. She looked at him and tried to smile. It came easier than she'd expected. She'd been startled to see him, had jerked a little in surprise. She had not moved the gun to point at him, however—had not, in fact, even realized that she would have needed to do so to fend off a threat until well after her mind had categorized Chase as safe.

It wasn't like she knew him well. Chase was someone she'd chatted with a few times, but never really in great depth. What she had seen, though, was enough to convince her that he was a good person, not just okay but legitimately good. He was the sort who would help friends, even if it inconvenienced him, who spent his time doing things that brought him joy, even if they were tough and didn't turn out very well. He was not somebody to fear. Finding someone like that first thing was truly a lucky break, and it lifted Lydia's spirits a little, gave her a little more sense of safety. Maybe this wouldn't be so terrible after all. Maybe everyone could do the right thing this time and not fight.

That was the moral choice. And if they died, it would be sad, and she certainly was not looking forward to the pain and terror, but at least then their deaths would mean something and would be for a good purpose. That was the best that there could be where death was concerned, making it count for something and benefit the world and other people.

"Are you okay?" He probably wasn't, but really, Lydia was being a little bit overly optimistic in declaring herself alright. Her face was still sticky from the tears, and her head hurt a little from the crying, and the fear was hiding in the back of her mind, casting tempting tendrils into all of her thoughts, reminding her that panicking would really be a whole lot easier than keeping things together. It was important to stay calm, though, important to reframe the situation. She had to remember that dying was inevitable and not the worst thing that could happen. It let her concentrate on the present better.

In some ways, Lydia herself was like a horse. If there was calmness to cling to, she would be fine, but if there was no plan, no guidance, then she would have nothing to do but bolt.
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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VysePresident
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Long-winded, meticulous, & thoughtful. Mostly long-winded though.
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"That's good," Chase said, genuinely meaning it.

While it seemed to be taking her a little bit of effort, Chase was glad to see that Lydia was smiling now. It meant that he'd probably made the right choice, by trying to talk with her. He honestly hadn't been sure if he could really do all that much to comfort her. It wasn't like he could say it'd all be okay; that was all too obviously untrue, and she clearly knew it. Still, he could try to be there for her as a friend. It was the least he could do.

"I guess I'm doing pretty well, all things considered. Sorry for making you jump like that. I hadn't meant to startle you."

He supposed he really was in pretty decent shape, under the circumstances, mentally and physically. He couldn't say he was really feeling as calm as he'd have liked, particularly after the shock of seeing Lydia carrying that gun, but talking with her was helping him too. He had to stay in control for both their sakes, and, funny as it might be to think about, it was probably helping himself as much as her.

"Would you mind if I came over? It's a bit awkward trying to carry on a conversation from over here."

It was probably an unnecessary request, given that she'd shown no signs of hostility, but then, turning a corner to see a shotgun tends to make one a little nervous. Besides, she'd clearly had a hard time, and for all he knew, anything could have happened to give her good reason to panic if he just suddenly started moving towards her. It was better to be safe than sorry.
Constructive criticism is always welcome! Feel free to send me a PM if you have any pointers or feedback you'd like to share!

Character #1: Boy #37 Ian Williams - Now with 55% less self-insert.
Designated Weapon: Polaroid Instant Camera With Film (Enough for 8 photographs)

Past - | 1 | 2 | (Current thread - Birds of a Feather)
Pregame - None
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | (Final Thread - Glass
)
Character #2: Boy #66 Chase Rodriguez - Adopted from Pippin.
Designated Weapon: Silver Pill Box Containing Three Cyanide Capsules

Past - None
Pregame - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (Last seen in - Diversions)
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | (Final Thread - Drawing to an End)



(Relationships Planning Thread #Pi)
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"Oh," Lydia said. "Oh, sure. Yeah, sure."

She moved towards Chase, too. She'd frozen up, there, so focused on his sudden appearance and what it had meant that she hadn't even thought to move closer. And he'd stopped too—probably because he'd been taken aback by the shotgun she was carrying. It occurred to Lydia now that, paradoxically as it felt emotionally, she might well appear threatening. She could get a vague sense of what might have been flowing through Chase's head: I don't know her that well. Can I trust her? Will she kill me? That's a big gun.

And of course, she'd not thought of any of that with regards to him, and it was probably stupid and hopelessly idealistic of her to assume the best like this. Would she have reacted the same had it not been Chase? What if it had been someone dangerous, or if she'd been impossibly wrong and Chase had held some sinister motivation?

If her purpose was not to sit on the ground and cry until she died, surely it was also not to blunder straight into the arms of a would-be murderer. If she was to be murdered—and she tried not to think about it, but she was pretty sure there weren't a whole lot of ways The Plan could go from here on out that didn't end in her getting murdered—then it had to at least count for something. Didn't have to be anything big. Little things mattered too. They were, in fact, often the most important things to people.

She wasn't so far from Chase now. It was a better spot to have a talk, but Lydia wasn't really sure what there was they could talk about. A lot of her lines from school were not appropriate to this situation. Asking Chase if he was excited for graduation, or if he was moving out of town, or what his plans for the future were, well, all that seemed like bad stuff to bring up given the circumstances. There was no need to dredge up what he had lost and parade it around. They both already knew what they could no longer have.

Which left only the facts to talk about, only what was happening. It was an uncomfortable thing, because even if Lydia had mostly accepted it, she still didn't like it and didn't want to foreground it more than she had to.

"What do we do?" she asked. It was the same question she'd been spitting towards the sky, and she wasn't sure if she expected an answer any more concrete from Chase, but she didn't really need one. She wasn't even sure if she would want to trust or follow what he said.

No, what was important was that it let her use that collective pronoun, to let him and herself know that, for the moment at least, they were in this situation together.
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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NotAFlyingToy
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the bass and the tweeters make the speakers go to war
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Brandon Baxter, from Always Gold))

It was like there was a little internet meme toddling through Baxter's brain as he walked up towards the top floor of the sprawling, openness of the mall, his eyes alert and head on a swivel as he searched for threats and resources with an almost equal burning desire. His brother had been on this thing called "tumblr", a stupid website where everyone shared witty one liners badly inserted onto iconic images. Baxter had often smiled and nodded politely whenever Jordan gleefully showed him another image, but one stuck with him now.

Step one: Find an arsenal.

Step two: ????

Step three: Profit.

Somehow, without really discussing it, he had taken point as he and Summer trekked towards the mall, images of golf clubs, crow bars, chainsaws flashing in his head like cue cards. The bec de corbin was heavy in his hand as he used it more like a walking stick than anything else, the dull thump, thump, thump accompanying each step. It was a wicked looking weapon, but Baxter doubted that he'd get by on pure intimidation. He'd need to back it up with something.

Besides. He was plenty intimidating without the big hammer-scythe.

Rubbing his untamed, black beard, Baxter took the last step towards the top floor of the mall, the collar of his dress shirt rubbing at a few stray hairs, digging them into his skin. His fingers wandered down the familiar path, reaching under the blue and white jersey and dress shirt alike to scratch at his throat. The soothing sound of fingernails on skin and the temporary relief of an abated itch calmed him slightly, had his wandering gaze slowing, easing.

And then it locked on Lydia and Chase, standing across the open area of the mall, in conversation.

The girl had a fucking shotgun.

Baxter knew both Chase and Lydia from around the school, and had made more than one imitation of Lydia waddling in the privacy of his friends' company. He hadn't known either of them to be hostile in the past, but then again, who knew what this game with little to no rules brought out in people?

He had to act quickly. And with that in mind, he whirled around, looked towards Summer.

"I'm heading over there," he murmured, his voice barely above a growl as he jerked his head in the couple's direction.

"You coming?"

Without waiting for much of a response, his mind on the gun and his eyes on the figures, he cupped his free hand to his mouth, and hollered.

"Robbins? Rodriguez? That you?"
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VysePresident
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[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Chase hesitated a little, unsure how to answer Lydia's question. She was clearly looking to him for direction, but he hadn't really had much of one himself when he'd started wandering the mall. His one coherent thought had been to hope that, against the odds, he would bump into Yukiko. She had been a close friend of both him and Miriam since middle school, and he knew how much she hated even the idea of violence. How was she holding up now, in this so-called 'game', where you either had to kill or die? Probably a lot like Lydia was, actually.

The thought weighed heavily on his mind as he tried looking for an answer to her question. He felt that he needed to be decisive and strong, to have a brilliant solution to their problem, but all he had to offer was the truth, and an idea he wasn't sure she would be interested in.

"Well....I don't really know. To be honest, I haven't really thought all that much ahead of trying to find a friend of mine. I don't know if you're familiar with Yukiko, but I'm kind of worried about her. I suppose it doesn't really mean all that much, under the circumstances, but it would be a load off my mind to find her. Did you have anyone you wanted to look for?"

He'd tried to avoid directly referencing their situation too much. It wasn't possible to ignore it, but wallowing in what they had lost would do no good. What was important was to stay calm, for both his and Lydia's sake. It was quite a challenge, especially when a booming voice echoed across the store, calling to get their attention.

He turned to see Brandon Baxter, who was carrying an impressive pole-arm that looked to be a cross between a spear and a hammer. He glanced at Lydia for a brief moment to gauge her reaction. He didn't have anything personal against Brandon, but he wasn't entirely overjoyed to see him either. He'd heard a bit about Brandon's temper and obnoxiousness, and so had just quietly avoided him, which was easy enough given how little they had in common.

That said, he didn't seem to be hostile. He'd called for their attention, and for all appearances he just wanted to talk. Heck, he'd probably woken up in the mall as well, and was searching for signs of life too. Besides, it wasn't like he had a choice. Brandon was already on his way, and they'd have to deal with him. So he called back.

"Hey, Brandon, right? I'd be glad to talk, but would you mind leaving the walking stick on the wall for a bit?"

Chase was uncomfortably aware of the giant weapon, being the closer of the two to the stairs, and naturally positioned between Brandon and Lydia. He shifted a little to the side, so as not to be directly in her way, but he didn't really move too far. He hadn't deliberately placed himself this way, but it seemed like it was for the best. It was probably going to turn out to be just a stupid gesture, but in the meantime it felt like the right thing to do.
Constructive criticism is always welcome! Feel free to send me a PM if you have any pointers or feedback you'd like to share!

Character #1: Boy #37 Ian Williams - Now with 55% less self-insert.
Designated Weapon: Polaroid Instant Camera With Film (Enough for 8 photographs)

Past - | 1 | 2 | (Current thread - Birds of a Feather)
Pregame - None
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | (Final Thread - Glass
)
Character #2: Boy #66 Chase Rodriguez - Adopted from Pippin.
Designated Weapon: Silver Pill Box Containing Three Cyanide Capsules

Past - None
Pregame - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (Last seen in - Diversions)
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | (Final Thread - Drawing to an End)



(Relationships Planning Thread #Pi)
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Mimi
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are you upset?
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
** Summer Simms, female no. 21, continued from… Always Gold

Summer may have been the driving force behind the decision to hit the mall, realizing shortly into their trek how poorly she was dressed for a game of death. Just walking through the otherwise gentle terrain of the woodlands had managed to shred her penny loafers, small holes beginning in the seams and threatening to burst open entirely. Her bare legs were pockmarked with dried mud and an assortment of small scratches and cuts which had already begun to itch. She prayed it wasn't poison ivy or anything worse. Maybe some rare tropical island rash that would melt her skin off. Parts of her long hair had become unwound from her tight braids and stuck out at odd angles and she wanted nothing more than to take them out all together and just redo them. The heat had also taken it's toll, gluing the fine baby hairs across her hairline to her forehead and forcing her to shed her blazer, which was now tied around her waist, and opt for her strapless sundress alone.

All in all, she was a mess and it was only the first couple of hours into this thing. She couldn't help but feel slightly embarrassed, especially with the cameras catching every bead of sweat and stray hair. Worse yet, nothing she packed was anymore appropriate, not unless she wanted her corpse to be best dressed. If she wanted any chance of surviving, she had the dress the part. They always said clothes made the man, after all.

The mall itself made her feel slightly eerie, as if she were somewhere she shouldn't be. Aside from a broken window or toppled mannequin every so often, it seemed in direct contrast to what little of the crumbling city she'd seen on their way there. Things were almost too well-maintained and she wondered briefly if whoever had kidnapped them went to the trouble of trying to maintain it. Or maybe they'd built it just for Aurora. She almost preferred that explanation, honestly. It was far less disconcerting then imagining people living there at some point.

Unfortunately, Summer didn't have much time to sight see or window shop before Brandon alerted her to Lydia and Chase's presence. She'd spoken to both of them back at school casually, just typical little pleasantries in an effort to get to know them and get them to like her, but nothing terribly deep or meaningful. She knew Chase liked art and Lydia was bookish, which meant back in Seattle Summer liked art and books as well. They were both decent kids, Lydia especially. She'd always reminded Summer of one of those sad dogs in the sad dog commercials who'd been kicked one to many times. Summer liked those types back home, the kind of person that was desperate for any shred of sweetness to be directed toward them. Summer was always ready with a teaspoon of sugar.

Here, though, she didn't know how someone like that would react, especially with the gun that she'd apparently been given. It was an intimidating thing alone, let alone in the hands of someone unpredictable.

Brandon's pace quickened, his voice booming a greeting down the mall, echoing slightly off the walls as he did so. She cringed, her face twisting into an uneasy expression as she fell behind in pace, arms wrapping around herself as if to protect herself from a nonexistent chill. She waited for a moment, taking small steps as Brandon caught up to them. If they were dangerous, she didn't want to find her way into the crossfire. She ran through the path back to the entrance in her head, just in case.

Fortunately, they didn't seem hostile, at least not yet, so Summer plastered a large smile on her face and closed the gap.

"I'll hold it," She said in response to Chase's request that Brandon put the bec-de-corbin down. She gently placed a hand on Brandon's bicep while taking the polearm into her other. She figured she wouldn't be as intimating holding it as Brandon and hoped Lydia and Chase would feel the same way. She didn't want to leave it against the wall where they could potentially make a grab for it.

"It's mine, anyway. Apparently Mr. Danya mistook me for some Medieval knight," She laughed softly in an attempt to break the ice before her eyes briefly darted to Lydia's weapon. She didn't know what else to say. Asking how they were holding up seemed pedantic and she could probably guess the answer anyway.

"Sorry I look like a homeless person," She finally said after some struggling, "We hiked across the island and I guess I forgot my survival gear at home."

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MurderWeasel
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"Oh, uh, hey, no problem," Lydia said to Summer. "You look fine."

White lies weren't sins, and besides, she'd sort of spoken on cruise control, not really bothering to think first and instead offering vague reassurances as a way of keeping everyone happy and relaxed.

Things had chugged along so very quickly, and it was hard for her to keep abreast of it all. Chase wanted to look for Yukiko, who was a casual friend of hers so no problems there, but then there was Brandon heading towards them with a big sort of spear thing, and Summer right behind him. Lydia took a half step backwards, away from the newcomers. Chase moved to shield her, and a mixture of gratitude and shame filled her.

Brandon made her nervous, not really because of anything about him personally, but because he was big and tough and had a weapon and she didn't know him that well. Summer, on the other hand, brought a little sunlight to the situation. She was another nice person, and so surely if she was travelling with Brandon he was fine and nobody needed protecting from them. So it was all fine, all a-okay thank you very much, and nobody here was going to die or get hurt or stress out too much, and it wasn't a problem at all that yet again Lydia had not even thought to bring up the shotgun or point it or tell them to stop or anything.

These things were all happening at once, and Lydia wanted them to just stop for a little, just a quick little breather while she maybe caught up with everything that was going on. Normally it'd be no problem to have two new people wander into a situation, but combined with the specifics of everything going on, Lydia had to suddenly reassess their position. She glanced over storefronts, at hallways, little shadowed areas she'd previously ignored. What else could be lurking, hiding places she'd never even considered checking? But she couldn't so a proper job of it, because the others were already here and she had to keep up with them, too.

"Why did you guys hike here?" she asked, quietly and a little bit flatly.

Lydia had a vague idea that there was a map in her bag, but she hadn't looked at it. They were in a mall, though, so there just had to be some other buildings around on this island, ones more suited to housing people for an extended period. The Lone Pine wouldn't have stayed in business had it been placed out in the middle of nowhere. So why would they come here specifically? Would there be others? Dangerous people?

Even if Lydia's purpose was to do more than just wait around, it still felt awfully early to get busy discovering it. She wanted more time and space to just cope with everything, maybe with Chase and maybe with Summer and maybe just with herself and her thoughts but certainly not with some crowd or group of new people turning up every few minutes and breathing down her neck.

But these people were here, and it was important to show hospitality, to treat then as she would want to be treated, and Summer looked a little worse for the wear. They weren't causing trouble, weren't being threatening, so she should be gracious and help them, because that was really all anyone could do in this situation. She wouldn't be stupid, and it would be stupid to trust them right off the bat, but it would be equally stupid to judge them on their potential for evil rather than any actions they engaged in. She would just be as open and helpful as she could without putting Chase into danger.

The shotgun felt cool and solid in her hands. She was holding it with both, now, her right hand wrapped around the grip, index finger off the trigger but not so far she couldn't move it. Her left hand supported the barrel, about halfway between her right hand and the end of the gun. She was pretty sure that wasn't the right way to hold it if she wanted to shoot, so hopefully everyone would know she didn't. It was pointed down and to the left, sort of at the floor.

Everything was going to be just fine. She was just being antsy for no reason.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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NotAFlyingToy
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Well, wasn’t this interesting. Baxter walked on up, friendly and smiling towards Lydia Robbins and her apparent guard dog, totally nice and open and grinning, and the little shit moves in front of the woman toting a shotgun as if to shield her from him. Like he was about to try and cop a feel or something.

It would’ve been really quite cute, if it didn’t piss him right off.

As if Chase could stop Brandon fucking Baxter if he wanted to get at the girl. The guy was a slip of a human being. Baxter bet that he benched Chase’s weight before practice on a regular basis.

With one hand.

While holding a conversation.

He was distracted from his contemplation of demonstrating exactly how futile the white knight maneuver was by Summer’s hand brushing his bicep, tugging the hammer-sickle-thingydo from his tightened grip. He allowed his fingers to relax and the weapon to slide away, counting to three quickly in his mind and timing the breaths accordingly. Now was not the time to blow his top.

When he was sure he could, he grinned. “No worries, esse, no worries at all. Though I’m curious as to why you’re threatened from that... thing,” here, he gestured back at the weapon in Summer’s grasp, “when Robbins is packing some mundo heat right there.”

He aimed his pearly whites at Robbins, going for a friendly smile. “We came here because the lady wanted a new wardrobe, and who am I to prevent something like that?”

Tilting his head, he beamed back at Summer. “Well, that and I was kinda lacking on better ideas. We’re lucky we ran into two friendly faces, though.”

He glanced back around, watching Rodriguez for a moment, his face a perfect mask of contemplation. “Hey, listen,” he said, shifting closer, eyebrows drawing downwards as he lowered his voice.

“I really don’t mean to be rude, here, but do either of you guys know how to use that thing?”

Baxter gestured towards the shotgun.
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Mimi
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(skipping to avoid inactivity.)

Summer fidgeted uncomfortably, one hand supporting the polearm and the other absently trying to smooth out one of her messy pigtails. It was clear they weren't wanted, with Chase moving to protect Lydia from an imaginary attack and Lydia herself supporting the gun with both hands, as if ready to shoot at any moment. Summer stepped back slightly, though she tried to play off her nerves by adjusted one of her battered loafers, pulling it up further against her heel whilst positioning herself slightly behind Brandon in case things went downhill.

Surprisingly, Summer remained silent, allowing the other three students talk while she observed. It was new for her, having been used to interjecting and carrying a conversation so that there were no awkward silences. For some reason, though, she didn't really care if things got awkward, which happened almost immediately when Brandon inquired about the duo's skill with a gun. Summer clenched her lips between her teeth, all the while focusing her free hand on her pigtail. Brandon wasn't masking his intentions terribly well, but there was a part of Summer that hoped Lydia and Chase would bite at his comment. Perhaps they'd offer Lydia's gun up to him and she'd be able to further hide behind him. It was a long shot, but not completely out of the question, especially considering Lydia didn't seem entirely too savvy.

Catching Chase's eye, Summer smiled warmly, partially in an effort to relax him, but mostly from instinct. She figured if she was friendly enough, they'd focus on Brandon if things went down hill, giving her time to run and save herself. It was sick to think about, but she had to adjust.

If everything went well, though, she'd have a new outfit and new allies to show for it.

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Chase took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled. He hadn't realized how tense he'd gotten. He was pretty certain it was his fault that the atmosphere had gotten as charged as it was. It was true that some caution was reasonable, but letting himself get unnecessarily paranoid wasn't going to do anyone any good. He'd already noted that Brandon appeared to be friendly, and Summer certainly wasn't anyone to be afraid of. At this point, he felt a bit stupid for the way he'd stood in front of Lydia, as if he were going to protect her; she was the one carrying the gun, after all, and he'd just brilliantly set himself right in the line of fire, making it effectively useless. It had just seemed the right thing to do at the moment, when he saw her backing away, however dumb it was in retrospect.

Still, it was a relief when Summer showed up behind Brandon and took the weapon. He smiled back at her, gratefully, even though inwardly, he felt that request had been another mistake. As Brandon had pointed out, in a polite, roundabout way, it was rather hypocritical to expect them to leave their weapon aside, when they had even more reason to be worried about Lydia's shotgun. It'd be hard to blame either of them if they were annoyed. Chase just hoped the situation was still salvageable.

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I was just a bit startled to see you bearing down with that big hulking polearm" he said, with a wry grimace. "This kind of thing makes you a bit jumpy. If you like, we can set the gun down by the wall over here." he said, gesturing at the elevator shaft just behind Lydia and himself as he spoke.

Even as he finished speaking, he realized that he'd blundered yet again, as it occurred to him that the offer wasn't really his to make. He glanced at Lydia, and almost turned to apologize and ask if she was okay with it, before he realized that walking it back was just going to risk making the original problem even worse. He hoped she wouldn't mind, that she would understand why he'd done that. At least it wasn't like they'd be unable to pick it up again easily enough if anything happened.

Brandon's next comment was a bit odd, but after a brief pause, Chase replied.

"I'm not an expert, and I don't know about Lydia, but I think we've got the general idea, yes. Why do you ask?"
Constructive criticism is always welcome! Feel free to send me a PM if you have any pointers or feedback you'd like to share!

Character #1: Boy #37 Ian Williams - Now with 55% less self-insert.
Designated Weapon: Polaroid Instant Camera With Film (Enough for 8 photographs)

Past - | 1 | 2 | (Current thread - Birds of a Feather)
Pregame - None
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | (Final Thread - Glass
)
Character #2: Boy #66 Chase Rodriguez - Adopted from Pippin.
Designated Weapon: Silver Pill Box Containing Three Cyanide Capsules

Past - None
Pregame - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | (Last seen in - Diversions)
Island - | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | (Final Thread - Drawing to an End)



(Relationships Planning Thread #Pi)
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MurderWeasel
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Lydia tried to keep her cool when Chase made his little offer on her behalf. She reminded herself that it was because he was a genuinely good person, one who didn't want to hurt anyone. It had hurt a little, though, because he hadn't consulted her, hadn't even shot her a glance or a wink or a nod, and what he'd said she would do was not something she was at all prepared to follow through on. But that was a bridge to cross when they came to it. Hopefully, the offer would be enough to placate Brandon on its own. Summer, at least, seemed fine, and that let Lydia calm down a bit.

"I read the manual," she said in response to Brandon's question. She didn't say that, in the end, it didn't matter if she knew how to use it. She didn't say that she'd been given this shotgun for a purpose. That was a little secret for her alone, something to carry inside, a private musing that would warm her when nothing else could. She had a purpose, and she had a shotgun. Everything else would take care of itself in its own time.

Now that it was clear that Brandon and Summer were not going to attack, Lydia was calming down pretty quickly. There was a little flame of agitation within her, something that said this wasn't fair. They were all ignoring her, or at least treating her like she had less of a voice than the boys. But who was to say that wasn't for the best? Lydia didn't need to be respected, exactly, in order to do what was right. Trials were part of any journey, and this was a most minor of trials. Perhaps she could have been justified in her irritation back at high school, but here there were bigger worries. Other people were dying, probably.

She took a deep breath, then let out a little cough. The air in here was still a bit stale. Brandon was going to explain why he wanted to know if Lydia knew how to use the shotgun. She didn't care what he had to say. If he was going to try to take if from her, then he would learn that that was not why she had been given it. If he was concerned for his safety, then he would learn she meant him no harm. If he meant anything else, only time would tell.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
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Lydia said something to Baxter, something about reading the manual for the shotgun – which answered his question as a resounding no – and Baxter spared her a brief glance before turning right back to her designated protector in arms. Chuckling deep in his throat, Baxter lifted a big hand, patting Chase on the head in two condescending motions.

“I was just wondering whether you guys had the guts or skill to shoot someone who actually means to come and tear a chunk out of ya, esse. You guys should think about that for a bit. Anyway, we really should be moving on.”

Any chance of the four of them making some sort of twisted foursome was extinguished in his mind the second the twerp had gone all placement-hero on the situation. And sure, the gun was something that would be nice to have on his side of the line of scrimmage, but when it came down to playing the game, the best equipment didn't make the man.

Besides, he bet Chase would've all but put a padlock around Lydia's thighs when he was around – not that the god-freaks put out, anyway – and he had a much, much more appealing option standing right behind him who hadn't been afraid of getting a little handsy. Besides, she was going to go pick out a new outfit.

She may need his advice.

“Good luck with all that uh, manual reading knowledge, or whatever,” Baxter said, affecting a bored air. He waved towards them over his shoulder as he walked away, once again expecting Summer to follow suit. The white knight and the christian chick, he thought to himself.

I smell a sitcom.

((Brandon Baxter, in Right Down The Line, It's Been You And Me))
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Summer hesitated for a moment, Brandon turning one way, Lydia and Chase still planted where they were, and her somewhere in the middle thumbing the end of her pigtail. She hadn't expected their encounter to end so quickly or suddenly, not when she was just beginning to entertain the idea of grouping up. It was a little lonely with just her and Brandon and she was running out of things to talk about with him, although there wasn't much to be said when you were expected to socialize with the 'competition'. Summer was someone who needed the company of people, though, she needed to be stimulated by companionship and talking or risk going stir-crazy. Her mom had always joked that she was like a bird, harmlessly poking fun at Summer's habit of finding her reflection in just about anything, but she heard somewhere that birds only spent so much time looking at themselves because of how lonely they were. Maybe they figured their reflections were better than nothing.

It was hard to imagine an existence like that, driven mad from loneliness and finding solace in some inanimate object. What a sad life.

It made her think, though.

Chase and Lydia seemed harmless enough, despite Lydia's gun. Staying with them and moving as a group was always an option. She'd feel less lonely and with the safety of Lydia's gun, she doubted people with ill-will would try anything. It was the perfect choice on paper, but Brandon threw a wrench in it. Maybe she was being nostalgic or letting her emotions blind her, but he'd been with her since she'd woken up, hopped to her defense and kept her calm. He was someone from her group back at Aurora.

Most of all, she trusted him.

No matter how aggressive or short his fuse was, she trusted that he'd always keep her safety in mind and look out for her. He was like a safety net stopping her from free-falling.

She felt safe with him.

Pivoting on her heel, Summer said nothing, offering only a small, sad smile to Chase and Lydia before hurrying to catch up with Brandon. She wished things had gone differently and they could have stuck together, but she was making the right choice. She was sure of it.

** Summer Simms, female no. 21, continued in... Right Down The Line, It's Been You And Me

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