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Earthen Spirit
Topic Started: Jul 1 2013, 04:11 AM (1,653 Views)
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((Audrey McKee continued from Lonely Stones))

Time passed, and she left the circle behind, heading deeper and deeper into the woods.

Maybe that had actually been kind of a bust, Audrey supposed, looking at the long term. Full circle and all that, but as she trudged through the pine needles, it was hard to keep that sense of certainty she'd gotten there. To hide out and wait until the numbers dwindled down even more than they already had, that was simple enough. What happened afterwards- no, what she had to do afterwards, that was something she had to deal with soon.

She had seen a couple of bodies on the way. She hadn't gotten too close. It wasn't just because she didn't want to see their faces, didn't want to be reminded of the times where she'd smiled and waved and never put much emphasis on getting to know them better. The last thing she needed was somebody to stumble upon her near a body and draw conclusions. She was tired, too. Dirty, a little hungry. But she told herself it wouldn't be too much longer. Tired as she was, she'd gotten sleep, and that was more than could be said for at least some of her classmates, she was sure. The bruise on the side of her head was probably subsiding. All in all, she wasn't in bad shape.

Among the trees, she found one that seemed just right to hide her frame, and crouched down.

So she stayed there, scanning the forest around her, hoping that no one would show up anywhere nearby. It wasn't like her to want solitude, but she'd gone over why already, many times.

She'd just have to tough it out.
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Program V3 Prologue:
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((Louisa Bloom continued from The Hecate Sisters))

Louisa found it difficult to focus as she and Kyle continue to trek through the forest. They were almost at the end of the game, but they've lost so many people to get to this point. Josie, Tori, Maxim, Amanda, Alex, and now Carlyle. People she was never going to see again. She also realized that if her plan with Kyle came to fruition, it would mean truly saying goodbye to her family. Her parents, Amos, Marie, none of them would ever see her again. The last they would see of her could be her head exploding on live TV.

It's all too terrible. How can anyone possibly come out of this okay?

Louisa stopped walking. If they really were close to the end, then everyone had a greater chance of dying. They didn't even know if Shawn was okay going off with Robin. She could have found a spot to execute him, then left to go and kill again. Should they have really let them go?

"Kyle, do you really think we should have just left Shawn behind?" she said aloud. "I mean, he could be dead, and we could have just let Robin commit another murder."

Louisa began to tap at the ground with her foot. This moral quandary was eating away at her subconscious, and she needed to know if they made the right choice.
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((Kyle Williams continued from The Hecate Sisters))

They had trekked through the pines silently up until now. Louisa was probably reflecting on what happened recently. Kyle did likewise, but he also thought about what he should do. He wanted so badly to punish the killers left. But Louisa was right. Nothing was to be gained from revenge.

But that still didn't take away his desire for it. It wasn't until Louisa spoke up asking about Shawn that Kyle was jolted from his thoughts again. She was wondering if they did the right thing leaving him. No doubt she wanted reassurance.

He only wished he could give her that. "I don't know what to tell you. I hope that Shawn survived, maybe got away. I pray Robin gets what's coming to her. But the simple facts are that we can't know that."

He shook his head. All they could hope for was that everything would turn out okay. "In any case, what we have to do is figure out our own course."

Kyle sighed and leaned back against a tree. This was going to be a tough time.[/url]
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Voices, nearby.

It had to happen eventually, Audrey supposed. Sooner or later, someone was going to stumble upon her, and she'd have to fight. It looked like it was later, though, because these people were making way too much noise to be hunting anyone.

She relaxed a little, allowed herself to piece together the words the voices spoke. There were names dropped, names like Kyle and Shawn. They were still left, then, guys that she'd always thought were pretty decent people, if nothing special. One of the talkers was a girl. Louisa, from the sound of it. The other talking person was Kyle, and the subject was Shawn. Something about Robin committing murder, but Audrey couldn't make heads or tails of that.

Louisa, though.

Her eyebrows knitted together. Louisa had killed Brian, so she was at least somebody to watch out for. Yet the two didn't sound dangerous, just worried, and Brian had had that whole torturing-Becky's-leg thing going on. Two points in Louisa's favor.

Didn't matter. That didn't mean there was a reason to come out, or that it was even safe to.

Judging from the sound of their voices, they were a small distance away still, far enough to probably make it away if they got any closer.

For now, Audrey held her position, waiting, listening.
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It looked like Kyle wasn't sure how to answer Louisa's question. There were many ways Shawn's trek with Robin could go. He could die, she could die, they could both die, they could both live. It was hard to surmise which would be the ultimate outcome of this encounter.

"I guess," Louisa said in response to Kyle suggesting they find their own course.

This waiting game was going to be difficult. Since there were now around ten people left, there was a chance that Carlyle could be the only death by the time the next announcements were presented. It could be hard to find anyone still alive, especially in a place as large and thick as the Pine Stands.

"Waiting is so terrible," she said. "I know I had trouble waiting five years for my dad to return from service, and it has hurt just as much waiting for my mom to come back from her current service. She was so close to finishing her service, and then this game had to happen. God, we spend so much of our lives waiting, and it's that inactivity that can be so painful."

Louisa closed her eyes.

"But I guess it's inevitable. The waiting, the silence. It's always going to be there."
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"I guess I never thought about it like that. The service was never something anyone in my family minded. It was our duty as citizens, as Americans." Kyle looked to the sky. "I know it isn't what you want to hear, but in this place, waiting and silence are godsends. Everyone is so hyped up what they think they have to do here. But honestly, do any of the supposed 'patriots' even know why the hell they're going along with this?"

He was beginning to raise his voice, and that was a bad idea he knew. But he needed to vent all this pent up anger. "I've never been a military fanatic, but I supported the cause. America was an ideal, and the General held us all to it. We were all supposed to strive to be the best. To be an example to all the foreign nations of how people are supposed to be. And I had no problem with that! I believed in my country, that we were on the right path. So why in the hell am I here? Why is it that everything in this goddamn place has me questioning if America has ever been right at all!?!"

He began pacing around the trees, rambling on and on.

"We're taught that only soldiers know enough to use firearms responsibly. That only a soldier has the right to defend our country and its interests against the enemies around us. And yet we're dumped here and told to kill each other. And we do it because of what? Because some guy in uniform told us to? Why the hell does that even register with these idiots! So what if we were told to? We're not soldiers! I don't care if the order came from the General himself! This stupid thing makes no freaking sense!"

He yelled and kicked a tree trunk. He didn't care. All Kyle could do was try to rationalize it all, but there was no way to do that. So why, why could he not stop thinking about it?
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"Because we believe in America?"

There was again a sense of certainty in her. Clarity. Something Kyle said resonated with her. She'd doubted once, on that slope before meeting Frank, but now, in the darkness, she didn't doubt anymore. It all wasn't some pointless game to the government, even if that military-general was a jerk.

Audrey hadn't meant to speak so loudly, so suddenly, but maybe that was a lie. She'd meant to be heard. Not to be seen, though, and as quickly as she could, she dashed through the darkness towards the next tree, farther away from the voices. Hid behind that.

"The Program isn't perfect, Kyle," she said, her voice softening slightly. "I mean I, um, don't like being here just as much."

But this was her country, right or wrong, and even though she couldn't shake the feeling that it'd messed up somewhere here, that it was wrong at least to some extent... this couldn't be meaningless. The more she said, the more certain she was. There was a reason they were trying to prove with the Program, some way to make America better. They wouldn't have caused the death of her classmates otherwise, wouldn't have caused Frank, who probably would have never killed or even attacked another American otherwise, to turn into a hunter, a murderer. Wouldn't have caused her to be here, panting and hiding behind a tree.

Maybe she couldn't do anything about the reason, except for waiting it out until the end. Maybe there was something that she could do and she couldn't yet think of it. If only she knew the reason.

If she had known the reason, would she have killed for it?

"But there's a reason for all of this." She pushed her sweaty palms against the side of the tree trunk, readying herself to run to the next available hiding spot. "I believe enough for that."
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Some of what Kyle said made sense to Louisa. She did love her life, even if there were parts she wasn't happy with, and she had a definition of "real American" that she tried to live up to. The game did throw all of that into question. She figured that if they actually knew what happens to the winners of the game, then it might have some excuse for the actions committed. But there was no clear answer, and it was only leading to frustration.

That's when someone else called out. Louisa perked her head up when she heard someone respond to Kyle before running a bit. Louisa thought over who could be left.

Oh, that's Audrey. I can't believe I almost forgot about her.

Louisa couldn't see Audrey anywhere, but figured that she had to be close by. She wasn't sure what to think since Audrey was talking from the shadows. It was likely Audrey wasn't trying to attack, but maybe she didn't trust them yet.

Well, it will be hard to trust others at this point, but Audrey hasn't killed anyone yet. Maybe she's someone we can trust.

"I think there's a reason for all of this too," Louisa said aloud, "but it's hard to see it at this point."

Louisa brushed some hair behind her ears.

"Maybe the point we die here is so our bodies will help flowers grow, like Barney the cat."
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Someone besides Louisa answered him, and for a moment Kyle was taken aback. He was afraid that he had unwittingly given away their position to an enemy and they would be attacked. But no attack came, only words. A plea to see the reason behind all that was happening. A reason that, Kyle had long since become convinced, did not exist.

Louisa chipped in her idea, as a joke Kyle guessed. But he wasn't in a laughing mood. He was still very angry, and this girl hiding in the trees was testing his patience. "You two believe there's a reason for this?" Kyle shook his head and brought his fingertips to his forehead. "What reason can there be?" He dropped the pitchfork. It fell to the ground with a small thud.

"Please, enlighten me on how it's even possible for this all to have any reason at all! I've watched this all go by, seen my friends die, and in my mind all I could think was 'They're has to be a reason. These deaths can't have been in vain.'" He raised his left hand to the sky. "I'm not a religious man, but surely God canmt abide by this. Any person with a shred of humanity can't abide by this! THE REASON, IF I MAY SPEAK, FOR ALL THIS IS THEREFORE UNCLEAR TO ME!"

He lowered his hand, and rubbed his face with his palm. "I'm not trying to frighten you, no. I'm just tired, and sick of all this. I want to believe like you two do that this all has a purpose. But I can't see one. All I can see is blood being shed, and no rationale behind it."

He sighed deeply. "I can't. I can't do this."

He slowly took hold of his collar.

"I can't do this anymore."

"God, if you're there, give me at least the strength to go through with this act."

Kyle tried to tug, to pull on it. To jostle it and blow his head off. But he couldn't. He just stood there with his fingers on it, trembling.

Afraid.
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There was no more sound from the trees, but Audrey hadn't left quite yet.

What was she supposed to say?

Nothing, was what. She was no hero. She couldn't help Kyle come to terms with the Program, and Louisa was coping in her own way. In the end, they'd have to all stand on their own.

It was probably easier to run, now that she'd said what she wanted to, but she finally felt she'd caught onto something important and she didn't want to let go. She'd leave in the end, keep hiding and surviving, but now she had a reason to ponder. She could stay in earshot a little longer to listen and reevaluate.

Wasn't quite enough to just survive, not without asking why. It felt strange; she'd never felt like she'd been missing a piece of the puzzle until now.

Strange, but right.

She still hadn't come up with the reason they were all here. Maybe wouldn't ever figure it out. But maybe it was time to get thinking about it.
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Program V3 Prologue:
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Louisa instantly became worried. Kyle was beginning to get angrier as he spoke, dropping the pitchfork. He couldn't think of a reason for this game, and didn't find Louisa's or Audrey's ideas capable of helping him out. Louisa wasn't sure if hers was to help, just to try and find some beauty in death. It didn't look like that would be good enough for Kyle.

Louisa froze when she saw Kyle reach for his collar. It hadn't been twenty-four hours since she nearly blew her own collar, so Louisa was terrified to see Kyle attempt the same act.

"Kyle, please, don't!" she shouted.

She stepped closer. She needed to be careful with what she said next. If she said the wrong thing, Kyle might die.
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The first thing Kyle did was instantly reevaluate his actions. It seemed so right to grasp his collar at the time, but now it felt much less so. He shook slowly and softly, he couldn't go through with it after all, but ironically he might end up doing so with too sudden a movement.

He thought he heard a beep emanate from it. His mind was playing tricks on him, wasn't it? "Louisa, don't come closer. For your safety stay where you are." Kyle's palms began to sweat, and he was accutely aware of how much pressure he was applying to the device around his neck. "Putting myself in this situation has me aware that I'm not actually ready to die yet."

He grimaced as he thought he heard another sound from the collar. He prayed that was all in his head. "I-I wanted it to be over, to just end the suffering. But doing this now, all I want to do is live. And now, I think I've screwed myself."

He slowly tried to let go, butt stopped when he felt something shift in the collar. Had he triggered the explosive? His mind raced at a million miles a second. So far, his head hadn't exploded, so common sense told him he hadn't. But paranoia was setting in again. "I can't believe how stupid I am. It took almost killing myself to tell me I want to live. What's wrong with me?"

"Hey, tree hiding girl, I think I get what you and Louisa were trying to convince me of. The reason for all this. Something tells me it's to get us truly aware of death and, more importantly, life. I think." He was rambling again, due to nervousness. Every word he spoke made him more and more aware of his grip.

God, he really was an idiot. He slowly let go, still shaking somewhat.

A second passed. No explosion.

He collapsed to the ground, rear first. He shook like a leaf. He somehow managed to look at Louisa. "I think I've gotten my motivation back. But do you mind if I stay here till Adams calls out the area?" He didn't wait for permission. He was not going to move one more inch without being forced to.
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There was a worrisome series of comments, something about Kyle killing himself, which she didn't really understand but got the gist of, and she'd almost braced herself for something unpleasant to happen when somehow everything turned out alright. Then, he gave a reason.

It was decent. Good enough to make him want to live, and that was decent enough that she didn't have any protests against it (one more competitor, the Clark in her head whispered). But something said wrong, not the reason Audrey was looking for. It didn't make sense in the big picture. There were plenty more ways to get Americans to appreciate life than dropping their kids into a death trap.

It was easy to say no to the wrong reasons, though, and not so easy to find the right one.

"It's-" She hesitated for a fraction of a second. "It's Audrey. From track."

No point in hiding her identity now. Not when she'd already given her presence away. Not when her name would be announced if she got to the end. She put a little more pressure on the tree, felt the roughness of the bark against her palms, one leather, one skin.

"But don't get any closer."
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Program V3 Prologue:
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The collars seemed to have a strange effect on the students of this game. It was the first time this game had used them, but they seemed to have caused a radical effect on the game. Several students had been killed by them, including Tori, but they also presented an easy way out for the students. Strangely, it seemed that pulling the collar was how they could really examine if they wanted to truly end it all or not. In the few second they held their hand around the collar, they could take complete control of their own fate and decide to either follow the rules or defy the intentions of the people behind the game. Louisa had a moment like that, and it looked like Kyle did as well.

Kyle seemed to stumble upon his own interpretation for why they were here. Becoming aware of their mortality made sense. They had all made it sixteen years without being in direct danger of dying. Now they were truly being thrust into a life or death situation. Still, Louisa wasn't sure how great it was to learn the lesson if it meant that all but one person would die. That person would have survived a brush with death, but it's not like they gained anything from it.

Kyle also called out to Audrey, and she finally revealed herself, demanding that they don't come any closer. Louisa was surprised that both Kyle and Audrey wanted her to stay away from them. Sure, they were scared and tired, but that rift was making Louisa worried about if she could keep any allies in the last few hours of the game.

Kyle also announced that he didn't want to leave until the next announcement. He was already sitting on the ground. Louisa smiled.

"Sure. I'm fine with that."

Louisa moved closer to Kyle and bent her knees, lowering herself to the floor. She adjusted her dress as she placed herself on the ground next to Kyle, keeping her knees close to her chest. She then looked in the direction she heard Audrey's voice coming from.

"Hey, Audrey, don't worry about us. I don't know how much longer we've got to live, but I don't think either of us feel like playing the game. Don't be afraid of us."
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"I'm with Louisa on that. The only people that have to fear from us are those intent on killing more people." Kyle rubbed his hands together. The collar felt heavy on his neck but he definitely didn't want to touch it now. He racked his mind for a plan of action. No more wandering aimlessly for this group. They had lost too many friends to keep doing that.

"Audrey, was it? I don't remember hearing your name on the announcements. Listen," He began "We could really use your help. The more people who stay away from playing along with the Program, the better. Louisa and I are out, so to speak. We have no intention of killing anyone if we don't have to, and even then maybe not. Plus, track and field right? We stick together as a team. What do you say, partner up?"

It was true the Program had changed his perspective on most everything in life. Before, even that small connection to Audrey would have meant nothing. Now, he knew he needed any allies he could get. Kyle sincerely hoped she could see the sense in teaming up. Even if she just wanted to survive alone, surely she didn't think it would be likely.

In order to make any progress at all without a weapon, you had to stick together. He smiled wearily at Louisa. "You up for including her in your plan should she join?" He whispered. For now, that at least had to remain secret.
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