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Minus Something; [Shoot First, Ask Questions Later]
Topic Started: Apr 11 2017, 07:17 PM (1,872 Views)
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Who is this sassy lost child
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((Raina Rose continued from Hyphaema))

Everything was going great until it wasn't. Raina, Penelope, and Johnny had holed up safely for the night and set out early, and though she ached with tiredness, Raina's mind was bright and sharp. They had to tread carefully at times thanks to the Danger Zone, but they made it back to the asylum before the announcement, so that they could link up with Ben, Lili, and Kiziah before heading to the asylum's library and then the bell tower. Raina was practically buzzing with excitement as they reached the old building, feeling her plan coming together at her fingertips.

Everything was going great until they set foot in the cafeteria and then, to borrow Cameron's phrase once more, it all went tits-up.

A few days ago, she might have been glad to see Al. A few days and a few names ago. Raina didn't have time to take in the scene because Penelope got there first, and there was...

God, there was a lot of blood. Raina didn't let herself stare at it, didn't have time anyway because she had to run to Penelope's side as her friend collapsed. She pulled Penelope up by the shoulders, supporting her so that she wouldn't see the blood on the floor... on Lili. On Al.

"Lili," she said when she found her voice, fighting to keep it steady. "Tell us what the hell happened here."

Tell us why Al is here, she didn't say, but everyone knew what she meant. Tell us where Kiziah is. And more importantly, Tell us if he's armed.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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So that's how it was. Kiziah was gone, swapped out for Al, but that was all just peachy keen, right? It was a proof of concept, even if it had taken an unexpected toll in return. Raina vaguely recalled some line about everything having a price from her brief foray into watching Fullmetal Alchemist. She clenched her trembling jaw and tried to force herself to accept it.

Only no, she didn't accept it, she wasn't even going to try, because this was all bullshit.

They weren't going to die together. They weren't going to buddy up with killers and people who made stupid mistakes that could ruin everything, and all signs pointed to Al falling into both those categories like the world's worst Venn diagram.

Raina couldn't speak, and it took a few seconds to realize that she was shaking not with fear or grief, but with rage.

How. Dare. He. How fucking dare Al barge in here and ruin everything when she was finally getting all her shit together? How dare he just sit there like he had been scolded by a teacher instead of killing someone - killing multiple someones?

God, that was a whole thing in the shows she loved. The bad guy has a change of heart, sees the error of his ways, and joins the right side. It takes a while for them to trust him, but he proves true. His heart is purified, and he makes up for his mistakes.

She had never quite realized how stupid all of that was. There was something stunning to learn about yourself: that the reason stories of forgiveness and redemption felt so powerful was that you yourself were incapable of forgiveness for some things. Raina had preached equality and justice and second chances for the downtrodden, and only now was she really faced with the fact that, deep down, she believed that there were exceptions to who deserved those things too.

Before she could force any of that out verbally, the hidden speakers around the room turned on and they were surrounded by Danya's voice.

First dead was Ben. Raina hadn't thought about Jeremy much, funnily enough. He was dead too, just a little ways down the line.

Oh, and that "one more murder" spiel? Lies.

Kiziah wasn't on the announcement, and part of Raina wondered why, but the rest of her was focused on the fact that Al's name was still called even though Kizi's wasn't. She was vaguely aware that Penelope had started freaking out again, but she stepped past her and planted herself between Al and the bags that Lili had said contained the weapons.

One more murder, her ass. One lucky in to a group he could decimate from the inside, more likely. Or, somehow even worse, a legitimate belief that Raina and Penelope would just accept him back because they had been friends, when so many other friends were dead. Lily, the other Lily that Raina had been looking for was dead too. She hadn't gotten a second chance, and frankly, she was more useful than Al.

So no. There would be no redemption arc for Alessio Rigano. Not while Raina had anything to say about it.

There was a brief pause after the announcement ended, with only Penelope's noises of grief filling the silence. Raina fixed her eyes on Al's and her hands twitched, unsure if she should reach for the grenade or the gun that had belonged to Kiziah.

"Get out. Now."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Penny, don't."

Raina's words went ignored, which irritated her more than it should have. Actually, no. It irritated her exactly as much as it should have, maybe even less, considering what Penelope was trying to filibuster on about.

Oh, it was a speech all right. Sincere and impassioned, the kind of speech that deserved rousing music in the background. In one of those shows where the bad guys got to redeem themselves, it would be the turning point, the former villain's first inkling of what it was to have trust and friendship and all that jazz. In Raina's favorite anime, this would be the part where Al's heart grew three sizes that day, and he pledged to lay down his arms forever so that he could prove himself.

Al didn't move or offer any words in his own defense.

"No, Penny, that's not how we're doing things." She didn't want to be harsh. She didn't want to hurt her best friend any more than Penelope was already hurting, but this was the point that Raina absolutely couldn't afford to compromise on. She had gone along with this charade long enough, and it was time to put her foot down now that it was actively putting all of them in danger. Penelope could talk all she wanted about changing Al as though he was some character whose settings she could change or whose lines she could rewrite, but Raina wasn't having it.

"Here's what I stand for: getting as many people out of this place as possible. In case you haven't noticed, if we keep hanging around and trying to place peacemaker, there aren't going to be any people left to rescue! And you know what else isn't going to keep people alive? Inviting somebody who's killed four - no, five people into our group. You really think he's just going to stop now, because you want to sit around with him and make friendship bracelets? Well, Kiziah did too, and look how that worked out for her!" Raina's voice cracked, her own words driving home the fact that Kizi was dead, and that her murderer was standing right there in the room with them, no words of repentance forthcoming.

She whipped around to look at Al, her voice rising as she continued to speak. She was blinking back tears now. "What about it, Al!? You let all the murder out yet? Just took five people for you to finally start feeling bad!?"

She stopped to take in a shaky breath, blinking rapidly to try and keep any tears from spilling over. She couldn't afford to lose her composure any more. "Too little, too late, buddy. You had your chance, and it was at number zero." Raina drew herself up as tall as she could, only pausing to quickly swipe her sleeve across her eyes. She didn't want to look away from Al for too long just in case he got any ideas, though he was still just standing there and not meeting her gaze.

"Now leave, or I'll make you." She didn't know what she would do if forced to make good on that threat. She had a sinking feeling that she might only be moments away from finding out.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Al left, and that was good. Of course it was. No more murderers in their midst, and now he had been disarmed too.

But Raina was still choked with shock and anger and grief so strong that she could hardly breathe. She remembered Jasper. She remembered his face just before she had turned and bolted, before the gunshots sounded behind her. She remembered Kiziah, and how she had been so vibrant and alive just a day earlier.

She was sure that Penelope had to remember them too, and everyone else they had lost. Ben. Couldn't Penelope remember Ben's face? Was she so set on her principles that she could so easily write him off?

Raina wanted to ask, but she was shaking and her throat was tight. She took a few steps towards the cafeteria's table, with its confused mess of inscriptions, and sat down heavily.

"If you want to leave, then... go on, I guess. Do whatever you want," she said to Lili, her voice sounding faint. "Better you with those weapons than him." It would have been nice to have the weapons. Strategic. But Raina didn't really want them. She didn't want to lay her hands on the gun that had killed Kiziah and who knew how many others.

She wanted to slap Penelope silly for even thinking to suggest that they could keep Alessio around for what he had done.

"Your plan isn't going to work either," she said finally, looking at the wall and not at Penny. "Not like that. I'm not martyring myself for someone like that, and I thought you were smart enough that you wouldn't either." Maybe Penelope had been once, but she was blinded by her own morals and her dream of sticking it to the terrorists now. They were so similar.

So why did it feel like they were drifting further and further apart?
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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It was sobering, Raina supposed, to realize that as close as they were, as similar as they were, she and Penelope would never believe in the same things. There was a drama plotline, she supposed. A little character arc nicely set up for the two of them, and at the end they would either reconcile or go their separate ways. Or, if this turned out to be the prequel or origin story, they might become enemies. Or maybe one of them would be the tragic fallen friend whose sacrifice kept the other motivated long down the line.

Maybe they were just side characters and nobody would remember them when they were gone.

Raina sighed deeply, and it wasn't as steady as she wanted it to be. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve again (and wiped her nose, for good measure) and stared at her feet. Penelope had big words, maybe too big for who and what she really was: a scared kid whose reality could never live up to her expectations and ideals. It all boiled down to the same thing in the end: everyone would die, they would make their point one way or the other, and in a few more years this would happen again. It wasn't like the government could get its shit together, after all, and that vigilante group that had made such a splash all those years ago hadn't shown their faces either.

Raina still hadn't mentioned her backup plan. She still had the kindling in her bag. It was still so simple it was almost laughable. There was still a chance. There was another library right next door.

She wondered if anyone in charge of this sick excuse for a social experiment had bothered to read Lord of the Flies back when they were her age.

"If it gets to that, sure," she said finally. She couldn't force any conviction into her voice. "If we're the last ones standing, nobody kills. We end it our own way."

Once again, she could say she would go along. She still didn't think it would get to that point, not before she at least made her attempt, but she could say it. Anything to get Penelope to stop crying and preaching and go back to her old self for a while.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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It worked. Raina could have sighed with relief, had Penelope allowed her to breathe. Of course it had. Penelope needed validation and support, enough to keep her going while Raina formulated the actual plan. That was a pretty cold way to put it, but as much as Raina loved Penelope she had to admit that her best friend was standing in the way of progress.

But this was fine, she could still work with this. Johnny knew what side his bread was buttered on, at least, and he'd support her again if it came down to it. The food metaphor prompted Raina's stomach to loudly remind her that she hadn't eaten that morning.

"That's fine," she agreed once Penelope finally released her and she had the freedom to rummage through her bag. She inwardly cringed at the dwindling food. "I think there's a library nearby, so we could go check that out when we're ready to go. There might be something good there, or someone friendly, at least."

As she munched on one of her last remaining food bars, she went over the plan in her head once more. Tinder, and then a high place. The roof, or the bell tower. There had to be some bored person browsing Google Earth over this spot at some point. There had to be satellites, planes, some eye organic or artificial that could zero in on the unusual activity taking place on this strange, abandoned island. Only an idiot wouldn't know what it meant once they saw it.

Penelope could make her martyr plan as grand as she wanted it. Raina was still determined to get them out of here, even if it meant the three of them were the only ones left standing by the time she made it work.

((Raina Rose continued in Anemia))
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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