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Dagon; Open
Topic Started: Aug 11 2017, 12:25 AM (1,534 Views)
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A Degenerate
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Eris Marquis was not well acquainted with fear.

She lived a comfortable life. She knew who she was and where she was going and those things had never, to her knowledge, been endangered in any way. She would graduate at the top of her class, go to Rutgers and get her degree, and then perhaps go on to get her master's or even PhD in literature. She would write books, for pleasure if not profit. Eris Marquis was going to be a name in academia.

These things had always been unquestioned fact, and that was the way Eris preferred it. She had never considered the possibility of getting thrown off-track by any disaster, and certainly not by any circumstance of her own doing.

But now. Now.

It was foolish, Eris supposed, to have considered herself untouchable. True, she couldn't have predicted that something like this would happen again, certainly not to herself, but maybe...

Well.

It didn't do much good to dwell on hypotheticals when said hypotheticals were firmly in the past. She couldn't possibly have prepared for this.

In the span of a few minutes, everything that in Eris's own personal world had been fact had been thrown into question, every future plan suddenly made uncertain, and - horrifically - even unlikely.

Eris didn't appreciate it.

Currently, she sat crosslegged next to the telescope at the top of the lighthouse. The bag she had been given was nearby, its contents already rifled through and then left alone. She had let her hair down to try and soothe the headache which she sensed was oncoming; the painkillers she had been given were tempting, but there was the matter of being recently sedated which made her hesitate, along with the even more recent memory of waking, disoriented, at the top of the stairs and the heart-stopping dizziness which had overtaken her when she tried to roll over and had nearly sent herself over the edge.

Once she had gotten her bearings and was no longer reeling with vertigo, Eris had initially been relieved that there seemed to have been no witnesses to her panicked scramble back from the edge of the spiral stairs. No witnesses except for the emotionless black eye of a camera zoomed in on her movements.

That was when it had hit her. Eris had noticed the camera watching and she had stared back, seeing her disheveled, distorted reflection in its eye. She had seen the terror on her own face, as much as she wanted to pretend that she had been as cold and dispassionate as the machine monitoring her. She resented them now, the camera and the fear.

So she had composed herself, at least on the outside, and she sat motionless, waiting for the headache to either come in full force or recede, and silently warring with herself over whether she wanted nobody or everybody to be watching her on the far side of the camera's lens.

((G14 ERIS MARQUIS: START))
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delayedMirth
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liar
[ *  *  *  * ]
(Alice had always hoped that death would be a solved issue by the time it started being relevant to her.))

Maybe medical science would have been able to indefinitely extend your lifespan, assuming you didn’t get into any nasty accidents. Maybe it’d be cheap enough that even people other than CEOs and Presidents could live close to forever.

Maybe people would have just given up, thrown their hands in the air, and started putting their brains in computers. Alice wouldn’t have minded being a robot.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been in her lifetime, but maybe she could have lived long enough to see the research start to take form, to know that the future would be wonderful for her nieces and or nephews.

She knew, in the back of her mind; that it was really only a denial of the laws of entropy and decay, but it had never really seemed relevant. 18-year-old girls didn’t just die, after all; as long as you ignored all of the evidence showing that they totally did.

Survival of the Fittest could probably be taken as a statistical outlier in the realm of teenage mortality rates, but, well. Here she was. Going to die. Already dead, if you fast forwarded a couple days, or if the universe blinked.

Was there really any room for ambiguity there? Seemed like there were only two possible routes to survival - winning or disabling her collar, and even the second one wouldn’t be enough by itself. It wasn’t impossible that some government agency could swoop in and save them without getting everyone exploded, but it also wasn’t impossible that this was all just a ridiculous prank and Mr. Dolph had just been an elaborate animatronic.

Alice was going to die. Alice didn’t want to die. At some point she was going to have to reconcile those two compatible but unpleasant points, and that was going to have to wait for some indeterminate point in the future. She had already rummaged through her bag; and though she was unimpressed by the MP3 player she wasn’t going to throw away anything that could be useful; even if it was only in some ridiculous McGuyver-esque fantasy.

For lack of anything better to do, she decided to climb the nearby lighthouse. Alice liked lighthouses - towering, imposing structures you could see from miles away. A beauty that could only be found by something that owed its entire existence to serving a purpose. Besides, the map was useful, but having an actual, physical view of the island from above could be vital.

So, she climbed. She had to stop several times on the way up, burdened by her bag and desperately out of breath. Alice had known the science behind exercise, had known that being in shape would have mental benefits as well, so as a student of science there was simply no excuse for her to neglect it; but when it came down to it? She’d been lazy, simple as that.

It would have been nice if she had been able to metaphorically leave her regrets beneath her once she had reached the top, but her legs were too sore to easily forget. Still, what she found once she reached the top lightened the sting a bit. Alice was easy to please. She liked telescopes and she liked Eris.

“Think we can do something with this?” Alice said by way of announcing herself as she walked closer to them. She started idly tapping a finger on the telescope, staring out across the island below them.
we have built cities and dug graveyards on oh so many worlds
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A Degenerate
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Eris had continued to sit, making no sound as she listened to the entry and halting ascent of whomever or whatever had chosen to join her. She hunched forward slightly, shoulders tense, until Alice's distinctive figure came into view.

The vice-grip Eris had been holding on her own knee slowly relaxed. There were small, quickly-fading echoes of pain around her kneecap where her fingernails had dug into her skin through her tights.

"I imagine you can see whatever there is to see around here with it, if that's what you mean," she returned, well-used to Alice's lack of decorum. She was the only person Eris would tolerate it from, even in a situation like this that had turned her insides to ice and crowded her normally organized mind with a legion of panicked voices, each vying for her primary attention as they raised this impossibility and that.

"It looks like it's in working order, as much as a telescope can be."

Eris stayed seated as Alice made for the telescope. She wasn't particularly interested in the view; she was rather more concerned with the viewers.

"I don't suppose you're armed," she said, the careful evenness of her voice slipping just slightly. Her throat was dry.
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[ *  *  *  * ]
"Meant something like that," Alice said as she experimentally peered through the telescope; trying to figure out what exactly she had meant. You couldn't deny the usefulness of being able to spy on the rest of the island from on high; but was there more to it than that?

The only thing she could think of was somehow using it to see a far-off ship, somehow signalling it without being noticed by their captors, somehow being lucky enough to have someone on said ship coincidentally be looking in the right direction with their own telescope; and then everyone dying anyway when they came to investigate. Too many variables for a scheme that was already doomed from the start.

She surveyed the island. Trees. Buildings in various states of char and crumble. Alice had hoped to see a radio tower, because even though there was no way it'd still be functional radio towers were among her favorite buildings; but no luck there. People, plenty of them.

At Eris's next question, Alice stepped back from the telescope and turned to face her friend, noticing for the first time how shaken she looked. That alone was enough to unnerve Alice; feeling even more surreal than the introductory explosion of blood and brains that already felt like just a nightmare. If there was anyone on the island who Alice had hoped could have hit the ground running, it would have been Eris.

"They gave me an MP3 player," Alice said, staring at the bridge of Eris's nose. Eye contact was hard enough even when you weren't worried about seeing something unexpected there. "Guessing it's about the same for you?"
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Kween in Yella
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[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((Katarina Konipaski. Mark.))
They're on the list.
"There are two reasons someone would ask you that question, Alice."
Everyone is on the list.
Katarina leaned against the wall of the stairwell, listening to the voices echo down through the tower. She wasn't quite close enough to be seen yet; she'd stopped well behind Alice. From the moment she'd seen her, she was trying to build up the resolve to hold her up. Not kill her, not necessarily. Maybe. Maybe it was naive to try and draw a distinction between the two. She wouldn't be robbing her of a weapon, the olive assault rifle in her hands had that covered nicely. Alice would be losing her essentials, and the same reason Katarina wanted them would explain why taking them might as well be a death sentence. When you considered it along those lines, a bullet in the back of the head was probably kinder.
Everyone. Everyone. Everyone. Again. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone.
"They're afraid you're about to attack them, or they want to figure out their odds before they attack you."
Eris could do it. More than anyone else she could do it. If she wasn't it was only for lack of opportunity.
Eris was presenting her a much more interesting opportunity though. There wasn't any attempt at overt deception in her observation. Katarina simply knew Eris, and knew that one of them would come to the inevitable conclusion of the game as easily as the other. If she was stalking Alice trying to find her resolve, it was just as likely Eris was doing the same.
She wasn't a monster for accepting the inevitable.
"I'd figure out which it was if I was you."

And if Alice didn't follow the logical conclusion, or if Eris was completely unarmed, Katarina was still standing at the only exit with a gun. They just didn't need to know about that yet.
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A Degenerate
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Eris's nails bit into her leg again as the voice echoed up the stairwell like the first sign of so many storybook ghosts.

If she stopped to think about it, she supposed that she had hoped Katarina wouldn't be here. What was more difficult to work out clearly was why she didn't want to see Katarina.

Well, the immediate reason was obvious enough, she supposed: Katarina was a complicating factor. In three neat sentences, she had snarled up the peaceful exchange between Eris and Alice, twisted the situation so that Eris was a villain and Alice a potential victim, and Katarina herself remained an unknown.

Eris didn't like unknowns.

Slowly and carefully, Eris rose to her feet. Straightened her back and squared her shoulders, raised her chin, and looked straight down her nose at the spot at the top of the stairs where Katarina would appear if she chose to approach. When she spoke, her tone had turned frosty.

"I can assure you, I don't mean anyone here harm," she said, carefully omitting the fact that she had nothing in her possession meant for causing harm in the first place. Especially not my friends, she nearly added, but then Katarina wasn't really her friend.

Declarations of love and friendship like that were trite and stale, anyway.
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Zetsumodernista
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GO, GO! FORCEFULLY MY YEAH!!!
[ *  * ]
((Irene Djezari: Start))

There was nowhere to go but up, two at a time, legs screaming, up the stairs because that's how villains escape in movies, right, even though it inevitably traps them, seriously, why do villains always climb when the hero can just climb up after them? No no no. No going down. The floor is lava and the walls are closing in on her and she needs fresh air, and maybe the physicality of what she's doing right now can make her forget for just a second about the impending apocalypse. Any excuse would do. And Irene wasn't a villain, right? So she hadn't doomed herself narratively speaking. Right.

What's that about how you can't run away from your problems? Hell no. Look, look--actually, don't look. Look away like your life depends on it. Which it does. Listen. What's the problem? A bear named reality. And what's your solution? You can't outrun the bear, but what can you outrun? You know what. Just don't think about the game--that's the name of the game, right? Focus on thinking about not thinking about the game. That definitely doesn't count, even if it's part of the game.

Shit.

Well then how about a

"Hi there, KK! Fancy seeing you here!"
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liar
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Alice blinked.

Had she misread the situation? Because up until the new girl had spoken up, she'd felt a creeping certainty that Katarina was about to attack them with more than just aggressive false dichotomies; but she sounded too pleasant for someone who had just stumbled upon a potential ambush.

Alice didn't recognize her voice, and she didn't know Katarina well enough to try and narrow its owner down to her friends. Was the new girl just legitimately stupid, or in such extreme denial that it amounted to the same thing? Was Katarina just trying to mess with their heads? Were they both in on some sort of plan?

Too many variables.

Alice glanced over at Eris, tried to smile in a way that expressed the fact that she wasn't taking any of Katarina's manipulations to heart; but ended up just making her look stressed. Not wrong, but not the sentiment she had hoped to share. She gave up and just nodded instead.

It'd be smartest to wait until they had more information to act on, but would it be safest? There was only one way down, and if Eris had a weapon Alice was sure she would have drawn it by now. Maybe, if they both laid in wait, they could rush Katarina if she showed her face, it couldn't be too difficult to push her down the stairwell-

How the hell had it gotten to that point already? How the hell was Alice so easily accepting all of this, accepting that she could die, that she could kill? How, when it couldn't have been more than 20 minutes since she had even woken up?

No. That was irrelevant. Completely irrelevant. A blessing, even - Alice couldn't question it. Question it later, maybe; everything existed to be questioned, after all; but in safety. In a calmer place. For now, a shot in the dark.

"If I was you, I'd be trying to figure out why she's so happy to see you," Alice called down the stairs.
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Kween in Yella
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[ *  *  *  *  * ]
And so everything went flying off the rails thanks to an unforeseen Irene shaped bump in the tracks. It was a longshot either way. Now the problem was that as soon as she turned around, Irene was going to notice she was armed, and KK didn't think she was gonna keep quiet about it either. Things were about to get loud and complicated either way, and Irene was standing in the way of her only exit.
Strike first or be struck strike first or be struck strike first or be struck
Two birds, one stone.
Where were her hands ten and two ten and two ten and two
"Bye, Irene."
I don't want to see her face
Katarina turned down the stairwell as she spoke, swinging the assault rifle in Irene's direction. Then she let it sing.
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GO, GO! FORCEFULLY MY YEAH!!!
[ *  * ]
And then the truth was staring Irene down the long barrel of a gun. Hi. There. KK.

Irene hit the dirt as the air around her went all sound and fury and oh, ha, here's some ketchup. All over her clothes, too. Spewing from the mess that was her left hand, yep. Seriously, how had KK hit such a small target without turning the rest of Irene into chunky salsa? Maybe she was shooting to disarm.

Okay, okay. You're very funny, Irene. KK wasn't joking, though. It's time to do something and

Oh, there's the pain. There's the screaming hellfire that Irene hadn't sent for, sending her writhing and screaming and welp there goes the progress you made on your very limited goals, Irene.





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A Degenerate
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Sound and fury.

All of Eris's suspicions were confirmed in one fell swoop, and as shocking and horrid as it all was, overwhelmingly so, the one thought that fought its way to the forefront of Eris's mind was that she had never imagined Katarina could be so stupid.

The clumsy attempt at driving a wedge in between her and Alice right away, the obvious laying in wait, and now-

Now-

Irene, dumb, annoying, hyperactive Irene, was screaming as though she were dying. She very well could be.

And Eris - calm, mature, analytical, rational Eris, who not once in her life had ever envisioned herself acting so recklessly - did the first thing that came to mind:

She snatched her duffel bag from the ground, rushed to the top of the staircase, and flung the bag straight at the back of Katarina's head.
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Alice was grateful for Irene's unwitting sacrifice, even if it only served to confirm that no, she really was just stupid. What had she expected, sneaking up behind a clearly armed, clearly ominous girl and trying to exchange hellos like they were passing each other in the hall? What could she have possibly gained?

Any further disdainful thoughts were drowned out by the screaming and crying, reminding Alice that Irene was still a real living being, that stupidity didn't deserve to be met with malice, that she may have been the only thing that could have come between Alice and Eris meeting a similar end, and any further sympathetic thoughts were drowned out by Eris pressing the assault in a way that suited a slapstick comedy more than a desperate struggle for life.

Alice lingered a moment, to ensure that she wouldn't be greeted by a hail of gunfire if she showed her head, then followed to join her friend at the top of the stairs. Eris was unhurt, Irene was alive, Katarina was... gone. Shit. Alice was going to have to check the body, wasn't she? She couldn't risk letting an armed, reckless maniac continue to pen them in at the top of the tower, now with a legitimate motive to kill them, could she?

Down the spiral staircase then, as fast as she could descend without risking a fall. Best case scenario, she found Katarina's corpse, a real formerly live human being with her blood and brains oozing out of her crushed head, with gun and supplies up for grabs and no niggling thoughts about blame to haunt the back of her mind. Alice was less certain about what she'd do if she found her, stunned and crippled but alive.

Alice was completely at a loss for what to do when she descended far enough to see that Katarina had caught herself, that she was unsteady and bleeding but pointing her gun right in her direction, and the spray of bullets deafened her as they echoed and ricocheted around the tower, as one flew straight into her right arm, as her real, live, human blood decorated the white walls, as the pain-

Irrelevant. Useless. Just an alarm signal electrifying Alice's brain when she was already staring death in the face.

She couldn't retreat back up. Too easy to stumble, to lose her footing, to catch a bullet in the back. Going up wouldn't solve the problem.

Alice screamed and charged at Katarina.
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Kween in Yella
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[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Whatever that was had hit her solidly in the back and sent her sprawling. Katarina had taken bad falls in the past and knew how to roll, but there was a difference in curling your body up in a ball to roll down a hill and falling down a few stairs.
But I struck first
Bump.
She was ready
Bump.
Alice and Irene would have died anyway
Bump.
It's not my fault
Bump.
Everyone will die anyway
Catch.
It doesn't matter who kills them
She couldn't hear. She couldn't really see. Her head was pounding and so was the shoulder where what she could only assume one of her own bullets had ricocheted off the wall and into her shoulder. Or maybe someone else had a gun. After her tumble down the stairs she wasn't seeing people at the moment. Just shapeless blurs, one writhing above her, one at the top of the stairwell, one running down the staircase.
It hurts less when I can't see them
Some might consider this a disadvantage. Katarina preferred it. It made it that much easier to pull the trigger. Over the ringing in her ears, she could hear something that sounded like a scream echoing down the halls, and she opened her mouth to answer it in kind as she pointed her gun up towards the movement. A splash of red filled the hallway and she knew she'd found her mark.
Please stay down
Not close enough though. The blur landed on top of her, throwing her against the steps and was pulling at her gun. As if it could take it from her. As if it could take this from her. So she gave it to it, in the form of the gun's stock rising up towards its face. Katarina's vision was just starting to clear when she caught the satisfying sight of olive furniture smashing into Alice's chin.
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GO, GO! FORCEFULLY MY YEAH!!!
[ *  * ]
Screaming, and a blur of bodies.

Don't tell Irene that she was being slow on the uptake here. Cuz she wasn't. Faking it was making it, right? And she was trying. Holy fuck, the fact that she was trying with two of her fingers blown off and her blood spewing everywhere and other people's blood spewing everywhere and her nerves were screaming at her and oh my god holy fuck that had to count for something, right? Surely the reaction of a normal human being would be to lie there helplessly screaming and look it's not Irene's fault that Alice was better than her at everything and look at that Irene's gonna come and help you Irene's gonna claw around for KK's foot or arm or leg or something so yeah there you go.

Quick, think of a one-liner.

"You're supposed to wake people up with the smell of napalm, not gunpowder, you jackass!"

Aren't you proud of her?
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A Degenerate
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"Stop!"

Eris's command towards her peers, as per usual, went ignored. She was frozen at the top of the stairs as Alice barreled past her, heedless of her words. There was another spray of red as Katarina brought the gun to bear once again, but Alice didn't stop, the proverbial unstoppable force versus an immovable object.

They were all too far away, Alice and Irene dogpiling on Katarina for all the good that it was doing them, and Eris watching them from above in blank, morbid fascination, unable to either tear her eyes away or formulate a proper response in word or action. She had spent her one object of defense knocking Katarina down the stairs, and retrieving it wouldn't do her any good; she wasn't going to fend off a mad shooter with a pack of painkillers.

The other discarded bag, the one Irene had dropped, had an odd shape protruding from it. A familiar shape.

Irene had also been given the gun and the silly idiot hadn't even thought to hold Katarina at bay with it.

Eris started down the stairs, carelessly stepping over her own bag as she made for Irene's bag and the weapon within.

Her eyes were drawn to an odd shape on one of the steps nearby, like a pair of bloody quotation marks.

Her heart was already pounding so hard that she felt sick; when it registered that she was looking at Irene's severed fingers, that was the final straw.

Eris abruptly turned, bile rising in her throat, and promptly doubled over to empty the contents of her stomach onto the floor, clutching the railing for support. The noise of the fight continued unabated, uncaring for the sacrifice of Eris's dignity. Irene's shout was almost as unbearable as the sudden nausea.

She rose dizzily, and pressed on forward to the bag, towards the gun. Outnumbered and met with equal firepower, Katarina would have to withdraw.

An alternative outcome was unthinkable.
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