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Things Will Shortly Get Completely Out of Hand; Open
Topic Started: Nov 23 2017, 01:09 AM (681 Views)
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A Degenerate
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M08 LEO MENENDEZ: ABRE LOS OJOS

There wasn't much to look at, even with his eyes open. Leo's other senses, however, were being pretty well assaulted.

This place, wherever he had been dragged and dumped like so much garbage, smelled like a slaughterhouse. A fish slaughterhouse. Did they have those? Leo didn't know much about fishing; he'd never seen any body of water bigger than glimpses of the Colorado River, and fishing hadn't been a hobby of anyone he knew.

You probably didn't need to do anything to slaughter fish besides take them out of the water. Processing so they could be eaten was another thing, but you wouldn't call that kind of place a slaughterhouse, he supposed.

His feet were wet. He could feel heavy, wet sand clinging to the ankles of his pantlegs, and water lapping at his shoes. He experimentally wiggled the toes of one foot, and allowed himself the mild displeasure of reflecting that the water had soaked through his trainer and into his sock. Wet socks were the devil.

A piece of seaweed or something had stuck to his cheek and partially dried there, leaving an itch. His head hurt too. Not a lot, felt more like a dehydration headache thanks to going a day or so without anything to eat or drink. He'd had worse. He was feeling a bit overly warm in his wool coat now, though.

Leo lay on his back, staring up at the wooden slats of a dock (Or was it a pier? He didn't know the difference.), taking stock of these little discomforts piece by piece. He breathed in the rank air, slowly and surely feeling his stomach twist up into knots due to... oh, everything.

Finally, a tipping point was reached and Leo twisted over onto his side to retch up bile and the remnants of the breakfast he'd had the morning before.
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Howie thought that this would be a good place to hide. It was dark, it was maze-like, and most importantly, it was shit. It smelled like shit, it looked like shit, and there were goddamned fish guts everywhere. Those good-old Americans boys with their expensive clothes and perfect hair wouldn't dare set foot into a place that was so disgusting. Howie had no such problems, he would stay tucked away among the scum and guts for days if it helped him survive.

Howie needed the help, too. He was easy pickings for any flag-humping psycho that could happen to wander around. He didn't have any friends or any physical ability. His weapon was a hammer, which wasn't the worst possible pick, but it would be useless against a gun. It wouldn't help him much in a physical fight, either. Howie was short and had noodle arms, if he ran into an unarmed jock the jock could just snatch the hammer out of his hands and beat him to death with it. Still, Howie had both of his hands clenched onto his hammer like it was his salvation.

As Howie was navigating the terrain, he heard a noise. It sounded like vomiting. Struck with panic, Howie turned towards the sound, gripping his meager weapon. He saw a figure in the distance, someone lying on the beach halfway between some algae-covered rocks and a cropping of dead crabs. He strained his eyes as he tried to make out who it was. Their back was turned to him, but Howie could make out long hair and a blue tattoo on the back of the neck. It was Leo. Leo had always been nice to Howie back at school. Most people weren't, so it meant a lot to him.

Howie hesitated for a bit, but he decided that Leo wouldn't be playing. No fucking way, right? Aside from just being a good guy, Leo was notoriously squeamish about violence. He wouldn't kill people. Howie walked towards Leo, taking care to avoid the fish remains and pits in the sand.

"Leo. H-hey," Howie said "Do you, uh, need any help?"
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M18: Henry Axford, START

The gun was heavy in his hands. The air absolutely reeked of fish. Other than that, though, could Henry really complain?

Well, yes. Yes he could. But he chose not to. This was, after all, what he had... well, no, not looked forward to. He hadn't looked forward to it, not at all.

What he had trained for? Had he trained for this? No, he'd trained for proper military service. This was the Program. The same, but different. The question was... was it different enough that he couldn't use his training effectively?

His family was watching. He had to show them that he wasn't a weakling like his brother was. This was a test. The eyes of America were on him.

...Okay, but seriously, could they not have done anything about the smell? Nothing? No?

Henry sighed. This must have also been part of the test. Yeah... fighting on the front lines wouldn't be clean and pretty, after all. He'd had to get used to worse smell than this, surely.

Henry hefted the gun in his hands, and scanned the area. He spotted a moving figure, or maybe a mass of figure, near a group of rocks. Slowly, methodically, he moved towards the figure, his gun ready to come up in case something happened.
EVERYTHING I TOUCH DIES!!!

Second Chances V2:
Clair Belvedere - Box of Condoms - Hanging back in Earth Sky From Venus
Christopher Schwartz - Macuahuitl - Catching his breath in I Jumped Out and I Pranked Him to Death with a Tire Iron

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After emptying his stomach, Leo rested with his eyes closed for a minute or two. He propped himself up on one elbow, trying to breathe in through his mouth more than his nose. Throwing up everywhere hadn't done anything to help the smell of the place, naturally.

Wet, slopping footsteps were approaching behind him. A voice; friendly.

Leo sighed with an emotion that was almost relief, and eased himself up to fully sit up so that he could turn to face Howie.

"Hey," he said weakly. He cleared his throat and tried again, grimacing at the taste of vomit lingering in his mouth. "Hey. I'm... okay."

Not true, not remotely. Howie knew that, of course. It was just what you did in situations like these. You said you were okay.

"I could use some water," Leo admitted after a moment, gaze absently sliding away from Howie's face to scan for the bag that he was somewhat aware should be around nearby. "But how are you, bud?"
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Fucking hell, Leo was looking awful. Maybe his body wasn't good at handling the rotting fish in the air, or the stress of the Program. Leo asked for water and started looking around. Was he looking for his bag? Howie glanced around and spotted a duffel bag lying in the sand a few yards away from the shore.

Figuring that Leo wouldn't mind, Howie opened the bag and grabbed a water bottle. As he was looking, Howie noticed some fireworks in the bag. Leo's weapons. Howie wondered if they were more or less useful than his hammer, but he pushed the thought out of his mind. He wasn't a thief.

"I'm doing... uh, better than I might have thought, given the situation." Howie said as he walked back towards Leo. He offered the water bottle to Leo, but as he did he noticed some movement out of the corner of his eye.

Was that another person in the distance? Howie's grip tightened around his hammer as a surge of fear took him.
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The figure turned around. Henry recognized him. Sort of. He saw him around the halls of school every so often. Didn't know his name. Wasn't a real American, didn't bother.

This was also part of the test, wasn't it? Henry moved closer. The gun came up.

Henry, for all his fitness training, had never fired a gun before. Sure, he'd held one once or twice, but he knew that wasn't the same thing.

This was also part of the test. He'd have to learn to shoot a gun.

He quickly aimed down the sights and fired.
EVERYTHING I TOUCH DIES!!!

Second Chances V2:
Clair Belvedere - Box of Condoms - Hanging back in Earth Sky From Venus
Christopher Schwartz - Macuahuitl - Catching his breath in I Jumped Out and I Pranked Him to Death with a Tire Iron

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Leo gratefully took the water, twisting the cap off and drinking greedily. He felt better after just a few gulps, and chose to take a second to sit with his eyes closed once more, this time appreciating the relief.

"Thanks, bud," he said. He opened his eyes, but Howie was looking away now, focused on something behind him.

"What's th-"

That was as far as Leo got before the shot rang out.
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The figure came closer, and closer. Howie just stared. Howie didn't know the guy, but he looked like a jock. He was tall and muscular. And he was holding something in his hands. Wait, was that a-

There was a loud pop and Howie felt a sharp pain in his chest. He felt himself take a step back, and then another. Then, he fell.

He was on the ground now. Or, he thought he was. He felt something under him. Was it Leo? Oh, shit. He tried to flip over and get his bearings, but he just ended up writhing around uselessly.

The pain in his chest was almost too much to bear. He could hardly breathe. Where had his hammer gone? Was the shooter still coming closer? Shit. Shit.
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The kick of the recoil felt unfamiliar in his hands, but it looked like he hit his mark. His target was down.

Down but not out.

Henry began to move closer. The boy had fallen to the ground and was now squirming painfully. He pointed the gun toward his prone form. He saw the red spreading through the boy's clothes.

Henry couldn't waver now. He'd already fired the first shot, and he had to finish the job. Henry could almost justify it as mercy killing a wounded enemy. Almost.

Henry aimed again, at the boy's head this time, and fired.
EVERYTHING I TOUCH DIES!!!

Second Chances V2:
Clair Belvedere - Box of Condoms - Hanging back in Earth Sky From Venus
Christopher Schwartz - Macuahuitl - Catching his breath in I Jumped Out and I Pranked Him to Death with a Tire Iron

The afterlife
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Howie heard the attacker's splashing steps as he came closer and closer. Howie stopped moving around. Even if he could get up, what would be the point? He would still die. He was deadd from the moment his name was read back at the school. Why didn't he just get himself killed back then, in a noble way, like he had wanted? It was a stupid decision to leave that auditorium, and He knew it at the time. He was just too much of a goddamned coward. Now he was going to die like a pathetic loser, just like he knew he would.

Howie felt Leo squirm from underneath him, trying to escape. Shit, Leo was going to die, too. Would that be Howie's fault, or was Leo also doomed from the start?

The wet sound of footsteps stopped. Howie lifted his head to get a good look at his killer's face. He looked like a huge fucking asshole. His gun was leveled right at Howie's head. Howie wanted to curse him out. He wanted to curse out The General and his cronies. He wanted to apologize to Leo. He wanted to rant about his misery to anyone who could hear. Hell, part of him still wanted to beg for his life. His breathing was quick and ragged. He felt liquid pool up in the back of his throat. He doubted that he would be able to say anything even if he tried. But he still had to try. There was nothing else left.

Howie gasped for air.

M17: HOWARD FONG - DECEASED
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Things had gone horribly wrong very, very quickly.

That was a good way to frame up the past day or so, really, but it especially applied to the last couple of minutes.

Leo wasn't familiar with guns, but there was no mistaking a nearby gunshot for anything else. The shot rang out, something whizzed past Leo's ear by a margin of inches, and there was a hot, wet splash on Leo's face courtesy of the hole that had just been punched right through Howie's back.

He didn't even have time to even begin processing what had just happened before Howie collapsed on top of him, knocking him back flat into the sand with a wet smack.

Leo flailed on instinct, the water bottle he had been drinking from lost somewhere in the confusion, and after another second or so it clicked that Howie had just been shot, that it was Howie's blood that had splattered onto Leo's face and was now smearing into his hair and onto his clothes, and then everything else was lost in Leo's new desperation to scramble out from under Howie as quickly as possible before he started to hyperventilate.

He didn't quite manage.

Leo got just a glimpse of the other boy standing over them before a second shot rang out, deafeningly close and loud this time, and Leo was graced with a second splatter of blood and brain matter across his face and clothes.

He had one single coherent thought in the immediate aftermath:

He had never imagined that brains had a smell.

"Oh," Leo said.

And then he fainted.
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((Maya Spooner continues from Two))

Maya watched from a short distance as the boys drank, talked, died and fainted.
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Santiago Ibarra - Butterfly Knife

Nani Clover - Plastic Scythe

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Henry had half a mind to shoot the other guy, too.

He hadn't actually noticed him until he'd approached, but now Henry could see that the Chinese boy wasn't alone. So...

Eventually, Henry decided against it. He'd already past his first test, and there was no value in shooting a completely defenseless foe.

Completely defenseless being the keywords here.

To that end, Henry looked around, looking for anything he could loot from the corpse and his fainted friend.

He grabbed both bags, took the hammer lying beside the dead body, and left.

((Henry Axford continued elsewhere...))
EVERYTHING I TOUCH DIES!!!

Second Chances V2:
Clair Belvedere - Box of Condoms - Hanging back in Earth Sky From Venus
Christopher Schwartz - Macuahuitl - Catching his breath in I Jumped Out and I Pranked Him to Death with a Tire Iron

The afterlife
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It was very easy to die.

It was one of those things that you were vaguely aware of whenever you heard of a freak accident or a random crime that ended in murder, intentional or not. It didn't really matter who you were when the moment came; one roll of the universe's dice, and your brakes failed, you lost your footing, or your presence angered a rabid animal.

Leo had never thought about it much, when he could help it. The fact that you could die in your own home just as easily as on a battlefield was hardly comforting.

And here's the thing: pretty much all his life, people had tried to reassure Leo by telling him that God always had a plan. It had worked, for a time. There really was something comforting in knowing that someone more powerful and generally just all around better than you had their hands on the wheel and knew what they were doing. Wherever you ended up was exactly where you were supposed to be. There was a purpose to it all.

Do soldiers go to Heaven, in God's plan?

They go to war for their country - and their God. But thou shalt not kill. But thou must kill, really, 'cause if thou dost not, the other guy shalt kill thee, and then thou art most fucked.

Maybe it was debatable whether you went to Hell for failing to deliver in the line of duty, but the fact that there was a debate at all meant there was at least a chance.

Leo had broached the question once. Just once. It was a Sunday afternoon when he was eight or nine; Dylan hadn't been born yet, at any rate. His dad had picked him up from Sunday school, and they'd just been going over the Ten Commandments. There was some kind of cutesy rhyme or song that they had gone through to learn all ten, but Leo had long forgotten the words.

"Dad, if God doesn't want people to kill, what does He do with the soldiers? Like, He knows that they were doing the right thing, right? He wouldn't kick them out like if they were real killers, right?"

Leo had realized much later how genuinely disturbed his dad had looked at the question. At the time, Leo had thought that he just seemed surprised.

He had been much older when he considered that it might be a question that his dad had never thought of, or that he didn't want to think of.

Dad had just patted him on the shoulder, not looking directly at him for the duration of the car ride home.

"Sometimes, Leo, you've just gotta do what you've gotta do and let God and everybody sort it all out afterwards."

And, well, Leo had gotten a bit distracted with how much he liked the phrasing of the answer - God and everybody, like you get to meet up with all your friends and family right as soon as you die and they all figure things out together, passing God notes about how you were very good and the like - and he just hadn't thought too much more about it for a long time.

He had never come up with a real answer.

He'd never consciously avoided applying the conundrum to the Program and the implications there, but it certainly wasn't something he'd ever wanted to ponder.

Ponder this, though: if this is God's plan for you, what are you gonna do about it? If it's God's plan, in His all-knowing, all-powerful, all good will, who are you to complain if He decides that you're going to die for your country? Does it even make a difference if you do it here, or at home, or on a battlefield?

If you try to fight it, is that God's will too?

Leo had no answers. Leo wasn't even really pondering anything at the moment, because he was still laying half underneath his dead friend, face pressed into the wet, smelly sand as the tide slowly rolled in.

It would be very easy to die here.

Consciousness had seeped back into his brain, and he thought, Drowning isn't supposed to be that bad.

Low-effort suicide. Does it count if you just fail to remove yourself from a deadly situation instead of actively taking your own life? Do you go to Hell for that too?

Water lapped at Leo's face, and he ended up inhaling some. It was rank, salty, and gritty, and he choked almost immediately.

Like a lightning strike, full alertness shot through him again, and Leo shot up, sputtering and gagging. Howie's body was dislodged from where it had lain on top of him, and it made a soft plop as it sank back into the sand. Leo lurched away from it, dry heaving on his hands and knees until the fit finally subsided.

Leo curled in on himself like that, drawing his limbs in and almost pressing his forehead down into the water. He reached up with one shaking hand to probe around the collar of his coat and shirt until he found the beaded chain around his neck. He traced down its length until he reached his crucifix, and he closed his fist around it. He squeezed until he felt the ends of the cross cut into his palm.

If a gunman shoots your friend but doesn't bother with you, what does that mean in the context of God's plan?

Leo didn't know. He didn't know anything.

He slowly uncurled when his arms and knees began to tingle with pins and needles, and he sank weakly back against a wooden pier support, still clutching his crucifix.

He heard nothing but his own irregular breathing, the water rushing in and out of the wharf, and perhaps the cries of distant sea birds.
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"You okay?"
The Program 2.5 - Traitors

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Nani Clover - Plastic Scythe

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