No More Predation. (Please.)

Cannon Fodder
Joined: May 9th, 2015, 5:28 am

March 25th, 2017, 7:12 am #1

((Wade Cartwright continued from Dysthemia Morte.))

And for the second time, Wade had found himself abruptly separated from a group without too much real fuss. Just that loud person - another feminine figure, now that he thought of it - brandished a gun, scared them, they dispersed. By the time he recollected himself, he'd lost track of where Rene and Blair had gone. So much for a second group. He didn't even get a second chance. Just hi, hey, whoa and gone.

A part of him wanted to say not again, another asked itself who was that really, and yet another degenerated into a morass of questions because he just thought too fast, his mind raced with pure, unbridled thought and he couldn't focus even when he was calm and relaxed. Sitting down and adopting a thousand-yard stare on the northeastern coast of the island hadn't helped. Maybe it was just him, and he couldn't fix it no matter how damn hard he tried. But he did.

In the end, it was back into the asylum. Where it had all began, so long ago. Except not quite, because he'd started inside those offices and gone down by the western side and he was taking the East side muhfuckas, yeah. Up to the roof. A cold resolve began to take hold of him as he went up that last flight of stairs and took in the view from the top.

It wasn't just from that bullshittery king of the world feeling, either. It was something more real than that. He tried to bray himself against it, kick and punch it, but it didn't leave. That's how he knew it was actual, genuine determination. Not just the desire for an ideal. Having it, and letting it guide you where it would.

The chilly air of the asylum roof, at night no less, was absolutely perfect for focus. Nothing but the cold and the concrete to think about. And the jagged, broken terrain that threatened to send him plummeting to an anticlimatic death with a single wrong move, that too. But no, seriously. Life and death matters had their way of cutting through useless, nonsensical, and idiotic brainfog like that. For long enough, anyway.

So the very last useless thought on his mind regarded how this place would be a saboteur's paradise of easy access if the asylum were still operating, and then nothing.

Lying down, his plastic windbreaker doing little to prevent the wet cold of the vines and muck that had grown, he tried to focus seriously on the situation. What were the facts? What were the truth that they bore out?

The facts, his mind asked as though to counter, idly admiring the stars shining intermittently in the blackened heavens. No more rainy skies above...

Fact number one: This entire setup was a textbook predation scenario. No getting or beating or cutting around that cold, hard dose of plain reality. The comparison between this very real, very... substantial reality and one (no, two, maybe three if you counted Rough Housing..) of his most favorite webcomics felt silly at first. (Don't confuse fiction and reality-)- and all that. But the more he seriously tried to focus on the idea, the more it simply clicked, made sense especially if you saw all the students as being the carnivores. Perhaps simply the distorted logic of a life-and-death scenario, but nevertheless: the rules were simple. Kill or be killed. The penalty for surviving and not killing other students was getting thrown into the next game rather than starvation, of course, but there wasn't much practical difference between disappearing for years then showing up again probably to die the second time. (Just one year, maybe? Why have the breaks gotten so long after V4 again?)

Every single student out there who'd chosen to kill, one way or the other, had chosen to become a predator, plain and simple. There weren't any true herbivores because anyone could do it in principle, but the metaphor held up well. And predators could never really be trusted, no matter what. Being a herbivore meant looking out for the rules, looking out for your herd, taking one for the team. And sometimes just accepting death, it seemed.

That was what had always horrified him about that entire conceit in Suburban Jungle. The one piece of the setting he could never really live with, that made him.. genuinely sad and depressed about the brutal inevitability of death. Or at least within the context of being preyed upon.

Now that he thought about it, the personal quality of it was a big part of the anger. Impersonal dystopias, like 1984, We, BioShock... they could perhaps incite the righteous anger that you could stoke toward a dictatorship, a system, a thought, but it only went so far when all the truly nasty shit was just implied and off-screen or sanitized or even only half-there. It wasn't *your* anger, *your* revulsion being expressed. Except in, say, the Room 101 scene, but those moments were rare. Systemic dystopias were just about systems, about the abstract clash of ideologies, so they didn't generate as much passion unless you were already fanatically passionate, and that was rare.

But on the other hand, Suburban Jungle gave the predator -- the oppressive force that takes lives, ruins families, distorts the world to its benefit -- a personal angle. Now the 'oppressors' were individuals in their own right. They had physical fears, ideological wants, desires. That made it all the more painful when they turned around and casually murdered others, smashing those very same wants and desires of others with little concern... or perhaps with a light, always biased, tinged form of it. Indeed, you could really get riled up at what was, in truth, the tale of a bunch of moral monsters going about their lives in their separate, almost delirious emotional world.

Their personality was their biggest 'weakness', though - so to speak, it made one intensely passionate, but it also gave an opportunity for catharsis. Now instead of being this vague idea controlling a bunch of drones, it was a face that one could imagine spitting in, a strength that one could imagine skillfully avoiding or even resisting, it had a psychology, a mind - even a twisted mind, under certain interpretations - that one could imagine taking apart. It gave the opening for revenge, and that was the big saving grace of it all, to Wade. Just bind up the moral indignation, give it shape, shoot it out there. Being able to express the horror was relief.

Just digression, though. Get back to the facts: what did they imply?

Fact number two: The reality that this was a predation scenario at its heart implied that the same tactics one could use to survive them applied here. But not precisely, of course, with the rules the terrorists made up slightly distorting it all. 'Last man standing' had certainly never once been the rule applied that he'd seen, just 'Any man standing, as long as he can stand'. But it still stood: every single player roaming the island out there was a by-the-books straight-up predator. And resisting those was thus tantamount to resisting them. Maybe even prevailing against them.

What rules, exactly, were there for resisting predators? He imagined a few obvious ones, like: Don't trust a predator, preferably don't even interact with predators, never linger near a predator for longer than you absolutely have to, exploit every terrain, mental, physical advantage you can possibly gain if you confront them.

The more important question: how did one approach confronting such a being? But those were basically the same as the rules for combat... which he still couldn't participate in. Cue pulling out the adrenaline and staring longingly at it. Dammit, he needed an equalizer, not a booster. His bare fists accelerated with this stuff.. he'd read stories about how adrenaline pumping was like having superpowers for awhile, but they were probably exaggerated. And he was still weak. His legs had become inured to walking all over since the third day, but..

How did one _avoid_ predators if one couldn't confront them? That was one hell of a confusing subject, and it tied into stealth in general. There wasn't any indication of their presence at all beyond what the announcements said, and those just listed where the murders happened the previous day. All of the knowledge he'd have on them was whatever was available in the current situation. What he could gather through his senses. So that meant--

He'd be best sticking to places where his senses gave him the most information on the surroundings. On the other hand, where would those be? The wide open also gave the opponent information, so it was as good as nothing. But... (yawn) rooms could give him some tactical advantage, but they were harder to get out of in case they realized where he was or they were declared dangerzones, or some unexpected hazard popped up like the fire earlier, yeah.

But he, once again... needed a group. There wasn't anything he could do against a player who hard-countered his weaknesses, and at this juncture it was likely all of them.

Third hard fact: groups were dangerous.. and the only hope. A predator much stronger than yourself, with greater reach, patience, etc. is basically a 'Cubi of sorts, having virtual control over large areas of the battlefield with their agility, accuracy, and firepower. But in DMFA, those were hardly invincible -- group tactics and ranged weaponry enabled Beings to take them down without excessive loss of life.

Since he wasn't likely to get his dirty, grubby little hands on guns or even bows any time soon, that left finding a group. There could be all sorts of drama, politics, and hard decisions that they could end up making that... wouldn't be to his advantage. The Ten Little Indians' specter raised its ugly little head. But a decent-sized entourage could hold itself off against most comers. For a time. Will had been right that first morning.

The issue was, where to find something like that?

In any case, this seemed like a good hideout spot for the night. Nothing but star and moonlight to guide potential enemies. Easy concealment. Easy avoidance. Easier tripping, and he was anchored onto a secure spot. Just breathe in, breathe out. Close your eyes.. let the stresses of thinking bleed away. Fade into the blackness until tomorrow. That's it.

Wade held himself like that. For what must have been an hour before finally drifting off in a haze of doubt and fear.

His mind practically hit the ground running as he regained consciousness. Bright morning sky. The sun was to his right. Ouch. Everything felt cold, cold, cold. Cold as shit. Don't want to die of hypothermia. Set priorities. Priorities other than evasion and no hypothermia. Number One: don't die here. Number two: find a weapon. Number three: find a group.

The announcements started blaring as usual, and his stomach began sinking again as he navigated the jagged slopes of the roof toward the stairwell that he'd left the day earlier.

Travis had died, too. Only Cass was left. Dammit. Another casualty that his mind would chalk down to his fault. Why?! Avoid Jeremiah Fury, avoid Coleen Reagan if you haven't made a mental note to already. Down the stairs. Left!

((Wade Cartwright continued elsewhere!))
[+] Spoiler
Boy #38: Wade Cartwright "Hey, do you read Sabrina Online? ... No? Uh, okay... see you?"
Starting Weapon: Adrenaline Needle
Before the Game: Discovery.
The Game: Anger. Fear. Flight. Collection.
Health Status: Full
Morality: Innocent

Girl #64: Leslie Price "I don't go to the book club, prick. Now fuck off."
Starting Weapon: Whistle
Before the Game: Intimidation.
The Game: Apathy. Serenity. Hate. Sight. Pursuit. Error.
Health Status: DEAD
Morality: N/A