Spurred by talk yesterday, and the fact that I'm pretty sure everything here is dead and buried anyways, I have some more Evo stuff to share. This is kinda lengthy, has a lot of stuff I look back on and shake my head at, etc., but it's an interesting little piece of game history, especially insofar as it actually basically got enacted aside from the final step.
So, I present to you, the Evo escape plan that never was:
Some context here is that Evo was a game in which I was not staff. I didn't have any authority at all at the point where this stuff was going on, and was having altogether too much fun with my total lack of responsibilities. Floating around was this idea that Evo was totally escape-proof. Now, I'm someone who hears that and goes, "Bring it on!" The reason I was never all over that in any other Mini/AU/version is that, as staff, I have no fair way of doing so and have more invested in stopping escapes anyways (because if there's no challenge, what's the fun?). So instead, I come up with escape plots and post them for the staff to see and figure out how to defeat.
In Evo, I did not have these restrictions, and I had a character devoted to staying alive at all costs, so I decided I'd just try to break the game.
Anyways, I thought about it for a long time, and applied Occam's Razor, and went, "Well, if you can't get off any way that The Organization doesn't want you to, then clearly the way out is to convince them that it's in their
best interests to release you." And so I set about writing a basic pitch, sent it to Stef, and then he went, "Sounds interesting. Write up a post, let's see how that goes."
So I did, sent it his way, and he went, "Cool. You can try it if you want, but if it wouldn't work, boom, you're dead." And I went, "Well, the IC thing is to give it a shot and see where things go, because it's a better chance than a fight."
This, for the record, is the genesis of the core principle behind the V5 Escape Rule
. Any attempt should have some risk as well as reward.
My plan was, in short, to force the issue. Walk into a danger zone, announce the intent to stay there, and inform The Organization that you're willing to help them, let them study you, whatever, as long as they don't blow you up. Since their claim was that they wanted to do research on the subjects and their mutations, offer them a better way of doing so, with the alternative being the end of any scientific utility. In short, appeal to their stated interests.
Stef then told me, in short, that it would in fact work, because the danger zones in Evo had always been a lie. The students were
implanted with devices, but they were not bombs (which would have been overly large and unwiedly) and in fact were effectively single-shot tasers, something that would knock a student out to allow retrieval.
In fact, this actually had happened once. the first part of The Second Announcement
, which a lot of people assumed was Kahlid being kidnapped, was actually Fredrick Slagenger
being retrieved, after his supposed death in a danger zone, which was an especially shocking revelation since I'd actually written that death and had no idea anything fishy was going on (Stef had asked me to go with a discretion shot for the ending, and I'd just assumed it was due to it being better fitting to Evo's style. This is also why Joel Deitrick
's death was specified to be from his wounds on the announcement; no bomb meant he couldn't blow up, as his death implied).
Anyways, this was right before the last rolls, and so Stef and I were busy trying to decide how to work things. This is the part I'm not so happy about now, because what we basically went off of was the V3 fakeout, under two assumptions: 1. anything involving my character afterwards would be pretty minor and background, and 2. keeping stuff quiet would avoid drawing attention away from Endgame/the winner. Now, the reason I don't like this is that obfuscating anything, I know now, actually foregrounds it way more when it is inevitably eventually revealed. More than that, at the time I didn't have any super prominent characters, and thought this was likely to be the most interesting thing I ever did on SOTF. By the time Evo's Endgame was actually wrapping up, that was pretty clearly not the case, and I was increasingly uneasy about the whole thing. Anyways, we actually just rolled two kids and declared me rolled, confident nobody would Hero or anything.
That's the basic what-almost-happened. One thing, though, was that the very last post I made in Evo was pretty much entirely composed of double meanings, changed by the (lack of) context and designed to read, at a first glance, as somewhat out of character. The tipoff was that Samantha was referenced as saying something, but what she said was never made clear, instead being covered up with a section break. That was because the rest was gonna get worked in as a flashback at some point. Of course, Stef also accidentally referenced the whole post rather than the posted bit
in his EvoHammers, which I think nobody noticed.
At this point, the whole thing's basically of academic interest only, but for completeness' sake, here is the original, uncut, version of the post, which I sent to Stef back in November 2010 or something to pitch the escape plane. I'm not editing anything, and would of course handle stuff differently here, two and a half years later, but eh, so it goes.
- [+] Spoiler
- ((So, yeah, everything here, including lateness and posting in a DZ and content and whatever, has been cleared by Stef.))
((Samantha Reynolds continued from Miseria Cantare))
After leaving Kate and Taryn, Samantha wandered once more, lost and alone. It was strange. The second she parted ways with the others, she missed company, but when she was near people, they nettled her, and she couldn’t wait to get away. Her fatigue was catching up with her again. The island was quiet, calm, dead. Deathly. Not long, now. Not long at all. The dead just kept piling up. Many, so many of them. Twenty. Twenty people brought here, and only one would leave, and all for what?
“Now that’s out of the way, I can explain those troublesome marks on your arms.”
An experiment. A scientific experiment. Evolution, the man had called it. Evolution. The future. A change in humanity, a radical paradigm shift the likes of which had never before been imagined. A humanity that was more, better, different. She’d thought they were kidding. Thought they were lying, that there was some other purpose, that this was maybe just sadism, but now she’d given up on that theory. She’d accepted that it was an experiment, was genuine. Somehow, it didn’t sound so insane now. Not anymore, not after what she had seen, not after the painful facts of humanity had been revealed to her. Humans weren’t special. They were animals, just like any other living creature, driven by instincts and irrationalities, fears and desires. Above all, that final, all-consuming need to live.
“We are the beginning of a new era. We are the pilots of humanity, flying us all into a brave new world of technological advancements so great that the future will pass us by with a gasp.”
What had it all been for? What had the purpose been? Everything that had happened, every life lost, every bullet fired, for what? Data. Data and measurements and research. Cold, clinical precision. A love of knowledge overriding any humanity. And that was the real point, wasn’t it? Because they weren’t supposed to be human. They were supposed to be more. Supposed to be beyond all of that. And yet, at the same time, they were supposed to fight, supposed to kill each other. It was a paradox: the goal was to select the person who was least human, who was most something... else. And yet, the methods were so very human, so very geared towards those most basic, instinctual reactions. Would a truly superior being even be able to win this contest, or would they be unable to comprehend why their opponents fought so hard, unable to prepare themselves for that desperation, that willingness to do whatever it took to see another day?
“You will surpass us, and you will grow brighter than any one of us could dare to try.”
But if it worked... It seemed so sane, in retrospect. The chance to be free of all mankind's problems. And yet, at what cost? Faces: Pippi, Otis, the boy with the melted head, Cristo, Ashlie, the boy who had shocked her, Taryn, Kate. Her own face, twisted and distorted.
“You are evolution.”
She sighed, temporarily abandoning her musings on potential futures, returning her thoughts to the present. Walking, jogging, sitting, standing, it made no difference. It didn’t matter. Point was, it didn’t matter what the fuck Samantha did. She was dead. They were all dead, maybe not today, maybe not here, but it was inevitable. The end was barreling towards them, rolling full tilt along the tracks, and all her life, she’d never seen it. Never understood. Never truly valued what she had until it was flashing before her eyes, vanishing into the mist. Live. Such a simple command, yet so loaded. So difficult. In the end, impossible.
“Put simply, each of you has been given a gift. That gift differs from person to person, similar to a... raffle, I suppose, but you all entered the same one.”
Samantha wondered, in a loose and distracted way, what she had taught their captors, what they had picked from her brain. They were watching her, she knew. Watching and listening, always there, along with her for every moment of this crazy ride. Somehow, it made her feel a little better. Maybe it all meant something. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t be forgotten. Maybe someone would remember her, take something of her away from this besides her corpse and her DNA, remember that, once upon a time, there was a scared girl named Samantha Reynolds who tried her best to live, who put it all on the line, who never quite could make peace with herself, never quite could overcome the self-loathing and doubt she felt, never quite could bring herself to just reach out and grab someone else and hold them, just hold them, just to be close one more time.
“We have developed a serum which contains the key to evolution itself; a serum which reacts differently depending on the DNA of the person who receives it.”
They were all different, each and every one of them. Every person here, every single person she’d seen, they’d all had their own wishes, their own lives. They’d all lost them for this. All lost them to this research, all been sacrificed in the name of the common good. She could only hope it was worth it. Only hope that humanity really did advance, progressed past the level where this sort of thing could be allowed to happen. She hoped that whoever made it out was someone good, someone kind, someone smart and funny and polite.
“It’s still in development, but this way we can test its effects without fear of anyone watching over our shoulders. And the testing, children, is where you come in.”
And it was at this point that Samantha realized she had to make her choice. No more fucking around. No more playing the indecisive one. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t healthy. In an instant, it came to her, a complete and total cognition of her actions so far, their causes and meanings. She understood, in that moment of clarity, just why it had been so hard to make her decision, why she hadn’t been able to force herself to commit either way, no matter what she had told those she met.
She was scared.
Not scared of dying, though that was certainly there. She was scared of far more than that. Her fears went back forever, back to her childhood, back to everything she had once been. Memories: Middle school, friends, laughter. Jokes, games, boys. Secrets, stories, admiration. Loud music and quiet moments. Belonging. Then, all of a sudden: disaster. Something stupid, hardly even memorable now. The shattering of bonds. Rachel. Talks, quiet, private moments, love for her sister. Understanding, acceptance. Lost all too soon. Everything lost, discarded, abandoned. And at the end, Samantha alone, alone again, always alone, always lost within herself, within her hopes and dreams, within reality, within a wish to matter, to be something, and always in the background that awful, lurking realization, that certain knowledge that it didn’t matter, that it didn’t matter what she did because she was going to die someday, going to die and fade and be forgotten, no matter how high she climbed, no matter what she built, it would all collapse around her, and in the end she’d be in an unmarked grave, alone and meaningless, and worse than that, just the same, just like everyone else. She’d tried, oh she’d tried, thrown away everything chasing the dream of being the best, of forging herself into the right kind of person, the kind who mattered, the kind who persevered and endured, who carried herself tall and proud and never fell, never lost, never gave in.
It hadn’t worked. Nothing had ever worked. She just wasn’t good enough. Just couldn’t pull through. Maybe she’d started too late, enjoyed a few years of her childhood too many. Maybe she was just wrong for her dreams, cheated by biology, by the very evolution her captors sought to harness.
She was scared that she wouldn’t matter. Scared that the world would never know she had lived and died. Scared of her future, when she still had a future, and scared at its lack now that it was gone.
Decision time. She’d been joking around for far too long. It was time to make a final call. There were maybe half a dozen people left alive, if she had estimated correctly. It was time to stop hiding, stop procrastinating, stop putting things off for the future.
The same old arguments, the same old logic. The same thought processes, the same old games she had been playing with herself since she had first found out she was doomed. So much self-deception. She wasn’t crying, but she didn’t know why. She was lost, confused, alone. So alone. She missed Otis. Missed Pippi. Missed her home, her acquaintances, her old friends. Missed her life.
She had to do it. She had to.
She had to try. She owed it to herself. To Otis. To everything she could have been, to everything she once was.
She smiled, a thin, sad smile. Liar. It fit. She was a liar, and one of the worst.
Because, at the end of the day, all her fears were absolutely correct. She wasn’t special. She wasn’t different. She was another scared girl on an island of scared girls and boys, and the only way to beat her fate, the only way to dodge the bullet, the only way to continue her precious little existence, was to kill. To take from others all she wanted to preserve in herself. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t right, or fair, or good, and yet she could do it. If she gave herself the chance, she would do it.
Time to choose.
She was standing on the viewing platform again, the cool Seattle winds whipping her hair, considering ending it all. Considering taking control of her life, grasping it with both hands and tearing it to pieces, scattering the shreds to the wind and laughing all the while. The pain of the memory was gone. Instead, what she felt was freedom, exhilaration. It was simple.
Samantha wanted out.
This life, this state of being on this island, it was wrong. It was wrong, cold, evil, and she couldn’t take it any more. It wasn’t the fault of the people who had thrown her here. It wasn’t the fault of the other people with her. There was no one to blame. It was just human nature, rearing its ugly head.
She was not in the least surprised to find herself once more at the edge of the zone claimed by the cove, the place where Otis had died.
It was forbidden. If she stepped in, she would feel that horrible vibration again. Feel that awful buzzing in her blood. Then feel nothing at all.
The realization was not a flash this time. It was no bolt from the blue, no spark of divine inspiration. It was a quiet whisper, a quiet whisper that had been there all this time. She could see the shack in the distance, could see where she had first met Otis, had almost held him at gunpoint, almost shot him in the back while crossing to land. She still had that gun, and it had acquired three companions. She carried it in her hand, her left now, her dominant hand taking a rest. She let the gun fall to the dirt, no longer caring if it broke, if it died. Her left palm was wrapped in gauze. Slowly, she unwound it, glancing at the burn, the line across her palm. It was thicker than the cut had been, probably less severe. But the real difference was, she hadn’t done this to herself. She’d tried to hurt someone else, and had been hurt in return. That was the law of the land. That was the way of the world.
Not now. Not for her.
Samantha wanted out.
She dropped her bag to the sand, pulled the knives from their holsters and dropped them on top of it. Walked, alone, always alone, along the edge of the area, staying just on the safe side, or so she imagined, trekking towards the sea, towards a level spot, towards one of those flat expanses of sand.
Finally, she found it. Looked around. It was as good a place as any.
She took a deep breath. It all came down to this.
“The people around you are not your friends; they are, in essence, your enemies. And though you may think of befriending them after this is all over, you’re merely deluding yourselves because the simple fact of the matter is this: after three days, only one of you will be left standing.”
She’d made it damn far. She’d proven herself beyond what she’d ever thought she could. For these few days, she’d been someone. She’d been herself, good and bad, even when she thought she’d lost track of it all.
“Not only that. But we want you to utilise your new-found gifts as much as you can, to give us a comprehensive look into each of your unique talents. Oh, and of course, there are a few rules.”
She had to be ready. Had to be brave. Had to be strong. Had to leave the stress behind.
“If nobody dies within 24 hours, we’ll detonate the tracking devices inside your bodies.”
Had to be her ideal self. Had to be calm. Cool. Collected. Otherwise, there was no way she’d go through with this. No way to make it work.
“Consider it an incentive.”
Count to ten. Prepare. They’re watching.
“This grid displays the different areas of the island. As you can see, each area is fairly large, but don’t think you can all hide out in the church and pray that your God will keep you safe. Every 12 hours, we will randomly make certain areas off-limits to you, giving you exactly one hour to leave the “danger zones” before they become inaccessible for the rest of the game. However, when I say “inaccessible” I do in fact mean that if you step into these areas after the one-hour time-limit, your tracking devices will automatically detonate, and you will be blown into a million pieces.”
Time for words, now.
"Which is a shame, really; your cadavers would be absolute treasure troves of data.”
Samantha opened her mouth and spoke to the air. Her words were completely calm and collected.
“I know that you’re watching and listening," she said. "Don’t bother to reply. I know. You’ve been watching us this whole time. It’s all part of the experiment. All part of your evolutionary test.
“The problem is, you’ve created a situation that fails at its most basic goal. Rather than gaining knowledge, you are throwing so much away. You are abandoning tools before they have exhausted their usefulness. I understand why we're fighting. I understand why we're killing. You know our powers. You know what they do. What you don't know is how they can be used, what their potential is. A life or death situation forces us to use all of our potential, all of our capabilities, if we want to survive.
"But see, that gives us some cards to play, too.
“I’m about to step into that forbidden zone. I’m going to step in, and I’m going to keep walking. And I’m going to explode.
“At least, that is what you have told me. That is the rule of this exercise. But what the others have forgotten is that it's only the rule because you say it is. You want to see evolution? You want to see adaptation, innovation? You want to see someone using every tool in their arsenal to survive? Fine. I’ll show you.
“I’m going to walk into that zone. You can kill me if you want, destroy your precious data, all to enforce discipline. But what I understand is that you have no reason to do so. You have no reason to kill me whatsoever, because there is an alternate solution, something that works better for both of us.
“You’ve gotten your results. You’ve compiled your data. You have everything you’re getting from me as it stands, because I am perfectly willing to die here. I have nothing to lose, because I don't think I can do things your way. It doesn't matter much to me if I die a bit early. What I want is to live. And I have things to offer you. You don't know everything about me. As you can see, I'm willing to shake things up, willing to try alternative solutions. If you don’t blow me up, if you let me walk across that beach, I’m yours. You say that only the winner leaves here. The winner is free to go, to return to their old life. I don’t want that. What I want is to be something. To be a part of something that matters. When you say that humanity needs to evolve, needs to surpass what it is, you are absolutely correct.
“If you choose to let me live, I'll join you. Announce my death to the others, make me dead to the world, and I’ll help you in whatever way I can. You lose nothing.
"Evolution is not solely a contest of violence. It is not simple elimination. There are more uses for intelligence than planning the best ambush. Sometimes, the real key to development is cooperation and compromise.
“The others chose your route, chose competition.
“I think I’ll try my hand at symbiosis.”
When she had finished, when she had said everything she could think of, Samantha waited a few seconds, then stepped clear of the safe zone, stepped onto the land where she was forbidden to tread. For a quick moment, she had a wild thought, wondering whether maybe, just maybe, the electricity that had been fed through her system had disabled the nanomachines in her blood, had removed the bomb that was a part of her.
She had gone five steps when the vibration in her arm jolted her, shaking her body.
She did not slow her stride. She tried to imagine the person on the other end, the person watching her, analyzing her actions, controlling that warning signal. There was a small chance that it was automated, that no humans were involved, but she doubted it. They were too interested, too invested. She would not have been given a warning by a computer system. It was not what they had been told would happen. They were trying to test her resolve. Trying to goad her, to scare her back, convince her to turn away from her goal, to return to the game of death and destruction.
She did not slow, did not falter.
The buzz again, stronger. She didn’t break stride. She had left safety far behind.
If she turned and ran now, then maybe, just maybe, she could make it back.
She did not turn, just smiled slightly, showing no teeth.
In the end, it all came down to choices, options, destinies. Murder or be murdered? A false dichotomy if she had ever heard one. Life or death? Could she kill to survive, kill to prolong her own existence? Could she have clawed her way to the top, done whatever it took?
Right now, the options she was faced with were simple. Die in an explosion, burn and flame and be over with, or live, live though it meant casting aside everything she was, abandoning herself, becoming something new and terrifying and very possibly evil, but maybe, just maybe, good, maybe worthwhile in some way she could not yet quite comprehend.
Of course, the choice was no longer hers to make.
The buzzing intensified, shaking her body, so she stopped walking, simply stood, stood and waited.
Maybe I’ll be seeing you soon, Otis.
No way to tell.
No way to know what comes next.
Do not flinch.
Do not show weakness.
Not one second of hesitation.
Not one second of doubt.
Not one second of regret.
The buzzing and shaking was building, building, building. Samantha stood, smiled, waited.
Subject C01: ELIMINATED
Only she wasn't, not really. There was no explosion. No fire. No pain.
Pause a moment. Pulse racing.
Looks like I just might have a little ways to go yet.
Samantha wanted to collapse on the ground. Wanted to scream, cry, laugh, tear her hair all at once. Wanted to do something, anything to burn off the crazy tension she felt, but she couldn’t. Not yet. She wasn’t out of this yet, not by a long shot.
She had figured out a way out of the system. She had figured out the right things to say, to do, to pique someone's interest, to convince them to alter the terms of the experiment. But it would be so very easy to destroy that image right here and now. So easy to get them to change their minds, to get them to kill her after all.
Especially since they had to have some idea of how dangerous she would be to have around.
She had to stay composed. Stay the girl who intrigued these people enough to spare, until they showed up to take her away. Until they trusted her. Until...
She would certainly have a new life to adjust to.
And maybe she could finally get some damn sleep.
"But wait," I hear half the readers saying, "doesn't that have some interesting implications for Iris
, and Frederick
Yeah. Judy and Fred were gonna have really awful things happen to them, most likely. Iris, Stef and Ciel had some other plans around, and I leave it to Ciel to decide if he wants to share anything or not.
This whole thing, of course, never got posted, and when Stef left Evo went in a new and equally interesting direction. As endings go, I don't think there's much more to say, and as anything else goes, well, I'm just gonna paraphrase The Joker here:
If there really has to be a future, I'd rather see it be multiple choice.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a boatload of other Evo stuff, and most of that's less related to stuff I worked with. I may share it later if I can think of anything folks may find amusing or revealing. I think Dom and Rugga have a lot of stuff too, but, again, it's their call whether they wanna share.