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白色雑音; White Noise; Open
Topic Started: Sep 24 2016, 12:03 AM (1,682 Views)
dmboogie
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A Delicate Machine
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Asha Sur's arriving from another fragment of time.))

Alas, the only tower that could be found was nothing but a skeleton, and not even in a fun way. After Asha had arbitrarily lead her group towards the staff area in hopes of finding something or someone of interest by the radio tower, she had dismissed the small, sad building next to the tower with a glance. From the looks of it, it'd be cramped if they had tried to fit the three of them in it, and Wayne had already expressed a desire to avoid being closed in.

The bell tower that could be seen across the island had looked suitably impressive and gothic for Asha's tastes, but neither of her companions seemed particularly keen on getting any closer to the asylum. A pity, Asha would have loved to get a fallen angel's eye view of the island. Maybe ring the bell, just for the hell of it. Judging by the tolls she had heard earlier in the day, she wasn't the only one with that particular aspiration. Maybe they were fans of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, too. She hummed Hellfire as she walked.

It may not have been a terrifying, eternal monolith, but the library seemed like the next-best place to be. Asha had always found some comfort in a library's strict, quiet dignity, and she suspected most others felt the same way. Besides, she was sure her class had a bunch of shy bookworms who probably weren't taking the whole "death" thing very well, and where better to help them than in their natural habitat? She entered the building, not loudly, but not trying to hide her presence, either. Glanced around once she was inside, was slightly let down by the absence of a literature convention. The building seemed cozy enough, at least.

"Y'know, I'm surprised no one else is here. This is a pretty good spot for a nap," Asha said, settling down on one of the sofas.
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"No thanks. It'd be a waste of a good mood if I went to sleep right now!"

Asha grinned at Dot's obvious happiness. When she'd realized that no one else was in the library, Asha had been half-tempted to write it off and move on, try to find a more populated area of people who needed help. Now, though, she was fine with staying for a while. Dot's well-being was just as important as everyone else's, after all. Wayne, as always, was harder to read, but it didn't seem like he was itching for a change in scenery, either.

She was about to start lounging on the surprisingly comfortable couch when she heard the unmistakable sound of a hiccup, far enough away that it couldn't have come from any of them. Asha started a bit, sitting upright. She glanced at Wayne and Dot, shrugged, then hopped up from the couch and started investigating. Maybe their secret new friend had a good reason for wanting to stay hidden, and Asha was loath to drag them out into the light if she didn't have to, but she couldn't very well let the others worry about being watched. She'd check out the scene, nothing more.

It didn't take long for her to find Nancy's nook, and Asha suddenly had a whole lot of new information to take in all at once. Nancy herself, a nice girl with a larger-than-life personality that fear seemed to have made to fold in on itself. The blood that stained her; far, far too much for all of it to be Nancy's. Asha wasn't sure it would be better if it had been hers. And oh, the pretty little hatchet, gripped by tight hands that elegantly solved the mystery of where all that blood had come from.

Asha felt a flash of fear, the same she had felt but for a moment when Alex had first run up to her. She fought it back. Crouched down so she was at eye level with Nancy, flashed a sympathetic smile.

"Hey, you. Looks like you've had some trouble. It's okay, now!" Asha said, the warmth in her voice miraculously holding out as she held eye contact with Nancy, kept herself from flickering her gaze back and forth from the hatchet. It was all up to Nancy, now.
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Asha hadn't expected Dot and Wayne to follow so closely, but there they were behind her, backing up her words. Asha appreciated it, but their proximity worried her a bit. Nancy was already cornered, and if she felt they were ganging up on her, that'd only stress her out even more. It'd probably be more suspicious to send them away now, though.

"I won't come any closer."

Asha shifted her position, settling down so she was sitting against the wall, head turned to face Nancy. Put her arms around her knees, both for comfort and to make it clear she wasn't holding anything frightening, other than the natural human potential to wring the life from someone's neck with flesh and bone alone. "You don't look like you wanna be alone, though; so I'm not gonna leave unless you ask me to." It hurt, to sit and watch Nancy break down and cry right in front of her; but even disregarding the hatchet, Asha wasn't gonna ignore her personal boundaries for a hug; no matter how needed it seemed.

All Asha could do was be present, until Nancy was willing to open up more or she explicitly told them to go. Or until she decided to try and split Asha's head open, but that wasn't worth considering, not when Nancy was clearly suffering.

Whatever she had done, whoever she'd... well, considering the looks of things, whoever she'd killed, that was all in the past. Corpses couldn't feel any pain. The dead were rotting and gone and free, and Nancy was alive and here and hurt. That's all that really mattered. Asha wasn't a judge, after all, she didn't have any interest in figuring out what had happened, or who was to blame for it all. Not like it was hard to puzzle out the answer to that one, anyway. Especially now, Asha was sure there was a camera nearby, capturing every guilty tear spilled. What a show.

"Your hair's really pretty, by the way," Asha said. It never, ever hurt to compliment someone, and Asha really did like the shade of blue her hair was. Hopefully the contextual inappropriateness of it would confuse Nancy enough to calm her down a bit.
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Nancy's reaction was, well, fair. Asha had hoped for the best, but she supposed that not everyone was as keen on being complimented by strange goth girls as she would be. No one had been hurt, at least, so they could chalk that whole mess up as a draw.

Oh, it would have been so easily for her to take a parting shot, too. One straight to Asha's forehead, thud, wouldn't even need to get up for that one. The sudden brutality of it would have likely given Nancy ample time to wrench the axehead free with a sickening splut, leaving Asha's corpse slumped lifeless against the wall. Dot probably wouldn't have handled that well at all, so another whack or two for her would get the job done without much fuss. Wayne, he was more of a wildcard. Asha was still never quite sure how he was holding up. The outcome there could be left up to artistic interpretation.

Thankfully, that beautiful carnage stayed nothing but a thought. Asha had no real taste for gore, but the visceral words that came with it were oh-so-appealing to spice up a conversation. Back in reality, Asha looked towards her friends, sighed in relief. Felt the tension she'd been ignoring slip away. Things could have gone poorly, to say the least.

Risking herself, well, that was just came with the territory, didn't it? Asha didn't have any regrets there. Dot and Wayne, though? Asha hadn't watched their backs at all, hadn't made sure they were ready for whatever pain might have launched itself at them. She'd done a disservice to Nancy, too. She was out in the harsh sunlight again, where she could easily get hurt or worse, hurt again. Asha didn't feel guilty, personal responsibility was a thing, but still. She could've done better, picked her words more carefully. She would do better next time.

In the end, they all agreed that Wayne's plan sounded like a good idea; and that they'd stay in the library for the rest of the night. They knew it was empty, now; and the couches provided a legitimate place to sleep, besides. Asha volunteered to take first watch. She still felt fine, and she had to make sure she didn't neglect the comfort of the people right in front of her, either.

Time passed. It was hard to judge how much, but Asha had wanted to make sure she saw the moon, in case anything went south while she was sleeping. Not full, unfortunately, but it still comforted her. When they were all dead, when SOTF faded to just a chapter in a history book and nature finished reclaiming her islands, the moon would still be the same. Humans really were lucky bastards, to be able to exist at the same time as such an ethereal, timeless beauty. Not eternal, of course, but close enough for their short purposes.

Asha looked at her sleeping companions. Marveled at how vulnerable the sleeping human form was. Considered how easy it'd be for her to cut their dreams into ribbons, and was grateful for the person she was; to be able to let such a thought pass her by without a fight, without a tug of temptation.

When it was finally Dot's turn to stand guard (Asha had held out for as long as she could) Asha woke her friend gently. When she was up, Asha gave her a long, firm hug before plopping down onto her couch.

She faintly hoped that she would dream of a masquerade of smiling horrors, of nightmares that had forgotten their original purpose and had gone soft around the edges but still did their best.
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"Wha- fuck- what?" Asha mumbled as she jolted upright, almost falling off the couch. She blearily glanced around the pitch-black room, but wasn't able to make anything out. "Dot? Wayne?" What happened?" She asked. No reply, except for an incoherent murmur close by. Asha looked and saw Dorothy on the couch where Wayne had been sleeping. She shifted around a bit, then went still, snoring faintly. Asha couldn't help but smile a bit at how deep of a sleeper she was, more than a little envious. Stormy weather would be Asha's absolute favorite, if she wasn't woken up by every ominous roar from the heavens.

But no, it wasn't thunder that had woken her up today; there wasn't any rain. What happened, then? If Dorothy was asleep, then that meant it was Wayne's turn at watch, right? "Hey? Wayne?" Asha called out. Again, the only sound she heard was Dot's quiet, steady breathing. Asha was starting to feel a bit uneasy, but since neither she nor Dot were dead yet (as for as she could tell), there wouldn't be any harm in taking a moment to let her eyes adjust to avoid blindly stumbling into shit.

It was pretty obvious even before she stood up to have a look around that Wayne was no longer in the room. Any hope she'd had that he'd just gone out to take a piss or something vanished when she looked to the corner where they'd piled up their three bags and saw that only one remained. Dot's, on closer inspection.

Oh, how she hated liars.

Asha had never forced Wayne to follow her. Had never asked him to agree with her. Had never asked him to endanger himself alongside her. Had thought his vague nods to be a sign of perfectly understandable reservations. Wayne could have left at any time he wanted. They had trusted him, goddammit, literally trusted him with their lives as they slept. Sure, he'd had the decency to let the door hit him on the way out loud enough to wake Asha up, but what if she'd been as heavy a sleeper as Dot? It was a thoroughly half-assed move to try and make things better, nothing more.

Hell, since they were all still gonna die, Wayne was worse than a murderer, in Asha's mind. If you killed someone, bam, they were dead. It'd still agonize the people they loved, of course, but by definition a corpse couldn't be hurt anymore. Stealing someone's supplies wouldn't kill them, no. All it'd do was make sure that when they died, they'd be miserable; minds occupied by parched throats and empty bellies, lack of consumption consuming their entire being. It was actively robbing them of any peace they could have found before the end.

Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything but curse Wayne's name in silence. Dorothy was still sleeping soundly, and Asha was loath to confront her with this new betrayal any sooner than she had to. She was too pissed to sleep, anyway. She resolved to protect Dot's peace for as long as she could, until the harsh light of day arrived to wake her and drag the undeniable truth in front of her face.

Asha found the most uncomfortable chair she could, stationing herself right next to Dorothy's couch. She pulled out her taser, suddenly very grateful that she hadn't stored it in her bag like she'd been initially tempted. Still, all its cartridges were gone. She only had one shot. It was better this way, probably. Now she wouldn't be tempted to use it; to unnecessarily panic and cause pain. It'd be a last resort, a desperate way to protect the people she loved.

Hours passed. Asha slowly realized hadn't slept as well as she had initially hoped. She had to be strong for Dot, though.

Morning found her slumped in her chair, dozing; taser dangling from her limp hand.
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Asha was never exactly happy to see the morning's light, even under normal circumstances. Night was so much more lovely, quiet and soft and full of teeth while day was harsh and inescapable. Admittedly, she was probably just biased because of how often her alarm before school had jarred her out of a delightfully twisted dreamscape.

Now, though, the sun streaming through the library windows filled her with a sudden panic, once she had woken up enough to comprehend what it meant. She'd fucked up, betrayed Dorothy's trust in her. Not in such a direct way as Wayne had, no; but it was still a failure. By pushing herself to try and give Dot some extra peace, Asha had put her in a danger. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad, dying in their sleep. No fear, no suffering, and holy shit did Asha not want to ride that train of thought.

Instead she quickly turned behind her, eyes glancing past Isabel, and confirmed that Dot was still where Asha had left her, still snoring. She sighed, relieved. She did a double-take. She shrieked and recoiled, falling out of her chair. She scrambled to her feet, instinctively pointing her taser, before fully recognizing Isabel's face. "Holy- holy jesus. Fuck," Asha stammered, lowering her taser and sinking back down onto the chair. "How - goddammit, how fucking long have you been here, Iz?"

That'd been a classic horror move right there; sitting still and just watching until someone finally got around to noticing you. Asha was impressed, despite her own racing heart. She wasn't a jumpscare kinda girl, but christ, she couldn't deny the effectiveness of that one. Her brain started to process the whole scene, now that the initial shock of discovering that someone had been watching her sleep for god-knows-how-long had worn off.

First, most obviously, Isabel and her (cute) pink sweater were stained with blood, even worse than Nancy had been. Same went for the sword and halberd she had with her, and also holy shit she was just sort of casually holding on to a bloodstained sword and halberd. The weirdest thing was that honestly, Asha wasn't surprised at all.

She'd never liked Isabel, even after all those years of suffering for their art together. Shit, Asha considered everyone else on the team among her closest friends, and she felt for Isabel in a general sense because christ her parents were dicks, (bringing back uncomfortable memories of Asha's own mother during middle school) but in the end, the girl was a type of person Asha despised the most: a petty bully. Sure, she'd never crossed the line, never done or said anything that couldn't ultimately be waved away and forgotten about, but still. Asha had known her long enough to realize that she reveled in making people miserable simply because she could.

Asha did her best to keep up appearances, of course. Her own feelings aside, she still had to be around Isabel for huge periods of time, still had to count on her and be counted on in turn when they were doing ballet. Hell, sometimes Asha even let herself slip, found herself legitimately enjoying Isabel's company, sharing a genuine moment or two. Never for too long, though; another reminder of her thoughtless cruelty would always jar Asha back to never saying more than politeness mandated, never smiling any wider than she had to. She honestly wasn't sure if Isabel even noticed.

But here? They were both in the same boat, and Isabel obviously didn't deserve to die, either. Maybe there was "a good reason" for the blood she had shed, maybe there wasn't, but either way; she'd had ample opportunity to hurt Asha and Dot, and she hadn't. That alone meant she could at least be given the benefit of the doubt.

"Cool sword, by the way."
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Isabel seemed... happy. Genuinely. Happier than Asha could remember ever seeing her, really. Her easy laughter, her casual smirks, all of it seemed so effortless, so thoughtless.

Why did that make Asha feel so uneasy?

It's not like she wanted Isabel to be miserable, far from it. Nancy had almost certainly killed someone, after all; but Asha had tried her hardest to even coax a small smile from her, put her mind to ease a little. The whole point was to make everyone feel happier, to hack at the overwhelming aura of human misery bit by bit until it was finally manageable, right? So then why wasn't Asha just glad that Isabel was functioning, could still grin and crack jokes despite the blood that was staining her? If Isabel had been a sobbing wreck now; things still wouldn't be any better, the dead wouldn't be any less dead.

A disconcerting thought crossed Asha's mind. Maybe the disconnect was because Nancy had behaved like she was "supposed" to behave, like she at least knew what she had done was wrong. Because she was so obviously suffering, it had been easy for Asha to focus on just trying to help however she could. She didn't know what Isabel had gone through, didn't know how she had coped with her actions, how she may have tried to atone. Maybe she was still hurting on the inside, but she was a far better actor than Asha gave her credit for.

So she pushed down the instinctual fear that was making her skin crawl, ignored the implication in Isabel's voice as she narrowed her eyes at Dot. Asha just had to keep doing what she'd been doing all along.

"Things are pretty a-oak. Still got my health," Asha said with a shrug. "Congrats on not losing your head, either, I just hope that pretty scarf isn't the only thing keeping it from falling off." The joke would've worked better if the scarf had been pure red, but there wasn't quite enough blood on it for that. She'd never seen Isabel wear it before, oddly enough.

"What about Dot, huh?" Asha asked, tilting her head and mimicking Isabel's expression with a smile. "She's a good friend. We spent most of yesterday hanging out. It was pretty nice!"

Speaking of which, Dot picked a pretty inopportune moment to wake up. Asha was proud of her for reacting much better to Isabel's presence than she had; though that might just be grogginess talking. "Mornin', sleepyhead. She's Iz, yeah. We do ballet together. Wayne, uh..." Asha trailed off, not wanting to lie but also not wanting to distress Dot in the company of someone she didn't know. "He ditched in the middle of the night. Pretty shitty of him, I know," she said, leaving out the part about him stealing their stuff. That could come once Dot'd had some time to get herself woken up.
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"Nah, there's no need for that," Asha said, resting her head on one of her hands, and idly tapping her taser with the other. "We're all friends here. Riiiiiiiight?" Being mistrustful? It was wrong, but it was still understandable. Killing someone? Horrible, of course, but even that could be understood. Everyone was a victim, here. Suspecting Dot of any evils when Isabel had casually waved away the blood she'd spilled, though? Oh, no, Asha wasn't very happy with that.

The announcement came on before she could press the issue. She listened in somber silence. Inevitability or no, it was still good to pay respect. Whole lotta good people dead, after all. Not anyone close to her, but still people she liked. One of Ty's buddies. Even Rea, who Asha barely knew beyond that one snipe in the library. She sort of regretted never making the effort to clear that up, petty as it was. At least Wayne hadn't died after he ducked out. Guy was still a complete bastard, but that didn't mean Asha wanted him dead.

The killers mattered much less, but she'd met a surprising amount of them. Nancy had killed, but Asha had never really doubted that, had she? Alex, now there was a disappointment. He'd seemed off, but still decent. Maybe it'd been self-defense, an accident, any number of justifications. Asha vaguely entertained the thought of what might of happened if she hadn't been so quick to run away with Dot and Wayne, but she quickly dismissed it. Maybe she could have stopped it from happening, maybe she would have just gotten her friends hurt instead of Rea. Trading a death for a death accomplished nothing, and Asha knew she'd done her best.

Isabel? Now, there was a problem. One kill could be a mistake. Two kills established a pattern.

"Well, that's pretty terrible! Lucky you, though, Iz; you're alive and you've got all the time in the world to make up for it," Asha said brightly, a hard edge to her smile. "After all, you've obviously realized the error of your ways, and you're not gonna be killing anyone else. Isn't that right, Iz?"

She idly tossed her taser from hand to hand. Asha didn't want to be threatening Isabel with the taser, but no, she was totally low-key threatening Isabel with the taser. If she had been a better person, she knew she would have been more willing to give Isabel a chance to explain herself before jumping straight to harsh words and meaningful glares, but no. Shit was fucked and Asha didn't want Isabel to be anywhere near Dot until she proved beyond a doubt she wasn't gonna hurt anyone.

Isabel had looked disappointed when she heard that she hadn't gotten the "best kill award", hadn't she?

"'Cause, like, I hope you realize that you are going to die. We all are. None of this is gonna make a difference in the end, and if you keep killing people anyways... well, you're a goddamn horrible person. Maybe think about that a bit."
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Yeah, that was basically the best way that could have ended.

Asha had almost burst into laughter as Isabel made her grandiose threats and left, but she thankfully managed to restrain herself to a smirk. God, what a fucking edgelord. She must have spent a long time rehearsing those lines. Iz made for a good slasher villain, aesthetically, but she had about as much subtlety as the Freddies and Jasons of the world. Still, for all her bluster; Asha had no doubt that Isabel wouldn't hesitate to carry out her threats.

That didn't scare her at all, honestly. It wasn't exactly the end Asha would prefer for herself, but any amount of pain, no matter how excruciating, paled before the infinity that she would spend afterwards doing whatever it was dead people did while they rotted. Why stress about something that'd be over in a blink of the universe's eye? Oh, the thought of Isabel being unleashed on other people was still a sobering thought, though; victims who would do their damnedest to cling to their lives, feel the full brunt of the unique agonies she would inflict.

It was unfortunate, but Dot's happiness remained Asha's direct responsibility; and she didn't see any way she could have otherwise dealt with Isabel without sacrificing that. Much as she wished otherwise, Asha wasn't some many-eyed, black-feathered angel (cliche, but come on, it was still aesthetic) who could right all the island's wrongs with a wink and a twirl. She would do what she could, and nothing more, and wouldn't beat herself up over what if's.

Dot still seemed to be doing okay, at least. Asha shrugged and turned to her. "Preeeetty much! I mean, not this bad, but she's never been a nice person. Like, I didn't expect her to end up all murdery, but I, uh, can't say I'm all that surprised either? She's gone now, at least." She finally exhaled, stopped fidgeting with her taser.

"So. Now that we're both awake and alright again, I gotta come clean about a couple things. First, the taser," Asha said, casually holding it up. "I, uh, have one. Obviously. Sorry for keeping it hidden, but I didn't want it to freak you guys out, y'know? I've only got one shot for it now, anyway after that shitbird-" She cut herself off, taking another deep breath. "Okay. About that. You know how I said Wayne ditched us? That wasn't everything. He took my bag when he left, too; so our supplies are gonna be stretched pretty thin by the end of today. Sorry."
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Asha wasn't quite sure where Dot's question had come from, but that wasn't important. Maybe Isabel's threats had understandably rattled her, maybe she was afraid Asha would make like a Wayne and wane. Either way, what mattered was that she clearly needed some reassurance, stat.

After setting her taser down, Asha scooted over to sit on the couch next to Dot. Then she poured her entire beating heart into giving her worrying friend a long, firm hug. "Don't worry. I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere, okay?" She said, heroically resisting the urge to make a 'Til Death Do us Part' joke.

-

Once Asha deemed that Dot was sufficiently comforted, they headed out to face the day. Laughable or no, neither of them wanted to be around if Isabel decided to return, and there was a whole island of cool people (and Wayne) to find.

((Asha Sur - conducting a Devil's Choir.))
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