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Fear and Loathing in Tiki Land
Topic Started: Mar 31 2014, 04:41 PM (2,153 Views)
Ciel
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I'VE GOT 20 G RIDIN' ON THIS
[ *  *  * ]
(Paisley Hopkins continued from You Snooze, You Lose.)




"Eli? Are you there?"




Nothing.

Paisley frowned. There was no harm in trying, she knew that, but it still stung. Hearing no response on the other end made her regret every decision she made the past few hours.

Soon her hand examined her collar, idly, nothing more. Feeling the smooth metal, running over whatever bumps and holes may come. It sat loosely on her neck, allowing her the commodity of moving it all the way up under her chin. A relief, given the circumstances.

Her eyes caught Pia, her friend. Not unless she had to, she told herself. She wondered, vaguely, if Pia was telling herself the same thing. Then she scolded herself and brushed the thought aside.

Paisley folded, one hand holding the opposite arm. She examined her teammate, the boy with the sunglasses and the rifle. The scratch over the eyebrow Paisley never liked American football, too rough around the edges. She liked soccer much more. Energetic and quick on your feet. Paisley noticed she was smiling. She stopped soon after.

The trip from the condos to the neighborhood was. Pia gauged the barest notion of conversation towards Paisley, reserving only conspiratory glances at the boy. It was clear she wasn't letting him off easy, even if he was taking point. Paisley could not blame her. His first impression was pretty abysmal.

The boy lead. Paisley didn't question it, though she really should have. There were no big blindsides, no attempts to pull Paisley aside, out of Pia's view. Perhaps it was all done to lull the both of them into a false sense of security, but Paisley seriously doubted it.

He said he had a plan. For both Pia's sake and her own, Paisley hoped it was a good one.

They came across the housing development not long after leaving the condos. The cul de sac sat, as quiet as their trip from the condos. Paisley noticed a series of footprints in the snow, many leading to one house in particular.

Eli's advice burrowed it's way into her mind again, but more importantly, houses meant living. It meant supplies. Paisley needed every little tool she could scrounge if she wanted to make it.

The sounds of the ocean in the middle of winter made her restless. Social niceties were not Paisley's forte, but someone had to cut the tension in the air. Paisley cleared her throat.

"So. Where do you come from?" she asked the boy. After a brief pause she continued. "You don't go to Whittree. We would have recognized you."

Oh. She just remembered. Her lips creased. She reached reflexively for her necklace, thumb brushing from one edge of the tiny cross to the other.

"Uhm, I haven't introduced myself, have I?" She gestured towards her friend. "I'm Paisley. My friend's Pia."
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((Pia Malone continued from You Snooze, You Lose))

The walk from the condos was tense and quiet, letting Pia stew a little more in her paranoia and guilt. She'd remembered belatedly that if Paisley was here, then Tucker probably would be too, so of course Paisley wouldn't be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. She managed to distract herself from thinking too much by keeping a sharp lookout on their tail in case any nutjobs like the one Shady had mentioned came rushing out at them, but the resort was quiet except for their feet crunching in the snow.

She noted the tracks in the snow as they came upon the cabanas and decided to finally break her silence. "We should avoid that one, grab something on the other side. I don't feel like havin' to fight someone for a place to sit down."

Pia spared Paisley a glance as she spoke too, formally introducing them all. She seemed to be holding up better now, at least. Pia chose to leave the questioning to Paisley and pushed to the front, making her way up the steps of a house that she deemed a safe distance away from the one that had seen all the traffic.

She rapped her knuckles on the door. "Anybody home?" When there was no answer, she eased the door open, gun held ready in case someone was waiting for her.

Empty, at least as far as she could see.

"Looks good." She called back to the others.
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"Two plus two is four, minus one is three quick maths"
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((Placeholder post. Gonna post soon.))

































((Just kidding. BB3: Matthew Weiss, You Snooze, You Lose))

Like a prairie dog on the great plains, they moved in formation - swiftly and not exactly silently. The girl who was evidently named Pia seemed pretty capable of keeping quiet and moving with the group, but Paisley was notably louder, less graceful in movement. She didn't appear to be doing her share of looking out, and that had Matt clench his teeth in slight annoyance.

They were going to be a team, and so far the most useful person he'd found was someone that wasn't of much use to him.

"Hi, Paisley," he said, brightly, "I'm Matt. I'm from New Mexico - I guess they did the dual schools this season."

Pia pointed out the tracks, and Matt ground his teeth harder. He hadn't noticed them. So she was street-smart - maybe moreso than Paisley. Which meant that he needed to regard her as a threat, now.

He was rapidly recalculating, reworking the play in his head, as she stepped forwards and gave him the all-clear.

With one hand, he motioned Paisley to stop at the threshold, stepping into the house with his gun raised in front of him, sweeping across the room. He didn't actually know what the fuck he was doing, but he'd seen other kids do this on past seasons, and right now he needed to look like he was competent.

When the shelter did appear to be vacant, Matt motioned for Paisley to come in.

"Shut the door, if you don't mind. And here,"

He lifted the rifle from his shoulder, turned it so the handle was facing Paisley, and offered it to her.

"Can you keep an eye out while I explain?"
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((Caroline Leveson continued from The Tides of March))

She wasn't second-guessing herself.

Even if she had made a mistake - which she hadn't - she wasn't doubting her previous reasons. This was just fixing things, sooner rather than later, changing them to what they should have been all along. Just refining her plan when new information came to light.

It had nothing to do with the growing sense of dread in her gut.

Caroline had searched for what seemed like a few hours, determined to find who she needed to find and yet not finding any of them. There were other wanderers, no one of importance. She avoided them. In the end, it had been the wreckage strewn across the ground near the tower in the center of the resort that had changed her path, had her suddenly retracing her steps.

Safety in numbers, Michael had said. Safety in numbers couldn't compete with destruction like that.

A sense of urgency filled her as she made her way through the snow, free T-shirt and tank top tied at her neck and draped over her bare shoulders like a makeshift jacket.

Sure, Valerie was as safe with Michael and Lily as with any other group. But, as Caroline now knew, she would feel a lot better when she could keep her own eyes on Val. The tears were long gone; only the aftertaste of leaving Val behind lingered. Val was the easy one to find. Anzu and Sarah might be in more danger, but they could take care of themselves for the ten minute detour this was. She was sure of it.

Get in, get Val, get out. This time, she wouldn't have any regrets, founded or not.

The collection of cabanas loomed ahead, and there were forms, people, moving through doors. She caught a glimpse of orange hair.

"Val!" she called, her voice cutting through the air.
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I'VE GOT 20 G RIDIN' ON THIS
[ *  *  * ]
New Mexico? He looked like someone from the west cost, beach bum, weight-lifter. Paisley had never been to New Mexico so she wasn't sure what to make of it. At the mention of 'dual schools', Paisley let out a bitter laugh.

"Didn't know that was how they did things," Paisley smiled, despite herself. "Seems silly to me, but I've never watched this show. My brother, though, he - "

Paisley stopped talking. Matt already turned away at that point so there was little point in continue. She kept her eyes level with the ground.

Matt lead her to the house and Paisley all but waddled behind. Her frown grew as they made it to the door. Her eyes were still as she entered the threshold after him.

Then Matt did something she wasn't expecting. He gave her his gun.

"Oh!"

Paisley held her hands up, defensive, eyes wide. Eventually she reached and accepted it.

It took her a moment to adjust to the size, another to examine the physical details. She felt the bolt, a large, unwieldy lever that appeared too large for it's purpose. Her other hand followed the barrel down to the base, fingers wrapping snug around the firm edges. She brought the rifle to face level, checking the sights. Her spine tingled as her adjusted and the weight of the gun lifted.

Intrusive thoughts burrowed into her mind. Her throat burned, her heart leapt, but all of it stopped soon after. Holding the rifle in her hands, she mimicked the pose she had seen Matt take; the butt of the gun against her shoulder, the barrel pointed to the floor. Her eyes darted to the door, to Pia and back over to Matt in succession. She nodded.

"Okay," she said. "I'll keep watch."

Soon after Pia was inside and Paisley was ready to shut it, she saw the girl. And she was waving.

The girl called out the name Val. But her name was Paisley. Not Val.

... She felt like an idiot. What was she even thinking? Paisley shook her head, braced the rifle tight and almost lifted it. Almost. But she didn't. It wasn't the feeling of déjà vu that stopped her but the bandanna, tied on the girl's left wrist.

Paisley turned and glared at Matt.

"Somebody's here." She stared out the door again, hands trembling around the grip. "Pia, come over. Do you recognize her?"
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The way Matt handled his gun made Pia nervous, like he was about to strafe the room in front of them for no reason. She felt a little bit better when he passed it onto Paisley, even if the thing was about half Paisley's size and would probably knock her out if she tried to use it. Pia leaned against the wall, letting her gun dangle casually in one hand. No need to wave it around, but no harm in keeping it at the ready.

"So, Shady," she started, "let's hear this master plan." She sized him up again as she spoke. He hadn't mentioned anything other than his name and what state he was from, nothing for her to work off of but his looks. She'd pegged him as a footballer, but he could just as easily be a boxer, or a hockey player, or anything else.

Big hands, long reach. Pia took care to stay just a bit farther than an arm's length away from him.

Before they could get down to the meat of the matter though, Paisley called out again. Pia broke away from the wall without thinking and went to Paisley's side, only remembering to think tactically again when she all but brushed up against Matt as she passed him.

Stupid, stupid, completely forgetting to be cautious just because something else caught her attention.

She peered out past Paisley, raising onto her toes a bit for a better view. A girl, blonde, pink shirt. Brown bandanna on her wrist. It took her a moment to place the name.

"It's Caroline. Caroline, she's got that band, y'know? Pretty sure it's her, I went to this concert thing they had..." Pia was chewing her lip, trying to work everything out. Caroline had the same bandanna as Paisley and Matt. Caroline knew the two of them and not Matt. Didn't look armed. Scared.

They could make this work.

"It's a girl from our school, Shady." She called back to Matt. "Guess what color her bandanna is?"
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“Call her over,” Matt said, easing himself into a wooden backed chair, wiggling it. Comfort - or at least the illusion of being comfortable - was his aim now, especially with a new member joining their ranks.

He rested his elbows on his knees and leaned forwards, watching Pia and Paisley for a time, deciding to take a back seat until he was introduced. They knew the newcomer, and the way Pia mentioned the bandanna had Matt’s chest lurching in his ribcage. It was happening.

It was working.

“I’ll explain when we’re all here.”
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Wasn't Val. That was clear enough in the half-second after she had called out. She had gotten her hopes up, and had been wrong, and she knew that meant she was back to square one. She had missed Val on the walk here. Val could be anywhere now, up the boardwalk as Michael had planned, or-

The rifle. Caroline saw it nestled against the other girl's shoulder, and it cut off all other thought. Immediately she felt her muscles tense, the fire iron in her grip snapping upwards. Self-preservation kicked in, and she was ready to run.

But that only happened for a moment.

She knew how she looked. She looked scared. She looked tense, aggressive, maybe even hostile. That said easy out. That said put a bullet in her back, because she was prey, because she was obviously not going to be friendly.

If she couldn't control her image, who would?

If she couldn't protect herself, who would?

So she loosened up. The fire iron lowered. She didn't run; she approached the group, taking slow steps through the snow. Once she recognized the girl as Paisley, and recognized Pia, standing just a little to the side, she smiled.

And when she saw Paisley's bandana, she let herself mean it.

"Paisley!" Caroline called, as she closed the gap. "Sorry! I thought you were Val - your hair, you know."

She shot Pia a quick smile as well, as the one she had forced faded. "Hey, Pia. It's been a while."
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Ciel
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[ *  *  * ]
Who? Caroline? That name didn't ring a bell for her, unless -

"... Oh!"

Paisley frowned. She felt terrible, forgetting Caroline. When Pia mentioned the band, Paisley remembered. Perhaps it was stress? Paisley had a very good memory back home but even then she had trouble remembering people's names. Caroline didn't seem to have a problem remembering Paisley's name though, which poured more salt into the wound. The worst part of it was that it took her another minute to realize who 'Val' was. How embarrassing.

It was nice to see Caroline unharmed, and that alone made Paisley feel better.

A sickly feeling ground into her stomach though. Surely, with two schools and teams of five, they would divide things evenly. Two kids from her school, one from the New Mexico school. Only two more kids left...

Tucker.

Paisley spun her head away from Caroline as her teammate came closer, landing over at the chair Matt sat himself in. Eli's advice turned out to be much easier than she expected. Perhaps he rigged things so that her teammates would be dropped in close proximity.

For a brief moment, Paisley wondered who Eli was. Was he watching them right now? When would she hear from him again?

Worry about that later. Irrelevant. Not important.

"Hey Caroline," Paisley stammered, flustered. "It's fine. There are a few girls at school with my hair."

She gave Matt a nod, then turned back, taking a deep breath.

"Uhm, maybe you should come in with us. It's safer in here."
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Pia stepped back from the door to make room for Caroline to enter, sparing a glance towards Matt. He wasn't so much of a threat anymore, not when he was sitting and unarmed and when it was three classmates against one stranger.

She returned Caroline's greeting with a nod and a quick smile. "Glad you're doing okay, girl. All things considered, anyway." She jerked her head towards Matt, hoping that Caroline wouldn't startle too badly when she noticed him. "This is Shady. He's from another school. On your team, though."

Pia gave a quick glance around the room and dropped down into a chair that was close - but not too close - to Matt. "Says he's got a plan. So let's hear it, while we've got some peace and quiet." She set the gun in her lap, idly studying it as she talked. The metal was a simple matte black, not polished or shiny like the guns she'd seen in movies.

Just another reminder that real life was never as bright or fun as TV made it look.
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Matt linked his fingers, rubbing them in and out from between their respective links as he looked over those assembled. Three unfamiliar faces, looking towards him, watching him intently. Doubt in one, cautious optimism in another, and the third was impossible to read.

He straightened, crossed a knee over the opposing one, and mulled over his approach. How do you outline a plan so flawed, so full of holes, that you could drive a Bently through it? How do you convince three people to go along with it?

Honestly, he supposed. Start building trust. Ground up.

“I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m terrified,” he began, spreading his hands, “and I don’t really know that what I’m about to say will work. But I think we owe it to ourselves - to everyone in this room, to try.

“The numbers are this: There was 65 participants last version. Of the 65, only two lived to tell the tale - Karen, who had ten kills, and Mason, who was the last survivor. The only two ways out of here not in a body bag are either getting ten kills, or surviving, potentially with a team. Both have their risks.

“If you go for the ten, it means, by and large, you’re rolling alone. And if you go for the team play, you’re not being proactive - you’re letting the other players dictate the game for you.”

He paused, ensuring that this was sinking in, and re-clasped his hands, tightened them into a knot.

“So I propose that we combine the two. Have one of us - Pia, was it? - take the ten kills, and we all help her to that end. Every person she… eliminates from the game means one less person that could hamper our team win. And when Pia makes the 10, she gets to go home, leaving a game that’s much, much easier to survive with ten of our opponents removed. Then, we play smart, we play together, and we play to win.”

Matt leaned forwards, sliding his sunglasses off of his eyes and letting them dangle from his fingers, fiddling with one of the arms in what he hoped came across as an absent gesture. Certainly not one of nerves.

“We’ve got a lot of friends out there,” he said, softly, “and I know that’s hard to think about. But how many of them would choose you if it were between them and yourself? So many people have gone into this game with friendships and been betrayed, torn apart, or had those friendships do them no good. We’re better served - no, we’re best served to trust our team. This team.”
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Caroline's eyebrows stayed neutral, stayed constant. Below them, her eyes were locked onto the newcomer as he explained his plan, as she stood there, leaning against the inside wall of the hut.

Control was the name of the game here, with this guy she didn't know. First impressions - and she had screwed far too many up far too recently. A stray thought crossed her mind, and she wondered, briefly, if the other school that had been taken was an all-guys' school. It was an irrelevant thought, as the explanation moved on and she struggled to remain impassive.

Then he talked about friends, and Caroline knew he didn't understand. He didn't know who she was. He didn't know Scarlet Devil Mansion; he didn't know anything about Sarah and Anzu and Val. He didn't know them.

He didn't know her.

And she let her eyebrows knit together.

"Sixty-six," she said quietly, but there was an edge to her voice that she struggled to hide. "Sixty-six last time. I watched. The loner died so early he didn't matter much."

Fight, get killed, or fight back.

"How can you say that? How can you say that our friends won't do us any good? I trust mine. I need to find them. And you want us to kill them? Don't you- don't you have anyone out there who you care about?"

Her eyes were narrowed, but they never strayed from his face.
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Pia had never gotten around to deciding if the Pink Diamond was going to be a face or a heel. You want the crowd to root for you, but they love a good villain just as much.

She knew what she was supposed to do when faced with Matt's plan. She should agree with Caroline, resist, tell him what a jerk he was, what an idiot, thinking they could just turn their backs on everyone they'd known before.

That was probably the right thing to do.

Sometimes, Pia wished that she had a twin like Paisley did, a mirror image that she could talk to. She wanted a second opinion from someone close enough to understand her thoughts and to not judge her for wondering in the first place.

How do you think it feels to kill someone? Who knows.

Do you think Shady can walk the talk? Who knows.

Do you think Paisley and Caroline can? Maybe not.

Do you think you can?

Pia leaned back in the chair and looked at Matt, running her fingers over the gun in her lap. "That's one hell of a plan, Shady." She was trying to look nonchalant, probably as hard as he was.

Sixty-six, Caroline said. The four of them, plus two more Bears. Sixty people between them and the exit sign.

Not even that, for just her. A fraction of that. Why her specifically? More firepower? Did he think she'd be the most willing of them to go for it? Was she just in the right place at the right time?

The wrong one?

No time-outs, no referees, no going home and coming back tomorrow to try again if you lose.

Pia kept her eyes on Matt's face, trying to find the answers they all wanted. "I've heard a lot of big plans before, buddy. Do you think you can pull it off?"

Do you?

"Yeah." It took a second to realize that she'd spoken aloud. "Yeah, okay." She let her fingers stop wandering, let her hand curl around the grip of the gun again and feel its weight settle against her palm.

"I'm in. But here's the thing, Shady - you wanna play alpha male with your team, that between you guys. You 'n me, we're equals. Got it?"

Pia sat up straighter as the weight of her words settled on all of them. She kept looking straight at Matt. "And if one of us gets thrown under the bus, you're gonna be the next one to catch a bullet, got it?"
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Matt's eyes met Caroline, stare for stare, as she spoke. And then Pia spoke. They took turns airing out the grievances, poking holes at the plan. His back teeth ground lightly into each other as he took the criticsm, keeping his stare on Caroline, ignoring the other girl for the time being.

When Pia quieted, and Paisley remained watching the other three, Matt spoke.

"I don't know," he responded, his voice soft, somber, "and I hope not. I haven't met anyone else from my school so far. And I didn't mean to imply that friends would do you no good period, but it's a short term solution, at best."

"There isn't any doubt in you? There isn't any niggling thought that maybe they won't have your back when it comes down to sacrificing you to win the game? You're in a room right now with two other people who have absolutely nothing to gain and more to lose by you dying."

"As for you," he said, turning his gaze to Pia now. He studied, swept his gaze, considered.

Nodded.

"Agreed. But I'm not so comfortable letting more people not on the Bears or the-" he paused, leaned forward a bit, caught the insignia on Pia's head, "-Scorpions aboard. The more people we surround ourselves with that aren't on our teams, the better we'll fare in the long run."
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"No."

She didn't mean to scream. Technically her voice only registered irritation. But Paisley was unused to having to raise her voice that it sounded like she was screaming. Immediately, she felt guilty for even raising her voice.

When Matt explained his plan, Paisley had to think about, really consider the moral implications. Lord forgive her, she almost found herself agreeing with his logic. She wanted to go with it, despite it going against everything she believed. For all of five seconds. Then Matt mentioned that Pia should be the one to get to ten kills. Paisley wanted to interject, to put forward a counter-argument. She couldn't. All her attempts to butt into the conversation came out mousey and neither Pia, Matt or even Caroline seemed to notice. And that hurt. She was a mouse in a room full of lions, so tiny as to not even count as finger food.

But it was when Matt looked at her, said nothing, then turned to Pia, that Paisley lost her composure. She felt a sting of anger so strong and so sudden that she lashed out without thinking.

Now that the lions were actually looking, however, the mouse couldn't just slink back into it's gutter.

Paisley shrank back into her shell, appearing just as surprised as the the others. She stood by the entryway, embarrassed, for only a brief second, before she forced herself to speak.

"I'm sorry Pia, I'm really am," she choked. "But you know I can't -"

She wasn't the problem though. Sure, Pia might be annoyed, or even slightly offended, but at least she'd understand. Matt was the one that needed an explanation, and Paisley turned and bowed her head.

"Matt, I'm sorry. Your plan, it's smart, and you sound smart. I don't want to die. I don't want Pia to die, so I want to say yes. If things were different, I'd - I would say yes! But I'm not, I can't -"

Some semblance of composure returned to her, and Paisley clamped her teeth down on her tongue before she could humiliate her family further.

Whatever makeup she had on from earlier that day was ruined by the tears. Everyone, even Caroline, seemed so cool and collected moments ago, and here was Paisley, babbling and crying. If Tucker were there with them, he'd definitely roll his eyes, hug her and tell her to stop being such a baby. At least, that's what she hoped he would do.

Paisley needed a few seconds to calm herself, so she could at least think. She rubbed the cuff of her shirt across her wet nose like a little kid without a tissue.

All she needed to do was mention Tucker. It would only take a few words, Matt would understand after that. Then she mulled over it some more, and complicated matters further.

Her problem was not of conveying her message but of the consequences. Matt made his stance clear, crystal, and he sounded so dead set that it was unlikely he would change it. If Pia killed ten people and went home, there would be no other forms of escape. And if...

If he knew about Tucker, and Tucker was on a different team, would Matt insist on killing him?

That was why, when he mentioned he was scared, Paisley did not believe him. That was why, when he responded to Caroline's protests, Paisley found it hard to breathe let alone speak. And that was why, when she finally snapped out of her hysteria, she stared straight at at Pia and shook her head. Everything in her expression screamed 'don't say anything, Pia, please.'

Then she said, "I need to talk to Eli."

The simpletons just tuning in would be outright confused. Paisley was staring at Pia when she said it. Maybe Pia knew? But then Paisley's head turned and she was suddenly looking in Caroline's direction.

In truth, she was looking around the room for a camera. Of course, how would her teammates and Pia, or the viewers at home know that?

Paisley knew the answers, but unless Pia, Caroline or Matt put two-and-two together, they were shit out of luck.

"Let me talk to Eli." Paisley said. "Please. I need to ask him something."
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