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Topic Started: Jun 5 2013, 06:56 PM (1,236 Views)
Grim Wolf
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(Karen Idel continued from Level One: Target Acquired)

By the time she'd arrived at the school, Karen Idel knew two things.

The first was that she was bugged. It was one of the only reasons she could think for depriving them of pen and paper, and it simply made sense. The collars, which could not be tampered with on penalty of death, allowed them to monitor the location, status, and activities of the students. Combined with the cameras she'd spied here and there across the island, this gave them sufficient coverage to deal with most problematic areas. This worried her, too--depriving her of paper would make it far harder to get around this. She hoped that they'd somehow failed to account for this. She didn't doubt there was paper on the island. What she doubted was her ability to find it.

The second was that she was going to die.

After a long walk to reach the school, the tightness in her chest had nothing to do with fear, and not all the calm and control she had would allow her to dispel it. She could still breathe, but it was hard, and she remained reluctant to use the inhaler, now because she didn't want to run out of medicine too quickly. Her body ached already from the weight of her bag, and she felt stuffed up and weak. So weak. Too weak.

But she kept going. She had to. There wasn't any choice in the matter. Not if she was aiming to beat them.

No other students seen yet, though she'd heard voices. She kept moving, even as her wheezing got worse.

When she finally reached the high school, she crept through its dusty interior, wary of any sounds of danger. But she heard nothing. And so she began her investigation.

Her first discover was the weight room, with rusted equipment--dumbells and weighs--scattered here and there. After a cursory glance she started to pull away, then stopped and stared. There was a relatively unrusted piece of equipment in a corner--a long metal rod. Rust had tinged its edges, but the rod itself seemed undamaged.

And certainly better than a box of condoms.

She hesitated, then walked over to it and lifted it up. Her weary muscles strained beneath it, but after a moment's thought she set off back through the halls, somewhat more slowly and using the rod as a walking stick. She was tired. She felt strained. But this rod would certainly be better than nothing if it came to a fight.

She would lose, if she fought--she didn't doubt that. No matter who the opponent was, she would lose, unless she had gun. Still, the rod might be enough to keep people away. Better to have the threat of force, even if it didn't mean anything.

She needed to find paper, that much was clear, but even more clear was her need for a team. She didn't doubt that she could formulate a strategy that might succeed. But she couldn't execute any such strategy without help.

So. Find her paper. Figure out just what intended to do. And find the right team to help her. Well-armed. Strong. Able. She didn't expect to be able to form an ideal team--she had no idea if her fellows would start killing, or who she'd meet that she could trust. But...

Her chest was getting tighter. She stopped. Took several breaths, each deeper than the last.

Paper and pencil. Had to find paper and pencil. The rest could wait.
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Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

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Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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((Lauren Rowe continued from This is a message from Lord Nergal. "I await you on the Dread Isle."))

She squatted down, touched the floor. The blood was mostly dried, but some of it still got on her fingers. It made her a little queasy. She wiped her hand on the floor, leaving a little streak of red.

It'd been a while since Lauren had left the hospital. She'd gotten a little lost, skipped the hotel and the shopping center if the map was to be believed. She wasn't too worked up about that. None of the softball girls seemed like the type to visit those places, especially in this situation. The problem was, none of the places on the map seemed particularly likely to house them, either. For now, her plan was to head west.

She'd just finished searching this school building, being as quiet as possible. It would have taken her less than ten minutes, taking cursory glances through the dirty windows, but the dark splash on the white classroom floor had given her pause.

Now Lauren was squatting there, her eyes still focused on the splash of blood. Her eyes flickered to the discarded and stained wipes nearby, and then back to the blood.

All that she knew was that it was relatively fresh.

The corners of her lips turned upwards in a grimace. No way was she going to figure out what this was about by just sitting here. The owner of the blood was somewhere nearby, and while she doubted it belonged to one of her teammates, it was a clue that she could follow.

She'd been lucky not to run into anyone for a while. What had happened with Owen and that Aurora girl... she should have left before anything had happened. She still didn't know why she hadn't just backed down. A misplaced sense of pride, perhaps. Whenever she'd been up at bat, she'd never flinched when the pitch came, even though she knew full well how much the ball hurt when it hit. But maybe that didn't fully apply; in softball, nobody was pitching to kill. Except maybe Kathryn when she was angry.

Not the time for that. Time to move on.

She hefted her bag over her shoulder and exited the room. Stiffened at the sight of a girl standing in the hallway.
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Suddenly, a stranger.

Karen began to heft the weight bar in her hand and discovered all at once that her spindly arms weren't sufficient to handle it at all. She could lift it. If she focused, she could maybe swing it. More, she was suddenly conscious of how ridiculous she looked, how totally non-threatening. Weak little girl holding a weapon she couldn't handle. God, she'd been wrong. It just made them aware of how easy she'd be to kill.

So, she dropped it. Let it hit the floor with a loud clang.

"Didn't hear you," Karen said, the tightness in her chest making her hurt and ache. God, she was tired. This girl--Laura, Karen thought, though she wasn't totally sure about that--was more athletic-looking than her, not that that was saying much. "Don't want any trouble. We can just go our separate ways." But then a moment's hesitation, as the tightness in her chest mounted but she didn't want to put down her bag but searching while wearing it would be even more exhausting...

"Sorry," she said. "But, uh...I'm looking for pencil and paper. So I can calm down and g-get my thoughts together." A little bit of a lie, she didn't want anyone listening to know what she was after. "Don't suppose you have any?"
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Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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Her grip on the duffel bag was already tightening when the other girl dropped the bar.

Lauren's eyes flickered toward it and back up again.

A weapon like that, in the right hands... but the girl didn't look like she was equipped to use it. She was a good deal shorter than Lauren was, and didn't appear anywhere near threatening. Lauren didn't remember the girl's name. Didn't need to. Nobody that ran anywhere near her circles, to be sure. Nobody she was looking for; nobody she trusted to watch her back.

Still, the fact that the girl had dropped her weapon put Lauren at more ease than she had felt since meeting Carmina. If she was lucky, this wouldn't turn out to be like last time. If they were all lucky, what had happened in the hospital would be the worst that would happen, at least before all their collars detonated.

She doubted it.

Lauren crossed her arms, aware of the bag's weight on her right hand, and allowed her shoulders to relax.

"No," she said. Tilted her head towards the classroom she had just left. "I wasn't looking for any. There are desks in there, though." She should have left it at that, perhaps, but she kept going, asked anyway. "You planning to do anything with that metal bar?"
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Karen started to laugh and say something dismissive about how weak she was, how picking up the weight bar was a stupid idea, but she didn't have quite enough air in her lungs, and it came out instead as a gasping, wheezing, choking sound and suddenly her chest felt even tighter than before and she tried to breathe and...and...

No. Fuck, no. She didn't want to look this weak in front of this girl, she didn't, she didn't, but things were a little dark around the edges and suddenly she was on the ground, panting.

She dug into her pocket and pulled out her inhaler. Squeezed once. Twice.

Breathed.

She looked up at the other girl, her breath still rasping in her throat a little.

"Y-yours," she said. "If you want it."
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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So it was that easy, then. To walk forward, to pick up the bar, and, well, it was a little heavier than she had expected, but she didn't drop it like the other girl had.

Then she stepped back, still a little wary, despite all indicators to the contrary. She didn't think someone could fake an asthma attack, even if it was supposed to be a trap. Once again, better safe than sorry.

Lauren looked down, all the way down, at the girl on the floor.

She didn't really like that she felt like she owed the girl something now, like she'd robbed her of protection. In the long run, maybe it didn't matter, when they went their separate ways and what happened happened. But right now, the situation didn't exactly feel equal. Carmina at least had a flamethrower, and Owen a scalpel. On the other hand, that Aurora girl? Lauren could have cared less.

Planting the rod vertically into the floor, she let out a short breath.

"Are you going to be alright?"
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Karen stared up at the other girl for a moment. Her face flickered, torn between an awful grimace and an equally awful smile.

"Wouldn't it be h-h..." She broke off, taking a moment to force herself to breathe.

"Wouldn't it be scarier," she said, speaking more slowly, more clearly. "If I said yes?"

She stood up slowly. Stared at the other girl. Took a few deep breaths. "I could use a hand. If you'll help me. Need to find paper and pencil. Get my thoughts in order."
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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Lauren swallowed, spit sliding down.

That was what it came down to, she supposed. Barring an escape like four years ago, only one person was going to be alright at the end.

"You don't scare me," she said, her voice even, though the words themselves reminded her of a child's as she said them.

There were other words on her mind on that topic, about not having time to be scared, about finding her teammates, but she didn't say any of them. Just stepped back and pushed the classroom door back open.

"It's worth a look in there. I can't stay too long, but..." She frowned. "I'll stick around for a while. Tell you if anyone's coming."
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Karen nodded. "Thanks," she said gruffly. She didn't like the idea of this armed, athletic girl having her at her mercy, but then, Karen was sick, and weak, and tired. Lauren had the advantage even while Karen held the weight bar.

She swept her eyes over the dusty classroom (and tried not to breathe too much or move too carelessly, because one bad cloud of dust could have her on the floor again). But nothing immediately leapt out at her, and so she carefully moved from desk to desk, searching...

"I didn't think I'd scare you," Karen said, speaking up so Lauren could hear her. She didn't know why she felt the need to speak, exactly--perhaps it was jut the way the silence had knotted itself into her over the last few hours. Had to hear herself talk. Had to know that maybe people weren't total shit. That if she made a plan and was careful they might actually pull it off.

"I just..." she started, still moving gingerly, desperate to avoid a gust of dust to rob her of her breath. "I just can't see how this turns out alright. For anyone."
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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She had to roll that one around in her head for a while before responding. Lauren had never cared about breaking the silence, awkward or not, but it wasn't a statement she could ignore.

"What about the last one standing?"

There it was, out in the open. She was banking on that, that they'd release the last survivor like they had all the times before. That guy from the first terrorist attack, who'd been thrown back in somehow... It had been a fluke. Had to be. The winner, if the word even fit, might need comfort, therapy. That was preferable to the alternative that everyone else would take.

It was almost crazy, thinking about this only hours since she had been thrown into this situation.

Maybe not. Denial wasn't going to help her survive.

Lauren shifted slightly from her position in the doorway, half turned to face the other girl, half still pretending to keep an eye on the surroundings. "It's living, at least. Alive's close to alright."
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And there it was--a simple spiral note-book, half-hidden beneath a nearby table. She concealed her excitement as she flipped it open, discovering it was half-filled with notes and mildly pornographic drawings. Grimacing, she set to work tearing these out.

Then she heard Lauren's question.

She laughed. "Maybe you could survive," Karen said. "I don't see how I could." She tried to picture herself emerging victorious from this, with a gun in hand and soaked in blood.

But she was sore just from walking here with a bag around her shoulders. Carrying the weight bar on top of that had forced her to use her inhaler. She couldn't see a combination of events that led to her winning.

Would I want to, even if I could?

Stupid thought. Playing by their rules left room for only one winner. Even if she'd been the peak of physical fitness and entered this thing with all the proper training, numbers alone would still weigh against her. Better to do it her way.

My way is going to get me killed.

Every way is going to get me killed.

Could you kill Lauren?


She froze, the paper stuffed in her hand. Athletic Lauren. Karen knew her about as well as she knew the rest of the students at her school (which was to say, not at all).

But...

"Think you could kill me?" Karen asked.
Edited by Grim Wolf, Jun 13 2013, 03:15 AM.
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Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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"Right now?" she said, not moving from her spot.

The end of the weight bar moved from one hand to the other as Lauren let it fall ever so slightly one way, then another, bouncing it between her palms. The bottom of the rod began to slip against the flooring, and she caught it with both hands again.

"Could, maybe." A pause. "Would, that's a harder question."

One that she didn't yet have an answer to. Killing someone - that was hard to imagine, especially now, when all she wanted was to find her friends. After that, she didn't know. When that Aurora girl had come at her with the scalpel, if the bag nestled in her elbow had been a bat instead, it was hard to say if she would have still taken the swing.

She wanted to live. She knew that. The question was what she was willing to lose to get there.

"Is there a reason you're asking?" she finally said.
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Huh. That was a bit more honest than she was expecting.

Why had Karen asked the question? Well, they were all threatened with death--these collars around their necks were a constant reminder of that fact. Not too weird to get pensive. Not the first time she'd had to think about death, either. To think about disease ripping her apart, accident shredding her, breaking her. Her stupid body, riddled with weaknesses.

Her chest felt tight again.

"Trying to decide," Karen said. "Whether I could kill. Whether I would, if I could."

Karen hesitated, staring at the half-filled paper in her hand, then went back to searching the room. She pulled open a drawer by the teacher's desk and discovered a whole case of unsharpened yellow pencils. One quick look around the room, and she found a pencil sharpener in a wall.

"There's also the fact that you're armed and way stronger than me," Karen said, moving towards the sharpener. "Guess I just wanted to know if you were about to bust in here and beat me to death."

Nothing joking in her tone. Probably because she was serious.

God, I really am gonna die.

She set to work sharpening each and every pencil in their little cardboard case.
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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Lauren ran her tongue over the roof of her mouth.

If she'd been trying to kill the other girl, she wouldn't have been standing here, watching her gather supplies. Then again, if the girl had expected an attack, they wouldn't have been talking here in the first place.

Either way, the girl didn't trust her. Didn't seem like she wanted anything with her other than the paper and pencils. The weird thing was, strangely, that it was almost relieving - mutual distrust that didn't seem like it was going to end in violence.

Lauren couldn't afford to die just yet.

Which reminded her, a little, that she was wasting time. She'd about paid any debt here, real or imaginary. She needed to find her teammates before anything more went down.

"I wasn't. Owed you for the bar, after all," she said. Her eyes flickered away towards the entrance of the school. "I should get going soon. Almost done?"
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Pencils sharpened to a fine point. She took a deep breath, choked a little on dust and pencil shavings, and broke into a coughing fit.

Fuck this.

She grabbed onto a nearby desk, steadied herself, forced herself to calm down and breathe.

"Yeah," she wheezed. "Gonna...look for a pen, too. Don't want these to run out." She nodded, her mind racing as her chest gradually relaxed. "Y-you should go. B-but hold on just a sec."

She started writing something on the paper. "Look," she said, as she wrote. "I...I think you've got a better shot at getting out of here then me. If...if you make it, give this to my folks." She tore the paper out, took one quick look around the room, and handed it to Lauren. "Please."

But the paper read, These collars are micced. If you ever think about escaping, don't say it out loud. Keep it to yourself. Me, I'm gonna try. You want to join me, we can meet up later.
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V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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