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Thirteen Steps; Open! :3
Topic Started: Aug 13 2016, 09:49 PM (1,242 Views)
dmboogie
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Harold Porter is filled with Determination))

"Didn't think you were the type to piss yourself, Ty," Harold called from the doorway.

It was obvious what he had actually done, of course, and was one of the only proper responses to Danya's propaganda. Harold had discarded his immediately, though it lacked Ty's visceral flair. Still, friendly insults were a key part of the wrestlebro experience, and talking like nothing had changed was just another subtle way to fight back against Evil.

The asylum was hard to miss. It had drawn Harold's eye as soon as he had seen it in the map, and the building proper had been equally impressive. Rotted through as it was, it still had a certain dignity about it had compelled Harold to investigate. After all, it had likely had the same effect on everyone else who saw it, making a good place to find people, for better or worse. Thankfully, "better" had won out in the end.

Though he hadn't actively been looking for them, Harold knew that out of all the students on the island, he could trust any of the other members of the wrestling team. He hadn't expected to find one so soon, but he supposed something had to go right eventually, even on such a horrific day. Ty especially was one of the toughest members on the team.

"Seriously, though. It's good to see you, man." If only it had been under happier circumstances.
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dmboogie
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Harold nodded. Ty's implication was clear enough. You'd have to be a literal corpse to miss the subtext there, really. Okay, that was an unfortunate thought. Harold's been up for a while, but it looked like Ty had woken up in this room. It was obviously morning, but without a watch or his phone that was all Harold could tell.

If people had woken up even earlier than Harold had, could some of his classmates already be dead? Maybe someone feeling particularly opportunistic had stumbled across a sleeping classmate and decided to make the most of it. Maybe they'd wanted to get used to murdering their fellow human beings on a target that wouldn't resist. Harold knew he couldn't waste his worry on hypotheticals, knew he couldn't have done anything even if that had actually happened. It still stung.

"I'm fine. Woke up. Saw a big building. Thought I'd check it out. Here I am." Harold sighed. "Where do we even go from here, man?"
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dmboogie
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"Don't gimme any of that shit, Ty. You shouldn't have to be caught up in any of 'that', either," Harold said, dramatic air quotes making it clear what he thought about Ty's implication.

Being on the wrestling team together had generally kept Harold away from Ty's explosive side, but he wasn't blind to the fact that he had hurt people in the past. Maybe not physically, ever since he'd joined the team, but violent shouting and threats were almost just as bad. Sticks and stones break your bones, words slip between your ribcage like a knife and cut you even deeper. He couldn't blame anyone who still held a grudge, even after all the years that had passed.

Ty had changed, though. He was making an honest, earnest effort to make up for what he'd done, to be a better man. Everyone deserved at least the offer of second chance, and Ty was making the most of his. The people he had hurt obviously had no obligation to forgive him, and their feelings were no less valid, but to actively seek revenge? To hunt and kill someone for a past they were already paying the debt for? Harold couldn't allow that.

"You know I can take care of myself. I know you can take care of yourself. Sticking together and watching each other's backs is the obvious thing to do, yeah?" Harold was half-tempted to plop down in one of the circled seats, make it clear he wasn't going anywhere, but there was something weirdly ominous about the way they were arranged. 'Hi, I'm Harold, and I'm going to die.' 'Hi, Harry,' he could almost hear. It'd be best to leave this room sooner rather than later.
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Things couldn't ever stay simple for long, could they? Well, whoever was knocking clearly had a compelling reason to do so, and Harold felt obligated to at least hear them out. "Dunno who this is, but they know we're here. If they wanted to catch us by surprise, they coulda just waited outside until we left. Only one door, after all," Harold muttered quietly to Ty. 'Catch us by surprise' was a rather diplomatic way to word 'shoot us and steal our bags', but Harold preferred to avoid assuming the worst of strangers.

There was a fine line between tentative trust and willfully putting blinders on yourself, though. Might not be the nicest thing to do, but you had to take precautions to protect yourself and the people you care for. Harold picked up Ty's sword, weighing it in his hands. He didn't have a clue how to actually use it in a fight, and he'd honestly probably be better off just using his fists, but image was what mattered here. He didn't want to think that he was just throwing his weight and imposing appearance around, but that was exactly what he was doing. Hopefully all in the service of peace.

It was weird how simply designating something a weapon was enough to completely change your perception of it, though. You can stab someone with a cooking knife, bash a head in with a dumbbell, but that wasn't their purpose. Harold shuddered. Even if it was ultimately self defense, he didn't want anyone's deaths on his conscience. He couldn't let the fact that he was armed bias his planning.

"Hey there," Harold called at their mysterious visitor. "Feel free to come in, but for everyone's safety, please check any weapons at the door. We don't want a fight, alright?" He kept Ty's sword at his side. Obviously present, but not actively threatening.
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Harold flinched as Lizzie scrambled into the room, grip tightening on the sword as he wondered for just a moment if their lives were in danger, if he had to swing now to prevent himself or Ty from getting hurt. It was only a moment, thankfully, then reason won out and he exhaled and realized that Lizzie was running away, not charging. She was (apparently) unarmed, and could probably be safely considered part of "us", if you tried to draw a line between the people hiding inside the room and the world of shadowy figures roaming outside.

It'd be easy to leave it at that, so naturally Harold couldn't. Everyone was worked up, now, himself included. If Lizzie or the person outside had any bad intentions, things could go real bad, real quick. What he needed to do was stay calm, breathe, exhale. Think about how to de-escalate the situation. Once you have to resort to violence, there's no going back, so it's best to take all the time in the world to get to that point. Harold glanced at Ty, by the door. Worst comes to worst, he'd have Harold's back if things went south.

Well, they wouldn't get anywhere all separated like this, calling back and forth through the doorway. It's a whole lot easier to mistrust a disembodied voice than a fellow human being you're face to face with. Harold'd have to remedy that. All else failed, he'd be the first line of defense, or at least the canary in a coal mine.

He stepped out into the hallway, sword by his side. Astrid was a few feet away from the door, easy to pick out of a crowd as ever. Harold didn't know her, but it's hard to miss a girl with an eyepatch, especially when she was almost as tall as him. It was harder to miss the gun she was aiming at the ceiling. "Hey. If you're sticking around, I think we'd all feel a bit more comfortable if you put that away," Harold called out, locking eyes with her. The way Astrid held her gun made it look like she didn't want a fight, but it'd be all too easy for her to adjust her grip and pull that trigger if she wanted to. Harold doubted he'd be able to react in time, not without being in a state where he'd jump her for any sudden movements. He'd also be a hard target to miss, given his size and their proximity. "If you don't wanna do that, that's fine, I'll just close this door and you can go on your way, alright?"
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Harold nodded to Astrid as she stowed away her gun. It'd be unreasonable to ask her to completely disarm herself, and this way she'd be unable to catch anyone inside the room by surprise. Worst came to worst and another, less amicable intruder burst in, Astrid'd probably be the one best-equipped to defend everyone. Well, assuming she didn't just slip outside in the chaos; Harold didn't exactly peg her as the altruistic type. That was probably unfair, but Harold hoped regardless that she wouldn't have to prove herself either way; and they could all just peacefully go on with their lives.

He walked into the room just ahead of Astrid, shot Ty a thumbs up to reaffirm that everything was cool. Harold gladly set the sword back down by Ty's pack where he had found it. There'd be an obvious imbalance of power in the room so long as he carried it, and it made him nervous besides.

Lizzie seemed to have thankfully settled down a bit, in that she was now standing next to Ty without flinching. Harold wasn't exactly sure he got her rationale for stopping by, and he didn't see what about his conversation with Ty had been noteworthy at all, but he guessed he should just be glad for the vote of confidence. Back to the conversation at hand.

"I dunno, Ty. I mean, technically speaking, we are on a debate team. We're just emphatically arguing that our opponent's body should be pinned down against the mat instead of like, talking about gun control," Harold said with a shrug.
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Whoops. 'Gun Control' had been a bit on-the-nose there, though Harold supposed it was relevant in a sort of darkly comedic way. The future would be much brighter if they could just, like, use a giant magnet to collect all the guns on the island. Actually, no, bad idea; their collars and attached bodies would be dragged along for the ride too.

Astrid had made herself at home while they'd been talking, seating herself at the 'head' of the room, so to speak. She seemed relaxed, leaning back in her chair like that. Almost looked like she was a judge, presiding over their discussion. Weird to see, but it made sense. She was the one with the gun, after all.

Lizzie had gotten straight to the point with her question to all who had gathered at the Murder-ees Anonymous meeting, and Astrid had broken her silence as well. Subject matter aside, Harold found it almost funny how transparently they had worded their questions. Both obviously had an expectation of a "right" answer, both already knew what they wanted to hear. Well, you couldn't get through life without disappointing someone.

"Seems like you're making some pretty big assumptions yourself, Astrid," Harold said with a shrug. "Can't say I've ever gotten along with people who define 'intelligent' as 'agreeing with me', 'specially if you're trying to argue that obviously we should all be bashing each other's heads in right now. To answer your question, Lizzie - no, I'm sure as heck not planning to kill anyone. I'm not sayin' I'm gonna just lay down and die, but trust me, there're plenty of ways to defend yourself without getting anyone killed; not to mention, y'know, using my words." Maybe that wasn't the most eloquent expression of the benefits of clear communication, but whatever, Harold was getting annoyed.

"If anyone ends up dead because of me, it'll be because I messed up, plain and simple."
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Harold clenched his fists, glaring at Astrid. Had to take a few deep breaths to stop himself from yelling at her about her sheer callousness. The hardest part? She wasn't wrong, not entirely. Everything she said had been questions he'd been trying to avoid thinking about.

Harold didn't want to die, but he knew he couldn't kill. He couldn't kill, but he couldn't let anyone get killed in front of him, either. The only way out without killing or being killed was escaping, but Harold didn't have a clue where to even start with that without getting his head exploded.

In the end, the best he could hope for was to try and live in a way he wouldn't regret for however many remaining days he had. Harold had already made his decision, hadn't he? Back when he first woke up? All that mattered was figuring out "the right thing" to do, and rolling with that for as long as could. Someone had to do it, try and change the narrative away from Evil's vision of "humans are inherently cruel and evil" back towards the reality of "humanity can always light a candle in the darkness."

Much as sometimes wished otherwise, Harold wasn't a superhero. He couldn't fix this. Even his greatest strength, his body, just served to make him more "fit" in Evil's eyes. He couldn't let that discourage him, though. Harold had his morals, had an idea of what justice meant. Everything else was just noise. If there's only one outcome you can accept, that's what you need to work towards, to hell with practicality and mortality.

People like Astrid - their philosophy infuriated Harold, but he couldn't hate them, not now. Astrid hadn't actually done anything yet, had she? On the surface, she'd wholly accepted Evil's game, had already decided that her life mattered to her than anything else; but those were just words. She could be telling the truth, could just be trying to cope. Harold didn't know her well enough to try and decide which was more likely - but he couldn't take action against her now for something she might do it the future.

In any case, it was clear Astrid wasn't the type to listen to moralistic sermons on the inherent value of human life. Whether she damned herself or had a change of heart; it'd ultimately be up to her. It was pointless for Harold to try and intervene.

"Sure, right. You're the only one who can't die yet. Whatever helps you sleep at night," Harold said bitterly, looking away from Astrid and turning to face Ty. Even if he couldn't hate Astrid, her self-centeredness still irritated him. His words were petty and unproductive, and in an ideal world he'd have the patience to try and come up with a more diplomatic response, but right now Harold just wanted to get away from her. "Let's go, Ty. You probably shouldn't stay here either, Lizzie."

He left.

((Harold Porter doesn't want to hear any more of this.))
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