Tythanin
Leader
Joined: September 7th, 2008, 10:43 pm

April 27th, 2011, 3:53 am #11

Melissa remained silent a Nick said that he was willing to talk about the announcements. That was cheering. No "Go away." or "Shut up." A...weak admission, sure, but an admission nonetheless and he wasn't really being...well, he wasn't really doing anything, to be honest. Not that much sorrow, not that much anger, not that much denial or justification...perhaps at this point, it was just a fact of life. Something that happened and could be dealt with rationally and calmly like it was just another thing. Melissa could understand that.

She couldn't help but wonder if the people back home could understand that. They had seen everything had happened, of course. They had seen every single detail and event in this through their televisions, their streaming video, their...whatever. She still didn't know why they wanted to watch it. Morbid curiosity? Watching a relative or a friend struggle? Placing bets on who would win? Melissa hoped it wasn't the latter...to have something like that occur would just...just show how far on the moral compass humanity had fallen.

But even if they could watch it...did they understand what was going on? They weren't here. They weren't on the island. They saw it across a screen, a barrier that separated them from the emotions and feelings that ran rampant through the place. And that...well, that was probably okay. They needed that. Imagine if they didn't have that barrier separating them emotionally from everything...life would be a lot more interesting, to say the least.

"Um...well..." She began, looking at Nick somberly. "I just want to know what happened and why...that's all."
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
MW's Private Rank
Joined: February 18th, 2009, 7:01 am

April 27th, 2011, 6:00 am #12

Nick hadn't been hungry. That wasn't good. Jennifer wasn't all that versed in nutrition, but wasn't loss of appetite usually a bad sign? She was pretty sure the body eventually consumed itself, broke down its own muscles and organs just to keep the brain going. She didn't want to think about that happening to her friends, or herself, for that matter.

Bodies were just things, right? Was it so disturbing that things decayed?

Nick distracted her by talking about the announcements. He was also dealing with his hand. Had it been hurt when Jennifer had first met him? Was that the wound she'd helped him treat? She couldn't really recall. Nick had so many injuries it was hard for her to really keep them straight. It was amazing he could hold together as well as he was. It made Jennifer stop and consider her own physical condition a bit more. Atrophy aside, she was still fine. Still uninjured. She felt a little bit guilty about that. What made her special?

It was so fucking stupid.

Melissa kept moving the conversation along. She wanted to know the circumstances of Nick's latest killing. Jennifer didn't. She didn't want her perception of Nick to change. Until the secret was out, all potentials were equally valid. As soon as Nick spoke, though, he would be condemned or vindicated. It was like that experiment she'd heard about in science class, the one with the cat. It had some German name she couldn't remember right now. Didn't matter. Nick was probably about to tell them.

Would she stick with him if it had been murder?

Probably. She felt dirty just thinking it, but she doubted she would leave him now unless he murdered someone in cold blood right in front of her. She was so fucking dependent, so fucking scared of being by herself. Nick and Melissa were the only two people she hadn't alienated in some way during her time on the island. They were her support network. They kept her sane.

"Um, but, um, but only if you want to talk," she said, rather lamely. "If it's, um, painful, we can wait a bit."

She felt like she was betraying Melissa here. Fuck. Why couldn't it just be easy? Why couldn't Nick have kept things under control?

Why couldn't it all just get better?
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Rattlesnake
Winner
Joined: January 4th, 2009, 9:01 am

April 27th, 2011, 12:51 pm #13

Three pairs out, looks like six left. Eighteen batteries, that's two stacks of five and two of four. Just go with 16 and make it even?

He wasn't, of course, rewrapping his arm.

Three dissected flashlights lay in front of him, with another six waiting to be gutted. The confines and limited visibility of the bag worked to impede his progress, but at least he was safe - for the moment. Long-fingered hands moved like a pair of dancing spiders, grabbing, twisting, sorting, spurred on by a rising feeling of hope that clashed with creeping paranoia. He was directly underneath a camera. And he had some pretext, some concealment, the advantage of surprise. Maybe they couldn't see what he was doing. Maybe they wouldn't blow his collar even if they could. It was all chance. Something that had kept him alive so far.

He hated chance.

And, of course, they wanted to talk. Or at least Melissa did. Jennifer wanted - what, really did she want? Fine with her if he didn't go all the way with the issue, let it fester in the air between them. Fine with her if he bowed out, pretended like nothing was the matter, postponed the moment of judgment. She, again, just wanted to lift the burden, try to make his life a little more bearable. But it hurt enough already, and there was nothing they could do to make it hurt any less. What could he have done? He could've run away, taken the note and gone off in the opposite direction. They wouldn't have to hurt each other any more, but uncertainty and loss would make it unavoidable in the end. But meeting up, trying to comfort each other... the deeper the bond they formed, the more they supported each other, the deeper it would hurt when that bond was forcibly, inevitably shattered. It would break them along with itself.

"No," he said. "No, it's fine. That's just - it's like putting a band-aid over a gunshot or something. It doesn't really help at all. You can just pretend like it does and, um, you're still bleeding and crap. Or something."

"But really, it's well, not really simple. I just don't want to sound like, some horrible whatever, but it's gonna happen anyways." He turned away from his work momentarily. Fragmented explanations rolled through his mind, all potentially damning.

He turned away and kept his back to them, concentrating on keeping his face straight for absolutely nobody in the world. "I'll just be flat-out plain here. I happened upon a girl. Anna Chase or Anna or Chase or whatever you guys call her. So she was a little freaked out I wonder why, and then the guy - Marty just bumrushed, totally went nuts at me, with this."

He pulled out the Jutte, turning just long enough to check for comprehension on their faces. The next part would be important. Looking at the little dagger in his hands, seeing it coming at him in Marty's hand, spinning, reaching, hammering the point home with awesome, perfect, impeccable aim...

"...and then, well you know, or maybe you don't, I know I've talked about it, but I do heavy fighting. SCA. Some other stuff too. Well, I did, I don't think now I could ever -" He cleared his throat, trying to flush the lump away. "That doesn't really matter, it's just, I don't think he even felt himself hit the ground."

He took a couple deep breaths. Tried to calm himself as he peeled the insulation down from the ends of the wire-

Oh please no.

He froze completely. Even his breath caught on its way out. Four stacks of four batteries each lay wrapped in medical tape in front of him. Alternating positive and negative, so if he peeled the wire back and laid it down in a winding pattern, he could hit all of the terminals. And that wouldn't work. He needed - he counted quickly - one, two, three connections besides the main wire to get the correct current pathways.
Improvise, improvise...

Another second of deer-in-the-headlights shock, and then his hands and his mouth moved at the same time. "But it was just so fast, he attacked and I reacted and one of us was going to die and I know this probably sounds so bad but I know he didn't suffer and can - could you really wish for more on this island?" His face flushed, sweat moistening the grime on his temples, hands wrenching away in a frenzy, trying to twist a little medkit-issue pair of scissors apart. He was on shaky ground. Maybe past the point of no return. But really, was it so bad? He'd died so quickly, so peacefully...

He broke one of the stacks in half, strapping one onto the end of two of the three remaining stacks. The last two batteries he fished for, wrapping them quickly and completing the third stack. Three stacks of six. Eighteen batteries. Twenty-seven volts. Who knows how many amps. Checking the line with his finger - positive, negative, flip, positive, negative - he strapped down the broken scissors, one on top and one on the bottom. Heartbeat rising with anticipation, he taped down one end to the free negative terminal, and then, scarcely daring to believe it, stretched a piece of tape across the bare wire, moving it to touch the positive end...

Sparks popped. Metal melted.

"Look. I'm the same Nick Reid that stepped onto that bus a week ago. And this is really freaking important, because Nick doesn't try things, he does things. And if you wanna see that in action, you better get over here."

"Right now."
[+] spoiler
G065 KK Konipaski - "I killed a girl today. I think. And I didn't make a lot of friends with it. You don't bleed that much and walk away, I know that."
Skidded to a halt in the Central Park with the Basket-Hilted Rapier, Swordbreaker, Butterfly Knife, Stinger.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

B060 Matthew Young - "What brings you to the beach on this crappy day?"
Taking a sand nap in the Eastern Inlet with the iPod from Heck
1 2 3 4

G075 Tessa Blackridge - "Oh. ...I left quite a mess, didn't I?"
Staring down the cold hand of Death in the Bike Trails with the Pepper Spray
1 2
[+] spoiler
B055 Nick Reid - "Put that thing down, and neither of us have to die."
Troubled no more in the Mountains with the Molotov (x1), Estoc, Jutte

G090 Kari Nichols - "please..."
Sleeping forever in the Logging Road with the Nothing

B088 Cody Jenkins - "They won't come, you know."
Decomposing in the Northern Cliffs with the Middle Finger (x1)
NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
Leader
Joined: September 7th, 2008, 10:43 pm

April 28th, 2011, 2:27 am #14

Melissa shot a look of surprise at Jennifer when her friend suddenly spoke up, giving Nick a chance to delay his explanation...perhaps put it off forever. She hadn't expected that...definitely hadn't expected that at all. It wasn't that Jennifer was stabbing her in the back or anything. To call it that would be a grave over-exaggeration and really would be a disservice to all of them. Maybe she felt a little bit hurt...just enough that her mind immediately worked on trying to find reasons on why she wouldn't feel hurt at all. But it was fine. It wasn't like Jennifer was telling him it was okay to never talk...that they didn't want to hear it. Now that...that would have been a bit more upsetting.

Fortunately for her curiosity, Nick decided to just say it straight out and began a fragmented summary of the events. Melissa watched him silently, feeling a bit more respectful towards him as he explained what happened in a straightforward, matter-of-fact tone. It was nice. Refreshing. No dancing around the topic of the death and the way he finally got to the kill, after a brief history of "This is why I could do this", it was quick. That was it. She felt a bit envious of Marty...to die quickly without much pain, who wouldn't want something like that?

Melissa definitely did. She just wanted to delay the death part for as long as she could.

And then Nick was done. The explanation finished and now he was...he was doing something and Melissa had no clue what it was. She heard a spark, saw nothing else...and then he told them to get up and over so he could show them something. She looked at Jennifer curiously, wondering why she hadn't thought about that little thing in his hands earlier. It could have been a weapon or a gun. He could have just as easily turned a weapon towards them...threatened their lives and Melissa didn't even think about it at all.

Was it trust in Nick? ...No, of course not.

But she trusted Jennifer and Jennifer trusted...cared for Nick and that's all Melissa needed. A friend of a friend...was a friend.

So she got to her feet and walked over to Nick's side, curious at what sort of modern marvel he was going to put on display. "What're you doing?"
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
MW's Private Rank
Joined: February 18th, 2009, 7:01 am

April 28th, 2011, 3:06 am #15

Jennifer felt pretty fucking embarrassed as Nick ignored her proffered respite and instead just went straight to the explanation. As it turned out, it had been self defense. Maybe it was Nick's fault in some strange way, since he'd most likely been attacked by someone seeking revenge or to protect a friend. Nick did have a reputation, after all. His very presence could appear a threat, especially without Jennifer and Melissa there to mediate and help defuse any situations.

That wasn't important, though. It was close enough to self defense for Jennifer to accept it. Not like it. Not respect it. She could live with it, though, and it seemed Melissa could too. The group was whole again, the tension smoothed over. Nick was already moving on, already focused on something else. He was doing something in his bag, something more complicated than just re-wrapping his arm. Jennifer wasn't concerned. If Nick wanted to kill them, there really wasn't anything she could do to stop him. If he'd wanted that, though, he'd have already done it. He knew their armament, or lack thereof, since the closest they had to a weapon was still Jennifer's icepick. He'd noticed them before they saw him. He'd had plenty of opportunity, but he'd called attention to himself.

Besides, Jennifer just couldn't believe Nick would intentionally hurt her. That meant he wouldn't hurt Melissa, either, not with how much the other girl meant to Jennifer.

He finished whatever it was and called them over. Melissa got up and walked to him. Jennifer moved to follow suit, letting her packs fall to the ground first. She was stiff, so she didn't hurry too much. Even with Nick's encouragement, she was still a few seconds and steps behind Melissa.

Something about Nick's words struck her as odd. She'd always been a little bit off put by people speaking about themselves in the third person.

Her slightly delayed arrival was fine. This wasn't a race. Nick was going to show them something. Maybe some trick to cheer them up. That would fit with the odd speech pattern from before. He could just be affecting the mannerisms of a stage magician or something.

"Um, yeah," Jennifer said, trying to catch a glimpse of what he had. "What have you, um, got there?"

Fuck. Her feet had fallen asleep while she had been sitting, and now her legs had that awful pins and needles feeling. She really hoped Nick had something to take her mind off of that.
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Rattlesnake
Winner
Joined: January 4th, 2009, 9:01 am

April 28th, 2011, 4:44 am #16

Nick was shaking, trembling with excitement and anticipation. This was it. The big one. It wasn't just a birdsnest of tape and wire and batteries sitting in his bag. It was his redemption, a ticket home. Vindication. A blend of simplicity and sophistication, an answer so beautiful it had to be right. Applied physics at its best. The ratty spirals of tape, the broken scissor contacts, the lumpy coils of wire, conspiring together to create the most awe-inspiring electromagnet he had ever seen.

If he was right, it would destroy their collars with no kickback, simply vaporize the microcircuitry and destroy their explosive potential. And if he was wrong? He wasn't. Simple as that. He'd run it through so many times over in his mind, tracing pathways, visualizing field lines and fine wires until he could almost feel the Lorentz force shoving his fist away.

But there was no time for admiration. He had a window - twenty seconds? Fifteen? Heaven forbid, five? - in which to act, a narrow timeframe to destroy their collars before Danya could do it for him. Jennifer and Melissa were there, standing to either side of him. Even without seeing them he could feel them. The warmth, the energy, the vitality, the sound of them breathing in and out, scarcely rising above his own heartbeat.

Words spilled from his mouth in a frantic rush, piling upon each other in their haste to fly off his tongue. He opened the bag wide. Showed them - and the cameras, if they had an angle - his jury-rigged device.

"Look, they've probably caught on already, I've got like ten seconds tops. Electromagnet, pop your collar off, no boom. 95% sure. You in or out? Two seconds!"

They were all clear.

With his left hand he grasped the coil, searing and smoking with an energy he couldn't quantify past "ridiculous." He reached out towards Melissa. She was first, most awkward to reach. Positively shivering with excitement now, he felt the magnetic field sink its claws around her collar, felt the metal pushing back with invisible force, waved the coil once...

twice...

...

...
[+] spoiler
G065 KK Konipaski - "I killed a girl today. I think. And I didn't make a lot of friends with it. You don't bleed that much and walk away, I know that."
Skidded to a halt in the Central Park with the Basket-Hilted Rapier, Swordbreaker, Butterfly Knife, Stinger.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

B060 Matthew Young - "What brings you to the beach on this crappy day?"
Taking a sand nap in the Eastern Inlet with the iPod from Heck
1 2 3 4

G075 Tessa Blackridge - "Oh. ...I left quite a mess, didn't I?"
Staring down the cold hand of Death in the Bike Trails with the Pepper Spray
1 2
[+] spoiler
B055 Nick Reid - "Put that thing down, and neither of us have to die."
Troubled no more in the Mountains with the Molotov (x1), Estoc, Jutte

G090 Kari Nichols - "please..."
Sleeping forever in the Logging Road with the Nothing

B088 Cody Jenkins - "They won't come, you know."
Decomposing in the Northern Cliffs with the Middle Finger (x1)
NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Tythanin
Leader
Joined: September 7th, 2008, 10:43 pm

April 29th, 2011, 1:32 am #17

'What the heck is that?' Melissa thought to herself as she saw the weird looking mess of...stuff that Nick was hurriedly making in his hands. Wires, tape, batteries...they were all mashed together in some sort of hodgepodge gizmo that one would expect to see at a swap meet, sold by some unsavory mad scientist-type character. It was one of those things you'd seen in the movie that with one push of a button, you'd find yourself in the future with no way to get back because your time-traveling thingamajig had malfunctioned (all because of a single hair from your family dog).

But this was no time to contemplate the amazing movie scenes that could be crafted from the thing that Nick held in his hands. He was excited...more excited than Melissa had ever remembered seeing the boy. His hands were shaking. He was happy. Probably running on adrenaline or something like it. She felt her heart pound in her chest, wondering just what it was that was so important. The energy he was giving off was contagious and when Nick finally revealed what he was holding in quick, rapid-fire bursts of words, she couldn't help but feel a surge of glee.

This could be it. Their escape. Their chance...if Nick was right...and he had to be pretty damn confident for a 95% chance although she would have preferred full 100% confidence. She knew what the collars could do. She had seen Kayla's neck after hers had exploded and Melissa had no desire to come out of this in the exact same shape.

But imagine what they could do if Nick was right. They were free...well...as free as one could possibly be. They could help the others. Without the threat of death looming around people's heads...it'd be easier, so much easier. It was an ideal solution. One she hoped would work.

They had no time. Nick was motioning with the thing urgently and she tossed a quick look at Jennifer before stepping forward, giving him a quick nod. She didn't even know why she was volunteering her head first. It seemed kind of selfish, actually. Freedom! A chance for actual, blessed freedom from this game and here she was, stepping up first and taking away the chance to let Jennifer be the first to achieve it. But something was bothering her...

Well, it was obvious. It was that 95%. Even if he was 95% certain it would work, what was that 5% then? An error, a failure? Would it not do anything at all? Would it trigger her collar? She didn't want to think about that...but perhaps it would be best. Just to make sure that it worked before letting her friend take it. So she closed her eyes as she saw Nick approach her, that...that contraption of his coming closer to her neck.

What the fuck was she doing?

This was Nick Reid, accomplished killer, fighter, and now makeshift inventor? She was pretty certain they never covered "How to disable the explosive collars in Survival of the Fittest" as a part of their physics class or chemistry class or any class back at Bayview. Why was he so confident? Did he actually know how the collars worked or was he just tossing ideas to the wind, hoping that the theory of "Shooting electricity at something electrical will totally disable it"? Melissa felt her muscles tense...she had to restrain herself from breaking away as she felt Nick's magnet come close to her skin and then brush off.

She wanted to run. She was getting scared. Nothing happened after that pass. Was it not working? Was it all a failure?

The second pass.

Still nothing. What the hell was going on? Shouldn't it have done something now? She really wanted to bolt. Just to take a step back and say, "Yeah, looks like it didn't work, let's just move on, shall we?" Just wanted to...she didn't know what the hell she wanted now. Why was it taking so long? Was Nick taking longer just to increase the tension? Make it more dramatic for the people at home? No, that was a dumb thought and Melissa felt irritated just for thinking it. He wouldn't do that.

Her eyes squeezed shut tighter as the machine came back again. Seconds seemed to lengthen into minutes as thoughts raced in her mind. She had promised to stick with Jennifer for as long as possible. That's why she was here. Because she was Jennifer's friend, Jennifer was counting on her and she was counting on Jen. That's the way it worked. Friends helped out friends. Friends stuck together. Even in something like this...yes, that's how it was supposed to be.

Her hands clenched into fists.

Third time's the charm.

Right?

G098 - Melissa Li - DEAD

She never did get to return Felicia's yearbook.
"Oh god dammit, I lost my sense of humor around here. Someone help me find it."

---

Approved V5 Pre-Game Characters:

Faria Young - Generals of Elysium (The Waterfront)
Annabelle Summers - Where Is My Muse? (Lunch Room)

"And who the hell came up with this play?! "Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet" ...Dude, THEY ALL DIE!"

Cosmosphere - Now Serving as a Crappy Writing Blog
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MurderWeasel
MW's Private Rank
Joined: February 18th, 2009, 7:01 am

April 29th, 2011, 3:20 am #18

Nick gave a quick explanation of the purpose of his device, then asked if they were in, if they wanted to be involved in his plan. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Freedom. the possibility of escape, of a future beyond this island. They just had to trust him. Time was of the essence. They had seconds to respond.

Looking back, Jennifer could never determine which answer she wished she had been about to give.

Part of her wanted to believe she had enough common sense to stop things in their tracks. It'd have been a simple matter to laugh like it was a joke. After all, it was clear that Nick wasn't sure it was going to work. Had he been, he would have tested it on himself, or maybe on Jennifer. Laughter would have been cruel, hurtful. It would have been another blow against a boy she cared about. It would have been entirely out of character for her, but what wasn't these days?

Part of her wanted to believe that she'd been about to step forward and volunteer herself. Then, perhaps, fate could have rolled along as it was meant to, and Jennifer could have died before Melissa. She could have been spared the pain of watching her—well, no use dancing around the issue, Melissa was by this point fairly well her best friend, after all they had been through together—best friend die in front of her. Maybe Melissa could have kept going. Could have survived. Could have gone home.

The reality, though, the one Jennifer would never quite be able to fully believe, was that she just wasn't quick enough on the uptake to have any action in mind. Everything was too sudden, too shocking. She didn't do anything. She just stood and watched as Nick waved his device over Melissa's collar.

Nothing happened.

He did it again.

Nothing happened.

Jennifer let out her breath.

It was all going to be fine.

She shifted her foot.

Nick did it a third time.

Things were different.

Jennifer watched Melissa die.

There was no comprehension.

No recognition.

No emotion.

Nothing.

For about two seconds.

Then she screamed.

Then she started backwards.

Then she tipped over.

Her legs were still asleep.

Then she landed on the ground.

A patch of grass stopped it from being too bad.

She didn't scrape her hands.

Then she realized that her icepick wasn't in her skirt.

It was still in her bag.

Against the tree.

Behind Nick.

Too far.

So she just started crying again.
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Brackie
Winner
Joined: October 19th, 2009, 6:02 am

April 29th, 2011, 4:12 pm #19

((Ma'afu Tuigamala continues from The Dream Was Just The Same))

There was a bang.

And Maf sprinted faster than he'd ever run in his life, overshadowing all the days before him. Even though he'd been trekking uphill for a while, his energy was far from gone, the opposite. Jennifer was here, she was so close, he could find her at last...

All those nagging feelings of guilt and regret were gone now. He'd sorted that out back at the mirror house slash graveyard, and now he had purpose, a real meaning, a real goal where he could find solace in the fact that if he died, right now, at this very minute, he would die knowing he at least got close to accomplishing something.

So when he heard that explosion some distance away, his heart almost stopped.

But it didn't, and instead he mentally injected himself with steroids and ignored the fatigue, the pain, the overwhelming possibility that Jennifer was involved in that explosion...

He was clumsy, he was loud, he wasn't even bothering to hold back the disgruntled grunts as his foot went astray and knocked into a sharp rock, where he was quite sure for a few split seconds that he'd just broken something. But no, he kept on going, even in the face of certain almost imminent death up that damn mountain.

But that explosion wasn't all. It came with a scream.

And even though it wasn't a voice, it was damn well good enough for him.

He didn't falter, he didn't stop, he just kept going up that mountain until suddenly
level ground. But he didn't see Jennifer at first, in fact he wasn't even sure in a few scary nanoseconds that Jennifer could have been alive. An explosion, a collar explosion, a small pack of C4 attached to the jugular did not mean one could scream.

But it wasn't Jennifer, or lack of Jennifer, that caught his attention in those first seconds in what should have been the best moments of his life. Instead, it was the certain person, that same certain person, who he knew from first hand first-person experience was a cold-blooded murderer, who was now standing over the bloodied corpse of a girl he knew an age ago as Melissa Li.

Maf's eyes...changed. They no longer reflected a kind soul who was looking like the lost puppy he'd acted the part of, but they were threatening. His eyebrows threatened to slice open the bridge of his nose, and for those threatening few seconds, he was motionless.

The bag zipped open ferociously again, and now the man who was searching for what he wanted for so long that he wasn't going to let anything stop it stood there, in the midst of a death of a mutual friend, pointing a gun at a murderer and also a technical mutual friend.

"Nick."

A staggered inhalation. His finger was clenched tight enough that even the slightest mistake, the slightest change in his attitude elevation, could change so many people.

And the scariest thing, the scariest thing he'd ever experienced on the island...

Was that he wasn't sure if he cared or not right now.

[+] spoiler
[+] spoiler
v4
Brendan Wallace is a coward.
Clio Gabriella wanted to go home.
Paige Strand needed to run.
Jacob Charles had to put back his pieces.
Aston Bennett was better than you.
Ma'afu Tuigamala made the ultimate mistake.
[+] spoiler
v5
Janie Sinneave wanted to ride in the clouds.
[+] spoiler
v6
Maxim Kehlenbrink did nothing wrong.
[+] spoiler
Ezra Landau - "Pretty sure the point of life is to indulge and be pretty." - Philosophy
Hayden Lockwood - "Come to the march this Saturday and I'll show you a good time." - Pride
Allegra Varley - "Bet you I can jump from here to that boat." - Risk
Truann Coleman - "Please stop saying that." - Rage
Anya Van Doren - "Dunno why I did it. Dunno why it's your business." - Duplicity
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Rattlesnake
Winner
Joined: January 4th, 2009, 9:01 am

April 30th, 2011, 4:11 am #20

The world shattered.

There had been happiness kindling in his heart, real tangible joy at having beaten the system, saving his friends, outsmarting the terrorists. Shown his worth. He made one swipe, two, three, his heart rising with the confirmation of that which he scarcely dared to hope and yet couldn't help but believe. It was going to work, they were going to be free, they could go home. Saved by his own brilliance-

It was like stepping inside a lightning bolt. It was so blazingly fast, deafeningly loud, shockingly visceral. Not just a little boom and a gout of flame. The shockwave pounded his eardrums into his brain, slammed his hand into a mousetrap, kicked him full force in the sternum. Launched a fireball that seared and blinded and plastered atomized gore over his sweaty face.

An eruption so powerful it left his mind totally blank.

Seconds slipped by while nobody was looking. Jennifer screamed. Thoughts poured back into his mind.

what

He could register only the barest sense of shock.

no

The feeblest protests against harsh, unbreaking reality.

No. No, no, no. Please. Please be a dream. Please don't be real. Don't be real. Please, no.

Everything he'd ever known could be a fake. Let reality unwind itself for all he cared, let everything he'd ever known be just a counterfeit of a dream, let the universe boil away into nothing just as long as it meant those last five seconds never happened.

Reality stood its ground.

There were times when he'd been speechless, where he'd even experienced a momentary stupor of thought. But this... He could only stand rooted to the spot as wave after wave of emptiness tested the bulwarks of his mind. The plan had been a risk. He'd known that full well. But the risk wasn't - it wasn't supposed to turn out that way. It was supposed to be daring. Empowering. Fun, even. He'd put the collar together in his mind. Circuits, sensors, detonators, capacitors, wires, batteries, explosive. Just a puzzle for him to solve. Extra credit. Basic principles - and bookkeeping.

And there he was. Nick Reid, the most spectacular failure in four bloody years of Survival of the Fittest. Steeped in the blood of his would-be ally, unable to offer the slightest comfort in return to the girl who'd given him so much. He'd be dead without her, most likely. She was crying. just crying, looking as terrible as he felt as he hammered impassiveness into his face so hard it seemed on the verge of breaking. He just wanted to bury his face in his shoulder, let her rest her head on his, squeeze her against himself and invite the world to go screw itself.

But that couldn't happen. Not now, not in the future, not ever. He wasn't a hero or a victim or an innocent bystander or anyone else that deserved her comfort or even to touch her. He'd been right the first time they parted. He had no business sullying her with his presence. And yet, running away would be the worst thing he could do. She'd be alone then, nobody to support or protect her, maybe even wracked with guilt about how she hadn't managed to save everyone, make everything all better. How she hadn't done the impossible and made everyone happy again.

He'd have to stay with her, at least until she found her balance again. And then? He had no idea what. The only thing he could do then would be to leave her with some food and water and his wishes, a hope for her death to be a quick one. Just like Melissa. For a moment, his careful facade slipped.

He should have died instead of her.

He became aware of a crashing sound not far away. They've found me, came the first ridiculous thought. He didn't know who "they" would be; his list of people willing to kill him contained, to his knowledge, every person on the island. There were, of course, a few standouts. Maxwell, Maf, Alex, probably another handful he'd forgotten. People he'd come to blows with and failed to kill or get killed by. Ivan. Tabi, maybe. One of Anna's friends, or Marty's, or Will's, or David's and so on. Heck, he even thought he recalled hearing something about a bear...

He wasn't too far off. Maf, from the tunnels. A kid who had to have a constitution score of 20. He'd been searching for Jennifer too, watched him kill a man, took Nick's pummeling fists and knees like they were nothing. And in his hands - Gun.

The object planted itself firmly, immediately into his mind. He'd seen so many guns in the past week, and all from the same freaking direction. The weapon held no fear for him now. He wasn't going to get shot. It hadn't happened the first dozen times, and it wasn't going to happen now. He wasn't going to stand like a deer in the headlights, watching chance dictate the remaining span of his days. He was going to do something about it. And that something didn't involve negotiation.

"No. Just, no. Leave. Put the gun away."

Neither boy moved.

"Okay, then," he said, laying one hand on the hilt of the sword thrust through his belt loop. "You've got five seconds to put that thing down and God help you if you think I'm joking."

...

...two...

...one...


Deep breath. Swallow. Hand on the hilt. Crouch. Coil.

Charge.
[+] spoiler
G065 KK Konipaski - "I killed a girl today. I think. And I didn't make a lot of friends with it. You don't bleed that much and walk away, I know that."
Skidded to a halt in the Central Park with the Basket-Hilted Rapier, Swordbreaker, Butterfly Knife, Stinger.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

B060 Matthew Young - "What brings you to the beach on this crappy day?"
Taking a sand nap in the Eastern Inlet with the iPod from Heck
1 2 3 4

G075 Tessa Blackridge - "Oh. ...I left quite a mess, didn't I?"
Staring down the cold hand of Death in the Bike Trails with the Pepper Spray
1 2
[+] spoiler
B055 Nick Reid - "Put that thing down, and neither of us have to die."
Troubled no more in the Mountains with the Molotov (x1), Estoc, Jutte

G090 Kari Nichols - "please..."
Sleeping forever in the Logging Road with the Nothing

B088 Cody Jenkins - "They won't come, you know."
Decomposing in the Northern Cliffs with the Middle Finger (x1)
NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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