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Calamity
Topic Started: Jul 26 2013, 10:15 PM (1,743 Views)
Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Theodore Fletcher's story continues from Interstice of Time))

Theo found himself, hours later, in the duck pond, thoroughly exhausted, half-starved, filthy, and emotionally drained. He might've just escaped a death sentence, for all he knew but at the same time this couldn't go on.

He sat down on a park bench, and watched as the sun began to set over the water. He needed food, or he could legitimately starve, especially if nobody was willing to share with a killer.

Which of course was highly unlikely.

Theo felt nauseated, and it wasn't just because he hadn't eaten in hours; he was a murderer, a genuine killer of two people. On one hand, if he was the last one standing, he'd go home. On the other, did he really deserve it? A two-time killer. Twice.

Theo shook his head, and sighed. He needed a miracle at this point if he was going to eat tonight.
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
(Xavier Contel continued from The Usual Suspects)

For some reason, the park felt ideal to Xavier.

Somewhere in the midst of his confusion, his doubt, and his fear, the park put him at ease. Things felt almost normal here. A little untended to, sure, but he preferred it when nature was allowed to run its course, with only trace signs of man's influence. It was relaxing.

Then again, he wasn't supposed to be relaxing. He was supposed to be helping.

He took off his hat and ran a hand through greasy black hair, frowning up at the sky. One girl prevented from hurting anyone. And that just for a day. God, what a miserable legacy.

Then he came upon the duck pond. And upon Theo Fletcher, standing not 10 feet away. He recognized Theo at once. They'd played DnD together before, when Xavier had been trying to play a dual-wielding paladin badass.

So he was aware of the guy. And aware that his name had surfaced on the announcements. Twice.

"Don't move," Xavier said, drawing his gun and pointing it before he had time to think.
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Oh fuck why.

Theo whipped around to see Xavier. He knew Xavier from doing a few tabletop games together, but they'd never been particularly friendly outside of that. He was pretty sure Xavier wasn't a killer.

But he also knew that he was probably going to try and kill him anyways. Theo wondered if some crazy person, somewhere, was claiming to channel Gabby's spirit and sending legions of vigilantes after him.

Theo stood, and held his hands up as Xavier pointed a large gun at him. "Okay, dude, let's...let's just stay calm and talk about this. Do you really feel able to shoot someone in cold blood like this? It isn't easy, and it'll haunt you, trust me."

Theo stepped around the bench, and stood roughly 10 feet from Xavier. He did not want to end up dead from this, and while he didn't want this to get too violent, he needed to be prepared to defend himself as quickly as possible.
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"I said don't move!" Xavier barked, but this time he couldn't conceal the tremor in his voice. Yesterday SotF had been an abstraction--in spite of that shotgun, he'd seen no dead. Today, he knew his friends were killing each other. Worse, he was speaking with one of the killers.

But wasn't Theo right? Could Xavier really shoot him down in cold blood like this?

Can I shoot anyone?

There was a long silence.

"Why did you..." Xavier started. "W-why did you kill them?"
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Theo paused for a moment. Xavier's question was one he'd had all day. Why did he murder two people? Why had he done as they wanted him to, and given in and killed people, two innocent students his age? Why?

"Okay, uh, Xavier? We can talk, just.. just put, put the gun down, it makes it kind of hard to focus, y'know? I've had a gun pointed at me before, and I guess now, and it's really fucking stressful."

Theo gazed at Xavier. What was running through the other boy's head? Was he still thinking of shooting him? Theo wasn't sure how accurate Xavier would be, but the closeness of them really made Theo concerned. It'd be hard to miss him at this range.

"Kay, so if you could just set the gun down on the ground, I can explain what happened. You can keep it by your feet, if you want."
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Xavier hesitated.

This boy had killed two people. Faces Xavier had seen in the halls. Now they would never blink, or smile, or stare blindly ahead beneath fluorescent lights. All that life, gone. All those stories, gone.

Why?

Xavier lowered his gun, though he did not put it down.

"Why?" he asked again.
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"Why?" Theo repeated.

Theo couldn't answer. He really didn't know.

"Okay, just give me a sec." Theo quickly checked the distance between the two of them.Theo had no idea if he could reach Xavier before he fired, and a shot at close range would probably not miss.

Theo had seen bullet wounds far too often to imagine he'd survive a close-range gunshot blast from that particular handgun.

Theo kept his hands raised, and he stared at Xavier square in the face. "I thought I had to, but I didn't. I shouldn't have killed Gabby or Dan, and I will regret that until the day I die."

Theo paused. "But I don't want today to be that day, and I don't think you do, either. So if you give me a chance, I can make it up to them."
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Well. At least he was being honest.

Xavier stared at the other boy for a moment. Tense face, but unflinching. Owning to his deed. That was worth something, wasn't it?

He's a killer.

Yeah, but how? Had there been a fight that had gone wrong? Had he bought into the game's faulty logic? What would be the point of killing him, monstrous as he was?

He was a Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a Nico Robin, an Itachi. His sins didn't necessarily mean he couldn't be redeemed.

Besides, he wasn't the only killer.

"Okay," Xavier said, nodding. "Then you'll come with me." He jerked his head out to the island. "You'll show them that even if they go wrong, they can come back. You'll prove you can make amends." He smiled shakily, his insides aching with the gladness that he wouldn't have to kill this boy.

"Okay?"
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((GMing of Xavier Contel approved by his handler))

Theo desperately wanted to follow Xavier. He wanted to be accepted, and to somehow wage a fight with the terrorists and win and go home and recover from this awful situation and redeem himself to the Parker and Liu family. He wanted things to end like an anime, like a Pokémon game, where good triumphed over evil.

But Theo knew better.

This was reality, and in reality morals had no say in who was victorious. In real life, the winners were the smartest, the cleverest, the strongest, the wisest, most prepared

the most ruthless.


When Xavier turned, Theo made his move. His goal; get Xavier's gun and bag and make a break for it. He lunged forward, crossing the distance in a second and full-force tackling Xavier, and sending them both slamming to the ground.

Theo didn't know where the gun was.
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
And Theo gave in.

Wasn't that right? Wasn't that the way it should be? The sinner repenting his sin? No doubt now they'd travel together, the lawful good paladin and his chaotic good charge, each teaching the other so much along the way. They'd laugh, they'd love, they'd learn.

So why did Xavier feel sick inside? Why did he feel even worse than he had on hearing the Announcements.

When Theo hit him from behind, Xavier felt a lot of things. Pain. Betrayal. Doubt. Guilt. Shock. But above this electric mixture bubbling in the pit of his stomach, he felt one clear emotion.

Relief.

Theo as a Nicholas D. Wolfwood was complicated. Theo as the sinner on the path of redemption, that was hard. Xavier had a sudden intense feeling for just how special a Ruroni Kenshin or Vash had to be, to trust such murderers to really change. God, how difficult was forgiveness, trust, redemption.

When Theo hit, the little nagging voice in Xavier's head-the one that wanted to shoot Stacy and Theo--was able to win out. And for a brief, beautiful instant, Xavier knew what it was to give into anger and unleash pain.

He was twisting already as the two fell (gun knocked from his hand, who knew where). When they hit the ground, Xavier already had his hands around Theo's throat. No time for thought. No time for doubt.

He'd been training for over a year now, but he didn't realize what that had done for him until he kicked out with such violence that Theo was knocked to one side. Both scrambled to their feet at once, and Theo tried to tackle Xavier again: Xavier socked him in the face so that his knuckles stung, then punched him in the stomach. Such beautiful pain on Theo's face, such hurt, such shock. God, this was violence? This was vengeance?

How could you ever turn aside, when it felt so good.

One more hammering punch, and Theo went sprawling to the ground.
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Hands around his throat.

"Umph" as he was kicked in the chest.

Gasping for air as he tried to struggle to his feet.

A tiny little gasp as a strike to his nose, he felt the blood running down his chin.

"uhn" as another blow, right to the gut, sent Theo wobbling, and one last hit to his chin sent Theo slumping to the ground.

He blacked out for a moment.

A second later, Theo was conscious, awake, aware, but terrified. He hadn't realized Xavier was a fucking MMA fighter, and he had nothing he could do to fight him.

A glint of metal just a couple feet away. Xavier's handgun, tucked just barely out of sight from above under a nearby bush. Theo scrabbled towards it, dragging himself over towards the gun.

He rolled over and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened, so now Theo had to struggle with the safety for a split second before he could fire.

Potentially a fatal error.
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
As Theo sprawled on the ground, Xavier was already following, moving faster than he'd realized was possible, fueled by a rage so intense it obliterated thought. Then Theo rolled, and from mere feet away, he fired.

From Theo's perspective, nothing changed. Xavier kept changing.

But in that instant Xavier knew a feeling he'd never felt before.

Doom.

Like the sense that a test you weren't ready for was looming on the horizon. Like realizing just how unprepared you were for something you weren't taking seriously--a school project, or a game. Like that look in his father's eyes, quietly judging him no matter what he did.

Doom.

He wasn't in pain, peculiarly enough, but he realized how hollow that sense was. He'd once twisted his ankle rather badly trying to do a dodge roll in his basement, and it had been several seconds before it hurt. It felt like that now--a hollow sense in his gut.

But it was the totality of that hollowness that scared him. A sense that it would grow, and grow, and grow, until there was nothing left.

So. Killed. Killed before he'd saved anyone or done anything. How dreadfully stupid.

Time was moving slowly now, so slow it seemed to crawl by. He had been in midstep when he'd charged Theo, closing the gap between them. He'd yet to put his foot down, in the space of all this thinking. Maybe that was the inspiration for comics--these fragile moments of action when everything felt grotesquely intense, when thoughts could last for years and a conversation for a lifetime.

Not that a lifetime meant much. Not now.

Theo had his gun. Theo had never meant to repent, or change, or evolve. Theo had always intended to be a monster. He was a villain, not an anti-hero.

So. Xavier Contel. Wannabe hero who hasn't saved a single person. Are you going to let him keep your gun?

He'll kill again. He's already killed three times. You may be stupid, but are you so god damn irresponsible that you're gonna let other people die for your mistakes?

Like I have a choice.

You do have a choice. You chose to trust. Your trust was a mistake. You chose to believe you could live like Vash the Stampede, but that's not how the world works, especially not for a kid as stupid and weak as you. But you can't let him have that gun. You can't.

What's the alternative?

Take it from him.

How?

Go for it. Before the pain hits. And if the pain hits, ignore the pain.

Stupid stupid stupid. This is real life. We already saw what living like fiction does.

So do it again. Live like fiction. Strain credibility. Defy belief. Be exactly as strong and crazy as you seem. Live, just for a moment, like the laws of this stupid fucking reality don't apply to you.

I am the man who will be pirate king

And mine is the drill that will pierce the heavens.


He finished his step, and then lunged into a tackle before Theo had time to fire again.

The gun went flying, landing with a skid right at the edge of the pond. Theo was already scrambling after it, but Xavier grabbed him by the shirt, twisted, and flung him in the opposite direction. And when he scrambled back, Xavier planted himself, fists in the air, hat bouncing in the wind, and bellowed at the top of his lungs, roared like a god damn lion. roared like Zhang Fei before Cao Cao's army, roared like Gandalf before the Balrog.

You shall not fucking pass!

And then he began to charge Theo again.
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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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Espi
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Theo saw the bullet enter Xavier's torso, but he didn't have time to process it before he was flung to the ground. He saw the gun spin away, towards a nearby pond. Theo scrabbled towards it, dragging himself over towards the gun.

Unfortunately, Xavier grabbed him and bodily flung him away, and Theo found himself laying on the ground , a few feet from the bench where what seemed like a second ago he'd been sitting peacefully.

Theo's head struck a rock, and his vision blurred as the burst of pain bursted in the back of his head, and he blinked woozily and tried to sit up but was too dizzy.

He rolled onto his stomach and tried to pick himself up, barely even aware of the other boy coming after him, at this point all he wanted was to crawl away and die, because his entire body ached and his hair was sticky with blood and he could barely even move.

He didn't want to die. Not like this.

That was what gave Theo enough strength to push himself to his feet, and, clutching his gut and blinking away pained tears, hobble away.

Xavier must not have given chase. Theo figured he knew why.

((Theodore Fletcher's story continues elsewhere))
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Grim Wolf
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
As the boy scrambled away, Xavier roared again, louder this time, roared so that his throat burned and his lungs ached, flung his arms wide and stretched his chest and yelled with everything he had, 'til he was short on breath. Theo ran.

For the fragile instant before he breathed in, Xavier felt invulnerable. His roar resounded off the trees, surrounding him in his sound. This was what it meant to be larger than life, to stand a hundred feet tall.

And then he breathed in, and that feeling was gone as though it had never been.

He placed a hand against his stomach, pulsing with harsh beats of agony. Liquid red dribbled out, and he staggered away, hoping Theo wouldn't come back.

So much pain, coursing through his veins along with his blood. He felt a choking in his throat like vomit and struggled against it, then heaved a little; something wet and hot dribbled out along his lip. He reached up and wiped at it with the back one one hand; it, too, came away red.

Seen enough movies to know what that means.

Still, step by staggering step, he returned to his gun. Grabbed it with one hand even as he tried to stem the tide of blood with the other.

Christ, he hurt. Worse than he could. Worse than he could ever imagined.

D-didn't save aynone. C-couldn't even save me.

He sank slowly to the same bench Theo had been sitting on, panting. His Dave Strider shirt was now red all over.

T-t-too bad. Q-quest bed...c-coulda...God...Tier...

So much pain.
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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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Solitair
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Where modesty's ill manners, 'tis but fit that impudence and malice pass for wit.
[ *  *  *  * ]
((Arthur Wells continued from The Usual Suspects))

"XAVIER!"

Arthur let out a horrified scream when he saw what became of his first real friend he ever found on the island. All this time while he kept on trudging after Xavier's trail, he kept telling himself that his absence didn't matter. What did an out-of-shape dork like him have to offer? What difference did his absence make, except keeping one more body off the pile? But all of those feelings, those rationalizations, vanished the instant he saw Xavier's bloody body.

He ran up to Xavier and kneeled down next to the bench he was dying on, looking over the injury in a panic. First aid first aid first aid! His fingers fumbled the zipper on his daypack before opening it and pulling out the first aid kit. Right, now he could open it... and...

Tears came to his eyes when he realized that he couldn't think of any way to save him. He could see blood glowing out of the wound to the gut, and even the worst working knowledge of anatomy could tell that people didn't come back from that. "Xavier, I'm sorry," he said, choking out words between sobs. "I can't even... I couldn't do shit. I had to get another two hours of sleep while you died."

He leaned forward and buried his face in his hands, holding back even more tears. There might as well have been steam coming off his face for how hot and flushed it was.
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