"I'm fine!" Simon heard dimly, but there was pain behind the voice, and fear as well. Simon hesitated for just a fraction of a moment; he could not bring himself to believe that a small, unassuming girl like Reiko Ishida had been going around callously murdering her companions, but then...then Raidon had said he would murder, hadn't he? And his name coming up in the Announcements, there really couldn't be any...any...
Another set of gunshots, a long time ago. Nessie, screaming as he-
"Shit," cursed Simon, and then without thinking any further, he staggered to his feet and limped out into the open. He fire two warning shots in the direction of their assailant--had to make him keep his head down, one way or another, Simon was moving slow enough as it was. He pulled a hand under Ishida's shoulder and hauled her to her feet, pulling her to the truck as fast as he could limp along. His leg hadn't hurt so much, at first--it had just felt like a particularly strong punch, and a vague sensation of wrongness. Now, however, it was starting to burn. The more he moved, the hotter the fire burned, and it was becoming very difficult to think.
He slumped to the ground behind the truck, setting Reiko next to Ishida. "You...you can kill, so you can...you can take care of yourself, right?" he panted, not even looking at Ishida. "G-get her...get..." He trailed off and bit down on his tongue to suppress a yell as his leg throbbed with sudden intensity. He shot it only a fleeting look--saw blood streaming from a wound in his thigh. He wouldn't be able to run, and running was all they had left--against firepower like this guy had, they couldn't possibly...
He had an injured leg. They were pinned down behind cover. Their enemy had better weapons. They were going to get flushed out--their only hope was to move before he was ready.
He tried to force the pain out of his head, to little avail, but he succeeded in clearing his mind a little. "You two get out of here," Simon said simply, as he ejected his magazine, dug through his bag, and reloaded his gun. Eight bullets in the clip; the rest... "Take my bag," Simon said. "I'm not in a-any hurry to...but..." He gestured at his leg and smiled weakly. "I'd just slow you down."
Without looking at them--without listening to whatever objections they might have had--Simon hauled himself to his good leg, hissing through his teeth at the surge of fire that went coursing out from his wound. He knew, roughly, where the attack had come from, and without worrying he fired--seven shots in that direction, to force his erstwhile enemy to stay low.
When Simon, tears pooling in the corners of his eyes and his teeth gritted to resist the temptation to scream, sunk back to cover behind the truck, Ishida and Carol had fled.
Simon did not think for a little while--his mind was too much on his pain. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled bar of chocolate. The taste of simulated love mingled eerily with his pain, and left a discordant sense of fulfillment, anger, and fear.
He did not, he realized, want to die this way. In all honesty, he didn't want to die at all. He had only, it seemed, paid lip service to the idea of being a hero, of dying for others; that now, as the moment came--as he was left by himself on this godforsaken island, grimy with days of accumulated dirt and worn ragged by death and fear. He didn't want to be in this horrible place, with one of his former classmates on the opposite side of the truck, he didn't want...
Didn't I try to do good? he wondered. If it's just going to...if I'm just going to...what the fuck was the point?!
He closed his eyes.
Crunching footsteps, quick over the leaves. Simon almost didn't notice, wrapped up as he was in his own pain. He took one last bite of chocolate and tossed the wrapper to one side. It occurred to him, at that last moment, that someone could have fired at him from beneath the truck, thereby taking him out before he had a chance to defend himself. But before he could check something slammed into the truck--he felt the reverberations from the impact in his back. More steps, coming from his right, and Simon steadied his grip upon his gun.
A thought occurred to him, as he was readying himself. A question, to which an answer immediately came--did he have any regrets?
The answer, of course, was yes. The answer, of course, was that he regretted being here, that he regretted not being able to do more for Vanessa and his father, that he regretted that he was going to cause his family additional pain by dying and that he was going to be unable to do any good here besides die. To the best of his knowledge, all the previous versions of SotF had ended one way--with a single survivor.
The two people he'd saved, in that light, meant nothing. The numerous classmates-turned-killers he'd heard of--even Raidon--meant nothing. There would be only one survivor. His sacrifice was pointless.
And it was this fact that forced a smile onto Simon's face, almost against his will.
He hated being here. He hated having to die. He hated that there wasn't more he could do. But for one instant he loved himself and all his life, because he realized that while he could have done more good--a person can always do more good--his only wish was that he could have helped and saved more. It didn't matter that he was going to die, probably for no reason. It didn't matter that being here was pointless, that killing each other was pointless, that dying here was pointless.
"When the fall is all there is," Simon muttered under his breath, a little delirious from pain. "It matters."
Please stay safe.
Please stay safe, Kari, Gary, Rein, Carol, Ishida.
Please stay safe, Raidon.
Someone--Simon never quite saw who--stepped around the corner. Simon heard him coming, was already lifting his gun. His assailant had an automatic weapon of some kind, that much was clear, so Simon hadn't ever counted on having more than one shot.
He managed to pull the trigger, before the bullets raced home and obliterated his skull, smashed his brain into liquid, tore through one of his eyeballs, pierced a lung and shattered two rips, ripped straight through his arm and embedded themselves in his intestine. Managed to fire one last shot, before his life was consumed in one brief, flaring ecstasy of crimson agony and forced darkness.
I never was a hero. But, God help me, I tried.
B072 SIMON GREY: ELIMINATED