Retribution

Fiori
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Fiori
Contender
Joined: February 25th, 2010, 7:15 pm

July 2nd, 2011, 12:33 pm #1

((Maxwell Lombardi continued from You Already Know How This Ends))

Bitch... Fucking BASTARDS! Should have shot him whilst I had the chance, but NO, I just HAD to make things more challenging didn't I? I just couldn't be satisfied with taking the pragmatic route and get it all over and done with quickly!

After barely getting away from the two small-time killer's whom had each inflicted a grievous injury on him, Maxwell Lombardi found himself leaning against a nearby tree as he attempted to ascertain just how serious his wounds were.

He was fairly sure by now that the gunshot wasn't fatal. Crippling, perhaps, but not enough to kill him. Not that it made him feel any better, seeing as he was now in a state of absolute agony, made all the worse by the fact that half his face now had a horrific disfiguring scar going down it. One which made the scar on his left cheek look like a scratch by comparison. It too added to the sheer amount of pain he was under, his blood pouring freely down the side of his face and from the hole in his back.

Worst of all, whilst the wound on his face was far from fatal, it had also taken something from him which couldn't be replaced... His right eye. That in particular was something that enraged him more than anything else at that particular moment in time, that barely moments after getting shot in the back did some other bastard rob him of one of his own eyes. Every other injury he had received could be easily fixed with some good surgeons and a lot of money. Heck, after all the scars he'd received he was already considering the idea of getting plastic surgery anyway once he got back home, then go live in anonymity for the rest of his life in some holiday home in Majorca. The eye though was something that could never be replaced, not in his lifetime anyway. He was doomed to remain half-blind for the rest of his life, constantly reminded of that one fateful fuck-up to end all fuck-ups.

God DAMNIT! How could I have been so STUPID! Next time, I should shoot the daft cunt whilst I have the chance! No pissing about, just aim and pull the trigger. That way, we can avoid making stupid fucking mistakes like the one I made just moments ago... Why, god damnit, WHY!?!

It was times like this that Maxwell wished he could just reverse time, set the clock back to the point where he had just made mistake #1 and make sure that he didn't screw up this time around. He was already beginning to miss being able to look out of both his eyes, something which he knew for a fact was going to torment him for the rest of his life. What was stupid mistake #1 anyway? Was it the moment when he fell for that stupid trick with the flashbang grenade, causing him to lose both his equipment AND his dignity? Or was it the time when that French harlot Alice Boucher grazed his arm, or one of the many times he let that dyke Reiko Ishida get away by the skin of her teeth? Hell, a part of him was tempted to say that his mistake #1 was that moment by the beach when he first decided to play this blasted game in the first place.

No, on second thoughts, mistake #1 was agreeing to go on this bloody trip in the first place.

Why DID he agree to come along anyway? After all, during his brief tenure at Bayview he barely made any effort to know anyone. Why should he? It wasn't as if he was going to be staying that long. Heck, he ended up learning more about his classmates during his stay on the island then he did back at that godawful excuse for a school. In that case, why in god's name did he decide to tag along anyway?

...Oh, that's right. His parents wanted him out of their hair for a while, didn't they? Wanted to have the house all to themselves whilst he was off on some dull school trip. THAT'S why he ended up in this hellhole, killing god knows how many people and receiving several disfiguring injuries in the process. All because his parents wanted to get rid of him for a while.

God, if only he could have seen their faces the moment they realised that their actions turned their son into bloody killer.

C'mon Maxwell, its not all bad... Sure, you've lost an eye, but at least you're still alive right? And in the end, that's what matters, isn't it? Those two bastards you left back there aren't going to survive, YOU are. YOU'RE the lucky son of a bitch who's going to win this thing, aren't you? Not Alice, or Reiko, or anyone else on this fucking island! YOU are the winner! YOU are the victor! You're the only one here who has the right to go home, nobody else! And by god, I'm not going to rest now until every single bastard on this entire island lies dead at my....

....Feet?


Maxwell looked down at the metal object that fell a metre or so from where he stood.

His eyes widened in shock.

No way... No FUCKING way.....

It was a flashbang grenade.

He barely managed to block his eyes before the bomb went of, deafening the young killer with an impossibly loud bang. Barely moments later, he felt a large thump against his body as some unseen figure tackled him, sending him and the figure soaring over the edge and tumbling over each other down the the side of the mountain until they both landed onto a small plateau, surrounded on all sides by a sudden drop which would almost certainly spell certain death for anyone who was careless enough to fall off.

Ignoring the tremendous amount of pain he was in, Maxwell kicked the figure away from him as he rolled onto his side, groggily getting back onto his feet as he prepared himself to face his restless opponent.

There was fire in Maxwell's eyes as they locked into his enemy's, the two killers staring one another down as they stood up and prepared themselves for what they both knew would be their final conflict. No more bullshit, no more running off or letting the other get away with a savage beating. This time, both of them would make damn sure that the other was dead this time, even if they had to go to the most extreme lengths to make sure that this was the case.

An evil grin grew on Maxwell's lips, his teeth stained red from his bloody injuries. He clenched his fists, and cricked his neck as he readied himself for the vicious fight that was about to ensure.

"Well, guess I'm not the only guy on this island who's hard to kill..." he said with cruel smirk, shortly before he rushed forward at lightning speed, his fist readied to deliver a thunderous punch to his tenacious opponent.
V5 Characters

Brian Zhdanovich - Homestead
Ruby Forrester - Shopping Mall
Jenna Rhodes - Hotel

[+] spoiler
Maxwell Lombardi - The Suave Bastard {Shot off a cliff} [Kill Count: 12]
Marty J. Lovett - The Paranoid Pessimist {Stabbed in the heart} [Kill Count: 1]
Joshua Krakowski - The Living Anachronism {Shot in the temple}
Vera Osborne - The Pretentious Artist {Shot in the eye}
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Grim Wolf
Winner
Joined: November 9th, 2009, 5:39 am

July 4th, 2011, 8:13 am #2

(Naoko Raidon returning from Original Sin)

Take this. End him

The world was less its own reality and more a blurry mess of sickeningly bright lights swimming together without distinction. What he became aware of, before the outside world, was his body--the aching knot of his chest, his battered arms, his burning hands, his throbbing head. His legs, perhaps the least damaged part of him, felt odd, suspended in exhilarated peril.

It took him two minutes to figure out why. To figure out this his legs were dangliing into empty space.

As the world began to reform into solid shapes and the memory that had consumed him was left behind, Raidon cautiously attempted to lift his head. A wave of agonizing nausea swept out from the back of his skull; clenching his teeth, Raidon lowered his head.

Raidon-

With a grimace, Raidon lifted his head and pulled his feet in. As nausea consumed him again, he drew his legs into his chest and swallowed, trying to restrain the rising bile. He was, he now saw, on a thin ledge tucked beneath the sheer precipice he'd fallen down; looking up, Raiond saw that the cliff sloped very gently inward. From up there, it appeared to be a straight vertical fall; from down below, Raidon could observe this gentle curve.

He looked down at his fingers. At the nails that had been torn free. By dragging himself along the wall, he'd been caught by this little ledge about eight feet down. His chest hurt like hell (from the impact, he assumed) and his head ached from the flailing blow against the cliffs.

But he remembered now. The full weight of what had happened all those years ago.

In a daze Raidon got to his feet, fighting the dizzying smog that seemed to have suffused his sesnes; he crept along the side of the mountain, feeling every ache in his body (chest, arms, legs, head, fingers--only his back, in the places Soryu had massaged, was at all comfortable). And as he walked, he remembered.

I could have shot him.

The tattooed hitman who'd come for his father. The gun in his hands. He could have saved his father; at the very least, he could have taken the gun and run.

But he'd stood there, and let the gun slip from his fingers. And now, in a fight with the man who'd killed Simon Grey, he understood the larger picture.

"My inaction," he whipsered. "I made him go because I didn't want him to...because I was so ashamed." On cue another wave of nausea consumed him. This one he couldn't fight; he turned to the crumbling stone edge a few inches from him and threw up.

Inaction was as much a crime as action--perhaps more so. At least those who acted had the stomach to accept their sins and own them. The same indecision that left Raidon so disgusted with Julian Avery lurked in him, as well--he'd parted ways with Simon, not to protect him, but so that he wouldn't have to protect him.

He was off the crumbling edge and back on a more proper path now. Instinctively he made his way lower down the mountain, stumbling. The blood from his reopened wound had dried on his shirt, and his every movement felt stiff on his left side. Everything hurt--even his mind. He no longer had righteous fury, he no longer had the comforting illusion of his blank memory. He had only the reality of what he was and what he'd done.

And then he had the reality of Maxwell Lombardi standing about twenty feet away, in profile against a tree.

He froze.

He could see the right side of Lombardi's face, slick with blood. As far as he could tell, the other boy hadn't seen him yet; if Raidon wanted, there was perhaps time to creep away, find some place to hid himself while he gathered his thoughts. Twice now he'd faced Maxwell--the first time had been only a narrow victory, while the second had nearly ended in his death. He had the knife he'd taken from Roland, but Maxwell had managed to disarm him before; he had the flashbangs, but he had only four remaining; he had Alice's gun, but it only had one bullet. If he missed...

Best to retreat. Lombardi looked in poor shape as it was, he probably couldn't-

[You're running away again.

No. No, I'm just recognizing a strategic reality. He's killed more because he's stronger than I am, and I'm weaker than normal--left side hurts, I've probably got a concussion.

Running away. Leaving it to someone else. Afraid to make your own choices.

I'm not...

Admit it. Deep down you're just like him; the only difference is he's got the balls to admit what he is.


Quietly, carefully, Raidon reached for his bag, found one of the flashbangs. He waited, made absolutely sure that Maxwell hadn't seen him, and then...

Threw.

He shut his eyes against the flash as he rushed forwards, knife already in hand. Lombardi must have seen him coming in part, because he was unable to sink it into Maxwell's flesh; a hand found his wrist, held it steady. Instead the two went skidding down an incline, tumbling end over end. A swift kick collided with Raidon's wrist, sent his dagger clattering away. He rushed to his feet, struggling to keep the vomit down.

He stared at Maxwell's bloody, battered from. Wondered if he looked that bad.

"Well, guess I'm not the only guy on this island who's hard to kill..." Maxwell said, smirking, and then rushed forward.

Well, rushed was a bit of a stretch.

He punched; Raidon stepped back and let it pass harmlessly in front of him. Lombardi's eyes flashed and he struck again; Raidon stepped to one side. Maxwell's eyes turned murderous and he moved forwards with another punch; Raidon simply ducked and then delivered a punch with his right hand.

And as soon as he'd done it, Raidon understood.

The Maxwell Lombardi he had faced two days ago had been relatively unharmed, confident in himself. He did not appear to have come off the worse in any fight he'd been in--just that one injury. Raidon, never strong at the best of times, had been wounded twice and forced to great heights of physical exertion; when he'd fought Maxwell, he'd been tired and weak.

The situation on Raidon's end hadn't changed much--he had a concussion now and his wound was recently reopened. But Maxwell Lombardi looked thoroughly beat to shit, and he had clearly underestimated just how much of his edge he had lost.

That's not to say Lombardi didn't fight--only that he could not for the life of him gain the upper hand. He swung, kicked, tackled; occasionally his blows collided with Raidon and the weaker boy would stagger backwards, coughing and fighting dizziness. But Maxwell's injuries were fresher, and he'd clearly lost a considerable amount of blood; his movements, which hand't been particularly strong to begin with, got progressively more and more sluggish.

And Raidon, trying desperately to avoid any thought of his recent realization, became more and more invested in the fight.

He swung another blow with his aching fist and caught Lombardi on the chin; the Brit stumbled backwards, coughing. His eyes flickered to one side and he began to scramble to one side of the little plateau they'd ended up in; Raidon's eyes followed, and he saw the Glock he hadn't noticed Lombardi holding during his earlier attack. He followed at once; his legs, uninjured and fresher than Maxwell's, allowed him to overtake Lombardi, and he lashed out and caught him around the ankles. Lombardi tumbled to the ground, still crawling towards the gun; as Raidon rained blows upon him, he first stopped crawling and then stopped struggling altogether, huddling up into a ball.

This time, there was no Soryu and no Avery. This time, there was just Raidon and Simon Grey's killer, and he had no reason to hold back.

He stopped only when he had to; when his breath came in screams and his head ached from the effort of moving so much. He didn't let himself stand still; he turned slightly, took the last two steps to Maxwell's gun, and lifted it into his hands.

Thought of the first gun he'd held. Thought of it clattering to the floor. This time there was no one to do the dirty work for him; this time, he had to take care of his own monsters.

He turned back to Maxwell and aimed the gun.
Want to buy my book? See my short stories? Read my fanfiction? Visit my website!

V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."
[+] spoiler

G053 Karen Idel, DECEASED: Game over.

B040 Tyler Lucas, DECEASED: I had fun. You?

B046 Xavier Contel, DECEASED : "G-gotta...trust people, Arthur. G-g-gotta try. C-can't be afraid."
[+] spoiler

B054 Raidon Naoko (DECEASED): "Dying like this isn't so bad..."

B072 Simon Grey (DECEASED): "I never was a hero, but, God help me, I tried."

B079 David Meramac (DECEASED): "Running towards nothing. Running from nothing."

G072 Mirabelle Nesa (DECEASED): "I'm a weak little girl who couldn't save anyone, even myself, but god damn it I beat you and god damn it you are going to remember that because I am Mirabelle Nesa and I am a hardened goddamn warrior and I am not going to fucking give up now!"
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Fiori
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Fiori
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Joined: February 25th, 2010, 7:15 pm

July 4th, 2011, 4:43 pm #3

...What the hell just happened?

It all happened so fast. One second, Maxwell was at the top of his game, kicking this guy around as if he was a football for him to play with. Then, before he even realised it, he had made one little mistake and the whole world crumbled beneath his feet. Things for there one had gone from bad to worse, and before he could even comprehend the fact that he was losing Maxwell found himself lying flat on his back, his face covered in his own blood.

He looked up at the Japanese boy who stood before him, horribly beaten and suffering from just as many injuries as himself, but standing as the victor rather than the fallen. There just wasn't any other way of putting it, Naoko Raidon had won. He'd beaten Maxwell to within an inch of his life, just like he'd done in the forest, and now the young Brit had found himself at his mercy.

Only this time, there wasn't any pacifists to stop him. No half-baked escape attempts to distract his enemy from finishing him off. Maxwell Lombardi was going to die at this boy's hands, and there was almost nothing he could do about it.

He tried desperately to reach for his gun, but deep down he knew that there was no way he could reach it in time before Raidon picked it up and put it to good use. All he could do is lie there in agony, waiting for the moment when Raidon put a bullet in his skull. He tried to get back up onto his feet, but the amount of pain he was in stopped him from doing so. He was completely helpless, powerless to stop the inevitable.

He was actually going to die.

And that terrified him to his very core.

No... N-N-N-No, damnit! It can't end like THIS! Not now, not here! I was supposed to WIN this fucking thing, not die just before the ending! I just... Jesus Christ, he's really going to kill me isn't he?!? I'm ACTUALLY going to die here and the hands of this.... This.... Amateur!

He thought back to the mansion, where Clio Gabriella had brought up the fact that they were all going to be remembered long after the events of the game. At the time, he remembered being fond of the idea of being remembered even if he DID lose this game. That people out there would look up at him as some kind of sick icon, praising his tenacity and skill. Future players would strive to be like him, to emulate him, to try and see if they can do a better job than him.

Now though, as he stared in the face of death itself, he felt no relief. No feelings of satisfaction that he will at least be remembered by people all across the world. Just sheer bloody terror about the fact that he was barely minutes away from his very own demise. He wanted to survive, not be remembered as some sick example! Fuck all the fame and glory, Maxwell wanted to live damnit! Preferably until he was an old man living in luxury, not here! Not on this fucking island at the hands of some amateur!

He was beginning to feel the adrenaline flowing through his veins again, his refusal to simply lay down and die fuelling his energy. He could barely feel the tremendous amount of pain he was under now, his sheer rage temporarily subsiding it as he readied himself for one last desperation attack. Raidon had the gun in his grimy hands now, and as Maxwell looked down the chamber he was reminded of the moment when he committed his second kill. When he'd stood in more-or-less the same position and coldly shot that smug fat fuck right between the eyes. The irony of the situation was sickening, but not as much as the things he was planning to do to the bastard standing before him.

Fuck you Naoko Raidon! I'm not going to die here, ESPECIALLY not at your hands! You don't deserve it! Nobody on this fucking island deserves it! I will not die, you hear me! I will not die! I will not die! I will not die!

"I WILL NOT DIE!!!"

At that point, Maxwell shot forward, ignoring the incredible amount of pain he was under as he dashed towards his enemy with a feral look of terrifying rage on his features. He barely even acknowledge the bullet that grazed his shoulder as he tackled Raidon head-on, viciously striking him across the fist with a bloody fist before delivering another to his stomach. With Raidon still recovering from the second blow, Maxwell jammed his hand into his enemy's exposed shoulder wound, causing him to cry out in pain before Maxwell grabbed the Japanese boy's head and smashed the center of his face with his forehand. From there one, he unleashed an unforgiving number of punches and kicks on the other boy's body, never slowing down for even a second as he continued to relentlessly rain blows on his opponent, ending his furious assault with an especially hard kick which sent his hated enemy soaring towards the edge of the mountain.

He stood there for a moment to admire his handiwork, and inhumane smile forming on his face as he looked down at the boy who barely moments ago had been on the verge of killing him. He'd done it! He'd ACTUALLY fucking done it! He'd completely turned the tables on this bastard! It was almost funny, really, the way he tried to squirm away and regain his footing.

So funny, in fact, that Maxwell actually found himself laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Not a natural laughter of joy, but a sadistic, almost animalistic cackle. Almost like the kind a Hyena has shortly before going in for the kill. Maxwell barely looked like the handsome Englishman he was at the start of the game, instead he looked feral. Wild.

You could almost say he looked like someone who had just lost what little sanity they had to start with.

Eventually, as his laughter died down, Maxwell's expression went from one of sick joy to a ferocious scowl as he spat out some of his own blood. He was done having fun, now it was time to fucking kill this son of a bitch.

"You... I have to admit, you're not the first guy on this island to seriously piss me off, but if there was a competition going on you'd of just won first fucking price."

He slowly made his way towards his supposedly fallen enemy, his eyes boring into Raidon's as he crawled back towards the mountain's edge.

"What makes you think you're so fucking special, huh?!? You have any idea how many people I've killed! There must be dozens of bastards out there who's loved ones I've butchered on my way to the top, but just because I kill ONE son of a bitch who happened to be your friend you suddenly feel as though you have some divine right to send me to my grave? You don't deserve to kill me any more than every other cunt on his damn island..."

Raidon had no room to escape now, and Maxwell was only a few feet away.

"...Don't you see? I've already WON this fucking game! Hell, I won it the moment I first woke up of this godforsaken rock! Haven't you seen the previous versions? The guy with the most kills ALWAYS wins! Adam Dodd, Bryan Calvert, J.R. Rizzolo... All of them were the number one killers. All of them EARNED their freedom! And that's exactly what I've done! I'm the only bastard on this ENTIRE ISLAND who deserves to survive! ME! Not you, or Reiko, or anyone else!"

He stamped his foot down on Raidon's chest, grabbing a nearby rock and raising it above his head as he looked down into the eyes of the boy whose life he was about to violently take. This was it, the moment Maxwell was waiting for. No more fucking around, this time he was going to smash this bastard's head in and watch to make damn sure that he was dead this time. In the heat of the moment, Maxwell leaned closer so that he could say one last thing to Raidon before he snuffed his miserable life out once and for all.

"Say hi to all your friends for me. Tell them I sent you personally..."

Then, with a vicious grin on his face, Maxwell leaned back and threw the boulder down at Raidon's face, smashing the Japanese boy's head into a hundred bloody pieces.....


....At least, that's what WOULD have happened if Raidon hadn't of shot his left hand out and grabbed Maxwell's injured ear as he was about to lean back, tearing at it with enough force to cause Maxwell to drop the boulder behind him and scream in agony.

"AAARGH!!! You son of a BITCH!"

But it didn't end there. Before Maxwell could recover from his ear being ripped apart, Raidon had grabbed the kris which lay barely a few feet to the left of him, which Maxwell hadn't spotted thanks to his impaired sight, and stabbed Maxwell as hard as he possibly could...

...Right in the crotch.

Followed by a cruel twist just add insult to injury.

No amount of adrenaline could drown the amount of pain Maxwell was under, the eager young killer falling to his knees as he attempted to keep his balance, screaming at the top of his lungs in sheer pain. This was... Truly unlike anything he could have possibly imagined. NOTHING else on the island could have possibly compared itself to the amount of agony Maxwell was suffering from at that particular moment in time. None of the other injures he'd ever suffered could equal, let alone surpass the impossible amount of pain he was in.

And it was only going to get worse from there on out...

In all his pain, Maxwell barely noticed Raidon as he grabbed another flashbang from his bag, and without pausing for a second the Japanese boy tugged back on Maxwell's hair and shoved the grenade into his mouth, removing the pin right before stumbling away from the blast radius.

In all the confusion, Maxwell couldn't spit it out in time before it went off right in the middle of his mouth.

The results, unsurprisingly, were NOT pretty.

Maxwell barely managed to spit the metal tube out after it had gone off, half-choking on the smoke that bellowed out. The inside of his mouth was ruined beyond comprehension, the sides of his cheeks burned and shredded apart and his teeth mangled and broken. His voice had been completely ruined, gargled croaks replacing words whenever he attempted to speak. Worst of all, Maxwell's ear drums had been burst from being so close to the grenade, causing him to be come permanently deaf for the brief amount of time he had left before his inevitable demise.

He slowly turned around towards Raidon, who was now slowly making his way towards Maxwell's gun again. His eyes widened as he realised what his enemy was about to do, and an unnatural roar of fury erupted from his ruined mouth as he tore the kris from his crotch, ignoring the pain as he began to stumble towards his enemy with the intent to rip him apart piece by piece.

He never made it any further than three steps before Raidon grabbed the gun and started firing.

The first shot hit Maxwell in his left shoulder, sending him stumbling back.

The second hit Maxwell in his right arm, causing him to drop the dagger to the floor.

The third hit near Maxwell's neck, slicing his tie off and dropping it to the floor as well.

The fourth hit Maxwell in his stomach, sending him stumbling back some more.

The last hit hit Maxwell in the lung, sending him stumbling a few feet further...

...Right off the mountain's edge.

Maxwell was still conscious as he continued to fall, watching the plateau he was standing on just moments ago disappear into the distance as he neared the rocky ground beneath him at lighting speed. He screamed in pain and fear as he continued to fall for hundreds of feet, his thoughts jumbled and incoherent as he neared his imminent and violent death.

No even all the adrenaline in the world could save him this time. Even if by some miracle he managed to survive the initial fall, the amount of injuries he had suffered would have ended up slowly killing him anyway. Not that the thought ever occurred to him as he continued to fall, seeing as Maxwell was too busy freaking out to take comfort in the fact that his imminent death would be almost instantaneous.

In all the chaos, he only managed one last coherent thought shortly before he smashed against the rocky floor with a sickening thud.

I... I was so close......



B047: MAXWELL LOMBARDI - DECEASED
V5 Characters

Brian Zhdanovich - Homestead
Ruby Forrester - Shopping Mall
Jenna Rhodes - Hotel

[+] spoiler
Maxwell Lombardi - The Suave Bastard {Shot off a cliff} [Kill Count: 12]
Marty J. Lovett - The Paranoid Pessimist {Stabbed in the heart} [Kill Count: 1]
Joshua Krakowski - The Living Anachronism {Shot in the temple}
Vera Osborne - The Pretentious Artist {Shot in the eye}
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Grim Wolf
Winner
Joined: November 9th, 2009, 5:39 am

July 7th, 2011, 2:29 pm #4

It was, more than anything, the blank and all-hating fury that sparked in Maxwell's eyes that prevented Raidon from simply pulling the trigger. He had the gun trained on Maxwell's head; his enemy's eyes were dull with pain. When life had sparked again--when that terrible, desperate hate had blazed up all at once--Raidon had been unable to move in that fragile instant between Maxwell's rise and his attack.

By the time he gathered the wherewithal to fire, Maxwell's head was no longer in the sights; he had burst forwards. Two hits--one to the face, one to the stomach. The pain brought Raidon more fully back to himself, cleared his head from the thought of Maxwell's rage; he lifted the gun again and prepared to fire.

Then Maxwell's hand found the wound in his shoulder.

Raidon had a higher pain tolerance than most of his peers. He had felt extreme pain before--he had the injuries on his back to prove it. The fact that he did not have a typical abuse victim's personality defects--the weakness of character, the feeling of being at fault--was a source of personal pride for him; it meant, as far as Raidon was concerned, that he had a stronger personality than most people, a mind stronger than his emotions.

But when Maxwell's hand found his wound, Raidon's thoughts vanished entirely behind a fog of agony, smoking out along his body from the wound. Waves of debilitating fire clawed their way across his skin. He didn't even feel the blow that followed; the smashing attack on his face that made him drop; didn't feel the gun fly from his fingers. He lay where he had fallen, let the blows rain down on him as he curled his hands protectively around his head. The beating should, perhaps, have hurt more on its own merits, but Lombardi was tired, injured and weak. They were but dim impacts, reinforcing the central pain coming from the deep wound in his shoulder.

But it was enough to leave him where he was, whimpering softly against the pain in head and his shoulder and the leaden weight of his whole body. Christ, he hurt; he'd been going non-stop since the loss of his finger, and had never really had time to recover.

Then the laughter. And the laughter brought to mind all the terrible hate of Maxwell's gaze, all the self-righteous, stupid, terrifying anger that he possessed. Raidon had seen passion in the past few days; Roland's disbelieving struggles, Jacob's mad charge, Alice's cold, clear certainty as she tried to protect her lover. He listened in spite of his pain and his dizziness, and slowly, with dawning horror, understood exactly what kind of man Maxwell Lombardi was. Radion himself had tried, best that he could, to stay clinical and detached. Lombardi had not merely given in to the game; he had embraced it, accepted its premise. He believed himself to be the fittest.

Raidon tried to lift his head, and then with a gasp rested it back against the cold stone; nausea and weakness had joined his pain. He watched in helpless fear as Lombardi first found a large rock and then stalked closer, remaining glittering with his fatal intent.

Raidon swallowed and tried to move once more. His left foot clicked against something.

Lombardi leaned forward, smiling. It seemed to take forever; an infinity of moments, stretching on and on. Raidon felt he could measure in centimeters the progress of Lombardi's head. He observed the missing right eye; observed, too, a newly-healed injury on the right ear, the skin not yet fully regrown.

Click.

Raidon's left foot. Maxwell's right eye. Maxwell's right ear. Raidon's left arm.

"Tell them I sent you personally," Maxwell whispered.

The word personally was the last thing Raidon needed--the final reminder of what he was facing, the wild joy and abandon (the laughter) with which Lombardi treated his kills. The strange, half-fevered, delusional feelings of the two days (since Soryu's departure) finally found an outlet, a crucible through which to be transformed.

Not anger, not sadness, not chill ice nor self-delusion. Just Naoko Raidon, and the realization that he was tired of maintaining a distance.

He twisted, threw his left arm up, caught Maxwell along the ear wound, and pulled with all his strength.

Maxwell screamed and tiried to pull away; his attempt was so forceful that he first pulled Raidon upright and then, when he finally slipped away, tore an even more ragged wound then Raidon's effort had already managed. Raidon's head swam, and bile rose in his throat; with an effort he controlled himself, swallowing the vomit down as he used his momentum to keep leaning forward. The thing that had clicked near his feet had been metal; he and Lombardi had dropped only two items, as far as Raidon could tell, and both of them were deadly.

His fingers found the hilt of Roland's knife. The knife found Maxwell Lombardi's crotch.

The attack on Lombardi's crotch was purely practical--Raidon did not want to see how much more Lombardi could do with a simple leg wound, he simply wanted to disable the fucker and take him down. The extra twist, Raidon had to admit, was a sadistic flare of his own invention.

And as soon as he'd twisted the knife, he realized he wasn't done. He remembered what else Lombardi had said--"There must be dozens of bastards who's loved ones I've butchered on my way to the top."

That word. Not "killed". Butchered.

Simon's jacket felt heavy on Raidon's shoulders.

He twisted, grabbed his bag, swallowed the vomit that managed to escape his throat as he reached down and grabbed another flashbang. Maxwell had fallen to his knees; without further ado, Raidon grabbed him by the hair and jerked his still-screaming head backwards.

Stuffed the flashbang into his mouth. Armed it as he pulled away, stumbling as far away as he could get given how little room there was on their little battleground. Heard rather that saw the explosion, but turned in time to admire the aftermath.

A flashbang, as Roland Harte had earlier learned, could have quite a terrible effect in spite of it being a non-lethal weapon. The liquids that produce the flare of light are hot and volatile, particularly during the explosion--this explained the broad burns along the sides of Maxwell's neck and what remained of his face, which had been broken and shredded by extreme concussive force and metal shards. It was a miracle he was still alive--how had none of those damn things reached his brain? They'd gotten close, Raidon thought; bloody tears leaked from Maxwell's one eye.

But he was alive--Raidon could see it in the pain in his eye, all-too-aware of his own agony and of his abrupt physical deformity.

Alive meant dangerous. Especially when it came to Maxwell Lombardi.

Raidon's eyes swept the plateau, found the Glock that had been knocked out of his hands. It was a bit between him and Lombardi; without thinking Raidon stumbled after it.

It was the roar, more than anything, that would haunt Raidon afterwards. Most of Maxwell's mouth had been destroyed, so he had nothing left with which to shape the sound. Perhaps that was why it was so strange, no terrifying; it had lost the fundamental human quality, that minor intermediary between sound and speech. It was even more pure in emotion than a scream; it was guttural fury given sonic form, and Raidon's steps faltered for an instant as the monstrous sound caught him in its thrall.

Only for an instant, though. Then he remembered who the sound was coming from.

He reached the gun first, lifted it, caught Lombardi (one eye missing, mouth in disarray, blood leaking from his crotch, bloody knife in hand) in his sights, and fired until there was nothing left. He watched the impacts make Maxwell's body twitch this way and that; he watched, at last, as Maxwell Lombardi fell into the open air.

The trigger clicked in his hands. The gun was empty now.

Raidon sunk to his knees, turned to one side, and let the nausea he'd been fighting since his fall catch up with him. He vomited until there was nothing left, until his body was left heaving emptily, his stomach making weak twitches as he gasped. Adrenaline, pain, concussion, pyshological terror; all had combined into a sickening concoction that seemed determined to pull from him every nutrient he'd ever imbibed. He barely kept himself from collapsing face-first into his vomit, holding himself aloft by his weak arms until the last of his stomach-heaving convulsions died away and he could at last push himself away, stumble two feet, and then fall back to the ground, resting one cheek against cold stone.

For perhaps two minutes, Raidon did nothing and thought nothing.

He came to himself all at once. Tentatively, as the aches and bruises Maxwell's beating had left began to make themselves felt, Raidon lifted himself to his feet. Limping slightly (a particularly vicious kick had caught him in the knee--it made it difficult to walk), he made his way to the same edge over which Lombardi had toppled moments before.

"Fool," Raidon said softly. "Everyone deserves to live."

When one speaks to God, it should be aloud.

"I believe in free will," Raidon said. "I believe in it absolutely and completely. I forgot that; forgot what You are. You are the angel over our shoulder; You are the voice prompting us to ignore the darkness always struggling to take us whole."

"And we ignore You, more often than not. We give in to our petty vices and our major sins; we masturbate and drink and fuck and rape and kill. And Your plan--Your glorious vision for a race of men happy with themselves and righteous in their endeavors--falls a little closer to failing. But You are omniscient; You see the consequences of every one of our choices, know what promptings to give to best appeal to us, know how to rectify the plan. You see how to make us good, even if we refuse."

He closed his eyes and reached back to the bump on his head. Thought of everything that had happened in his time on the island so far.

"You can care for all of us because You know the path that exists to do so, and when our suffering is not the product of our own sins it is the product of the sins of others. Mankind inflicts its own pain, and You attempt to make us choose aright."

Scott McGregor Alison Walworth Alice Blake Victoria Logan Jacob Charles Charles Dawson Maddy Stone Simon Grey Mizore Soryu Julian Avery Maxwell Lombardi see the bigger picture see what God sees with this clarity.

"Before I had the resolve to kill You put her in my way--made me question my own justification." He reached for his lips and thought of Mizore Soryu. "And when I found a victim who I could not let go--when I found Scott McGregor alone--You sent me Julian Avery to try and remind me of what I am." He reached back for the bump on his head. "But not everything I am is good," he whispered. "Most of it's bad."

He looked down at the cross around his wrist and then immediately at his finger. "You sent me Alice Blake and Victoria Logan so I could see the cost of my actions, and of the worthiness of others--to defend the one you love at all costs. And my finger..." He swallowed. "Was a result of my sin."

He shook his head. "You tried to make me see the error of my ways with Alison Walworth--my fear caused her pain. And then You sent me Maddy Stone and Charles Dawson, to try and remind me that I wasn't beyond redemption. That anyone could fall under the pressure--that I was weak and fallible, and worthy of forgiveness."

He thought back to the house with the painting in it--the place he'd felt at ease, however briefly, with Mizore Soryu. "You put this sweet, caring girl before me again, and when others broke under the pressure" (when Victoria came avenging and Jacob charging in "You reminded me of the burdens we bear for the ones we love."

He looked down at the distant, bloody splotch far below.

"And now this," he said simply. "Maxwell Lombardi."

He had not once paused to gather his thoughts. He simply spoke, as best he could, as the thoughts came to him. "He didn't take Simon Grey from me," Raidon said. "I sent Simon to him. I sent my best friend to his death because I didn't want the burden of defending him. I didn't remember until after I'd already run to protect her" (the ratty blue bra the sweet salty lips) "that I would have done it. I didn't fear the evil in me; I feared the good I might let win." He grimaced. "Didn't realize until he knocked me off the cliff." He reached back and felt the bump on his skull again.

"No matter what I'd chosen," he said. "I should have chosen something. Picked the hitman. Picked my father. I didn't panic out of fear; I feared simply having to choose. I couldn't decide whether Simon would make me good or witness my betrayal, so I chose to let him die." He stared at that bloody splotch. "Christ, he was right, wasn't he. I wanted to be vengeful; I wanted to be righteous." He swallowed. "Like him. Certain. Sure."

He swallowed, closed his eyes. "And I was."

"I believed that because I didn't value myself anymore highly I could do as I pleased. That as long as I acted to eliminate only the dangerous I was somehow...better. Honorably reprehensible. I had a code." He shook his head, smiling. "Just murder. That was my..."

He shook his head again. "I'm done," he said. "Done with this. Done with trying to find some righteousness, some meaning. You're trying Your hardest, but this thing is a monster made by men like me. I can't find goodness or dignity here. Even life is..." He grimaced. "Biggest killer on the island. Stronger than me. Certainly deadlier. Didn't save him. Someone else hurt him, and I finished him off. We wore him down until he had no choice but to die." He looked up at the sky. "Choices. Our choices. And a lot of death."

He lifted his left hand to his forehead and realized, suddenly, that he no longer had Scott McGregor's hat--he had lost it, not in the fall from the cliff, but in the fall down the side of the mountain. He reached up a little further and touched the greasy strands of his hair. As he did so, a breeze lilted up and caught his face and body, left him feeling cool and easing somewhat the pain of his injuries.

Easy, that was it. Without the hat he felt slightly at easy.

He looked towards his right hand and the cold weight of the gun he held there. He lifted the Glock.

No.

Tensed his arm

NO.

Pulled his arm back.

DON'T. YOU. DARE.

Threw it into open space, and watched it plunge after it's former owner.

He turned and picked up the bloodstained knife from where it had fallen. This he kept, after wiping its bloody blade; he used it to cut the cross from his wrist, and let it fall down after Maxwell.

"I'm not like him," he said. "I can't do that. I can't justify what I've done in the face of what I want. Whatever else I am, I'm not that greedy."

You got some good in you. Don't forget that.

Raidon shook his head and gently peeled the jacket from his shoulders. He looked at it for a moment and gave it a wistful smile. "I'm sorry, Simon," he said. "I think it would have been different if I'd...if I'd been strong enough to keep you close."

And then he let it drop, after the man who'd killed its owner.

"I can see the plan," Raidon continued, pulling his eyes away from Lombardi and fixing them firmly on the sky. "And I know what you want from me. The monster's dead; the good folk of the island gone. Survive. Find a way to repent for my sins. Fulfill my part in your plan."

"But I'm free now. I can do what I want."

He looked at the sky a moment longer.

"Thanks for watching out for me," he said. "And thanks for trying so hard for a wretch like me. But my hands aren't clean anymore." He shrugged helplessly. "I don't blame you. But now I...I guess..." He frowned, his words failing him for the first time.

"I won't be like him. But it's long past time I found my own purpose."

He turned and walked away--from Simon Grey, from Naoko Hayashida, and from the God he'd pretended to hate. If he was going to do right, he was going to do it by his own damn standards.

Amen.

(Naoko Raidon continued in Failing to Reappear)
Want to buy my book? See my short stories? Read my fanfiction? Visit my website!

V6 Players

Tara Behzad: "They don't get to decide how I die."

Lizzie Luz: "I don't want to go."

Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."
[+] spoiler

G053 Karen Idel, DECEASED: Game over.

B040 Tyler Lucas, DECEASED: I had fun. You?

B046 Xavier Contel, DECEASED : "G-gotta...trust people, Arthur. G-g-gotta try. C-can't be afraid."
[+] spoiler

B054 Raidon Naoko (DECEASED): "Dying like this isn't so bad..."

B072 Simon Grey (DECEASED): "I never was a hero, but, God help me, I tried."

B079 David Meramac (DECEASED): "Running towards nothing. Running from nothing."

G072 Mirabelle Nesa (DECEASED): "I'm a weak little girl who couldn't save anyone, even myself, but god damn it I beat you and god damn it you are going to remember that because I am Mirabelle Nesa and I am a hardened goddamn warrior and I am not going to fucking give up now!"
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