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SOTF: Evolution Grand Archive
Topic Started: Apr 22 2015, 08:28 AM (1,017 Views)
MurderWeasel
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So, I had this crazy idea: I tried to splice Evo V1 together into a big, continuous narrative, with chapters and logical organization and everything. This is the result. Of course, there are some bugs. Some of these are continuity issues in the original threads. Some are probably copy/paste errors. The actual writing has not been changed at all, though I have moved some posts around in order to facilitate better comprehension.

This has been arranged in roughly chronological order, with some concessions made for the sake of drama and pacing. The given times are approximations, extrapolated from events in the thread, and should not be taken as 100% authoritative, since they are just my rough guesswork.

Finally, chapter titles are either thread titles or my own lame concoctions, in the case of threads split across multiple chapters.

Anyways, here is Evo V1 in its (current) entirety, for those who wish to read it all. Enjoy!





INTRODUCTION AND PROLOGUE

Introduction

THE HOLDING CELLS
JUNE 22rd, 2010: 23:49


You sit alone in the quiet and the black, watching the darkness pulse hazily in the distance. You feel peaceful, and you don’t want to leave the inky womb of your unconscious. Then you feel something wet hit your cheek, and the light invades your vision.

Once you awaken, you find yourself in what appears to be an old-fashioned prison cell, with no memory of how you got there. The lights are out, leaving you with only the pale moonlight to guide your eyes and the door to the cell sits quietly in the dark, hanging wide open, waiting for you to pass. Your head throbs as you get to your feet, and your bones ache from sleeping on the cold stone floor, but that’s the least of your worries.

As you stumble out of the cell, you start to realize your heart is beating a little faster than usual, but less so out of fear than something altogether wrong. Your body feels strange and alien to you now, like you’ve been placed in somebody else’s or you have to learn how to walk for the first time again. As you check yourself over for any bruises or marks, you find a small puncture wound in the crook of your arm, surrounded by a perfect ring of six smaller ones.

The last thing you can remember is turning out the light in your room before you went to sleep, and you wonder if this could all be a dream. Then you hear a sound in the distance, like a siren, and you crumble to the floor without another thought.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Patience.

You’ll wake up soon enough.





Prologue
THE OTHER ISLAND
JUNE 23rd, 2010: 07:15


What’s happening?! Where are we?!

What did you do to me?!

My skin- oh god, what IS that?!

I can’t move!

The screams help you come to your senses, as you awaken from your blurry dream. You open your eyes for a second, then snap them shut. You hope to God that what you saw wasn’t true, but you can feel the fear in your body already, and you know that this is real.

“Silence, please. You’ll get your explanation once you settle down.”

With a heavy heart, you allow yourself to look around and take in your surroundings. 20 other people, all about your age, strapped down by their wrists and ankles to small, metallic chairs, all more terrified and confused than the last. As you try to convey the situation, a tall, skeletal figure strides across the front of the room with an all-covering gas mask strapped to his face. Not an ounce of his skin can be seen beneath the long, leather coat he wears tightly around his body; even his fingers are draped in the same material, as though his clothes are somehow his flesh. You daren’t speak up against him, remembering the moment you awoke before in that hollow prison cell, and you remain silent in your chair as he demands your full attention.

“Silence, I said.”

“Fuck you! Who the fuck do you think you are?!”

“I won’t ask again, child. Silence.”

“Fuck you, let me outta here!”

Your eyes urge him to quiet down, but you see that it’s already too late. His eyes widen as he hears a gun click behind his head, and you turn away before the shot rings out across the room, sparking hysteria within the others. As soon as they start to panic, another man appears in the doorway, dressed in a strange assortment of military gear, although the gas mask is identical to the one worn by the man in leather. You don’t have time to see what happens- he does it so quickly- but your throat feels tighter and you can scarcely make a sound.

“Thank you.”

As the man retires back into the hall, the group focus their efforts onto relieving their voices, but to no avail. You try too, for a second, before the lights go out and a projection is displayed on both the whiteboard and the man-in-leather’s front. You see what appears to be an island above a collection of smaller ones, but they don’t seem familiar to you. Stepping out of the image, the man picks up a long, black cane from the front desk and points to the largest of the isles below the mainland.

“Presently, you are here, in our base of conduct. Once you’re back on the island, we will monitor your every move.”

You feel yourself shiver.

“We will supply you with a single daypack each, containing the following.”

The slide changes and an image of each item is displayed, one after the other, with a brief explanation of their common uses. Your heart sinks as the last two items are displayed: a combat knife and what’s described as a “Jericho941”- aka, a handgun. The person in front of you looks nervously to the people sitting either side of them, wondering if any of them had come to the same conclusion. At this point, you notice that one of the other captives has their mouth taped shut, while another wears a full-body swimsuit. You would laugh, but you know there must be a reason why they’ve been singled out.

“Now that’s out of the way, I can explain those troublesome marks on your arms.”

You quickly look to the wounds in question, noticing several others doing the same, then turn back to hear the rest.

“First, I should point out that we are not part of the military. We are neither government nor police, and we are certainly not terrorists.”

He stands front and center now, hands behind his back.

“We are the beginning of a new era. We are the pilots of humanity, flying us all into a brave new world of technological advancements so great that the future will pass us by with a gasp.”

He steps slowly forward, eyes focused (though not seen) on the person in front of you.

“You will surpass us, and you will grow brighter than any one of us could dare to try.”

“You are evolution.”

Everyone’s calmer now, but much more confused. You feel the same way, though you question whether you really want to hear the next part of whatever he has to say.

“Put simply, each of you has been given a gift. That gift differs from person to person, similar to a... raffle, I suppose, but you all entered the same one.”

He pauses.

“We have developed a serum which contains the key to evolution itself; a serum which reacts differently depending on the DNA of the person who receives it.”

You feel a bead of sweat roll down the back of your neck.

“It’s still in development, but this way we can test its effects without fear of anyone watching over our shoulders. And the testing, children, is where you come in.”

The whole room grows dark, the air filling with an intense dread.

“The people around you are not your friends; they are, in essence, your enemies. And though you may think of befriending them after this is all over, you’re merely deluding yourselves because the simple fact of the matter is this: after three days, only one of you will be left standing.”

Your heart stops. You can’t process what he’s told you, it just won’t sink in. Does he really expect you to kill someone? To kill off everyone? Would the others even try? You look around; everyone’s doing the same, thinking the same thoughts, and wondering if the others would kill them, given the chance. They’re strangers, after all, nobody you know.

“Not only that,” He starts up again.

“But we want you to utilise your new-found gifts as much as you can, to give us a comprehensive look into each of your unique talents. Oh, and of course, there are a few rules.”

He steps back behind the desk, pointing to a close-up of what appears to be a tiny electronic chip.

“If nobody dies within 24 hours, we’ll detonate the tracking devices inside your bodies.”

The whole room begins to panic. All you want to do is scream for help, but deep down you know nobody will come and that only makes the whole thing worse.

“Consider it an incentive.”

Turning back to the board, he changes goes back to the very first slide, showing the island once again.

“This grid displays the different areas of the island. As you can see, each area is fairly large, but don’t think you can all hide out in the church and pray that your God will keep you safe. Every 12 hours, we will randomly make certain areas off-limits to you, giving you exactly one hour to leave the “danger zones” before they become inaccessible for the rest of the game. However, when I say “inaccessible” I do in fact mean that if you step into these areas after the one-hour time-limit, your tracking devices will automatically detonate, and you will be blown into a million pieces. Which is a shame, really; your cadavers would be absolute treasure troves of data.”

The slide changes again, skipping through the previous ones regarding the daypacks, and now shows a picture of a patrol boat on the edge of the island.

“Don’t think about escaping either. To those of you who believe they can honestly swim all the way across the ocean to get to another country, I applaud you. But I assure you, you won’t get away. This finally brings me to the good news.”

His coat flaps about his legs as he steps out from behind the desk, the lights bursting back into life after the projector turns itself off.

“There can only be one winner here, and that winner, whoever they may be, will get to leave this place and never have to look back. We only need your data, after all.”

You feel sick now, your stomach wanting to escape from your body just so some small part of you stands a chance of surviving this hell.

“Now then, that about wraps this up. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to direct them to me once you’ve finished butchering each other.”

Making sure his gas-mask is secure, he exits the room, closing the door behind him without a single look back. You wonder what’s about to happen, before you hear a familiar sound.

Slowly, your eyes begin to close, and you pray that you never wake up.





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PART ONE
June 23, 2010: 12:00-23:59


CHAPTER ONE: DESPERATION
THE HOLDING CELLS
JUNE 23, 2010: 12:00

Begin Subject C16, Cristo Ruiz
"...Mom?" Where was she, anyway? He needed some breakfast, and a few pills perhaps; he felt like complete shit right now. His head hurt, and it felt like he was lying on... lying on cold, hard stone. As he realized this, everything came back to him- the memories of that room. The screams of the people tied around him, and the calm yet frightening voice. A rational explanation for something that was completely irrational. The man himself, dressed in a gas mask and all in leather. A fashion nightmare... spoke a voice from the back of Cristo's mind.

They had mentioned needle marks on his arm. Cristo put his head up, getting into a seated position, and looked down at his arm. He hadn't been dreaming that... there were the needle marks, clear on his arm. And his nails... something was wrong with them, he noticed, as he looked at his arm. They were longer than they had been before, and they looked... sharper. What the fuck was going on here? Wait... gifts. They had said that everyone had gotten gifts, from some kind of serum. And they had also said something about a pack.

He looked to his left, and he saw the day pack sitting next to him. He quickly opened it, looking through it frantically. A knife, a gun, a bunch of additional rounds, a first aid kit, food and water, a map, and a compass. He took the weapons, the map, and the compass out. He was hungry, but he was going to have to conserve food and water for when he really needed it. He needed to...

Cristo screamed. He tried to stop the hysteria, but he couldn't- he just kept screaming. It was too much, too much for him to handle. No pills, no weed, no mother, no fitness trainer, no home. He was stuck on this fucking island, and no one knew where the fuck he was. No one was going to come to save him. And they... the man had said that in 3 days, there'd be only one of them left remaining. Which meant they were going to try to kill him, they were going to fucking kill him.

Smile, Cristo. When things go bad, just smile. A voice, inside his head. His mothers- her advice for what he should do when he got into trouble. When he got rejected from a job, for example. Not this situation, no... but Cristo tried it anyway. He forced himself to stop screaming, and slowly, he forced a smile on his face. As he did, he noticed one thing in the day pack that he hadn't before. A small sheet of paper, reading two words: Hallucinogenic Venom.

What the fuck did that mean? Was that... the gift? He looked back down at his nails, trying to get the best look at them he could. They were different now- more like cats claws than a human finger nail. And what was underneath them, most likely.... venom. That was the gift he had gotten... he'd have to be careful. Couldn't scratch himself, or even really touch himself. Who was to say that shit wouldn't affect him?

He looked back down at the knife and gun, and then at the room he was in. It was an old, broken down room- a prison cell, it seemed like. There was a barred window above him, where sunlight came through, and across from him, a broken down cell door hang, swung open. Then he looked down at the map, and saw that he was on just one small part of the island. There were many other places on there, including a church.

As he looked back down at the knife on the floor, and at his nails- no, his claws- he felt his heartbeat begin to lower, and a sense of calm begin to come into him. There could only be one person left on the island... that was what they said. What he had to do, he began to realize. He had to get off this island, and the only way to do that... would be to be the last one standing. They'd be trying to kill him, so be it. He was not going to go down without a fight.

Give me determination, Cristo. Give me a look that says 'I won't back down'. His mother's voice again... he could almost see the camera flashing in front of him. Give me a look that says kill or be killed; give me a look that says you'll do what it takes to survive. And with the smile still forced on his face, Cristo felt hysterical, broken laughter begin to bubble out of his throat.



Begin Subject C03, Otis Adelaide

"Baby, pass the salt."

Otis watched his mother roll her eyes as she handed over the salt-grinder to her husband who sat proudly at the head of the table, a plate of the finest seafood around steaming away in front of him. Taking the grinder with a snatch, he roughly scattered the salt all over his food, masking it of any flavour it should of had.

"So boy, what'd ya learn at school today? I bet they wasted their time again, talkin' to you 'bout stuff you're never gonna use out in the real world. Right?"

He shook his head while he laughed, sliding the salt back across the table. Otis only half-smiled at his father before glancing up at his mother's disapproving face.

"Yo Mom, don't look at me like that. It's disrespectful."

"You lookin' at him like that for? He's your son. Smile at the damn boy for a change."

His parents stared at each other for a moment, his mother trying to hold her tongue. Turning back to Otis, she started to smile, but her eyes gave her away. Sensing her frustration, his father exhaled, becoming angry with the boy's mother and without even looking at his son, he simply said two words: "Outside, boy."

Sheepishly, he pushed back his chair, wincing as he took one last look at his mother's disappointed face, then stepped out onto the patio, sliding the door closed behind him. He'd seen that look a thousand times, and the next day his mother would be even more wound up than the last, furiously pacing around the house while scornfully ignoring her son every time she walked past. It was her own fault, he figured. Shouldn't look at him like that. He's gonna be a star, after all, that's what Dad says.

Yeah- He thought as he looked up at the dark Miami sky. I will be a star. I'll shine brighter than all you, you hear me?

-----

"Ah, fuck!"

The sun burned as he opened his eyes, cursing while he closed his eyes back shut. Rubbing his eyelids with his palms, he waited for a few seconds before opening his eyes again, squinting as he allowed the light to infiltrate his vision. He felt strange, tingly all through his body, like pins and needles, and tried to see where he was through the glare in his face. Holding up a hand to his brow to shade himself, he looked over the area, trying his best to work out where he was. It wasn't Miami, that's for sure, there wasn't a penthouse in sight, nor a beach full of tourists. No, the air was a little different too, a little bit stale, like something had died long ago but had since been moved away. It took him a while to get his bearings, seeing the mountain in the distance and the coast a while away, but aside from that the island seemed bare; at least, from where he was standing.

Eventually, he turned around to see what else was there, and finally the noticed the dark building directly behind him, staring back into his eyes. He shivered for a second as his body grew cold and he realised all too soon where he was again. Unaware that he'd stopped breathing for a moment, he stepped cautiously towards the worn-down ruin of a prison, reaching out with his right hand to touch the dilapidated walls. And then he snapped out of it. He heard a scream - a guy's scream - coming from inside, and he hesitated for a second. He remembered what that guy said about - shit, he remembered everything. It all ran through his head like a blur, picking out the important parts he'd actually listened to during his speech. Something about a winner... only one... yeah, that sounded right. He remembered that part the most, that was his favourite.

Looking around for anything he could use to protect himself, he noticed the daypack sitting next to the tree he must've been sleeping under. He rushed over and grabbed it hectically; this could be his chance, the guy could be injured, or better yet, dying. He could make it look like a mercy-killing, nice and peaceful, yeah, that could work. His mind was running at a fever pitch as he grew impatient with the bag and decided to tip the contents out onto the ground to speed things up. There! Right there! He lunged at the gun which shone magnificently in the tropic sun, and grabbed it without a moment's delay. He'd held a few guns before in his life, but he'd never fired one, nor did he know how to use it, but it felt comfortable in his hand, like he was used to the weight. Grabbing the rest of the things and chucking them back in the daypack, he flung it over his shoulder, not once noticing the scrap of paper clinging to the bottom of his bag as he set off into the holding cells.

---

Inside, his eyes adjusted themselves to the lack of light and forced him to stick by the wall for a few seconds as he made his way down the entrance hall. There was an empty receptionist's desk on his right, with a dusty, rotten office chair sitting quietly behind it, and the lights in the place had blown years ago. He felt himself shiver again as he tried to quieten his steps; the cold, stone floor shouting whenever he placed his feet upon it, and kept his gun tightly gripped in both his hands. He thought he was ready for anything that might come at him, he thought he'd be quick on the draw, shooting his target square in the head before shooting them again in the chest just to make sure. That's how he'd do it, like that, all style and precision like a real action man. A real American hero, like those guys out in the east or wherever.

The halls were darker now, having walked through the entrance hall, and whatever light filtered in showed the grimy specks of life which filled the air all around him, as though he was walking through a foul sort of snow. It stank too- that's what really got Otis, the smell of the place. It smelt like death in there, like depression and misery, all the things that he'd never known throughout his pampered little life of seafood and patios by the beach. Pulling his tank top over his nose, he held his breath as long as he could, gasping whenever he had to take in the air. The stench was making him want to vomit now, never mind his situation, as he moved further down the corridor and into the black.

Then he stopped. As soon as he got to the end of the corridor, he stopped instantly, frozen by an insane kind of laughter echoing through the darkness. It came from the left of the junction, the same side as the corner he was resting up against, unsure of what to do next. Never one to over-think, he took in a deep breath then slowly turned the corner, gun going first. Still hearing that unsettling sound, he knew he hadn't been seen, and quickly darted across to the wall on the other side, with the cells lined up before him. His heart racing faster with every step, he carefully tip-toed down, passing empty cell after empty cell without stopping to look inside each one. He knew exactly where it was coming from, and in a few more steps he'd stop it dead.



Cristo
The laughter echoed off the walls of the prison, and even seemed to repeat itself in Cristo's head. With the sound of the laughter, though, came another sound. The fall of footsteps, echoing off the walls into Cristo's cell. Someone else was here. Someone else... shit, what the fuck should he do? He heard foot steps, but the echo was far from clear enough to tell if there were different ones. There could be more kids than just one, and if there was, he'd have to approach the situation very carefully. He gripped his gun, checking it quickly, trying to remember what rudimentary things he did know about guns. The safety... he know about that. Looking for it over the gun, he found it quickly, and carefully slid the safety off. He then slid the rest of the items back into the bag, then slung it around his shoulder.

How many fucking kids were on this island, exactly, besides him? He tried to remember how many had been in the room... but even that was pointless. When he tried to remember how many kids there had been, his mind just kept flashing back to the kid that had been killed. He had tried to curse off the people who had abducted them, and for all his trouble he had ended up with a bullet in his head. It had been calm, cold, and professional- there was no anger in the voice of the man who had killed him, just the voice of a man who was doing his job. And besides, even if he could remember all the kids in the room, what would be the point? For all he knew, there could be other rooms just like that one.

But that was all pointless. Someone was coming towards his cell, and fast. They had a gun and a knife, just like him, and even more disturbingly, they also had a "gift". What it was, Cristo didn't know. He'd have to be careful with interacting with the kid... he had no idea what abilites he had, and if he got too close to someone with a powerful ability, they could kill him. So... stay away. And make sure the kid knew he was armed. The footsteps grew closer, but at the same time, they quieted down. The kid, whoever it was, was trying to sneak up on him. Not a good sign... he was definitely armed, and he was clearly dangerous. Gun in hand, Cristo rose, and walked towards the cell door. Time to meet this kid.

Cristo walked out of the cell door, pointing his gun down the hallway, towards where he had heard the footsteps. There was a boy standing there, his gun pointed forwards, towards Cristo. He looked to be about Cristo's age, and he was slightly taller, with what looked like a good amount of weight on Cristo- but the kid was in shape, as well, some kind of athlete by the looks of it. He had a handsome face, but the look on it told Cristo all he needed to know- he had come here with the clear intention of killing Cristo. Well, well... Cristo thought, This boy looks like he could actually be of some use... A shadow of smile appeared on Cristo's face, his lips turning slightly upwards in what seemed to be more of a smirk than a look of any real happiness.

"Hello." said Cristo, the words rolling with his casual Spanish accent. As he spoke, he was careful to keep his gun pinned on the teen in front of him- he wanted him to know Cristo meant business. "Name's Cristo Ruiz. Now put that gun down, and let's talk- I'm not trying to hurt you."



Otis
Otis froze. His heart sank as the laughter suddenly stopped and a shiny black gun crept out the cell; his own lingering weakly in the air. What should he do? All the confidence that had been keeping him going had turned tail and left him alone in the darkness. Now it was just him and whatever waited for him at the end of that barrel. As it leaned out further, a hand started to emerge, followed by a wrist, an arm, a shoulder- a face. A sly-looking face containing all the madness that had been echoing throughout the hollow halls, which now smiled right at his own. Fully realizing the danger he was in, his confidence returned, manifesting itself in one simple act: letting his tank top fall away from his face, he grabbed the gun in both hands, raising it towards the Spanish boy while he lowered his head behind it.

Not trying to hurt him? No, that didn't sound right, his eyes told him something different. He could lie as much as he wanted, but Otis knew better. You don't point a gun at someone if you don't plan on using it and you definitely don't smile. The only kind of person who'd smile with a gun in his face is a crazy one, and from the sounds of it, he really fit the bill. Clenching his grip around the handle, he inched back a little, unwilling to be the first one to drop his weapon. "You're crazy, man, laughin' and shit down here all on your own. Hell if I'm gonna trust anythin' you say." Feeling a little better once he spoke, he inched further back, quickly glancing at the corridor behind him to see if he could make it out of there before things started getting ugly.

Truth was, now that he knew it wasn't some defenceless kid down here like he first assumed, he was in trouble. He'd been getting himself ready to put someone out of their misery, to score an easy kill, but now there was this guy, standing right in front of him pointing a gun straight back at his face. That look he was giving him made him uncomfortable too, like he was ready to shoot at any time without even flinching. Beads of sweat now rolling down his head, he had to choose his next move quickly - talk, or run. Talk, or run. Talk... or run.



Cristo
Cristo watched the boy's face intently, watching as the confidence he'd first seen on it crumbled away to fear. The boy was scared of him, and that meant a few things. One, it meant the boy was not anymore proficient with a gun than Cristo was. Two, it meant that whatever power this boy might have got, it was evidently not strong enough to give him any sense of confidence. Third, and this was the most important, it meant that he knew he couldn't kill Cristo. It meant that he was learning his place, and that was good. Yes, this boy could be used to Cristo's advantage.

You're crazy, man, laughin' and shit down here all on your own. Hell if I'm gonna trust anythin' you say. The boy muttered this, and slowly took a step back, keeping both hands on the gun and pointing it straight at Cristo. This wasn't good- it looked both like he was going to run, and that some of his confidence was returning. Cristo wanted neither of these things. He needed to keep the boy here, and he needed to keep the boy scared. But he also needed him to know that Cristo wasn't going to kill him.

"Relax- I'm not crazy, I'm just scared, like you are." Cristo chose his words calmly and carefully, taking a step forward as the other boy took a step back. "I should be the one scared of you, the distrustful one- you tried to sneak up on me down here, gun drawn. You were trying to kill me, weren't you? But, whatever... we can put that all behind us, if you just relax so we can talk. I need you to answer two questions for me. First, what is your name, and second" and Cristo's smile widened as he said these last words, keeping a tight grip on his gun, "did you by any chance remember to turn the safety off on that gun?"



Otis
Otis looked down at his gun in horror. Sure enough, he'd left the safety on, just like the guy said. The sweat now lacing the back of his neck, he kept his position, refusing to let someone that smug get the better of him, especially here. Sliding his left foot back ever so slightly, he began to inch away from the boy, stubbornly keeping his gun aimed exactly where it was even though he knew there was nothing he could do with it. Sliding back his other foot, he began to rise, slowly, with his head coming out from behind his weapon, as he got ready to pull off his next move.

"...Shit." He muttered, before dropping his arms to his sides. Sighing angrily, he lashed out the wall, grunting as his small kick ricocheted off the moss-covered wall. He was going to die, he could feel it, and there was nobody around to prevent it. In a matter of seconds it would all be over, with Otis lying dead in a puddle of his own blood, surrounded by the ghosts of everyone else who had died on this god-forsaken spit of land and standing over his body would be this guy. Cristo, in all his glory, cackling into the night as he holds up Otis' head up to the skies for everyone else to see.

Fuck that, he thought, as he shook the image from his mind. The fight hadn't even started yet, had it? What good would come from giving up now? What did that guy say, back in the classroom? The serum, right? Evolution, all that jazz, yeah, that was it. He'd been given something just like everybody else, and though it was a stretch, maybe he could find out what it was right now. The hard way, maybe, and certainly not the safest, but he'd rather die fighting than to go down at some girl's mercy. His face ablaze with new-found determination, he clicked the safety off his gun and raised it up at the other - slanted, just like the movies.

"C'mon faggot, we doin' this or what?"



Cristo
Cristo watched the boy's reaction to his comment about the safety, his eyebrows raised. First, the boy backed up slightly, keeping his gun pointed up even though his face had given away the fact that he did, in fact, have the safety on. Then he muttered something, hit the wall with his fist, and finally, he looked up with a new sense of courage on his face, and turned the safety off. At any point during that, Cristo could have shot him. He had decided against it- first of all, he wasn't too good with guns, and second of all, he still didn't want to kill this kid. He needed to at least talk to him first.

C'mon faggot, we doin' this or what? Cristo heard the American boy spit these words out, pointing the gun at him sideways, acting the way Cristo had seen so many typical American antiheroes act in action movies. Was this kid serious right now? Cristo didn't feel any sense of real conviction behind it... more, it seemed, like this kid was just trying to save face. Must be the popular type, not wanting to have anybody beat him at anything. Cristo was surprised he hadn't asked Cristo to whip his dick out so they could see whose was bigger.

"Alright, now you're actually starting to get on my nerves." Cristo let his gun drop to his side as he said this, no longer pointing it up at the boy. The boy was uncertain and nervous, and clearly didn't know how to shoot a gun- he wasn't going to make the first move. "That little thing with the safety, I think, showed us both that you don't know how to use a gun- I, on the other hand, do know how to use one." The lie slipped out of Cristo's mouth easily, sounding so true to him that he doubted the kid would even question it.

"Again, I'm not trying to hurt you. If I was, don't you think I would have fucking shot you when you were bumbling around and I knew you had the safety on your gun still on?! Put the gun down, you look like a fucking idiot holding it like that." Cristo said these words, still staring into the boy's eyes. He wasn't losing this little confrontation they were having. "Now, for the last fucking time- WHAT IS YOUR NAME?!"



Otis
The words were flying right over him as he stood with his gun outstretched, his finger quivering as he readied himself to pull the trigger at any moment. He'd been tempted to shoot people before, back home, whenever someone gave him lip or did something to "disrespect" him, but he'd never actually shot someone. That was the problem with Otis, he was all talk. All bark with none of the bite, even though he had the teeth for it and right now, they were sharper than ever. However, one little thing stopped him dead before he got too trigger-happy - Cristo lowered his gun. Now he was listening, and he wasn't happy about what he was hearing.

Now he was being called an idiot? Oh, now he had a motive for sure. Nobody talks to Otis Adelaide like he's some kind of fool, not even pretty little weirdos like him. And now he was staring right into his eyes, just staring into them as he spoke - no - spat the last few words. Nostrils flaring and his hand firmly around the gun, he kept still for a few seconds; the air rife with adrenaline as the two faced each other in the low light of the prison. I could shoot him right now, right in the head. The thought lingered in his head as he stood there, barrel raised to the other's forehead, feeling the strain pouring the sweat down the back of his clothes.

Staring back into his confident eyes, his left eye twitched, and he knew he couldn't win. But hey, he'd gotten him to drop his gun too, so that counted, didn't it? Yeah, that counted. It was a draw, for now. Shakily lowering his gun, he relaxed, leaning back against the wall while he tucked his gun into the back of his shorts. "The name's Otis," he said quietly, resting his hands behind his head, "Otis Adelaide, straight from the sunny blues of M-i-ami." Glancing over his body, he assumed he was a latino of some variety, but couldn't guess which. "You from Italy or somethin'?"



Cristo
Cristo watched as his words took their effect on the boy in front of him. The boy did not seem to be pleased- definitely the type who likes to be the one picking on others, not the one picked on. He raised his gun higher still, anger in his eyes, and Cristo felt a shiver of fear run through him. Could he have misjudged this boy? Could things end for him here, so early on, at this hands of this buffoon? But no, Cristo saw, as the boy tucked his gun back into his shorts and seemed to have relaxed. He had been correct about the kid- him putting his gun higher had just been senseless posturing.

The boy began to spoke, and Cristo heard his name. Otis Adelaide, from Miami. The way he said Miami, combined with the clothes he wore, gave Cristo the sense that Otis had come from a wealthy, priveleged family. He stored this information in the back of his head, thinking that it might come in handy later on. Then, he answered the question Otis had asked him.

"I'm from Spain, Otis. Lived there until I was 6, and then I moved to New York, the Big Apple. Spent the rest of my life there." Cristo spoke carefully, calmy, and most of all, warmly. There was no need to continue the confrontation; now, Cristo realized it was more important to smooth things over with the boy in front of him. First, something for his pride. "I'm sorry for the way I acted, and the things I said. I was just... just scared of you, is all. I overreacted, I guess." He stepped closer to the boy, still clutching the gun in his hand, but this was a calm, easy step.

"We met the wrong way, and you got the wrong impression of me. I'm just terrified, and I don't know what do. Would you... would you want to be friends?" Cristo asked this in his best pleading tone, giving the face of a desperate kid. "I know I could use some help on this island, and I'm sure you could too. And oh, by the way- what is your... 'gift'?"



Otis
"Spain, aight." It made him think for a moment, about his own home, as Cristo continued to list off the rest of his life. It made him remember the people at home, who were waiting for him to get home. Then he smiled, before frowning again as he heard the strange apology escaping Cristo's lips. He's sorry? What kind of game was he playing? Although he had to admit, hearing that he'd intimidated the guy made Otis grin a little. Then again, he might've been lying; after all he was still holding that gun, right there by his side, and it didn't seem like he was gonna drop it any time soon. Then there was the way he was acting, too. He was getting a bit too close for comfort, and his attitude had completely changed without good reason.

Now he really didn't like the way the guy was looking at him; like he was trying to make out with him, almost. It was a little too much for a guy with his background, and he flinched as Cristo got closer and closer and his voice grew sultry and strange. For a moment he even forgot about the gun being caressed in his hand, inching ever closer to Otis' body. Disgruntled, he inched along the wall, his right hand grabbing the handle of his own gun while he turned to face him. Man, this guy's gettin' way too fuckin' close! If he tries any queer shit I'm gonna knock him on his ass. His fingers wrapping themselves around the trigger now, he almost brought it out of his shorts before he caught the last part of his question. "Why'd you wanna know 'bout my 'gift'? You gonna try and rip it outta me?"

Pulling his gun out and bringing it into plain view, he let it stay calmly by his side while he sized up his fellow prisoner. He held it besides his head for a second, pointing it at the ceiling as he spoke. "'Cause you can try all you like, aight? You can try as much as you fuckin' want, but there's no way you're gettin' a hold on me." Grabbing his junk in his other hand, he gestured to it with his gun while leering down at him. "Or this." He added with a snide tone, "Especially this." Tucking his gun back into the seat of his shorts, he calmed himself again, thinking back to the point he made before the "gift" question.

"We're not friends either, so don't get any ideas, boy." That was it, that was the right tone, spot-on. He was sounding more like his Dad every day. "But..." Oh? "I'm not holdin' your hand. You wanna come with me, you look after your own ass, got it?"



Cristo
Otis... this kid was fucking annoying Cristo. The looks he was giving Otis, the way he was talking to him. The things he was saying... he thought Cristo was coming on to him? How fucking paranoid was this kid? How cocky was he? Cristo felt his trigger finger itch, but he didn't... he didn't want to do that yet. Not now. For one thing, Otis still had the gun in his hand- he had taken it out of his waistband, and he looked like he was ready to use it. Despite not knowing how to use it, if he did get a shot off on Cristo before Cristo finished him... that could end his whole time on the island right there.

We're not friends either, so don't get any ideas, boy. He said this, speaking in a faux confident voice. He was trying to intimidate Cristo... really? Cristo knew he had the upper hand, he had scared the boy earlier, and he could do it again. But..." Oh? "I'm not holdin' your hand. You wanna come with me, you look after your own ass, got it? That settled it for Cristo- he had seen in Otis a possible ally. But if Otis was going to be this stand offish, always considering Cristo a possible threat... there was no point. He'd be far more of a hinderance than any help. But still, that didn't make what he should do any more clear... Cristo looked at the gun, and saw his claws curled around the weapon. That gave him an idea, and Cristo smiled.

"Look, it's alright with me, man." said Cristo, stepping closer still, the smile widening on his face. At the same time, he tucked his gun into his pocket. He'd have to be careful about that- one wrong move and goodbye kids! "I'm not gay, though... I'm just... kinda lonely. I'm not used to having to deal with people like this... especially not in a-" And that was when Cristo lunged. His right hand shot out to the wrist Otis was holding the gun with, his claws tightening into his forearm and drawing blood as he forced the gun down. At the same time, his left hand shot out, slashing Otis on the face, leaving shallow cuts all along his cheek. Now... we shall see how this venom works.



Otis
It was all too fast. Otis could feel the skin tearing from his face while his arm plunged downwards, held there by a set of piercing, poisoning claws. Before he even had time to think, he was struck by the strangest of visions; a sea of black extending far out ahead of him which suddenly tore itself away to reveal the awakening moments of the boy who'd struck him. It went by like a blur, his eyes darting around the room as the last parts of Cristo's memories played out in front of him like the strangest of films. It was then that he saw the thing which frightened him the most - the tiny, seemingly-harmless scrap of paper which he could now read in full view inside his head. The words "Hallucinogenic Venom" flashed brightly in his mind, before he was consumed by a feeling of great power and madness. But this didn't last long, as soon enough he saw himself turning the corner of his cell, having heard someone coming down the corridor. Reaching out his gun, he found... himself, staring right back at him with a look of wild fear and a quivering arm pointing a gun straight up at his face. He witnessed their entire conversation, every detail of it , from the Spaniard's point of view, and realized just how pathetic he looked.

And then those words flashed up in the back of his head: Hallucinogenic Venom. Cristo had known about his gift the whole time, and now he was busy secreting it into Otis' blood, breathing heavily after launching that assault. The anger rising now, he pushed the boy back as hard as he could, feeling the claws tear his arm as he fell back with a thud. "You drugged me! You mother-fuckin' drugged me, man! Shit!" He could feel himself losing balance now, with his vision beginning to blur. His heart beat began to rise, and he could feel himself getting hotter and hotter, the blood pounding throughout his body as he fell back against the wall. "You- you're fuckin' dead now! You're fuckin' dead!" He raised his gun towards the boy, firing off a couple of rounds past Cristo before he succumbed to the toxins running amok inside him. "Fuckin'... dead, man... fuckin' deahh..." Now he could barely think of what he was saying, his brain swimming in a delirious soup while he stumbled groggily towards his attacker.



Cristo
Fuck... the kid was strong, maybe even stronger than Cristo was. He had taken a little bit of time to recover, Cristo guessed, from the shock of Cristo's attack, but as soon as he did, he fought back against Cristo with full strength. He had pushed him off, causing Cristo to lose his grip on his forearm, and- FUCK! The kid was fucking shooting at him. The venom, however, had already begun to take its effect, and the shots veered wildly off course. Apparently out of bullets, Otis began to slowly stumble towards Cristo, unable to keep his feet. This made Cristo begin to laugh, watching the pathetic kid in front of him still attemping to attack him.

"Do me a favor, kid, and stay the fuck away from me." Cristo pulled his gun out of his pocket, at the same time easing his pack higher up on his shoulder. He easily side stepped past Otis, being careful to keep away from any grabs or hits the kid might try. He watched what was happening to Otis, and he smiled. This... this was his power. And he had a feeling the venom hadn't even got to its peak yet. "Because next time we meet, I'm not going to take it this easy on you."

He walked through the hallways of the prison, and he saw the light coming in from the entrance. He reached it, and turned to look back, seeing Otis still writhing on the floor, tangling with imaginary terrors. He felt the gun in his hand, and raised it for a moment, pointing it at Otis. But no... not here. Not yet. He would have to, eventually, but something stopped him from doing it right now. And he needed to go, anyway- who was to say the delusional Otis wouldn't fire at him again?

"Sweet dreams, Otis, you fucking prick." And with that, Cristo stepped out of the prison, and into the light.
Exit Subject C16, Cristo Ruiz



Otis
He heard Cristo's farewell before he vanished down the corridor, barely able to see which way he went. "Fuck... you..." Otis whispered after him, hoping that he'd hear over the groans of misery he let run from his mouth. His whole body writhed as the venom took full effect, plunging him into a world Otis had never wanted to enter. He felt like he wanted to tear the flesh away from his bone to stop the digging underneath his skin, a sensation like he'd never known before, and it terrified him to the point of tears. Real, genuine tears, for the first time since he was a kid were now streaming down his face as he curled up on the hard stone floor, waiting for the world to stop spinning around him. But it never stopped; it kept on spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning until he felt like he was about to throw up, until it came to a sudden stop.

He was upside-down now, the ceiling staring up at him as he lay still in the topsy-turvy hall, praying to God that he wouldn't fall down. "Sh-shit, no! Please, no!" He cried as the ceiling seemed to slip away from him, falling back further and further making the gap even wider. If he fell now he'd surely die; no-one could survive a fall that high, not even Otis. His hands furiously scrambled for anything to hold on to - a hook, a rope, anything that would save him from a death as horrible as this. He'd always wanted to go out with a bang, but now he was going to die in more of a splat, or a crunch, with no-one around to even see it. His mind cast back to thoughts of his house by the beach, with the sun-kissed patio and the sliding doors. He loved those doors, even when he ran into them as a kid. Then it came to him, like a spark, a flash of an idea.

Reaching out with his arm, he strained as hard as he could to find the cell door. If he could just - yes! That was it! He'd caught it! Laughing deliriously, he dragged himself across the floor, pulling with all the might he could muster. This was it! If he could just get inside the cell, he'd be safe! Yes, that's it, just keep pulling and you'll get there in no time. He couldn't be happier as he finally slid into the cell, slamming the iron door shut behind him. The fact that it wouldn't lock didn't bother him, it was just enough that he was away from the ceiling now, away from that drop. He sat, laughing, for a second while he caught his breath; a look of such relief lighting up his face as he looked around the room. Big mistake.

Looking up, not only did he see another ceiling falling away from him, but this time there came the tiniest slivers of light reaching out from the window on the other side of the room. He stared blankly at them for a moment before they began to twist and turn into strange, frightening shapes. No, not shapes, he realised - faces. They were chanting something slowly under their ghostly breath, and as they crept closer and closer to the boy, a terrible howl echoed throughout the prison - followed closely by a series of gunshots.

And he still had an hour to go.
Exit Subject C04, Otis Adelaide
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I can trick them into thinking anything
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
CHAPTER TWO: RISE ABOVE
THE RAVINE
JUNE 23, 2010: 12:04

Enter Subject C01, Samantha Reynolds
Her head hurt. That was the first thing that Samantha Reynolds noticed. Everything else was a blur, shades of black flashing through her mind. She tried to move, but no luck. Nothing. What was happening? Where was she? She'd gone to sleep. She'd been up late again, preparing, and then... then the room. The boy. The shot. The nightmare. What was happening? It had to have been a dream, but it couldn't.

She tried again. She couldn't just lie here, blacked out. No, that was giving up. She could beat this, force her way to consciousness. She snapped her eyes open. The light was blinding. Shades of black were replaced by shades of light. She couldn't distinguish anything, couldn't move, could just lie there as tears sprang to her eyes, trickled down her cheeks. She'd always been a heavy sleeper, but now... something was wrong. This wasn't normal early-morning grogginess. It was too bright. And she was lying on something uncomfortable. What could it be? It was a... a...

She painfully pushed herself to a sitting position, paused for a moment to regain her bearings, and looked behind her. It was a rock. A rock had been digging into the small of her back. She could see more clearly now. She was on a rocky slope, and ten feet in front of her the ground simply ended. She blinked. Could that be right? Slowly, she pulled herself to her feet, and turned, surveying her surroundings. In front of her was a ravine, a large gap in the earth. Behind her, a slope, angling down to who-knew-where. And next to her, a bag.

A bag? Not one of her bags, surely. Nothing she'd ever have wanted. It was a lumpy, ugly daypack.

She picked it up anyways. No reason not to. Perhaps it could explain things, somehow. Perhaps it could make this all make sense. She unzipped it, and found that she did not like what she saw. A gun. A knife. Just like they'd said. Rooting deeper, she found navigational gear and a first-aid kit. It was like some campout from hell. There was more, though. There was a slip of paper. On it was written "Facial Morphing". Facial Morphing? What the fuck? Was this what that man had talked about, back in the room? Something about powers? Something about killing? What was this shit?

Had she been kidnapped by a band of delusional psychos? Or was this all just a big practical joke? There was only one way to find out.

Samantha had to know whether to take this seriously, and the only way to tell was to find out if there really was the potential for people to be killed. She took out the knife, touched the blade softly. Sharp. Then, she raised the gun.

It was heavier than she'd expected. Certainly harder to carry than guns looked on TV. She held it out, like the cops did in the few police movies she'd seen, holding it in both hands. Then, she pointed it around, looking for something to test it on. She knew it was real by now, of course. She knew it was all real. She'd seen a boy killed, for fuck's sake, but she wasn't quite ready to accept it. Somehow, in her mind, it could all still be a mistake, if only the gun didn't work.

She saw, now, a bridge over the ravine. She saw some large rocks, and a couple of small, scraggly trees. She aimed at one of the latter, pointing the gun in its rough direction without a clue if her shot would go way wide. She pulled the trigger.

It didn't depress. The gun didn't fire. Samantha blinked. Really? It was really fake, after all that? This whole thing was some twisted joke?

Then she remembered the safety. It took a few seconds of fiddling with the gun to find it, but, sure enough, it was engaged. She flicked it off, aimed again, and once more pulled the trigger.

She didn't see where her shot hit, because she was entirely unprepared for the recoil. It sent her staggering backwards, toward the ravine. She realized this as she stumbled, realized she'd had about six steps separating her from death when she fired the shot, and that she'd just used up three of them, and that she was still being carried by her own shocked momentum (had she jumped at the noise, too? This fucking sucked). She lurched forward again, nearly fell on her face—a prospect she found surprisingly attractive, considering the alternative—and finally regained control. She panted, stepped away from the ravine, got a good twenty feet of safety, and then stopped dead still. It was real. All of it. Well, maybe not the superpowers shit, but the rest.

Samantha had no clue what to do. Nothing in her life had prepared her for this. She paused, and then, for god-knows-what-reason, she checked her clothes. Her knee-length grey skirt was rumpled, so she smoothed it. Her white blouse was dirty, because she'd been lying on the ground. How silly of her. She brushed it off as best she could. She straightened her glasses.

Then she started screaming. She yelled until her throat was raw. She was probably alerting everyone else of her location, but what the hell, right? What could they do, kill her? She had a gun. She wouldn't let anyone kill her. No one would try, really, would they? What could she do? What could they all do? Was everything hopeless?

No.

No, that was a quitter's attitude. That was the slacker in her talking, the weak little girl who would never amount to anything. That was her sister, not her sister as she had been years ago, the strong protector, but her sister now, the trash who hadn't even been able to keep her panties up. Samantha wasn't like that. She was better. She had to be better. She could beat this.

Right now, beating it meant getting clear. She had to get away from the mess she'd made, find somewhere a little quieter to regroup. She'd been stupid, let everyone know where she was. That wouldn't do. She had to think things through. If nobody died in a day, they all blew up, right? That meant there would be killing. Some of the others—And who were they, anyways? Why would they give a shit about killing her?— would certainly participate. She had to stay safe, had to protect herself.

Samantha headed for the bridge, and began to cross. It was old, weak, rickety, terrifying. The adrenaline helped, though. She began to breathe more slowly. She couldn't afford to freak out, couldn't afford to break down.

She stopped, in the middle of the bridge, and forced herself to look down, way down, to river flowing in the crack. She had to keep calm. If she couldn't, well, she might as well just hurl herself over the side right now.



Enter Subject C12, Penelope Rivers
I must have hit my head hard on the court if this headache’s anything to go by. Where’s the bedsheets… fuck this shit… cold… so cold…

Penelope opened her eyes, and then wished that she hadn’t. She was on the ground facing a cliff, a vertical drop around 20 metres in front of her. Groggily trying to force herself to move, she rolled over and hit her head on something soft.

Pillow… no. What?

Inching her neck around, she saw the bag. Blinking more, she felt the straps on it, trying to remember where she had seen it. It looked so familiar…

“We will supply you with a single daypack each, containing the following.”

Her eyes snapped open.

“Presently, you are here, in our base of conduct. Once you’re back on the island, we will monitor your every move.”

It couldn’t be real. It was a dream. A nightmare. Moving her arm up to her face, she choked at the marks.

“We have developed a serum which contains the key to evolution itself; a serum which reacts differently depending on the DNA of the person who receives it.”

“Tested… what… I can’t…”

“There can only be one winner here, and that winner, whoever they may be, will get to leave this place and never have to look back. We only need your data, after all.”

“FUCK!”

With a loud outburst, she lept up to her feet and stumbled. Breathing deeply in and out, she looked around, taking in everything. She was on top of the valley, a sharp drop in front of her. A creek from the left let her see a bridge to the other side. Apart from that and a few old trees, she was alone.
Utterly alone.
Biting her fist, Penelope “Pippi” Rivers sat back down.

Facts. Need the facts. Face the facts… shit. It’s real. It’s all real. This… game? Experiment. WHATEVER! FUCK!

Gritting her teeth, she punched the earth. Breathing, she tried to calm, tried to remember.

OK, simple. Just… there’s nineteen other people here, and they have to die… no, I can’t… I can’t kill anyone, that’s wrong… but if no-one dies, we all die… 24 hours…

Fumbling around, she brought the bag in front of her, adjusting her singlet and vest jacket.

I swear I wasn’t wearing this… was I? Oh god, I can’t remember…

Giving a moan, she opened up the bag. Pippi glanced at the single piece of paper on top, frowning.

Telepathic Communication. So they’ve turned me into some sort of telepath? Like something out of Star Wars or… something? God this sucks…

Blinking and putting it in her pocket, she slowly picked up and checked off the items. They were all there, from the bread and map to the knife and handgun. Swallowing, she checked the sides of it before wrapping her fingers around it, holding it like she saw in the movies. It felt ugly, heavy. Giving a frown of disgust, she placed it back into the pack.

No. I won’t use that. Never. I refuse to play. I will never play.

Giving a spit of disgust, she slowly got up and looked around again.

…so what do I do no-

BANG. Jumping slightly, she looked over the valley. Someone was screaming, almost in pain…

Did… did someone shoot? Are they killing? Will they kill? Need to calm down… I can do this. Just…

She looked down at the gun again and bit her lip, almost trying to not scream herself. Giving a swallow she picked it up again and put it in her vest pocket, putting the knife in the other. The cold metal slapped against her stomach, making her shiver. Slinging the pack onto her back, Pippi slowly tested out the bridge, making sure she could use it.

It’s rickety… almost unusable. If there was more than a few people on it, it would probably break.

Frowning, she stepped on it and started to walk forwards a few steps, looking down. Giving a glance upwards, she gave a yelp. Another person was coming the other way. Taking a step backwards and putting her hands in her pocket, she swallowed and shouted out loud, glancing at the person's face.

“FREEZE! WHO ARE YOU!”

Please don’t kill me, I don’t want to kill anyone, please god…



Samantha
The shout, the challenge, froze Samantha. For a couple of beats she did nothing, then, in a quick motion, she tore her gaze away from the depths and turned to face the girl who had called at her. It was a tall, thin, red-haired girl, also on the bridge. Samantha must have started running right toward her. She nearly snapped right there. The gun was still in her hands. It would be so easy to open start shooting. Sure, it would probably rock the bridge, probably send them both plummeting to their deaths, but what the fuck, it was better than getting killed without putting up any resistance, better than stumbling around this island for days, making rash, stupid decisions and then getting murdered by some freak.

She raised the gun, noticing that the other girl had her hand in her pocket—her own gun was in there, had to be—but did not pull the trigger. As much as the stress was already getting to her, Samantha was no killer. She wasn't going to die, but she couldn't just start blazing away at some probably-totally-innocent girl.

"Samantha," she shouted in response to the girl's question. "Samantha Reynolds, from Seattle. Keep your hands where I can see them, and I won't hurt you!"

Fat chance she could hurt this girl anyways. She couldn't even shoot a fucking tree without nearly killing herself and alerting everyone on this whole fucking island to her presence. And, speaking of that...

This girl was obviously not bright. Not bright at all. They were both yelling, but hell, cherry-top had started it. That noise was bad news. Now, not only were they exposed, not only were they swinging on the bridge of doom, everyone in the area—maybe everyone in general—knew it, knew there was a conflict in this least fortunate of areas, and could come exploit it, could come pick them off like flies. No. No way. No way was Samantha going to get killed because of this moron. She was going to have enough work keeping herself under control, keeping herself rational. Now she had to babysit, too?

"Listen," she said, dropping her voice to a quiet yet obviously malicious snarl. "I don't know if you noticed, no, wait, if you're here you did, but I made a mistake back there. I made a lot of noise, and now you made a lot of noise, so there are probably people coming to kill us both right now."

That was it. Spell it out nice and easy, like for a child. Convey the message quickly, efficiently, and get the fuck out of this awful situation.

"Now, we can stay here wondering if we're going to shoot each other, or we can move this somewhere a little bit less exposed." She glanced over to the other side, where the girl had come from. Not much in the way of cover. Still, not as open either. Certainly better than here.

She gestured at one of the scraggly trees with her left hand, trying to hold the gun steady with her right.

"How about behind that? I won't shoot you in the back. I don't want to, and even if I did, I don't think this bridge would hold up under the force of me slamming into the side. We can go there, work things out or whatever, and then get out of each other's way."

There. That was it. Logic at work here. Don't get attached. Don't get stuck with people, especially idiots. Find a safe place, figure things out. Don't get caught unprepared. Don't lose control. The stress of the situation was unbearable. Samantha's hands were sweating, but dammit all, she would keep cool until she was off this bridge. She would hold together, and she would make sure she didn't let her guard down for even a second, because the other people here, even the ones who were dumb as bricks, all had knives and guns and maybe were buying into this crazy shit and that made them, cherry-top included, pretty damn dangerous.



Penelope
Swallowing at the answer, she stared at the girl's Jericho, slowly pulling her hands out without the weapons. This Samantha obviously had the ball here, and all she could do was defend herself. Talking slightly softer, as if to try to calm Samantha down, she said "Pippi Rivers. Phoenix."

Fucking hell. Would she? I'm probably nobody to her... just a player for her to get rid of... Samantha Reynolds, looking for the first points.

Inside Samantha's head static started to spark, a soft yet forceful voice at the back of her mind phasing in and out. Pippi rose her head and looked at the girl's face, the narrow sides, the ice-blue eyes framed by the glasses, the long pointed nose. The longer Pippi looked at Samantha, the more the voice started to complete, until it was perfectly audible.

Noise? It's only you and me for the next few miles around. I reckon I could shout at the top of my lungs and nobody would notice except you, bitch.

"I doubt anyone's going to hear us up here, Samantha. I think you should put your gun down too."

She's not putting it down... crap, this is not looking good.

Listening into what Samantha suggested, she gave a small groan internally, glancing over the sides.

Does this bitch really think I'm an idiot? One push and it's game over before it starts. How the fuck am I going to get out of this one... Back up along the bridge?

Giving a look of venom, she slowly walked backwards up the bridge, holding onto the cables protecting her from the side. "Fine. Have it your way."

Keep eye contact, don't make her do something stupid, and most of all, don't die. God, this is not my day.



Samantha
The girl introduced herself, too, and Samantha had to choke back a groan. Pippi? Pippi? A stupid name for a stupid person. Sometimes life really did work out in a logical fashion. The only way it could be better was if she had a really stupid middle name too, something—nobody to her—wait what the fuck was going on? What did this Pippi girl just—Samantha Reynolds, looking for the first points.—say?

Samantha blinked. What had this girl said? Could she possibly have heard her correctly? But, no, it was fading in and out, this—you and me for the next—voice, in her head, it was in her head, Pippi's lips weren't moving. It was speaking into her mind, and as it went on, it grew more insistent, more consistent. What the hell? What was wrong—and nobody would notice except you, bitch.—with her? Was she going crazy? Had she just completely fucking flipped? Was she imagining things, projecting her own—She's not putting—fears and paranoias and distrust onto this idiot?

No... No, it couldn't be. Samantha was stressed. She was worried, scared, hell, she'd been panicking, but she was not nuts. She was not—Does this bitch really think I'm an idiot? One push—that far gone yet. She couldn't have lost herself so easily. there had to be another—fuck am I going to get out of this one... Back up along the bridge?—explanation, damn it was hard to think with that voice in her—wait, was Pippi really backing up? Was she really doing what the voices were saying? No way. No fucking way. Samantha was reading this girl's mind. She was reading her mind and, surprise surprise, it was just as stupid and empty as she had expected, filled with thoughts of self preservation and fuck-all else. Only problem was, mind reading was totally impossible. It was sci-fi shit. It was...

Powers. They had powers. It had been a lie, a fiction, she'd been sure, so sure, only now it wasn't anymore. Now it was real. Problem was, Samantha's power wasn't mind reading. It was, fuck, it was Facial Morphing, whatever the hell that was. Did that mean that Pippi had mind reading? Did that mean that Pippi was picking out her thoughts, examining them, spilling her own in by mistake? Or was she broadcasting to distract Samantha? Or was she—Keep eye contact, don't make her do something stupid, and most of all, don't die. God, this is not my day.—goddamn that was annoying!

For a second, Samantha considered keeping quiet, trying to use it to her advantage. Thing was, it just wasn't worth it. The voice wasn't really getting louder, but it was becoming much harder to ignore, and Samantha couldn't stand it. It was a loss of control—no, a violation—of the most private part of her, and damned if she was going to let this idiot keep it up. Damned if she was going to let this Pippi girl play her, control her, run the situation.

Samantha had been moving with Pippi, following her along the bridge, pacing her. She had kept her gun raised, but not aimed too specifically. Now, though, she jerked it, hoping the movement would catch Pippi's attention.

Stop it, or I'll kill you.

Her thought was a test, a final moment of calm. If Pippi shut the hell up, it meant she was reading Samantha's mind. It meant that she had, for all intents and purposes, committed mental rape. It meant she was fucking dead, because Samantha would kill her, kill her as quickly as possible, because that was way too dangerous an ability to be left unchecked.



Penelope
She saw the jerk of the hand, the sudden increase in concentration and aim with the weapon and swallowed. Samantha was obviously on the edge of reason, and considering that she had been kidnapped, turned into an experiment, had someone die in front of her and was told to kill everyone she met, Pippi wasn't surprised. Her hands were sweating furiously, her heart pumping and trying to jump out of her chest. If it was any other situation, she would have tried to one-up her with her own stuff, and quite possibly have a hole in her stomach. Gotta know when to push for a mistake and when to stop and wait.

"Hey now, there's no need to be shootin' now, eh? I'm backing up..." Pippi coughed, slightly unnerved, eyes locked onto Samantha's face.

Hell no, she wouldn't. I've got the gun as well... It's turning into a Mexican standoff. This is worse than extra time in a grand final. Keep moving. Man, for someone who doesn't want to shoot, she sure looks like she wants to shoot.

Unknown to Penelope, the broadcast kept being sent out to the other girl, invading the back of her mind. In her voice her thoughts were transmitted to her, clear as day. Finding her feet touch solid ground, she exhaled and started to move backwards slightly more steadily. "It's OK. Solid ground. We can talk, right? I know we got off on the wrong foot, so why don't we just sit down and... have a talk? Something simple. No?"

With a jerk of her round head, she moved over to the twisted tree, not letting an eye off of Samantha. Gaining confidence, she slowly put her hands down, breathing slower. It was going to be OK for now, at least for the next few minutes.

Friend or foe, what's it going to be? Should I trust this girl, I mean, she almost looked like she was going to shoot for a few seconds there... am I going to needing to check my back every few seconds? Who is she, anyway? Samantha... hmm...



Samantha
The words kept flowing through Samantha's head as Pippi lead the way to the tree, but they gained coherency, focus, sense. Suddenly, they were coming through in complete sentences, and Samantha found herself in a curious position. She nodded as Pippi suggested a talk, but was not paying much attention to what she was actually saying. Instead, she was listening to the girl's thoughts. Pippi clearly couldn't hear Samantha's. Otherwise, she would have stopped the broadcast. And then Samantha would have shot her. Now, though, the situation was reversed. Now Samantha was the one doing the invading.

She had almost decided to just leave it that way, not say anything, use all of Pippi's thoughts to her own advantage. True, there was the slim possibility the girl was trying to trick her, deliberately sending her false thoughts, but it seemed unlikely in the extreme. Samantha was not the sort to revise her initial judgments of people without damn good reason, and Pippi was clearly a moron. How else would she have come running to check out screams and a gunshot without her own weapon in hand?

What stopped Samantha's plan, though, was more the realization that she was considering doing exactly what she'd been prepared to kill Pippi for. Samantha was many things, but she hoped a hypocrite was not one of them.

She moved behind the tree, using it as a small amount of cover from the other side of the ravine, hoping to stay at least a little out of sight, and sat down. She gestured for Pippi to do the same, and then she paused for a second, deliberating. How should she keep this situation from getting worse? The thoughts were annoying, but now that they were coming fully-formed they were bearable. She was starting to relax a little, but this other girl would still be on edge with the gun pointed at her. This Pippi was stupid, but not stupid enough to look potentially fatal threats in the face without fear. The question was, was she stupid enough to try something if she got the chance? It was possible, certainly, but Samantha was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to pull any tricks off.

After looking at Pippi for a couple of long seconds, Samantha lowered her gun, and said, "Right. Let's talk."

Then, as an afterthought, she added, "By the way, I can hear what you think. I thought the 'powers' were fake, but I guess not. Mine's got nothing to do with thought-reading, and it's a little distracting hearing you panic about Mexican standoffs and stuff, so could you maybe keep it down? I won't shoot you."



Penelope
Pippi gave a small nod as they both sat down, sighing as Samantha put the gun down. It seemed that she was probably as confused as Pippi was with the situation. Giving a grin as Samantha said "Let's talk", Penelope took her bag off her back and got out a bottle of water, taking a sip. Her headache seemed to have gone, nothing injured except for the pinholes in her arm.

"Sure."

Well, maybe the situation can be saved. There's go-

"By the way, I can hear what you think."

She blinked.

"Bullshit."

Listening to the rest of what she mentioned, she gave a worried look. Mexican standoff was something she thought on the bridge...

This stuff only happens in movies, sci-fi shows... but... the paper...

She bit her lip as she got out the piece of paper, a simple straight strip and spoke it out softly. "Telepathic Communication." Looking back at Samantha, she frowned and questioned "You can hear me? I'm... projecting my thoughts?"

...you can hear this?



Samantha
Man, this girl was slow on the uptake. She didn't respond violently, though, and Samantha gave a sigh of relief. The challenge here would be getting it through Pippi's thick skull that she was projecting her thoughts, not killing her, and Samantha was thankful for that. Although...

Although, now that she thought of it, should she be? If everything was real—the weapons, the powers, the situation—then it only followed that their goal was real too. Only one person was going to survive. That was a scary thought. Samantha did not want to die. She couldn't. It was a thought that she just could not register. She had thought of death before, had even once, at the lowest point of one of her school-induced breakdowns, wondered about suicide, but she had never been able to imagine it. Death was nothing, non-existence. Samantha wasn't religious, at least, she didn't believe in an afterlife. Death was it. The end. Only problem was, her brain wasn't wired to understand that. It was a mystery. A horrifying one. One she had no intention of solving anytime soon.

"Yes," she responded to Pippi's question, drawing her attention back to the matter at hand. "I can hear it all clearly. Before you showed me the paper, you thought abpout it, and how this is sci fi stuff."

There. That should convince her. That should be the end of the questioning. Of course, now that the powers were known to be real, if Pippi had even a tiny bit of intelligence she would want to know what Samantha's was, want to make sure it wasn't something dangerous or powerful. Were there dangerous, potentially lethal powers in play? Samantha hoped not, but she couldn't take anything for granted anymore. Not after hearing a voice speak directly into her mind.

She decided to preempt Pippi's inevitable question, and said, "My power is 'Facial Morphing'. Let's see if it works."

It took Samantha about half a second to figure out what to try to change. For the most part, she'd always been happier with her face, but her nose had always been a bit too long. She would never have considered cosmetic surgery, of course, but now that she could apparently fix it somehow, she figured she might as well give it a go. Besides, once she got the hang of her power, it could be useful. She could disguise herself at will, and take on the appearance of others. She just had to figure out how to use it. A thought, an absurd, stupid, irrelevant thought, flashed through her head: Michael Jackson would have killed for my new ability.

Then she focused on her nose, willing it to shorten.

And then she threw her hands up to cover her face, purely out of instinct, seeking to protect it from danger, and started screaming, as waves of agony washed over her, blinding her, deafening her, turning her world into a red howl of anguish.



Penelope
Pippi gave a involuntary gasp as Samantha screamed and put her hands up to her face in pain. It made perfect sense to her if she was projecting her thoughts out that other people would have different powers, just like the cloaked man said. But then again, that meant that everything else she was told was real too. If no-one died, everyone died. Deciding to burn that bridge when she got to it, she swallowed and looked back at the other girl howling.

I can't see her changing anything... shit, she's loud. Wait, she can hear this- Oh, crap, sorry! God, this is going to take practise. Jeez I don't think "Are you OK?" is going to cut it here. I should wait... could I leave her? How long could this take? Oh fuck, I'm not helping at all, am I.

As Samantha's nose shrunk, the thought stream began to quickly peter out, leaving Sam to her own world of pain.



Samantha
Samantha didn't even register the few thoughts of Pippi's that still entered her mind. She couldn't comprehend anything except the agony. It felt like her nose had been shattered, her flesh torn, blood vessels burst. She screamed and screamed and then, in the blink of an eye, it was simply gone. Over. Finished. Whatever had caused the pain had run its course, and now Samantha felt perfectly fine, and more than a little bit ridiculous. She'd just been screaming her eyes out, and now she was fine? What on earth would the girl in front of her make of that? Would she assume that Samantha was some sort of dangerous pyscho? After all, this was the second time she'd broken down screaming in the past half hour or so. That didn't exactly point towards a healthy state of mind.

Moreover, Samantha was beginning to suspect that she'd pulled the short straw when it came to powers. Either that, or all the powers sucked. Now that she thought about it, accidentally beaming your thoughts to people holding guns on you wasn't exactly the most useful ability either. Was this really a research project, or was this some sadist's idea of a game? Was this some bloodsport without a point, conducted only for the amusement of a few people?

Samantha lowered her hands from her face. She didn't know if nose had even changed. It felt different, but that could have just been it not being in agony. If she'd had her purse, she could have checked with the small mirror she carried, but the purse was gone. She sighed, then turned her head to look at Pippi, and all of a sudden she knew her power had worked. It was a small thing, the sort of thing she hadn't noticed immediately, but her glasses no longer rode on her face the way she was used to. They'd lowered, just a hair, but... She reached up, and prodded her nose. It felt a bit smaller. Not too much, though, just like she'd always wanted to look. All that suffering (well, it had only been about half a minute), but now she had a perfect nose.

She said in a flat voice, "It appears my 'power' has some drawbacks."

That was a nice little understatement, wasn't it? Was there any possible use for her power at all? It was Facial Morphing, a term so vague it could have meant just about anything. What were the limits? Could she look unhuman? Could she change her pigmentation? Her hair style? Her eyes? The shape of her head? Of course, all those questions were entirely academic, because Samantha had absolutely no intention of ever trying to use it again. She was no masochist. Pain was not her friend. At least, not this kind of pain. The pain that came at the end of a long jog, or a good swimming session, now that was different. That was the pain of a job well done, the pain of success, the pain of achievement.

Anyways, she had bigger things to worry about now. Her stress was getting to her, stopping her from focusing, but once again she had broadcast their position to everyone nearby.

Samantha picked up her gun—she realized as she did so that she must have dropped it when she covered her face, a good thing since if she hadn't she'd have smashed herself with a handful of metal—and dug her knife out of the pack, being sure to keep them unthreateningly positioned. She didn't want to scare Pippi into doing something rash. Dumb people were unpredictable when they were scared. Then, she tucked the gun into the back of her skirt. It was not comfortable, but that was good. It meant she wouldn't forget it was there. She paused for a second, dug it back out, turned the safety on, and then returned it to her skirt. No point taking chances.

The knife was more of a puzzle. It had no sheath, and she didn't want to cut herself. After a few seconds of trying to puzzle it out, she put it back in the bag. She could deal with it later, when she was somewhere safe. Finally, she stood up, and said to Pippi, "Look, people are probably going to turn up here soon. I'm going to move somewhere a little safer."

The words were abrupt, a bit harsh, but true. People would be here soon, and they could be more willing to come in shooting.

Of course, Samantha's words were more than harsh, too. They were exclusive. "I'm going to move somewhere a little safer" didn't exactly leave much of an invitation for Pippi to come along. It hadn't been conscious, but the meaning was clear enough. They were done. Now that Samantha was pretty sure Pippi wasn't going to shoot her on sight, she felt safe enough to leave. The girl was a fool, and would surely be dead before long. That was too bad for her. Samantha actually felt quite sorry for her, but not enough to stay, not enough to die. Not enough to bring dead weight with her.

Samantha backed away, walking carefully. She was wearing nice, practical flat shoes, thank goodness, so she didn't have to worry too much about tripping. The jogger in her could never tolerate high heels, especially since she didn't really need the boost in height.

"Listen," she said, making her point more clear now that she had mulled it over, "I don't think it's smart for us to stay near each other. We'd be an easier target. Besides, if you need help, you can, I don't know, call me with your power or something. Same if you find a way off this place."

That was a pretty lame excuse. Samantha had no clue how far Pippi's power worked, or if she could consciously control it, or if she'd even come if Pippi called for her help. It didn't matter, though. People would be here soon. They could be dangerous people, ready to do all kinds of terrible things. There was no way Samantha was sticking around to find out. If Pippi had even the slightest shred of common sense (a big if, that), she would leave too.

Whatever. What-fucking-ever. Samantha couldn't worry about her now. She had to worry about herself. That would be hard enough. She had to worry about staying alive, and getting home. Would people really kill each other? The question burned at the back of her brain, stung and prickled and ached, not sharply like her shifting face had, but incessantly. Would she meet Pippi again, later, as an enemy? Would she have to defend herself against this girl?

Her breathing had been intensifying. She had been edging towards dangerous stress levels again. That wasn't good. She had to calm down. She had to get some space.

When she had gotten far enough from Pippi to be fairly assured of her safety, Samantha tried what she always tried to beat her stress, and broke into a light, easy jog, heading away, away from the ravine, away from Pippi, away from her dark, depressing thoughts. Away toward whatever came next.

Exit Subject C01, Samantha Reynolds



Penelope
Pippi could do nothing but watch as Samantha started to get up and put her gun in the waist strap of her skirt. It was as if her train of thought had suddenly stopped at the station and didn’t want to start back up.

“I… understand… I think…”

Was it true that people would show up? Probably not. But was it a good idea to take chances in this game? One slip-up and-

She gave a shudder, watching Samantha start to jog off. It seemed that she would have to work by herself for the time being. Swallowing, she took another gulp of water, trying to getting rid of the sense of dread in her head. No-one had to die… they just needed to find a way out of this hell.

Get out.

She laid down on the dirt. Who the hell would kidnap teenagers and give them powers? They seemed to be well organised. Raising her arms above her head, she looked at the needle jabs. Trackers and the explosives would have to be removed first. That would be a job in itself, seeing it was under her skin.

Maybe someone had the power to do that? Pippi smiled at that thought. That would be irony, using the powers to get off this lump of rock. Then she’d be able to go back to her family, her sister, team mates…

Closing her eyes, she gave a grin, seeing them in her mind.

Can you hear me? Pippi here? I’m on an island…

Reopening her eyes, she slowly slipped her bag back on, before frowning and taking it off again, removing the gun from where she put it in.

I won’t use this unless they are about to kill me. I’ll need friends, allies, teammates. We can all get off together. I know it.

Checking the safety, she put it in her pocket, making sure it wouldn’t slip out. Looking at the path Samantha made, she walked over the bridge, balancing and holding her breath. Touching the ground again, she examined the road ahead, giving a nod.

Let’s play this game, cloaked guy. I promise you. We’ll win.

Exit Subject C12, Penelope Rivers
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I can trick them into thinking anything
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
CHAPTER THREE: WHERE IS MY RIFLE? THIS IS MY GUN.
THE RADIO TOWER
JUNE 23, 2010: 12:06

Begin Subject C10, Raymond Pietrowski
Only one word could quite make it's way through his mind right now. Shit. Maybe this was what shock was? Damn it, this sucked. He was sitting just outside of this massive radio tower. He'd woken up there... Okay, time to trace all of this back. There was no way that what he had thought just happened had actually happened. "That had to be a shit dream, I have to be on a campout with Trav. Or something. Why the hell can't I remember anything?" He shook his head. There was a massive view out over an entire island from this place. An island, what the fuck was he doing camping on an island anyways?

He shook his head as he stood. He was still wearing his attire from before; a silver watch, a pair of Jeans and his striped white Polo. He brushed off his knees, popping the collar back up on the garment. "Shit, where's my stuff?" He glanced and noticed a small day-pack that looked nothing familiar to him. "Wait... Shit, was that real? Aw shit." The reality pretty obviously hadn't set in that he would either be dead by the end of the next three days... Or never truly be the same.

Last thing he actually remembered, he was on another fishing trip with his father and Norm. He had just made his last catch of the day, a fifteen pound Catfish. He grinned just thinking about the look on their faces when he pulled that Son of a Bitch out of the water. It was pretty late, so Ray had headed back to the truck, and passed out in the passenger seat. After that... He was in some kind of fucking cell. And they were doing... Well, they were fucking him up pretty badly. And then he remembered the classroom... Or whatever that mockery was supposed to be... And that kid getting gunned down right next to him... "Oh, shit. Oh shit... He sighed. Oh well... That must be the daypack he was talking about..." Ray had never exactly been the brightest bulb in the shed, but he wasn't dumb by any means. His memory was just not the best after everything that had just happened. Then again, who's would be?

He glanced down to the bag, pulling it open, being careful not to spill it's contents all over the place. There were the obvious staples, and then the knife and the gun. He slid the gun in the back of his belt... No, that's a retarted idea. He took it back out and laid it on the ground. Looks like I'm carrying these. He slid the contents of the daypack back into the day pack, taking a quick note of the limited amount of water there actually was. There wasn't time, didn't that weird looking dude say that if no one died in twenty four hours, they all did? Shit. "I've never killed anyone before... I... doubt it would be that hard, right? This entire thing is self defence, right?" He asked these questions to nothing but the mountain and the air. He held the pistol in his hand, letting his finger run over the trigger slowly, touching it as if it was almost alien. He'd actually fired something similar to this before, this was nothing new. So why did the thing feel so foreign when he needed it most?

Ray sighed to himself, and shook his head. He slid the single clip he was issued into the weapon, and held it in his right hand. It felt heavy, heavier than a gun like this should feel. Staring at it for almost a full five minutes, he then glanced down to the knife, and slid the blade between his belt and his jeans. "Hey, that works." He mused to himself, looking everything over.

And he just sat. For what felt like Ages. Staring out over the mountain, over the valleys and the island below. He knew he had a map somewhere, but who needed that when you could see the whole damn thing yourself? He sighed, taking the pack over his shoulder. "What the fuck am I gonna do?" His thoughts ran to Dad, Norm, Trav, Kimmie... Even that little bitch, even when he's about to die, he even thought about his little sister. Heh. "Maybe I can get a better view from inside of the radio tower itself..." He wandered around the building, looking for a door. A small white piece of paper reading "STONE TRANSFORMATION" floated away in the breeze a few minutes later from where he was standing, never to actually be seen by human eyes.

A door. A steel door. A quick push, and point the Gun inside... Hey, if there was someone there, he didn't need to shoot. Just being cautious is all, not a big deal. Right?



Begin Subject C03, Keira MacDonald
Well, this sure is interesting... not every day you wake up to realise you’re part of a freaky science experiment...

For Keira MacDonald, it had seemed like a fairly mediocre Saturday afternoon. She’d been invited to her friend Shannon’s party, where she spent the whole time either chatting to friends or drinking the various beverages available. She was TEMPTED to dance, but in the end decided against that notion. After all, she was already feeling quite tipsy, which along with the fact that she was a pretty horrendous dancer anyway put her off the idea even more.

She remembered how she’d been offered a chance to stay over at Charlie’s house that evening, an offer which she politely refused. But as she groggily awoke from her involuntary slumber in the middle of an unfamiliar dark room, suffering from several back aches and a mild hangover, she began wish that she’d taken up on his proposal anyway. Then again, would it have made a difference? Meh, who knows. Bit late to change my mind now anyway...

She rubbed the back of her head as she recalled the events that happened after she’d gone to bed. The dingy cell, the dark room with all the other people in it, the weirdo in the gas mask with the funky leather jacket, the slideshows, the guy who wouldn’t shut up until...

...Ah.

They’d shot him. BAM! Right in the head! Admittedly, she was tempted at the time to join in with the rebelling. But seeing that guy receive a bullet to the skull was more then enough to make her forget any ideas about backing him up. No point in dying just to say “Fuck you” to a guy, right?

Then... She remembered how the guy in the mask mentioned about how they’d all been injected with some weird serum that gave them all superpowers… Jesus, it’s like I’ve entered some badly-written comic book or something! Wonder what the heck power I’ve got?

She let out a brief cough, and was honestly surprised to see a puff of white smoke appearing as she did so. She covered her mouth immediately as she watched wide-eyed as the cloud floated about before finally dissipating into the air. Eventually, she removed her hand, still in a state of shock as she finally convinced herself that she’d stopped exhaling smoke.

“Well... That was odd, to say the least.” She said quietly to herself. Huh, how come no smoke came out that time? Weird... She strongly suspected that her apparent “power” had something to do with the white smoke, but seeing as she was the kind of girl who didn’t like jumping to conclusions she ignored these thoughts for now. Especially after she remembered what the man had said next…

“The people around you are not your friends; they are, in essence, your enemies. And though you may think of befriending them after this is all over, you’re merely deluding yourselves because the simple fact of the matter is this: after three days, only one of you will be left standing.”

Ok, this isn’t good… I’m in the middle of some uncharted rock in the ocean, I’m surrounded by people who want to KILL me, I’ve apparently got some kind of “superpower” which I’ve yet to fully figure out, and to top it all off I’ve got a splitting headache. God, I hate Mondays...

Admittedly, she wasn’t actually sure if it really WAS Monday, but nevertheless the point was still valid. She took a brief look about the room, taking note of her surroundings. It was a very dark room, and it took a while before her eyes adjusted to the light. She could make out the shape of what looked to be a large Generator in the middle of the room, with various other metal objects lying about which she couldn’t properly make out. She looked over to her side and spotted, lying neatly against the wall, a fairly average looking bag. Huh, they mentioned something about a bag right? Full of stuff we’d need to survive... Worth a look I suppose.

She unzipped the bag and began to rummage through its contents. First she took out a flashlight, turning it on briefly to see whether or not it actually worked. Heh, half-expected them to not even provide the batteries to be honest… She turned it off and placed it back into the bag, the next thing she decided to take out being a tin of peaches. Great, the one fruit I DON’T like and I have a tin full of ‘em... sigh, lucky me I guess...

She put the peaches back, and the next thing she took out surprised her somewhat. A small piece of paper with something written on it in bold. She raised her eyebrow as she read what it had to say…

“WHOOPING SMOKE”

Whooping Smoke? The hell does that m... Wait... Oh yeah, right. The smoke... Great, so my “power” appears to be that of Weezing from Pokemon. Wonderful...

A thought occurred to her, one which she couldn’t resist. She took a deep breath, and blew out. Nothing happened. She frowned, and breathed in again and exhaled even harder. Still, nothing happened. She pouted in annoyance as she tried to figure out how exactly she managed to exhale smoke earlier. It seemed so easy before. All I did was cough and...



... Well, DUH!


She breathed in again, but instead of blowing she forced herself to cough. Sure enough, a cloud of white smoke flowed from her mouth to form a nicely shaped cloud. She wasn’t exactly sure if she should be pleased she figured out how to use her ability, or annoyed. Great. So I’m not Weezing after all. I’m bloody Koffing. This is just getting better and...

She stopped mid thought as she felt the handle of a gun.

She took the weapon out and looked it over. A fairly generic handgun in all respects, but there was something about it which haunted Keira. She wasn’t sure what exactly, but perhaps its because of the thought that she might actually end up having to use it in the near future. She bit her lip as she held the gun on her lap. For all her little sarcastic thoughts, she was in actual danger here. People WILL be trying to kill her. People whom she’d never met before in her life. People she could of even ended up befriending if it weren’t for the fact that they were being forced to kill each other with powers they didn’t even fully understand themselves. Some people would have broken down into tears by this point, but Keira... Well, she had to stay strong. Getting stressed about it won’t help, and if anything would just get her killed quicker. If she was to survive, she’d have to stay focused. Stay alert. And make damn sure she didn’t lose her cool no matter what…

Hmm... Easier said then done.

She was still deep in thought when she suddenly heard a noise from outside. She could hear a door being pushed open suddenly, and she could see from where she was sitting that there was a light at the other end of the room.

Shit! Somebody’s coming in... She briefly considered the idea of saying hi, maybe even offering a little wave. But she decided against that notion. She wasn’t an idiot, and she knew that she couldn’t just immediately trust every guy or girl she met on the island. Half of them would probably shoot on sight... Then again, half of them are probably too terrified to do so either.

She stood up as quickly and silently as possible and hid behind the generator, out of sight of the open doorway. Better wait to see who it is first... After all, the last thing I need is a fire fight first thing in the morning.



Raymond
"Why me? Why the fuck did they have to pick me? What, a billion people in the fucking continental United States, and they fucking picked me, huh?"

That was probably going to end up being the theme of his entire stay on the island. What possible data could they want from him? They'd said something about a gift, but he had no indicator of what the fuck it was. What could be different about him? Other than a throbbing headache, he felt just fine... Eh, whatever. Whatever that gift was, he planned on using it as little as humanly possible. Just to spite the fuckers that had done this to him. However flashing a gun into a room, possibly containing another 18 year old kid kind of did play into their plans. Who knows what the kid would be thinking though.

"Yo, anyone in here?" He beckoned. To hell with worrying about his position, the loud steel door probably gave that away already... Assuming the other person has woken up already. And if not, what was one yell going to give away? He wasn't gonna wake up to that. "Don't try anything! I have a gun..." No shit he had a gun! Everyone did. God damn it, that sounded dumb. "I really, really don't want to shoot, but I don't wanna die on this fucking rock either!" More and more shit that this other kid probably already knew.

That's of course assuming that their was someone here. Odds were pretty fucking high though, that just kinda followed his luck today.

Ray squinted as the light from the midday sun filtered into the locked off room. He didn't see anyone... But he could only see like what, a quarter of the room? He muttered under his breath just barely. "God damn it, I am so fucked..."



Keira
Keira listened intensely as the the man spoke, trying to judge whether or not he sounded like he was planning to play along or not. He didn't sound as if he was intending to shoot on sight, but then again there was always the chance he was putting on an act in order to put her off guard... Either way, she knew she couldn't just wait there for him to wonder in and come across her by accident. But at the same time, she realised showing herself wouldn't exactly be a bright thing to do either...

Well, here goes nothing...

"Guess that goes for both of us!" she called back. Hope that didn't freak him out TOO much...

She clutched her gun hard as she considered what to say next... She didn't want to scare this guy off, or even worse to provoke him into attacking her. She'd have to be careful... Choose her words wisely.

"I don't know about you, but I doub't starting a firefight's gonna help either or us... So how about we come to some sort of agreement? You know, some kind of pre-emptive truce kinda thing..."

She bit her lip as she awaited his reply. Please, oh please don't freak out on me!



Raymond
Ray, the subject labled C10, breathed heavily and closed his eyes, hanging his head down to face the floor as he heard clattering and rustling from the back of the room. He knew someone was there, was he going to fucking die already?

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! Why the fuck does there have to be someone here? Of all the places on this island, this place is fucking huge? What did that fucked up guy do, pair us off two by two? Try and get a little bit of action going? Fucking douche.

At least Ray had a mild advantage. He could cover behind the door if need b- "Guess that goes for both of us!"

...Or there could be that refreshing surprise! Thank. Fucking. God. The first break he'd gotten since he'd gotten kidnapped. Probably the last and only too, I mean hell. They were on an island, expected to kill each other.

"I don't know about you, but I doub't starting a firefight's gonna help either or us... So how about we come to some sort of agreement? You know, some kind of pre-emptive truce kinda thing..."

Thankfully to both of their fears, Ray had absolutely no intentions of freaking out. He shuffled forward a step, nodding. "Yeah... Yeah, that sounds good. You okay with just dumping the weapons till we actually trust each other a little bit?" Trust... There was that word. He trusted Norman. He trusted Travis. He trusted Mrs. Fitz, and his Dad, and fuck, even Kim. But could he ever trust anyone on this rock? He'd taken years upon years to build that trust with his friends back home. He had what, three days tops here? He knew that he WAS going to get home. He had way too much waiting for him back there for him. You might call that selfish, he called that smart. Everyone wanted to survive, everyone wanted off this rock. Was human nature and survival instinct really that selfish? He'd have to rationalize his inevitable demons someday soon. But for now he may actually have found an ally. At least for a day or two.

"On the count of three, toss the guns over here?" Wait. Shit. Over here, over to me. BAD choice of words. "I mean over in that back corner, where we can both see em." There ya go, fucktard. Better. He waited for a full fifteen seconds of dead, silence, trying to think of what was wrong with that idea... Oh, shit! "Just, make sure the safety's on." She might not know anything about Guns. Or, she might be insulted... Better to be neither though. That'll make a bit of a more useful ally.

"Name's Ray, by the way. Alright, let's do this... One... Two..." He took a deep breath, glancing to the left to make sure that he was completely covered by the massive steel door. Last thing he wanted was to throw his gun and get shot in the process. He might be looking for an alliance, but he wasn't going to be dumb and let himself get killed.

"...THREE!" He flicked the safety to make sure it was still in the on position, and tossed the Jericho945 at the square of light in the back of the room, watching it clatter to the ground and slide up against the back wall. Please, for the love of God throw yours too.



Keira
"Yeah... Yeah, that sounds good. You okay with just dumping the weapons till we actually trust each other a little bit?"

Phew, that’s a relief... Half-expected to be met with bullets there...

"That’s fine with me!" She replied, loosening her grip on the pistol. The guy's suggestion made sense. After all, trying to trust somebody during the middle of a standoff is something Keira had never heard being done successfully before... However, even though this guy had suggested that they drop their guns, she still felt that she couldn't immediately trust him based on that alone. After all, what if he just wants her to lower her guard so he could launch a lighting bolt or something? Or what if he ran at her with a knife once she revealed herself? She'd have to be extra careful not to leave herself wide open, even after they'd dropped their weapons. ESPECIALLY after they'd dropped their weapons. Of course, that being said she was still more then welcome to the idea of befriending one of the few people whose initial reaction wasn't to start firing up the place.

She coughed again, another small cloud of smoke exhaling from her mouth. Christ, why do I get the feeling this is going to get annoying real fast...

"On the count of three, toss the guns over here?"

...What? Surely he couldn't expect me to...

"I mean over in that back corner, where we can both see em."

...Ah, fair enough...

"Just, make sure the safety's on."

She rolled her eyes at that statement. Well duh! Of course i'm not going to throw a gun with the safety off! Kinda obvious, you know... Still, better check to see if its on anyway. No harm in making sure, right? She checked over the pistol, trying to figure out where the safety switch was. Unlike some Americans, Keira knew very little about guns herself. She'd certainly never seen one up close before, let alone inspect one with her hands like she was doing right now. After a while, she switched a button by the trigger which she assumed was the safety.

"Alright, the safety's on! I think..." she called out, waiting for the man's reply...

"Name's Ray, by the way."

Ray huh? I kinda like that name...

"Alright, let's do this... One... Two... THREE!"


She briefly hesitated, after all she didn't want to throw away her gun only to end up being shot at by this 'Ray' person, but after hearing Ray's pistol clatter on the ground she gave a sigh of relief as she threw her's to join alongside it.

She bit her lip nervously. Well... Guess this is the big moment. God I hope he doesn't fry me with laser beams or something...

And with that in mind, she moved slowly from behind the generator into view of the door. For the first time, she finally managed to get a good view of what Ray actually looked like. Kinda cute I guess... Could do with more hair though. Never really saw the whole appeal of the 'buzz cut' style...

She put a hand on her hip in a casual manner, giving a friendly smile in an attempt to seem as unthreatening as possible. "Hi there, the name's Keira MacDonald. No jokes please, the Big Mac ones got stale after the thirtieth time I heard 'em."



Raymond
He heard his gun clatter to the ground a couple dozen feet away... And for a brief moment there was nothing. Please don't shoot... Please don't shoo- *CLACK*

He jumped backwards a little bit upon hearing the other gun clatter to the ground in roughly the same spot. A sigh of relief was his instant reaction to this, his head bowing just a little bit, as if to thank God. If I wasn't religious enough before I got on this island... He put the thought aside, not exactly liking the idea of clinging to a higher power, at least not quite yet. Sure, Ray had been brought up Christian, but it's not like he was fanatical or anything.

Honestly, the thought of having a power used against him never actually crossed his mind. In fact, the powers in general hadn't crossed his mind much at all; although a lot of that was probably because he had no idea what his was. However that knife he knew she still had was a massive reality, and on the forefront of his mind. However he knew that if it came down to it, he probably had a decent chance of winning a knife fight. Where that bit of confidence came from he had no idea, but he still was confident one way or the other. He shimmied back a few inches, mainly just to be sure the knife was still tucked in the back of his belt, which it was. Good. He had no intentions of attacking, but he didn't want to be caught with his pants down, as the saying goes.

There was a bit of movement from behind the massive generator in the back of the room, a shadow just a hair darker than the rest casting against the back wall. He took note as it began to stand, and he watched as the girl he had just been in a standoff with slowly meandered her way from her safe position to the center of the light. Tiny little thing, standing a hair shorter than Ray, and she looked about as big around as a stick to boot. Looked about the typical goth he'd seen wandering the halls of his old High School; as rare as Goths were in a Vocational Agriculture school. Still, this was a friendly face, in a non-threatening pose. He couldn't see the knife at all, but her hands were both in plain view, so he was at least safe.

"Hi there, the name's Keira MacDonald. No jokes please, the Big Mac ones got stale after the thirtieth time I heard 'em."

His already soft grin became a bit bigger as he let off a chuckle. "You know, I probably wouldn't have thought of it for a while if you hadn't just mentioned it. Don't worry, you won't be hearing 'em from me." He tried to relax his posture a bit, something that was kinda difficult with how tense their entire situation was. He could probably serve to make things a bit better though... He leaned down, sliding the daypack off of his shoulder, letting it plop to the ground, some of the contents making a metallic clink as they were jostled about. He stood back up, nodding. "I'm so glad the first person I met here wasn't a fucking psycho." Small talk seemed so inadequate for the pair, but how else are you going to get to know someone? And besides, they probably had some time before anyone made it up here. Heck, the only way up was on those cable cars.

"So, whereabouts are you from? The way the guy back in that classroom was talking, it sounded like we were yoinked from everywhere. I'm from Connecticut myself." Who knows, she might have been from around him somewhere. Subconsciously he wanted anything at all to connect to the girl standing in front of him on some level. Maybe her family had driven past his house on the way to Foxwoods, something. On the surface though, he felt more alone that he ever had in his life, and he didn't want to fuck this all up already.



Keira
"You know, I probably wouldn't have thought of it for a while if you hadn't just mentioned it. Don't worry, you won't be hearing 'em from me."

Well, he hasn't fried me with thunderbolts yet... I'll assume thats a good sign.

She let herself relax a bit more as the boy in front of her placed his bag against the ground. Not too much, of course. After all there's always the off-chance that he happened to be bullshitting her the whole time, earning her trust just so that he could stab her in the back later. But for some reason, she felt she could trust Ray... For now at least. She didn't want to think about the fact that it'd only be a matter of time before they'd be forced against each other... But until then, she'd like to believe she could have actually found an ally rather then an enemy.

"I'm so glad the first person I met here wasn't a fucking psycho."

"Same here. Lucky us, huh?"

"So, whereabouts are you from? The way the guy back in that classroom was talking, it sounded like we were yoinked from everywhere. I'm from Connecticut myself."

Connecticut eh? Guess that explains the accent...

"Me? I'm from Boston. Which believe it or not isn't actually as haunted as Steven King might want you to believe." she replied, hoping she didn't confuse him with the Steven King reference. "Then again, it wouldn't surprise me if thats the exact the reason i'm here to start with...".

She wondered if perhaps it'd be better to move the conversation in a more serious direction, seeing as any moment they could be ambushed by the very psychos they were referring to earlier. Then again, she always found it much easier to trust somebody when speaking to them in a more light-hearted tone then in a serious one...

Either way, one thing she was certain about was that she'd much rather talk to this guy outside then in some dark and dingy generator room.

"Say, uh... Is it ok if I we can continue this conversation outside? Its kinda... well, you know... Dark in here." She asked. After thinking over her question, she quickly added "We could leave the guns where they are for now, if you want..."

Crap, I hope I didn't give off the wrong impression there...
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Raymond
Wow. Small talk on an island full of psychopaths. Wasn't this a kick? It kinda felt like he was back home, chatting with one of Norm's friends or something. Except hotter. And more humid. And darker. Granted he had no room to complain, there were 18 other people out there, fighting for their lives right about now. And he was sitting in a generator room, chatting it up with some cute goth girl. Everyone back home had made jokes about him being a womanizer... But hey, it wasn't his fault that every girl in the damn county automatically liked him! And then fucked him over in some way or another... And then here he was, thousands of miles away from anything he knew, yet it was still happening. Well, at least as well as it can happen with an explosive collar strapped around his neck.

"Me? I'm from Boston. Which believe it or not isn't actually as haunted as Steven King might want you to believe. Then again, it wouldn't surprise me if thats the exact the reason I'm here to start with..."

Now Ray wasn't the most well read person in the world. Normally he would rather spend his days out in the field or tangling with a drop net to reading a novel. However the name did ring a bell... But he wasn't just gonna come out and say Stephen King... Didn't he write books?" Sound like a fucking tard... He must write horror of some kind though just from the way she was talking about him. He nodded and forced an awkward chuckle, trying to figure out some response.

"I think I read one of his books back in High School." An out and out lie, but who would ever know. "I can't remember what it was called." He sighed, taking a step back, planting his foot hard against the cold concrete. Realizing the implications of her joking about why they were here, his entire expression fell. "Fuck if I know why we're here. Asshole said we were picked randomly, but there's no way in hell. Shit, this is like winning the Powerball. Except instead of tossing you a billion bucks, they beat you up and steal all your shit. Then they spin a wheel to see who don't get shot." He was really getting riled up by his own speech. Almost sounded like a conspiracy theorist would getting up on their high horse about 9/11, except there was no conspiracy. He just always kinda sounded hyped up whenever he got off on a tangent.

He shook his head. "I live an honest life, ya' know? I graduated high school... I spend most of my time either working, or fishing. I don't do anything wrong. Maybe it's something about how we lived. Maybe they needed to fill a quota or some shit. Some fucked up mad scientist affirmative action." He put his hands out like he was reading a clipboard. "We need a redneck..." He made a checkmark with his hands. "A goth..." Another checkmark. "A hippie... Shit." He never made the checkmark, letting his hands just fall limply to his sides. His lungs refilled with warm, stale air, shaking his head in disbelief yet again.

"Say, uh... Is it ok if I we can continue this conversation outside? Its kinda... well, you know... Dark in here. We could leave the guns where they are for now, if you want..."

He turned his head to look back at her, nodding to her first question as soon as it was finished. However he took one look back at the guns as she mentioned them. "Listen, I know that you don't trust me for shit. And I don't blame you. But I trust you more than I trust those other eighteen assholes, and one of em' could be climbing this rock as we speak. If we go outside, I want the gun." He stood for a moment, just thinking. He could get into a whole little tirade as to why it's more beneficial to both of them to just stick together rather than shoot each other like he would if this was say... Chadd, but that would just sound callous to a total stranger. He just decided to keep his mouth shut, and keep one eye on her hand.

Shit. I hope she doesn't freak out now.



Keira
She listened closely to what Ray had to say about the experiment before suggesting that they head outside. From the sound of things, he was just as pissed off about the situation as she was. Maybe even more, judging from the amount of curse words he used to describe his anger at the scientist who’d put them in this situation. Then again, thats probably just because Keira herself was far more hesitant to dropping f-bombs at the drop at a hat then Ray was. Reminds me of Charlie back home... God, I wonder how he’s reacting to this?

It hadn’t occurred to her before about what her family and friends were thinking about her mysterious disappearance. Did they know where she was? Have they got the police looking for her? Hell, have the got the friggin’ FBI and CIA for that matter! She was sure they’d be very interested in this experiment... Provided they weren’t behind the whole thing themselves. Now that WOULD be interesting...

"Listen, I know that you don't trust me for shit. And I don't blame you. But I trust you more than I trust those other eighteen assholes, and one of em' could be climbing this rock as we speak... "

“Hmm... Good point...”

”If we go outside, I want the gun."

She bit her lip and thought hard about that suggestion. He was right there; it’d be stupid to leave the room without the weapons. After all, if someone were to attack they’d be pretty much defenceless. But at the same time, whilst she definitely trusted Ray, common sense dictated that she should be more careful then to immediately trust the first schmuck she came across. Well... Screw common sense. I can hardly trust someone if I assume they’ll shoot me on sight the second they get the opportunity... Besides, if he really WAS playing he’d of football tackled me by now...

She shrugged. “Alrighty, sounds fair enough. I’ll just fetch ‘em for you...” she said before moving off to get the guns. “Relax, i’m not gonna try and pull a fast one... There wouldn’t really be much of a point for me to do so, would there?” She assumed he meant for her to go pick them up, otherwise it might of looked like she was taking the opportunity to take them both for herself. Still, he said he trusted her, so she assumed he wouldn’t complain.

She grabbed both pistols by their barrels and returned to Ray, offering him the one she assumed was his. “Here you go. Nice and intact...” She said with a friendly smile.

Well, moment of truth I guess...



Raymond
“Alrighty, sounds fair enough. I’ll just fetch ‘em for you.. Relax, I’m not gonna try and pull a fast one... There wouldn’t really be much of a point for me to do so, would there?”

Somehow this came off kinda strange to Ray. He called it a gut instinct, but it was in reality his subconcious picking up on the different wording, the changed tone, and the overly-cautious nature of the sentence. However, he wasn't lying at all when he said that he trusted the girl. Even though she had given him no reason to other than a bit of shootin' the shit, there was something about her that he trusted, just like he'd felt with all of his best friends back home. Back off of this rock.

Shit, they must be worried sick about me. It hadn't taken him long for his thoughts to get off how strangely his new friend was acting, and back onto the subject of why the fuck he was here, not some other poor bastard. It was almost as if some sick fuck, sitting behind a computer had chosen him to be here for some reason... He was snapped out of it just as quick as he had brought himself back into it by hearing Kiera offering him his gun.

“Here you go. Nice and intact...”

"Thanks babe." He was slowly getting loosened up around her, his normal mannerisms slowly coming back. He ran his finger over the pistol, flicking the safety towards the safe position and slipping it under his belt in the back, the black paint glistening in the sun behind him. "Well, what are we waiting for?" He asked to no one inparticular, wandering outside.

The sun was beating down on the mountaintop, and if he didn't know what he actually knew was going on, he'd say this would make an awesome camping trip. Probably try and make some kind of dangerous game with the other Scouts on how to get down the mountain or some stupid shit. Not today though. His thoughts were on how he was going to survive to the end of this. Or hell, if he could somehow kill the fucker that put him here. Now that would be payback. All that was at the most three days away however. For now, he needed to figure out his next move. If no one died... Then they all died.

"You got any ideas?" He hollered back into the room, waiting for Kiera to catch up. "We can't stay up here, we have no where to run if someone comes up those cable cars." As much as he wanted to sit here and enjoy the warmth, the breeze, and the view, he knew they couldn't. Think like a hunter. The deer he hunted tended to survive their best under cover. "Maybe head for the woods. The thicker, the less likely we're gonna get found."

Damn it, I wish I'd worn my camo today.



Keira
"Thanks babe."

“No problem.” replied Keira.

She couldn’t help but smirk at being referred to as “babe”. Whilst admittedly she’d of preferred being called something a bit less demeaning, the fact that he hadn’t taken the opportunity to waste her on the spot was a huge relief. By this point, any doubts she had about Ray were more or less gone. If the guy HAD been playing, Keira was sure he'd of already shot her by now. So, with this in mind, she had very little reason to be as cautious around him as she'd been at first...

Now she only had to worry about everyone else.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" He said before heading out into the open. Keira was about to follow him when she suddenly remembered that she’d left her pack at the back of the room.

“Hold on a sec, I’ve left my bag...” she said quickly before heading back, fondling about the darkness for her pack. After a few seconds searching she’d found it, lying there in the darkness, open wide with its contents poking out. She considered placing her gun back into the bag, after all unlike Ray she didn’t have a belt or any pockets to put it in. But she decided it’d be better to just hold onto it for now as she zipped the pack back up and slung it over her shoulder. Better to be safe then sorry…

"You got any ideas?" Asked Ray as Keira quickly made her way back to the door. "We can't stay up here, we have no where to run if someone comes up those cable cars."

Cable cars? What does he mean by…

She answered her own question as she stepped out into the open air.

At first the sun had blinded her, due to the fact that she’d spent the last couple of days indoors. But after her eyesight readjusted to the light, she was astounded to find that she happened to be on top of a mountain the whole time. She could see the whole island from up here, from the huge black forest all the way to a small settlement seated near the centre of the island. The sight was stunning, to say the least. And queasy all at the same time... Keira was never really one for great heights, which meant that the view both amazed her AND caused her to become somewhat dizzy all at the same time.

"Maybe head for the woods. The thicker, the less likely we're gonna get found."

She turned her head to Ray as he made his suggestion. The view had entranced her so much that she'd nearly forgotten about him altogether.

“Huh, oh sorry… The view is a bit… Well, overwhelming.” She said half-jokingly.

Well THAT’S an understatement… You can barely stand for crying out loud!

“But yeah, good idea...”

She looked over the island again, taking note of the various points of interest. Two things occurred to her at that point. Firstly, the fact that this could very well be the last time she’d get the opportunity to see the whole island from such a good vantage point, an opportunity she had no intention of wasting. Secondly, the fact that the two of them just so happened to be placed on the same mountain top together. Which, considering the size of the island, somewhat surprised her.

“Wow, odd to think they put the two of us up on top of the same mountain… You sure we’re the only ones up here?”



Raymond
“Huh, oh sorry… The view is a bit… Well, overwhelming.”

He just chuckled to himself a little. He had never been one for the natural beauty of things, but... Yeah, he could see it. He was more concerned for where they were gonna head. And her bringing up that view just turned his attention to it.

“But yeah, good idea...”

But where to go... There was a decently thick chunk of woods a ways out... To the... God damn it, where's a compass when you need one? Oh, right. In his bag. Forgot about that. He shook his head a little, making a note to pull that out before they moved.

“Wow, odd to think they put the two of us up on top of the same mountain… You sure we’re the only ones up here?”

He smirked. "Unless someone else is hiding in that generator room, or is hanging off the side of the mountain, I doubt it. I checked everywhere outside." He stopped for a moment to ponder his options. "Maybe they stuck us both up here to make things interesting. Who knows? There were twenty of us, weren't there? Or something like that. Maybe they stuck us in random places around the island, two by two to see what happens. And somehow, I doubt everyone's meetings went as smooth as ours. I heard the odd gunshot before I popped my head in there." He made a motion to the now slightly ajar door just behind them.

"Who knows. Maybe these fuckers were lying about the powers? Maybe they just want us to kill each other to get their rocks off. I mean, what if there's hidden cameras and shit? Hell, what if they have mics and cameras in these collars? " He poked at the fresh mark on his arm, not taking much thought to the act of it actually blowing up. Thankfully though, it didn't. For both his and Kiera's sake.

Wow, you sound like an idiot.

"Anyways... Let's pull out the map and compass, and figure out where we wanna go... Or... Wait a second. The cable cars work, that means the generators are actually running. And that's one big ass antenna. Think we can get a hold of someone before we book it? I really don't wanna sit here with just the one way down, but maybe we can get like... The army or something to save our asses before we run. Assuming they aren't in on it."

He shrugged. "And if they are? What's the worst that can happen?"



Keira
Keira listened to him go on as she observed the surroundings, still getting used to the fact that she was on top of a VERY tall mountain...

She gulped when he mentioned about the gunshots... If that was so, then it meant that people out there really WHERE playing. Maybe not everyone, but all you really need is one or two psychos before all hell breaks loose. Who knows, maybe they even busted some literal psychopaths from some mental hospital just to spice things up a bit... Probably not, but you never know.

When he mentioned about the idea that the scientist might have been lying about the powers, Keira couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. Well, I know for a fact thats not the case... Even if my power's about as useful as squirting someone in the face with a fire extinguisher, its still proof that we've actually been given powers that work... Maybe he hasn't figured out what his is yet?

She was about to ask when he started going on about using the radio to contact someone on the outside, like the army or something... A good idea, with but one minor problem...

"Hmm... It definitely sounds like a good plan... But, I don't know about you, but I know jack shit about how to work a radio transmitter. Besides, I get the impression that theres no way they'd let us have access to a working radio anyway... It'd be a pretty major thing to overlook, wouldn't it?"

She hadn't meant to sound so pessimistic about the idea. After all, who WOULDN'T want to call for help. But even so, the cynical side of her personality just couldn't help but spot all the flaws with the idea... Hell, the fact that they could be hearing their every words like Ray said could make the idea impossible by now anyway...

"Still, if you have any idea how to work it then its definitely worth a shot... As for where to head next, i've no idea... The idea of heading to the woods sounds good. Maybe we can even look for somewhere safe to stick it out while we're at it?"

Come to think of it, where they were was pretty safe in itself. Its high up, far away from all the other crap that was going on around the island. There was only one way to access it, namely through the cable cars, which shouldn't be too hard to defend should anyone think of heading up. Plus, they could view the entire island from where they were... Come to think of it, it was a pretty damn good place to hold out...

... Which, ironically, was a good reason why they should move out as soon as possible.

It hadn't occurred to Keira at first, but the Radio Tower was one big magnet. High above the island, out of reach of everywhere else? With a huge radio transmitter which may or may not be working? There was no way people would ignore somewhere like that... And it wouldn't be long before people decided to head up there and investigate. And if theres more people, then theres a higher chance of there being players amongst them...

... To put it shortly, the radio tower was a bloodbath waiting to happen. And unless they moved out soon, they'd be caught in the middle of it...

So much for the nice view...



Raymond
Ray just passively listened to Kiera, thinking momentarily as he did as to how he might even go about starting to contact someone. Sure he had played with HAM Radio back at summer camp once or twice, but this was a lot different. At least he assumed. However that didn't mean there was no point in trying. Who knows, maybe it had been an oversight. Maybe these sciencey types weren't as smart as they thought they were. However being confident was probably better.

"Still, if you have any idea how to work it then its definitely worth a shot... As for where to head next, i've no idea... The idea of heading to the woods sounds good. Maybe we can even look for somewhere safe to stick it out while we're at it?"

"Yeah, I've played around with radios before." He said as confidently as he could muster. "As for somewhere safe to stay... I'm sure there's some kind of trench or ditch or something out there we can hunker down in for a while. Not the most glamorous thing in the world, but... Eh, whatever. It wouldn't be the worst I've slept in." He chuckled. The reference was a little dirtier than he let on, but he wasn't about to let Kiera know that either.

"C'mon. While I'm in there, you can take a look at the map and see if you can find some kind of natural structure that we can head for." He waved his hand towards the cracked door of the generator room.

Inside was just as dark and musty as it was the first time he'd stepped foot in here. However he made a point to take in his surroundings a little better this time. There appeared to be some turbines and actual generators in the back of the room, near where Kiera woke up. On the direct opposite side of the door however, was a control panel. Unfortunately however, he needed to get the generators running. And it didn't look they had been run in years. He wandered back, looking over the dusty controls on the back of one of what he thought was the generator. It almost looked military grade, right down to the camo. It looked like the military had at least occupied this island at one point. "Maybe they'll get to missing their shit and stumble into this..." he muttered under his breath, poking at the controls. Not even turning over the key hanging out the back of it while holding the start button. "Looks like it's outta gas. No big surprise. Kiera, looks like we ain't gonna have any luck here. There's no way to power up the generators. However there was one in the back that was indeed running, he assumed it was powering the cable cars. Upon closer examination, he noticed that all of the cables were heading into the wall directly, probably heading straight to the control box for the cable car to avoid any kind of tampering.

He sighed and shook his head. His hand involuntarily made it's way to his shirt pocket, reaching for a certain red box labeled Marlboro... Only to come up empty. No lighter, no smokes, no nothing.

Wait.

"...FUCK!" He started patting down all of his pockets, for the first time realizing that his keys, his wallet, his phone, AND his cigarettes were all missing. "If I get the fuck off this island, they had BETTER give me back the keys to my truck and my money!" He clenched his fists. "I'm gonna go insane without those damn things..." He shook his head, tossing his backpack onto his back in frustration. A strong sigh escaped his throat as he pushed open the heavy door haphazardly, his fist clenching and relaxing every so often. He had originally planned to look over the control panel one more time to try and figure out if he could mess with the cable cars at all, but in his mirth spawned from his lack of a fix, it became the last thing on his mind. All he could think of was just getting this over with. "Let's get the hell out of here... Fuckers can't even grant a guy his last smoke..." He glanced back over his shoulder, looking at his new companion, hoping she would follow. He was going to irritable enough, last thing he wanted was to be alone, allowed to make rash decisions out of his sheer frustration at life.

Exit Subject C10, Raymond Pietrowski



Keira
"C'mon. While I'm in there, you can take a look at the map and see if you can find some kind of natural structure that we can head for."

Keira nodded in agreement as she unzipped her pack in order to retrieve the map from within. It took a while for her to find it, seeing as the contents of the bag where muddled about in a chaotic manner. But eventually she found it, and within seconds she had already unfolded the map and started thinking about where they should head next. Preferably somewhere that was safe and provided shelter, yet didn't make them stick out like a sore thumb.

As she looked over the map, and from her vantage point in the radio tower, she could make out at least three potentially good places to head for. The first being a church that stood alone north of the settlement. It'd be easily defensible, not to mention a VERY good shelter. Then again, Keira didn't exactly like the way it stood out in the open like that... Or the fact that it was awfully close to the settlement, a place Keira wanted to be as far away from as possible...

Then there was the Shack, south of the settlement and across from the beach. It'd definitely be far away from the majority of the island, AND it'd also make for a more-or-less decent shelter. However, it also had its own set of faults. Other players aside, the Shack'd be the worse place to be in during the middle of a storm. And whilst the chances of a storm happening within the next few days was quite remote, the very fact that it could happen was enough for Keira to be worried about.

And then there was the Holding Cells... Whilst they didn't sound like the prettiest of locations to head towards, the Holding Cells had the benefit of being the structure furthest away from all the other buildings on the island. Chances of coming across other players there would be far more remote then at, say, the settlement. Plus it'd still make a decent enough shelter. The only problem would be the journey there itself, seeing as they'd have to both cross a ravine AND navigate through a dark looking forest... Both areas Keira would much rather avoid.

Jesus... So many places to hide... And yet all of them are more or less equally dangerous. Figures...

"Looks like it's outta gas. No big surprise. Kiera, looks like we ain't gonna have any luck here."

Keira sighed. Well, so much for radioing for help...

She coughed again, exhaling another small cloud of smoke which reminded her about the fact that Ray had yet to find out what her ability was. Come to think of it, Keira had no idea what Ray's power was either. Nothing obvious it seemed, like lizard skin or something. Must be something that he had to willingly do... Or, is doing right now only neither he or Keira realise it. She considered asking him about it when all of a sudden...

"...FUCK!"

She jumped on the spot, startled by the sudden ferocity in Ray's voice.

"If I get the fuck off this island, they had BETTER give me back the keys to my truck and my money! I'm gonna go insane without those damn things..." he shouted before leaving the room, a tense look in his eyes as he hastily heading towards the cable cars. "Let's get the hell out of here... Fuckers can't even grant a guy his last smoke..."

Keira wasn't exactly sure how to react to this. It wasn't the first time she'd been around people suffering from withdrawal syndromes... Her father, for one, used to smoke a lot when she was younger. After he'd stopped, for a while he acted hot-blooded and reckless. Keira's tactic back then was to just ignore him and carry on with life... However, she knew she couldn't do that with Ray. If he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, it'd practically be her duty to make sure he doesn't get fired up and kill himself... Or somebody else for that matter.

"Don't worry, i'm sure there must SOME cigarettes left by the people who used to live here... It wouldn't surprise me if those scientist guys missed some out when they where clearing up the place."

She also realised at that moment that this meant showing Ray her power might not be such a good idea after all, seeing as her power was almost literally the ability to smoke whenever she wanted. Something told her that'd just get him even MORE irritated than he already was...

"Just hang on a sec, i'll be with you in a moment...."

She took the chance to observe the view one last time... It occurred to her then that this might be the last time she saw anything like this ever again. Not to mention the last time when she'd truly be safe. Once she got on the cable car, she'd have to be constantly on the lookout for other people who, unlike Ray, would be far more willing to put a bullet in her head at the slightest provocation. Hell, she'd even have to watch out for Ray and make sure his withdrawal symptoms didn't get them both killed... And if anything, things would only get harder from here on out...

Still... It was starting to get dark outside. Whilst she was safe for now, she was still sure that the Radio Tower would eventually be the site of a bloodbath if she didn't leave. So, with that in mind, she simply sighed to herself and got onto the cable car with Ray, sharing with him her thoughts about where to go next as they rode down the side of the mountain together...

God, I hope I didn't just make the worst decision of my life...

Exit Subject C03, Keira MacDonald
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CHAPTER FOUR: BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP
THE SHACK
JUNE 23, 2010: 14:37

Begin Subject C07, Johnny Marsh
Johnny lay inside the dilapidated shack in a dream like state, trying to determine fantasy from reality. Neither was satisfactory because they were both equally horrifying. He remembered fear, and confusion. His mouth was dry and he felt hot all over. I heard someone die. Actually, physically die. This can’t be a dream. Why would I ever dream up something so... so? Why would anybody do this?

Johnny took a deep breathe and opened his eyes. A rotten wooden roof cracked and broken greeted him. Between the broken planks he saw blue skies and heard the soft crash of gentle waves from the sea. For a moment Johnny forgot where he was, what had happened and what was still to happen. His fear washed away and he sighed, calmed by the sound of the sea. Johnny had always wanted to be by the sea. Out of the city and into the big wide world.

Unfortunately Johnny chose that moment to roll over and felt an uncomfortable lump digging into his back. A large but plain rucksack lay next to him. The lump of whatever it was told him that it wasn’t empty. They’ve given me something. What? Remember. What did the man say? Johnny undid the bag and tipped the contents onto the floor. Johnny saw the map and compass and heard the dull thuds of the knife and gun hitting the floor but they were just small distractions. What caught his eye was a small slip of paper. Possibly the most frightening slip of paper ever seen. A small slip of paper with the words ‘Transparent skin’ written on it.

Johnny dropped the paper and looked down. His heart raced and he could feel fear in his stomach, a writhing and twisting knot of fear. He was wearing a black and grey wetsuit, uncomfortably snug. Not one inch of skin was exposed. Sitting up Johnny looked frantically around the shack for a mirror, but there was no mirror in sight. The shack itself had nothing of note he could see bar a dirty mattress in the corner and a few crumbling pieces of furniture. Johnny stood up and lurched over to the door, roughly pushing it open and stepping outside.

Johnny squinted and held a hand up against the harsh light that hit his eyes. He stepped forward and felt the soft sand beneath his feet shift. He was on a small sand bank, separated from a large island by a small stretch of water, a brilliant blue that reflected the sunlight and gave off a sparkling sheen. Heart still pounding in his chest Johnny ran over to the water, splashing into it heavily. He stood impatiently as the water rippled around his knees, his reflection not visible. Breathing heavily he waited as the water became still and he could make out a picture in the water. He was wearing a mask.

Johnny groaned in frustration has he pulled and tore at the mask, reaching up to his neck and hooking the material with his thumbs. Leaning forwards he pulled the mask from his face and let it fall into the water.

My skin- oh god, what IS that?!



Begin Subject C18, Billy-Jay Clarke
Feels like I done got kicked in the head again...

Billy-Jay Clarke had been awake for a little while, but the dull throb behind his eyes hadn't shown any signs of subsiding, nor this strange and foreign environment disintergrating like dreams rightfully should. But even for somebody who wasn't captain brains, he knew that was just wishful thinking. Dreams were fuzzy around the edges and indistinct, this felt too real not to be. He hadn't seen anyone else, which he didn't know whether to be relieved or worried about. Just because he personally didn't want to kill anybody didn't mean that NOBODY did.

Billy sighed and looked down at the pistol he had tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He had figured that at least having it visible would discourage anybody from thinking he was easy-pickings, but he couldn't say if he would be able to bring himself to actually use it if it's threat didn't ward others off. After all, everybody had one of these puppies. Plus some sort of weird mutation type thingy.

Ain't never heard of what that'un might mean. Ock-you-lar lum-in-ess-ance. Ain't as if anything feels different neither. Maybe it ain't nothing I can see...

"Sure fine mess you got yourself into now Billy-boy," he murmured to himself as he looked up and down the shore. Separated from the beach by some shallow-looking water, there was a spit of land, on which he could spy a little shack. It was the first shelter he'd seen since awakening. Shrugging his shoulders, he determined to make it across there. Removing his sneakers and socks and tying the laces together, he slung them over the back of his neck before rolling up his tracksuit bottoms. They'd likely still get a little wet, but at least they wouldn't be soaked.

Then he started to wade.

He was most of the way across when somebody wearing a wetsuit and a mask emerged from the shack. Billy stopped dead, but they didn't appear to notice him, instead running over to the water and splashing into it. They looked pretty antsy, but Billy-Jay couldn't tell why from this distance.

Now maybe this ain't such a good idea... but I've got to least try make nice. It ain't Christian not to love thy neighbour an' all.

Billy stepped up onto the beach and hesitated only a moment before calling over to the wetsuited figure.

"Hey ya'll! Don't be getting mad, I ain't gonna hurt no-one. Name's Billy. Billy-Jay."



Johnny
"Hey ya'll! Don't be getting mad, I ain't gonna hurt no-one. Name's Billy. Billy-Jay."

A normal reaction to this would have hello. A smart reaction might have been to high tail it back to the shack where his gun and knife were. Johnny’s reaction was neither of these, because he was currently going through a personal crisis. What am I? Thought Johnny. After seeing what used to be his face staring back at him from the surface of the water Johnny was on the verge of screaming. If someone else saw what he was, someone who was just as scared as he was and perhaps a little better served by their injections then he was surely going to die. Johnny knew this because it was exactly what he would do. It would be instinctive.

And anyone who saw him wouldn’t see someone in the same situation as them. Not a boy who was away of home for the first and most likely last time of his life, scared and alone. They would see a monster, some malformed nightmare. And we get to go home if we win. What the hell would I do at home, looking like this? Johnny’s breath hitched and his vision blurred as his eyes began to fill with tears. Turning away from the voice Johnny covered his face with one arm while searching for the mask with the other. What if it’s been washed away! No, there it is. Johnny pulled the soaked material over his face and stood up. Then he slowly turned to face the speaker.

Oh fuck this guy’s built like a brick shit house

Compared to him the guy was huge and he could see his gun tucked into his waistband. If he was coming for a fight he would have had it out. And he wouldn’t have said anything. I wouldn’t anyhow. Johnny decided he had nothing to lose by talking to him. He’d hate to go out without a word.

‘Billy huh? I’m Johnny. Nice to meet you I guess. At least there’s one friendly face out here.’ He smiled weakly, thankful that his mask kept most of his face covered. What he was wouldn’t be seen now till he chose to show it. And that will be never.

The million dollar question came to Johnny. Do I want to kill? He could honestly say he didn’t. But do I want to live? Johnny didn’t have an answer for that yet.



Billy-Jay
Now ain't that odd?

Although pleased that the guy in the wetsuit (Johnny, he'd said his name was Johnny) hadn't reacted violently, Billy-Jay found himself somewhat perplexed by the other teen. He himself was still wearing his own clothes - school football jersey and all the rest, and something told him that this Johnny didn't go around town wearing a full body swimsuit and mask. Perhaps it was something to do with the so-called 'gifts' the dude in the kooky outfit had supposedly given them all. Whatever it was, Billy didn't know if he much liked the idea of finding out.

All the same... he really had to ask, didn't he?

Not right away though. That struck him as impolite. "Aw I'm sure anyone else would be the same, right enough," Billy-Jay nodded, unaware of how naive he sounded. "We're all in the same boat and there ain't nobody who really wants to kill. Well, I sure hope so..." Billy's countenance, momentarily sombre, brightened into a smile abruptly. "Things'll come together in the end, wait and see."

Billy-Jay looked at his feet for a second, then plucked up the courage to ask his question. "So uh, that funky wetsuit of yours... that anything to do with the whole 'powers' dohicky? I'd tell you what mine is, but I ain't got no idea what it's supposed to mean."



Johnny
As soon as words began coming out of Billy-Jay’s mouth Johnny felt at ease, and he felt a tenseness that he had previously not noticed leave him as he visibly relaxed. If he’d read the optimism correctly then Billy was no danger to him, or anyone for that matter. I hope he’s right. I’d give anything for him to be right, things’ll come together? I hope so. I really do. Johnny saw Billy look down and took a breath. He knew what was coming, it had to come eventually. It was perfectly natural and Johnny knew he would ask the question himself.

"So uh, that funky wetsuit of yours... that anything to do with the whole 'powers' doohickey? I'd tell you what mine is, but I ain't got no idea what it's supposed to mean."

Johnny wasn’t sure that he was willing to explain the nature of what he was to this guy, a nice enough looking guy by all accounts but a total stranger. Johnny had no way of telling how he’d react and that was a chance he didn’t want to take. But what would I tell him otherwise? Lie? Say it’s some kind of stupid thing like sensitive skin? Can’t go out in the sun? Count Marshula of Little Transylvania? Is it weird that I kinda like that? Johnny wrestled with the problem for a moment before deciding on a compromise of sorts. He wouldn’t lie about his power, but he could omit certain points until he was ready.

‘It’s uh, kinda complicated. I don’t really understand the details but they’ve done something to me. Changed me. It could be dangerous who knows? Think Rogue from the X-Men.’

Well I guess I did lie a bit then. But if it saves me from showing off what’s really going on then I guess it was worth it. Besides it might stand me in good stead to have an extra threat I can call on. Or it could be the biggest mistake of my life. It was too late for regrets, he'd committed himself now and there was no going back.



Billy-Jay
Billy-Jay listened attentively with a sympathetic ear as Johnny answered his question. That sounded pretty bad right enough. He didn't have any suspicions that the other guy might be lying, simply because he himself hadn't been able to decipher his 'power' either. If it had been written out in techno-babble in the same way as Billy's own, then he wouldn't blame Johnny for not being able to puzzle it out. Still, if he needed to be in a full body suit because of it, then maybe it was dangerous.

Absently rubbing his eyes, which were itching - no doubt from some sand blowing into his face - with one arm, Billy walked over to Johnny and gave him a companionable clap on the shoulder. He offered the other a reassuring, one hundred percent genuine smile, which had been known to lift hearts and send others aflutter. "All I can say is that it ain't nothing you should worry about. Not a thing any of us all can do right now. You know? We ain't got no scientific labs to try and puzzle all these changes out, nor reverse them. Just have to take our licks up 'till we get a shot to overturn things," Billy frowned and picked delicately at the edge of his eye again. It sure felt gritty.

Say, sounded good and all... but you need a plan here. I ain't so good at those, not coming up with them. Coach hands me a strategy and I can see it through, but... mastermind Billy-Jay is not. Still, day's young. We've got time to thinks things over.

"Anyway buddy, I don't know if you've got a better idea, but I'm thinking that we co- ow!"

Billy's hand went up to his face again. Son of a bitch! It felt like something had stung him. Must've been one of those gnats on the beach. Jeez, he was starting to get sick of this. Give him that island any day of the week, just get him off this spit. He was glad he'd met Johnny and all, but too much grit and too many gribblies.

He gave Johnny a rueful smile. "Too many gnats out here buddy. Guess that suit of yours comes in handy for something eh?"

Urgh, was that sand still stuck in there? His eyes were really starting to water, they felt all irritable and inflamed. Great, it'd just be his luck to be getting sick on top of all of this, wouldn't it? Billy let most things roll off of his back, but being ill was a blow that he really didn't need. Still, no need to get on panic stations yet, maybe it was just a bad reaction to some of the beasties on the beach that had set his eyes streaming. Although the sun beating down felt real oppressive.

Walking over to the water's edge, Billy knelt and splashed some cool water onto his face, taking care to avoid getting it around his eyes. Washing them out was tempting, but he really didn't want to aggravate things any more than they already were. It helped a little, but the sun, which had all of a sudden become rather oppressive, was still staring a baleful gaze down upon him. Billy looked up and gave a glare (or at least, a disgruntled squint) at the object that was causing him such discomfort.

It would, as it happened, be the last thing he ever saw.

Ocular Luminescence had been the eventual classification of the mutation developed by subject C18, Billy-Jay Clarke. Initial testing had quickly shown that whilst in near or total darkness, Billy's eyes would exihibit twin beams of light, much like those of a handheld torch. Further examaination had revealed that these beams were solar powered, produced by energy which Billy's body had somehow stored during exposure to sunlight. It had been deemed an interesting enough power, although low on the scale of usefulness, particularly because its use was involuntary.

What the testing hadn't shown, chiefly because it wasn't an aspect the scientists had considered, was the capacity for storage. Billy's exposure by necessity had been in the short term. Just long enough to be able to determine precisely the nature of his mutation. They didn't have time to be conducting rigourous examination of each and every one of the twenty subjects. Now, though, that question was about to be raised.

Since waking up, Billy-Jay Clarke had spent several hours under direct sunlight, some unseen mechanism secretly absorbing the energy all the while. Whatever hidden recepticle this solar power was contained within was now filled to bursting and at that moment, it gave way.

A rush of pain ripped through Billy's head and centred on his eyes. He let out a gargled cry as the accumulated energy released itself not as light, but as heat. In a split second, both of his eyes dissolved into a mess of clear liquid, losing all shape and substance before the piping hot fluid ran its way down his face, scorching his skin as he howled in pain.

OhgoddearlorddelivermefromthispunishmentandpainIain'tgivinguponyouhelpmelordDEARGODITHURTSSOMUCH!

Briefly, Billy-Jay flailed around on the beach, blind to the world and without a thought in his brain that wasn't centred on the ruin of his sight. Mercifully, a couple of seconds later the wave of heat struck the rest of his skull and switched the lights out for good.

SUBJECT C18, BILLY-JAY CLARKE: ELIMINATED
19 SUBJECTS REMAIN




Johnny
Johnny let out an inward sigh of relief as Billy listened to his story and bought it. At least if he thinks I'm dangerous I might be ok in the end, big guy like him looks like he stepped right out of Hollywood I bet there's not many who'd not trust him right away. Even here of all places. Billy rubbed his eyes with one arm and clapped him on the shoulder. While he could tell it was meant to be light hearted Johnny was very glad that he was on good terms with Billy at the moment. He near knocked me on my face there, if that's his soft touch I wonder how hard this guy can go when he gets pissed.

"All I can say is that it ain't nothing you should worry about. Not a thing any of us all can do right now. You know? We ain't got no scientific labs to try and puzzle all these changes out, nor reverse them. Just have to take our licks up 'till we get a shot to overturn things,"

Johnny looked at Billy as he said this and found himself relaxing. Billy was right, in the end maybe he shouldn't let himself freak out when confronted by what had happened. It's what's on the inside that counts. I'm still the same person underneath he mused, Beauty is only skin deep after all. Johnny smiled and managed not to notice how Billy was picking at his eye again until he let out small cry of pain. Johnny immediately tensed and almost began to crouch when he heard the reassuring voice of Billy making a joke about the many gnats on the small spit of land they were on. True enough Johnny looked at his arms and around his head to see the small lack shapes darting about haphazardly.

Billy walked over to the waters edge and knelt down. Johnny absentmindedly began to slip his hands into his pockets before the spongy texture of the wet suit reminded him that he had no pockets. Annoyed Johnny let his arms dangle loosely at his sides instead and began to walk over to Billy's side. It was then that Billy gave an almost accusing glare at the sun. Followed by a blood curdling scream. Johnny watched in horror as Billy's eyes liquefied into boiling hot pools of clear fluid which ran down his face, leaving tracks of seared flesh in their wake.

Johnny stood open mouthed as Billy flailed painfully about the beach for a few moments before falling to the ground like a felled tree. There was a silence. If he hadn't been in shock he might have noticed the quiet sizzling coming from Billy's face. Johnny didn't remain stunned motionless for long. Running over to the big man he collapsed to the ground next to him and began shaking him violently. 'Billy man talk to me. Come on man say something for Christ's sake!' Johnny was shouting at the body now, willing it to move even though he knew it was futile. He felt his mouth fill with cold saliva and his stomach churn. Turning away from Billy he threw up painfully, the sick was watery and had no real substance to it. Even after his stomach was empty he continued to retch till the pain made him collapse onto his side where he began to cry silently.

Fuck Billy man I'm sorry. I'm really fucking sorry. What is this? Why are they doing this? WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?

Sitting up Johnny reached over to Billy to shut his eyes before recoiling in fear. Ashamed he gently
pushed Billy's face with his foot so that it was turned away. He lay on the sand breathing heavily, trying to regain control. Billy was dead and nothing he could do could change that. He had to find some way of dealing with it and making them pay for what they'd done. 'He'd done nothing' Johnny whispered bitterly. 'What did he do to deserve that? Eh? What have any of us done? Is that the end result, your precious data? Is that what you want? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?' Johnny looked at the island with a murderous rage. He was going to find the people in charge of this and make them pay, make them suffer painfully for doing it. But first there was the matter of Billy's body.

Johnny didn't know for sure what faith Billy held dear, if any, and the whole situation was making him question it himself. Nevertheless he couldn't bring himself to just leave Billy out there in the sun. He looked around the beach. There was no way he could bury him without some kind of shovel and the water was too shallow between the islands to bury him at sea. Johnny held his head in his hands as he came to the only conclusion he could. He looked at the shack and then at Billy. It wasn't far but the guy was big. He was huge and Johnny was decidedly not. It was going to be a struggle. Steeling himself Johnny reached under Billy's arms and tried to drag him along the beach to the shack. He didn't move an inch. Johnny tried again but his hands slipped and he fell backwards onto the sand, grunting in pain. Johnny felt the anger rise. He wasn't going to be beaten by this. He owed it to Billy to do something at least, get him under some sort of cover out of the way. The shack would be his own little tomb and Johnny would never return once he left. Standing again Johnny dug his feet into the sand and pulled as hard as he could. Billy moved a little. Gritting his teeth and letting out an undignified cry of effort he began the slow process of dragging Billy to the shack.

Come on Billy boy, gotta get you to that shack. Out of the way, out of the sun. you'd like that I think. I say that, didn't even know you. But you deserve it. I know that.

After what felt like eternity Johnny had gotten Billy inside the shack and onto the mattress. Looking around Johnny found a ragged old sheet and covered Billy with it. He deserved some dignity. Looking around Johnny picked up his pack from the corner it had been in and left the shack for the last time. Walking towards the island he felt a sharp pain as he stubbed his toe on something in the sand. Looking down he saw the ugly metal of a gun. Billy's gun. He hadn't even noticed it fall from his body. Johnny picked it up. It wouldn't do Billy any good now. This thought in his mind Johnny made his way to Billy's pack which was lying forgotten on the sand. Searching through it he drank from the water bottle and ate some bread to settle his stomach. Caught up in the sensation of eating he pried open Billy's can of peaches and greedily ate them too. Johnny ignored the voice in his head that told him it was wrong to do these things, that he should leave Billy's stuff where it was as a mark of respect. Billy would understand and Johnny knew that if their situations had been reversed he'd have wanted Billy to be as prepared as could to avenge him.

Sliding Billy's knife into his left boot Johnny kept his own safely stowed in case of emergencies. He also switched his gun with Billy's so that that Billy's was in his pack and he was holding his own in his hand. That at least left him with some options. With one last look back at the shack Johnny began to wade into the water.

Exit Subject C07, Johnny Marsh
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CHAPTER FIVE: THIS FOREST LOOKS WEIRD
THE BLACK FOREST
JUNE 23, 2010: 13:08

Begin Subject C05, Simon Matthews
Have you ever woken up after a night out with friends with a throbbing head and no idea where the hell you are and no idea how you got there? Yeah, me neither. That's pretty much how Simon felt right now; dazed, confused and with a piercing headache. The first thing he realised was that he was lying down somewhere, and that whatever he was laying on was solid and slightly uneven. He opened his eyes and immediately regretted it as the light hit them and a stab of pain went through his skull. Ok, so he was definitely outside, the sun baring down on him and the tops of trees being visible on the edges of his vision. For a moment he was dazzled by the sight, the sun pouring through the gaps in the unusual coloured black leaves creating an unique sight; what kind of trees have black leaves anyway? None he'd ever heard of. He sat up slowly and then brought a leg under himself to stand up. Looking around he could finally see where in was; in the middle of nowhere.

If this is someones idea of a prank I'm going to be seriously pissed off.

Strange black barked trees, the likes of which he had never seen, surrounded him in all direction for as far as he could see. He was all alone as well, as far as he could tell, with no one to be seen in any direction and practically no sound to be heard. No scratch that, no sound whatsoever. No birds, no animals. Not even a breeze to create noise. It kind of creeped him out. The whole place had an almost unnatural feel to it, the lack of live and the trees appearance only building on that. How much of this was just his imagination going wild though he couldn't tell, all he knew was that he didn't like this place.

Thinking about what to do next he brought his hand up to run it through his hair, stopping suddenly when he saw that the palm was glowing a bright orange and the back and the start of his wrist had taken on a burnt appearance like that of charcoal. He stared at it perplexed for a second before he caught sight of the pinpricks in his arm and something sparked in his memory. Everything that had happened ever since waking up in that cell, and then again in the classroom came flooding back to him.

“We have developed a serum which contains the key to evolution itself"

That classroom, the other captives, the boy that was shot, the slideshow. It all came back to him in one go and it did nothing to lessen the pain in his head. If nothing else it explained how he got here, he was captured and brought here against his will. And his hands? The product of this 'serum' the man mentioned.

"Each of you has been given a gift. That gift differs from person to person, similar to a... raffle, I suppose, but you all entered the same one"

Yeah well, apparent he'd lost tha raffle. He could feel the heat coming off of his hands in waves, could see it distort the air around the palms. Apparently his power was to have really really warm hands. The X-men should be coming to recruit him any minute now. At least that proved it probably wasn't a dream, if it was a dream he'd have a much cooler superpower. And the bitch of it was he couldn't even pinch himself to check if he really was dreaming, because if he did and it was real he'd just end up burning himself.

Pretty clever dream. I can't believe I'm being outsmarted by my subconscious here.

He lowered his hands and began looking around again. It should be around somewh- there it was, the daypack that would contain his rations for the next few days sat on the ground a few feet behind him. He walked over to it, going through the contents that were mentioned back in the classroom in his head. Food, water, first aid kit, map, compass, knife...

"The simple fact of the matter is this: after three days, only one of you will be left standing"

And a gun. Weapons that would be used to kill the other captives during the next three days on this island, assuming he made it that far. The thought was a harsh one. Could that really be true? Could they really be serious about making them kill each other? Of course they were; they were serious about kidnapping them, about experimenting on them, about killing that one kid because he didn't shut up. It was all real, every part of it, his hands were the proof. The sooner he accepted that the sooner he could start doing something about it. He knelt down next to the pack and carefully went about opening it, gingerly taking hold of the zip with the tips of his fingers and moving it quickly to minimise the time he had touched it, lest it be warped by the heat. He flipped open the top with the back of his hand and began sorting through the contents, again making sure to touch everything with the back of his hands only. The food and water weren't needed right now and the map and compass were useless thanks to his power. Grabbing the gun or the bullets would be a very bad idea in case the gunpowder ignited, so he grabbed the knife instead, hastily placing it between the belt and his jeans at his side. He noticed something else in the pack as well, a small piece of paper with what he assumed was his power written on it. 'Scorching Palms'. Right, thanks, figured that one out already.

He closed it again carefully and closed the zip before slidding his arm through the strap and throwing it onto his shoulder. He stood up slowly so as not to dislodge it and began walking forward, whichever way that was. He reflected on just how difficult it was to do that simple process and how hard it would be to do absolutely anything using his hands from now on. If this serum really was the way forward for humanity then he guessed he was just an evolutionary dead end.

His headache had more or less cleared by know and that made it a lot easier to think things through. His first order of business, he thought, should be to find his bearings somehow. Either by finding someplace high to get a view of things, or find somebody who could read a map without setting it aflame. That was an interesting point actually. Should he team up with anyone? It wasn't like he knew any of them or knew they could be trusted and it wasn't like they were just going to trust him either. They would most likely feel just as scared, confused and threatened as he did right now; every few seconds he couldn't help but take a look around himself as if he had been spooked by some noise. The sense of discomfort he had felt earlier in the forest only being amplified once he realised that there were people out there who might want to kill him. The fact that they had a gun and he couldn't use his did nothing to disuade this fear. The whole place had a feeling of foreboding about it. He'd like to think that most people would be abhorred by the idea of taking part in this sick experiment, but as much as he hated to admit it that was unlikely. For all he knew anyone he came into contact with could be playing the game, and he should approach everyone as if they were a potential threat. even if it was only because they were scared or felt threatened and might lash out. That being said, what was his stance on the game, would he play, would he kill? That wasn't something he was willing to answer just yet.



Begin Subject C14, Fredrick Slagenger
Fredrick gasped as he woke up. He was lying on the cold forest floor. He was slightly damp from lying on the dirt. His head was throbbing something chronic.
“Ow. Ow, OW!” Fredrick moaned, his hands reaching up to his head. “God-dammit ow. What the hell…”

The memories of the past few hours were foggy, but they were all coming back to him in pieces. The room, being tied down in the chair. The man in the mask, speaking to him. To them, actually, Fredrick remembered at least a few dozen kids in the same room as him. He remembered one kid getting angry, the one sitting right in front of him. Fredrick remembered staring right at him as the guy started being vocal. He remembered a man coming up, and then….
“God, that was real.” Fredrick’s thoughts screamed, feeling dizzy, “Someone was killed right there, right before my eyes. These guys aren’t fucking around. This is real. Christ, this is actually happening! No, NO! It can’t be real! ”

Fredrick staggered on the ground a bit. His wheelchair was several feet away. He started heading towards it, dragging himself by his hands to his chair. A duffle bag lay on top of his seat, but he wasn’t paying attention to it now. All he could think of was the kid. It had happened so fast. He shuddered, retching. Fredrick tried to keep it down for a moment, but it was no use. He shook once more, his eyes went wide and he emptied the contents of his stomach onto the forest floor.
The images kept flashing in his head, over and over as he lay there, feeling the disgusting, acidic burn in his throat. Fredrick stopped for a moment, his stomach having nothing left to give.

“Okay…. that feels….a little bit better.” Fredrick though, gasping as he made his way around the newly made wet patch of carrots and corn, “Okay…Jeezus…. Get to the bag….. Get to the chair. Figure out what is going on….”

Fredrick reached his chair. Using what leverage he could, he pulled himself up onto the seat, lifting up his bag onto his lap as he sat in position. He lay back for a second, trying to calm himself down. He fumbled with the zipper on his bag absentmindedly as he processed everything that had gone on. Then man in the Suit. The other students. Some experiment they were all in. Something about being given gifts? And the grim forecast of it all. Kill or be killed, only one leaves alive. Think of everyone as your enemies.

Putting that last thought away for now, Fredrick breathed deeply and opened his duffle bag. He grinned as he saw the water bottle, grabbing it and taking a quick drink and swirling a bit in his mouth, spitting it to one side to get the taste out of his mouth. He put his water bottle back in his bag, about half full. In doing so, his hand brushed against something metal and cold.

Fredrick lifted it out of his pack, frowning to see that it was a knife, a large one.
“What the hell am I meant to do with this?” Fredrick thought sarcastically, turning it over in his hand, “This is meant for my self-defence? Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be able to stop someone running at me with this quite easily, right? Stupid scientists.” He threw the knife back into his bag, and pulled out the other weapon he found in his bag; a gun.

“Jeezus..” Fredrick thought, feeling it in his hand. It was cold and heavy, he was surprised how heavy it was. Fredrick had never held a gun, but got the idea from looking at it. It glistened in the sunlight, the colours making the black look sleek. There was no doubt in his mind; this could kill a person.
“This I can use to defend myself…but…Christ, will I have to?” Fredrick thought, pointing the gun outward from himself. He imagined a person coming to kill him, and what he would do. He shuddered at the mental image. “Surely everyone else say the person that was killed, right? You don’t just step away from that and do the same. Dammit, I have to be prepared.”

Gritting his teeth, Fredrick braced himself. Picturing someone coming at him, he pointed at a tree and fired. Click. Huh. Nothing happened.
Frowning at this, Fredrick looked at the gun. Don’t they have some kind for safety mechanic, so one can’t accidentally fire? For a few minutes, he poked at the gun till he figured it out. Trying again, Fredrick fired, but was not prepared for the recoil. Not seeing where the bullet went, he fired the force pushed him back into his seat. The chair wasn’t meant for that kind of force; it rolled back and hit a root in the forest, tipping the chair over with Fredrick rolling out, his bag falling on top of him.

“Gah..” Fredrick muttered, “that was not pleasant.” The contents of his bag has spilled out, to which he quickly picked up and stuffed back into his bag. The last two, a piece of paper and what looked like a map, sparked his interest.

Fredrick raised himself up and looked at the piece of paper. “Rubber Flesh” was all that was written upon it. Reading the word, he remembered what the Man in the Suit had said: everyone being given a gift, they were the next steps in Evolution.

“Rubber Flesh?” Fredrick wondered aloud, venting to no one, “so what, I’m a giant eraser for pencils? What a joke.” He rubbed his fingers against each other. To his surprise, his flesh felt a little different to normal. Not that he could put his finger on it, but something was actually different. Great, he was now even more of a freak then he already was. Fredrick’s rage was building. He was already tired, hurt from his falls, his stomach has decided to leave his body and he already had the mental image of someone dying in front of him. This was officially the worse day in the history of anyone that had ever lived, and Fredrick knew who to blame. The damn scientists, wherever the hell they were.

“Hey, science guys, you want to give me a gift?” Fredrick shouted, his memories of past troubles coming up unbidden, “Then give me some god-damn legs, you selfish bastards.” Fuming, he looked at the other piece of paper, a map of where he guessed they all were, an island. He looked over it and saw a radio tower.
“I guess that’s the plan.” Fredrick thought, getting back onto his wheelchair and heading through the forest. “Get to that radio station. Find help. Find a way to get off this place. Find those scientists, and make them take this “gift” back and get me back home. No one is stopping me. No one.”

He pushed himself along, twigs and leaves snapping under his wheels.



Begin Subject C20, Judith Vibert
It wasn't long ago when Judy woke up to this horrible reality. Everything was real. Dreafully, terribly real. The kidnapping. The loud boy's head exploding. The man in leather... everything. And "Evolution". This was all real. Jolting out of sleep as if it were all a nightmare - which she wished it were - Judy was increasingly aware of the danger she had been thrust into. Her mind went a mile a minute, trying to remember everything that had happened.

"Okay," she started, twisting her legs into the lotus position - yoga could only help at a time like this, "first, how am I here? That's a pretty easy one. I just got back from work, got changed to go out with Lydia, took the shortcut and bam! Next question."

Her breathing had slowed down considerably. Good. This was good. Okay. She switched to the pigeon pose. "Next question: Who? Another easy one; obviously, it was Dr. Leather, PhD in terrorism." Camel. She looked up at the small specks of azure sky past the trees of the forest. It would have been beautiful, had it not been for her current situation. "What: What am I doing here? Something about being a guinea pig. That "evolution" garbage. Ha! Everyone knows evolution is a process that takes more than thousands of years to happen! To develop a serum for it would be ludicrous!"

She sat back down on the ground, legs outstretched. There were a few butterflies around, hovering over some flowers. Which brought her to her next question; "Where? Judging by these plants..." she examined the small pink flowers, scaring the butterflies away, "... I'm off... the coast of Brazil? No, no, I don't know anything about Brazil. Well, I'm not in Albuquerque anymore, that's for sure." Biting the tip of her finger, she strained to think just where she might be. "Ah, forget it. That's not important anyway."

The final question, the question that Judy wanted to know the answer to the most, was "Why?" Why was she chosen? Why did it have to be her? Why couldn't she go see her family and friends anymore? Why. Why. Why. Why. WHY?! It was unfair! Her breathing began to speed up again. Tears welled up in her eyes, and she began to sob uncontrollably. After crying for a good few minutes, she lay on her back and looked up at the sky. Small birds. She couldn't quite make them out because her glasses were still in her purse, and...

"My purse! Where's my purse!" She exclaimed. Scanning around the area as best as she could, she found nothing but the daypack that Dr. Leather had left for her and the other eighteen (or nineteen? Maybe more?) teens in the room with her. "They took my purse! That's so unfair! How could they invade my privacy like that?! It's completely un-" While rummaging through her daypack, she remembered that she had actually left it at home, before she was kidnapped. "Oh well. I can still be mad at them." She pulled out the gun and the knife. Scary, but definitely necessary in the harsh environment. After all, everyone'd probably be out to kill her. She was, after all, the weakest looking one there.

Bread, tins of peaches - both very good for food. First aid supplies, a necessity. She scanned through the map, determining her approximate location - given the density of the forest, it wasn't incredibly accurate. Finally she pulled out the slip of paper. "Enhanced Digestion." She read, "Of course. I never was very lucky when it came to raffles."

Suddenly, Judy heard angry shouting. Clearly, given what was said, from the boy in the wheelchair she saw in the room. Was he okay? Even if he was supposedly her enemy, he would be more or less harmless... Right?

With all but the gun and map back in her daypack, she called out blindly to the boy. "Hey! Are you alright?"



Simon
As Simon continued to walk through the trees, the sun bearing down on his back and the ground hard on his feet, one thought keep coming back to the forefront of his mind. Does this forest ever fucking end? He stopped walking for a second and heafted the pack higher on his shoulder as he felt it begin to slip again. He'd been walking in pretty much the same direction through the forest for about fifteen, mabe twenty, minutes now and had yet to see anything other than trees. How much of this island did this forest cover anyway?

Not all of it at least, he could tell that by the sight of the mountain to his left. The radio tower that poked up above the trees from its peak had been acting as his compass ever since he had spotted it, keeping it on his left to ensure he stayed straight. He wondered what purpose that tower served back when this island was still populated. Did a small island like this have it's own radio station? Give the residents something to listen to? Or did it serve as a lifeline to the mainland, something to allow them to make contact? More relevantly what was it used for now? He remembered the man in the briefing say that they had tracking devices in their bodies, ones that would monitor their vital signs and explode if they tried anything. Was the tower a part of that? No, they wouldn't put something that important on the island were it was vulnerable. The mainland looked close enough on the map they showed them that it could all be monitored from there. Still, if the tower was once used to send signals who was to say it couldn't be used again now. Even if all they managed was to turn it on and send out a blank signal rather than a message, someone would pick it up and hopefully be curious enough to investigate.

Simon was suddenly shocked out of his thoughts as a gunshot echoed through the trees. He snapped out of it and quickly realised that he had stopped walking while thinking and berated himself for allowing himself to get distracted. He ducked down next to a tree and began looking around but saw no one. The shot sounded distant, and probably wasn't aimed at him. There was no return fire or screaming either. Maybe just a test shot? see if the guns were real? Staying low Simon began walking in the direction of the shot, starting to pick up voices as he got closer. One sounded male and angry, though as he got close enough it sounded like the anger was directed at the people who put them here more than anything else. Still, best not to draw that attention to himself. Then there was a second voice, female this time and seemingly calling out to the first boy.

Simon crept closer to the voices, moving between the trees as quickly as he could to avoid being seen. He stopped next to a particularly thick tree that hid his form well enough and peeked out from behind it. There in the forest sat a young boy, around his age, in a wheelchair with his back facing him. Pausing there for a moment Simon considered his options; he didn't want to just walk out and introduce himself, not yet anyway. He didn't know how the boy would react. There was also the girl to consider, she could arrive at any moment and complicate things.

After a moments pause Simon let out a sigh and sat down with his back against the tree. He was being overly cautious. True this person could be a killer, but he could just as easily be an ally in a situation where he really needed one. He needed to start being able to trust people if he was going to survive here. Hell he probably wouldn't even be able to feed himself without help thanks to these damn hands, let alone survive. It was either find help or die. Besides, if things did go bad it's not like he was completely defenceless. If nothing else these hands could come in quite handy in a fight.

Simon stood up from the tree and, after taking a deep breath, walked around the tree and approached the boy. He tried not to walk up directly behind him in case he spooked the guy, instead walking around and coming in from the side. As he got closer he realised that he probably should have thought over what he was going to say before doing this. What did you say to someone in this situation anyway?

"Hey. Don't worry I'm not looking for a fight. I'm Simon"



Fredrick
Fredrick put his palm to his face nearly immediately as a voice came from somewhere in the forest, asking whether he was alright.

"Gah," Fredrick thought, slapping himself mentally as well, "So much for being quiet and not drawing undue attention."

Fredrick thought about what he could realistically do, if push came to shove. He knew that the gun had recoil at least and was prepared a little for it, but it wasn't like he could move and shoot very fast at all. That voice sounded female as well, and it didn't sound threatening. Fredrick breathed out a little and calmed himself. A friend here would be nice, actually. Maybe someone with a similar goal as his; finding and taking the people who did this to him down.
"But, are there such things as friends here?" Fredrick wondered, opening his bag, "According to their rules, only one survives. Some of the guys in here, what if they aren't thinking of escape? What if the only way they can see if following these sick people's idea of "testing"?

Thinking of the word testing made Fredrick think and the 'gifts' they had all been given. He had "Rubber Flesh" and as far as he could tell, it was absolutely useless.
"Surely not everyone has the same thing." Fredrick though, his eyes widening as he thought of twisted possibilities, "Dammit, what if someone had something like 'become a giant' or 'explode someone's head at 100 yards?' Jeezus, there's not much I could do about that. Regardless, everyone has a fricken gun, and here I am just in the middle of the path, with trees all around. "

"Who are you?" Fredrick called to the voice, drawing his gun out of his bag and flicking off the safety, "Show yourself!"

Fredrick was looking to the direction of the voice as he wheeled to try to get some trees between him and the voice when he heard a rustle of twigs and branches. He spun around to see a kid similar to his own age, a skinny brown haired boy with green eyes. Fredrick's heart leaped in his chest for a second, thinking he was cornered, but was relieved when the boy, called Simon, said he wasn't looking for a fight.

What should I say? Fredrick wondered, looking Simon over. The boy wasn't carrying a weapon of any type. So, either this guy was pretty relaxed, or his 'gift' was so powerful he ddin't need one. Fredrick gulped at that thought. Until I know what this 'Simon's deal is, I'd rather he keep a little bit of distance. Fredrick surmised, facing his gun towards the intruder.

"I'm not looking for a fight either, Simon. At least, not with you." Fredrick said slowly, keeping his gun at the ready and picking his words carefully, "However, today has been a really really bad day and even saying it like that is the understatement of the century. But, enough about that for now. Two things: Firstly, I'm Fredrick, pleased to meet you. More importantly, secondly, in a very short time there is going to be a third person here. A woman from the sounds of it. For all I know she sounded friendly but she very well could not. So, in the seconds we have left, answer me this; can I trust you?"

Fredrick spun around a little, as to be directly facing the direction he thought the voice had come from. He kept his eye on Simon however, waiting for his answer.



Simon
Simon recoiled slighted as the boy in the wheelchair pointed the gun at him, wondering for a second if maybe he had made a mistake is approaching him like this. Maybe he should have waited a while after all. But then again, waiting wouldn't have made him any less jumpy. After listening to him speak though he realised that he was just being cautious and that was something he could relate to, so he took a step back to assuade his fears a little.

As he stood there Simon continued to listen as the boy who introduced himself as Fredrick spoke and asked him quite a complicated question. Could he be trusted. Simon thought about this for a second. In the long run... if he was honest with himself, no he probably couldn't be trusted. At the end of the day this was a fight for their lives and anyone here would have to look out for themselves first, himself included. In the short term however, there was still a chance that they could make it out of this without having to kill anybody and he needed Fredrick's help if he was going to make it at all. Basically he had no reason to turn on anyone just yet so he wouldn't.

Of course he couldn't really say that. 'I can't be trusted but I at least won't kill you yet' would probably earn him a bullet between the eyes and rightly so. Still, he couldn't just lie. Anyone would say 'yes you can trust me' in these situations because that's the answer that doesn't get you shot. In the end he decided to say something in between, something truthful but in a way that wouldn't get him killed. He looked up to face Fredrick again and saw that he had now turned away from him, facing the direction of the voice, but still kept an eye on him.

This guys pretty together. Keeping his gun pointed at the most pressing threat but not forgetting to keep an eye on me as well. Just because I said I wouldn't hurt him doesn't mean I won't

"Fredrick, I can honestly say that if it comes down to just the two of us at the end of this I will turn on you in a second to save myself, and I'm sure you'd do the same. At the moment though I think we need each others help to survive and because of that you can trust me with your life"



Fredrick
"Fredrick, I can honestly say that if it comes down to just the two of us at the end of this I will turn on you in a second to save myself, and I'm sure you'd do the same. At the moment though I think we need each others help to survive and because of that you can trust me with your life."

"That...was rather honest of him." Fredrick thought to himself, nodding towards Simon and acknowledging this answer, "He wants to live, but hasn't seen there might be another way."

"Then I will hope it does not get to just the two of us, Simon, for both our sakes." Fredrick said softly, keeping his voice low for the possible threat incoming. "Listen. If you play by their rules, those perverted scientist bastards who get their jollies from playing God, you've already lost. We've already lost. You saw that kid, right? The one whom had his skull turned into bolognese?"

Fredrick paused for a second, fighting the feeling to bring his stomach's contents up again at the mention of what happened in that room. It still was making him feel queasy.

"They don't give a damn about us." Fredrick said solemnly, "Do they really expect us to believe that, after all but one of us are left, that person will be able to walk free? It is more likely they'd just finish that person off and wipe their hands, to avoid anyone getting word out about what they're doing now that they have their O SO precious lab results. Screw all of that! I'm not buying it."

Fredrick looked back to face Simon directly, determined to get through to him. Fredrick lifted his free hand to his body, sticking a thumb out at himself.

"As for my ass, I'm getting off this rock." Fredrick said confidently, smiling to Simon, "and nothing is going to stand in my way. I don't know how yet, but I'm going to head to the radiotower to see what can be done from there and try to find anyone who wants to get out as well. Which means, you can either come along on this goal and try to make our way off this hellish island and this god-forsaken situation."

"Or, you can try their way." Fredrick shrugged, leaving what that meant in the air, "Up to you."
On that, Fredrick turned back to the forest, going back to keeping an eye out for danger.
There, I've said my case. Fedrick thought to himself, hoping his words sunk in, Simon can take it or leave it from there.

How far away could've the woman been anyway? Fredrick wondered, turnig his thoughts back to the woman, She must be close. His grip tightened on his gun nervously as he scanned the underbrush for any sign of another living soul.



Judith
After wandering about blindly for a few minutes, Judy finally stumbled upon the two boys. Just in time, it seemed, as the boy in the wheelchair had just finished talking and was turning around towards her. Gun in hand, she slowly approached Frederick. "Are you alright? You're not hurt are you?"

Giving the boys a quick look-over, she determined that the plain, unarmed boy and the wheelchair-bound attractive one were probably harmless, unless of course the plain one got too close- given his charcoal hands and the distorted air, it was safe to see she couldn't really shake his hand. Judy, however - being armed and able-bodied - saw herself as the most threatening person in the immediate area. And, according to the laws of the animal kingdom, if she wasn't food - and obviously she wasn't - then she was a possible threat. "Oh, um..." she stammered, looking at the gun in her hand, "I'll just put this down. Slowly. I'm not going to hurt either of you." With that, she crouched to the ground, placed her gun on the ground and snapped back up. "There. All better!"

Idiot. They have guns too. And they aren't mountain lions, they're humans. Humans who are supposed to be your enemies.

"Ah, um... um..." she struggled to make conversation, "I'm Judy! Well, actually I'm Judith, but everyone calls me Judy, which is fine by me since it makes me sound younger. Judith is such an old lady name, huh? I'm from Albuquerque. You guys probably aren't, given how pale you are, unless you like, never come outside, huh?"

Shut up, before they blow your brains out!

"A-anyway. W-what do you guys make of the situation? I'm a little freaked out about this." That was an understatement. She was terrified since she woke up and even more so now that she found more people.

Looking down at the ground, she breathed slowly and deeply in an attempt to calm herself.



Simon
Simon waited anxiously for Fredrick’s reply, wondering if maybe he had been wrong to think that a truthful answer was best in this situation. He relaxed visibly when Fredrick apparently accepted this answer and began talking about his plans for the game. During this Simon, for his part, just stood there and absorbed what the other guy was saying.

At the mention of the guy who had been killed during the briefing Simon thought back. He himself had been seated near the back and so had not seen much, but the loud bang and the red spray he saw made it clear what had happened. “Yeah I remember that guy. I don’t think I can forget him, ever”

“Listen; don’t get the wrong idea about me. I’m really not a violent person but I’m willing to play if I have to; if someone attacks me, I will kill to defend myself if I have to. But that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to give in and go along with this ‘experiment’. This mass murder disguised as scientific endeavour.

“If you’re looking to escape then I’m in. I’ll help you as much as I am able. But I want you to realise that it most likely won’t be that easy. Not everyone here is going to be so willing. They might be too afraid, or they might not think it’s possible. Hell, some of them might like the idea of killing people with their new found abilities. I want to get out of this with as little bloodshed as possible but sooner or later we might have to take part in their experiment. Just be ready for it”

Just as Simon had finished his little speech, a short looking girl with blonde, pigtailed hair stepped out of the trees towards them, addressing Fredrick. He assumed this was the girl that had called out earlier, the one that they were waiting for. He looked over her more carefully and immediately spotted the gun in her hands; she relinquished it soon after however, before it became a concern for him. The girl then introduced herself, rambling slightly as to give away her nervousness. He turned to face Fredrick, realising that he wasn’t going to answer her straight away and so decided to step forward himself.

“Well Judy, my name’s Simon, and this guy’s called Fredrick. I can’t speak for him but I can say that I’m from Chicago, not Albuquerque. I guess we don’t get as much sun there as you do.

“I think we’re all a little freaked out as well. How could you not be? Still, nothing too bad has happened to any of us yet, no more so than anyone else here anyway. We still have a chance to get out of this, no matter how small”

He turned to face Fredrick once more after his piece, leaning down slightly as to be able to speak to him without worrying about Judy overhearing. “Well, what do you think? She looks pretty scared and harmless to me, but then it could be an act. I’ll leave it up to you”



Fredrick
Fredrick listened to Simon, sizing him up and his words.
Self-preservation is at the forefront of this guy's mind" Fredrick noted. "Heck, it's there for all of us. Of course I'd defend myself if being threatened, but actual killing...."

Fredrick never got the chance to think of anything else as the voice he had heard earlier finally showed herself. Fredrick tensed up as she approached seeing the gun in her hand, but breathed a sigh of relief as she immediately put her gun down.

Fredrick looked her over as she introduced herself as Judy, from Albuquerque. As she had immediately lowered herself as a threat, Fredrick took a moment to try to size her up as a person, not an enemy. "Nice face, check. Freckles and glasses, check. Nice body. Not really as chesty as I would like. Book Cute, I'd say," Fredrick thought, using a frame of reference some of the basketball team to describe some of the girls back home, "but is she smart? She sounds like she has a nieve personality too. Can you be smart and naieve? Can you look Book Cute and not be smart? How does that even work?"

Fredrick was snapped out of his thinking when he heard Simon say and his reply back to Judy. Simon's voice was strong and to the point, bringing Fredrick down to earth.
Idiot. Think about her as an enemy, not some chick you see in the bleachers during a game Fredrick thought, mentally facepalming himself. You're thinking with the wrong brain. Simon's right, things won't be so easy. But...we will get out. I have to belive that.

Simon then leant down to Fredrick, asking what he thought about Judy.
"She seems as stuck as the rest of us." Fredrick nodded grimly to Simon, "A little scared and confused, and definately not wanting conflict. But, I can't see her playing a trick here. Else, why would you put the gun down when I have this one in my hand, on top of the fact we outnumber her? Far easier to simply have just let us pass by; we couldn't see her.
"Then again," Fredrick muttered, thinking about the powers, "She could be hiding an ace up her sleeve."

"Hey, Judy," Fredrick called, keeping his gun in his hands for now, "What I "make of the situation" is that we're all royally screwed up, like lab rats dancing to these bastard scientists Pied Piper. Simon and I both want out of this, so we're gonig to look for a way back home and out of this experiment. There may be fighting, but that's only if people get in the way or are threats. I and Simon here; we aren't killers. We're headed to the radio tower that's on the island, somehow get help or something. Your help would be appreciated, if you would like to join us. But, if you don't like that idea, I would ask you to leave."

"I see strenght in numbers here:" Fredrick said quickly in a low voice to Simon, "and am happy to have her along if she agrees with our goal of getting out of here and only acting in self-defense. I see anyone willing to try to difuse tension as she did a person who won't shoot us in the back later."

"Whatever, you decide, Judy, we're all wasting time here." Fredrick shrugged, turning towards the forest path, "The longer we sit here the longer we risk someone not so friendly shooting all of us, or throwing fireballs or whatever else this hellhole has to offer. Let's head out and hopefully not run into anyone else."

On that Fredrick started moving, heading towards the tower, as best he could tell of the direction to go.



Judith
Right then. Looking for a way off would be a great way of doing things. Nobody would get hurt, and she wouldn't have to hurt anybody. That's a win for everyone. That being said, the best hunters of the animal kingdom traveled in groups, like wolves and piranhas. It'd be much safer to tag along with Fredrick and Simon, even if they didn't seem to trust her just yet.

"R-right. I'm coming with you. I don't want to hurt anybody, and I really want to get home." Both those statements were pretty obvious, but it's still nice to remind the boys that she was harmless. "Still though, I'm picking up my gun before I do anything else. I'm not going to be a sitting duck for the others." Bending down to the ground, she gripped her gun tightly, intent on keeping it close by. After all, Fredrick and Simon really weren't in any position to do any sort of defending.

Keeping close to Fredrick, Judy followed the boy to the radio tower.



Simon
Simon decided to wait for a little while after Fredrick moved away, waiting to see how Judy would react to the ultimatum. He listened to her reply with a mixed response, both worried about having to trust another stranger and relieved that there was one less person wandering around where he didn’t know what they were doing. He allowed her to pick up her gun and catch up to walk alongside Fredrick before following.

“It’s fine if you want to carry your gun, we won’t stop you. Just so long as you don’t point it at either of us everything will be fine”

After this the group seemed to lapse into silence as they walked, Judy and Fredrick next to each other and Simon a few feet away to avoid accidentally burning either of them.

“So, Judy. In the interest of knowing what we, as a group, are capable of. What power did you get?”

As he waited for a response Simon looked ahead to where they were going, seeing the tower and now visible mountaintop above the trees which acting as their waypoint. This sparked a question in his mind; how were they going to get to the top. True it wasn’t a very big mountain, but even a small mountain is generally hard to climb. Especially when probably none of you know how to climb, you lack any form of climbing apparatus and one of you is in a wheelchair.

“This may be a stupid question but… have you given any thought to how to get to the tower?”

Looking closer at the sides of the mountain he began to pay attention to the pylons which poked periodically from its slopes. They didn’t looked like electrical pylons, though he assumes that the station did receive power, either that or had its own generator. He began thinking about what else they might be, as well as how the inhabitants of the island used to reach its peak.

“Can one of you check your maps and see if there is any mention of a cable car station? I’d do it myself but then we’d just have one less map than before”



Fredrick
Fredrick smiled to himself as he heard Judy's reply. Two may be a company, but three was a crowd and a crowd was one of the best things to be in around here. A team. A team that would all hopefully get out of this place.

Hearing Simon's question, Fredrick responded by removing the map back out from his bag. He had seen something akin to what Simon desribed on the map, but now was as good as a time as any to double-check on it.

"Mmm, there it is, Simon." Fredrick noted, pointing to the map for him to see, "At the base of the mountain. Your guess about a Cable Car area looks good. It looks like that is our entrance."

Fredrick folded the map back up and put it away, putting his gun in his hand. It felt cold to the touch. "I really, really hope I don't ever have to use this." he muttered. "I hope our path to the tower is clear."



Judith
"Right. So it's to the cable car station, and then to the radio tower. Got it."

All things considered, Judy was making quite a bit of progress. She had already found two teammates, a location in mind, and her breathing was under control again. Things were starting to look up. Except she still had the god-awful power of...

"...Enhanced digestion. That's the so-called "power" I got stuck with," she said, blushing a little. "A-anyway, let's get going. I'll lead."

Stupid Simon.



Simon
He could tell that the girl was embarrassed by her power so he tried his best not the let the amusement he felt show on his face. A small smirk still crept across though.

“How enhanced exactly? That’s pretty useful ability when you think about it, not in a fight but, day to day stuff. Not many people give much thought to that when they start to fantasise about getting superpowers”

He raised his hands up to look at them again. They still gave off an unnatural reddish-orange glow and he could still feel the heat inside them.

“Take mine for example; awesome in a fight, but pretty much useless in all other areas.

“Actually thinking about it, any allergies you had might not affect you any more, you’ll never run out of food because you could just eat grass or something, you can never be poisoned and you never have to worry about indigestion again”

Simon paused for a second as he considered all the points he’d just made again.

“Damn you might actually have the best power out of the three of us. How sad is that?”

Exit Subject C05, Simon Matthews; Subject C14, Fredrick Slagenger; and Subject C20, Judith Vibert
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I can trick them into thinking anything
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
CHAPTER SIX: ALL APOLOGIES
THE COVE
JUNE 23, 2010: 14:46

Begin Subject C11, Katherine Black
"Urgh... Crap."

Katherine woke up with a throbbing headache.

She wasn't sure if it was from the whirring noise she kept hearing, or the fact that she'd been in and out of consciousness for the past two days, or the fact that not too long ago she'd seen a man killed right-freaking-next to her, but she felt like crap, and was pretty sure it was gonna stay that way for a while.

The squawking of gulls and the smell of salt in the air immediately told her she was at a beach, even without opening her eyes. Kate never really went to the beach much, but the few times she did usually made a pretty big impact on her, generally for the wrong reasons.

Kate groggily opened her eyes, her vision still blurry as hell from the gas or the sirens or whatever the hell they used to knock them unconscious. It was then that she noticed the marks on her arm.

It was some sort of mark from an injection, probably something to do with the 'Evolution' crap the leather fetishist guy was talking about in the briefing. Kate wasn't really paying attention, she was more focused on the guy who was shot right in the chair right next to her. She paid attention for a bit at the end, where he'd said something about tracking chips and only one winne-

That was when the reality came crashing down on Kate. Twenty people on the island. All told their only shot at freedom is to kill everyone else on the island. Either she had to kill everyone else, or she was going back to Lakeside in a body-bag. Well, assuming they didn't just leave her to rot on the island.

Kate pulled herself up, and stumbled over to what must've been her bag, a good ten feet away from her. She sat back down, and opened it up, reaching inside, and pulling out a map, a compass and folded up sheet of paper.

Kate placed the map and compass down on the sand and anxiously opened the paper up, not really sure if she wanted to know what the contents of it were.

Her heart skipped a beat when she read the two words that were printed on the paper:

Dental Regeneration.

Well, that's marginally better than getting Syphilis as my 'power' or something, I guess.

Kate sighed, trying to find an upside of having the power of eternal teething. If anyone asked, she'd just say she reacted badly and didn't get an ability/power/whatever.

She reached into the duffel bag again, pulling out a handgun. It looked like a smaller version of some gun she saw in a 1970s Police movie, but she couldn't pin a name onto what gun it was. Katherine checked the ammunition, and besides a full capacity whatever-you-called-it, there weren't any extra bullets. Placing it down on the soft sand next to her, she then pulled out a sheathed knife, which she didn't even bother to look at, and a first aid kit. The kit was probably just a joke on the part of the dickwads running this 'experiment'. Nevertheless, Kate put it back in the duffel bag, along with the knife and gun, before zipping it up and putting it over her shoulder. Before she stood up, she took her map and compass and placed them in the pocket of her jacket.

Kate looked down at her map, then turned away from the sea and looked up at the cliffs that were blocking her from the rest of the island. As far as Kate could see, there was no way around them other than climbing or going through one of the caves that were cut into the rock faces.

Despite being groggy as hell, and not having been rock climbing in years, Katherine began walking around the edge of the cliffs, trying to find a particularly short one to climb up.



Begin Subject C13, Taryn Gregory
Taryn opened her eyes. She immediately regretted this decision. She blinked a few times; her head was throbbing.

Where…..where am I?

Taryn closed her eyes and grabbed her head. The sound of waves crashing and the soft breeze made her stir a bit.

“Donde….?”

Her brain was flickering between languages like someone turning the dial on a radio. She concentrated and it settled back into English. Still holding her head, she used her free arm to push herself into a sitting position. Her head felt awful; like a hangover without the fun part beforehand. She opened one eye and took a look around.

“This isn’t the Hamptons,” she whispered aloud.

That’s where she had been going, wasn’t it? Yes, she was starting to remember. She and her father and sister were driving to the Hamptons. Kendra was being a fuss-pot as usual, complaining non-stop about everything. They were almost there, just a little while longer, but Kendra had to use the bathroom. They had stopped at a gas station and while their dad was filling the car up, Kendra went to the restroom and Taryn had gone inside to buy a candy bar. She very clearly remembered going to the back for a bottle of Snapple and…..

Taryn’s large eyes flew open. Her fingers clenched, making the fine sand run in between her manicured nails. The room. Yes, with all of those other people! They looked so scared. Well, obviously they were scared, no one plans on being kidnapped and taken to a strange island to kill each other.

A few feet away she saw a bag. Taryn crawled over to it and plopped back down on her bottom. As she grasped the zipper and slowly pulled she tried to recall more of the man, the kids and the room. The man in leather said we were part of an experiment, right? That we are an evolution.

If he weren’t such a crazy psycho I would have complimented him on his outfit. It was kind of extreme, but pretty cool.

Taryn started digging around the bag. Bread, water, peaches. She stuck her tongue out at that last one.

Ewww, canned fruit. And only one bottle of water. That’s not good. I suspect people are going to be taking each other down just for their water in no time.

She pushed the food aside and picked up the first aid kit. After opening it and briefly looking at what was inside she shut it and returned it to the bag. What else, what else? A compass, a map and a knife.

Taryn tucked the knife into the waist of her shorts. She wiped her forehead and looked around again. The beach was beautiful. White sand, palm trees and blue waves. It probably would have been a great vacation spot were it not for the mutations and killings.

As she put her items away her hand touched something cold. Her fingers trailed along the item before wrapping around it and pulling into view.

“Merde!”

A gun. These people were serious. They really expected them to hunt each other down like animals. Well, mutated animals. Stuck to the gun was a piece of paper. She pulled it off and held it up.

SUBECT C13: CRYSTALLISING BLOOD

“What the fuck is crystallizing blood?” she wondered. Taryn stood, took a drink from her water bottle, threw it back into the bag, and hauled the bag over her shoulder. She kept the gun out in her right hand, just in case. She turned around and found herself facing the cliffs.

“Oh good. Cliffs. Because being on death island it’s hard enough.”

Near one of the cliffs she spotted another girl. The girl looked like she was trying to find a way up. Should she flag the girl down? She didn’t look like she had gained some freaky mutation. Maybe she had the misfortune to pull something stupid, like charcoal fingernails or something.

“Hey!” she called out.



Begin Subject C19, Joel Deitrick
Why the hell couldn't he close his eyes? The tighter he squeezed his eyelids together, the brighter the light burned. What cruel torture was this? He had to close his eyes. He had to go back to sleep. That’s how the dreams end. That’s how he escapes.

On the slimy rock floor of the cave Joel writhed in panic, flinging his arms out to defend himself against the light of own eyelids. Struggling ineffectively against his world of light he let out a soft scream of terror.

Would he be trapped in this hell forever? He simply could not take it anymore. Throwing himself upright he opened his eyes, and the light disappeared. Had he gone blind? Was the light too much and he'd burnt his eyes out? Perhaps the light really was gone, and he could finally get back to sleep and let the dream end. He closed his eyes to rest and the light struck back. He opened them quickly and it receded once more. Would he have to keep his eyes open forever? He tried to sit there with his eyes open for some time but bursts of light kept blasting through whenever he blinked. What had they done to him?

Alone in the cave Joel decided he must have confused opening and closing his eyes. They had to be closed when the light was gone, and he was opening them when he thought he was closing them. Right as he convinced himself of this he noticed his hands. They were glowing. His whole body was glowing. Stumbling to his feet to distance himself from this absurdity he felt something tug at his throat. He spun and struck at in the direction it was pulling from only to feel his hand bash against a lumpy canvas object. The object spun with him, and for a moment Joel was spinning to fight off this aggressor. Catching it in his hands, Joel realised that his foe had been some sort of bag, tangled round his neck in his earlier panic. He breathed deeply, he had to calm himself. He knelt on the rock floor and pulled the bag open.

As he tried to examine the contents, he came to another strange realisation; the light from his body did not affect his surroundings. He could not see into the bag. Perhaps he was blind, and he could only see himself. He prayed it wasn’t true; a life of eternal darkness would almost as bad as if he was trapped with that light. Still the pulses of light hadn't stopped though. It seemed he had the worst of both worlds.

Feeling around blindly, Joel reached into the bag. There was a large container of something, some cans of differing sizes, a bottle of what he assumed was water, and what felt like a bread of some kind. Joel considered it for a moment, but the sick feeling in his stomach was too much, and he tucked it back into the bag. Reaching in again Joel felt his fingers brush against cold metal and drew out the object. The weight and shape in his hands was unmistakable, even though he'd never held a gun before. It was heavy, nothing like a toy. A tingle ran through Joel’s fingers as he wrapped his hands around it. Something stirred in his mind, a memory of someone talking and the sound of a gunshot, earlier in the dream, behind the blinding light and feeling of nausea. Joel knew that the device in his hand was bad news.

Once again he reached into the bag, and was this time greeted by a sharp sting of pain, there was something sharp in there, and he'd cut his hand. He looked at his wound, fascinated by his glowing blood. He wondered what was happening to him as the light pooled in his palm.

Standing, he clenched a fist and swung his arm, splattering droplets of light across the cave. Captivated by the spots of light, Joel watched as a universe of stars died in front of him. Carefully, he retrieved the knife from the bag. The final items in his pack were two pieces of paper, and even with his glowing blood he couldn’t read anything on them. Wiping his hands on the larger one he discarded them, slipped the gun back into the bag, and slipped the bag over his shoulder.

Looking about him Joel saw only darkness. Was this the world he'd now inhabit, occupied only by himself and his glowing blood? His eyes focused on what seemed to be a lighter patch. It was probably only his imagination, but it was all the hope he had. Crouched double to avoid falling, Joel stumbled his way to the light.



Katherine
Katherine looked up at the cliffs and sighed. Even the smallest one was far above anything she could've climbed back when she climbed regularly. Her lack of climbing gear didn't help, either. Or the grogginess.

She was struggling to keep her eyes open already. Whatever they'd used to knock her out was something really strong. Now she understood why the leather fetishist wore a gas mask.

Kate put her hand over her mouth and yawned, making her eyes water. For a short while, she debated going through the caves instead of climbing or walking the perimeter of the island until she could find a way up. She quickly decided against it. Kate guessed there'd be at least one crazy ass psycho down there with the ability to kill people with a wink, and really didn't want to push her chances. At least on the beach she could see where anyone was coming from.

Which was partly why Kate nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a voice call out.

Oh crap, guess I'm not alone out here, then.

She quickly turned around, trying to make it seem like she wasn't still slightly struggling to stay upright, or that she had a useless power, just in case the person calling is some super-soldier with the ability to snap necks with their mind or something, looking to get an easy kill on someone who can't fight back.

It was a relief, however, when she turned around to see that, at least from a distance, the girl who called out looked relatively normal. Kate waved to her, deciding against shouting back so as not to attract any unnecessary attention. It wasn't a relief to see the gun in the girl's hand, but Kate hoped that if she was going to shoot, she would have shot her with her back turned.

Katherine looked back out over to the sea, making a mental note of the spit connecting a small island with a shack on it to the main island. Then, Katherine turned back towards the cliffs, noticing a few small cave entrances that weren't marked on the map, opting to let the girl walk to her if she wanted to talk. She kept the other girl in her field of vision, though, just in case the other girl tried anything.

Kate felt a yawn coming on and took a deep breath to try and avoid it, which instead resulted in her making a terrifically loud sneeze.

Well, so much for not telling anyone where I was. Let's just hope there's no one near who heard that.



Taryn
The girl turned around at the sound of Taryn’s voice, but didn’t come forward or respond. However, she didn’t run screaming, nor did she try to shoot her.

She’s probably just afraid. As she should be.

Taryn slowly made her way towards her. In her right hand she still held the gun, but she held it very firmly pointed towards the floor. She didn’t want to scare the girl, but at the same time she didn’t want to be the fool who perished from being too trusting.

The transition from the sandy beach to the more rocky terrain of the cliff sides was difficult for Taryn. She thanked her lucky stars she had decided to wear flats to the trip. In any of her pretty heels, she’d be at a serious disadvantage. While it had been a stroke of luck that she decided against her high heels, these fashionable flats didn’t have much traction on the soles and she slipped on the rocks. Taryn stumbled and threw her left hand out in front of her to stop from face planting on the ground. Her hand hit the rocks, but she sighed with relief at getting off without a more serious tumble. She stood back up and tried to get the dirt off of her hand. Her palm stung and upon inspection she saw a small cut. She shrugged it off and kept walking.

Now that she was closer to the girl she was able to get a good look at her. She looked sweet. And she liked her use of colors in her wardrobe. Taryn opened her mouth to say something but was silenced by a tremendous sneeze.

“Bless you, hun.” she said quietly



Joel
As Joel stumbled towards the light he heard a rushing sound, like waves or perhaps wind. He wondered where he was; all this information was too much to take in. Abberford was nowhere near any beach. Perhaps he'd wake up soon, and be back in his dorm. This stupid world was just making him feel sick. Not that Abberford was a particularly nice place, but at least it had normal light. What could have made him dream this?

Joel tripped and he felt sand against his hand. The light was brighter now. Looking up, he saw for the first time just what world he had awoken in.

The sky was a very dark grey, like a night without stars. The sky seemed to stretch too far down; a void reaching down below the ground he stood on. It reached in, between the short band of grey sand of his side and the glowing cliffs beyond. He stood on a tiny horseshoe of land facing off into infinite darkness. Joel was immediately put in mind of a space station. Perhaps he was standing at the hanger. That or a giant mountain. But if that was true why the hell could he hear the sea?

His knife hung loosely from his bloodied fingers as he stared at this new world, scared and confused.



Katherine
Kate turned to the other girl, who had gotten much closer now than when Kate was last looking.

"Um, Thanks?" Kate said, in between sniffles. She was still sort've worried about the gun, but stopped herself from focusing on it. Kate was thinking it was making her look even more nervous, if that was even possible. Instead she tried to look at the girl's eyes, but that just made matters worse. Kate could never really focus when talking to anyone outside of her family. She was always tripping over her words, and never knew where to look or what to look at or anything like that.

She really didn't want to give a bad first impression to someone holding a gun. Kate started wondering about what sort've power the girl had gotten. The girl still looked normal, so Kate figured she must've gotten a power that didn't activate unless she was in danger or something like that. Or maybe the whole 'powers' aspect was a load of horse-crap and a ruse to get them all to kill each other. Kate wasn't entirely sure. If the girl asked what her's was, Kate didn't exactly want to be toot- truthful about hers.

Great, I guess one of the power's side-effects is making crappy puns about it.

"Hey, Uh..." Kate said, looking everywhere but at the girl, and beginning to wish she'd had sunglasses on or something. "I'm Katherin-, uh, Kate... Kate Black."



Taryn
“Hi. I’m Taryn” she replied. “Nice to meet you Kate.”

She seems nervous.

Taryn’s eyes softened to the girl and she held the gun away from her by just her index finger and thumb.

“It’s okay, sweetie. Calm down. No need to be nervous with me.”

Taryn tucked the gun away in the waist of her shorts next to the knife. After it was secured she held her palms toward the girl to show her she didn’t mean any harm.

“You look….like a normal girl. What power did you pull?”

Out of the periphery of her vision she saw a flicker of movement. Something had moved on the beach near where she had woken up. Taryn put her left hand over the girl’s mouth and pulled her down with her behind a pile of boulders. She held her fingers up to her own lips to signal a warning to be quiet and slowly poked her head above the rocks to see what was on the beach.



Joel
Overwhelmed by his newfound visions, Joel had not even noticed the two girls, but when two of the most distinct shapes before him suddenly dived sideways they immediately caught his attention. He spun round to face the movement only to see it disappear into a jumble of dull shapes. Sinking into a lower stance, Joel clutched his knife tightly and glanced around, keeping the dark shape of its blade in his vision whenever he turned. Was there something out there hunting him? He'd never be able to spot something with this gray on gray vision if it didn't move, and when it moves it'd probably already be too late!

Glancing about, Joel tried to constantly check his peripheries, but between the void to one side and the mess of light to the other he was unable to make much sense of the image. Worse, he noticed he'd been flinching whenever he blinked; the bursts of light hadn't left him yet. Exposed, he was just going to be a target.

Ahead of him a more defined shape was peeking out from the chaos, it had to be the movement he'd seen earlier. That's where his hunters were. Joel did not want to fight with his vision as it was, but he was terrified of turning his back on this foe. Knife held tightly in his right hand, Joel started advancing slowly. With his left hand he reached into his daypack, trying to find the gun.

Suddenly Joel stumbled as a piece of driftwood slid underfoot. He felt his right arm contact with the sand as he tumbled and he carefully pushed himself back up, all the while maintaining his grip on his knife. At the mercy of his limited vision he would have to creep all the way to his foes while looking at the ground. The thought made him shiver. Swallowing deeply, Joel continued the journey, tensed for the sting of a blade that could come at any time.



Katherine
Taryn? that's a new one, haven't heard that name before.

Kate breathed a sigh of relief as Taryn put her gun away. It was relieving for her to have something of a confirmation that the first person she met on the island wasn't a gun-crazy psychopath. In fact, Kate was starting to-

Great. She brought up powers.

"Well, um..." Kate sighed and looked around. "I got something like, um, Dental Regeneration... why, what did you ge-?"

Kate was quickly interupted by Taryn putting her hand over her mouth, muffling the end of her sentence. Kate didn't have much time to say or do anything before Taryn pulled her to the ground, behind some large boulders.

Oh shit, I was wrong, she's gonna murder me.

However, instead of the violent stabbing Kate thought would occur, Taryn instead put her finger up to her mouth as a gesture for Kate to keep quiet. Kate said nothing, simply nodding.

Alright, maybe not. False alarm.

Kate tried to look around the side of one of the boulders, but she couldn't get a good look at whatever had spooked Taryn. Keeping her head down and trying her best to stay out of sight, Kate opened up her bag and took a sip from her water bottle.



Taryn
Dental Regeneration? Like, the ability to re-grow teeth? Poor girl. I’ll keep her around for as long as I can.

Taryn ducked back down behind the boulders and pulled the gun out of the waist of her shorts. She turned it over in her hands, inspecting it. She turned it away from Kate and herself and fiddled with a little contraption on the side. It clicked. Taryn jumped a touch but nothing else happened. Still making sure she pointed it away from herself and her companion, she put her hand to the handle and looked at Kate. She moved in close and put her hand to her mouth.

“I think….I like, turned it on or something. Hopefully that’s what I did.”

Taryn brought her head just above the rocks again to look out at the beach. Slowly, she closed one of her eyes and brought the gun up. She grasped the gun handle with both hands and stuck her tongue out as she tried to zero in on the target.

“You see it?” she whispered. “There on the beach. He’s coming this way. He’s got a knife.”

The figure stumbled and fell on a hunk of wood right in front of him. She looked on as he tried to stand back up. He was a tall, thin boy. After unsteadily getting back up, he continued slowly making his way towards them.

“Is he….blind? What sort of power is that?” she whispered.

The stinging in her hand stopped. She was curious about it, but didn’t move from her position with the gun and her eye on the boy.



Katherine
"I hope so." Kate replied, as Teryn flicked the child-lock or whatever they were called off on her pistol and aimed at whatever was on the other side of the beach. "I mean, I have no idea how these things work, so..."

Kate decided to risk her chances and look at whatever had Teryn spooked, peeking over the top of the rock.

The guy walking towards them didn't look all that intimidating, Kate thought he looked pretty scrawny, and he was dressed in a uniform of some school. He was stumbling around, looking like he was either drunk or blinded. The knife however, had Kate pretty worried. Even blinded if he got too close he could do some serious damage, and Kate had seen what happened when a drunk got angry first hand from working at the shop.

“There on the beach. He’s coming this way. He’s got a knife.”

"Yeah... I see him." Kate whispered, as the boy fell over on some wood that had been swept ashore. He looked like more of a danger to himself than to them.

“Is he….blind? What sort of power is that?”

"Either, um, something that's messed up his vision, I think." Kate kept her voice to a whisper and put her water bottle back in her bag and zipped it up "...or permanent inebriation?"

"What should we do?" Kate asked, "I don't think he's spotted us yet."

Kate ducked back behind the rocks, just in case she was wrong.



Taryn
Taryn leaned up on the rock with her head perched lazily on her hand. She rested the gun on the rock next to her but still kept her hand on the handle. Her eyes shifted from the boy, back to Kate, then back to the boy.

“Poor boy. He’ll die soon enough if we leave him out here stumbling around and bleeding all over everything.”

She sighed and looked back to Kate.

“What do you think? Should I put him down? I would consider it a mercy kill. I mean, even if by some miracle this guy makes it all the way through, he’s gonna have to go through the rest of his life blind, it looks like. Or whatever it is that is afflicting him. Not to say blind people shouldn’t live, it’s just that he’s going to have a very hard life in the unlikely event he even survives. Or I suppose we could add him to our posse.”


Taryn balled up her left fist and was surprised to find something in her hand that was not previously there. She lifted her hand to the level of the boy so that she wouldn’t have to take her eyes off of him and inspected her hand. Out of the one inch cut in the palm of her hand was attached about a four inch red, pointed crystal. Taryn bent her index finger down to stroke the smooth surface of the shard.

“Blood crystallization….,” she whispered to herself.

Her gaze moved back to the boy. She spoke to Kate but her eyes stayed glued to him.

“Shoot him, call him over, or just walk away? I’d appreciate your input.”



Katherine
What do you think? Should I put him down?

Kate shook her head.

"That's... a tough one." She looked back over the rock. "I mean, we can't leave him like this... but I don't want to, like, shoot him without a good reason."

Kate thought it over for a few seconds, almost scared at how casually Taryn had brought up the idea of killing the blind guy. Kate realised that this sort've stuff was kind've going to be inevitable considering that only one of them would be alive at the end of it.

Taryn checked something on her hand. Kate guessed she must've got a gash or something, but she decided not to ask about it. It was probably not worth asking about.

Kate kept her eyes on the boy, a nagging suspicion in the back of her mind that it all could've been a ploy to lure them out, before killing them in an extremely dark and brutal manner. Kate shook her head. From now on out, she decided, was going to think positively. The boy seemed genuine, and she was sure that even if he was playing he wouldn't be able to see straight enough to shoot her or Taryn. Well, she was sort've sure, anyway.

"I say we call him over." Kate whispered, knowing she'd probably immediately regret this decision. "It... wouldn't be right to shoot him and I don't think we should just, like, leave him here to get killed by whatever, um, psycho comes when we leave. I-I think it'd be better if we, like, took him with us."



Taryn
Taryn tapped her finger on the rock as she listened to Kate. After she was done Taryn looked at the ground and bit her lip.

“Okay,” she said slowly, as if breathing the word out. “Go ahead and extend the olive branch.”

Taryn moved in close to Kate. With her hand not occupied with the gun she took the other girl’s hand and gazed at her.

“But if we’re going to do this, we have play by my rules. If we really can’t fight someone and we have to run, and he can’t keep up, you have to leave him. His life isn’t worth ours. I don’t mean to be cruel, that’s just the way things are. If you think you can do that, go on ahead.”

Taryn took her place back behind the rock and resumed her position with the gun. Worst come to worse, they would leave him behind, but at least she could pick up his water, food, and extra bullets before running off.

“Go on, honey” she whispered to Kate. “If this is a trap, or if he tries to take you out, I’ll be right here. Ready.”



Joel
For Joel, the walk towards the two figures was an eternity of apprehension, and when it was abruptly interrupted by a shout from ahead it was all released. Flinging his arms up in front of his face, he struck forward with his knife; a blind, desperate attack. He had already turned his head away from the noise and scrunched up his eyelids into a sheet of light. His blade met no resistance in the air and he felt no blade strike back.

Suddenly, Joel realised that what he heard was no war cry, but someone calling to him. Opening his eyes and turning back towards the figures he could now see them clearly. Glowing against the dark landscape they stood like some kind of inverse silhouette. They looked human, and they even seemed to be talking to him. Perhaps they actually were people, and something had happened to him. Perhaps he was blind, and it was like that scene from The Matrix where Neo could only see people as flame. Perhaps he was the One. The One. One. Oh god!

Joel remembered what the voice had said back when he was tied to the chair. He hadn't remembered much due to spending most of the time struggling against the light, but now it was coming back to him. That man said that only one of them would survive. Only one! He had to be the One!

These people before him weren't alien hunters out to kill him for their own pleasure; they were opponents he had to defeat to finish this game. Compared to the fear he felt before, this realisation was almost a comforting thought. Lowering his head once again, Joel continued on his way to his foes.



Katherine
"A-alright," Kate whispered, peeking her head just over the rock. The boy was slowly walking towards them swinging his knife haphazardly. "O-olive branch it is."

Taryn grabbed her hand and explained how it was going to work. Kate nodded in agreement, she couldn't think of anything wrong with the plan. Well, aside from the fact she was pretty much the bait for him to come out, but Kate still reasoned that he was sane enough to help them. Well, she still held onto the hope that he wasn't hostile, at least.

Kate got to her feet, letting go of Taryn's hand and slowly making her way around the boulders and towards the boy. Kate's heart was pounding in her chest with each step she made. She was beginning to wish she'd taken her knife, though. Just in case.

"Hello?" She called out, while still slowly stepping along towards him. "We're not here to hurt y-!"

Oh my God.

When the boy looked at Kate, he looked... wrong. That was the only way Kate could have described it. His eyes were a sickly orange colour, and his pupils had changed to slits.

Kate's nostrils fired up, and she felt her eyes watering.

Oh crap, not now.

Kate pulled her elbow up to her face, expecting another huge sneeze. She was surprised, however, when she didn't. Putting her arm back to her side, Kate had a nagging suspicion that she'd just startled the boy.

"C-Can you put the, um, knife down... please?" Kate asked, backing away, moving slightly to the right to give Taryn a clearer shot in case he decided to use the knife. "We're n-not trying to hurt you..."

Well Kate, this was a bad idea, wasn't it?

The boy said nothing, putting his head down and carried on towards her. Kate backed away, hoping to rush back to where the boulders where Taryn was hiding while keeping an eye on the boy. Trying to put some more distance between her and him.

Almost tripping over a stone, Kate quickly realised why trying to walk backwards on a mostly pebble beach was a bad idea and span round, sprinting back towards the boulders.



Taryn
Taryn watched Kate try to make contact and receive no response. The boy just lurched forward with his knife.

“Oh, babe! Be careful,” she yelled out instinctively when the girl almost tumbled onto the rocks.

Taryn took her place back behind the rock and held her gun steady. She closed one eye again and centered in on the boy.

“Listen up!” she shouted. “We can do this one of two ways. You can toss your knife, tell us your name and we can talk this over, or I can put a bullet right between your eyes. I’m going to be honest, I’m probably not that good of a shot, so it would might take a few tries before you’re dead, but I promise I will put you down.”

If he was going to be stubborn and continue to try and kill them, Taryn decided she might as well take him out. One less to worry about, right? And didn’t that guy say something would happen if they didn’t kill someone after a while?
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Joel
It had almost gone so well. They definitely were no match for him, one of even ran when he moved for them. This blindness thing was hard, but he was so much better than them. He was going to be the One!

But when Joel looked up it all started to fall apart. One of his foes was standing amongst the grey shapes pointing something at him. Though Joel couldn't quite make out what the figure was doing, the words it was speaking got the point across. He had forgotten all about the gun in his bag, and it seemed these opponents had guns too.

It seemed a little unfair to him. He was meant to be superior to them, but they had guns too. Joel felt cheated, and his confidence began to drain. They were still frightened of him! They were still weaker! But they were now a threat and that was something Joel would have to respect.

Uncertainly, Joel stepped back. He glanced around him for some kind of cover, but his eyes were no help; the landscape around him was just a confusing jumble. Taking another step back Joel felt his foot slip on rock as a layer of sand rolled off under his shoes. His footing compromised, he tumbled backwards and felt his tailbone impact on the rock. The blow to his elbow sent a jolt of pain up his arm, nearly causing him to drop his knife.

Collapsing on his back, Joel doubled over. Though his mind screamed to give in to the pain and wait for the dream to end Joel gritted his teeth and tightened his breath. He couldn't admit it, but he was terrified at the thought of what they would do to him. It was the fear that, if acknowledged, would tear down his confidence. If he gave in it would be the end, he had to be better than them; he had to be the best.

Rolling over to cover himself he felt his daypack beneath him. His gun was inside, and if he could just get it out he would be able to stop them.



Katherine
Kate ducked as she ran past Taryn, back to her previous hiding spot.

Kate crashed down to the floor, with her back to the boulder. She fumbled for her bag, trying to find her water bottle.

"That, um..." She pulled out the water bottle and took a swig. "That wasn't a good idea."

She put the bottle back in the bag, realising that she should probably be rationing the water, given how quickly she was getting through it. Whilst she was fumbling through the bag, she felt the handle of the gun they'd put in there, and she pulled it out. Kate wasn't planning on using it, but she thought that the sight of two people aiming guns at him might persuade the boy to not try to attack them. Well, if he could even see them, anyway.

Kate checked the gun over, trying to think of what she'd seen in the cop movie, before flicking the child-lock off. Kate looked over to Taryn.

"I-I don't even know how this thing works." She whispered, trying to stay just quiet enough that the boy wouldn't hear her and realise that he was basically up against two girls who'd never touched a gun before. "You flicked that part on when you used it, right?"

Kate looked up, only to see that the guy had fallen over. He looked pretty hurt, but Kate decided against suggesting helping him. The whole 'lurching at her with a knife' part made her wonder if it was some kind of trick to get them to come up. She could almost see it happen. They'd go up, check if he was okay, and BAM, he'd stab them in the legs.

Kate ducked down a little more as she saw him roll over and reach around for his pack.

"H-He's going to grab his gun, I think." Kate whispered, putting her pack over her shoulder. "Should we... Should we leave him here while he's, um, not looking at us?"

Kate really didn't like the idea of just leaving him to die, but it seemed like the only reasonable option now they knew he wasn't friendly.



Taryn
"That, um... That wasn't a good idea."

Taryn narrowed her eyes and looked at the ground. She leaned her back hard against the boulder and gripped her gun.

“You tried your best. You wanted to give him a chance; no one’s going to fault you for trying.”

Taryn closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She could do this. She could survive. If you didn’t fight then you’d never survive. Giving up was as good as being dead. Taryn saw first hand what it meant to lose hope and give up.

She tried to channel a soldier, tried to cast herself in the role of someone who could do what she needed to do now. She needed to be a person that wasn’t afraid.

"H-He's going to grab his gun, I think. Should we... Should we leave him here while he's, um, not looking at us?"

Taryn scrambled back around and peered over the rock. Kate was right; he looked to be going for his pack.

“He's a moron,” she mumbled to herself. “Leaving him would be a waste. He’s got water, food, and bullets.”

She positioned herself above the rock and aimed at the boy’s legs. Taryn pulled back on the trigger, but nothing happened. The trigger seemed to stop short of where it felt like it should go. Taryn’s eyes widened. She started trying to figure out what had gone wrong. After fiddling with different parts of the gun the little contraption on the side slid again. She quickly turned the gun towards the boy and shot. This time the trigger fell all the way back under her finger. A loud “bang” erupted from the instrument and Taryn’s hands flew up towards her. As soon as the sound rang out she ducked back behind the rock. Her fingers seemed unable to uncurl from the handle of the gun.

She let out a shaking breath.



Joel
Joel let a short gasp as he felt a burst of pain through his back, a scream catching in his throat as it tightened. Reacting with a shudder, his body sunk closer to the ground. His right shoulder stung with the chill of the shock and burnt with the heat of pain. Lying in the sand, it took Joel almost a minute to recognise the sound of the gunshot. Even realising this he couldn't make the connection. The ache had spread through his whole form, draining his strength and sapping his will. Inside his daypack, his gun fell from his hand; even if his arm could still wield it his mind wasn't capable.

This dream had gone too far. He had to go back to sleep and wait for morning to come. This light in his eyes would fade and when he'd open them in the morning he'd be in his dorm at Abberford, the sunlight shining through the blinds they'd fixed to wake the students up every morning. Come lunchtime he'd be walking through the corridors down to the library, along his favourite route with the pine trees outside, and then come holidays he'd go home and visit his parents. His dad had been cooking more since his mum fell sick, and they always both prepared a big meal for Joel when he came back home.

Joel tried to roll over and get comfortable, but a stab of pain from his shoulder stopped him. Why wouldn't this damn dream let him go, with its stupid lights and pain? He was tired, both physically and mentally. He told himself could get to sleep where he was, even with the light in his eyes and the pain through his body. Still his face tightened, and tears formed in the corners of his eyes. Though he reassured himself he was going to wake up free from this dream, Joel was afraid.



Katherine
Kate watched as Taryn mumbled something to herself and fiddled around with the gun. Despite her admittedly weak protest, Taryn seemed dead set on shooting him in the back and stealing his stuff. Kate resigned herself to not being able to change Taryn's mind and turned her head away, closing her eyes.

In a strange way, Kate was disappointed by the sound of the gunshot. The shot wasn't nearly as loud as Kate expected, sounding more like a firecracker than a gunshot from a movie or anything like that. Kate opened her eyes, looking back at Taryn, and then at the boy, who was flat on his face by his pack.

"...There, he's, um, down." Kate looked at the bloodstain on the boy's upper back, guessing the shot had hit him somewhere near the shoulder. Looking at it made her feel sick to her stomach, but Kate's hunger kept her from vomiting. Finally, she averted her eyes, instead trying to focus on the shack off in the distance. "Let's go take his stuff and get the hell out of here."

Kate pulled the safety to turn her gun off and threw it back in the bag. She couldn't stomach holding the gun any more, especially after seeing what the shot had done to the boy. Kate had to say that at this point in time she felt sorry for him, considering they were going to steal his only hope for survival and leave him bleeding out on a beach. Kate sighed as she carefully got back to her feet, hefting her pack up with some difficulty, it suddenly feeling much heavier than it had done earlier in the day.

Kate pulled up the sleeve of her hoodie and checked her watch. She was pretty shocked when she saw how late it was, given how quickly everything had seemed to have happened. Kate yawned, and looked over to Taryn.

"S-Should we go, um, take his stuff?" She yawned again, it really was getting kind've late. "I, um, really don't want to be here for much longer."



Taryn
Taryn slowly stood up, making sure to keep the gun pointed at the boy at all times. Her normally soft, pretty face was set in a stern expression. That expression was glued to the body several feet away and the expanding blood from his wound, the wound she created.

"S-Should we go, um, take his stuff?"

Taryn nodded and leaned her head in the direction of the pack. Carefully, she approached the boy. Taryn kicked the pack away from him with all the force she could muster. However since it was full, save for the knife, the kick only sent it skittering two or three feet away from him.

“Why?” she asked through gritted teeth. “Why couldn’t you just talk it out? Why couldn’t you just drop that God damn knife?”

Inside she was shaking. Taryn shook partially from anticipation, partially from nervousness and fear, but also from anger. She wouldn’t have felt nearly as bad for killing someone who was a real threat and yet, he wouldn’t cooperate. Even if they had walked away and left him to swing his knife wildly at no one, he would have died soon. Didn’t the man in leather say that after some hours certain places would be off limits? How did the blind boy plan on seeing the map to know where the exploding zones were without someone’s help?

“Did you really think you could go it alone?”

Though her insides shook, her hands were locked still like stone with the gun pointed at him.



Enter Subject C07, Johnny Marsh
Johnny didn’t have much time to reflect on what had happened at the shack. He was too busy trying to get a clear picture of what was happening on the beach in front of him. He’d been making his way across from the small spit of land that held the shack when he’d seen the small figures on the beach and moved in to get a closer look. At least this damn suit is good for something he thought as he felt the cool water trapped at his legs begin to warm up. Moving as low and as silently as he could while holding the gun and his head above the water, would water even break this thing? , he inched close enough to hear what was going on. Moving slow to avoid splash noises he got into a position where he could hear mostly everything.

Johnny flinched at the sound of the gunshot and silently cursed himself. He was lucky; it seemed his sudden movement hadn’t drawn any eyes to him. With what was going on maybe that was to be expected. Who would be paying attention to the sea when there was the more pressing matter of putting down a potential threat to deal with? At least, that’s how he understood it. Johnny’s mind turned furiously as wrestled with the idea of intervention. I should try to save the boy on the ground. It would be the right thing to do. If I do nothing then he’ll die. Maybe he did attack them, but he looks pretty helpless now. There’s no danger there. Then Johnny heard the line.

‘Did you really think you could go it alone?’

Events played out in his mind:
Our hero Mr. Marsh arose triumphantly from the water with a cry of ‘He’s not alone!’ Taking careful aim he incapacitates the two girls and rescues the injured boy from certain death.

Or the more likely:
The king of ill timing Mr. Marsh erupts suddenly from the water. Startled the lead girl shoots instinctively and he falls into the sea dead. Taking advantage of the distraction the boy guts the girl with his knife before dying in turn at the hand of the other girl.

Outnumbered and unsure Johnny let the moment pass and remained in the water.



Joel
Joel felt the bag shift from under him and he fell to that side, lacking the will to control his movements. Landing on his uninjured shoulder, Joel let his momentum carry him and flopped out on his back. His right arm swung over and slapped against the sand a small angle removed from his body with a soft thud. Jolts of pain to run through his right side as his shoulder moved, causing him to clench his face again. Lying on his back he was at last in a position of rest, despite the burning pain in his shoulder. Now could he finally escape this dream?

Gently lifting his eyelids, Joel looked up into the dark sky. It was weird, but this felt like he actually had his eyes closed. It was like when he'd lain in the cave. That was where he'd entered this dream; perhaps this was the way out. Lying on his back staring off into the sky, Joel suddenly had his rest interrupted by the voice from before.

As the glowing figure came into view Joel flinched, sending another shock through his body as his shoulder ground in on itself beneath him. The figure had said something to him, and now it was pointing at him. Joel realised the figure wasn't pointing at him; it was pointing a gun at him. It was going to kill him. He was going to die. He was going to die and he wasn't ever going to wake up.

The realisation that this situation was real came a lot faster now Joel had a gun pointed at his head. He couldn't pretend any longer; he was stuck with this horrible blindness and someone was about to kill him.

Without the illusion to hide behind Joel started to cry, but his throat caught tight again leaving him mute. He wanted to look away and just let it be over but his fear wouldn't let him. It left him paralysed, staring at the figure with his face a mask of terror.



Katherine
Kate looked at the ground, put her hand over her mouth and yawned again. When she looked back up, Taryn was already over by the boy. Kate started to walk over trying to avoid looking at the bloodstains or the wound on the boys back. She broke into a light jog as she got closer, before stopping just next to Taryn.

Kate turned her head away, still unsettled by all the blood and God-knows-what-else was covering the boy's back, trying to keep her breathing steady so as not to throw up. She was determined to Taryn kicked the back out from underneath the boy, causing him to roll over onto his front, allowing Kate to get a look at his face. His eyes were still screwed up, more reptilian than human, but getting a good look at them, Kate realised something she hadn't noticed before.

he's crying.

Kate tried not to focus on the boy as she went towards the pack, crouching down and pulling it further away from him, before unzipping it and quickly taking out a couple of tins, what kate thought to be a loaf of bread, a bottle of water and the boy's gun. She took the magazine out of the pistol before throwing it back in his bag. Kate pocketed the magazine, but put the tins, bottle and the loaf in her bag. She looked down at the boy, and suddenly felt like shit for going through with stealing his stuff.

"I...I'm sorry." She whispered, trying to sound as sincere as possible despite just robbing him. Kate tried to think of something she could say to justify what she had just done, but the best she could manage was a weak "B-but we need to take these."

Kate hefted herself back up to her feet and walked back over to where she was earlier. Taryn was still standing there, looking stern and still pointing the gun at the boy.

"T-Taryn... Stop!" Kate said, trying to keep her voice low. It became apparent to Kate that Taryn was going to shoot him regardless, unless she did something. "I-I have his stuff... please, can we just leave him and get off this beach?"



Taryn
Taryn’s lips set into a thin line. She sucked in a breath through her teeth and lowered the gun slightly. It was no longer aimed at his head, but she still held it so that a shot would pierce his leg. Slowly she backed up until she was in line with Kate.


Taryn could hear her taking the things from his bag. She assumed that even this boy wasn’t dumb enough to come after them now.

"I-I have his stuff... please, can we just leave him and get off this beach?"

“Okay…” she responded after a moment. She so desperately wanted to be cruel to this boy. Taryn wanted to let him know that he would die on this island, alone on the beach, with no one to comfort him. However, Kate’s shaking words put a stop to those thoughts. Taryn nudged Kate with her shoulder and continued walking backwards. She didn’t want to take her eyes off of him for a second until they were far enough away that they would hear him running at them if he had decided to use what strength he had left to rush them with the knife.

“Good luck to you,” she said finally. “Let’s get out of here.”



Katherine
"A-Alright, then." Kate felt Taryn nudge her, and started walking backwards.

She wasn't too sure why

As they were walking, Kate unzipped her bag and pulled out her map. Kate quickly found where the beach was marked down, before checking the contour lines on the map. She spotted somewhere nearby that looked like it'd be a gentle hill, rather than all the cliffs, and marked it down. Kate felt into her pocket of her skirt and pulled out a pencil she must've been using for studying back when she-. Kate strained her head, but couldn't even vaguely remember what happened next. It was all a blurry mess, until she woke up in the room with the leather fetishist and the man getting shot ...right next to her.

"Um, I think I just found a way off this beach!" Kate looked up from her map, putting the pencil back in her pocket. "If we go around there there should be an, um, easier way up."

Kate felt something move in her jacket pocket, and realised she still had the boy's magazine.

"Um, I-I took this from his gun." She said, producing the clip, and handing it over. "B-Blind or not, I thought it was best to stop him from shooting at us."

As soon as they were out of eyeshot from the two boys, Kate turned around and looked back down at the map, trying to find the hill on the map.
Exit Subject C11, Katherine Black



Taryn
Taryn turned and took the magazine from the girl’s hand. She smiled at her and after placing the ammunition into her pack, she put her hand where the magazine once lay and closed her fingers around the other girl’s hand.

“Good job, babe,” she said with a tired grin. “Let’s try and put some distance between us and that guy. It’s starting to get dark.”

Taryn hiked the strap of her bag further up her shoulder and started walking at a steady pace towards the small hill, hand in hand with Kate.

Exit Subject C13, Taryn Gregory



Joel
When the figures left his vision Joel started to panic, thinking they were going to shoot him from somewhere he couldn't see. Glancing from side to side, it took him a few moments to realise that they were actually leaving. They were leaving and he wasn't going to die. The pain that shot through Joel's shoulder as he tried to sit up reminded him that it was perhaps a little early to make that prediction. As his head flopped back into the sand lights filled his vision and he closed his eyes. His body ached all over and he felt utterly tired. Even the light that filled his head when his eyes were closed was not enough to prevent him from letting his eyelids fall shut.

-----

"So Joel, you think it's better to regret something you do than regret not doing something?"

Joel lowered his book and stared at Marcus. His maths book sat closed on the table in front of him, and it was clear that study wasn't on his mind. It wasn't like Marcus to be so philosophical though. Joel raised an eyebrow at him.

"Like if you weren't sure what would happen if you did do something, but knew that if you did it you couldn't go back?" Marcus paused slightly. "Ugh, I'm bad at explaining this"

"Uh, I think I understand. Like asking someone out or something?"

"Um, yeah, like that, I guess."

Marcus looked away. Joel didn't realise just how close to the truth his example was, nor how quickly the conversation had become awkward for Marcus. After a moment of consideration, Joel responded.

"I guess you have to be rational here. If you don't have to do it now you might as well keep your options open."

"You think so?"

"Yeah. It would be nice to say 'just go with your emotions on this one' but sometimes logic has to overrule that."

With a muted sigh, Marcus looked away and Joel returned to his book.
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CHAPTER SEVEN: AWAKENING
THE SETTLEMENT
JUNE 23, 2010: 13:12

Begin Subject C16, Chris Richardson
"Hey, Chris! We still on for D&D Saturday?"

Chris turned to look at the rather portly teenager running up to him. He had stopped by the local grocery store.... But wait. This wasn't his life anymore, was it? Still, better to reflect on the past than be forced into acknowledging the present, right? ... Right?

Chris opened his eyes and immediately regretted it. The noonday sun was harsh on his eyes, and he fancied he could already feel his pale flesh burning. Hopefully, that wasn't literal. For the third time since this ordeal started, he sat up and winced as the injection point in his arm burned. He glanced at the strange wound. He had never seen a needle shaped like that before. He shook his head, which turned out to be a bad idea as a bolt of searing pain shot through him. He couldn't put in the effort to stand, but he did look around. He was in some... small town, basically. As he got his bearings, the smell of... rotting food, or something, struck his nose. Not a good smell. Not a good time for it, either. He dragged himself up, stumbling slightly. First order of business, get out of the sun. The sun was the enemy. The sun was the hated one.

The door of the building fought against his forced opening. Once he was inside, the human instinct to go for a light switch revealed that the electricity was still on. The quiet humming in the background was probably the refrigerator, although he dreaded what he would find upon opening it. If this day went the way it seemed like it would, it would probably be a dead body or something. Some poor woman, stuffed in the refrigerator. Chris stumbled into the kitchen, marveling at the utter lack of anything useful. Whoever had put them on this island had really not wanted them to multiply their force in any way. They had even stripped the doors from the cabinets so they couldn't be used as weapons. Damn his head hurt. Water. Water was important. Water was good. The sink, as he turned the cold water faucet, rattled and shook and spat out some sludge. Not surprising, the house probably hadn't been lived in for a while. He let it run for a moment while he sat on the counter and took stock of what he had. A splitting headache, pain, a mild sunburn on his nose, a pack that he had yet to open and himself, for what it was worth.

The pack seemed to be the next logical thing to investigate. He slid the zipper open and began pulling things out. A loaf of bread, some canned food, a bottle of water which he mentally set aside for when it was important, a knife, a small medkit, a gun which he hastily set down gently, a map and a compass. The compass didn't seem to work very well. It was pointing toward him, but wherever he moved it, it still did that. It was kind of stupid, although it was certainly better than nothing. If nothing else, he could throw it as a distraction. He sighed and began putting things back. As he picked up the map, a slip of paper slid out from inside it's folds. He picked it up. It read simply, "Electrical Current," which was as useful as any two words. He put everything away, resolving to investigate the medkit closer later, except for the gun. This, he picked up gingerly and began investigating.

Despite living in the middle of Hickville, CO, Chris knew very little about guns. His parents liked the idea in general, but felt that guns were a non-essential in their lives. As such, all Chris knew about guns was that they were loud and they killed people. He knew enough to know that the end with hole pointed away from you. He had seen enough movies to know that. Other than that, he was mystified. He held it at arms length and squeezed the trigger, which steadfastly refused to move. He got his other finger on the trigger and squeezed harder, which again did not impress the silly piece of plastic. He cursed under his breath and tossed the gun into his bag, wincing as he did so. He honestly expected it to go off when it hit the inside of the bag, but it just fwumped softly against the inside.

The water was now running clear, so Chris approached and took a sip. It tasted like heavy metals and was probably going to eat a hole through his stomach or something, but right now that didn't matter. The water cleared the bad feeling in his head like... rain on a sidewalk washed away chalk. Now satiated, Chris took his meager supplies and began pacing. However, without the water to keep his mind off the panic, the panic was making itself known. It seemed like something which required capital letters and redundancy. Like, The Panic is very bad because it makes you Panic, so The Panic is bad. Or something similar.

The last time he woke up.... That meeting room, that horrible place. The thought of it set his head spinning. He sat heavily on the floor and focused on remembering what had been said. The people in that room, the ones in the chairs. Their voices hadn't been much to go by, but they sounded like they were his age. 18 or 19 year-olds, from everywhere in the states, judging by the accents. Nobody from out of the states. How many had there been? 20, 21? No wait. One of them had been killed. The thought brought bile to Chris' throat, although he shoved it back. No time to be overly sentimental or frightened. The man had said that it was kill or be killed. Personally, Chris doubted that these teenagers would be willing to kill that easily. Was this supposed to be some sort of sick Psychology experiment? It was an experiment, that much had been said. But what was the purpose? The man, the leader had said that they had been given gifts. What gifts? The gun, the knife? What use were those- okay, he could see the use of those. But the man had seemed to mean it in a more insidious way. And the injection? Why had they- wait. The man had said something else. Something about a serum, and DNA. But that was ridiculous. That was the sort of thing that came out of comics and, and, and crappy science fiction novels! It had no bearing on the real world. Chris dismissed the notion to himself. The injection had to be were they put in the sedative the first or second times. The third one had obviously been a gas of some sort. His father would scoff at these presumptuous people. Science didn't work like that did it, Father....

Chris pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. It hit him now, like a baseball bat to the stomach. A deep sob escaped him, try as he might to press it down. He wanted to go home. His parents... would they know? Were they told? That would be a hell of a meeting: "Hi, yes, I represent an insidious terror organization. We kidnapped your son and are releasing him on an island to take part in an experiment. He will probably die. Sucks to be you, I guess." What the hell kind of pain and fear were they going through? Although, they weren't on this crapsack of an island. Well... he assumed it was a crapsack. There was entirely too much sun here, and that was enough for him. Another sob escaped his throat, shaking his body.



Begin Subject C06, Jay Harland
It was strange, waking up. Jay wasn't sure why, but as the dim colours swam back into his vision and his day began, Jay could tell that something was different: this wasn't like waking up in his bed, with his cosy bedroom becoming clearer as he became less and less groggy. Something was different. What?

Of course, waking up after going through an experience like that only keeps you wondering for so long.

At first, the memories came in slowly, as he became more and more conscious: the lab; the people; the gunshot – the gunshot that'd sounded so very real. That thought stuck out at him: it was so close, his ears still felt like they were ringing. Why were his ears ringing? Those memories, he realised, must have been dreams mustn’t they? Stuff like that didn't happen in real life, just in movies and games – Hell, they didn't even happen in movies and games! They just happened in the weirdest part of some guy's imagination!

So why were his ears ringing?

No, that was a stupid thought, a stupid thought that couldn't be real; he was probably just imagining it, since it was such a freaky dream. That was all, he was just imagining it; the more he woke up, the more it would seem less real. Lying there, eyes heavy and shut once more, Jay waited anxiously for his proof; as if to confirm his feelings, the ringing stopped almost instantly. He felt so relieved: he really was imagining it after all! Just one of his crazy dreams!
Chuckling slightly, nervously, at his own attitude to a stupid dream, Jay hesitantly opened his eyes to be greeted by his bedroom ceiling.

Naturally, his bedroom ceiling wasn't what greeted him.

Light poured in through the dirty window of the abandoned, otherwise empty building, shining weakly into the room and lighting up the weather ceiling. Underneath him wasn't his usual comfortable bed, but instead a cold, dusty floor.

It was undeniable: this definitely wasn't his bedroom.

His heart began started beating faster as a sweat broke across his brow; his eyes darted around in every possible direction. This was something else that didn't make sense! First the dream, then his ears had been ringing (imagined or not, it still didn't make sense!), and now he wasn't even in his room!? What was going on!?

His eyes fell upon the daypack strewn next to him, lying still by his arm. As if it was some vicious animal that would bite his fingers off, Jay nervously reached slowly for the zipper, shaking thoroughly throughout. With a gentle tug, the bag was steadily opened, its insides becoming more and more apparent to the terrified young man.

Food and weapons were the most obvious things that jumped to Jay's face, the slip of paper tucked to the side going unnoticed. The first thing he reached for was the food, instinctively going for the more familiar object. Tossing the rations over in his hands, he gingerly laid them by his side as if they would explode at any moment, before reaching in for the lethal objects: the knife, glinting in the light of noon, looked sharper than any of the kitchen knives he had ever seen before; the gun, its dull metal heavy in his hands, didn't look like any gun he'd ever seen in his video games. He begged for an answer to why these tools of death had been shoved into this bag next to him, his heart still racing alongside his rapid, delirious thoughts.

He remembered his dream again: that man in the gas mask had said that there were explosives inside him.

His eyes immediately drew back into his head.

He started rubbing his hands all over his body in horror, slamming them against his skin, praying that he couldn't find any proof of those words. Although his prayers were answered, he still couldn't believe that it was a lie; the man in the gas mask, he didn't have a hint of a lie about him. But then, it must've been a lie, mustn't it? This whole thing, it was just a dream!

The other thing that man had said: they were evolution.

Those words were just as enigmatic as anything that Jay had heard lately, but for all he was worth he couldn't understand them at all: the words seemed blurred in his dream, as if laced over with white noise. All he could remember was that he was evolution, whatever that meant.

Surveying his surroundings as he turned his head around, Jay saw the door out of the house. Confusion turning to desperation, he bolted for the front door as fast as his legs could carry him, grabbing the doorknob after several jittery attempts and wrenching it open with a loud slam. Outside, the light of day shone down onto him, the open door of another building opposite him.

This was real. This was real, wasn't it? It was. It had to be. There was no way, no way he'd dream something so vivid. No way he'd dream the hot sun shining on his face so mercilessly; no way he'd dream the chilling wind blowing through the air so hauntingly; no way he'd dream the nightmare scenario so disturbing. This was real.

Everything was real.

It was all real.

“I wanna go home...” was all Jay Harland could weakly cry.



Chris
A door slammed. Chris jerked his head up, looking around wildly before getting a hold on himself. The door had been outside, from one of the other houses. He stood slowly and made his way over to the window, which yielded as much to his sight as a brick wall, it was so encrusted with salt and grime. He wiped his finger across the surface, which did about as much as a feather would to a tree. The crust felt oily and hard and more than a little hairy. Chris sighed and leaned out of the way of the window, just in case somebody out there didn't like him. He gripped the bottom edge and pushed up, grunting with the effort. The wood and glass screeched as it scraped up, tracks that hadn't been used for a while being cleared of debris by the inexorable edge of the window. Once it was finally up, Chris leaned over and peered out.

The house across the way now stood open. Standing in the doorway was another teenager. He looked to be about Chris' age, and was probably another victim of this stupid experiment. The man in the mask's words rose to the top of his mind, about how in three days, only one would be left. That seemed... stupid, really. The evolution of normal teenager to killer should take longer than that. Still, Chris felt a little wary. The other boy definitely seemed stronger than him. Even with the force multiplication of a knife or gun, the odds were against Chris if the other boy decided to attack. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Chris stepped out of the cool(er), dark interior of the house and into the hot, bright outside. The light glared at him in a most disconcerting and angry way, which seemed rather mean. The light had no need to do that. It wasn't his fault it was bright and... bright outside. He took a deep, steadying breath and began crossing the street. 'This is stupid. What am I going to say? "Uh, dur, I am Chris, I guess we are both in the same boat, and we may have to kill each other durrrrr." It's just stupid,' he thought, nearly turning around. But that would be even worse than approaching, so he approached until he was about ten feet away. He cleared his throat nervously and said....

"Hi!"

It felt bright and cheerful and hurt his soul. He flushed red with embarrassment and cleared his throat again, resolving to just keep his mouth shut next time.



Jay
Almost as soon as he had wished to be back home, the window across the street shunted upright. Snapping his head in surprise at the noise, he saw, to his horror, that it hadn't raised itself: the shape of a person was clearly seen by his widened eyes.

In a flash, Jay's mind was finally able to recall the words of the gas mask man, the scene clear and understandable, in all its terrifying meaning:

Three days: that's all they had. At the end of three days, there would only be one person left alive. No explanation of why there’d only be one person left: simply that statement that all but one of them was going to die.

There were others in that room, he remembered: the entire room was full of people, all tied into chairs like he had been; they had all looked just as confused and scared as he was. They had been put in the same situation as him, and they had all been told they had to kill each other!

Realising the most horrible part of what had been said made Jay's first instinct to deny it. They couldn't have really told him to kill everyone, could they? That was just insane! Asking, no, telling them to kill each other, asking them to die, it was -

Oh, right.

It wasn't impossible; it had happened already. That gunshot that had made his ears ring: it was someone being shot. People had already been killed. People were going to die again. Those weapons in his bag: Jay realised that they wanted them to use them to kill each other. Did that guy who appeared in the window have weapons too?

Remembering that guy in the window made Jay snap back to reality, recalling why he was thinking about the others in the first place. Looking in the direction of the window again, its sudden emptiness filled his heart with dread. Now, the guy in the window was stood in the doorway, and had started walking towards him.

Jay’s panicking heart beat even faster: the guy was walking straight towards him! Did he know they had to kill each other too!?

His legs frozen in fear, Jay stood there helplessly as Chris stopped ten feet away from him, and opened his mouth to let out a cheerful “Hi!” Jay, contrastingly, stayed perfectly still: he didn’t know what to say to that upbeat greeting, and his voice caught in his throat; he realised to his horror that he'd left his bag in the building behind him: he was completely unarmed! How would he defend himself if this guy was ready to kill him!?

Finally, his voice stuttered its way out of his throat, in a feeble whimper. “St...st...st...”



Chris
Chris sighed, sitting down. "I guess you're afraid I'm going to give you a lead based lobotomy, eh? Well, don't worry. I'm not a killer," he said, holding his palms up to show he wasn't armed.

He looked up toward the sun and stood again, brushing dirt off his bottom. "My name is Chris. Chris Richardson. My dad's name isn't Richard, but that naming convention doesn't exist in America anymore. If I went to Iceland, it would be confusing, but it isn't here. So, what's your name?"

It still felt lame, but talking would help him keep his mind off of the situation, and help keep panic away. Panic was the enemy here, not the other teens. Panic is what would turn these innocuous people into killers. Chris managed to smile in a way he hoped was friendly and not his typical toothy grin which said he was more irate than friendly.



Jay
The way this guy was talking was weird, to put it nicely.

Here they both were, in what Jay was all too certain at this point was most definitely not a dream, and here he was blabbing on about his name and life story in a mad way. How could he be so calm in the situation!?

“N-wha-what the hell are you on about?!” he asked loudly, irritated by this crazy person calling himself Chris Richardson. “Do you have any idea where you are?!”

It was annoying how this guy wasn't taking anything seriously at all, smiling at him with his toothy grin like he was some kind of idiot! As he sat there right in front of him, Jay's expression grew contorted with disbelief at the total lack of sense coming from the guy in front of him.

“Look, just, shut up! Just let me get away!” he demanded, having absolutely no interest in dealing with the weirdo in front of him; he didn't have a clue what he wanted to do, but he was sure that this was the last place he wanted to be. Right now, he needed somewhere to go to get his thoughts in order, and the last thing he wanted was a nut pot distracting him with his psycho babble!

“You're crazy!” he yelled, the panic from before still running strongly through his head. “You're totally crazy!”

Turning on his heel, he ran as fast as he could back to the building behind him, diving through the open doorway to his daypack he had left aside not moments before. His hands shaking, he fumbled to put everything back in the bag as fast as he could, leaving his back exposed to the doorway behind him. All he wanted was to get everything and leave; distressed as he was, he still had the sense not to leave all his supplies and weapons behind. However, the sense to keep an eye on the doorway behind him wasn't quite as apparent in his behaviour.



Chris
Chris was... not surprised, surely, just a little... taken aback, or something. The boy had shouted and run back into the house. Chris chuckled ruefully, not surprised that he had frightened or made the boy uncomfortable. He glanced back toward the house he had come from. Maybe he should just leave the other boy alone. Of course, all the survival shows on TV said that you were far more likely to survive with a group. Social interaction was good for mental health, or something. Unconsciously, Chris paced a short line in front of the house, talking to himself in order to plan.

Finally, he came to a decision. He turned toward the house and peered into the gloom within. What he was about to do was dangerous, to say the least, but a better choice than just standing out here. He sighed and stepped into the building, looking around for the other boy. He took on a more irritated tone, allowing some of his current emotional state to flow into the words.

"Alright, listen. First of all, yes, I do know where we are. Kind of. I mean, I couldn't pinpoint it on a map, but I understand that there's a good chance we'll end up dead before the end of the day. More importantly, I know that this is some sort of sick Psychology experiment, regardless of what had been said about the changing of DNA. Genetics doesn't work like that, that was just some way to cause us to try silly things like jumping off cliffs and trying to fly. Finally, the reason I greeted you so calmly was two-fold: first, I think sticking together is a better idea than going off alone. Second, I'm trying to keep myself from panicking, and talking is a damn good way to do that. So, you know my name. What the hell is yours, or am I going to keep thinking of you as boy?"

It was a long speech. It wavered and twisted slightly with emotion, although Chris managed to keep it from showing on his face. 'Analyze. Be analytical. Emotion is another enemy here, one that can get you killed. Anger and fear should be kept down and away. Don't panic. Don't panic,' he thought, keeping his thoughts focused. A stray thought could blind him or cripple him far more effectively than a knife or a punch. Still, the introspection brought his attention away from the boy.



Jay
Though he moved as fast as his shaking hands could to stuff everything back into his bag, Jay was still not fast enough to finish up before he heard the voice of Chris behind him once again, blathering on once again; Jay really couldn't care less anymore what he was saying, he just wanted to get the hell away from there.

Whilst barely listening to what he was saying, Jay finally managed to cram all the items back into the bag in a cluttered pile, pulling in a rush to close the zipper around the crudely laid objects. Everything was back in his bag now, so he could get lost and forget about this nut job behind him!

However, he had kept one item out of the bag.

Spinning around, he wrenched the daypack up with one hand, whilst pointing the Jericho at Chris with the other. In his panic, he had neglected to even realise that he safety was probably on or debate whether it was loaded, but those matters were hardly going through Jay's mind: he was more pre-occupied with making sure that Chris knew where he stood.

A wave of confidence rushing over him as he realised that he was in control, his hands became ever so slightly more still, the gun's aim becoming more precise, as he slowed down at grinding his teeth together in terror, leaving his face with a toothy glare.

“I don't give a damn what you're thinking wit'! Just keep away from me, Chris.” he snarled; the disinterest in his name, and Chris as a whole, were apparent. “Now, get away from the door! Get out of my way!”

The gun in his hand doing a far better job at intimidating than he could ever hope to accomplish, Jay slung his daypack over his shoulder and started walking towards the doorway, the distance between his weapon and Chris narrowing all the time.

“Move!” he ordered, desperate to escape.



Chris
Chris stepped back slightly as the other boy whipped around. The gun captured his attention straight away. Panic began to bubble up from the depths, although he pushed it out of his mind. He looked back up into the boy's eyes and held his hands up. He glanced toward his own day pack, hanging loosely on his arm. There was no way for him to get his gun or his knife. The gun wouldn't be much use anyway. He needed to sit down and examine it or something, because he felt he was missing something obvious.

Wait. Why was the other boy walking forward? That made so little sense. With the gun, he had the advantage of range. By closing the distance between them, he was opening himself up to be attacked. 'Hm.... Maybe I could press the advantage? He's rather panicky right now, it shouldn't be too difficult to get him off balance. Only one problem: If I were to mess up, he has a weapon there that will kill me dead. Best not to chance it,' he thought, stepping aside.

"Fine. Don't expect anything nice out of me next time we meet," he said, keeping outwardly cool.



Jay
“Yeah, you're damn right I don't expect anything nice!” Jay yelled, keeping his gun pointed firmly at Chris whilst moving ever closer. He didn't give a damn about whether this guy was trying to be his friend or not; now was not the time to be making friends! Right now, he needed to get the fuck away from there and get some time to fucking think!

The gun was only inches away from Chris at this point, Jay's finger still clutched around the trigger loosely. He couldn't think about whether or not he had it in him to kill anyone right now; all he could think about was the guy right in front of him who had barely moved an inch.

“All the way!Get in the fucking corner!” he screamed, face red with anger. His heart was beating faster and faster with each passing moment, the panic from before transforming into rage at this insistent obstacle. Why was he taking so long to fucking move!? How hard was it to move out of the way of a fucking gun!?

“Move right now!” he continued screaming, having no patience for getting the guy out the way. If he didn't move soon, Jay wouldn't be able to control himself much longer: he was terrified, confused, and outraged; it was a very dangerous combination of emotions, one that could prove to be his or Chris' undoing.

He stood there, glaring madly into Chris' face, the gun pointed right between his eyes. He couldn't think at all right now; he was acting purely on one simple instinct: get the fuck out of there right now!



Chris
Now Chris was getting angry. He had stepped out of the way, and there was plenty of room. Also, the boy's yelling had sprayed spittle all over his face. That was really gross. The cogs in his brain began turning. The boy had continued his approach and was now standing with the gun pointed directly at Chris' face, less than a foot away. 'Do I show him the folly of getting so close? I had decided to acquiesce to his request for me to move originally, but now I'm pissed. I... I think I could...,' he thought, looking at the gun.

No. That would be a bad idea. It would lead to a fight Chris would certainly lose, and losing a fight here meant more than bruised ribs and a talking to by a Principal. He stepped back further, until his back pressed against the wall. "Is this far enough back?" he asked, a bit of anger leaking into his voice.



Jay
Good, he was moving; he wasn't a total idiot after all. Jay's breathing slowed down as things went more and more his way, as he edged closer towards the door. He kept his gun trained on Chris at all times, keeping his eyes burrowing into his on the off chance he decided to get smart.

“Yeah, stay right there, you...” he snarled, flicking his head between his threat and the doorway, doing several takes before deciding it was safe. In a flash, he had darted out of the exit and started running as fast as his legs could carry him, slowing down and turning around every few seconds to make sure that he wasn't being followed.

Despite his precautions, he couldn't feel safe. Chris could come dashing behind him the moment he stopped looking back! How the hell was he supposed to keep calm if he thought someone was sneaking up behind him the moment he stopped checking?!

No, he couldn't think like that! He had to keep his cool, Jay realised, trying his best to calm himself down as he stopped turning around. Keeping the gun tightly in his hand, he eventually slowed to a walk at the edge of a group of trees, stopping to turn around one last time to make sure he was safe. It seemed safe for now, but he couldn't stop running yet; he had to keep going until he knew that he had left the crazy guy behind him in the dirt.

Stopping only for a second to catch his breath, he took off once again. For now, all Jay Harland could do was run.

Exit Subject C06, Jay Harland



Chris
Chris briefly considered attacking the boy as he left, but put the thought out of his mind. He watched the boy run away for a moment before he stepped out into the sun. He sat on the doorstep, digging into his bag. He pulled out the knife, which he slammed point first into the ground in order to ease some of his anger, and the map, which he unfolded. Again the slip of paper drifted out of the mess. It still read Electrical Current. Chris shook his head and shoved it back into the pack. The map was more important. He looked it over. He was fairly certain that he was in the area marked "The Settlement." The sun was just starting to drop toward the horizon, toward the one o'clock position. Arbitrarily, Chris called that direction west. It was toward the mountain, which he found on the map. Okay.... The other boy had gone south from here, which was obviously ruled out as a direction for Chris to go.

He looked over the map again. He definitely didn't want to be in the sun for a long time, so the best bet was a nearby area. Perhaps the Church? It would be a good place to go. Only downside was that there was probably somebody there already. Still, it was better than nothing. He pulled the knife out of the ground and looked at it for a second. It hadn't come with a sheath, which made carrying it a problem. Pocketing it could lead to it slicing through his pocket, and it would slice his belt loops. With a burst of inspiration, he took his left shoe and sock off. He wrapped the knife with his sock before sticking it in his pocket. While this was less comfortable for his foot, it was more comfortable than a knife in his thigh would be. With this all set, he set off toward the Church.

Exit Subject C16, Chris Richardson
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I can trick them into thinking anything
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
CHAPTER EIGHT: CONAN, WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE?
THE CABLE CAR STATION
JUNE 23, 2010: 13:57

Begin Subject C15, Connor Bromwell
He groaned. Loud. Not really a groan of pain, which he was in, but a groan of confusion. He felt hard, tiled floor on his back, shifting a bit to keep a bit of debris from digging into his back. He opened his eyes to the sight of burnt-out ceiling lights and tiles. He groggily got up and looked around.

Connor Bromwell was alone in the empty building, surrounded by silence. Only beams of light filtered in from the windows. He tried to stand up from his sitting position, only to topple back onto his behind, due to a massive head rush. He dug his fingers into his dreadlocks and put his head between his legs, gritting his teeth to the massive headache making itself known in the front of his head. Holy shit, he thought, who the hell punched me to give me a headache like this?

Suddenly, it all came back to him. The cell. The chair. He remembered them sticking something in his arm. Turning his arm, he saw the puncture with the six smaller circles around it. Then he remembered the mysterious man with the coat and the gas mask. What did he say? Something about powers? Sounds like little kid bullshit. he mused grimly.

"Wait... There was something else..."

And then, he realized. He remembered being strapped to a chair and that sketchy guy was talking about how he had to kill other people, and... Oh god... That kid was shot! You couldn't stage that! He began to pant, looking up at his surroundings. "He said something... something about a daypack..."

Looking across the floor, he saw the bag, barely four feet away. He got up and stumbled towards it, getting down on his knees and zipping it open. The first thing to catch his attention was the handgun, sitting atop the jumble of contents like it was the only one important. He picked it out of the bag and carefully set it beside him on the floor. He then took out the loaf of bread. Glad to see there's no hunger problem. he thought, and continued to take inventory of the mysteries of the pack. More food, water, a map and compass, and a first-aid kit. He finally pulled out the knife, sighing heavily. "Well, I guess they weren't joking..." he mumbled to himself.

Picking up the knife, he slipped it into his boot, the handle sticking out. He then looked at the gun, frowning. He carefully picked it up from the floor, checked the safety, and stuck it into the back of his jeans. He frowned as the uncomfortable instrument jabbed against the small of his back. Gotta know the rules to play the game, right? Gotta kill within 24 hours or we all die. I don't like it, but if it comes to that, I may be the one to pull the trigger. Definitely not gonna be the one to bite the bullet. He knelt down to begin putting the contents of the bag back, but then something caught his attention. A piece of paper stuck to the side of the water bottle. He picked it off and read, his mouth forming the words. "Underwater Respiration."

He blinked. Respiration? Like, breathing? He growled, "They gave me the power to breathe water? Goddammit!"

He tore the paper in half, glowering. He grumbled as he shoved the contents back into the pack. He knew that staying in one place too long would be hazardous, so he quickly zipped up the bag and slung it over his shoulder. He began walking towards a door, put his hand on it.

The second I open this door, my old life is over. It's kill or be killed, and none of these people know me, let alone care if I die. I need to think the same. To crush your enemies, see them driven before you. That is what's best in life. he thought as he opened the door.

The light flooded, blinding him momentarily. When his eyes adjusted, the first thing he saw was a huge mountain.

"Fuck."



Begin Subject C08, Ashlie Jackson
brrzt, click, ding!

It was the same tired routine. Day in, day out, the poor, down-trodden turnstile would swing lazily on it's broken pedestal, it's three horizontal pillars endlessly switching their position on their never-ending circle of life. It had been many years since this poor turnstile had felt the gentle caress of a human pushing their way through the metal pole, that momentary contact being an eternity of comfort and a job well done.

brrzt, click, ding!

These days, it never felt the touch of a living being. Only the gentle touch of the summer breeze, warm, but heartless and unsatisfying. Even so, the hard-working turnstile would obey it's touch, gently turning it's pillar to allow the fleeting breeze access into the hallowed sanctuary it protected.

brrzt, click, ding!

Today was different though. Not more than a few feet from the diligent machine, a strange new creature lay in a state of deep slumber. This creature was human, female, with an alarmingly bright pink head of hair. She had a noticeable amount of fat, but not enough to detract from her appearance. Her prone form began to shift gradually, sitting in an up-right position.

brrzt, click, ding!

Ashlie Jackson, subject C08, felt like she had the biggest hangover of her life. It was as if someone had taken a baseball bat and bludgeoned her over the head a few times before tossing her off a building and into oncoming traffic. Okay, maybe that was a bit... morbid. But dammit it hurt like hell. The pink-haired girl rubbed her temples, trying to ease the pain in her brain. She subconsciously reached to grab her purse and... wait, this wasn't her purse....

brrzt, click, ding!

Ashlie was immediately snapped to attention, her most recent memories coming to the forefront of her mind. First she was at a rave.... there was this really cute guy, whom she had gotten a little frisky with on the dance floor... then their little bathroom adventure... getting into his car... then nothing. Nothing until waking up in a strange room filled with a bunch of other strange children, hands tied and mouth taped. She had noticed no one else had had their mouth taped, and wondered why she was singled out as she gingerly removed the adhesive strip from her lips.

brrzt, click, ding!

The girl took a moment to take in her surroundings. She was in some form of roofed enclosure, although there were no walls. The surface she was sitting on was metal, and she could feel the cold surface through her black capris pants. There wasn't much else to see, just what looked to be some form of trolley going up the mountain on the other side of a single turn stile that was oddly moving on it's own. It was kind of creepy.

brrzt, click, ding!

Ashlie grabbed the bag in her hands, pulling it open. She rummaged through the bag, looking through the food, medical supplies, and the other various objects. Her hand passed on a cool metal surface, and immediately the pink-haired girl removed it from her bag. It was a hand gun, along with a knife that had been sitting snugly underneath it. She gave the items a quizzical look for a moment before zipping up her bag. She recalled that there had been some mention of killing the other kids that had been in the strange room. This suited Ashlie just fine. They were just strangers, meant nothing to her. Her life was more valuable than theirs by a landslide. She did remember seeing a couple of the boys she wouldn't mind sampling before snuffing their life though.

brrzt, click, ding!

Standing up shakily, she nearly broke her ankle when she forgot she had been wearing her “fuck me” heels the night of the rave, and was still wearing them now. It would be a shame to lose them, so the pink-haired girl removed the footwear, putting them in her bag for now. That meant she would have to walk about in her bare feet, but that was of minor importance to her at the moment. Ignoring the cold sting of the metal on the soles of her feet, Ashlie decided her next course of action.

brrzt, click, ding!

Ashlie looked at the noisy machine, almost as if it had been trying to get her attention. Looking at the trolley on the other side, she shrugged and headed towards the turn stile, wedging herself sideways through the machine. brrzt, click... The annoying contraption had jammed in the middle, painfully jabbing Ashlie in her thigh.

“OW FUCK!” Ashlie yelled, immediately clasping a hand over her mouth. She didn't want to attract unwanted attention. She also noticed her voice sounded... different somehow. She wasn't sure just how to describe it, but it almost sounded like it was.... staticy, like when you're listening to the radio and something interrupts the signal. The pink-haired girl decided to worry about it later. First she needed to get out of her current situation.

After pushing on the metal pole and determining that it wasn't going to move, Ashlie determined she would have to climb over. Placing her bag on the other side of the barrier, she placed her hands on either side of the turn stile, heaving herself up and over. Well, in theory. What actually happened was Ashlie kind of flopped over the turn stile, just barely managing to not hit her head on the ground. During her little tumble, something had caught the bottom of her pants, and tore a hole through the material, leaving about a three inch slit in her left pant leg. As soon as she noticed this, she went off.

“FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT MACHINE!” Ashlie yelled, again noticing something odd in her voice. “FUCKING NEARLY KILL ME AND YOU RIP MY FAVORITE PANTS! FUCK!” Ashlie nearly kicked the machine, but remembered she was in bare feet, and was able to stop herself before she broke her foot. She instead contented herself with glaring at the turn stile. “Fucking piece of shit.” Ashlie said one last time before walking towards the trolley.

...ding!



Connor
Connor scanned the area, squinting his eyes. First he started to the left, looking out across the area. Moving his vision in front of him, he saw the massive mountain. Hearing the steady mechanical sound of the turnstile to the right, he looked that way, peeking around the open door. What he saw made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.

It was a girl. The one with tape on her mouth. She looked like she just got up. She began peeling the tape off her mouth. He took cover behind the door, pulling the gun from his jeans. No need to take the safety off... yet. Just see if she's a threa-

Suddenly, the most horrible sound that he ever heard in his life came to his ears. He came crashing down to his knees and gritted his teeth, hands flying to his ears in an attempt to block out the sound. Soon, the sound stopped, and he gasped. Standing up on wobbly knees, he stumbled out from the door, shakily holding the gun.

He began to lurch towards her, and was about to call out, when it happened again. The hellish squeal that intruded his head and assaulted his brain. He fell down again, unable to keep his balance. Once it was over, he looked up again, seeing the girl heading towards the trolley. He stood up once more and called out to the figure walking away.

"Hey, you! You better turn around, nice and slow, and keep your hands where they can be seen!"



Ashlie
Ashlie was just about to get on the trolley when a male voice called out, demanding her to turn around. The pink-haired girl raised an eyebrow, turning her head slightly to see who was talking. Out of the corner of her eyes she was able to see a rather imposing figure holding a gun towards her. She should probably do what he said. Spreading her arms out, she slowly pivoted on her bare feet. The smile on her face widened as she noticed the boy was one of the ones she had been eying in the briefing room.

"Well hey there big boy." Ashlie said, raising her eyebrow again when he began clutching his head, almost looking as if he was about to be sick. The girl just shrugged, assuming that he had probably just hit his head or something. "You wouldn't hurt little old me, would you?" again with the head clutching. It was almost like he wasn't even paying attention to her. Combined with the fact there was a gun being pointed in her direction, it caused her to become slightly agitated. How he could not be paying attention to her, especially with that she was wearing? Didn't all teenaged boys think with their dicks? She should have his undivided attention right now.

"Are you even listening to me?" she nearly yelled, dropping her arms. He was still more concerned with his head, which didn't go over well with the pink-haired girl.



Connor
He wished the noise would stop, but it wouldn't. He didn't know where it was coming from, but he knew that girl must have something to do with it. He fell on his knees and clutched his head, dropping his gun. His stomach tied into a tight knot. "F-fu-uck." he moaned as he threw up stomach bile.

He looked up at her, and realized that whenever the sound happened, she opened her mouth. He tried standing up, but fell down, unable to keep his balance. His throat screamed in pain from the bile.

"Just.. just sh... JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!" he screamed.



Ashlie
Ashlie was now visibly pissed off. Did this fucker just tell her to shut up? Did he have no value for his life? Of course, the pink-haired girl was ignoring the fact he was hunched over, puking his guts out, and the fact that he seemed to get worse every time she spoke. To her it was just him ignoring her again, not giving her the attention she deserved to have. The angry girl took a few strides forward, stopping at the infernal machine that ripped her pants.

"Stand up and be a man, ya fucking pussy." Ashlie exclaimed, which would no doubt just send him into another fit, although she still didn't know she was the cause of the problem to begin with. At this point she did decide to shut up, not because he asked her to, but because she was just too pissed off for words at the moment. This would thankfully give the boy to recover from the effects of her voice, and maybe try to calm her down.



Connor
Emptying the final contents of his stomach, Connor rolled over onto his side, panting heavily. "H-holy shit..." he panted, trying to catch his breath.

The world span, and it didn't feel like it was going to stop any time soon. He coughed more, and then put his hands on the ground, trying to get himself up. He slipped and fell headfirst back down. "Aw, FUCK." he growled.

Trying again, he finally got into a sitting position. He held a hand out, palm facing her, and pleaded, "Please... no more. What... what is with your voice? It's like... every time you said something it hurt me."

He slowly looked up at her, and saw her glaring. Frankly he couldn't care less that he offended her, as she looked, as long as she kept her mouth shut. He sat for a full minute, the nausea fading, but the headache still assailing his brain. He stood up slowly, picking up the gun. He looked at her, "I guess your power is something with your voice, right?"



Ashlie
Ashlie went to open her mouth again, but stopped. If it was her voice that was hurting him so much, then that may explain why he kept falling over every time she tried to talk to him. This didn't help her mood much, as it took away one of her best weapons for gaining other's trust. At the same time, it had turned her voice into a different type of weapon, judging from the violent reactions that the man in front of her was having. So maybe it wasn't all bad. Now she just had to figure out what to do.

Unfortunately, she had no method of communication with Connor. She couldn't talk, and she had no paper, or even a cell phone she could use. She had nothing. This would make things a bit harder for her at the moment. She wasn't afraid to get into a confrontation, but right now it was just too early to pull anything. There was no telling if someone would show up, it was just too open here. She needed to get away from here. Looking around her, she had one of two options. She could either go onto the trolley that was her original destination, or tempt fate with the turn stile again.

She decided to tempt the turn stile again. Hiking her leg over the contraption, she managed to get over it without face planting this time. She took a moment to look over Connor again, determining whether or not it would be worth trying to get him on her side, even if it was just temporary. Maybe use him as a shield... maybe more, who knew? He didn't seem like the type who would be willing to team up, even with the promise of... extra-curriculars. Especially not in this situation. It would be up to him in the end, but Ashlie made sure the gun she had been given was in easy reach.



Connor
Connor watched the girl step over the turnstile, and look back at him. He glared for a moment, silently hoping no sound came from her mouth. His ears rang and his esophagus burned like a fire, his head pounding like a drum. Then, he lowered his weapon, seeing she meant no harm... yet.

He turned, and with one last look over his shoulder, stumbled away. After a few steps, his balance slowly returned, giving him more confidence in his walk. He tucked his gun into the back of his pants once more and walked towards the forest.

Exit Subject C15, Connor Bromwell



Ashlie
Ashlie watched as the other person walked away, not moving a muscle. She probably could have finished him quite easily, but now wasn't the time. The pink-haired girl had a feeling they would meet again, and at that time, things would be different. A smile cracked on Ashlie's face. Now, where to next? She scanned the area, determining her course. There was no way she was going to attempt to go over the damned turn stile again, so that left her with one direction to go.

Walking forward, Ashlie took a slightly different direction than Connor into the forest. As much as she would love to see him again, now probably wasn't the time. She would need to find a new target to test her new abilities to their fullest on. She had no doubt it wouldn't be hard to find a... willing subject.

Exit Subject C08, Ashlie Jackson
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I can trick them into thinking anything
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
CHAPTER NINE: HOPE
THE CHURCH
JUNE 23, 2010: 14:53

Begin Subject C02, Iris Landon
“Girl, nice work on the farm today. I’m very proud of you.”

Her father said those exact words. She was finishing up outside the day before. It was late, the sun was going down and the little worker on the farm was tired. The girl, almost on the verge of her eighteenth birtday, had just brought the tractor into the barn and was about to finish up when her father came into the barn and spoke to her. It had caught her by surprise, not only because she didn’t know that her father was there, but because he never complimented her before. He looked at her and told her that he was proud of her.

Iris Landon felt her face brighten from the compliment. Her father was… complimenting her? He was complimenting her! Iris had done good! This filled her with so much pride that she felt ready to burst from excitement! Daddy was a nice man, very hardworking but he never complimented her. He never told her that he was proud of her.

“T-Thanks Daddy…” she said nervously, prodding her fingers together.

“Go on inside,” He said, smiling. His mustache covered most of the lower features of his face, but Iris knew he was smiling. “I’ll finish up out here.”

He had never done that either! That was… so exciting! She kissed Daddy on the cheek and ran off back to her little house.

And Iris went to bed thinking about how she made Dad proud, and how the next day she would finally finish the workload. And she thought, “Yes, momma would be proud,”. And then she would lay down in her bed, looking up at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to make the stress go away. And she would wake up the next morning, as wide as a daisy and go back to work. And that would be that. No. Nothing terrible would ever happen to her. She wouldn’t wake up in a prison cell with a big hole in her arm with a splitting headache, tears in her eyes and without a clue of where she was. She’d see her dad again. He’d be there. None of this would be happening.

No.

No. NO. NONONONONONONONO! And she kept saying no as she fell to the tile floor as her hands pressed against her already blackened eyes. She screamed no, over and over, each time making the heat she felt inside her chest grow, spreading through her whole body and scortching every cell like a forest fire, scarring, making her that much more crazed with grief. Grief for herself, for her own life. The heat she felt in her chest was hurting every single part of her, her tears rushing out across her face. Iris felt like she was dead and she had only just woken up.

Iris cried like a baby right there in the church. Iris was a gentle flower but it was never like her to cry. Crying was for babies, her father always told her, so git those tears out ‘yur eyes and git to work. She could hear his voice, thickly-accented and hoarse, telling her to get up and stop crying but Iris wasn’t having any of that. Her Dad wasn’t gonna help her out of this one, no matter what he did. It was all useless! All useless! And that was when she remembered her late mom, god rest her soul.

She reached for her locket. Her locket! Oh jesus, did they leave it in there? It wasn’t around her neck! She checked her neck. Her pocket? NO! It wasn’t in there! Oh god! Did she lose it? Wait! No! The bag! She threw the dufflebag against the floor and zipped it open quickly. She shuffled through all the stuff lodged in there, throwing stuff out left and right until she saw the…

Gun placed in there. Her heart sank.

She took the gun out, staring at it like a foreign object. She had never seen a gun, much less held one in her hands. It felt cold, lifeless in her hands. She ran her finger along the tip, her face contorting to an almost sick expression. They were serious weren’t they? She was going to die wasn’t she? She dropped the gun on the tile floor and dug through the bag, finding the combat knife that she was also given. Iris almost swallowed her tongue. She had used knives before… once on a deer. On a hunting trip with her father. He had pressured her to do it, like he did everything else, but Iris knew he wouldn’t let anything hurt her. He had told her to gut the deer. She didn’t want to, but of course, she didn’t want to go hunting at all so it wasn’t like she was going to tell him no. So she did.

Iris had always thought humans were animals too, animals who had just lost their way. Would… gutting a human be like… No. She couldn’t think like that. She wasn’t like that! No! She threw the knife to the floor as well and reached back in.

Her locket was at the bottom of the bag.

They had left it for her. To give her some semblance of hope? To mock her? Both? Probably. All the same, the hope and shame both filled her heart and the tears started to well up. They left the locket. The locket from her mom. She opened it up. The frame had long ago cracked, just a little crack, like a signature. Iris stared at the small picture of her mother, with that faint smile she vaguely remembered her having. All of the memories, all of the things that her mother had taught her flooded her mind. It filled her with the calm that she seeked. Iris felt her lip start to shake. Her father couldn’t help her but maybe mom could. Somehow. Iris felt her body quake as she pressed the locket against her chest.

“Momma… “ she sniffed, rubbing her nose with her sleeve. “Momma… th’ hell am I ‘posed to do? I don’ wana’ die momma. I wanna live! I don’ wanna kill anybody! Th’ hell did I eva’ do to deserve this? I work all day momma, honest! Neva’ did a dirty thing eva'! Neva' said I wanted to kill someone! Did everythin' you and Daddy told me!

The tears were pouring out again. Iris felt her knees buckle on the church floor, her eyes closed tight. A few minutes in and Iris was ready to give up. She didn't want to be here, didn't want to be here, wanted to be home in bed. It wasn't a bad dream though, something that she couldn't just wake up from and pretend never happened. This was all real and Iris felt sick when she thought about what she had to do if she wanted to live. Iris didn't want to do it, but it wasn't like she had a choice in hell.

All the hope Iris had in her heart was hidden to her now. And it made her feel empty.



Begin Subject C09, Holly Chapman
This was all a dream.

To Holly Chapman, at least. It all seemed too vivid to be a dream, but, to be honest, most people would not automatically believe their eyes if they woke up in a prison cell, apparently with... some kind of bizarre power. And now she was forced to kill people? Yup. Definitely a dream. What would be the purpose of something like this experiment? Maybe she fell asleep while watching some B movie about mad scientists and people with superpowers or whatever the fuck they meant by "gift" trying to kill each other. Or something. Holly was not sure what kind of movie would produce this kind of dream. She searched her mind again and again, but no idea of what that movie would be. Ah well. She would find out once she finally woke up, right? Right? Right?

However, at times it seemed a little... too real. One could easily sense the difference between reality and a dream fairly easily, especially if they were a lucid dreamer. And to Holly, this did not have that feeling of being a dream, even though she honestly felt a little dizzy. Everything seemed real. Everything seemed like it was happening in real life. But, again, there was no way this was real. Heck, she had the vague memory of falling asleep just before the dream started, for crying out loud!

She and about... 18 or 20, she thought it was, people had been in some kind of... well, they were strapped down to chairs, and she could vaguely remember a cell too. She was not sure where they were exactly. Holly could also vaguely remember some guy in a full-body swimsuit, and a girl with tape over her mouth, though no one else had been gagged in such a manner (the former was proof she was dreaming to her). Other details she could only pick out right now include the sound of a gunshot, people panicking, and something about an island. But, she could remember what the topic of conversation had turned to.

Basically, you have a "gift". Kill or be killed.

And then the dream had continued, with her eventually at what looked like... a church? Oh look, more proof she was dreaming. After all, who would put a church in the middle of a science experiment? Weren't science and religion opposed... or something? If so, a church? On a mad scientist's island? Really? This was more proof, right? Of course it was! She was going to wake up soon!

Holly stumbled towards the door of the building, knife in one hand and her heavy bag over the other shoulder, and still feeling a little dizzy. She did not have the opportunity to use said knife, since she had not encountered anyone so far. Even if she did, would she use it on a human being, even if it was a person in her dream? Holly did not know the answer to that question. In fact, she had just taken it out a few minutes ago, and the reason why was not to hurt anyone. In fact, she would probably just wave it around and threaten people, but not actually do anything with it, in the hopes that it was enough to make people leave her alone. Though, in a way, it sort of made her feel comfortable, strangely enough. It was if the knife ensured that she was safe, though even that...

Though, even if this was a dream, there was a strange feeling. She did not feel like the same Holly that helped her dad in the garage and watched horrible movies. Rather, she felt... "different", almost as if something had changed about her while she was not noticing, and the old Holly was gone and never coming back. Of course, that was silly; this was a dream, and it was not going to impact the rest of her life, right? Only in the dream did she have strange powers, after all. Of course.

Oh, how very wrong she was. In reality, everything that had happened was happening for real. Holly did have some sort of "gift", and she really had been kidnapped, tossed in a cell and experimented on before being briefed, along with some guy in a scuba suit, among other things. She really was going to have to kill or be killed, and she actually was about to open a church door while holding a combat knife. Given the proper amount of time, she would snap out of her form of denial soon enough. However, of course Holly did not realize this, and so was in for a rude awakening.

As her left hand pushed the door open, Holly, with her doubts about the reality of the situation falling apart with each step, entered the building.

Almost immediately, she was greeted with the sound of crying. From where she was standing, she could see the source. A girl? It looked a little like a girl, at least. She was sobbing about... something, most likely the fact that she was going to die. This was confirmed by what was coming out of the girl's mouth; she was literally crying for her mother! Holly could not help but crack a small smile in spite of herself, out of amusement. At times, she found humor in everything, even when it was extremely inappropriate. This was no exception.

As she stepped forward, her smile was wiped off her face, though, when she remembered the girl might actually be playing. Sure, to her it was just a dream, but very quickly the thought was passing out of her mind, to be honest. Plus, even if it were, she did not want it to turn into a nightmare so quickly. But, was it really a dream? She would find out soon enough, although she would have loved it to be a dream, to the point where "love" was an understatement.

After a few seconds, she found herself speaking to the girl, clinging tightly to the knife she was holding in her hands. Her heart was pounding in her chest, as if it were a drum being beat by a musician. Heck, she could almost hear the blood being pumped!

"Excuse me."

What would happen? She was about to find out. Holly did not want this to be real. It had to be a dream. It just had to! What would she do if it was not? Where would she be, then? Her doubts about the dream were fading, but she kept trying to cling to it, as if for dear life. Please god, let this be a dream!



Iris
Iris turned around when she heard the voice. She didn't let out a sound or anything, but she was definitely surprised. The girl standing in front of her had the weirdest shade of red to her hair, a color that Iris had never seen anyone ever wear. It suited her hair, no doubt about that, but it made Iris just stare at her for a moment in disbelief. Was she born with that color, Iris thought? She knew about red heads but this was much different. It was like the color Iris could see if she stared straight into the sun for a minute.

Iris had never really seen a girl like the one that was standing in front of her before. There weren't many girls in her neighborhood, especially those of the same age as her, but they all looked alot like Iris. Brown hair, dark eyes, bone skinny. Iris had been the odd one out, what with her short boyish hair and her freckles, not to mention the muscle she had on her arms. When Iris thought about what other people looked like, ones not from Iowa, she always pictured muscle-bound meatheads, poor people down on their luck, depressing kids dressed up all in black but Holly was a different story! She looked unusual to Iris and she stared at her for a moment, not in a rude way but in a mystified one. Then she remembered why both of them were there. They had to kill each other. Iris shook her head and reeled back.

"Y-You ain't crazy, right?" Iris asked, her small stature becoming increasingly obvious. She felt weak compared to the other girl, even though they looked to be around the same size. "You ain't here tah kill me. I-" She gulped, her hand reaching hesitantly to the knife by her side.

The more and more she stared at Holly, the more and more she grew nervous. Perhaps this girl was here to kill her. Iris's face grew pale, her lips pursed as a violent series of shivers coursed through her tiny body. Iris wouldn't have it in her to attack this girl headon but maybe, just maybe, she would have the nerve to fight back. At least she hoped she could. She didn't want to hurt anyone...

That's right. She didn't want to hurt anyone. Her hand moved away slowly. There's no reason to get paranoid. They are supposed to kill one another but at the end of the day they all were still human. Maybe this wouldn't end up with blood flying after all. She turned back to Holly, whiping the tears from her eyes. No knife. The knife was for when you were in trouble. This wasn't trouble, and Iris certainly didn't want to start any trouble.

"S-Sorry, I'm a little, um, upset..."

Iris forced a smile. There is no reason to be rude to someone, her mother always told her. Treat others like you yourself would like to be treated, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Unlike her father, Iris's mother spoke in a calm eastern accent that Iris never could identify. As a little girl her mother had traveled all around the eastern part of the United States, and the ambiguous nature of her accent seemed to show this. One might say she hailed from New York when another may say that she came straight out of New Orleans. Iris never really put much thought on where her mother had gone, the experiences she had or why someone who up and left a state every few years decided to settle down with a farmer in Iowa. Her mother was just unique like that, and always kind. So why shouldn't Iris be kind?

"I... I'm from Iowa," she said at last. Holly didn't look like someone from Iowa. Granted, Iris had never stepped foot outside of Iowa to know for sure. She just knew. "Y-Y'all dun look like you're from anywhere close tah Iowa..."



Holly
The girl had looked in her direction, a look on her face that resembled fear, almost as if Holly was some kind of alien. Seriously, the look on her face was one of shock. In fact, she was acting as if she had never seen someone like Holly before. Which was a strange experience, to say the least. Holly did not look that abnormal, right? Unless she somehow changed from the experiments. But, this was a dream, of course!

Then, that one little question came out.

Was she crazy? Was she a killer?

Holly was not sure if she could answer that question, to be honest. Crazy was something that could not be measured. Plus, could one be crazy if they were dreaming? Everyone did it. Everyone, right? The answer took a while to come out of Holly's mouth, but the girl had already spoken again.

Something about... Iowa. Well, this girl definitely had an accent of some kind. It kind of reminded her of those farmers and rednecks from some of the movies she would watch, actually, for some reason. Aha! So she did fall asleep while watching some movie! Right?

Though, her heart kept pounding away out of fear. Deep down, some part of her knew this was real, even though it seemed unlikely. It was improbable that this sort of thing would happen!

Holly quietly answered, while rubbing the back of her neck with her free hand "I'm Nevadan.... and I don't know if I'm crazy. It's a dream, so I'll wake up in the morning..."

Wait, there was a test that she could do, of course. She could pinch herself! If it did not hurt, she was dreaming, of course. If it did, this was fucking real. But, it had to be a dream, for her sake! She had a home, a family, friends!

Her heart pounding, her free hand left her head, and slowly went close to the other arm. As she looked down at her arms, she could vaguely see the puncture mark on one of them. Well, here goes...

Pinch. Pain.

Uh oh.

She felt pain. That was not a good sign.

But it could NOT be real. It just simply could not!

Holly's eyes widened as she realized the full extent of her situation. Was she really going to have to... die?! Oh hell, that was not good. Definitely not good.

As the free arm slowly moved away from the other, she was vaguely aware that the combat knife had slipped from her fingers, and clattered to the floor. In a normal scenario, she would have not dropped it, especially if she might get attacked any time soon. But, right now she had almost forgotten that the other girl was there. Her heart was beating much faster than before, and she could feel a sweat coming on. Oh hell.

"Shit. What the fuck..." she murmured to herself.

It was real. This was actually happening. It was not a dream.



Iris
It appeared that Holly had thought this was all a bad dream. Iris slumped just a tiny bit as she recollected on where the girl was from. Nevada... That was really far from Iowa, like at the western coast of America. Iris looked down at the floor, thinking to herself. If these people, whoever the heck they were, would be able to bring together two kids from two different sides of the country together in one place then... Iris didn't know. What the heck was she planning to achieve with thinking about it? It wouldn't change their situation in the slightest. But, by her logic, if they could bring both this and her together without anyone realizing then they must be pretty powerful.

Iris gulped. She had a bad taste in her mouth, strange, silky, but she just wrote it off. She had thrown up once she woke up. It must be the sick she was feeling. Had to be.

"Yah know... I thought it was all a dream too." Iris sat awkwardly on the floor, blinking up at the girl. She was positively upset, something that at least Iris could identify with slightly. She brushed her foot against the floor slowly, at a lost for what to say or how to say it. "Was laughing bout it too. Told mahself that I would wake up in tha morning, as fine as pie but... guess we in this for tha long run."

Iris sighed, shivers running down her spine. How the hell could she cope about this huge mess of a situation? Just about a minute ago she had been crying like a little baby! It must have been the girl in the church. Maybe she was okay now that she saw that not everyone was out to get her, that someone was about as upset as she was.

Iris tried to smile. "Ahh, w-well... we're gonna have to make due. Yahknow?"

She rubbed the back of her neck nervously. The hair was strangely a little off-putting, like the girl had just landed from the sky. Like an alien. She said about the only thing she could think to say.

"I-I'm Iris. Iris Landon." She stammered. "I-I-I ain't lookin' to hurt nobody, if that helps yah."



Holly
Holly stood there, still shaking with her heart beating. Christ Christ Christ.... fuck, she had absolutely no idea what to do! She was going to die here, in some sort of freakish science experiment! And treated as a labrat!

She was vaguely aware of the other girl talking to her, saying she thought the same thing. Saying that she wanted to wake up the next morning. But they were stuck here... forced to kill each other... and for no good reason...

Then the girl introduced herself.

Iris Landon. Iris Landon of Iowa?

Well, she seemed harmless, but Holly was not sure. She could simply be playing the innocent young woman frightened for her life, only to kill the first person that fell for it. But, as Holly scooped down to retrieve her knife from the ground, she decided to reply back.

"Holly Chapman. I... I'm not sure who would actually..."

She paused as her body moved back into standing position. Well, they had a good incentive, she had to admit. She could remember the guy saying that if no one died in 24 hours, their collars would go off. Not only that, but everyone wanted to live... and some people had to die to make that happen. Which means... oh shit. Not everyone would be as frightened as her and Iris about it. Holly's eyes widened again at the thought. Heck, the mads that did this to them did not give as much of a shit about their well-being. She remembered the guy who had been shot. It took her a while to remember, but the memories were coming back. They just simply shot him, for speaking out. They did not care about any of them, not one bit. And the fact that the people on the island were all strangers to one another... well, it made things more likely.

Her body still shaking and her heart still beating, she started again.

"I'm not sure. There might be all sort of hooligans on the island... people who would happily... you know..."

Looking around, almost as if just mentioning them was enough to summon one such person up, she started again.

"What do you suggest we do? I guess we could... uh..."

Holly's mind searched, and nothing came up. Then, after a while, the only thing to come up did.

"How about we stay here for a while... just... be on the lookout, try to kick people out of our little fortress for a while... you know..."

It was lame, and she had a feeling Iris would not like it, but it worth a shot. Holly even tried her best to form a friendly smile, in spite of the situation. Whether or not the look on her face succeeded in looking friendly, though, it was one of those things where if you ask different people you would get different answers.



Iris
Iris's eyes shifted from one side of the church to the other. It was in pretty good shape though Iris was no judge of that. Dust seemed to line the whole hallway like a new coat of paint and everything seemed almost placed haphazardly, but in her mind it was a nice looking place. A smile crossed her lips, an innocent smile, which was about the only thing Iris could manage to scrounge up. Holly did most of the talking for the next minute and Iris just listened patiently, nodding her head every once in awhile. All the while Iris picked up her gun, safety still on, and placed it in her pocket. She reached for the knife at the other side of the floor and fastened it on her belt. There wasn't any use just letting them lay there. Iris wasn't planning on using either of them anyway. Blame her naivety but Holly seemed like someone she could trust, at least for the time being.

"Well, it's nice tah meetcha Holly." Iris said this with a gentle smile on her lips. "Wishin' we met unda' different circumstances."

Iris nodded. She didn't like the idea but the church seemed like a safe haven. Again for the time being. Iris looked around the church again. The windows were way to high for anyone to get in, at least from where she was standing. The only place anyone would walk in through would be through the door. The doors were quite large. She blinked for a moment.

"Tha pews ain't nailed down." Iris remarked once Holly finished, rubbing her arm. I think I could block tha door if yah want. The doors open outward but it'd be anotha' way of stoppin' people from gettin' in. Safety, yahknow?"

Iris rose to her feet and took a few steps towards Holly. Her locket was still clasped in her hand and she looked down at it. She cradled it, shifting it from one finger another, looking back up at her companion. She blinked again, the smile slowly dissolving from her face. Iris appeared to be thinking about something, something very deep. She gulped again. The taste in her mouth made her head feel funny. Like there was foam in her mouth.

"M-Momma always told me neva' to talk to strangers..." she spoke with a slight hesitation, like Holly was going to judge her for something that she said. "Said that there were alotta evil people in tha world. I guess'n I really dun' hava' choice." She handed the locket to Holly. "If we gonna do this, then I'ma trust you with this... dun lose it."



Holly
Push the pews over to the doors to block them?

Sounded like a good idea. After all, it would help if someone tried to get in. The main problem she could see, though, is in the event that it would become a dangerzone, or whatever the hell they were talking about. They mentioned making people explode with something inside their bodies, didn't they? Oh crap, everyone had bombs inside their bodies, too. She just remembered. Fuck, this just got worse and worse, didn't it?

Although her heart was calming down a bit, she could still feel it beating more heavily than it should. As she put the knife in her pocket, she started talking again.

"Move the pews? Could be both good or bad. On one hand... no intruders... on the other... might make it a little difficult to escape... unless they aren't too hard to move... or something..."

But, suddenly, Iris was going on about... something. Her mother? And not talking to strangers. Holly could not help but form a small smile again. She was seriously worried about stranger danger at a time like this? Then again, the events that had happened were probably the worst example of stranger danger on the planet. After all, teenagers with superpowers killing each other were probably not up there on a parent's wishes for their child.

As Iris handed her the locket, Holly found her small smile disappearing, to be replaced by a look of confusion. Why was she handing it to her? She was just some stranger, all the way from Las Vegas. Did she really trust her that much? Holly decided to ask about it.

"The locket... is it your mom's?"



Iris
"I was jus' thinkin' of jumping over 'em." Iris remarked, making a slight hand movement. "It'd be kinna hard for anyone to jump over it without us knowin', but it'd be simple for us, I hope."

She put emphasis on hope. Hope was about the only thing that was going to drive them to live. While Iris knew this had to be true, she also didn't really understand the true implications of this game, if one could call it that. She was only thinking about her own demise, as selfish as that sounded. Iris was by no means a selfish girl, in fact she was more selfless than anything. But the vastness of what could happen to her on this very island boggled her naive mind, and it had never occurred to her to think about anyone else or how they were feeling. She knew they had to be feeling terrible, heartbroken even, but in the grand scheme of things it was incapable for her to think about that. Iris would want to, actually, if it would be possible for her to understand her own feelings about the situation. When your life is on the line, so many emotions rush into your head that you don't know what to think. To Iris, this was pure shell shock.

Holly asked her about her the locket. If Holly looked closely, she would see right away that the locket had seen better days. The chain was held together by a small string, and it looked too small to fit around Iris's neck. Most of the gold on the locket itself had been scratched off, so it looked rather old. Iris clearly noticed, and went out of her way to explain it.

"Y-Yah..." Iris prodded her fingers together bashfully. "Mah momma used to hava picture of her momma in there. And then when mah mom died..." Iris didn't finish her thought, hoping that Holly would be able to figure it out on her own.

Iris flushed. "O-Oh. Dun go thinkin' too far into this. I hava' hole in mah pocket, an' tha gun is in tha other one. An' it's broke, yahsee, an' I don't feel good jus' leavin' it on tha floor. I'd be really upset if I lost it, might start cryin' again. It means 'lot tah me. If it ain't for that locket, I might go crazy. s'really small an if I dun keep it in mah pocket, I'm 'fraid I'll lose it."

Iris looked Holly in the eyes. "Umm... I 'pose you've got people at home too."



Holly
Wait, her mother was dead?

Holly felt kind of bad that she found Iris' comments about her mother earlier humorous, to be honest. She always knew that she found things a lot more funny than they should be. Once, for example, she found a teacher's rant about responsibility to be downright hilarious due to the choice of words, and... well, started laughing in the middle of class. Needless to say, she was punished. But, laughing at a girl crying out for her dead mother while in a bad situation? That was seriously a new low for her.

So, the locket was pretty important to her? Of course it would. And she was entrusting Holly with it... since she had no space in her pockets...

"I'm... sorry to hear about your mom..." she started, but before she could continue, Iris asked about her family.

Her folks... that's right. Mom and Dad were probably worried sick. Alice was most likely calling anyone she could think of right at this moment, since she knew some of her friends. And Rachel... oh god... she was probably going to have the same reaction as her parents; screaming and freaking out. Did they know what had happened to her? Even if she somehow returned back home... would they react well to the "gift" thing?

"Dad..." she started again. "Dad worked as a mechanic... I used to help him fix cars 'n stuff on a few occasions... Mom didn't like it at first, but eventually she let me. I wanted to become a mechanic just like him when I grew up..."

Holly found herself smiling again, in spite of the circumstances. As she stared down, she fiddled with the locket a bit, twining the chain around her fingers. It looked pretty old, as if it had been through a lot throughout its existence.

"And my sisters... they probably are worried shitless, just like my parents..."

Suddenly, she looked up.

"Oh! We should probably get those pews moved, right? God knows I don't want to be killed by some asshole."

Iris had said that it should be pretty easy to jump over them, so it should be fairly easy to escape, though someone entering would be very noticeable.

Placing the locket in her pocket, a thought began to appear in her head. Sooner or later, she was going to have to fight Iris to the death. Would she be ready to do so? Was Iris only acting friendly to make Holly let her guard down? Her lips turned into a frown as a result. She did not want to get too attached... but it was human nature to do so. But, she had to be alert, or else Iris might decide to...

Well, they would cross that bridge when they got there. For now, things seemed fine...

Holly walked over to the pew closest to the door, and analysed the end closest to her. It looked heavy, almost like a two-person job. And even then, it would possibly be difficult. "Seems heavy..."

Then, she remembered Iris was also there. She could help!

"Iris... mind helping me with this?" she asked, glancing in the other girl's direction.



Iris
"It's alright. Dun' worry 'bout it none."

The girl nodded some more as she listened to Holly talk about her family. In all honesty, Iris was just being courteous asking Holly about her own family. Her momma always told her to treat people the way you wanted to be treated. Iris gave Holly a sad smile as she heard a little more about Holly. She had people who cared about her. Iris just had her father, so there wasn't much people would stand to lose if she died.

"You a mechanic?" She asked, just driving home the point that she really was listening.

Iris just nodded as Holly changed the subject suddenly. Iris could understand, slightly. The last thing that she wanted to think about was her own father, looking for his own daughter and not finding her. Iris never saw her own father cry. Did he ever cry? And if he did, was he crying right then? Iris shook her head. Not the best time to be thinking about it.

Iris was thinking the complete opposite of Holly - she was getting attached to Holly, completely ignorant from anything Holly might want to try. Holly had to be a good person. After all, anyone who was evil would definitely look bad, right? They'd have to look evil, wear all black, looking at her with dark eyes. Holly didn't fit that at all. She looked very nice actually. Iris felt safe with her.

Iris gave her a shrug. "Uhh, sure, I do this typa' stuff all tha time." She peeled back the arms of her shirt. There wasn't much muscle, but her arms were big, almost odd looking on a lanky girl like Iris. She walked over to the pew that Holly had picked, wrapping her hands around the one side of the pew. She managed to just get it off the ground, but she struggled to keep it up. "Ahh! Holly! Could'jah come over an' help me? This is heavi'ar than it looks!"



Holly
Iris immediately responded by trying to lift one end, saying that she used to do things like this all the time. After a bit of lifting, she got one end of the pew off the ground, though only by a small amount. However, despite this, she clearly was having trouble keeping it upright.

As Iris called out to Holly, her lips formed the same smile of amusement that was almost distinctive for her.

"See? I told you... it's a two-person job. Well, let's get started..."

Holly stared at the other end of the pew for a few seconds, noting the apparent weight again. Heavy? Oh, you bet. Iris' reaction confirmed it, after all. It was definitely something that two people need to participate in.

Well, here goes...

Holly grabbed the underside of the pew, and bracing herself for a few seconds, she lifted it. To her surprise, it took less of an effort than she expected. In fact, she could see that there was a... noticeable tilt in the way the pew was being held by the two girls. On Holly's end, it was somewhat higher, while on Iris' end, it looked difficult. Maybe it was because there were two people there?

"Well, this doesn't seem that heavy... I think we can easily take it over to the door, don't you think?"

And then that's when a thought hit her, and her smile faded.

She was lifting a pew. A goddamn pew. That someone else had trouble with. And it looked heavy... but Holly wasn't having as much trouble holding it as much as she expected to. In fact, it was almost minimal, at the very least. That... was odd. Really fucking odd...

Then she remembered. They each had a "gift". Superpowers or something, if she remembered correctly. So... what if...?

Her heart, after just having calmed down, started racing again. Was this it, then? Was this her power? It was not everyday you lifted heavy furniture with less effort than you expected, after all. An idea hit her to confirm it.

Holly slowly lowered her end to the ground, trying not to place it on her own feet. Then, she started speaking to Iris.

"Iris... leggo of your end... I wanna check something..."



Enter Subject C17, Cristo Ruiz
Cristo looked around him, trying to figure out where the fuck he was now. He had followed the map, which had said this was where the church should have been- but that map was a piece of shit. It looked like it have been by a drawn by a retarded five year old who was suffering from a particularly vicious bout of ADD. As he looked for the church, he thought of what he'd say to the people he'd met there.

Basically, he'd tell them the truth. Well, a slightly altered version of it- he'd tell them that he woke up in the prison. He'd been ready to leave, and this black kid had snuck up on him, and started shooting him. They'd gotten into a fight, Cristo had forced his gun down, and scratched him. Then he'd ran from the prison, looking for somewhere he could go for safety. He'd have to pull the victim act... he had put his gun back into his day pack, hoping not to scare them off with it out.

And that's when he saw the church- it was just standing there, a grim monolith looking out over the island. It was in relatively good condition, but that in itself unnerved Cristo even more. It made him think that until very recently there had been inhabitants on the island... what had happened to them, he didn't know. But from what had happened to the kid who had tried to speak out, who had his brains and blood splattered all over the wall, Cristo had a good idea. Cristo ran to the church door, thinking about perhaps just opening it, then decided against it. If there were people in there, he didn't want to spook them. So, instead, he knocked on the door, and began to shout.

"Hello?! Is anybody in there?" Cristo put effort into both his voice and face, trying to bring a frantic quality of terror to it. "My name's Cristo Ruiz... if anybody's in there, please open up! I... I lost him, but I think he's coming after me! Please open up, he'll kill me!"



Iris
Iris had thought it was strange that the pew had suddenly become lighter than before, but her mind had been so absorbed with the weight that she hadn't paid any mind to that. She didn't notice that Holly had literally picked up the other end of the pew. She poked her head up, a little confused about why Holly was telling her to back off. Iris immediately responded, lowering the pew to the floor with a loud gasp. She stretched her arms. That was harder to lift than she thought.

"A-Alright," she muttered, still very confused. She tilted her head. "Whatchu' plannin'?"

That was when someone started banging on the door. Iris let out an eep that sounded appropriate for a mouse to make. She looked towards the door. Apparently the person on the other side was in trouble. His voice was very masculine, and he seemed very scared. The whole situation made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She shivered, looking to the door, then back over at Holly. In the grand scheme of things, Iris had no problem letting whoever was out there in, truly ignorant of whether he was good or bad. Holly was here though, and Iris knew that some people were evil. Momma would have told her to be cautious. Don't talk to strangers. But what did Holly think? Holly needed to know what to do. She had to! Iris couldn't make this decision alone!

"S-Should we go out there?" Iris stuttered, her hand burying into her pocket. Her gun felt cold. She couldn't even believe that she was reaching for it. "I... Holly, I'm scared."



Holly
Iris immediately responded, placing the pew back down. She seemed as confused as Holly was! But... the whole thing about being able to lift the entire end of a pew... well, it would confuse anybody. Holly took a deep breath, as she tried to figure out what exactly to tell Iris. To be honest, she barely understood it herself. What's worse was, she was still feeling a little dizzy, and her heart was still racing. However, in spite of this, there was no ache in her arms or anything else that suggested that she had lifted a pew, which was just as odd.

She took another deep breath, and said "Well, I think I'm starting to figure out what-"

At that moment, however, she was interrupted mid-sentence by pounding on the door, and someone shouting. It sounded male, and... frightened? Holly jumped at the sound. She could barely make out what he was trying to say. Something about someone else trying to kill him? She really had no clue. That was what she could make out of it, at least.

Oh shit. Someone was out there, being killed. Holly's first instinct was to open the door. After all, she had to save a life, right? Or else she would have to live with it. However, she had a feeling. What if the apparent attacker was only inches behind the person on the other side? What if the other person would attack them? What then? Holly might have gotten super strength or she might have not, but the fact remained that if she encountered, let's say, some guy with the ability to turn himself into a nuclear bomb, she would still lose. Heck, being this friendly to Iris might not be a good idea in the first place, but she did it anyways...

On the other... what if she did not let them in, and they died? Would she be able to live with it?

Iris has asked if they should open it. Her heart beating even faster, Holly decided what she needed to do.

"Iris... stay back."

Holly started walking towards the door, and took her gun out of her bag (it must have been dropped at some point). Every sense seemed to be on fire for her. But, she had to take control of the situation. She simply had to. After all, if she had some semblance of control, things would go over well.

She placed her body against the door, leaning her head on it to hear a bit better. Holly searched her mind for a few seconds, to look for the correct thing to say.

"Tell us... give us a reason to trust you!" she shouted back.

Okay, probably not the best option. But right now, though she would not openly admit it? She was terrified.



Cristo
Cristo heard muttered conversation, and it heard like they were moving around stuff inside of the church. Before they even spoke to him, he heard their voices- from what he could gather, there was two different girls inside of the church. That made things easier... girls were, in general, far more likely to fall for an appeal to emotions. And although Cristo didn't like to flatter himself- well, actually, no, that was a blatant lie, he loved to flatter himself- he was very handsome. A really good looking guy, suffering already from an attack by some psychopath on the island, looking for companions and help? They'd fall for it, hook line and sinker.

Give us a reason to trust you! One of the girls shouted this through the door. It was obviously a test for Cristo... he thought of what to say for a second, and then smirked. The words easily came to his mind, words that the girls would eat up. "There's... there's nothing I can say to convince you to trust me. You don't know who I am, and I don't know who you are. But, that... that shouldn't matter. I trust you guys to do what's right... just please let me in. I don't want to hurt anyone, and I don't want to die. I just need help, and I need some safe place to be."

Cristo kept talking, and poured emotion into his voice. His face itself was a sad mask, the smirk replaced by a believable look of sadness. "Please, let me in. I want to help you guys, and right now, I need you to help me. There's nothing I can give you to trust me... but I'm just hoping that you are good enough to just trust me based on what you've heard."
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MurderWeasel
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I can trick them into thinking anything
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Holly
Holly wasn't buying any of this. Yeah, sure, Cristo sounded very convincing on the outside. But on the same coin, Holly had been skeptical of trusting Iris too despite how innocent she appeared on the inside. It was just hard for her to believe this guy, especially considering that she couldn't see him. He was beyond the door - for all Holly knew he could have a gun pulled out ready to shoot her and Iris like cattle. No! She wasn't going to let him in! No!

"Sorry, but I don't think we will!" She said, her hand holding her gun as tight as possible. She pressed her back closer to the wall.

The girl to her side narrowed her eyes, tilting her head. "H-Holly... Maybe we should let 'em in..."

Holly turned to look at Iris disbelievingly. Iris was just standing there, not taking cover, not doing much of anything at all! She really believed there was no trouble at all! She whispered, her voice mixed between a growl and a mutter.

"You don't even know what you're saying Iris. This guy could have his gun pulled out and he could shoot us both! You don't want that, do you?"

The meek girl just stared at Holly, her mouth quivering. She looked very sad, like Holly had just insulted her. "H-He sounds nice tho..." she pleaded, pulling the gun out of her pocket. "A-An' t-there's like two'a us and one'a 'em. W-We could just run... W-We could fight... I-If we need'tah... Please?"

Holly just stared. Iris had to be kidding with her. She couldn't be serious. She HAD TO BE JOKING. Holly did a double take, between the door and Iris. The girl looked serious considering the big puppy eyes she was giving her, and the quivering lip. Holly rolled her eyes, holding her head in her hand. Damn it. Damn it all. This was going to be a stupid idea, a very stupid idea.

"Alright," Holly said begrudgingly. She turned back to the door, gritting her teeth. "Alright, whoever the hell you are! If you want to come in here fine but just... Keep your hands up! No funny shit!"

Iris winced at the curse. It wasn't everyday she heard someone curse. Momma was not a violent person but she had slapped Iris when she used damn once, pretty hard too. Hard enough to make her start crying. So to hear Holly curse like she did made her grit her teeth. She would have gone so far as to tell Holly to tone it down but frankly it was none of Iris's business. So she stayed there, standing weakly, gun wrapped in both of her hands as though she were having trouble just holding it.



Cristo
Cristo listened at the door, and when he heard one of the girls denying him access to the church, he felt anger rush through him. He didn't say or do anything yet, though- there were two people in there, at least, and he hoped the other one would speak up for him. And he was rewarded for his patience, he saw, when he heard the other girl speak. She sounded nervous, caring, and naive- in other words, she sounded like a real version of the persona that Cristo had attempted. It was a sharp constrat to the standoffish, paranoid stance of the other girl inside the church, and that made Cristo wonder about their relationship. They talked as if they were friendly, and he imagined they were- but what would Ms. Careful do if push came to shove with Ms. Naive? Cristo thought he knew... and he also knew the girl who he would have to focus his efforts on.

"Alright, whoever the hell you are! If you want to come in here fine but just... Keep your hands up! No funny shit!" As a greeting, it wasn't exactly the best one Cristo ever had, but he'd take it. It meant that he'd have access to the church, and if he did, that was all he needed. He could take care of the rest when he got inside, dealing with the situation as he saw fit. Most of all, it would give Cristo some time to think, and it would allow him to at least get his story to these girls before Otis spread stories about him. Otis would be pretty pissed at Cristo when he woke up, and he'd probably want revenge. Well, that was fine- Cristo had meant what he said earlier.

As he thought this, he felt a voice from inside speak up, condemning him for even thinking something like that, for even thinking things close to that. Cristo pushed it to he back of his mind, and ignored it. The voice already seemed weak, and it was fading the more time he spent on the island. At the same time, another voice had begun to speak to Cristo, one that seemed to be getting stronger. This voice was cold, calm, and rational, and all it cared about was survival. Nothing else- not who he had been, who these other kids were, his morals, his innocence, good and evil- none of those mattered in the wake of that voice. It cared nothing for them, only for telling Cristo what was neccesary, what he needed to do.

Right now, it told Cristo to put on a face to match the voice he had used- a scared, innocent kid, who's a little frightened of himself right now for what he had to do to the boy who attacked him. It told Cristo that when he got inside, he'd have to explain the story to the girls- he'd have to make it short, and he'd have to make it believable. It told him that there were a lot of things Cristo would have to do later, ones that weren't so pleasant, but right now, he had to focus on those simple things. Cristo pushed open the door, hands held high, and although his face told nothing but fright and a little relief, inside, he felt himself smiling. Well... perhaps the voice wasn't so cold after all.



Holly & Iris
Holly was having trouble buying into Cristo's story, but she had simply chalked it upto her feelings in general. She was going to have a hard time believing in anyone, even Iris, so lowering her gun was going to be hard. She studied Cristo for a moment. He was good looking, though it didn't impress Holly in the slightest. She was more of the "Never Judge a Book by it's Cover" kind of girl, so for all she knew this attractive guy had less of a personality than a grapefruit. For all she knew, this guy could be a damned sociopath looking to dismember the both of them... wow. Holly grit her teeth. That was extremely morbid of her.

"Iris," Holly ordered. "Iris, pull your gun out."

Iris didn't answer. She just stared at Cristo, her eyes staring wildly. Iris's mind went straight to the little secret that she kept buried in the back of her bed. She had found a lacy men's magazine once on the road when she was walking into town, and she hid it away from her father. Iris couldn't stop looking at it. She had heard that these magazine's EXISTED but she had never seen them before. Page after page, men of all shapes and sizes were spread out, on beaches. There was nothing even remotely dirty in it, though the men had less clothes on than Iris had ever expected. It was a tame secret and it probably paled in comparison to some of the secrets many other girls her own age had, but Iris felt dirty all the same. To be honest she had forgotten about the magazine's existence until that very moment, and she remembered it only because of Cristo. He looked like he had just stepped out of that magazine!

Iris looked away from the boy, her cheeks on fire. She didn't respond to Holly.

"Iris?" Holly looked at Iris, perplexed.

Iris didn't hear Holly. She looked in Holly's direction but she didn't respond or give any indication that she had been paying attention. Holly just rolled her eyes.

Holly thought Iris's reaction was strange. She felt a smile creep across her lips. She easily figured out where Iris's mind had gone off to. She just shook her head and pretended not to have noticed. It was almost cute. Even so, it was clear that Iris wasn't thinking seriously about the game at all. The last thing Holly would do is daydream. No matter. Holly just looked back at Cristo, holding the gun tight.

"What's your name?" Holly said, a little annoyed that Iris had gone off into another world. She didn't give Cristo alot of time to answer her question. In truth it was the last thing she was wondering. She barked at Cristo, lifting the gun up slightly. "Empty your pockets. Take everything out. A-And don't try anything! Alright?"



Cristo
Cristo walked in, and was met with two girls staring at him, one an agressive looking girl with clearly dyed red hair and the other a smaller, timid looking almost petite brown haired girl. It was very easy to tell which girl had been saying which things- the girl who was currently pointing her gun at him was pretty obviously the paranoid one. He looked back at the smaller girl, and watched as she looked at him, mouth open, and then turned away, blushing. Cristo felt pleasure cross his mind as he watched this- the girl had a crush on him, did she? That was something he could use...

Iris, pull your gun out. Cristo had to struggle hard to keep from laughing at this, and more importantly to hide his face from showing anything. Was this girl serious? She wouldn't be pulling a gun out anytime soon... not on him, at least. And she didn't, and as the other girl looked at the brown haired one, Cristo watched a smile cross the red haired girl's face. This was even more interesting; what game was this girl playing at? But Cristo realized what had made her smile, just the thought that the other girl was falling for him, that she was weak, that she didn't know how to deal with Cristo. And that meant the red head thought that she knew exactly how to deal with Cristo... well, that was funny. Perhaps later on he'd have to teach her a lesson or two about that.

"What's your name? Empty your pockets. Take everything out. A-And don't try anything! Alright?" Perhaps the red head had meant that to come out as confident and threatening, but to Cristo all he got from it was that she was afraid- she was afraid, and she didn't know how to deal with the situation. Even when she clearly had the upper hand, she was nervous. Hmm... that could come in handy later on too. Cristo opened his pockets, revealing his compass and his map, which he put on the ground beside him.

"My name's... Cristo Ruiz" He said slowly, pulling his bag off his shoulder. He tossed this to the ground in front of the red headed girl. "If you want, you can look through that too." There was nothing bad in there- just the typical contents of the day pack. Cristo had tossed the paper with his power somewhere on the island on his way to the church, thinking of a situation like this. "And, two things, from me. One- what are you girl's names? And two... could you, umm, please put that gun down now? You're starting to scare me."

Cristo took a seat on the floor, and slowly and deliberately, he unbuttoned his shirt a few more buttons, revealing almost all of his chest and most of his upper abdominal muscles. "I'm sorry, I hope you girls don't mind- it was a long walk over here, and it is really hot out there." Well, well... this would give the brown haired one something to think about.



Holly & Iris
Holly wasn't impressed. Sure, Cristo was hot as hell. He had a damn nice body, she wouldn't deny that. However she had seen plenty of guys with even better bodies. And besides, it wasn't hot enough for him to sweat so much. She didn't know what this guy was trying to pull but she didn't like it. Not one bit. She kept her gun pointed at Cristo.

"Hell no!" Holly shook her head. "Give me a reason to lower this gun!"

Iris wanted to think the same way as Holly. Getting to close to this boy was probably the worst decision Iris could make. However, she was incapable. Cristo was so darn pretty, and those abs oh lawd those abs. All the boys in her town were either stringy, musclebound or fat. None of them looked like Cristo! So when Holly was treating Cristo like a bad boy, telling him that she didn't trust him, it was Iris who stepped up. It was what Momma would have wanted after all. Then again, her Momma would be surprised to see her own girl thinking the things she was.

"N-No!" The brown-haired girl told Cristo, taking a step forward. Her hands were prodding together, her eyes glaring down at Cristo's chest. She looked back up at Cristo's face. Iris had never kissed anyone before, but if she had the choice she would definitely kiss him. Her chest was pounding. "W-We dun' mind, right Holly? It is pretty h-hot." Her voice cracked. She motioned for Holly to put the gun down. "A-Ah, um, now, there ain't no reason tah be so rash! We all friends 'ere!" She looked over at her companion, her puppy eyes in full show. She turned back to Cristo. "M-Mah name is I-Iris L-Landen- um- Iris LanDOn! I'm from Iowa! A-An' this is Holly. Holly Chapman! She's from Nevada. R-Right Holly? That' where you from?"

Holly just looked at Iris, disbelievingly. This girl wasn't just innocent, she was downright stupid. She didn't understand exactly where Iris had come from - from where she was standing, it seemed like Iris was coming onto Cristo. Was she trying to get herself killed? She could understand, maybe, just a little, but this wasn't the time or the place!"

"Iris." Holly said wearily. "Iris." She wanted to say, "Iris, you idiot! Stop trying to hit on this meathead! What the hell are you thinking?!" but it sounded too rude even for her. She just sighed. Alright. This was harmless puppylove. Let Iris be that way. Let herself get killed. That sounded cold, but it was true. She lowered the gun just enough so that it wasn't pointing at Cristo, but held it close regardless. "Whatever. Yeah. I'm from Nevada. My name's Holly. Nice to meet you, I guess." She glared at Iris. "Iris, could you go check his bag?"

Iris blinked. "Okay." She smiled at Cristo. "I dun' mind."

Iris lowered herself to the floor and pulled the bag over to her place. She zipped it open, digging through it slowly. Iris wasn't really paying attention. In fact she was using it as an excuse to look up at Cristo everyone once and awhile, almost hypnotized by his open shirt. Holly didn't catch this, but if she had she would have a huge problem. She needed Iris on her side!

"We were all given a gun," Holly said bluntly. "Where's yours? In the bag?"



Cristo
Cristo watched the proceedings from his seat, getting more and more displeased. The only good thing, from what he could see, was that his shirt idea had had its intended effect- the girl (Iris, he thought) looked like she was about ready to jump him right there. Holly's looks towards her had been right, in a way- she was a very naive girl. But that was good for him, he thought, as even though Holly seemed to have not let up her aggressive attitude, Iris was arguing for him. She was backing him up, and they haven't even really talked to each other yet. Yes, Cristo could definitely use her.

He heard Holly's resigned response, an apathetic "nice to meet you" and a confirmation that yes, she was indeed from Nevada... why the fuck would he want to know that? And she lowered her gun a little bit, but not nearly as much as Cristo had wanted. Just so it wasn't pointing directly at him. But what could he do... he had tossed his bag- and then he heard it. He heard her mistake, as she asked Iris to check Cristo's bag. Iris smiled at Cristo as she agreed to do it, and Cristo gave her a warm smile back. It was one he had perfect with his modeling years, a genuine care free smile that was guaranteed to make a girls heart beat faster.

"Nice to meet you, Iris and Holly." He said this as he scooted a little closer to the bag, still smiling at Iris. He saw as she checked through his bag, taking quick looks up now at him- she knew he was looking, and she was shy about it, but that was better. That meant she wasn't really well versed in relationships- wasn't used to the idea that guys could use girls. And that was when Holly said it, bluntly, rudely, and agressively, the way she always had. She asked him where his gun was, and that was when Cristo decided that he was done with it. He was doing with being this girls timid little bitch, following all her orders to the T. Fuck that. Time to show her that she couldn't boss him around.

"It was in my bag," he said, and in a swift lithe movement he closed the distance between him and the bag while simultaneously reaching into, pulling out his gun with one hand and switching off the safety with the other. He pointed it straight up at Holly. "and now it's in my hand." Iris was right next to him, their faces only a few inches apart, and he whispered, in a voice just low enough for only Iris to hear "I'm sorry- I don't mean to scare you."

"Holly, I don't want to hurt you- I don't want to hurt anybody. But I've already been shot at twice, and it disturbs me that I have to tell you twice to put your gun away. Frankly, you're frightening me, and I'm sure you're frightening Iris too." He looked at Iris's face, his browns gazing deeply into her own. "Isn't that right, Iris?" Then he quickly turned his head back to Holly, gun still pointed up at her. No time for her to try something funny.



Iris
Iris blushed as Cristo's face came within a few inches of her. She wanted so badly to move a few more inches and close that gap, but she was squeamish. Not because of his closeness but more because he just pulled a gun out and pointed it at Holly. That made her nervous. Who the heck would do that when someone is pointing a gun at them? It showed that Cristo had a spine and she liked that but he didn't have to be so brash. But she said nothing.

Iris was naive, sure, but she knew it when something wasn't right. She looked at Holly, then over at Cristo. Iris ran a hand over Cristo's arm lightly. Both because she wanted to calm the boy down, and because she felt the urge to do it. She felt a shiver run along her spine as the tips of her fingers connected with his arm, rubbing down his arm slowly. She bit her lip, It was a motion that Holly wasn't aware of,. "C-Cristo, I ain't sayin' this tah be rude but she has a point." She pushed his hand down. "I-I get where yah comin' from, and I don' mind, but whippin' that gun out isn't gonna' help you git on her good side."

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. "I know you're scared. But s-she's a nice girl. Don't worry." She rubbed his arm again.



Holly
Who the HELL did he think he was?!

He was now pointing a gun at the two of them. He was going to fucking kill them. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. Fuck Iris for letting him in and being distracted by his looks, and fuck Cristo for being... well, he was a potential murderer, for crying out loud! Hell, he probably had killed someone by this fucking point!

Holly was nervous as hell. There were so many things she wanted to say to Cristo right at this moment. But, would it stop her from shooting this bastard's head off? Hell no, or at least, she hoped. As much as she wanted not to kill, she wanted to... you know, live.

"Where the HELL do you get off?!" she screamed, as she felt the gun in her hand shaking as it pointed towards Cristo. "I'm pointing my gun at you because I don't exactly want to trust anyone right away! I mean, if you're going to go and pull a weapon on me that's even more suspicious! Why should I go trusting you now?"

Iris, however, was trying another tactic. She was trying to talk him down, make him calm.

Wait... would this work...?

It wasn't as if Holly wanted to shoot Cristo. But she felt the need to. But... perhaps they needed to talk this out? Iris seemed frightened too, but she seemed... a little more clear in thought. But, on the other hand, she did not seem to be very bright, and not only that, but she had a fucking crush on him as well.

You know, maybe the one who wants to bone him has a point this time, the thought appeared in her head.

Although Holly did not lower her gun, she found herself smiling at Iris, though only just a bit. "Thank you Iris. Really."

Then she turned back to Cristo.

"Now if you don't mind Cristo. Lower the gun and we can talk this out."

Well, if he did not agree... what then? Holly knew she was going to have to blow his fucking brains out. She knew that at her very core, she was not a murderer. Heck, never before in her life had she ever considered killing to be an option. But, she had to live, and someone like Cristo... well, he was pissing her off. And yet... she was frightened, too. It was a strange feeling, actually. But she had no time to ponder it now!



Cristo
Their reaction was not what Cristo had wanted, at all- Iris didn't help him at all. She grabbed his arm, rubbing it and lightly pushing it down, pointing his gun back at the ground. She was whispering in his ear, trying to get as close to him as possible- and the whole time she was, Holly just stood there with that angry, bitchy look on her face, screaming about how she had the gun because she didn't trust anyone. Iris was trying to calm him down... what the fuck was she thinking?! For a moment, Cristo felt a very strong, almost unstoppable urge. A wave of deepseated hatred washed through him, and he saw what he wanted to do in his head- he'd shoot Holly, shoot her until his gun was about of bullets, and then he'd kill Iris. He'd claw her, and he'd gut her. His knife was still in his bag- it would go through her as easy as paper.

And for a moment, he almost did it. He felt his finger press down lightly on the trigger, preparing to shoot Holly- and then the anger faded, and Cristo was left with a sick, hollow feeling. He had no problem with attacking, even killing people to survive- he had already proven that with Otis in the holding cells. But this was something different- there had been a sick desire there, a desire to kill both of them, almost a need. It disgusted Cristo, and more, it scared him. It was a part of him he'd never seen before... and it was strong. But Cristo had resisted it, and he pushed the gun down with a sigh, his hand letting go and letting it drop to the floor.

"I... I'm sorry. I'm really tense right now." Cristo said, speaking slowly and carefully. The feeling was still there, he realized- not nearly as strong as it had been for that moment, but it was most definitely still there. He'd have to be careful now. "I woke up in these... prison cells, by myself, I thought. I was trying to figure out what to do, and this kid... a muscular black teen, my age, slightly taller than me- walked in. He started firing at me, we got into a struggle. He... he almost killed me."
Cristo then put his own hand out, and put it on Iris's arm, and looked her in the face.

"I'm sorry, to both of you... especially you, Iris." He brought his other hand, and slowly and gently, stroked her hair. "You were so kind to me, speaking up for me, defending me; and then I went and did something like that. I embarassed myself..." He put his hands to his shoulders then, and sat on the floor again. "I apologize... I just..." Cristo let his voice crack, let all the fear that he had been feeling out "I just don't know what to do!" But that was a lie. He knew... and he had resisted, but he knew. He knew what to do, and it would happen. Sooner or later.



Enter Subject C16, Chris Richardson
Chris hummed softly to himself as he approached the church. The humming was a simple nervous habit, one which he felt no need to quash. He might have sung something if not for the fact that singing while walking left you with very odd note patterns of rising and falling pitch and loudness. In layman's terms, it sounded bad, which was never something Chris wanted his singing to sound like. He slowed down as he got closer to the church and picked up the gentle murmur of voices. Of course, these were less "gentle murmurs" and more "threatening inflections" and "careful liar." Tone was remarkably important in communication, and between singing and acting, Chris had gotten really good at picking it up. His lying tendencies also helped. As a precaution, he slid his sock-wrapped knife out of his pocket and unwrapped it, cradling it in his hand with the flat of the blade to his wrist and the handle resting on his fingers. He practiced spinning it into a ready position with a deft move and ended up dropping it onto his foot. Fortunately, the handle hit his foot instead of the blade. He grumbled softly, picked the knife up and wrapped it again. He could get it out of his pocket fast enough to make it a threat, but he'd probably rely on his "natural charisma" (which is to say, he'd act and lie his ass off and hope he didn't get shot) more than violence.

He approached the open door with his hands readily visible. It seemed like whatever had been happening inside had calmed down, with only the voice that seemed off somehow speaking. He didn't really catch the words as he approached, but he imagined it was something weird and non-threatening. He stepped forward and knocked on the open door.

"Um... hi. I hope I'm not interrupting anything," he said, allowing fear to flow into his voice. It was interesting how much more he used emotion in this sick experiment than he had at home and at school. In the interest of sounding non-threatening, he spoke in a slightly higher register than his normal tones. This caused a slight voice crack, which helped to communicate his non-threat and general fear.



Iris
Iris would be the first to sympathize with Cristo. He told them about how he was attacked by a black teen, muscular, and how he almost died. Iris felt pity for him but she couldn't help but wonder what happened exactly in the prison cells.

There was this yellow snake flag that a good few of the residents of Battle Creek had - it said in white letters "Don't Tread on Me", and it really wasn't something like the American flag. One of the girls name Suzie in her class asked what the flag meant, and one of the more sarcastic boys named Billy answered. He said that it was a "Rite a' Passage", something that said how someone stood. Iris was one of the smarter kids in her class and Billy had a tendency to talk out of his ass, so Iris corrected him.

"T-That ain't true," Iris stammered. "A Rite a' Passage is a mark from one sta'as symbol tah' th' other, like a religious thing. I think."

Billy raised an eyebrow. "Tha' 'ell uh' talkin' 'bout Iris?"

"Well," Iris continued, "It's sorta' lik'a Baptism or your first Confession. Marks where y'are, how far y'are from becomin' an adult."

Billy just sneered. "Uh' don' know what ur' talkin' bout Iris, seriously, shaddap."

The rest of the kids just laughed, but one girl did give her a pat on the back. Iris was filled with pride.

Iris had an idea of what the flag meant though. It was more of a symbol of how people in Battle Creek did things - they'd be very happy to help you, give you food, gas your car up, but if you ever decided to try to screw with the way they had been doing things for years then Battle Creek would be nothing more than a snake bite to the veins. It really showed too. They were kind and considerate to the passerby, whether they be any ethnic or racial background and most of the people who came through town had been nice as well. A few of the people living in Battle Creek were hateful though and Iris could never understand why.

"Momma always told me that all people are tah' same, deep down inside. Ain't no reason tah be unkind just cuz someone don't look th' same as you." She had said once to an old woman who had a bad taste in her mouth once she heard about a black couple moving into a house in the nearby town of Arthur. The old woman gaped at Iris, told her to mind her own business and left.

Iris was no racist, not even in the slightest. Then again she had seen a movie called Boyz 'N the Hood, and while she had never really remembered much about it. But her mind began wandering back to that movie. So much violence. There was this one guy, Doughboy, was that his name? It was a strange name, Iris didn't think it was the characters real name. Doughboy had done some bad things but in the end he was never really bad, just mislead. Was this guy who attacked Cristo like Doughboy? Were black people like that in other parts of the country? It seemed very ignorant to place a movie character's personality on-top of a real person but Iris couldn't help it. Was the boy just scared and had Cristo simply assumed that he was bad? Or was the boy evil, looking to kill everyone else? It was hard for Iris to really picture someone as bloodthirsty or inhuman. The boy had to be a rational person, like everyone else she had met. Iris just knew that -

Iris couldn't think anymore. She felt her head go weak as Cristo touched her arm and stroked her hair. She felt her whole body go numb, letting out all the tension that had been built in her body from the moment before. Cristo looked ready to cry, and it made Iris ready to cry. She wanted to hug him, tell him that it was going to be alright...

But Iris was no idiot. Sure it did not take very long to gain her trust, but that didn't mean that she wasn't willing to simply let an episode such as this fly by. She wanted Cristo, oh god how she wanted him, as perverted as that sounded. Yes, that sounded very perverted. If it hadn't been obvious from the outset, Iris's mind had gone south very quickly. She was a naive little mouse and the images of passion, with beds and roses and candles that she had seen tossed around in the romance movies she so loved to watch, and those romance novels she so did enjoy to read, seemed to invade her little dreamer mind like a bad virus. Coupled with Cristo's chest, which looked so rock hard that you could break a diamond on it, and his clear interest in her, it was almost impossible to keep herself from, well, ripping off what little clothes he had left on. Iris's cheeks were so inflamed that her whole face was red.

However she still remembered that there were people looking to hurt others. Everyone had guns and knives. Iris didn't like guns or knives. She used knives regularly but never on a real human being. She had also fired a gun a couple of times in the past but that had been father's rifle (nicknamed Anna) and it had been at deer that she purposefully missed. She really didn't have it in her to kill or at least that's what she assumed. But Cristo, while looking like an angel from heaven and just as nice, looked like the kind of boy who could kill. And no matter how persistent her lustful ideas for him were, it didn't change the fact of how nice Holly had been when they first met and how they planned to block the door with a pew only a hour ago.

Holly was as close to a friend as Iris could get, considering the situation. She had spoken to the few boys and girls her age in school, but the girls seemed more preoccupied with either getting out of Battle Creek altogether, about the few boys that were in Battle Creek, or what chores they had to do when they got home, with the slight chance of talks involving makeup or hair cuts. Those were all the things that Iris really did not enjoy speaking about. The boys on the other hand, well, if you were to take Iris's thoughts and increased them tenfold, you would see why Iris never bothered with them. So as sad as it sounded, Holly was the only person her own age that Iris had ever become friends with, despite the fact that they weren't very close to begin with.

And Cristo... he was hot and all, nice too. But what he had just done turned Iris away from him a bit.

So it must have come as a shock to have Iris slowly pad away from Cristo, still looking down at his chest with all the desires of a dog in heat. She felt bad for him, very bad, but it didn't change the fact that he had pulled a gun out. He tried to fill her with encouragement, like she had really helped him, and with all things considered she really had. However, she was still in shock and as much as she wished otherwise Iris thought the best thing to do was to put some space between her and Cristo. Besides Holly looked almost annoyed by the way the two of them had been behaving, and her annoyance seemed to radiate with the strength of a thousand suns.

Iris only got the slightest of glances at Chris. She wasn't that far away from the door, probably the closest of the three to Chris altogether. There wasn't much to see. The unkempt hair covered most of his face, only betraying a single eye. An eye that was filled with more depth and character than Iris had ever seen in anyone's eyes before. She took a moment to study the almost over-sized orb, curious, running her own eyes around in circles along the bands and patterns that stained his modestly hazel eye. The green seemed a nice touch to Iris, though for all intent and purposes she was no judge of color. Iris was the kind of person who liked all colors equally and if anyone were to ask her her favorite, that is if you could get her to answer at all seeing as though she would never talk to strangers, she would simply say "all of them are so nice. I can't decide on one." Which wasn't true. Her clear favorite was green, but with true southernly politeness she never really picked sides even for such pointless affairs. So it was a very welcome surprise when she did realize that there was some green in that brownish hue and it made her smile.

Any other person would have been cautious to Chris's arrival. He seemed to give off the feeling that he was a little nuts, what with the hair in the shape it was. But Iris treated him like she would a neighbor or a store clerk, giving him a little smile and no sign of any devious intent. He was kind of cute in a strange little way, though there would be no difference in how she treated him if he were ugly. Like Cristo and Holly at least, Chris was someone that Iris had never seen before and her momma told her to be nice. So she would be nice.

"Nah', y'aren't interruptin' anythin'." She said in a kind voice, waving the past events away like an eraser to a chalkboard. "We're fine, ain't nothin' to worry about." She looked to Cristo, then over to Holly, hoping that they felt the same. Iris would have invited Chris in but what with Holly having her gun out and Cristo sitting on the floor crying, she didn't want to do anything that might cause even more tension.



Holly
At first, he seemed kind of even more upset, then sighed as he let the gun down, and started speaking.

The a-hole began on some sort of sob story about being attacked by some black guy back at some prison cells, or whatever the hell he was talking about. Apparently he had been shot at, and then barely escaped. Was this true? Well, again, it was probably just some story he was telling to get them on their side. For all they knew, he might have attacked first, and came here crying because Baby Cristo had lost his little fight. In which case... not only would he be a potential murderer, he would also be pathetic. Seriously, what the hell?

Though, she lowered her gun a little bit. She was tense too, she had to admit. Wouldn't anyone else in this scenario? At least she had started to calm down a bit. But, she did not want to lower her guard completely.

But, to be honest? The way Iris and Cristo acted around each other was starting to annoy her. Seriously, they were acting like lovebirds straight from the beginning. Okay, one of them acted like a lovebird that pointed guns at people, but the fact remained. Normally, Holly would pick on and tease her friends for having crushes, but right now, in a kill-or-be-killed type situation? It was about as dangerous as it could get.

As the gun lowered a bit more, Holly started speaking again. "Okay, I believe you... for now..."

She had noted that Iris has pulled away, but was still staring at his chest in a very... amorous fashion. At which point, she added something else, her trademark smile just almost forming once more, in spite of how tense she was.

"Hey guys... don't think that I'm not aware that you guys want to make cute little 'gifted' babies... but this is not the time-"

Holly had been interrupted by someone asking if they were in the middle of something. She whipped her head around, and saw that it was some boy. Her smile faded almost instantly.

Oh goodie... at least it isn't Enrique Iglesias this time... she found herself thinking.

In fact, he was anything but. The kid had wild, voluminous hair, as if he had just woken up. He did not seem threatening, but you never know.

Holly lifted her gun towards his direction in a panic. "Alright, who are you?", she shouted almost on impulse.

It didn't help that she was still on fire emotionally from the events of the past few minutes. Seriously, was the church a mating ground for teenagers now or something? It would explain Iris and Cristo's behavior, at least. But, the way she was talking to the newcomer, well, she was aware that it probably was not the best option. Heck, it might have lead to her problems with Cristo, for all she knew. But... better safe than sorry?

But, Iris, as always, tried to talk things through. Saying that nothing was happening... saying that there was nothing to be worried about... it was as if she was barely aware of the danger. Either that, or she knew how to keep a cooler head than Holly did. She was aware that Iris was looking at her and Cristo. Holly sighed, and lowered her gun slightly again, looking directly at the boy.

"Alright... sorry about that... but my question still stands..." she said in a quiet, nervous voice. "Who are you?"

Damn it. She was really getting the jitters here. Holly was aware she was acting somewhat impulsively, but it was not as if she was calm right now, actually. Hell...
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