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Two is Better Than One; Open
Topic Started: Sep 21 2017, 08:22 PM (1,010 Views)
Kween in Yella
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Ratchet Consort of Hastur, they/them pronouns pls!
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
((It is a strange thing to find alienation in solidarity.))

Up until now she had only dealt with those capable of violence, not necessarily murder. She hadn't seen any of her classmates kill each other. Her mind refused to focus on the details enough to extrapolate out how she knew that, but she knew it was true. In all the vague flashes of action she allowed herself to remember, she was the only known murderer.
It shouldn't be a relief to see them.
Yet here were two more, fresh off of the kill and working on the evidence by the look of things. A body, weapons, a nonchalant conversation about murder. That all seemed like sufficient evidence. She wasn't quite sure what to do with that information but approach from a distance with her weapon raised.
There's only one way this ends.
There were already calculations flying through her head. How many people had they killed together? How useful would it be to let them walk away and kill more? How risky were they together and how likely were they to stay that way? Did the amount of bodies they would leave behind outweigh the risk of leaving them to team up on her later? It was a totally new equation to consider, and one that had equal chances of being profitable and ruinous. There was a tempting tug to draw on her knowledge from school. Allow them to have names, personalities, habits that might make the analysis that much easier.
Stop.
It was a weak impulse. She should have shot them right there to prove it wrong. But if she didn't kill at least one of them, any escalation of hostilities was going to prove tricky. They wouldn't just bite her or claw at her face, they might actually be able to kill her. For now she kept back far, far away and called out to them over the barrel of her gun.
How many times do I have to repeat it?
"The assistance is appreciated."
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Kween in Yella
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Ratchet Consort of Hastur, they/them pronouns pls!
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The one with the weapon seemed scared, but was bargaining.
Killer.
The one on the ground seemed about to piss himself with no meaningful contributions. She knew where her focus belonged.
Killed.
This was interesting. Did she not understand what they were doing, or did she simply assume Katarina wouldn't? The girl had known enough to kill, and to seem composed about it doing it again. They both understood the nature of "assistance" openly enough to read that subtext. So was she banking on the idea that Katarina, and presumably her partner, were too slow to figure out only one person got to leave, or was she too slow to have figured it out herself? Or perhaps had she stumbled on to something Katarina hadn't considered?
I've been wrong so many times. What's one more?
Her finger was brushing back and forth just ever so slightly on the trigger. She hadn't even realized she was doing it. Was she always doing that? If she wasn't certain of her own actions, could she be certain of her larger situation?
How many breaths was that?
But she couldn't have missed something, especially not on this detail. Dealing with other killers was so easy that there was already a known and overused to the point of cliche logical problem it fit neatly into. The Prisoner's Dilemma had been mentioned so many times in so many classes, books, TV shows, and podcasts that it took her only a moment to apply its structure to their situation:
...
Back and forth.
...
Two killers meet on an island. Both intend to kill all of their competition. if they cooperate, they waste no resources on each other and up to halve their workload with the understanding that eventually they'll have to kill each other. However, if either one betrays the other and makes the first move they have a significant advantage against a dangerous but unaware victim. If they both betray each other at once, there's a greatly increased likelihood that they'll both die. The course that creates the most good for both of them would be to collaborate. But if you don't care for your second, and especially if your second does not care for you, the best choice is to always betray them: At best, you eliminate a rival. At worst, you thwart a deadly ambush. There were no other variables.
...
Back and forth.
...
Unless there were, and she'd overlooked them. Unless she was missing a major, game-changing piece of information that made their collaboration more than an act of ignorant cruelty.
...
Back and forth.
...
Was that a risk she was willing to take?
No.
Two things became crystal clear to Katarina: 1) It would be unwise to shoot them both without learning their reasoning. 2) She had been standing there staring at them and fiddling with her trigger for several moments in complete silence.
I have to know.
Mm. That couldn't look good.
Neither does the blood in the grass.
"We? So you're working together. Why? Only one of you can go home."
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Kween in Yella
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Ratchet Consort of Hastur, they/them pronouns pls!
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The obvious rebuttal was undercut by the fact that her visual aid seemed to be debating trying to dig his way out of this situation and screaming until it was over. As far as partner's go Katarina was...unimpressed. Even less so considering him as a threat. It could very easily be that the girl already knew that and had made her choice with his weakness in mind. Still, the question needed to be asked.
Saachi. I can't be the first time you're hearing this.
KK nodded to the boy on the ground. "So what's your plan when he guts you in the middle of the night? Or, more likely...what's yours when she slits your throat, partner?" Her gaze shifted just for a moment off of the girl with the cleaver to his trembling form before settling back on her. He could be acknowledged, even solicited, but all three of them seemed acutely aware of where her attention belonged.
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Kween in Yella
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Ratchet Consort of Hastur, they/them pronouns pls!
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
KK took a few quick steps closer after the boy spoke up. She didn't say a word. Only let her threat draw nearer and her gun wave between them before letting it settle back on the girl. "He's tired of our conversation. I'll wrap up." Her finger stopped fidgeting on the trigger and instead curled firmly around it. "There's value in assistance." The gun shifted fast from her to her partner.
Why couldn't you stay on the ground?
There was value in assistance. In someone else being out there willing to kill. But what was to keep them from killing you?
There's nothing for you up here.
"But he has no value."
No. That's not true.
The girl was afraid to fight her. That's why she wanted to negotiate. Fear, KK decided, was just as valuable as her assistance. Both could be nurtured with little effort.
I'm sorry. I found your value.
The gun dipped low towards his lap as a shot rang out. She didn't want to kill him. Not yet.
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Kween in Yella
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Ratchet Consort of Hastur, they/them pronouns pls!
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Screaming.
...
She hadn't been prepared for the screaming.
...
It had been so clear in her head. A few painful shots that would kill him but not immediately while she forced his partner to watch on helpless. A crotch, a knee-cap, a stomach. A gun to keep them complacent. A lot of blood to burn her message into the girl's mind. It worked as the fastest solution. What hadn't factored into her plans was the boy's feelings. He was already dead. Non-existent. More prop than person. Nothing he could do could influence the plan in any appreciable way.
You fucked up.
Except scream.
You let them in.
There were leaves and branches and soft earth underneath her feet.
Don't let them in.
How did she get back into the forest?
Don't let them in.
She didn't remember breaking through into the tree line. She didn't remember dropping into a dead sprint with her bag and gun flapping behind her. She didn't remember the barrel pointed up and smoking into a now empty space. She didn't remember the sudden pops of blood and flesh along the boy's body as her own spasmed into action. She didn't remember holding the trigger down and three yes one two three one two three one two three one two three onetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothreeonetwothree
...
.
...
.
...
.
She wouldn't remember collapsing against the treeline and rasping so hard it felt like she would vomit until she did, the burn spreading down through her throat and into her stomach and carrying its weakness through the rest of her body until she collapsed a couple of inches away from the steaming pool slowly spreading rivulets of filth through the forest floor.
...
None of that was important.
...
When she rose, Katarina would remember the only thing that was important.
Don't let them in.
One less corpse standing between her and home.

((Katarina Konipaski's next target sighted.))
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