Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Empty Redemption | Interactions: Hana and Bungee | Location: The Corner

Lulling Bombay to sleep was as difficult as usual. Perhaps a tad harder, due to the Dog Fights edging ever closer. Hana was forced to cradle the child’s head in her lap and sing soothing songs in her mother tongue, nimble fingers running through his thick dark hair. After a while, after the shivers had died, after his nails ceased digging into the fabric of her jumper, sleep possessed him and she decided to excuse him from Group Reflections that night.

On her way to the session, a face stood out among the lazy speckling of prisoners here and there. Cold masks, dead eyes, madness bubbling beneath the surface...and then him. Pure, unfiltered bitterness. Piercing through her skin and crashing over her soul in a wave of guilt.

Bungee met her head on, forcing the woman to halt in her tracks. “...Bungee,” Hana said, voice carefully devoid of emotion. Despite the front, her thumb and index fingers twitched, tapped against one another like a nervous tick.

“Farhanah,” Bungee grumbled, gaze locked onto hers like frozen ice caps. His lip momentarily curled, holding back a sneer at last moment. Sharply, he held a hand out to the older woman. “Come, we must do the discuss. In private.”

Hana stared at the offered hand, unease bubbling up her spine. It would be foolish to join a prisoner fueled by wraith, especially to an isolated and lonely location...But the guilt flourished. Roared. Loud and unnerving. Before her mind could fully concede, she accepted his hand and suddenly found herself tugged down the halls--in the opposite direction of Group Reflection.

She would be late, she knew it.

Bungee lead her into what appeared to be the famous Corner. It was a tucked away and grimy corner on a lower floor of Hagur, just above the Corpse Dispensary. Heat radiating from the Put Down furnace below filled the air, sprouting little bullets of sweat along the pair’s faces. Hana never associated herself with someone who ever occupied the corner, and for good reason. She was never interested in sexual rendezvous, drug trades, dirty deals with guards…

“Farhanah.” Bungee snapped Hana from her musings. She pulled a grimace, shaking her head.

“It is just Hana. You the know this, Bungee.”

“I’ve forgotten the care,” he grumbled. The man folded his arms, expression as stern as steel. “I thought we had the agreement. You stay the away from Dog Fights and I stay the away from you. That is our condition.”

“And let my children die?” Hana snapped, a growl slipping through her teeth. She stomped forward, closing the distance between them. In a snap of movement, she slammed both hands to his chest, nearing forcing him to stumble. “You are crazy!”

However, Bungee merely recovered the lost distance and bared his teeth. “No! You are the crazy! I swear to Sky Father, Farhanah! You enter the Dog Fights and you will be death!”

Another shove. Another recovery.

“Fine!” she yelled, eyes burning, “If I shall die then I shall! But I will do this and protect my children!”

“You are such the stupid woman,” Bungee seethed, tapping two fingers to the temple. A wild fury nearly seeped into his eyes, lurking beneath the his last flimsy wall of defenses. “And a coward! You’re “Mother Hen” stupidity is just that, the stupid! Useless! You can’t repent, Farhanah! You cannot the redeem your actions!”

“It was not my fault!

“Then whose was it? Huh?!” Bungee seized Hana by the shoulders, pushing back as he used his scant few inches to tower over her. “Fate! Mine! My brother’s?!” Nails flew up to his throat and clenched, attempting to push him off. However, he kept steamrolling forward until her back slammed into metal. “That is all you do! The blaming game! You blame my brother and kill him in the cold blood! Then you go and do the blaming on me--I am trying to help you live!

“Enough!” Hana stomped down on Bungee’s foot, forcing the man to grunt in surprise more so than pain, and his grip slackened. She shoved him off completely, breathing heavy. A frantic pounding cracked against her ribs. She extended a shaky finger, glaring the man down with a promise of pain in her eyes. “I...will fight in the Dog Fights. If I die, if you kill me, then that is that. And you. Will not. Stop me.”

“Stupid,” Bungee growled, nails raking across his scalp. “Stupidest damn woman. Stupid, stupid, stupid…” He slumped to the floor, the molten rage from before fleeing through is pores by the pound. A pained stutter infected his words, fingers curling around one another and resting over his mouth. “You...y-you put me in here. Stupid woman...”

The guilt returned, far more powerful than before, and Hana’s insides rippled with agony. She stumbled back, shaking her head slowly. “It’s...not my fault,” she repeated, “I...I must the go. Do not follow me.”

Without waiting for a response, she left Bungee alone in the Corner.

Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Like We Rehearsed | Interactions: Fritz and Jumbo | Location: Cafeteria/Kitchen

“Jumbo dear? How’re you feeling?” Fritz stood over the cannibal, his voice eerily calm and drowning out the drone of Dinner Period. That same plastic smile remained, ice blue eyes cheery and glimmering. Angelique had lost some color to her visage as she had watched the interaction from afar, and whatever words of comfort she had in store for the flesh-eater was lodged in the base of her throat.

Jumbo, whose head was recently resting on the table, raised cautiously. The blood had dried in wild smears across his face, but not before staining the steel beneath him. Sanitation crew would have an interesting time scrubbing that out.

Brow furrowing, the hefty man struggled to reply coherently, “I...III’m...bleeding,” he said. Simple. True. Straight to the point. He was feeling bloody. And confused. Always confused. Sometimes confused and scared--this proved to be one of those moments. He was in trouble again, he knew he was. Nothing about Fritz’s demeanor gave away his displeasure, but a dog could sniff out their master’s rage without hassle.

Fritz clicked his tongue. “You poor oaf. That is indeed quite the mess...I apologize deeply for the outburst,” he cooed. A single finger bopped him on the nose, collecting a dabble of blood. “You just amused me so much with that endearing babble of yours, truly. Do you not agree, Angel?”

“You’re one fucked up piece of turd, Fritz,” Angel grumbled, arms folded with a stern frown upon her lips. Despite the firmness she tried to exude, there was no denying the lingering tremor behind her words.

“Now now, you’re well aware that you’re responsible for filtering out that foul language around Jumbo,” Fritz said, a slight pout pulling at his lips. He ignored Angel’s eye roll, opting instead to focus on the cannibal again. “Jumbo dear? I’m so sorry that Chloe declined your apology…” He petted Jumbo, who didn’t dare move away from the touch. “But that is merely how life goes. We all must learn from our faults and failures…” He flashed dazzling white teeth. “Shall we rehearse one more time? Just for reflection sake?”

Angel was already on her feet, rounding around the table and placing a hand on Jumbo’s shoulder. She stared down Fritz, fighting back the fear clogging her lungs. “Don’t.” One word. A multitude of promises and threats.

“Sweet Angel, you speak as if I actually entertain your thoughts and opinions,” Fritz chuckled, shaking his head. Pure, untouched mirth filled his visage, both hands raising to gently cup her cheeks. The woman froze, eyes wide. “Do you not know what happens to those that assume wrongly of me? It’s an unsavory consequence, if I recall correctly…” Angel’s world circled around three absolute facts of the world; one, fate didn’t give a shit about anyone, two, she was piss poor with words, and three, her cellmate gave her the creeps. And yet, in that moment, she was forcefully reminded of a fourth truth--Fritz downright petrified her. Thus, as the man gave her cheek a tender pat and returned to petting Jumbo, she stood where she was, immobile, bitterly defeated like child’s play.

“Come along now.” Fritz snapped his fingers twice and like a dog, Jumbo was up and by the man’s side, following along with the usual flat and aimless look in his eyes. As soon as they passed by guards and staff into the kitchen without a hitch, Angel’s fist met the table with a hushed curse.



“I...IIII...J-...Juuumbo, am sorrrr--”

“Start over.”

Jumbo grunted, sweat beading down his forehead. His teeth sunk deeply into his bottom lip as he squinted hard at the piece of paper in his heads. The edges of it were soggy with perspiration; he hated how hot the kitchen was. Always steamy and hard to breathe. He never understood how his master survived being in there so much. Fritz paced back and forth, expression unreadable and ears tuned into every syllable tumbling clumsily from Jumbo’s lips.

The cannibal paused, gathered himself, and started over as instructed. “I...Jumbo a-am sorr--”


“I-I, Jumbo--”

“Take a break.”

Before Jumbo could blink, Fritz clamped onto his shoulders, forcing the beefy man towards the grill chef’s station, a shelf stocked with trays and dishes next to it. He pushed Jumbo onto a stool, swinging him around to face the stack of bowls before snagging two of them. One white and one blue. Fritz shook the white one, “This is you, Jumbo,” then the blue, “And this is Chloe. Do you comprehend?”

Jumbo stared, eyes lifeless, before nodding once.

“Good. So,” he moved the white bowl closer to the blue, “You were supposed to say hello to dear Chloe and say, exactly, “I, Jumbo, am sorry for causing you distress last night.” Simple, correct?” Jumbo...was aware that Fritz was speaking, obviously, but whatever meaning his extensive vocabulary was supposed to hold flew straight over the cannibal’s head. However, the last thing he wished to do was annoy or disappoint Fritz any further, so he merely nodded again.

“Wonderful.” Fritz continued where he left off, bobbing the blue bowl in tandem with his walk-through for Chloe’s part. “And thus, dear Chloe would say, “Oh, you are forgiven, Jumbo. Fritz was a good master for guiding you through this process.” And I would graciously accept this praise, as is commonplace manners. And then,” he meandered both bowls back to the shelf, stacking them in their rightful places, “We would’ve came back here, away from nosy gazes and have you recite a long, thoughtful, well-written letter of remorse that I assisted generously in preparing.”

In the middle of Fritz’s rambling, against his accord, Jumbo’s attention strayed about the kitchen, locking onto whatever caught his fancy every few seconds. Dangling spatulas, glimmering pots and pans, tall bottles of canola oil, steam pilfering from the grill in thin, majestic tendrils…The cannibal’s head tilted, entranced--


Jumbo yelped, snapping back to Fritz. The ginger sighed, annoyance building within him as he massaged his brow. “Did you...catch a single word that I have uttered?”

Uncertain, Jumbo nodded again.

Fritz squinted. “So, you’re meaning to tell me, that you clearly recall the moment in which Chloe leaves after you apologize to her the first time around?”

A pause...Jumbo’s lips pursed then, slowly, he nodded aga--

“Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!” With a loud, stinging slap, Fritz clamped around the back of Jumbo’s neck again and forced him up. He dragged the cannibal over to the grill, the steam warming his round face uncomfortably. Sweat rolled past his gaping lips. “That! Was! A test!” Fritz seethed, lowering Jumbo’s face, only to stop inches away from the grill.

“Nnn-! Nooo, t-tests,” Jumbo stuttered, holding onto whatever he could and push away from the grill. He didn’t exactly know what the contraption did, but he knew what hot things could do. The pain it could make him feel.

Fritz pushed harder. “Then why do you insist on testing my patience?! That is all you do, my dear Jumbo! All you do! I believe,” more force, more pushing, “That a lasting lesson is in order, don’t you agree?” An eager madness glinted in his eyes, trained upon the horror filtering into Jumbo’s visage.

The cannibal shook his head rapidly, repeating “No” over and over.

Suddenly, a second hand snapped his head to the side, exposing his left cheek, and a kick to the back of the knee shattered his balance.

Sizzling and screams.
Last edited:

Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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According to Plan | Interactions: Romana and company | Location: Conference Chamber

Numerous screens faced Romana, providing the only source of light within the Conference Chamber. She sat back in her chair, one leg crossed over the other, as she took in the cells of her precious...gullible Tributes. A pleased smirk pulled at her lips.

“You’ve done well,” she said, tipping back even further to glance over her shoulder. Standing behind the Warden was a male form, features shadowed and indistinguishable aside from his prison jumper. He only gave a hum of acknowledgment, assumedly watching the screens as well. Romana wasn’t perturbed by the lackluster response, however, and settled for asking casually, “By the way...How’s your thumb?”

The man grunted again, this one tinged with light amusement. He studied the appendage casually--the bruise seemed to be recovering at a wonderful pace. Nothing less was to be expected of Hagur’s infirmary and their highly advanced services. “It’s...fairing,” Gram muttered, wiggling the thumb a bit before lowering it.

“I’m glad,” Romana quipped flatly. Her tone betrayed her words, the lack of genuine sentiment incredibly apparent; Gram could care less. “And what of your sex slave’s injuries? The quiet one?”

Gram’s jaw clenched, hands balling into fists. He tipped her back further with a sharp yank, lips hovering near her ear. “What have...we discussed?” Fury as frozen as the tundra crackled deep within his whisper, but the Warden only found herself smirking. He was such a touchy Pup--always had been.

“Well, my memory tends to skim over irrelevant topics,” Romana drawled, throwing a measured amount of her weight forward to snap back into proper position. She reached up, patting Gram on the chest. “Cool that temper. Your dear Snowman won’t always be around to do it for you.”

“Is that...a threat?”

“I prefer the phrase, a “fair heads up”. Now then, as for the answer eluding my question…?”

Gram gave pause, studying Romana, gaze painstakingly blank. When he finally spoke, the rage from before had vanished into thin air. “He’s also faring...quite well. A limp...but it’ll fade soon.”

“Again, I’m glad.” Romana’s attention snapped back to the screens, watching the prisoners with something one step below indifference. Luca and Bahram, Pandora, Abraham, Archer, River… “And you’re certain that Miss Pandora has been taken care of?”

“Yes,” Gram hummed, somewhat annoyed. They had gone over this confirmation thousands of times. “Make...enemies with her...Stir up trouble for...her and Abe. And distributed the...list.”

“And Amit?”

“From what I’ve heard?” Gram rolled his neck, relinquishing a few pops. “He’s...agreed, after a proper...reminder of responsibilities.” He almost snarked at the woman, as she should’ve known the status of everything. Besides, she technically had eyes everywhere, but he decided to stow it away in the back of his mind. The more he questioned the bitch, the longer he’d have to be away from Snowman, and the thought alone made him itch.

“I must admit, Gram...I’ve had my doubts. About you, of course.” Romana stood to full length, posture aloof and superior at once. She straightened her blazer with a firm tug, shoulders rearing back. “But you’ve proven to be a wonderful addition to Hagur.”

Gram ignored the empty praise. “My end held up.” He said this as a statement, rather than an enquiry. A fact. He wouldn’t allow it to be anything less.

Romana chuckled, turning to face him. “I am a woman of my word...when I see it fit. In this instance, I do.” A hand fell to Gram’s chest once more, the touch seeming to feel patronizing. Mocking. And with a coo, she finished, “The very second Dog Fights are over, Snowman will be cleared of his charges and released.” She crossed two fingers. “”

A long pause.

Then, Gram enclosed his fist around those bony appendages, unimpressed with the gesture as his cold eyes pierced through her skin. “Fuck...your honor. It doesn’t mean...shit to me,” he whispered.

“Such coldness.” Romana yanked free of his grasp and spun back around, grinning. “But I suppose that runs in the family.”


Skittish Beaver
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Collab: Graveyard Shift, Abraham CloudyBlueDay CloudyBlueDay Bungee Mobley Eats Mobley Eats

“Honey…” Fingers traced down his chest, sending warmth throughout the entirety of his torso. Her lips gently caressed his neck, traversing down to his collar in a desperate attempt to wake him.

“Not now.” He mumbled, catching her hand in his before it could find its way down to his center. He laced his fingers through hers and squeezed. “I do not want to move from you, not yet.”

“We have to get dressed...We have guests over today you know.”

“Tell them that they can go fu-”

“Shh. Don’t be so rude.” A giggle rippled through her lips, tickling his skin. He bit down upon his lip from releasing a gasp. “We can cuddle later, Malcolm…” Peeking open one eye, his arm snaked around her waist and he swiftly rolled her onto her back, looming over her with a charming smile.

“Mmm. If you can get out from under me then we can talk.”

“Fucking cheat.” Grinning, she began to kiss his neck again, the young man’s eyes fluttering in bliss

“Fucking cheat.” Archer muttered under his breath, unsure of where the memory had snaked its way through. His fingers trembled, desperate for a smoke as he pulled on the zipper of the body bag. Bile built up in the back of his throat. He should have been pleased. Many people died due to the boiler incident the previous day, which provided him much to work with. He should have been able to feed off the vibrant dread that thickened the air, making it heavy like concrete in the chests of those unfortunate souls fucked up enough to end up here. Yet, there was a foreign emotion in his skull. It bounced and collided senselessly.

He felt dread. Staring down at the bodies he was supposed to be handling, he felt ill.

“Stop! Stop! I’m sorry sweetheart I am so sorry! Stop! Y-you’re s-scaring…

Archer felt human, if even for a moment. He despised it. Silently his eyes flickered from fellow worker to fellow worker, his fingers continuing to shake without control. He needed that goddamn cigarette.

Abraham hated his fucking job.

He couldn’t remember why his stupid teen self had thought this would be the best job. Laundry! He coulda just been doin’ laundry! Fuck’s sake. Why hadn’t he picked laundry?!

The incinerator was hot, smelly, and disgusting. Pan wouldn’t go within an inch of him until he’d showered after work periods. He hated every goddamn second of it. And to top it all off… the cherry on the goddamn whipped cream… was Archer. Always muttering to himself, always muttering to the bodies, Abraham’s nerves were always being toyed with when that sick fuck was around.

Abraham thought that the only good thing about this job was that it kept his anger boiling. His eyes landed on Archer’s trembling hands, and he rolled them lazily. “You tryin’ to get out of work today, ol chum? Faking a seizure? Not happening.” Abraham muttered lowly. “Though, not to say I wouldn’t be pleased if you dropped dead on the spot. It’d be the most fun I’d have on this damned job.”

“Your skin would look better boiled off in the fire.” Archer snapped lowly, skimming his nails along his knuckles in impatience. Most of the time Archer took pleasure in messing with his fellow co workers, but something felt different. Something felt far too different. Maybe it was the smell of death and flame. No, Archer was used to that by now.

Homesick. That’s what it had to be. He clicked his tongue against his teeth which threatened to clatter. “Rough start to a morning.” He grumbled, directing his eyes back to the task at hand. Perhaps disposing of the corpses would calm his nerves. His eyes became directed towards Abraham’s neck without conscious thought, his teeth skimming along the broken skin of his bottom lip. Nausea bubbled in his throat. He wanted to reach out. He wanted to pull the hems of his shirt up...wrap the cloth around his neck…

Archer blinked. The humane conscious within began to dim. He didn’t want to say he was afraid. No. He was excited. He was very excited. Excited to the point of illness.

I am surrounded by the crazies, a man from across the pair thought, though he refused to look in either of their direction. Despite the constant sizzling of bodies reducing to ashes and the timed hiss of freeze flashers, it was impossible to miss their conversation. Gods--Bungee wished he couldn’t. Crazies. The whole ship was overrun with crazies. Thus, he ignored them with every fiber of his being; he preferred to live out his sentence quietly...with a subtraction of ten years to that length, but still. Point was, he attempted to live quietly, without hassle, without petty psychotic drama.

Just as the man slammed down a body, zipped up tightly in a bag, he was in the midst of wiping sweat from his brow when a Blazer jabbed him in the spine.

“Load’s full! You, Zimbawa! Gerald! Archer!” A guard barked at the three prisoners before nodding over in the direction of the incinerator. “Dump it! Come on, move!” Bungee sneered, a complaint simmering on his tongue, but he held fast at last second and breathed in slowly. Patience. Calm. Serenity. Expelling his annoyance in a sigh, he shot a withering glare in Abraham and Archer’s direction before grasping one of the cart’s handles. It was a rolling one and not even automated, which somewhat pissed him off since the carts for cargo were. He waited for the other inmates to come help, biting the inside of his cheek as the irritation bubbled.

What he wouldn’t give to reduce these guards to mindless pets. Property. Less than human. And yet, ironically enough, he was the one referred to as a dog...hardy har.

“I can feel you staring, psycho!” Abraham yelled. “Walk away before I make it so that you can’t!” God. His skin was already boiling, and he didn’t need Archer to tell him just to make it happen. What a bloody creep. Abraham shook his head and tried to put his twitching hands back to work, only to hear his last name shouted angrily by a guard. Bloody. Fucking. Hell.

“You lot really do get bored, huh? Can’t find anyone to keep you company except the lowly prisoners? Shame. Even I get more action then you blokes, I bet.” Abraham sneered, ending up beside the lovely neutral party known as Bungee, grabbing the handle of a cart with an angry huff.

“Consider it an honor. You are a sight to behold…” He mused, but the words weren’t necessarily meant to reach Abraham’s ears. His eyes darted back to the body bag and his heart leaped in his chest. Grief? Why did he feel despair creep in his chest? It wasn’t his knowledge that he would end up there one day, he already knew he was destined for hell if there ever was one. It didn’t bother him. Then why did he find it difficult to breathe? He wanted to see the face again. He wanted to see the dead man’s eyes. Staring. Asleep. Were souls merely a piece of one’s body? Or were they a construct, simply because humans were cursed with a being? Cursed with emotions? No. This didn’t bother Archer. He didn’t feel for anyone else. He didn’t sympathize with the man in the body bag. He just wanted to be in the moment he had lost so long ago. A moment where he was in control. The moment where he dictated someone’s soul. Their depleting conscious. Their everything. His fingers skimmed the black fabric of the bag, almost neglecting the calling card of his own name.

“You’d fuck like an old man, I bet Abraham.” Archer muttered softly, having heard the last piece of his comment. “How you keep women satisfied is beyond me, do you twitch beneath the sheets? I hear that’s arousing against a woman’s bare…” He paused. What had he been thinking of again? Some bullshit about the human spirit?

Crisis averted. Archer made his way to the handle of the cart and began to push, his inner monologue lacking complaints. He liked the scorch in his muscles.

Bungee made sure to inch away from the crazies as they neared the cart, grumbling under his breath. He didn’t want to get too close; rumor had it that both of them were perverted psychopaths in their own unique way and the man didn’t want to acquire an infection anytime soon. Granted, Switch reassured him that Abraham was...tolerable, sort of, but still, he’d rather be safe than sorry.

The guards had already tuned out Abe and Archer’s bickering and soon, with synchronized pushes from all three, they wheeled the cart through and around bodies galore. Some prisoners moved aside, others were forcefully knocked over, and the occasional severed hand or ear crumbled beneath the wheels. The crunch was...such a lovely sound.

After a few minutes of pushing, the prisoners could see the Put Down incinerator up ahead; well, they had a much clearer view of it. The incinerator was massive and could be seen from anywhere within the Corpse Dispensary, but seeing it up close, the heat swirling about them burning away at oxygen and spilling sweat down the prisoners’ bodies by the buckets, was a completely different experience. Guards awaited their cart next to what appeared to be a flat, square platform; it was attached to a simple pulley system, which would lead them and the cart up to the designated level for dumping the bodies.

Bungee gulped. He fucking hated this step. Heights were never...his comfort zone, but he’d rather slice his own throat than to admit that to anyone that wasn’t Switch. Hell no. Thus, with a gut tied into knots, he shakily started pushing the cart onto the platform...then froze. And remained frozen. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck and all of the fucks.

Rolling his eyes once more at Archer’s lame bite back, Abraham kept his gaze forward, fingers curled around the handle of the cart. “Whatever it is I’m doin’, I’m doing it better than you, quite clearly. Don’t see any pretty ladies waiting for you in bed at night, unless you dragged ‘em from here in a body bag.” He could feel his cheeks getting flushed from the heat, the air diminishing. This part sucked. Especially when their beloved mate Bungee froze up.

“Hey, c’mon man.” Abraham growled. “Snap out of it.”

“Don’t knock it until you try it.” Archer chuckled, although he knew it his gut that he wouldn’t screw any other woman. He did make a promise. Only her. Even after death. “Don’t be such a pussy.” Archer mumbled as he noticed the other man freeze up. He couldn’t understand how one could be so fearful during this godforsaken job. It was a fucking crematorium. There was death everywhere. Fire and sweat and sweet...sweet…

Archer took a large inhale. Smoke. Not his typical tobacco, but it calmed his nerves if only for a moment. “This’ll be over before you know it.” Archer murmured, smirking. “Just don’t look down, although, that’s sort of ironic for your name, Bungee.” Archer swallowed. The grief was gone but something continued to crawl down his neck. He swatted the back of his head with his hand, light and without harm. “Just think of it this way, the only time you are going to fall down there is when you can’t feel anything anymore.”

“Shut your unhelpful yap, Archer.” Abraham muttered.

Bungee gnashed his teeth, sending death glares both of the prisoners’ way as their mocking words rolled over him. He hated the crazies, hated this entire ship, hated...He just hated in that moment. The fear had journeyed from his gut to the rest of his body and a crippling numbness was threatening to take over his legs. However, hearing Archer’s jab at his nickname shot molten waves of fury through him, just hot enough to melt the ice from his muscles. Just long enough. Huffing, he helped them to push the cart onto the platform fully and as soon as they were on, nausea struck him hard and fast. Bungee’s head lowered, eyes screwed shut; he refused to open them until they reached their destination.

The guard rolled his eyes at the show, but didn’t have the patience to waste precious oxygen on the men. With a pull of the lever, the platform gave a groan, shook somewhat, before slowly...slowly...cranking up. They passed the first level. Then the second. Third. As the fourth level neared, Bungee risked cracking an eye open…

He looked down. “Fuck,” he hissed under his breath, the force behind his grip doubling. He focused on his breathing.

Abraham had no problem with heights. Hell, he kinda missed a good view from a rooftop. There was no rooftop on Hagur, at least, not one he was allowed on, and this wasn’t exactly the prettiest sight to see. Was it a little too late to mention he really didn’t enjoy the sight of death as much as Archer did?


“For fuck’s sake, mate. If you just push the damn cart we’ll be done here, and your shivering arse can hop right back down to the ground.” Abraham hissed.

“Twitchy here is right, get a grip.” Archer’s brow raised at the man’s trouble. He didn’t understand this sort of fear. Overwhelming, taxing...It was only going to decrease survival rates. He would know. A smirk grew at the corner of his lips. “Somehow a man who works with corpses and has most likely stuck his shaft in places they shouldn’t have gone is shaking in his boots. Take a deep breath, Bungee. Take it nice and slow…”

“You both can do the shut up now,” Bungee growled, nearly hiccuping as his stomach flipped. Almost, he almost vomited. Gods. Sucking in a shaky breath, he forced himself upright as the platform slowed to a stop at the fourth level. A walkway awaited them to roll the cart along, or for the prisoners to carry an individual bag at a time, before chucking it into the blistering pit down below.

Steadying himself, Bungee started pushing the cart…


He paused. Blinked. The man looked about for the source of noise, but failed to notice anything odd--

Bzzzzt! Crrrreeeak…

An angry spray of sparks exploded from the platform’s hinges. It gave a withering groan before suddenly snapping at the joints. The slab tilted and before Bungee could comprehend what was happening, the cart started to roll backwards, pushing him back in the process. He could’ve screamed, should’ve, but all that escaped him was a rush of jumbled up words in his mother tongue as he clawed at whatever he could.

Rolling his eyes for the third damn time, Abraham was almost sure they’d just roll on back out of his skull. Who the hell gave themselves the nickname Bungee when they couldn’t deal with heights? Abraham was fully prepared to let out another snappy comment when there was a strange buzzing noise.

And then a creaking noise.

“Son of a fucking biiiitch --” Abraham yelped, stupidly clinging onto the cart that was likely about to steam roll them.

Archer was surprisingly calm as a groan emitted from the platform, tilting him back and sending the cart straight for the three of them. Calmly he grasped onto what he could, pretending to put fear onto his demeanor. However, this fear turned genuine as he imagined what it would look like to have his spine crushed by the incoming cart. Without thinking, Georgina’s last words came to mind. “Our father…”

The cart wasn’t able to pick up much speed from the short distance it traveled, but the sheer amount of weight it held was to swerve and tilt onto its side, body bags spilling from it. The corpses and cart forcefully knocked Bungee and Abraham off their feet. “Sky Father!” the man exclaimed as he tumbled; desperately, he latched onto the platform, his lower half dangling over the edge. A last minute shift to the left saved himself a nasty gash in the face as the cart fell past him and straight for the ground below…

A piercing clang. Gathering prisoners and guards from below parted to avoid the crash; yells ensued throughout the chamber, a handful of guards scrambling to find a cushioning mat or mechanism of some sort.

Fear rose in Abe’s gut quicker than he could stop it. Suddenly, a body bag had fallen atop him, and he lost his balance, near toppling over the edge. A panicked yelp escaped him as he grabbed on for dear life, his lower half dangling off the edge as he struggled to pull himself up. “Fuckfuckfuckfuck,” Abraham hissed, grabbing at the railing, but to no avail.

Reverberating with anger beneath the fear, Abraham looked up at the only one left standing. “Aaaaarcher, paaaal!” Abraham shouted. “Be a dear and help us out?!”

The prayer continued to fall from his mouth, meaningless. Garble. Clashing sounds. The movement of his tongue begging for something he thought to be unattainable. He had heard so long ago from a face that seemed a collage of bluffed colors...If you die while praying good old Saint Peter will let you in regardless. He wanted to laugh. He wanted to find enough air into his lungs to let out a bellow of laughter. Meaningless noise greeted his ears. A single plea. He liked the fear in the man’s shout. He grinned wildly, continuing under his breath “Forgive us our trespasses…” If I stepped on his hands, would I still get to see the pure face of my bride beyond the gates? Is she there, waiting?. A spark of humanity kindled in Archers chest. He stopped praying.

“Why?” He breathed, balancing himself as he looked straight ahead, eyes glazing over. The emotion he had been dreading and excited to feel bubbled in his chest. “Your ashes would make for a great cigarette. Your corpse…” He expected excitement. He expected gratification. He expected some sort of feeling. There was nothing. Slowly, he crouched, offering a single hand to Abraham. “Yet your pleas are music to my ears.”

Oh, thank fuck for whatever part of Archer’s twisted mind decided he should live to see another day. Before Archer could change his mind Abraham had already grabbed onto his hand and scrambled up, panting for breath as he clung to the railing and the sweet sweet promise of notfalling to his death. After regaining the air in his lungs, Abraham hastily offered a hand to Bungee, blinking furiously, trying to calm the angry jumping of his fingers. “Grab my hand, you arse!”

Bungee almost didn’t hear Abe over the chaotic heartbeat in his ears. Adrenaline, crippling fear, images flashing before his wide eyes...The man knew his life was going to end, then and there. The sweat collecting in his palms made his grip nearly slip and just as the last thread of his strength threatened to snap, there was a hand. Abe’s hand, right there in reach. If this wasn’t matter of life or death, Bungee would’ve swatted it away but, in that horrific moment, he seized it in the blink of an eye. The trio struggled to hold on like a desperate chain link.

Meanwhile, there was the distant sight of several guards dragging over what appeared to be a massive tarp of some sort, the material thickly woven and tough. A few more seconds. They needed only a few more seconds. Among that eternal moment, Bungee couldn’t help but wonder how in the Hell his heart could survive the tournament when he could’ve sworn his soul had already evacuated his body.

At long last, the tarp was pulled taught in all directions, the cart long disposed of and pushed aside, and waiting underneath the prisoners. Shouts of “jump” overlapped one another and Bungee thought he was going to vomit. That...was a long fucking drop.

Abraham’s hand was awfully sweaty in Archer’s. He grimaced. This, of all the things that had occurred and were currently flashing before his eyes, disgusted him the most. “Alright let’s sing Kumbaya and go to our deaths here, gents. Jesus Christ.” Archer rolled his eyes. He was surprised to feel how much strength it took him to even keep himself latched onto Abraham and assist him in securing Bungee.

Archer would pry Abraham’s hand from his own, rubbing at his wrist and allowing himself to slide to the edge of the platform. His hands grasped the handle at the edge of the platform, peeking down at the tarp before him.

Wouldn’t it be funny if they pulled it away at the last second?

Archer grimaced again, a false pressure gathering around his neck. He almost feared he would jump off and somehow manage to hang by the edge of the platform. The image scorched behind his eyes and for a moment, he found that more horrific than anything else in his lifetime. A grotesque instinct overcame him, his fingers tracing from his forehead down to his chest. Then to his left and right shoulder.

“Geranimo.” Archer let go of the platform and dropped towards the tarp, soundless the entire fall.

Abraham watched with gritted teeth as Archer flung himself down. “Geranimo.” He echoed mockingly, shaking his head. Better Archer first than him, in case the guards felt like ruling out a little Dog Fights competition. Abraham took a deep breath after watching the killer land safely. He glanced down, suddenly feeling a little nauseous, when he looked over to Bungee, and felt a little bit better about how dizzy he was looking at the guy.

“Hey,” Abraham said smoothly, a small, devilish grin forming on his face. “You’ll thank me later for this, mate. Geranimo.” With a harsh shove, Abraham pushed Bungee off the platform, hopefully aiming for the tarp and not a painful death.

“You son of a bitch,” escaped Bungee in several different languages as he descended, pure horror robbing him of the ability to breathe along the way...And then he landed. Safely. Albeit with less than half of his soul intact, but fortunately alive. Laying on his back and ignoring the circling inmates and guards, he glanced over at Archer next to him, a hand clenched over his pounding heart.

“You...fuckers...are...the crazies!” he wheezed furiously.

Rubbing his hands together, Abraham peered down at his coworkers below, taking in the sight of them all in one piece, not bloodied and dismantled. Okay. Time to jump. It shouldn’t have been hard. He’d watched Archer go, and he was all good. He’d shoved Bungee off, quite crudely, and dude was still swearing in whatever language. All alive.

“Okay, Abe. No problem. Easy. Just jump. Just jump. Just…” Abraham let out a multitude of swears before hopping off the platform, sailing towards the tarp with a half terrified half thrilled yelp.

As soon as Abe landed, Bungee attempted to lunge...but his attack was usurped by guards dragging the trio to their feet. Mechanics pouring into the area. Inmates harking laughs and exclamations of amusement and suspicion.

This event would spread through all of Hagur before the Dog Fights even started.

Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Location: Hagur-343 | Team Sign-Ups / Ascension Pods
Time: 4:50 PM |Dog Fights

Excitement, tension, and bloodlust ran high. The cold clacking of boots against metal, sharp yet muted by the buzz of voices all around, all belonging to Tributes as they were filed down to the level below the Arena. Among those murmurs of prisoners were murmurs of strategy and greed, of fear and pleas to back out, of somber prayers and goodbyes. Not a single pep talk could be heard--exuding confidence was quick to place someone’s decapitated head on a platter.

Most Tributes had talked about teams beforehand and thus, as they spilled into the area, they instantly migrated to their teammates, heads dipping into a circle. Gazes cutting left and right. Lecherous grins. Evil dances of light in their eyes. Legs shaking with growing horror. This may very well be the day that they die. Or tomorrow. Or the day after…

There was no telling who would survive the Dog Fights.

A small handful of guards formed a line, separating one half of the vicinity from two rows of ascension pods behind them. In their hands were slim tablets, the screens presenting blank sign up tables. The guard residing in the middle, a large and muscular male who seemed to consume a bowl of nails every morning stepped forward. Who bark carried over the crowd like a clap of thunder. “Attention Dogs! Team Sign Ups are now open! Come up and state your names one team at a time!”

At first, there was a round of grumbles and hesitant steps...until a trio composed of Hana and two younger males stepped forward. The woman had a tight and comforting grip around Bombay’s grip, who seemed to be shaking visibly, eyes wide and unseeing, as if he had several counters with the ghosts of his victims. Aside from this, he was barely responsive.

The other male walked with casual confidence, very much like a customer waltzing into a yogurt shack of sorts. Nothing about his appearance seemed outstanding or unusual, except for a patch of metal on his skull, disrupting his dark spiky hair. He stuck close to the other side of Bombay, sticking his tongue out dully at Tributes as they glared their way.

Hana stood tall before the guard before muttering, “Farhanah Kesse, Beethoven Caldwell, and Dudley Thompson. We are the team.”

The guard recorded the names with blinding, effortless efficiency, a true testament to how many years he ran this system, before grumbling, “Next.”

“You mean, next please,” Dudley interjected, expression unmoving. Emotionless. In an instant, the guard’s head snapped up, an absolute promise of death and pain in his eyes.

“The hell did you say--”

“H-he the apologizes,” Hana interjected while tugging Dudley back, shooting the young man a glare. Dudley didn’t respond to either of the looks. Instead, he settled for shrugging and scratching at his ear, curious gaze wandering.

The guard’s eye twitched. Flashing teeth, he seethed in a low growl. “As I”

Not needing any further trouble, Hana quickly dragged the boys away and off to an empty corner of the area, already launching into lecture mode. After that, more Tributes started finalizing their teams and entering their names into Sign Ups.

In the midst of this, Chiko bounced impatiently in place. Or nervously. Fine, definitely nervous. For like, many freaking reasons. First of all, this was the Dog Fights and Chiko wasn’t stupid. Competing in the Dog Fights equated to tossing your life into the garbage disposal; inevitable death. Well, that was the general consensus around Hagur, anyway. The ones who are blessed enough to live through it and tell stories are like...freaking relics around the ship. Nearly worshiped, in Chiko’s opinion.

Anyway, second reason for being on the verge of pissing her jumper--Amit wasn’t there. Which was weird as crap. When the guards had grabbed them from their cells, they guided Amit somewhere else midway to the Sign Ups level, leaving Chiko alone and, well, concerned. Amit was her cellmate, but her friend first. And like, the tournament was gonna start soon, if he didn’t get here soon...Hell, she had no idea what would happen, but she sure didn’t want to find out.

Skittish, she sought out their third team member, good ole Archer. Man, Chiko always knew Archer was a cool dude! The story about how he rescued Abe and Bungee from that freak accident in the Corpse Dispensary had spread throughout the prison like wildfire. Archer, the Hero of Hagur--that’s what some prisoners were starting to call him, in both a positive and negative light.

It took some time, but when Chiko finally spotted Archer, she smiled and waved (borderline psychotically). “Ayyyyye, there he is! Hero of Hagur! You ready to kick some bootay, teammate?!” She clapped a hand on the man’s shoulder, eyes sparkling.

Meanwhile, Switch stood with Bungee. They seemed to be talking, though their voices were low. Soft. However, an urgency leaked into Bungee’s tone, gripping Switch by the arms and looking into her eyes almost pleadingly. Switch merely chuckled and pushed him off, her lips seeming to deliver a reassurance as she cupped the back of his head. A comforting squeeze, then their foreheads coming together, eyes closing as a silent promise passed between them. This lasted a few moments, until Switch was the one to pull away. She patted Bungee’s cheek one last time and after they wished one another good luck, she meandered over to Pan and Abe.

“Welp, ready to see your crappy lives flash before your eyes? Cuz I’m not,” she drawled, leaning against the wall and folding her arms.

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Collab with Mobley Eats Mobley Eats and Elle Joyner Elle Joyner

Pandora watched the room with a blank expression, eyes focused, taking in each figure… their stance, their center, their control. Most of these people were in no way trained to fight. Most would undoubtedly fall pretty hard and fast… but among them were some curious contenders and he had learned all too easily never to underestimate an opponent. Chiko, the little jumped up pixie could prove to be as menacing as Bah… the human behemoth. And with weapons factoring in, really, there were no guarantees.

Normally, passion would have been a pretty substantial driving force… and time off her sentence was a powerful motivator, but in the back of her mind she hadn't forgotten Gram's threat. He wasn't there… but that didn't mean his influence was gone. She could hear the irritating countdown repeating over and over… Five seconds.

Hell. A lot could happen in five seconds.

Returning from her brief communion with Bungee, Switch came back to their group and slowly, Pan nodded, “Listen, you two. I… I got a bad feeling about all this. Keep sharp. Sharper than normal. And watch your backs. It ain't gonna be a pretty show this year.”

Abraham was nervous. He’d never say it out loud, and he was trying damn hard not to look it, but fuck he was nervous. Lips pulled into a grimace, Abe’s foot tapped incessantly as his fingers jumped against his thigh. “Sure.” He echoed, shaking his head. “At least Gram ain’t in it… or we wouldn’t even have a chance.” Abraham’s gaze fell on Switch, wondering what the hell was going on between her and Bungee. Well… as long as Pan trusted her, he supposed he could at least try too.

His expertees landed around knowing the playing field, and he sure as hell didn’t. Archer was a prick, Amit was a dick, and Chiko.. Was about as hyper as a chipmunk. It was an unpredictable team. And Abe didn’t like it. “Maybe keepin’ em as far back as possible… long range. At least one of us should play sniper.” Abraham mused quietly, bringing his hand up to drum his fingers against his chin. “One front hitter, one sniper, one mid player?” He was rambling… but it made him feel a little better. A little.

“You’d be psychotic not to feel bad about this,” Switch sighed, pushing a fist against her jaw to turn her head, a distinct pop hitting their ears. She rolled her shoulders. Hey, if they were about to swan dive head first into a cesspool of desperation, fatality, and madmen, she was gonna loosen up. She then cut a glance at Abe. “Not a bad way to go about it, Twitch. I feel like Pan’s our heaviest hitter, so I could hold up mid-point or whatever. Just uh...make sure I don’t have to handle too much at once, yeah?” There was a playful lilt to her tone, yet her smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Front hitter…

Hell if that didn’t feel like exactly what they’d expect. But it was a catch twenty-two if ever she’d seen one, because altering course meant putting Switch or Abe, or even both, in harm’s way. It wasn’t her goal to get killed, especially by making it easy for Gram, but it also wasn’t in her to throw anyone else under the bus, either…

“Works for me… You two just have my back, yeah?” Turning around, her lips curved in a frown, “I’m gonna just come at this with transparency, cause I don’t a reason not to. I got reason to believe Gram’s in this, whether he’s fighting or not. He made a pretty… clear threat. And whatever’s coming, we gotta be prepared for anything.”

Abraham grimaced at Pan’s words, dragging his hand over his face. “Great. Peachy. Perfect.” Of course. Gram wasn’t even in the game and he’d still be fucking them over. “It’s fine, it’s fine… we got it. We’ve got your back. Let’s see Gram try.” He spat angrily, giving a firm nod to Pan. He had no plans to lose in the first round… especially not to the ghost of a guy who wasn’t even playing. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Switch’s head thumped against the wall, heaving a sleepy sigh. “Welp, we’re extra double dead now. I mean, I had a hunch that Gram was saltier than a cracker, but...this just got way more fun, yeah? Bloody Hell.” She then paused, giggling slightly to herself before muttering, “That’s what they say, right Twitch? Bloody Hell? I’m fluent in Abe Talk already.”

“Next!” The guard yelled out for the next team and glancing ahead a bit, Switch could tell that it was likely their turn. She sighed again, pushing off the wall and then gesturing to the line of ego-dependent pricks with an outstretched hand.

“Next stop, highway to hell,” she said.

“Sounds like Abe to me…” Pan mused, with a small smirk, “And hell… if we’re gonna die, I can’t think of two people I’d rather have by my side. Let’s do this, yeah? Who knows. Maybe we can piss off ol’ G-man even more… and actually survive.”

Rolling his eyes with a lightly amused grin, Abraham sighed. “Sure, Switch. Bloody hell.” He said with a huff, moving towards the guard. “That’s the plan, love.” Abraham hummed as he stepped up to the guard, clearing his throat. “Uh.. Abraham Gerald,” He said slowly, glancing to the two ladies behind him, a small frown coming upon him as he realized he didn’t actually know any of their real names. Damnit. Shoulda tried to keep Twitch up a little harder, he supposed.

Catching Abe’s look, Switch rolled her eyes. Fuck, the names, that was right. She bit the inside of her cheek harshly, before forcing the syllables to tumble from her lips like acid. “Chava Gutmann…”

“Pandora.” There was no apprehension in her gaze as she looked at the guards with a small smirk, “Can we do this thing, already?”

Glaring at Pan, Abraham tapped his foot again. “Smooth, love. Very smooth.” He muttered, glaring up at the guard, knowing it wouldn’t pass, especially with how Switch had spat out her name like bile on her tongue.

The guard in question recorded Abe and Switch’s names with relative ease. However, his eyes narrowed at Pan, the displeasure and annoyance clear as day in his features. Jaw tight, he grumbled, “Your full name, Dog.”

“Uh, Pan?” Switch nudged her cellmate carefully, eyes trained to the guard. “It fucking sucks like the vacuum surrounding this hunk of space metal, but you’ve gotta give a full name…” she whispered.

A brow rose as she stared at the guard, fists balled at her sides. More games. Always games. The damn prison had her name on file, and there was no reason she had to give it… none, whatsoever, except, undoubtedly, because Romana was a flaming bitch, who enjoyed poking blind folks in the eye, “...Cybil Tash.” She finally muttered, without looking at Switch or Abe.

Abraham saw no reason as to why blurting out a full name was so terrible. Both Switch and Pan seemed as if a confession was being tortured out of them. “S’ a pretty name, love,” Abraham said smoothly. “You too, Switch.” He shrugged, glaring at the guard. “We good here?”

“Pretty or not, it ain’t mine,” Switch mumbled, rubbing the back of her neck. Either way, she shot Abe a grateful smirk, giving him a nudge. “And thanks, you pile of vibrating mush.” As for the guard, he merely gave out a grunt when the women finally cooperated, entering their names into the draw table.

“Next!” he barked.

“Neeeext,” Switch mocked in a low whisper, the salt so heavy that she swore she gained a few pounds. But still, she prayed it wasn’t loud enough to reach the man’s ears and it didn’t seem to be that way (thank God). She walked back with her teammates, vision straying over to Pan with a hint of concern. “Don’t know what specific beef you’ve got with your name, Pan, but we take one pain in the ass at a time, yeah? Unless you’re hiding a second shithole from me or something.” Heh...Wow...Switch hated her brain sometimes. The mental image Nasty. Fuck.

Normally, Switch and Abe’s comments would’ve drawn a smile - even if it would’ve just been a commiserating sort, but there were just some things you held close to the chest in a place like Hagur, and her name was out there, now… Whether or not it would stay on that table wasn’t a question. It didn’t matter. Anything could be bought, and as soon as it got out who she was, she’d have more than Gram to worry about.

“...Switch… You got a sick mind, sometimes, baby girl.” She mused, forcing a weak smirk, before glancing to Abe, “Just cause you know it doesn’t mean you get to use it, Twitch. Got it?”

Raising an eyebrow and chuckling at Switch’s comment, Abe said nothing of it, only turning his attention to Pan. Damn, women were touchy as hell sometimes. “Sure, love. Got it.” He said quietly, not intending to make Pan mad right before they were about to step into the lion’s den.

“Heh…” Switch unconsciously scratched at her temple, matching Pan’s grin. “You don’t even know the half of it. But, uh, yeah. I’m living with regrets now. Fuck that was wrong.” She almost felt bad for the hint of heat tossed Abe’s way, but decided not to prod any further about Pan’s discomfort with her name. Everyone had their reasons and motives and skeletons in the proverbial closet, and Switch wasn’t one to go digging.

As the moments passed, watching each consecutive team announce themselves to the glorified asshole for a guard (huh, maybe he was the hidden shit hole all along...naw, Pan could do way better), Switch’s fingers drummed against her thighs. Contemplating. Wondering. For a brief second, she sucked her lips into her mouth, before freeing them with a sigh and looking at the others. “So uh...real talk, guys. If I do anything...not helpful, you keep it moving and focus on winning, kay? I swear I won’t hold any grudges or anything,” she said.

“...Not helpful in what context, Switch?” A brow rose, as Pan looked over to the girl, frowning softly. She was entering into paranoia territory… she knew it, all too well, but she had been burned once for dropping her guard and she wasn’t looking to let it happen again.

Abraham frowned, glancing between the two women. Switch was already reeking of worry, a bad sign, especially before they’d even been thrown into the arena. “I’m a big fan of the ‘no one left behind’ mentality, Switch, so we’d prefer it if you didn’t do anything unhelpful.” He muttered lowly.

“Err…” Switch hesitated to answer, the cogs in her head turning quickly for the right words. She knew Pan, especially the tell tale signs of her freaking out a little. Getting tense. Crap...this was probably a dumb move on Switch’s part, but she didn’t want to enter circumstances of life or death without giving them a proper warning. She spoke carefully, “Not helpful as in...potentially...freezing up or forgetting things or getting tired...Something along those lines.” Vague, but still true. She then quirked an eyebrow at Abe, amusement creeping into her voice. “Twitch...that’s strike two on the mush board for you, sir. I oughtta start calling you Stitch. Ohana means family,” she chuckled.

Looking Switch over, Pan managed a more genuine smile, shaking her head, “Twitchy’s right. We do this together, yeah? Nobody gets left behind…” Looking to Abe, she grinned, “Keep up that mush and I’m gonna feel inclined to make it up to you, later.”

Abraham grimaced. Great. Switch was predicting her own downfall. This was already going brilliantly.. He was at least a little surprised by how Switch and Pan seemed a little more at ease due to his comments. “Er… don’t know what that is, Switch.” Abe said slowly, turning his attention to Pan, a devilish glimmer in his eye. “Guess I’ll keep talkin’, then.” He chirped.

“Friendly suggestion? Squeezing in a quickie before this starts probably won’t work out in y’all’s favor,” Switch said, folding her arms with a smirk. Christ, she could always cut the senxual tension between them with a butterknife; she couldn’t tell if this amused or nauseated her. Probably both, at the same time. Which uncomfortable mix. Either way, she couldn’t fight the pit forming in her gut; they had faith in her, in each other as a team, and although she found that mentality to be warming didn’t reassure her.

Well, it wasn’t as if that was their job. She needed to keep her own doubts in check--

Then Twitch’s response clicked and the pity couldn’t flood Switch’s features fast enough. She openly stared at the man. “ don’t know about…?, okay. It’s a sad day on Hagur, indeed.” She shook her head, chuckling in disbelief. That was just sad--no wonder Twitch was so damn grumpy all the time. He never learned the true meaning of Ohana.

“...You know what… Screw Gram…” Pan said, with authority, and a grin spread to her lips again, “We’re all gettin’ out of this, cause you two… you’re just too damn much fun for me to die, today.”

A tense, yet still genuine laugh fell out of Abe. “We’ll save it for after, then, Switch. And you can teach me about.. Er… Ohana.” He said with a small shrug. “But I dunno bout that, Pan. I’d prefer if you didn’t screw Gram.” Abraham whistled jokingly, dragging a hang through his hair. “Either way.. I’d still like to kick his arse.”

“Glad we could be proper motivation,” Switch muttered, her grin widening just a tad. “And Twitch? Bud? You’ve got a lot to learn after this, so don’t forget your textbooks, got it?” Whatever else she was about to say slammed into a brick wall when the guard grabbed the Tributes’ attention, that yell as loud and grating as ever.

“Shut it, Dogs!” Begrudgingly, the prisoners quieted, giving him their full attention. Pleased with their compliance, his fingers danced across the screen of his tablet and with a final press, a beep chimed. Following the sound was the sudden experience of a screen before him, the head of the table presenting it as a large hologram. Presented on the screen were all six teams pinned against one another.

At the very top was Switch, Pan, and Abe...and Switch didn’t know how to feel about their opponents.

“Sign Ups and Team Matches are now closed! The following teams--Abraham, Cybil, and Chava versus Archer, Chiko, and Amit! Step forward and choose your weapon of choice! After making your selection, step into the ascension pods!” There was a brief pause, one so heavy and suffocating that Switch wondered how in the hell anyone could breathe. A sick grin twisted the guard’s lips. “Make your deaths entertaining.”

Hesitantly, Switch tossed a glance back at Abe and Pan before swallowing back her emotions and approaching. The guards parted ways for them, revealing the pods in question. The hall between them was clear, empty, until their feet crossed an invisible border engineered into the floor. As soon as the motion sensor was triggered, twin panels in the floor peeled apart and a tall shelf of weapons rose up, nearly seven feet in height. There seemed to be two of each weapon, though that did nothing to help Switch decide.

...Fuck it. Not giving herself time to painstake over options, she snagged a pair of gloves, slipping them on. They had a cool design, anyways.


If there were anyone on Hagur that made Pandora wanna stab them, it was probably Archer. The man was a sicko in the worst kind of way, and she didn’t have half a doubt in her mind that he wouldn’t hesitate to hurt any one of them, just for the twisted pleasure of it. She wasn’t particularly pleased to see Amit on the list, either, all things considered. She didn’t regret her actions the day prior, but she had regrets about the timing, maybe… Cutting him off her doable list might’ve been a little premature, considering the fact…

It didn’t matter, though, because whatever Gram had planned, she wasn’t about to make it easy for the man to take any one of them out. Following the others, she stepped into the room, and glancing around at the weapons, her lip curved in a smirk as she reached out, sliding her fingers along the bo staff, “...Oh, yes…” She mused, and her smile grew, “This’ll do.”

Abraham grimaced at the team lineup. First… they were first. Thrilling. Archer had just recently saved his arse, no matter how much he hated the guy.. So he’d give him one chance. Just one. The rest, eh… he could care less about Amit, and Chiko did seem part of the Puppy Brigade, so she couldn’t be very harmful.

He watched as Switch slipped on the gloves, and Pan excitedly grabbed the bow staff. Their weapons fit them well enough, but Abe knew he wasn’t much of a fighter. Scanning the shelf of weapons, his gaze landed on the CWE with a sigh. “Do these things come with instruction manuals?” He muttered grimly as he tugged the heavy artillery into his arms. Hopefully, this would do the job and back Pan and Switch up well enough.

Switch took note of the weapons Pan and Abe picked out. It...was insane how predictable their choices were, it almost weeded a laugh out of her. But, considering the shitstorm that was about to unfold, she couldn’t find anymore humor within her to spare. Sucking in a slow, calming breath and expelling it, she held out a gloved hand towards them, giving out supportive fist bumps. “We got this, right? Dream team and all that,” she muttered. No matter what she said or did, there was avoiding the inevitable. She knew that. And with that bitter truth hanging over her, she made her way to a pod and stepped inside.

A neon blue ring whirred to life underneath her, the glass doors shutting before her with a hiss. The number ten appeared with a flicker of light, curving along the glass and glaring straight back at Switch. She merely rolled her eyes. A countdown. The countdown. How fun and reassuring.

“Countdown to Dog Fights will begin in 10...9...8…”

Yep...yep. Switch definitely hated this computerized voice. For so many reasons.


“Here we go…” Pan whispered, half to herself, half to the others… Five seconds. Felt like a damned eternity.


Lugging the CWE into his own pod, Abraham grunted. “Let’s try not to die.”


The Tributes flickered out of existence.

Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Team Drama Queen | Interactions: Fritz, Wick Elle Joyner Elle Joyner & River CloudyBlueDay CloudyBlueDay | Location: Team Sign-Ups / Ascension Pods

The Waiting Room of the Damned. Wolves in sheep's clothing... to slaughter. Cannon fodder at it's finest…

There were so many fun, playful titles Wick could think of, stepping into the chamber to await the start of the first match. No trace of nerves ran their course through her, no fear, no doubt. She was a mother-frickin’ queen, now, and she didn't have time for any of that… She wasn't delusion enough to think it would be a cakewalk (though looking around she couldn't see GREAT cause for concern) but ultimately she saw no pressing need to pen out her Last Will…

Fritz was on board, which, after the stunning conclusion to their date, Wick had learned was a benefit in many, many ways, but it was the tertiary member of their trio who would undoubtedly provide the broadest net of safety against the brunt of these do-gooder knights and princesses…

“Fritz, darling…” She hummed, and her fingertips danced the shell of the gingerman's ear, along the stem of his freckled neck, “Be a dear and announce us?”

A shiver ran freely down Fritz’s spine, basking in his queen’s touch with a smirk. Gently, he caught the hand within his own and pressed a kiss to her fingertips, eyes shining. “You only need to ask once, my queen. I’ll be back soon,” he said. Then, his eyes roamed the crowd of inmates, a distinct boredom coating his insides like second nature as he took in every face. Where, oh where art thou, little Puddle…


Smile widening into something deceivingly charming, he casually strolled his way through the bodies, smirking as they avoiding bumping shoulders with him. They knew--They were trained to act accordingly in his presence. Finally, he could spot River up ahead. Clinging. Always clinging to those muscle-bound bodyguards. Adorable.

It was all in passing, a brief few seconds, but it was all the time Fritz needed to pat River’s shoulder and whisper in his ear, “Pleasure to work with you.” And then he kept moving. No fuss. No further waste of breath. No mess. He had announcing to take care of.

River was terrified. He normally was. In the presence of his friends, in the fervent promise of safety, he felt a little better. But not much. What if they couldn’t protect him… what if they decided not too? What if they were occupied and he couldn’t protect himself? There were so many variables. And so many angry, unstable people… he couldn’t be safe. No matter what.

Fritz’s whisper took him by surprise, and River tried to flinch away from his spine shuddering whisper. River was paralyzed with fear, unable to respond, simply looking at Fritz in horror as he stalked away with a pleased smile. River simply stuck further to his friends, trying desperately to disappear into Luca’s shirt. It was probably just Wick sending a little good luck message. A whimper of fear still escaped him.

Watching the scene unfold, Wick’s grin widened. Fritz. Good old Fritz. Finding him had been a perfect accident, but hell if she wasn’t glad she had. He was useful in so many ways, and always willing to serve. Hearing the words my queen roll from his lips elicited a shiver that tingled from head to toe, and as he waltz behind River, offering the whiny kid little more than a whispered word, she was half-tempted to reward the man in a way that would undoubtedly have turned a few heads

But now was not the time for affection… It was the time for planning. Wick was a lot of things, but she was hardly suicidal. And she had no intention of going into the Fights without a damn good plan on hand. And River… Little bitty River, odd as it seemed, was exactly what their plan needed…

The puddle made it too easy sometimes, truly, but Fritz supposed that was part of River’s...darling charm. Coming to a stop before the guard, he cleared his throat and erected his posture regally. “I’m ready to announce my team,” he said.

The guard, whose eyes were momentarily trained to the tablet, blinked as Fritz’s voice sank in. With a snap of movement, he straightened his spine, adopting a more respectful air abound him as he nodded, all signs of his previous hostility vanishing. He held up the tablet. “Of course. Take your time.”

Such a delightful man--he was one of the easier pawns to condition. His smile charming and bright, he listed off the names casually, “Wicker Simonova, Aidan Van Fitzgerald III, and River Ramirez, please.”

The guard recorded the names swiftly, as his own life depended on it. “V-very good, sir,” he muttered, delivering Fritz another respectful nod. “We’ll announce team matchups shortly.”

Fritz gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Wonderful.” And returned to Wick’s side, downright beaming. “It is done, my queen. Our dream team has officially signed up. So…” Teasingly, his gaze traveled over to River. “How do we go about this initiation process, hm?”

“...I say… we let our little protege find out when our team is called.” Grinning, Wick looped an arm through Fritz’s, “Tears… or will he faint? Hm… Too bad we didn’t think to take up bets. That might’ve been a fun little pregame.”

Fritz matched her grin readily. “Excellent idea, my queen. And if it’s bets that you desire...perhaps I can arrange a treat for tomorrow’s round.” His eyes shimmered at the idea; he hadn’t dabbled in the guards’ gambling pool for some time now. This would be a wonderful way to step back into it--for his queen.

Some time passed and once all of the teams were properly announced, the guard barked at everyone to pipe down before projecting a hologram for all of them to see. On it were the list of teams and who would be battling against one another...and Fritz couldn’t help but chuckle to himself in amusement. Easy--achingly so.

River stared at the hologram. He stared, and then he stared some more. His heart was already in the pit of his stomach and he wasn’t sure it could’ve fallen any further, but it might as well have just spilled out of him at this point. A terrified glance to the evilly grinning Wick and Fritz only confirmed it.

He let go of Luca and hesitantly moved towards the power couple. Shoulders hunched helplessly, fists balled, he stared up at the two with tears burning in his eyes.

“Funny joke.” He whispered. His voice was already cracking just between the two words. “Fix it.”

Wick smiled at River as he approached, as though he were an old friend she hadn't seen in a good while, “Oh my dear Puddle…” She mused, absently curling her fingertips through the hair at Fritz's nape, “It's not a joke. Welcome to the best chance you have for surviving this feast of fools… You can thank me later.”

River’s hands began to tremble, as well as his lower lip. He stared at the two with a burning fire in his eyes, anger swirling with hurt. “Th…thank you?” He stuttered in disbelief. “I.. n-no… this.. this can’t be happening…” His hands flew through his hair as he tried desperately to calm himself, to no avail. They’d probably use him like live bait. Throw him out to the dogs… his mind swam with visions of his own gruesome death. “What… why…. why would you even want me on your team?” He thought he knew the answer… he desperately hoped he was wrong.

“Dear River…” Fritz sighed in sympathy. Slowly, he reached out to cup the back of River’s neck, his thumb resting comfortingly along his jaw. The ginger’s eyes softened and kindled all at once. “You...are destined to be a wonderful addition. With your influence and established sway over our assailants, victory shall seat itself in the palm of our hands. Why, with you, we shall avoid bloodshed. Now...doesn’t that image soothe you?” A lie. A lie that had rolled from his tongue smoother than molasses. There would be blood to spill; there always was.

“He’s got such a way with words, doesn’t he?” Wick purred appreciatively, a small grin spreading on her lips, “...Among other things.”

A small whimper fell out of River has Fritz’s hand snaked around his neck. His brain said flee, but his legs were frozen in place, just like a kitten who’s scruff was being tugged by its mother. The image did soothe River. But it was purely fantasy, and he knew better than to let fantasy soothe him. Dante has taught him so. It’s not real until it’s in your hands, hermano.

“You want n-nothing but b-bloodshed.” River whispered, still absolutely stuck in Fritz’s gentle yet threatening grasp. They didn’t want him for bait… they wanted him so his friends couldn’t hurt them. Guilt borrowed its way into his stomach. How.. how could they win now? Or even worse… what if they didn’t hesitate?

No, no. Wouldn’t happen. Not true. Not true.

“Please let go of me.” River squeaked.

“When you’ve practiced your tongue for as long as I have, it bares wondrous gifts,” Fritz chuckled, gaze momentarily flashing with impishness in Wick’s direction. Words couldn’t describe how elated he was, had been, always would be--to please his queen. However, now was not the time to indulge in precious recollections. The puddle. The fragile little pond. Amusement seeped into his visage. “You speak as if you know what I desire, Dear River. I am not a man who...appreciates dirtying my own hands. Also,” another chuckle escaped him before releasing River. Slowly. Tauntingly. “Since you asked of me so properly, I’m obliged to grant your wishes. It all boils down to manners, does it not?”

“Hm… So polite.” Wick mused, her eyes flickering to River, “It’s going to be such a wonderful, wonderful day.” Tapping her chin, she looked around the room, “Almost a shame we aren’t first… But I suppose there’s a benefit to waiting. We get to see who’s left, at the end.”

River scurried a good few paces back the moment Fritz let go, a hand going up to his own neck. Fritz hadn’t held him with a painful grip, but it reminded him of things far worse. Eyes darting between the two, River tried to steady his breaths, coming in short, panting intervals. They both terrified him. Especially together. But now he couldn’t run, even when his friends were so awfully, tantalizingly close… he couldn’t even run.

He bowed his head and shuffled his feet, resigned to his fate. A good little pup. Good manners were everything, so River kept quiet. Whatever they wanted with him, they could have their way. He probably deserved it anyhow.

“A shame indeed,” Fritz hummed, “But...let it be known that every curse is accompanied with a gift, of sorts. Dog Fights is, at the heart of it, a means of entertainment for the pigs sitting atop their thrones.” A hint of bitterness almost fell upon his tongue, but he did well to hide it. “Each fight will be broadcasted upon screens for all of us to see, I’m certain. Unless our delightful warden has decided to veer away from tradition this year. Either way…” He pressed a kiss to Wick’s temple, remaining there as he whispered, “It is a marvelous way to nitpick our enemies. To learn of their weaknesses and downfalls…”

River’s silence was endearing. Achingly so. And with every passing moment of talking with the young lad, Fritz could understand Wick’s enjoyment of...conditioning the boy. “We are a team now, Dear River, no matter your sentiments toward the subject,” he said lightly, “Tell me...aside from the brilliant strategy my queen has come up with, how do you intend to...contribute to the cause?”

It was an unappealing notion, the Warden changing the process… She was so looking forward to watching the fools and freaks fall, one by one. Ticking them off on her fingers… Fritz continued, and the brief moment of irritation was appeased by his question, as a brow rose in curiosity, “Marvelous question, Fritz, dear… Puddles? What do you have to say…?”

A team. River nearly laughed. He felt more like the pet of two villains. “W-what do I… have to contribute?” He said it with a wisp of a joking tone, just a wisp. His hands were still trembling despite being balled into fists. He felt helplessly toyed with, but such was his entire life. “Y-you tell me,” He murmured, an air of defiance growing around his shrivelled posture. “You’re the ones w-who wanted m-me.”

Frtiz clicked his tongue in disappointment. “I expected a more acceptable answer, Dear River,” he sighed, pushing back red curls, “Truly. I just now had to remind myself that you’re not dear Jumbo.” No, he was far from the cannibal. And yet...his fingers twitched, begging to wrap around that pitifully thin neck again and beget obedience--

Self control...Calm. Fritz inhaled slowly, nostrils nearly flaring, before the tenseness eased from his person like water. It was fine. At the end of it all, River belonged to his queen and she knew how to handle him. It was not his place. He shook the thoughts away, focusing on the young Tribute once more. “Very well then, I suppose every dog requires a bone first. Think, my dear River. If our opponents are hesitant to harm you, then you shall make wonderful defenses. Be sure to obtain a weapon of that similar nature.” His smile widened a tad. “I say this as a suggestion...though it’d be heinously unwise to disobey it.”

“By unwise, he means ‘don’t’...” Wick added, with a brow quirked, the amusement briefly leaving her voice, “This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, Little Pup… But if you attempt to move outside of it? To get cute or clever… Hm.” Looking to Fritz, she shrugged, “I thoroughly enjoy our little chats… but I can always find new ways to entertain myself, if need be.”

The changes in Fritz’s posture were not lost on River, and he watched with wide frightful eyes as he thought for just a terrifying split second that the red head might pounce upon him. But the quiet flare of anger passed, and River hunched his shoulders to take in the new threats. Stupid. Should’ve just said he could do something… anything. “..Got it.” River murmured, gaze trained intensely on his shoes. Weapons were a whole other topic of issue. He couldn’t imagine Fritz and Wick would be jumping to defend him, even if he was their little secret weapon. “I won’t… move outside of our arrangement.” He echoed obediently.

Fritz grinned. “Marvelous. And no worries, I’ll be sure to provide defenses myself for both of you. Wick, my queen?” His fingers weaved through hers, before bring their hands up to press a kiss to her knuckles. “If you are willing, would you honor us with a more...long range offense? I am uncertain of which exact weapons will be given to us, but I’m certain something of that nature will be available.”

“Provided Pretty Puddle here is willing to do his part, I’m willing to do mine.” Her hooded gaze bounced from Fritz to River, and she smirked, “Do you think that’s something you can accommodate, River, dear?”

There was hesitation in his movement at first, but River forced his head to bob up and down. It was strikingly hard to do so. “Yes.” He said, still avoiding either of their gazes. He already knew his fate was sealed… why was it such a struggle to give in?

Perfection. Everything was falling into place right before Fritz’s eyes and he couldn’t help but bask in the image forming. It was...a sight worth committing diligently to memory. Eagerness threatened to bubble up to the surface and spill from his eyes, smile so jubilant that it momentarily flashed teeth. “Excellent. I’m certain this year shall bring us...a rewarding experience.”

He locked eyes with Wick once more, warmth intermingling with the excitement. Rewarding indeed.
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Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Madmen Crew | Interactions: Chiko, Amit & Archer KatSea KatSea | Location: Team Sign-Ups / Ascension Pods

Archer’s skin crawled. The news of the boiler incident had spread. It wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for, and realized if he had let go of Abraham, he perhaps would have gotten a preferable title. Yet, for some mundane instinct, he did not regret saving the pitiful man’s life. He wasn’t sure, however, if it was because he would get a favor in return, or if it was because he felt something in his chest. He felt a foreign emotion after saving the man’s life. It wasn’t pleasurable, nor was it grotesque. It just burned. It scorched in his chest and left wordless ashes in its waste. He didn’t know what he was experiencing. It was human. was almost…


His fingers skimmed along his chest briefly as he hobbled along the other prisoners, the volunteers seeming to shake in their boots. Archer had a feeling he was going to be a leftover decision, which was fine in his opinion. He wasn’t looking to win, persay.

A gentle voice broke him from his thoughts. He identified the voice as Chiko. He hadn’t bothered to fully remember her name, but he recalled that Bear had affectionately referred to her as Koko. He was surprised that Bear hadn’t teamed up with her and Ami the destroyer, but then with a flicker of his eyes he understood why. A smirk perked up on his lips. Oh. This would be a lot of fun.

“Hmm? Hero of Hagur?” He questioned suddenly, brow perking into his hairline as Chiko clapped a hand onto his shoulder. He wanted to shrug it off, but decided it against it. “Fine. I’ll fucking take it then, Ko. Who’s the unlucky bastard whose partnering up on this trainwreck?”

“Fuck yeahhh,” Chiko cheered, nose scrunching up with a wide smile as she used her free hand to flash a rocker sign...Though few people did that nowadays. Screw it. She was an old soul. And a five year old soul. Both. At differing times.

She gave Archer’s shoulder a squeeze and friendly shake. “Man, welcome aboard to the fucking dream team! Oh! Uh,” she shrugged sheepishly, “Third mate’s Amit, but he’s kinda not here right now soooo yeah.”

Archer blinked at the symbol she threw him. He think he recognized that from his older brother, who used to do it when blaring Iron Maiden in his room as a child. That was the brother Archer could have done without. “Mm. Thanks. I guess. Glad to be aboard.” He saluted her lazily. His demeanor melted, and for once that day, genuine concern flooded his features. “Amit? That...that should be fun.” Archer didn’t dare mess around with the terrorist. Archer wasn’t necessarily a holy man himself, but he had his limitations. A man killing others for the sake of their mythical level. Horrifying. “He gonna behave himself I assume?” He smirked at the recollection of the boiler incident. As much as sky father worshipping terrorist was frightening, Archer gave him props for that one.

Chiko saluted back, giving Archer a cheeky wink. “Glad to have ye, land lover,” she said, in probably the worst pirate impersonation known to man. However, her mood dimmed a little at his jab towards her cellmate. Releasing him, she slapped on a pout and folded her arms. “Oi, back off my roomie! He just, uh, got a little, err--hot headed! Swept up in the moment and shit. He’s a chill dude, you got nothing to worry about man.”

“He almost killed you, if it wasn’t for Bear you’d be dead.” He poked back at the young woman, fingers skimming his chapped lips. He craved the taste of tobacco against his tongue. Licking his lips, he let a chuckle loose. “But you know, if he couldn’t kill his targets before hand, maybe we won’t have to worry about any bodies in the arena.” He paused. “When is the holy crusader going to grace us with his presence, anyway?”

Chiko visibly winced, recalling that incident. She almost slumped, the bravado leaving her, before she stubbornly put her foot down and puffed back up. She shook her head. “Naw man! Amit told me all about that. He was just...He ain’t know I was in there! I bet if he knew, he wouldn’t have went ape shit like that, so, so...there!” Some heat was rushing to her face at this point, creating a soft shade of pink. She could take any insult or joke thrown her way, but when peeps started doubting her friends, that was where she drew the line. Hero or no hero of Hagur.

“Holy cruise ship whazzit?” she muttered, brow furrowing. Two seconds...three more seconds...five...then it clicked. “Oh. Oh! Amit! Heh,” she scratched the back of her head, “Hell if I know. Guards took him somewhere else, so I’ve just been, like...waiting for ‘em. H-he’ll show up though. I know he will.” That was her guardian angel--he wouldn’t bail on her like that. Never.

“He didn’t seem to care for any of the unfortunate souls in there. Who would say that he cared for yours?” Eyes hooded, he let the situation slump from his shoulders. This girl was naive, foolish enough to believe the words of a holy madman. He clicked his tongue against the back of his teeth, his shoulders beginning to tremble. He wasn’t anxious, persay. The feeling had returned to his chest, swirling, engulfing the emptiness that had resided there previously. “He better show back up.” His brows furrowed. Guards again? That was bizarre. He knew that the man hadn’t been given a punishment as severe as putdown because of the Dog Fights, but now that Archer pondered it, he hadn’t been given a punishment whatsoever. “Oh. That’s peculiar.” He mused, smiling to himself. “He’s probably gettin his balls a little kick.” Saying something he shouldn’t. Talking to men he shouldn’t.

“He cares about mine, alright? You don’t know him, so it,” Chiko grumbled, her pout heavier than before. She refused to believe a single word this dude said--he wasn’t the first and only one to talk smack about Amit and even then, during her entire stay at Hagur, she refused to listen. Terrorist, Murderer, Arsonist, whatever title, he was a damn good guy who put up with her shit.

However, at Archer’s tidbit about the guards, she shifted from foot to foot, uncertainty flowing through her. “ think so? Damn. Fuck. Dude, I hope not. Guards give him so much shit, for like, no reason.” It always bothered Chiko, especially yesterday. Amit had disappeared for the rest of Dinner, only showing back up to the cell under the escort of one guard, bloody and bruised. He had refused to answer any of her questions. Hell, he didn’t even look her in the eyes. All he did was say the customary, “I’m tired” and went to bed, leaving it at that.

“Just watch yourself, Ko. Not meanin to say it like a dick, just sayin it to make sure you know it’s every man for themselves in here.” Archer tapped his foot impatiently. “Those guards are a bunch of…” he stopped talking. Roles were reversed up here in Hagur. Archer couldn’t snap at who he saw fit. He couldn’t decide with a snap of his fingers to end someone’s life. A year and a half of not being able to fully speak his mind. At least, regarding the assholes that ran the place. “If he ain’t coming we might need to get someone else while we still can.”

Just as Chiko was about to protest further, a voice from behind cut her off, somber and familiar.

“Will not be needed.”

“Ami!” Before Amit could blink, Chiko tackled him with a hug, both arms wrapping tightly around his middle. The most the could get out was a huff at the moment of impact, instantly reminded of how much muscle that little body held. It was illogical, to be honest. Amit didn’t have it in him to resist, let alone express much emotion at the touch; the most he did was stand there, letting his fate unravel. Bags sat heavily under his eyes and the wound he had acquired from yesterday had mostly healed.

“See, Mr. Hero??” Chiko grinned victoriously at Archer, an arm still looped around Amit. “He’s here and ready to lock and lo--Dude Ami wait you look like shit bro!”

Amit grimaced. “...Thank you,” he muttered.

“Glad to see you could make it. Teammate.” Archer greeted with a toothy smile. He decided not to pick and prod too much at him, figuring instead to keep the berating at the minimum. “She’s not wrong you know. Are you at least fit to fight in the arena?” His brow perked. He honestly didn’t have much of a choice, did he? That or he could take a pup as a human shield. As much as it amused him, he knew that there was a strategy in the madness. He didn’t want to win, per say. He just wanted a show.

“I am fit,” Amit grumbled. Without breaking eye contact with Archer, he gently pried Chiko off of him, making sure she stood with enough elbow room between them. The woman was incredibly clingy sometimes. There were days when he handled it better than others, but today wasn’t one of them. “I am healed and ready.”

“I mean, yeah, but like…” Cautiously, Chiko poked his cheek, just below his tired eye. “Did you even sleep?? Look like a whole damn zombie!”

Amit swatted her hand away. “Stop.” His glazed eyes then slid over to Archer. “How are you fit?”

“I’m not exactly a stick.” Archer defended, once again allowing for a pleasant smile. Archer had heard from his own trial how much pressure it took to snap someone’s neck. How much strength it took to do it in the period of time he did. He may not have been as burly as Bear or his own victim, but he was fully aware of the sort of thing he could pull off. “Besides. A little weapon work wouldn’t hurt, now would it?” He bobbed his head towards Chiko. “Why don’t you ask your little monkey there the same question?”

Amit gave a simple grunt in response, not entirely impressed, but not displeased either. Archer at least had a point about weapons; if they chose wisely...then things could turn out okay. Maybe. Well, he could keep telling himself that. Then, his eyes narrowed, a warning bubbling up the back of his tongue. “She is a monkey. And only I can say so,” he grumbled, “And she’s plenty fit.”

“Yeah! Dude, like,” Chiko rolled up the sleeve of her jumper, flexing obnoxiously for Archer to see. “All that welding man? Ace. I can be y’all’s heavy hitter and shit! The tank!”

“Impressive.” Archer claimed tiredly. His eyes barely glazed over the display of Chiko’s muscles. Archer was amused, for sure. He did remind himself, however, that some appearances could be deceiving. “I hope you’re ready to go head to head then with some of those other nut jobs. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.” I guess.

Chiko beamed at the faux praise, puffing her chest out and attempting to appear as tall as possible...which wasn’t much. Calmly, Amit placed one hand atop her head and pushed her back down onto the flat of her feet. “We are ready. And because of your…“back” promise, I have every right to worry,” he said, scanning Archer up and down carefully. He obviously didn’t trust the man, no matter what the Hero rumors said, but he would at least have to act like he did. It was pure torment to admit, but they had to work together as a team, because the people they were facing against wouldn’t be a simple walk in the park. But, then again, there was always…

Amit refused to think about it. If he did, he’d likely forget how to breathe again. Perhaps a panic attack, even. Instead, he focused on the strategy at hand and said, “I am good with a Blazer. You and Chiko are the muscle, agreed?”

“Blazer?” Archer mused, deciding internally that this was nothing of concern. Amit most likely considered that blazer was going to be the weapon of choice this year. After all, it had been used in years prior. Considerably that one year when things went wrong. Archer may have been decently new, but he knew to review the gossip and background of this literal shipwreck. He grinned. “If you can handle yourself with one go right on ahead. If little monkey-I mean Ko, can handle being muscle than I am more than happy to have her beside me.”

It shouldn’t have been possible, but Amit’s gaze hardened even further. He gripped Chiko by the arm, pulling her in to whisper something in her ear. She blinked at first, confused, only for the emotion melt away from her visage as the understanding settled in, and with a lock and key motion across her lips, she nodded at Amit. “Read you loud and clear, Cap! If the dipshit gets hostile, warn you immediately!”

A beat.

“...Wait, I wasn’t supposed to say that out loud, huh?”

Amit pinched his brow. “It’s my fault for expecting otherwise,” he sighed.

“Next!” The sign up guard called out for the next team, eyes straying over in the group’s general direction. Catching the signal, Amit heaved yet another sigh before nodding towards the guard, a million prayers running through his head five hundred miles per hour--at minimum.

“Dipshit, huh? Couldn’t have come up with something more creative?” Archer chuckled, brushing the insult off as if it were merely ash on his uniform. His features beamed with amusement.

“Ah, hell time ladies and gents.” Archer grumbled as he took a step forward. He swallowed, nervous for the second time that day. He couldn’t say his immediate doom into a lava pit of untold horrors was something that raised his blood pressure, but it managed to do so anyways. “Malcolm Archer.” He stated, bitterness coating his tone. There was only one voice left in the world that could make his first name sound normal. He wasn’t there beside him now, so it instead mimicked the sound of nails against a chalkboard.

“Chiko Granniiiiis~,” Chiko said, shooting the guard a pair of cheeky finger guns. He...wasn’t amused by the gesture, but entered her name into the system anyway, grumbling under his breath how he wasn’t paid enough to deal with idiotic druggies. He wasn’t exactly quiet about it, causing Chiko to wince visibly at the comment, her mood dimming a little. She crossed her arms, lips pinching to fight back the hurt from filtering into her visage.

“Amit...Yedidya…” Amit growled, glaring daggers through the guard as his teeth clenched. Asshole. All of the guards were fucking incompetent brutes. Of course, the look went ignored, which just boiled the anger within him even hotter. If only, if only...Amit swallowed back those thoughts. Those sentiments. There was never a what-if that could get him out of this mess, not when it was brought on by his own doing. Instead of shooting a remark when the guard called “next”, Amit shot him another withering glare, and guided Chiko away with a hand to her back.

“You’ve done well,” he murmured to Chiko, who blinked somewhat in confusion, his words not exactly catching on. Noticing the look, Amit continued at a lower volume, “The drugs. Resisting...You’ve done well.”

“Oh…oh! Heh!” Chiko instantly brightened, form puffing up in pride. She even brushed off her own shoulder, feeling incredibly cocky from the praise. “It’s nothing! Don’t need that shit anyway, ya know? I’m like--fucking Buddha and all that stuff. No drugs and candy, just sleep a lot? That’s how it went, right?”

“...Yes.” Amit figured it’d be a waste of energy to correct her. However, once they were a good distance away from the guards, he looked at Archer, contemplative. They had already discussed battle tactic--vaguely--all that was left was waiting. He...had nothing to say to the man. Not that he wanted to. Speaking with him equated to the discomfort of plucking a nose hair. Thus, he ripped his gaze away from the man, hoping to ignore him for the time being and prepare himself for the inevitable.

Drugs? Archer’s brow shot up at the guard’s comment about Chiko. That little punk, a drug addict? His eyes shot towards the young woman, a humoured grin overtaking his features. It didn’t feel fitting, and yet the idea of her shooting up on heroine was...amusing. It felt as if Abraham stood up straight, or if Bungee enjoyed tightrope walking. It was like something Archer had thought about for a while. It was as if he fathered a child. Bitter sweet ironies made him smirk.
“That explains the jitters.” He mumbled, stroking his thumb underneath his chin. “It’s a cute thought. You chasing the little purple dragon.”

“...Chasing whazzit?” Chiko mumbled, clearly baffled. The hell was he going on about now? Were dragons keeping cooped up onboard. Dude, that was a fantasy quest all on it’s own--and hell yes, she would join that party so damn fast.

“Ignore him,” Amit muttered, rolling his eyes in annoyance. Honestly, the guards couldn’t announce teams quick enough--

“Sign Ups and Team Matches are now closed! The following teams--Abraham, Cybil, and Chava versus Archer, Chiko, and Amit! Step forward and choose your weapon of choice! After making your selection, step into the ascension pods!”

...So much for that. So much for stalling. Waiting. Hoping fruitlessly that he wouldn’t be fighting against them...Fuck. Sucking in a sharp breath, he started towards the line of guards with his team, avoiding eye contact with their opponents desperately. If he dared to lock eyes with Pan...he’d vomit. He knew he would.

“Duuuude, it’s really happening,” Chiko whispered, the weight of everything finally registering in her brain. This was it…This was it.

“It is,” Amit muttered as his gaze roamed the shelf full of weapons. He took into account the ones his opponents grabbed and momentarily had to harden his gut, swallowing back the dread...And chose the Blazer. Of course he would.

Chiko hummed and bounced in place, her bottom lip poking out in contemplation. She...wasn’t entirely an expert on how the weapons worked, but she had a decent idea of how to use them. And they all looked really freaking cool. And shiny. But the shiniest sat to her right, gleaming and sharp in all its glory. Oh...ohoho, yeah. Yep. “My spirit weapon,” Chiko whispered in awe as she held up the boomerang, admiring its sleek metallic finish with childlike wonder. “Dude, feels like it’s crafted from my soul.”

Amit heaved a soft sigh. “Into the pods, Chiko.” With a upbeat salute and nod, Chiko did as she was told and stepped into one of the pods, gaze snapping about from teammate to opponent to teammate again. She was nervous, Amit could tell.

The terrorist refused to step into his pod until Archer did so. Once the man settled on an Icyhot Slingshot and took up position in the pod on Chiko’s left, Amit stepped into the one on her right. The countdown appeared before them, starting from ten.

“Countdown to Dog Fights will begin in 10...9...8…”

Amit checked the Blazer’s condition. Pristine. Newly made.


Chiko glanced in her cellmate’s direction and in that fraction of a moment, her facade wavered, and pure fear seized her eyes. Amit caught the look.


His lips moved. Slowly. Distinctly. “It’ll be alright.”

Biting back emotion, Chiko nodded and forced her gaze ahead once more. Her eyes screwed shut, giving herself up to the inevitable.


The Tributes flickered out of existence.
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Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Year: 2813
Location: Hagur-343 | Round One Simulator
Time: 5:00 PM | Dog Fights

The Tributes were everywhere and nowhere all at once.

As soon as the pods ejected their entities into the threads of spatial turpentine, their molecules split and reconnected infinitely, like a nonstop scrambler. There was nausea, a rush, consciousness snapping in and out of focus in the midst of travel, until their forms were forced back into one cohesive piece.

Their feet landed with a soft crunch.

Amit and Chiko were immediately on their knees, hurling the contents of their stomach into piles of white. Chilled to the touch, but not quite to an uncomfortable degree. Coldness seeped gently through their vests and jumpers, and the distant sun was a mere few minutes away from setting completely, the last shreds of light peeking over mountaintops.

Snow. A dense forest surrounding them on all sides. Through the illness twisting his stomach into knots, Amit could tell that this simulator was attempting to mimic...some sort of European winter forest. Norway? Russia? He couldn’t quite tell. But what he could make out was a massive cabin perched on a hill up ahead. Brightly lit. Likely where their opponents were dropped...He staggered to his feet, shakily reaching out to Chiko and helping her to her feet.

“Archer...Ch-Chiko, are you ready,” he rasped.

And yet, as soon as those words escaped him, another timer appeared. Up above. A massive clock that covered miles-worth of the sky. On it read, 00:00…

And then, that same computerized voice boomed throughout.


Switch knew then and there that she’d never step foot in another pod, not of her own free will. As soon as she and her teammates collapsed into the den of...some huge fancy place, she sought out the nearest trashcan and spit up some vomit. Fuck this. Fuck that sort of travel. Who invented that anyways??

She forced herself to stand fully, the misery rolling off her in waves. This was off to a great start, really. “Okay...saying it now. Fuck ascension pods and the sadistic dipshit that invented them.” When she finally had enough of her wits to take in their surroundings, she was vaguely surprised. Expensive furniture, pristine ornaments, a huge chandelier dangling from insane heights. What...What kind of family did this cabin house? Well, judging by the lobby-like set up, this was more so a hotel rather than a home--


“Ahhh, fuck you computer voice,” Switch whispered saltily as she ran up to the glass, peering up at the giant timer. As soon as it reached odd sound reached her ears. She spun around, squinting in Pan’s direction. At first, nothing seemed off about her cellmate, until her gaze snapped down the Bo Staff in her hands.

It was vibrating. Violently. And glowing.

Switch paled. “Pan…”

Four seconds.

“Pan get rid of that shit!”

Five seconds.

Tags: Elle Joyner Elle Joyner , CloudyBlueDay CloudyBlueDay , KatSea KatSea


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Eighteen my Shiny White Butt
Collab with Mobley Eats Mobley Eats and Elle Joyner

Switch’s words clicked, but Pan hadn’t needed the warning. The Ascension Pods had been the least of her concerns. Five seconds. The words continued to play in her mind like a broken record… Five seconds. Five…


The staff.

Gram. Was. A Son. Of. A. Bitch.

There was no time. No time to talk. To think. To act. Five seconds wasn’t enough time for a fly to fart… Her heart stopped as she gripped the staff and with those few seconds… those few, brief seconds, her mind ran at rapid fire. Door was too far, windows took too long to open. If she threw it in the wrong direction she ran the risk of knocking out a load bearing joint or brace and bringing down the whole damn shack…

Glittering high overhead was a crystal chandelier. High overhead.

Thank the dear, sweet Lord she didn’t throw like a girl. Swinging her arm back, she arched high and like a javelin, launched the damnable grenade-staff high into the ceiling, “DUCK!”

It took everything Abe had to hold the contents of his stomach where they were. Somehow, he managed, and struggling to his feet with the CWE in tow, Abe looked around. Wow. Quaint. Looked like one of his parent’s summer vacation home. Damn the stupid pods.. What happened to a good old fashioned car? The computerized voice announcing the beginning of their trials snapped him slightly out of his nauseous stupor, and Abe glanced to his teammates, prepared to crack some sort of joke, when..

Switch’s and Pan’s shouts resounded, and he stared dumbfounded at the glowing staff in Pan’s hands. “Oh fuck.” He breathed, feeling his stomach lurch. “Oh fuck.” He then shouted, and dove for cover as the staff was thrown into the fucking ceiling.

“Fuck we’re gonna die, gonna die, gonna--” Switch muttered this over and over frantically as she sprinted to the nearest furniture and hopped over it, dragging it with her in tow until it tipped over and covered her…

An explosion shook the cabin. The floors shook aggressively from the force and the distinct chaos of shattering glass and splintering wood intermingled with the ear-ringing detonation. Bits of crystal and debris fell from overhead and Switch refused to move until the hailstorm calmed, tendrils of smoke already filling the area. “Guys,” she called out, “We...We gotta move.”

She didn’t have time to throw and run, and Pan knew without a lingering doubt that it was gonna suck. Glass rained down around her, and while most of it ended up harmless pebbles, there were enough significantly shard-like pieces to make her heart beat a little faster - she was small, and balling up tightly, she made herself smaller, but she could still feel bits biting into her skin and it stung like hell.

The heat of the explosion smacked into her back, and she pushed lower to the floor as the splinters joined the glass rainstorm like hail from hell…

Five seconds… She was gonna give Gram five seconds to run for his damn life when she got out of the games.

As the remainder of debris crashed down, Pan laid her palms flat on the ground and pushing herself upright with a grimace, eyes narrowed as she searched around for Switch and Abe, “Everyone alright? Still kickin’?”

Swallowing back bile while a ear ringing explosion rocked the floor was not an easy task, and try as he might, Abe could not keep the contents of his stomach any longer. As the hailstorm of crystal finally ended, Abe crawled out from his corner, to lay his eyes on a beautifully badass, worn and rugged Pan. Oh, how his heart swooned. And he had just puked in the corner. Marvelous.

“Still kickin’,” He croaked, lugging the CWE like a toy under his arm, and met Pan halfway, worriedly picking out a piece of glass on her arm, brows knitted in concern as he glanced around them. His head was pounding, ears ringing… dear god. He hated the Dog Fights.

Switch was hesitant at first, but once she peeked out of her hiding spot and saw that her teammates were out in the open, she decided reveal herself as well. “Uh...yeah. Kicking as I’ll ever be after a fucking staff almost killed us,” she said, attempting to slap on a casual air about her. The lingering shock in her demeanor didn’t help. She peered up at the gaping hole in the ceiling and the scattered scorch marks; it was almost confusing to see a lack of fire, but decided not to dwell on that.

They still had the other team to worry about. “So...what now? You’re weaponless but...Not to say you aren’t a human weapon already,” Switch said.

Crossing the floor, stepping over shattered bits here and there, Pan moved to one of the console tables behind a couch and flipping it, she braced the bottom with her palms and kicked with her foot, severing the leg from the surface. Swinging it upright, she turned to the other two, “Now I ain’t weaponless… I just wanna kick someone’s ass.” Pan growled, picking another piece of glass from her shoulder, “Namely Gram’s. But I gotta get outta here to do that, so let’s just end this bitch fast.”

Abe shifted the CWE in his hands to make it easier to fire. ”I have no idea how to work this bloody thing, but all I can say is I think you’d best get out of the way when I shoot it.” He announced, glancing around the cabin. Quaint. Tasteless. Yeah, his parents definitely would have owned this. Abraham glanced between Switch and Pan, taking in the fact that these were the only people standing between him and a quick end. “Like you Americans say… let’s rock and roll?”

“Close enough,” Switch chuckled, grinning somewhat at Abe’s comment. She rolled her shoulders, pausing to take in the fact that her gloves were emitting little dots of light sewn into the fabric. Huh...she guessed they were “on” or something. “And listen, Pan, I know you’re pissed about the fiery ball of death packed into your staff, I think we all are. But...that explosion was huge and the other team can’t be too far off.” She glanced out that same window, the timer staring back at them. Mocking them. “They’ll definitely follow that noise and come here...Why don’t we take advantage of that?”

“Just… just stay British, Abe. The accent’s half your appeal.”

She wasn’t just pissed, she was livid… But it was a clarifying anger, one that she’d only ever felt once before - conveniently enough, when someone had tried to kill her. Tried, and failed. Pan had a lot of talents, some of which she was less than proud of… But being difficult to kill, that wasn’t one she really wanted to test the limits of anymore.

“What’re you thinkin’, Switch?” She asked, looking to the woman with a frown.

“What’s the other half?” Abe said indignantly, foot tapping, but the gears in his brain were already turning (albeit a bit painfully) to follow Switch’s idea. He was more or less convinced the little exploding staff had been a pleasant warning… it couldn’t be the end of it. Was Pan the only target?

They still had a death match to fight, beneath all this… damn it.

“Wait at the door ‘till they come, which they definitely will… point and shoot. We’ll see them coming.. Have the upper hand. I like the way you think, Switch.” Abraham echoed with a nod, patting the CWE. “Maybe that’s where this baby comes in.”

A smile pulled at Switch’s lips as she nodded. “Exactly. From the looks of that monster you’re lugging around, Twitch? I think it’s got some kinda timer on there or something. If we time it right, they won’t even have a chance to realize they’ve been duped.”

Then she paused, a hint of humor entering her eyes. She patted Abe on the shoulder. “You know what other half she means. And Pan?” Slowly, Switch flexed her fingers, showing off the gloves. “I don’t know how long a wooden stake will hold up against what they’ve got, but in case anything gets out of hand, I’m here to lend both and cover you.”

Giving Abe a once over, Pan smirked, however strained it was from her usual lighthearted nature, “She ain’t wrong…” But the plan at hand was more important and her focus flickered back, she nodded to Switch, “Good to know… I can hold up pretty good without it, but I ain’t seen ‘em fight, and hell if I’m in the mood to take on three at once, in the damn snow. Alright…” Nodding, she bounced the table leg off her shoulder again, “Let’s do this.”

“Oho,” Abraham said, looking over the CWE with newfound excitement. “A timer? That’s wonderful.” Upon further inspection, he did indeed see the timer and its settings. “It’s got thirty seconds, forty five, and a minute. What’re we feelin’, gang?” Abe announced with an excited smirk. Hopefully this would be enough to allow Pan and Switch to swoop in and deal the final blows. He moved towards the door, trying to peek out the window.

Switch’s brow furrowed in thought, looking around the area. She marched over to the opposite end of the lobby and past the front desk, where the entrance resided. It was partially damaged, but still hanging on by a loose hinge. Other than that, it was a gaping hole. Begging for someone to enter...Too obvious. She set the door back in place the best she could, just enough to insinuate that it was in semi-working order, before turning back to face her teammates. “If they do come through that door and are expecting us? They’ll likely come in hard and fast, so we’ve gotta use the shortest time that thing’s got. Abe? I don’t know how good your aim is, but if any vantage point is good?” She pointed at the second level, which were barred in by wooden rails; luckily, it had avoided most of the explosion’s destruction. “It’s a high one. So you’re best bet is to shoot from there and out of sight.”

She then walked up to Pan, holding a fist out towards the woman. “We’re the close-rangers, so we’re ground floor. Just gotta take up shop behind whatever barriers we can scrape up...Sounds like a plan, you two?”

“You two got the brains…” Pan said, without a hint of irony, pounding a fist to Switch’s, before nodding as she glanced around the room. Slowly, her eyes took in each strategic location… each possible point of attack, “It comes down to a fight, we gotta disarm them, fast as hell.” Cracking her neck and rolling out her shoulders, ignoring the stinging pain of what was probably glass somewhere in her collar bone, she shifted, “Let’s do this thing.”

Digesting Switch’s words with an intense gaze, Abraham nodded. “Aim’s a little twitchy, but it’ll do the job.” He said through a toothy grin, looking up towards the second floor. He thought back briefly to the Put Down fiasco… and put it out of his mind as quickly as it had come. “Sure.” He said, swallowing as he gave them each a little salute before heading up the stairs.

Structurally intact. No fiery pits of doom here. No no no, none at all. None at all, Abe. He reassured himself as he took in his vantage point at the top. Leaning the CWE against the railing, trying to stabilize it as much as possible to get the best shot, Abraham offered the two women downstairs a thumbs up.

“And you’ve got the muscle,” Switch said, grinning as Pan returned the fist bump. It was a small action, but hell if it wasn’t at least a little bit comforting. They wouldn’t have much time left before someone came raining down on them, so she was grateful to see everyone come to a consensus quickly. She then rolled her eyes as Abe’s twitching joke… “Hardy har. I’m splitting a gut, Twitch.” Regardless, she busied herself with taking up one side of lobby which wasn’t immediately in the entrance’s line of sight and moved nearby furniture around until she had decent coverage. Crouching down behind it, she returned Abe’s thumbs up from the second floor, glanced in Pan’s direction, and gave a nod.

It was all a matter of waiting now. And devising a backup plan in case this didn’t go as smoothly as planned...but the pounding in her head might make that a little difficult. “Fuck,” she whispered under her breath. Switch steadied her breathing, expression as neutral as possible. She refused to fuck this up for them.

Abraham blinked, looking down as his stomach did somersaults for so many reasons. “Hey, ladies?” He called. “Hate to say it, but give Archer one pass for me. Arse saved my life. Just one, got it?”

As Pan moved to position, she glanced up to Abe with a heavy frown. Life debts in the Dog Fights weren’t exactly the biggest paradox she’d ever come across, but it was definitely up there at the top, “Abe… I swear to God, if this is what gets me killed, I’m gonna drag you with me…”

“Expected. Not surprised.” Abe chirped. “Don’t care how small that pass is, love. I ain’t goin’ to hell in debt.”

“Let’s try not to let this situation go to hell in a handbasket either,” Switch muttered, squinting against the pressure filling her skull. She shook it off the best she could, which wasn’t much, but it was enough to see the world in some form of clarity again. “Look alive, peeps...And, like, stay alive too. It’s kinda part of the plan.”


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Collab: Snowy White Regret and Agreement, Chiko and Amit Mobley Eats Mobley Eats

If Archer could only register hate for one thing in the given universe, it would be the scorching and sloshing of his stomach as he was sent to his knees in the cold, damp snow. It seeped into the cloth of his prison uniform, a pleasant sting encasing his skin. The air felt...fresh. He hadn’t breathed in such refine air since his wedding day. He could still remember the cold winter’s breeze and the beads of sweat cascading past his suit. He swallowed hard. Slowly, overcoming the nausea and the overwhelming normality of the area, he stood. “I thought for sure they would have given us a hellscape.” He commented, patting his clothes down before turning to face the simulation of a dark winter’s sky. Slowly, he outstretched his arms, as if to embrace a phantom figure.

He shot the empty sky two of his favorite fingers, turning on his heel and raising a brow at his teammates. He glanced down at his weapon, which had hung lazily along his torso. “Alright, so I guess the next stop is to frostbite these fuckers.” Archer mumbled, eyes flickering up to the scenery around him. Densely populated trees. A small building, which could have been interpreted as a hotel, nearby. He blinked. Once. Then again. “Quaint.”

“We need a plan,” Amit insisted, ignoring Archer’s...rude gesture to the sky. However, before he could say anything else further, he and Chiko flinched as a rumble shook the ground and a mushroom billowed violently from the cabin up ahead. That...that was it. The explosion. More than likely, Pan had…

“Fuck…” Amit wheezed under this breath, mouth falling over his mouth as bile threatened to make a reappearance.

“Dude...what the fuck was that?!” Chiko yelped, looking back and forth between her teammates. She clutched the boomerang tightly, her nervousness from before now skyrocketing.

“Wh-” Archer found himself caught off guard as the ground shook underneath him. Grotesque pictures flashed before his eyes as he recalled the earlier work related incident, eyes widening in genuine concern. He hadn’t felt anxiety like this since he had gotten caught. “The hell?” Archer whispered, eyes trained on the explosion’s aftermath. “Either the other team royally fucked up, or something’s been tampered with.” His eyes skimmed along the winter’s snow. He wouldn’t put it past the pigs to put down mines to screw with the tributes. “Don’t assume they are dead. That is the most foolish thing we could do. I suggest we act as if that did not just happen.” Archer’s grip on his weapon tightened. “Be careful of where you step too.”

Chiko paled a little, glancing down at her boomerang. “T...tampered with? D-dude, should we--”

“No,” Amit interrupted, a hand clasped firmly to the young woman’s shoulder, “It’s not. And Archer’s right. We...cannot assume their death.” At the serial killer’s suggestion of ignoring the explosion, the cogs in Amit’s mind turned vigorously. If they wanted to win, understand the members and how they thought was top priority. He didn’t know Abe well...but he knew Pan.

“ a close range fighter and their strongest,” Amit started, eyes trained to his Blazer, “They will definitely utilize her. We can’t afford to meet her head on.”

“I believe these nasty suckers are heat seeking.” Archer claimed and patted his weapon. “I am not entirely sure how this contraption works, but if that is true this could be beneficial from a distance. That, and monkey’s boomerang. How good of a throw do you have, Ko?” Archer asked with a raised brow. “As for Abraham, I cannot say much for his figure. I work with him in the Corpse Dispensary...but I can tell you he’s...twitchy. To say the least.” He chuckled softly under his breath, deciding to keep the berating to a minimum. “I say our best bet, despite this fact, is surprise and long range. We can’t exactly case the hotel without fear of spotting, but there is one nice thing. We know exactly where they are. Unless they’ve got a certain vantage point, I doubt they know exactly where we are.”

Amit listened to Archer, expression blank but mind as active as ever. So far, he agreed with everything the man said, in which he couldn’t tell if that was entirely good news. Sharing opinions and strategies with...him, of all people. And yet, there was no time for feeling disturbed. They were timed, by both the clock in the sky and the opposing team. “If...If they are heat seeking, then you do not need lighting.” In fact, it would sharpen trajectory even more with less heat signatures being admitted by light. “It’s clearly electric. The cabin. My Blazer, with this,” he held up the gun in question, “I can disrupt their fuse box, plunge them in darkness.”

At the question shot her way, Chiko shrugged at Archer. “Never messed with of these doo-hickeys before. Well, nothing fancy like this, anyway. But bro! I had this sick ass rave, when one of my buds brought over a freaking neon frisbee and we played in the middle of the dance floor and boi we accidentally knocked so many heads in the fucking process--”

“Chiko,” Amit said.


“Focus.” He gestured to her boomerang. “You’re part of the surprise attack. I know you have strength.” Slowly, his gaze traveled up to the cabin once more. To the windows… “You have a large target. Shatter a window when the lights are out, understood? Then.” He looked over at Archer. “You will have an opening.”

“The only problem we have is getting to the fusebox and knowing exactly where it is. It’s a possibility that, when I do shoot, that they are going to be dispersed. I may be able to hit one, but that leaves us two more people who could be around the house. I’d recommend after Chiko takes out the window, I stay to shoot and you two case the joint. If the lights go out, I can join you inside.”

“Soooo...I throw this, then go ham, got it,” Chiko said with a single, firm nod, as if she had followed that entire conversation. Potentially, she could’ve absorbed everything, but the nerves and her short attention span wasn’t helping.

“Exactly,” Amit responded dryly before addressing Archer again, “That is fair. You handle the front while Chiko and I take the rear entrance...If anything goes wrong, we shall meet back here.” He spoke with finality rather than suggestion; if they were idle for too long, the other team could devise even more threats for them.

“Will do, mighty crusader.” He pressed his hand to his chest and readed his weapon. “You two be safe, alright? I have a feeling a one on three time isn’t going to be very...pretty.” He smirked, beginning to trudge through the snow. “It was nice knowing all you, bastards.” He mumbled, a sinking emotion festering in his stomach. He figured he would be excited. He figured he would feel the same emotion as the boiler incident. As the furnace. He felt his nerves pulse dully, a nauseous knot. It wasn’t the fear of his own death that rocked his core. This was the third time in two days his life fell in imminent danger. It didn’t feel...right. Probable. Even on the hellscape of a prison. His eighteen months had been quiet, relative to what had occurred the last few days. He hadn’t even made his way to the Cage yet. He gently reminded himself that this would actually be the forth time his life was threatened, causing the wheels to crank in his head.

He wasn’t afraid for himself. It was the instinct that animals would undergo the moment a natural disaster was on its way. It was...primal. A fundamental understanding that there was more bound to go...wrong.

He kept his thoughts to himself and tried to shake them off. He knew he wasn’t going to die. Not yet. He cracked a grin, although it was fractured by unshakable nerves and a blanket of dread waving down his shoulders.

“Let’s go excite the pigs.”
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Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Second Thoughts | Interactions: Gram and Snowman | Location: Gram's Cell

Snowman rested on the bottom bunk, on leg hanging off the edge lazily while the other was draped across Gram’s lap. His gaze was a bright and curious as ever, thoughts wandering with a childlike freedom. Of course, he wasn’t oblivious. Wasn’t in denial. He knew the truth of his reality, such as the lingering damage done to his knee, the undercurrents of throbbing in his shoulder.

But getting hung up on those was a drag. Snowman did his part, followed Gram’s directions to the best of his abilities; harass Abe, more so than usual, rile the man up and acquire a bruise or cut, somehow, someway...and then take some good ole Pan beating. Man, that was brutal. He couldn’t help but shiver at the memory.

He’d rather not do that again.

“You’re having...second thoughts,” Gram muttered, gaze still trained to the leg in his lap. He was massaging the knee area at a casual yet careful pace. He had felt the brief stiffening of Snowman’s muscles and any tick from the man registered as flashing lights in his mind.

Snowman sat up slowly, lips pursing, before he signed, “You know your Aunt’s batshit crazy, right?”

Gram glanced his way, catching the gist of his response before chuckling, “Crazier I’m kinda...insulted.” Snowman merely bat his eyelashes in response, which earned him a scoff. However, Gram’s mood sobered a bit as he continued, “She’s just a controlling...bitch. Nothing it.” But orders were orders and the incentive was far too great for Gram to overlook. Freedom. Snowman would have freedom, in just a matter of days.

Snowman grinned, the teasing and mischievous kind that warned Gram of incoming snark. “I smell fish and it’s rotten. From her, if that wasn’t clear enough.” The serial killer rolled his eyes. “I know she’s your family, but I don’t trust her, Gram. Besides,” Snowman adjusted his position into something more comfortable, though his previously injured leg remained where it was, continuing to receive gentle attention. He scratched his ear absentmindedly. “Why the hell did I have to be everyone’s punching bag?”

He didn’t know. Of course he didn’t know. If he did, he’d likely slap Gram. Heave silent screams. Yell at him about how much of a waste this entire deal was. He would cling to those bars like a desperate monkey, refusing to leave. To leave Gram behind… So he didn’t know. And it would remain that way until the deciding moment. Gram would have this man dragged off Hagur if it came down to it.

“Best not to...overthink. We do...our jobs and...keep it moving,” he said.

“Still doesn’t mean I gotta like it.” A pout pulled at Snowman’s bottom lip, only for it to be revoked by a palm covering his face. Gram’s palm.

“I don’t see that pout.”

Snowman narrowed his eyes.

Then licked.

A pause…

Gram retracted his hand, shaking off the offending saliva. “You’re damn disgusting…” Despite his words, the corner of his lips twitched for a whisper of a moment, before settling back into that indifferent mask of his. He went back to massaging Snowman’s knee, while the white-haired prisoner heaved a sigh and plopped back down, fingers knitted over his stomach.

A mutual silence passed for some time, one party teetering on and off the edge of a nap, while the other’s thoughts roamed. Gram had zero faith in Romana. Absolutely none. But he had to. She was the Warden, his employer, his family...Surely, the meaning of blood exceeded even her own selfishness.

He wished he could believe in that.

But he was just as crazy as his aunt; perhaps, maybe, she could prove to be crazier than him, but he’d rather pull off all twenty nails before admitting that out loud. Either way, he would do everything necessary and assure that she upheld her end of the bargain.

“Countdown to Dog Fights will begin in…”

The pair’s heads snapped up, watching as the wall before them splitted, revealing a tiny square holding a lens. It emitted a projection screen, broadcasting the first two teams picking their weapons and entering the Ascension Pods. Roars and cheers shook the cells, inmates bustling with excitement. This was the height of their miserable lives on Hagur, the ultimate source of entertainment and bloodshed.

Unlike them, Snowman and Gram failed to make a single sound. The former sat up completely, letting both feet meet the floor as he sat next to the serial killer, wide eyes glued to the screen. As soon as the countdown hit 1, the Tributes disappeared and the camera suddenly transitioned to the snowy cabin simulator.

Gram leaned forward. “Five seconds…” he whispered. Five seconds. Five seconds and Pan would be dead, just as Romana reassured--

And yet she didn’t. The Bo Staff was launched skywards, reducing the chandelier into a charred hailstorm of crystal and glass. Pan survived… She fucking survived. Through the haze rolling into Gram’s head, he registered Snowman’s fingers curling around his arm, both a comfort and a plea to remain calm. Inhaling slowly, Gram’s eyes fluttered closed as he muttered lowly, “That explosion… wasn’t the size she… promised.”

It should’ve cleared the entire cabin. Blown Pan and her entire team to bits. But what he just saw… It was pathetic. Liar. Romana was a damnable, fucking bitch of liar. And he let himself actually believe… Now his and Snowman’s safety was compromised. When Gram looked at Snowman, he could read the man’s expression like a book.

You’re having second thoughts.

And in that moment...Yes. Gram was having second thoughts.

Tags: Elle Joyner Elle Joyner , CloudyBlueDay CloudyBlueDay , KatSea KatSea

Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Modern, Romance, Fantasy, Scifi, Drama, Action.
Memory Problem | Location: The Doghouse | Flashback

No one took the initiative to speak.

Amit stared down the guard reproachfully, jaw and shoulders tense, back glued to the opposite wall as he placed as much distance between them as possible. The only hint of confidence in his posture was the ever so slight tilt of his chin. Defiant--an attempt to be. His hands were still bound in cuffs, the metallic rings uncomfortable around his wrists; he was certain the guard had tightened them excessively on purpose. There was something toxic about the confidence in his dark eyes.

Finally, it was the guard who broke the silence. He freed his Blazer of the hip holster and leveled it between Amit’s eyes, catching the terrorist off guard. However, before her could ask what was going on, the guarded raised a hand. “Shut up before you even start, Ala Lover,” he said, “We’ve got business to go over. So keep quiet and open your ears, got it?”

Amit’s eyes narrowed, giving away nothing else but a brief nod.

“...Good.” The guard allowed his weapon drop, but only enough to aim threateningly at Amit’s torso. “We’ve got an update from Romana on your next assignment.” Amit’s eyes briefly fluttered closed, using every drop of his will to suppress a sigh. Another one--already. That damn warden was going to drain his soul dry at this rate. “We don’t care who your third team mate is, but be sure that you work with Chiko Grannis, understood? It’s in high demand.”

“I already am,” Amit answered dully, eyes growing hooded with bubbling irritation.

A sharp whir emitted from the Blazer. “No. Talking. Until. I’m. Done.” Each word escaping the guard’s lips was slathered in venom, his trigger finger itching to move. Amit’s nostrils flared, before common sense struck him hard enough to leave behind a crater and let the concept of self-preservation flow back in. There was no use in provoking the guard; it would lead to nothing but trouble. Satisfied with Amit’s silence, the guard continued in a level tone, “Ratings have been quiet on Pandora’s end, so we’ll need you to… modify her weapon. Make it powerful as hell, too; none of that weak shit you like to fling around.”

“Wait… Modify…” Amit’s brow furrowed, a ball of dread building in his gut. “You mean an explosion? I… I cannot do that.”

A deafening pause.

Followed by an obnoxious scoff. “You’re mental,” the guard chuckled, disbelief clear in his voice and visage, “Frankly, you don’t have a fucking choice, Ala Lover. Romana requests, you do. That’s the arrangement, remember?” Another moment of silence; one party watched the other like a predatory hawk, scanning their features for the smallest sign of hesitance. Resistance. A single reason to seer the skin off his body.

The guard loomed a step closer. “Remember?” he repeated sternly.

Amit could’ve sworn his heart would come galloping out of his own chest, leaving behind a flesh red, gaping hole in its wake. Every ounce of moisture evaporated from his tongue and lips, speechlessness tying them into knots. This was wrong. Wrong in so many ways. Romana wanted him to potentially put Pandora in danger, to possibly take her life… just for those goddamn ratings.

Sick bitch.

A beefy hand suddenly cupped the back of his neck with a slap, dragging Amit closer. “Memory failing ya, smarty pants? Hm?” Gingerly, the guard tapped the prisoner’s chest with the barrel of his Blazer. “Well, pretty sure you remember what happens if you don’t go through with it…” Like the flip of a switch, all humanity fled from his gaze and a sadistic gleam seeped into them. “I know you’d never forget that little incentive. It’s a damn good one, don’t ya think?”

Amit swallowed. He was ghostly pale now, beads of sweat collecting underneath the hand holding him in place. He remembered the consequences of disobedience. Of course he did. But this… A third assignment within the span of days, all lethal, all stacking onto the nauseating sentiments filling him to the brim--he was nearing his limits. Slowly, his lips parted. “I this.”

A fist smashed into his jaw.

Amit fell fast and hard, shocking blurring his perception of the world as it momentarily doubled. With a groan, he pulled himself up into a sitting position and glared up at the guard. He had holstered the gun again, shaking his head in disappointment. “Shame. I thought a little intimidation would work, but…” He seized a fistful of Amit’s curls and forced him onto his feet, ignoring the terrorist’s pained growl. The guard leered, wearing an expression more maniacal than half of the inmate population. “I’ve been dying to do this anyway.”

And thus the beating began.

Amit wasn’t sure how long it lasted, but he had kept count; roughly thirty strikes in total, likely more, and most of them directed to his body while a select heavy few were reserved for his face. It was intentional, he knew it was. Through it all, the terrorist couldn’t help but question how in the hell he’d gotten to this point in his life. When had he crossed the line of no return?

The guard grabbed a fistful of Amit’s collar and pulled him into another punch, this one breaking the skin of his bottom lip. “Get up here,” the guard grumbled while forcing Amit onto his feet, clenching either side of the prisoner’s head, examining him with a critical eyes. There was an almost artistic criticism in his gaze, making the hairs on the back of Amit’s neck bristle with equal parts fury and disgust. Finally, the guard hummed, apparently satisfied with his work. “Having any second thoughts, Ala Lover?” he asked mockingly.

Amit’s eyes burned with unfiltered and barely restrained rage. “I am Amit,” he spat. This was answered with another punch, then getting yanked back into upright position.

“Answer the question, Bin Laden Junior.” His grin widened a tad. “I could always convince Romana to add little old drug junkie to the list; her ratings are shit too anyhow--”

A thick globule of spit nailed him in the face.

Slowly, he wiped the mucus off, expression riddled with disgust. “You nasty son of a bitch!” The Blazer was whipped out again, whirring and already jammed into the center of Amit’s forehead. Pure malice and a wild thirst for blood kindled in his eyes, showed itself in the baring of his teeth…

The guard forced himself to relax. Killing him wouldn’t be wise; Romana would likely have his head in retaliation. Damn controlling bitch. Heaving one last calming sigh, the guard stowed his weapon away and merely gripped Amit by the scruff of his jumper. “You’re gonna do your job, dipshit, whether you like it or not. And the next time you pop a loogey in my fucking face?” He drew closer to seeth lowly, “I’ll make your life here a living Hell.”

Amit swallowed weakly. Defeated. Tired. Resigned to his fate. “It already is,” he whispered back.

Snorting another laugh, the guard settled for rolling his eyes and shoving him out of the concrete cell. The halls were empty, meaning that the other guards weren’t done with Luca and Bah. So, they waited; although they only stood for a handful of moments, Amit could’ve sworn he was trapped in an eternal loop. Assignment. Fulfill assignment. Guilt. Repeat.

It never ended.

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consistently inconsistent
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Fantasy, Realistic/Modern, Magic, Scifi, Romance
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Dog Fights Round 1
Pandora, Abraham, and Switch VS Archer, Amit and Chiko

collab with @errybody

It took a matter of minutes for Amit to venture uphill with Archer and Chiko, the details of their plan running through his mind on a feverish loop. If this failed, then things could get ugly, quickly.

So they wouldn’t let that happen.

The edge of the forest was slightly less dense, but provided decent enough coverage for the team, backs pressed to bark and cold foliage obscuring their forms alongside the cloak of night. The chill was more biting without warmth from the sun; Amit couldn’t help but begrudgingly find himself impressed by the simulator’s work.

But now wasn’t the time to let his mind wander. He peeked briefly around, catching sight of the large cabin. Right there. So close. Close enough for Chiko and Archer to handle their jobs...This was it.

“Chiko,” he whispered, catching the woman’s attention. The boomerang was in her grasp, at the ready, though a faint quivering invaded her hands. Despite the nerves, she nodded and shot him a brief salute.

Amit hesitated but quickly settled for pushing his pride aside and returning the salute. Last confirming look shot in Archer’s direction. Then he was off, stealthing through the trees and snow with his Blazer loaded. The trip around was brief, though he nearly slipped into a dip disguised with a pile of loose snow. Regardless, he had caught himself and found the back exit of the cabin. It was incredibly simple in design, traditional, classic.

Which meant that the fuse box couldn’t be far from...There. Amit spotted the box with ease, metallic and frosted over, yet in perfect condition.

Not for long.

He raised the Blazer, watching as the gauge filled to the tip with electric blue energy, a near inaudible whirring reaching his ears. Then the bolt fired and enveloped it in angry electric arcs. Sparks exploded from the box, emitting a light sizzle and followed by streams of smoke…

In the next beat of Amit’s heart, every light in the cabin went out.

And that was Chiko’s signal.

Sucking in a breath, she stepped out into the open and chucked the boomerang with everything she had. The front window shattered, shards raining down to coat the floors of the lobby and some snow outside.

“Go time, Archie!” Chiko called out before yelping as the boomerang came back in her direction. Against better judgement, she ducked and let her weapon bury one sharp end into the tree behind her. “Hooo fuck that’s sharper than I thought!” She ripped the weapon free and started clumsily racing to the back of the cabin.

“Huh.” In full honesty, Archer did not expect for this plan to work. Chiko was...jumpy, to say the least(which explained the druggie comments made by those thick-skulled guards), and Amit...well, Archer couldn’t put a name to the plague that seemed to spark in that man’s body. Nerves? How could a terrorist, a man so desperate to fulfill a holy mission with an attitude that screamed superiority, be nervous? It brought a smile to Archer’s lips as he watched the boomerang glide from Chiko’s hand. That woman had an arm on her, that was for sure.

Archer reminded himself never to give her a reason to punch him.

“Great, first hero, now an old comic book character.” Archer mumbled, staring down at his weapon and quickly loading it. Archer hadn’t been the most experienced with weapons, but he had loaded once or twice. Now it was just a matter of aim…

He knocked back the pellet, humming as he took his opportunity to take the shot through the broken window. “Alright, gods of Amit and of sweet sweet irony...fuck off and let physics do the work here.”

The lights. It should've occurred to Pan that they'd go for the lights. One of the first things Moses taught her was that sensory deprivation was a weapon against the mind. He'd stuck her in a soundproof room, in the pitch black for eighteen hours, just to teach her to use something beside what came natural…

By the end of the training, he had her sparring in that same room, with no idea of who she was fighting or when it would end…

The second hit was the windows, and as they burst inward, she caught the sound of the boomerang, whizzing through the room, before returning to the hand that threw it. She might've been a little impressed by Chiko, were she not so damn pissed off…

It clicked in that moment that they'd only come at them with two attacks. Archer. That smarmy bastard was still out there, and the weapon he carried was a beast.

“Switch! Abe! Get ready…” She hissed, gripping her makeshift table leg club tighter…

As soon as the world was plunged into a mess of darkness and shatters, Switch cursed under her breath and jolted, heart rate shooting through the roof. So much for pouncing with a surprise attack. Regardless, she heeded Pan’s warning and raised her hands to form a shield, only for a painful throb in her head to stop her short. Those same hands flew to the back of her skull, cradling it with a frustrated groan. “For fuck’s sake,” she whispered, curling into herself.

And then the whistle of a flying projectile. She was blind. She couldn’t see where or what was happening. First there was the bruising sting flaring up her arm, followed by a coldness so invasive and sudden that a pained gasp escaped her. Gritting her teeth, Switch raised her free hand to create a shield, half the size it could’ve been if it wasn’t for her throbbing arm. It emitted light like a crackling plasma lantern, giving her just enough to see Pan across from her. “Welp, g-got hit,” she growled while trying to shake off the headaches.

Swearing several times at the sound of Switch's gasp, Pan shoved off the wall with her foot. They had to make a move. And they had to do it fast… She had no weapon - not one of much use against the slingshot, but she was a weapon, so long as she could get close enough.

“Switch! Glove!” She called out, holding up a hand to catch, at the same time she started forward, towards the gaping hole where the windows had been.

He was getting a little excited, admittedly. With the inkling of a plan that they’d created, Abe allowed his finger to twitch dangerously above the dial on the CWE, feeling a little more confident. A little more hopeful. Ten years wasn’t a lot to fight for when you had a sentence as big as his, but hell, he was just trying to live another day. And this was… entertaining. Even though he was the Dog in the cage. It was kind of a rush.

Until the lights went out. He would take all that back. No, this was kinda terrifying.

Pan was radiating anger more so than he’d ever seen and Switch was suddenly crying out with pain - shit. Shit shit shit. They’d already been fucked over. He turned the dial to thirty seconds, gaze roaming the darkness in a panic. Thirty seconds. To pick a good spot, the best spot, and if it wasn’t the right one, well…

If Chiko and Amit hadn’t come through the main entrance, the half exploded door, maybe… maybe they were coming through the back. That couldn’t happen.

He pointed the CWE and let it work its magic, aiming for a support beam near the exit in hopes of bringing it down and blocking it.

Switch grunted, yanking off the glove from her trembling hand and tossing it up just in time for Pan to snatch it mid-stride. This frost crawling across her skin hurt like hell, putting a real kicker behind the term freezer burn. Heh, she was so damn funny, even in the face of a clusterfuck. Either way, their plan had been compromised and any hopes of a surprise attack were now flipped around onto them. And if they weren’t coming in through the front, then that meant…

The back.

She was just about to whip around and yell at Abe to aim for the back, but was relieved to see that he had come to the same realization, the puck launching from his CWE and latching onto a support beam. Switch activated her one-handed shield; she had one useless arm and a headache from Hell’s ass crack, but she refused to sit down and whimper like some punk.

The lights flickered out in the house, causing Archer to grin broadly. The plan was working far better than he had anticipated, and for a brief moment, pride flickered in his chest. These were his psychopaths in blossom. Cocking the slingshot back, he prepared the next pellet as he could get a sight of a figure at the window. “Too fucking easy, sweetcheeks.” He mumbled, aiming as well as he could from his distance. He took his shot and prayed that some mythical law of physics could assist him in the timing. “Come on roman wind gods I need some inspiration…”

The pellet launched from Abe’s CWE and with a muted thunk latched onto a support beam hovering over the back entrance, emitting a beep as the countdown started. Meanwhile, on the other side of that door, Amit couldn’t help but heave a sigh of relief as the lights flickered out and he could hear the sounds of glass shattering, of slingshots firing. It was working--actually working. Thank goodness. All he needed now was for Chiko to…

“Let’s break shit!” The woman came sprinting around the corner, briefly tripping over her own feet and eating a mouthful of snow. “Gah! Cold! My teeth! O-ow! Jesus, how did I even--”

Amit hauled her up, expression blank with a dulled annoyance. “Focus. We’re going in.” Eyes hardening, he then said in a firm tone, “Stay behind me and stick close.”

After spitting out the last of melted ground water, she saluted and said, “Gotcha! You’re the boss!” Amit merely nodded in response and approached the door, though he soon realized that it was locked. Eyes narrowing, he toyed with the idea of shooting it, but a low-grade shock probably wouldn’t help. “Oi, I got this!”

Amit blinked, but didn’t resist as he watched Chiko curiously. She stared at the lock, eyes narrowed and tongue sticking out in thought… Then, she raised the boomerang and swung down, hard and fast.


“Boom! Honey, I’m hooome,” Chiko cheered, standing aside to proudly present the shattered handle. In that moment, the terrorist made a mental note to never give her the chance or reason to punch him. Either way, he gave her brief head pat in praise but pushing her behind him once more.

“Stay low and quiet…” If the other team’s attention were really set on the front entrance, then they shouldn’t have to worry too much about stealth, but it never hurt to be careful. However, as soon as hand came to rest on the door, he stiffened.

A faint noise, barely audible. Barely there. Was...Was that a ticking?

His eyes widened before whipping around to face Chiko. “Move!”

Meanwhile, Switch struggled her way upstairs to meet up with Abe. Now that Pan had a shield on her side, she would likely be a liability for her cellmate rather than actual help. The headache raged like a caged animal, making the woman wince with every step she took, but she couldn’t afford to worry about that. Disorientated, she plopped down next to Abe, peering through the rails. “Good call, Twitch,” she said, “If we’re lucky, those two won’t know what hit--”

A sharp beep.


All at once, a wave of heavy pressure expanded from the pellet, nearly knocking Abe and Switch back from the force. Pale blue rings rippled through the air, smacking into wood and beams with successive cracks and soon, the ceiling over the back door gave out an echoing groan. It caved and snapped, then plummeted, piles of splintered wood blocking the exit completely from view.

Amit’s warning came too late. The most Chiko did was utter a confused “what?” before he grabbed her and tried to run. The explosive rings sent the pair flying straight back into the snow, rolling back into the edges of the forest. The terrorist groaned under Chiko’s weight, nearly buried under snow and only his hands and feet above ground level.

“What. In the actual fuck. Was that??” Chiko said in a mixture of horror and awe. Regardless, she had enough awareness to scramble off Amit and try to haul him free of the snow. Something in her gut told her that going through the back was a no-go now.

It didn't time finely honed reflexes to guess what Archer's next move would be. The benefit to a pitch black room was one generally had a vantage point on the people outside. He stood out among the snow, a good ten… Maybe fifteen feet from her position. The trigger pulled as the pellet lodged and raising the field with the glove Switch had tossed, Pan ducked only enough to ensure that if these somehow malfunctioned, too, she'd only lose the use on and arm.

The gloves worked. The pellet deflected like a bullet off polycarbonate. With the soft plink, Pan rose and without hesitating, feet crunching over ruined glass, leaped over the window sill, heading straight for Archer.

Abraham was definitely a little less worried about Pan, now that she had a glove and a fury radiating off her so harshly it was practically a weapon itself. No, his worry was now definitely centered on Switch, who had taken two harsh blows in a matter of seconds and was now stumbling up the stairs like a dead woman walking. Without a word he shifted his position to stand in front of her protectively, brow furrowed as he spoke only to be nearly knocked off his feet at the impact of the CWE. With a grunt Abraham harshly planted his feet, trying to avoid falling on his ass but frankly helpless to stop the blowback. He was up just as quickly, though, and though he would’ve liked to spare a moment towards Switch, he didn’t want to lose the dead giveaway of Chiko’s panicked yelp.

Jaw tight, teeth clenched, Abe marched back to the position he’d been blown away from, and aiming outside a broken window, he could make out two figures. Keeping the timer on thirty seconds, he aimed to the best of his ability, trying to keep it close to their silhouettes. Was this lethal? He kinda hoped not.

“Switch!” Abraham shouted gruffly once he’d fired the pellet, moving swiftly back towards her. “You alright, love? Stay behind me.” He didn’t feel so worried about Archer anymore, that was for sure…

“Fuck you obscure wind gods!” Archer shook his fist, comically, if not ridiculous with each motion. Pan was hot on his trail, her immediate action after managing to avoid the shot…she was coming towards him. Fast and ready. “I wish she would have been that way in different circumstances.” Archer grumbled to himself, quickly working to reload the weapon. Pulling the trigger….


A few hearty slaps on the weapon.


“You’ve got to be blowing…” Archer caught himself and began to run backwards, desperately attempting to fix his weapon in any means possible.

That explosion… was far more powerful than Switch gave the CWE credit for. Jesus Christ. If it wasn’t for the rail standing behind them, she probably would’ve rolled off and hit the first floor. Heh, now that would’ve left her feeling… floored.

...If this wasn’t a tournament, she would’ve showed herself out the door for that one. It must’ve been the dizziness and headache getting to her, rapidly eating away at any dignity or filter she usually had. Yeah, that was likely it. Sitting up with a groan, she cracked her eyes open quick enough to see Abe launch another pellet, watching it rocket out the window. Good. He was making all the smart moves right now, which was desperately needed on their end. She stood up, resting a hand upon his shoulder and patting for good measure. She flashed a strained grin. “I’m all good, Twitch.” Even as she said this, a jolt raised through her arm, starting at her fingers and ending at her shoulder.


And now flashes of white were spotting the edge of her vision. Fucking shit! Now? Really? Switch clenched her jaw, nerves growing numb and frantic all at once. More twitches rocked her arm and spreaded to the opposite limb. “H-hey, uh… Twitch? S-sorry abou…” She couldn’t even finish her sentence as an overwhelming tenseness seized every muscle in her body. Consciousness vanished, eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she fell over like a plank of wood. The woman thrashed and shook, falling into a seizure as garbling syllables escaped her lips.

Chiko was still in the middle of tugging Amit free of the snow, but had a bit more success once he finally stirred out of his disorientation and started crawling out. “Dude!” she huffed, “How’re you so damn heavy?? You’re like, as scrawny as me!”

Head and torso popping free first, the terrorist shot her an unamused glare. “Not true,” he grumbled. Their combined efforts had him back on his feet in the next few seconds, Amit checking over his Blazer briefly and making sure that it was still in working order. He looked at the back entrance--there was no denying it now. Coming in through the back was no longer an option. “Change of plans. We regroup with Archer in the forest,” he said.

Just as Chiko was about to salute, a distinct thunk hit their ears. Stiffly, the pair looked over at a nearby tree and spotted some… puck-shaped item attached to it. And then the ticking noise. That fucking ticking noise. Shit. Amit grabbed Chiko by the scruff of her vest, already dragging her hastily into the forest. “Go!”

“Gah! Fuck! Okay, okay, I’m going! What even is that?!” Chiko yelped, still tripping over the snow. She would’ve eaten more if it wasn’t for the man’s grip on her.

“Questions later!” Amit said.
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Skittish Beaver
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Fantasy, mystery, magical, modern,
Housewarming Gift
Dog Fights Round 1
Pandora, Abraham, and Switch VS Archer, Amit and Chiko
collab with @errybody

Maybe it was fortuitous the crossbow jammed… Maybe it didn’t matter. Switch was down an arm, Abe was no good at close combat, and someone… some psychopathic, cheating prick had tried to blow her and her team to hell. Pandora was done. As Archer struggled for a moment, then began to back away, she picked up speed - something of a damn chore in the snow - and strafing her body to the left, Pan swung out the flat of her palm, towards Archer’s trigger fingers, as fast and hard as she could.

Abraham’s eyes narrowed at the hand on his shoulder. Anyone who said they were fine after getting hit like that was most definitely not fine. “Yeah, r-” He started, but his brows furrowed as she suddenly released him, a very familiar tremor running through her arm. His gaze snapped back to her face, watching it tense, twist, watching everything descend at once. His parents had taken him to many a doctor in hopes of diagnosing his own disorder as something other than behavioral. He knew what a seizure looked like. And this was definitely it.

He abandoned the CWE, letting it drop to the floor to catch Switch as her limbs went stiff, making sure she didn’t fall harshly. As soon as he’d caught her, he leaned Switch on her side, gnashing on his lip as he was forced to simply watch the young woman convulse in front of him, hand dragging through his hair as he resumed position after picking the CWE back up, standing guard over her. Shit. Shit shit shit. This was not in the plans, this was not in any of the plans and since when did Switch get seizures? All the sleepiness.. The hunger… fuck. He should’ve put two and two together.

Amit and Chiko were hopefully stalled by the pellet he’d shot. Pan, well.. He had faith in Pan more than anything at this point and he couldn’t help her. All Abe could do was stand guard, keeping careful watch of Switch and their surroundings, stomach flipping and tying in knots as his own fingers danced angrily against the body of the CWE.

Archer’s eyes glided towards Pan’s hands as they aimed towards his trigger finger. Oh, shit. Shit fuck kingdom fucking come. She was more beautiful up close, had the passion in her eyes like Georgina did when she was still in Archer’s arms. This horrified him far beyond the strike that was threatening to make contact. In one swift movement, Archer attempted to raise his weapon before the woman could strike. If he could move swiftly enough, he could bring the slingshot over her head. A few hits would bring her down long enough for him to be able to tag her...or…

No. No. No killing. Not yet. She was too fun.

Meanwhile, Switch’s seizure continued for a handful of moments, her vulnerable body guarded by an anxious Abe. The violent tremors and gurgling started to wane, if slowly, in tandem with the spotty return of her conscience. Suddenly, with a heaving gasp, the muscles in her body ceased contracting and she slumped completely, pure exhaustion washing over her as she breathed heavily. The woman rolled onto her back, eyes carrying a hint of confusion before it quickly cleared up with the dread bubbling in her gut. Fuck… She couldn’t remember what happened. It was all fuzzy after she had placed a hand on Abe’s shoulder, which could only mean--

“Sh...shit,” she whispered, voice hoarse.

Archer’s reaction time was faster than Pandora would’ve expected from someone who, to all appearances, lacked any sort of training. Hell, she might’ve been impressed, if he wasn’t such a disturbing prick. As he yanked the gun upwards, however, she did not falter, but instead, shifting just slightly from left to center, weight bearing into her knees, she slammed that palm upwards, aiming for the space between neck and shoulder - sending the heel of her hand towards his collarbone.

Pacing worriedly around Switch’s convulsing body, Abraham watched, and waited. CWE raised in case he needed to bash someone’s head in, fingers jumping, leg bouncing, arm twitching. When Switch’s posture finally relaxed, a relieved groan fell out of Abe as he knelt down beside her, helping her sit up against the wall with a surprisingly gentle hand, even though the rest of him was shaking slightly. “Easy,” He said softly, boring into her eyes, checking for lucidity. “Welcome back to the land of the living, Twitchy 2.0. Scared the shit out of me.” Abraham shook his head. “Sit tight. Don’t move a fucking muscle.”

“ long we living?” Switch muttered jokingly, though there was still a slight slur to her words. She merely nodded at Abe’s command, though concern began to peek through in her features. Carefully, she said, “Hey, uh… that… seizing up shit. It stays b… between us, right?”

Amit and Chiko were having their equal share of difficulties. The snow depth was erratic, some ares far deeper than they appeared while others were shallow, and the obstacle overall slowed them down greatly. At the rate they were going, Amit feared that they wouldn’t be able to outrun the puck’s explosion. The terrorist fell over again, growling in annoyance as he clawed his way back up with Chiko’s assistance. However, he then seized her by the arm and rushed out, “Take cover. There.” He pointed at what appeared to be a small cave, thin trees surrounding it on either sides. However, a thicker trunk blocked most of the entrance, having fallen over at some point, and seemed that it would require some squeezing to get through. Amit would’ve fit, but Chiko would.

Chiko’s brow furrowed, eyes landing on where Amit was pointing. She shook her head. “Dude, that holds like one person, fuck that! Come on.” She tried to yank him forward, making the man wince from the force before he slipped free of her grip. He stared down at her harshly.

“No. I said you’re going.”

“Dude! I’m not--”

“Stop being dumb!” he interjected and yet, even then, Chiko’s stubbornness persisted. She crossed her arms, refusing to move. Amit groaned, running a hand through his hair--

A distant beep.

Another explosion rocked the forest as rings of energy chopped off chunks and splinters of wood and cleared patches of snow from the foliage overhead. The pair barely had a chance to react as they flew back from the impact, taking the full brunt of it. Amit landed no his back harshly in the middle of shallow snow, the ground underneath succeeding in knocking the wind out of him. Dammit… dammit! They were goners as long as Twitch was in possession of that CWE.

Slowly, Amit rolled over in search of Chiko and spotted her laying down next to the cave, her expression scrunched up with pain. She tried to get up, only for the strength in her legs to buckle and collapse. “Ow… Uh… Ami? I think, uh, walking’s a no go for me,” she said, glancing down at her right leg. Specifically, her ankle. “Think it’s sprained.”

Amit cursed under his breath.

“Much longer, hopefully.” Abraham said with a snort, running his hand through his hair. At least she was talking… “That seizing up shit. Switch, are you really trying to slide that under the rug? Supreme Twitch?” He shook his head. “Y-yeah… yeah. It stays between us. But that don’t mean I’m turning a blind eye, alright?” Glancing down below them, sighing angrily, before flinching at the sound of the boom a ways away. Alright… hopefully that did something worthwhile. “We’re finishing this up. Don’t move. I fuckin’ mean it.” Hefting the CWE into his arms, Abe started for the stairs, pausing before giving Switch one more look. “Ohana means family or something!” He yelled, before darting down the stairs.

Abe wasn’t often someone who enjoyed diving into the thick of it without a plan, but he was pretty eager to wrap up this shit show. Watching Switch have a seizure had drained his appetite for bloodlust (which he hadn’t had to begin with, but that’s besides the point) so hefting CWE into a swingable position, the tick now in his palm, he watched Pan throw her punch and immediately after swung the CWE. It was a little too heavy for Abe to properly aim, though, and it was a little more of a blind swing than he would have liked.

Archer’s immediate response to Pan’s seductive shot was to flinch to the opposite side, but he found that she was much too quick for him to retreat. Grimacing, he feinted to the side and was greeted by a flash of metal near his face. Ah, Abraham had come to join this little festival of shitshow horror. “Hey! Remember I saved your life fuck face.” Archer growled lowly, and without much thought or warning, raised the weapon over his head and attempted to strike Abraham over his skull. Abraham was much swifter than Archer would have expected for a twitchy-in-bed bastard. “Remind me again how I was able to strangle someone bigger than me when I can’t even….” He grumbled mostly to himself as he hopped back, eyeing them and holding the weapon over his face to protect any future blows.

The son of a bitch had godlike reflexes! Nothing in the world infuriated Pan more than someone she should’ve been able to beat, outmaneuvering her. Abe’s appearance was surprising, and for a second or two, she worried about Switch, but the woman was capable, even on her own… and with Abe’s help, Archer would, with hope, find himself back in Hagur’s infirmary in no time at all.

“Dumb luck, dickhead…” Pandora growled at Archer’s question, and swinging her left foot to an angle, she raised her right and brought it down towards his knee, similar in note to the way she’d decimated Snowman’s in the cafeteria.

“I remember, Hero of Hagur.” Abraham hissed, ducking out of range as Archer swung the slingshot. “But all’s fair in love and war, right?” As Pan growled and raised her foot to bring it down on his knee, Abraham maneuvered behind Archer, tick in one hand, lunging at the vacant spot in the man’s vest and preparing to attach it.

“Weak backhand bitch.” He replied with a growl, eyes widened now as he witnessed her foot rising towards his knee. Oh, no, fuck no. He was not about to lose his kneecap to this broad. He quickly lurched back, realizing only in the last moment that a hand pressed into his shoulder. He had been fucking ti-

Breathing out, a thin vaporous fog pouring from her lips, Pandora eyed the space formerly occupied by the pig of a serial killer, and for a split second, she thought he’d managed to dodge again. But there were no more snarky comments, no more hurled insults or swings… Archer was gone.

Abe had done it.

Straightening upright, Pan reached out, and grabbing Abe by the shoulders of his vest, she yanked him forward, crushing her mouth to his.

A relieved laugh fell out of Abraham as Archer blinked out of existence, only to be silenced by Pandora’s lips against his. Frozen at first, but not for long, Abe discarded the CWE to envelop her fully, a hand running through her hair, almost stubbornly leaning into the kiss, refusing to let go.

After a moment (probably a moment longer than necessary, given their open vulnerability then and there), Pandora pulled away, and with a breathless laugh, shook her head, “....Still two more asses need kickin’, Twitch… Where’s our girl?”

As Pan pulled away, Abraham let out a mix between a content sigh and a disappointed whine. “We’re finishing that later.” He swore, though winced at the mention of Switch. “Took some hard hits. Told her to stay up on the second floor. I’ll go get her tick, best to handle those two ourselves.” He gave a nod, and without waiting for Pan to protest, Abe rushed back up the stairs, perhaps a little faster than necessary.

“Switch,” Abe said through a grin, though it faltered somewhat at the sight of her. At least she hadn’t moved. “We got Archer. Gimme your tick, we’ll go get the other two. Easy work.”

Abe hadn’t been gone that long, not really. And yet, Switch was growing restless; she hated just sitting there like a sack of worthless potatoes, like a damn burden, while her teammates were out there pulling her weight. It was unfair and, to be perfectly honest, a tad embarrassing. Hah… Prison buds are definitely gonna have fun riding my ass about this… She’d done a fairly good job keeping her more severe symptoms under wraps, but now she had been exposed to the entirety of Hagur. She pulled from her musings at Abe’s voice and was already forcing herself onto her feet. She held out the tick for him, but with clear hesitance. “I mean, here you go but… I can help out, you know? Three on two is a guaranteed win and…”

A beat.

Then she sighed in defeat, handing the tick over completely. “Nevermind. Just take it.” Nikamma. She could hear the word echoing through her mind already and it made her hands curl into fists at her side. She’d need a long ass nap after all of this.

Amit probably cursed for one or two seconds longer than necessary, though Chiko did nothing more than watch him with half-patience and half… “Dude, you alright?” face. Of course he wasn’t alright. The terrorist was far from alright. Their plan failed--miserably. And even worse than that, he had let Chiko get hurt.

“So, Ami… the hell do we do now?” Chiko asked, brow and eyes working together to pull an expression so helpless that Amit couldn’t stand to look at it. The terrorist heaved a sigh and fell silent a moment, trying to think. Archer was likely toast by now, unless he was still fighting for his life and thus, he could rush over to assist the man. However, Amit couldn’t leave Chiko alone nor could she come along… They were stuck. Failure was inevitable.

“Nothing,” Amit finally said. He crawled over to Chiko, helping her into a sitting position and letting her lean against the cave, before plopping down next to her. He raised the Blazer at ready, gaze roaming whatever space he could in front of them.

“Nothing? Huh… I guess we lost, then?” Chiko asked. There was hardly any disappointment in her voice; in fact, it was laden with relief and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to decipher it. Amit nodded.

“I think we have.”

“Eh, it was still fun though!” She shrugged before retracting her boomerang, that playful glimmer in her eyes returning. “Yo, Ami! You think they’d let me keep this?”


“Dammit! Think they’d be down for negotiation? Barter for service around Hagur?”


“You’re totally pulling the annoyed face right now, aren’t you?”


“...Should I shut up now?”

The corner of his lip lifted. “No.”

Abe went through a lot of emotions at once. First, tense, prepared to retaliate and insist she stay down. Then, apologetic, for seeing that twinge of sadness in her gaze as she sunk back down. He took the tick, even if a little hesitantly. Abraham could tell that she was bruised, and not just physically. “Don’t worry about it,” He said smoothly, placing the tick in its spot on his belt, trying to stop his arm from jerking to the side, “Chiko and Amit ain’t a big deal. I think I must have blasted them off their feet already, ‘cuz no one’s throwing boomerangs. Just let the cleanup crew handle it. You did plenty.” With a lopsided smirk, he winked, and descended back down the stairs.

“Got it.” He called to Pan, patting the waist belt and picking the CWE back up. “Let’s fuckin’ finish this.”

When Abe returned, a brow rose in curiosity to find he’d come alone. For a moment, she almost considered asking, but it hit her then that Switch had taken a pretty nasty hit to her arm, and most likely wasn’t in too good a shape to be kicking ass and taking names. Chiko was small, but she was solid, and she threw like a powerhouse, and Pandora had enough experience with Amit to know he wasn’t a flimsy little weakling, either…

Nodding to Abe, she shifted the glove tighter onto her hand, before nodding, “...Let’s go, then. Which way?”

He could see the uncertainty in her stance, but Switch wanted to keep it hush, and Abe respected that. Nodding his head (alright, maybe it was a little more of a trademark twitchy jerk) in the direction, he set off into the snow, trying to be careful to avoid any deep patches that threatened to swallow someone whole. “Shot ‘em with the CWE. It’s been quiet, so I’m assuming they got a bit fucked up.” He said through a smirk, looking back at her. “You were sexy as hell fighting our favorite Hero of Hagur.”

Smiling dryly, Pandora shook her head, “Keep it in your pants, Twitch… I’ll be sexy when we get out of this damn simulation, too. Thanks for havin’ my back, though… Snow is not my element.” She had half a mind to think that was intentional. But then, everything felt intentional…

“This whole thing feel right to you, Abe? Startin’ off like that?”

“‘Course not.” Abe said with a snort. He noted the use of his real name, the seriousness of the topic. “This is Romana’s game. Nothing’s right. You just fight to win, anyway you gotta.” He shrugged. “And no sweat. You got mine.”

“Course I have yours…” Nodding, she fought the uncomfortable current rolling through her, as she followed him in the direction he’d fired, “You got a plan in mind or are we just ambushing them?”

Leveling the CWE, Abe’s brows furrowed. “I got somethin’ in mind… follow my lead, alright?”

Very few people could make that request of Pandora, and actually garner respect… Abe, fortunately, was one. Nodding again, she dropped into pace beside him, “...Got it…”

Amit and Chiko had fallen silent after their short banter, the former still on the alert while the latter merely let her head fall back to snowy rock, eyes roaming the trees overhead. Was she bored? A little. And getting chillier by the second? Fuck yeah. And it sucked. But she wasn’t going to let Amit know that; he looked way too focused on what he was doing…

And then they heard it. Footfalls crunching softly against the snow and the pair seized up. Chiko’s grip on her boomerang tightened, while Amit’s Blazer whirred to life, a bolt ready to let loose at a moment’s notice. Neither of them said a word as they waited for an opponent to show themselves.

And they did. Without much pretense, Abe stepped forward, the CWE raised, but not very threateningly. He looked between the both of them, almost with a bit of pity, noticing the shiver running through them and Chiko’s strangely twisted ankle.

“Hey.” Abraham said, very aware of the blazer that Amit held up. “Archer’s done. We ticked him. So how about I just go ahead and tick you, and we’ll get you and miss Sunshine right to the infirmary. No mess.” It was an entirely honest proposition, and a fight was no fun when your opponent was sitting there waiting for you to murder them.

A brow quirked, as Pandora looked from Amit and Chiko, to Abe, but she had said she’d follow his lead… so with a small shug, she paused alongside him, “Abe’s got a hell of a point...I don’t wanna have to hurt her, Amit…” She gestured to Chiko, before meeting his eyes, “...Or you.”

Fuck. Amit was right, they really were done for. He glanced unsurely at Chiko, who was already nodding her head rapidly. “Dude, please! Tick me! It’s fucking cold out here and my ankles fucking killing me!” She shot Amit a pleading look, who answered it with a sigh and briefly closing his eyes. They were done. They were really done. He didn’t know whether to feel relieved or…

No. Relieved. For sure. At the end of it all, he could get Chiko out of this mess.

“...I accept,” Amit said, cautiously lowering his weapon. He showed no signs of moving though and merely waited for them to do whatever they needed to. He was exhausted.

Without even much of a change in expression, Abe stepped forward, CWE lowered, though still held in one hand, the tick he had taken from Switch in the other. He moved to Chiko first, solemnly crouching low beside her, and placing the tick in her vest.

Flinching slightly, Pan reached for her tick and moving to Amit, nodded, before bending,, “I’m sorry… Both of you.” With a sigh, she attached it.

Amit and Chiko flickered from existence the moment the ticks were attached. All that remained were Pandora, Abraham, and Chava. The winners. Survivors of the first round of Dog Fights.

Overhead, the timer released an ear piercing ping, the clock coming to a stop mere two minutes or so before time ran out, the screen flashing red. The computerized voice from before filled the atmosphere.

[i\“Team Cybil, Abraham, and Chava wins.”[/i]

In the next moment, the trio were transported back into the Ascension Pods and before any of them could breathe or recuperate from the rush of molecular travel, guards were upon them, stripping them of their weapons, waist belts, and vests.

Hover gurneys were pulled out for them immediately.


consistently inconsistent
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Fantasy, Realistic/Modern, Magic, Scifi, Romance
Twitch & Twitch 2.0
Collab w @Mobley

Damn… Switch always forgot how incredibly advanced Hagur’s medical care was, which still boggled her mind. Logically speaking, it kinda made sense. The Dog Fights were brutal and immediate healing would be needed in order for a winner to participate in the next round. And yet, at the same time, she was surprised that Romana allowed such… positive treatment. It just felt wrong. And suspicious. Damn wench.

Either way, the freezer burn on Switch’s arm had been mostly healed, the dead skin within that region revived and now a sensitive pale pink. It would take a few weeks of natural progression to heal completely, but other than that, she was decently good to go. Well… aside from remembering everything that had happened during the fight, specifically her glorious fuck up. Of course, when the guards had lead them out on the hover gurneys, the other Tributes and passing prisoners shot ridicule her way, stray insults and comments that had her flashing back to unsavory days.

Fuck all of them and keep it moving--that was her coping mechanism. It was a damn reliable one, if she said so herself.

But still, she was caught up in an awkward situation now. Twitch knew. He had to see that shit firsthand and now he wanted answers. Perfect. Really. She was so looking forward to this. Switch sighed to herself, “Welp… into the mouth of the twitchy dragon I go…” she muttered before standing up and approaching Abe, expression carefully indifferent. “You uh… wanted to talk?”

She glanced about their surroundings. No one was around at the moment, as Nurse Petrov had excused herself immediately after patching them up to go work on Pandora in the room next door. This was private enough.

It had gone quicker than he thought it would. And so much smoother, too. Well.. smoother than he’d expected. Switch having a seizure right in front of him wasn’t exactly smooth, but the rest… yeah. Abe was pretty happy.

Looking her over, taking in the fact that she was back on her feet, healed up well, letting the adrenaline of the fight slowly sink away. “Yeah, but you’re doing most of the talking.” Abraham said slowly, shaking his head. “What’s the deal, then? You got a disease?”

“Well, shit,” Switch breathed, the disbelief clear in her visage and voice as she shook her head. She folded her arms across her chest, the pose somewhat guarded. Her eyes strayed from Abe. “We’re just… jumping right into this shitfest, aren’t we?” She hesitated to answer his question, not entirely sure which combination of words would work best. Would reveal as much and as little as possible. She bit the inside of her cheek. “I mean, yeah, uh… guess you can call it a disease or whatever. Nothing to get antsy over, though,” she said.

Abraham shrugged. “No use dancing around it. A disease or whatever. C’mon, Switch. Be honest with me.” He could tell she was trying to hide from him, but at this point, he felt it pointless to do so. His brow furrowed, arms crossed. “Epilepsy? Diabetic? Don’t try and put this under the rug. Especially not when it happened right in front of me.”

Okay. Alright. Twitch was definitely unleashing the fire under her seat and hell was it too hot for comfort. She heaved a tired sigh, sweeping back unruly waves before seating herself next to the man. She stared ahead at nothing in particular for a moment, gathering her thoughts. Murky. A bit fogged up. She’d need to play a round of cards soon--something. She glanced briefly at him before muttering, “Naw, none of that. Heh, I fucking wish it was just Epilepsy. Diabetes. Whatever. At least then I’d have a damn chance, yeah?”

Her gaze fell to her fiddling fingers, “Err… not to like, insult you or anything, but have you heard of this wonderful little clusterfuck thing called… um… Huntington’s?” Her voice decreased in volume the more she spoke, uttering her condition in nothing but a scant whisper. She never liked saying it out loud, as it somehow… made it real. Breathed life into it, while the damn thing was taking away hers in the process.

Abraham cringed, wringing his hands, at this point giving up on trying to stop his foot from bouncing mercilessly, arms tensing and shaking. “Jesus, Switch.” He muttered gruffly, shaking his head. “That’s… fuck. That’s bad.” Oh, it was so much worse than bad, and they both knew it. He let out a long exhale, trying to wrap his head around the reality. “You.. I.. shit. Shit, Switch, I’m sorry.”

Switch merely shrugged, still not looking at him. “Eh, it’s alright. You deal with whatever shit life tosses at you, right? At least I’ve got some time before it gets, like, extra shitty.”

He ground his lip harshly between his teeth, shaking his head. “And we got a whole ‘nother round to fight. Fuck.” How was he supposed to dive in knowing Switch was at risk like that? It didn’t sit with him right. But hell, none of this did. Pan’s weapon being blown to shit was just a little taste of the cruelty Romana had in store for them. “You gettin’ meds?”

Switch scratched her cheek, somewhat cringing at Twitch’s visible reaction. This was what she was hoping to avoid; the last thing she wanted was to place even more weight on her friends’ shoulders, all because her stupid brain had to be born disabled or whatever. It was holy unfair to them. “Um, Bungee gets that in whenever he can, but it’s not exactly easy. Shit’s hard to smuggle in.”

She then placed a hand on Twitch’s shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze while trying to flash a confident grin. “Hey, don’t worry about that, Twitch. I’ll handle my shit better, swear on it. I just… didn’t prepare myself enough, that’s all.” The flimsiest and most untrue comment of the century, but she was sticking to it.

“Don’t worry about it?” Abraham scoffed. He was fucking worried about it. It was clear in the rise of his twitching, even if his expression wasn’t as telling. His legs were jumping, arms jolting, even neck craning unnaturally at times. “You are a terrible liar. How the fuck are you supposed to prepare for this? How are you supposed to handle this better? There isn’t any way. Shit.”

“Damn... Hey, Twitch. Come on now,” Switch said, her features softening with guilt and worry as she patted Abe’s hand, feeling every twitch and jolt within it. She hated seeing the man like this, but didn’t have the slightest clue how to alleviate it either. “I… I’ll figure something out. I swear. I just… I’m not letting this shit keep me down, okay? I’m not gonna let it hold me back from doing whatever I need to. I don’t seize that much anyhow; that was just shitty luck and bad timing.”

“Shitty luck and bad timing. You mean the Dog Fights. You mean Hagur. You mean our entire existence.” He spat, helpless to stop the jolts rising through him. “Ain’t fair. I mean, shit. I ain’t a good person, but fuck, this is too much. Fact that you have to smuggle in your own damn meds, play in some sick game.” He knew it was sick, he knew it was all sick, and he knew he wasn’t exactly a saint, neither was Switch. But it still pissed him off to hell.

“Like hell you aren’t,” Switch interjected, her voice growing firm as she tried to lock eyes with Abe. “You’re a good dude, Twitch. Don’t ever doubt that shit; you could’ve easily left my ass behind and went off to take care of business, but you didn’t. You had my back, like you always do, and that right there? That’s the mark of a damn good person, I don’t care what you say.” Her free hand came up to massage her brow; there wasn’t an impending headache, but she felt like she should’ve been experiencing one in that moment. “Ain’t none of the set up is fair, Twitch. I knew it wouldn’t be the moment I came to this hell hole, but I got my pals. I got you and Pan and Bungee and everyone else. I already know my time’s limited, but at least I’m spending it with the right peeps, you hear me? I ain’t got nothing to regret.” She nudged him gently with her shoulder. “It’s best to live without them, don’cha think?”

Abraham blinked up at her in pure surprise, shock washing over his features. “Damn.” He said softly, bringing a quivering hand up to run it through his hair. “You… huh. Damn. Damn it, when’d you get so philosophical n’ shit?” He laughed weakly. “Sure. Guess so. It sounds nice to try, anyway.” Abraham swallowed, looking away, down at his hand as it trembled. “No one’s ever told me I was a good person.”

“Eh… you get a lot of time to think while sitting in a cell. Hopes, dreams, wondering how you can bribe the lunch ladies into sneaking something edible for ya on board…” She flashed a lopsided smirk, though it died quickly upon hearing Abe’s admission. She swung her legs back and forth idly, humming to herself. “Well, that’s just cuz no one ever bothers to look pass the surface. For us, that’s our crimes. Our reputations. And it’s a damn shame that society’s attention span can’t last long enough to realize that… You said I’m a terrible liar, right?” She asked.

He finally returned her smile, even if it was a little strained. The twitching had died down somewhat, almost back to its normal rate of occasional jitters and underlying trembles. “Yeah. One of the worst I’ve ever seen.” He exaggerated, with a slight roll of his eyes. “I dunno, Switch. Sounds real nice when you say it like that, but then I remember that I’m on a prison in space, and hell if I didn’t choose half the shit I did that I’m in here for.” He sighed. “I ain’t the most optimistic guy around.”

“That… wounds me, sire,” Switch said in mock offense, placing one hand over her heart. “I’d say I’m a damn good liar when I put my mind to it. Look. I bet you can’t tell I’m lying when I say,” She faced him more fully before saying in the absolute worst impression of a smooth lie, “Twitch? You’re totally not a good person… Boom. See? Professional. PhD and everything.” She raised one foot to rest it on the knee of her opposite leg, pinching at the ankles of her jumper casually. Just something to keep her fingers moving. Mind working. “...Makes you wonder where those decisions come from, don’t they? Or, maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. I just don’t believe in looking at the world so black and white.”

He chuckled gruffly, disposition a little lighter with every joke she cracked. After all the adrenaline of the fight faded away, Abe only felt heavy with the weight of whatever else was going on around them. But she seemed to be doing well to alleviate some of that heaviness, even with the struggle of the situation. “Pretty sure I know where all those decisions came from.” He gestured with his hands, as if alluding to a picture, and announced in a sing song voice, “Childhood trauma.” Abraham laughed at his own joke, tongue pressing against his teeth. “I know I chose it. I just had to do something to be anything other than what I was supposed to be. Guess I went a little far off the deep end. It ain’t black and white, but it doesn’t make it any better.”

Switch bit down on her tongue to hold back a laugh, but couldn’t help but snort at Abe’s comedic gesture and rolled her eyes. Dear Lord--that was such a grotesque twist to a cartoon that refused to fucking end no matter how many centuries had passed since its release. Eh, she figured it was fine. There were plenty of screwed up things hidden in Spongebob anyways. Regardless, her interest peaked somewhat at the mention of going against some sort of… predetermined label. A constraint. And her heart couldn’t help but ache in understanding. “Amen to that,” she drawled, fingers now drumming silently against her ankle. “Not gonna lie; that deep end gets mighty pleasing sometimes, to the point of where the whole “good” versus “bad” spectrum doesn’t even matter anymore.” She cringed a little. Yeesh… she was getting a little emo there, wasn’t she? Not her usual style.

Abe whistled in response, nodding his head. “You’re tellin’ me. Shit, I was in over my head, but damn if I wasn’t good at it.” He flashed her a smirk, watching her cringe. Yeah, it was a little emo, but they were in prison. It was allowed. “I was the heist guy. It was fun more than I thought it wasn’t, and I got a rush from doin’ somethin’... well, wrong. Plus, can’t help it if I’m a guy of fine tastes. Good n’ bad became… blurry. Probably only got blurrier as time went on.” Abe scratched the back of his head. “Guess it was the only way I got to make some noise. Wouldya look at me, huh? Self reflecting. Crazy.”

Switch hang onto his every word; although she had known him for quite some time, she was never one to pry and the most she had known was that his charge involved some form of theft. But heists… damn, that was a whole new level. She trapped the side of her bottom lip between her teeth, hesitating a moment to reply. “Yeah. I… Huh, I think I get it. Hell. No. I definitely get it. That rush? It… I never got to hit that over and over like you did, but I had felt it. Just once. And it was like… so damn fast. I almost didn’t know if reality was still reality after it passed. Shit was… trippy, to sugarcoat it.” It was more than sugarcoating--it was downright denial, but she’d rather not dip her toes into that pool right now. She grinned again, eyebrow quirking. “Make some noise, eh? More like we’re up in here reflecting each other, Mr. Man in the Mirror.” She chuckled again, sweeping her hair back and heaving a long sigh. “So… we’re a pair of suppressed peeps that lashed out against the system and got hella punished for it… figures.”

He glanced at her with a raised brow, still smirking nonetheless. “Don’t gotta pretend you felt it if you ain’t, love.” His smile was somewhat knowing, and he looked back down after a moment of inspecting her. “Sure. Figures. Not sure what I woulda done differently, to be honest. It was a slow burn. I liked stealin’, but irony is, I was rich as hell.” He laughed, forcing himself to look back at her, squinting. “Tried to steal the crown jewels, you know. Didn’t go so well.”

Switch blinked, holding back another giggle as it knocked at the back of her teeth. Welp--somebody was presumptuous, weren’t they? But, of course, she couldn’t blame Abe. She never told the man a single thing about herself, let alone what kind of background she came from. She shrugged, slapping on an aloof air. “Well, shit… never realized I was pretending to begin with. Guess I’ll just… return all my props to the theater now.” Her head tilted side to side, countenance pinching somewhat. “But hell, theater wouldn’t be done right without a little irony for the rich kids, huh? Being rich is never what it’s cracked up to be; sure wish it was, but that’s never been the case.”

“Oho,” Abe said through a snicker. “You a rich kid too? Look at that. Kindred spirits. Mom n’ dad didn’t pay enough attention, or maybe too much?” He laughed. The pinching of her expression wasn’t lost on him, and now he was a little curious.

Switch squinted at Abe. “You doubting me, huh? Hell yeah, I was the offspring of snobby organisms that needed anus poles to stand upright.” Was that a tad harsh and overly visual? Yes. Was it completely honest to how she felt about her piece of trash for parents? Double yes. “I don’t know… I guess… both? In a weird way? They paid way too much attention to my grades and stuff. Not nearly enough to how I felt. Don’t disappoint us, Chava,” she mocked in an impression of her father, the Indian inflection suddenly heavy in her voice, “You lose that chess match and you’ll make your mother cry. Heh… headaches, both of ‘em.”

His smirk curved further into a toothy grin, a little too pleased to see Switch poorly imitate her parents. A hearty laugh fell out of him, and Abraham smoothed his hair down as much as possible, puffing out his chest in an impression of his own father. “If you don’t start acting like a normal person and stop all that jittering, young man, I won’t be able to take you to my business dinners anymore.” Abraham responded, his British accent only becoming that much more pronounced, almost enough to be sticking his pinky up for tea time. “Headaches don’t begin to cover it. Those bloody shit stains were the bane of my existence. Sounds all too familiar.”

Switch’s laugh came so fast and out of nowhere that all she could do was cough into her fist, her guffaws filling the infirmary. “Oh my god,” she wheezed, wiping at her eyes. She brought her index finger and thumb together to form the “ok” gesture, still giggling, “That voice? Damn spot on, Twitch. Jeez… think I bruised my sculpted abs.” She said that last bit with heavy sarcasm; hell, she was trained and fit, but she didn’t have abs. Those things were damn near impossible to get--for her, anyways. She tried to solidify her expression into something more serious, but the transition was far too abrupt for her to handle and another grin was already peeking through. “So like… I don’t want you to freak out for anything…”

A brief pause.

“...I think we’re siblings separated at birth.” Then she snorted again, shaking her head in amusement before gesturing between them. “I can see the resemblance too. Don’t you?”

At her sudden shift in demeanor, Abe’s own humorous air fell away, brow suddenly stitching together in nervousness, In that pause he felt his stomach drop, and then, it fell away to a fit of laughter. “Christ. You really had me there.” Thought you were gonna tell me you had three days to live or some shit. “‘Course I see it. Except for the painful fact that these abs…” He patted his own, “Are very obviously far superior to yours. We can’t be related.”

“Oi,” she scoffed lightly, patting her own stomach absent of abs, “Keep talking like that and I’ll think you’re challenging me. You’ll wind up slipping and see me blazing through that gym tomorrow, putting all the buff meatheads to shame.”

“Oh, you’re on.” Abraham drawled, rolling his eyes. He didn’t really have abs, to be frank. Just skinny enough to make it seem like it. And there was no way in hell he was letting Switch win. “We’re gonna stroll into the next round of Dog Fights buff.

“Hell yeah we are,” Switch chuckled, holding up a single finger. “One day. One day of intense ass muscle training and then we blast into the next round and just… make everyone’s jaw drop. Inferiority complexes will be ringing off the charts around here.” But, of course, she could see herself giving up that exercise regiment after the first try; she hadn’t adhered to a fitness schedule in years and, honestly, she was a victim to fatigue way too quickly nowadays. She fell silent for a while after that, the cogs in her brain turning, falling back to earlier worries and doubts.

“Hey, Twitch? You, uh… you think Pan’ll be pissed at me? If she ever finds out about… you know what? I wanna tell her, but at the same time…” She shook her head tiredly. “I don’t know.”

“Oh, yeah. ‘Course that’s all it takes. We’re already Round One winners. Ain’t gonna take much more to scare the rest into submission.” He announced cheekily, though took on a slightly more somber disposition as she fell silent. Abe could see the exhaustion in her form, and he sighed. “Oh, she’ll be angry as hell.” He answered truthfully. “But I ain’t one to tell you who to lay that on. Whatever you pick, you deal with the consequences.”

Switch nodded, jaw clenched tight. She appreciated the honesty, thus why she decided to ask Abe; he was never one to hold off on the truth of things and was rather close with Pan. “You’re right. My dumbass choice to keep hush about it. So my dumbass oughtta take whatever she’s got to dish out. I definitely wanna tell her, Twitch. More than anything. I just…” She massaged her temples. Again, not a headache, just plain frustration bubbling to the frustration. “I’m dumb as hell for worrying about this, but I can’t help but feel like I’ll get… those looks again, you know? The pity looks. It was all I ever saw before Hagur; shit almost made me forget how to look someone in the eyes. But coming here gave me a chance to like… start clean? I guess? I’m babbling bullshit, you don’t have to tell me.” The chuckle was forced this time around, somewhat annoyed at the illogical sentiments lingering in the back of her withering brain.

“It’s not a dumbass choice.” He insisted gently, shaking his head. “I understand what you mean. I might not have a life threatening disease, but ol’ Twitchy’s gotten some pity looks in his lifetime. They’re awful.” Abe sighed. “Pan’ll understand either way. But she won’t pity you, that’s for sure. And neither do I. It mighta been a clean start.. But everything comes to bite you in the arse eventually. You might as well rip the bandaid off and tell her.”

“And Twitch Man’s back at it again with truth talk,” Switch muttered, her grin bittersweet. An indescribable mixture of gratitude and dread twisted her gut into knots, but she couldn’t deny that she needed to hear that, especially from him. She jokingly wondered if the man had been chatting with Damien, but decided to keep that little tease to herself. “And yeah… Yeah, you’re right. Just gotta swan dive into it and get it over with. And I mean, now that I’m thinking about it? It’s better that she hears from me rather than someone else on Hagur; knowing the gossiping fuckers on here, my seizure’ll spread like wildfire. Yayyyy,” she said dryly, a hint of annoyance in her eyes. That was going to be fuuuun.

Regardless, she smiled again at Abe before delivering a light punch to his shoulder. “You know what? I always knew you were alright, Twitch. But now I know you’re alright. I uh… I guess I can understand why Pan’s always all over you.” She tagged on a whispered, “Although it’s kinda nasty…” at the end, gaze shooting to the side.

“We’ll just kick their arses. And Pan will, too. Her most of all.” Abe said with a dry smile, faking a dramatic gasp at her punch. “Same goes for you,” He hummed gratefully, and then laughed. “Hey. You can look the other way. Gotta get some entertainment that ain’t life threatening in this place, eh?”

Switch’s lips pursed in begrudging agreement. “Fair point, fair point… Still have the right to gag though,” she said. “And you’re right; Pan and I could still deciment half of the peeps on Hagur. Hell, you too with your lethal crotch kicks. We’re a badass team.” Team. Switch never really had much faith in such a term before Hagur; sure, she had chess teams to play with and compete in tournaments, but she never connected with anyone. Or, none of them attempted to connect with her. She never understood why, but was also too cowardly to find out for herself.

Just as she was about to speak again, the projection screens jumped into view again, showing the Ascension Chamber full of Tributes again. The next two teams were announced and Switch couldn’t fight the concern slithering down her spine. Wasn’t Pan friends with some of them? Crap… Romana had to have planned this. This entire group of Tributes. Hell, maybe even more than that. “Well, shit… round two, I guess,” she muttered.

“We are a badass team.” Abe echoed softly, eyes turning to the projection that appeared in front of them. He heaved a sigh, shaking his head. “This whole thing’s a bloody mess.” Abraham muttered through gritted teeth, shaking his head. “Guess that’s how it’s gotta be. Damn, if I coulda told my past self I was gonna end up here, maybe I’d have gotten my act together.” He smirked, knowing it probably wouldn’t have done a damn thing. “You, uh, you ever gonna enlighten me as to what the hell Ohana is?”

“That’s a damn lie and you know it,” Switch chuckled, catching his faint grin. She mirrored the expression before forcing her gaze ahead and maintaining a steady voice. She shrugged lightly. “Naw, it’s fine. Something tells me you know plenty about it already.” Family. Nobody gets left behind or forgotten… Heh. Yeah.

Switch didn’t need to teach Abe a single damn thing.
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Elle Joyner

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Political intrigue, fantasy, futuristic, sci fi lite, superheroes, historical fiction, alternate universes. Smittings of romance, but only as side plot.
They’d won. By some miracle or another, they had managed to overcome the most ridiculous odds of survival, and actually come out on top, and it should have felt good. It should have felt… great. Instead, as the medics worked their magic on the scrapes and cuts from the glass downpour, her mind revolved on the few minutes before stepping in the tubes that would take them into the simulator…

’You cut it off, Cybil. All of it… Every last damn trace of your life before now, you cut it off and you forget it ever existed…” Moses Nenge leaned in close to the holding cell, baritone voice barely a whisper, and yet somehow, driving deep into her core in a way no one’s ever had. There was fire in that man’s eyes that sent her stomach into her throat… So rarely did he show so much emotion…

“They’ll have my file, Mos. You know they will…” She muttered, running her fingers through her hair. The orange locks fell in a curtain around her pale face, shorter than she was used to… shorter and so bright. It was a shock, for sure, but it wasn’t Cybil Tash, either…

“Doesn’t mean anyone else has to know. Keep your head down, stay outta trouble and find a way to get out, Cybil. That’s what you focus on, understand? That’s all you focus on…”

Breathing out, Pandora pushed herself off the gurney and crossed to the door opposite the exit. She could see Abe and Switch through the small rectangular viewing window, talking, and a small frown twitched to her lips. Whatever had happened while she was outside the hotel, it was apparently noteworthy…

Tapping the button to open the door, she stepped through and cleared her throat, “You’d think we’d get like… champagne and chocolate covered strawberries… Victors and all. This place is trash. How you feelin’ Switch?”

Switch jolted somewhat at Pan’s entrance, though she relaxed immediately as realization set in. Not completely, but immediately. She had just finished talking with Abe about the woman and now here she was, her timing impeccable. She flashed the woman a grin while shrugging, “I’d bend over backwards for some quality strawberries and chocolate right about now. And I’m doing alright. Burn on my arm’s been taken care of, so I’m just stuck on babysitting duty with this dude.” She nudged Twitch playfully.

Glancing up at Pan, first in surprise, but it quickly washed away to a fond grin, Abe rolled his eyes. “Man, would I kill for a dinner like that. Maybe some sorta steakhouse. Aw…” He sighed. Prison gruel never cut it. “Babysitting duty? Really?” He snorted and nudged her back, though his gaze narrowed somewhat, hoping Switch would get the hint to say what she wanted to say.

Shaking her head at the pair of them, hardly missing the shock in both of their expressions, Pan grabbed a chair and flipping it around backwards, she sank down onto it, arms crossed over the back, “...We need to talk. I figure here’s as good a place as any to get this over with… The less people around the better.”

Switch’s brow furrowed, battling off little sparks of dread in her gut. She didn’t know, right? No, probably not; her cellmate would likely be showing more emotion right about now. Specifically--pissed off. She didn’t radiate a single ounce of that sentiment though, so Switch figured it had to be something else. She folded both legs onto the bed. “Uh, sure, Pan. Shoot.”

Raising an eyebrow, Abraham leaned against the bed, this sort of sincerity in Pan’s voice somewhat surprising. He gestured for her to speak with a solemn nod, keen to listen to what had her so worried.

Breathing out, Pan lowered her gaze, and that small frown twitched deeper, “Have either of you heard of an organization called the Red Hand?”

“…?” Switch trailed off, confusion washing over her countenance before she said in a somewhat light tone, “A medical aid company devoted to chronic paper cuts? Close, right?”

A mix between a small sigh and a laugh fell out of Abe as he shook his head. “No, Switch. Not quite, I imagine.” He murmured, glancing up at Pan with a small shrug of his shoulders. “Is it an American thing?” He teased lightly, the weight of her voice still hovering over the three despite the jokes.

“Bounty Hunters…” Looking up again, her expression shifted between the two with a note of calculating scrutiny. She didn’t have to do this… but sometimes, it was better to bite the bullet and get the hard part out of the way, than wait for someone else to do it for her, “...It’s a group of freelance Bounty Hunters. Not small time… they got pretty big. Big enough that names… names got out and it got to be a challenge. So… they… the people who worked for Red Hand, they started to take on code names. To protect their identities. No one’s called me Cybil in a really long time, except my boss. His name is Moses… and he runs the group. And now my name is out there, in Hagur. And it’s pretty much assured that if the games don’t kill me, someone in here is probably gonna try, because… well, it’s pretty much a guarantee I put someone in here.” Exhaling, she sat up, “That’s why I didn’t wanna tell them… my name.”

...Okay. As said before, Switch was not one to pry. She cared very little about someone’s past; as long as they were currently cool people and treated her with mutual respect, then she was fine not knowing. However, she may or may not have been experience a hint of regret as Pan expanded on the Red Hand. Heh… so… I’m friends with a rich heist mastermind and an ex-bounty hunter who now has a bounty on her head. Fuuuun. Life wasn’t allowed to be simple, was it? Of course not. She was an idiot for hoping otherwise.

Although Switch tried to keep a nonchalant air about herself, there was no denying the paleness that overcame her visage as she muttered, “That’s… Well, fuck. Yeah. That sure as hell explains it, Pan.” She rubbed the back of her neck and heaved a tired sigh. “So… what now? We just keep things moving and live the rest of our time here stuck in paranoia? Doesn’t sound terribly appealing, to be honest…”

Abraham’s posture fell, almost as if he’d been punched in the gut. In a matter of hours he’d been told that basically his only two friends in the damn universe were destined to die. While Switch might have tried to keep her visage calm, Abe’s twitches gave away all his anger, fists clenched. “Bloody fan-fucking-tastic.” Abraham hissed. “Listen, I don’t give a shit. None of you are dying on my watch. Bounty hunter or not.. ‘Fuck ‘em. It’s not happening.” He spat.

A brow rose at both of their reactions, and for some reason, surprise registered, if only for a moment. It wasn’t how she’d anticipated them reacting, but somehow, it was refreshing to know her trust had not been misplaced… She’d picked the right team, whether they won or not.

“Thanks, Abe. But you still don’t get to call me Cybil…” Her eyes flickered to his, and there was a warmth behind them that was rare for Pan, “...Not in public, anyway. But no, Switch… that’s not what we’re gonna do. What we’re gonna do… is finish these damn fights. And then? Win or lose… we’re gonna get the hell off this ass rocket. Cause I dunno about you, but I’m a little sick and tired of playing their games.”

Switch didn’t know what to make of the implications lurking in Pan’s tone. At first, she assumed that she was referring to the ten year reward and shortening their sentence on board, but a hunch told her otherwise. She shifted uncomfortably. “Get off… Pan, you and I and Twitch here know that I love ya to death, but, uh, I really freaking hope you’re not suggesting anything risky. Though I admit, I’m sick of Romana’s games too, and I like games…” She tagged on that last bit as an annoyed grumble.

“I’m ready for risky.” Abe announced bitterly. “I don’t care. Been here too damn long.. I’m sick of it. Sick of being Romana’s toy. And I’m not gonna lie down and let anything else happen.” The thought of Switch wasting away on Hagur, without any proper help, the thought if Pandora living every moment with a target on her back… Abraham was reverberating with anger. “There’s gotta be some way. Some way to flip it on her.”

“It’s ridiculous to think this is a legitimate prison, anymore. I’ve been in Gulag’s with better Wardens, and I’m done, too. We’ll figure it out. Can’t do anything until the games are through… not when we’ve got eyes on us, but there’s gotta be a way, and between the three of us? I’m pretty sure we can find it….” Looking to Switch, Pandora shrugged, “Not gonna twist your arm, Switch, but I doubt you want a new cellmate when you got so lucky with the one you got now…” She added, with a wink.

“Sure, just twist my heart instead…” Switch muttered, head rolling back to shoot a sigh to the ceiling. A moment of contemplative silence fell over her as she mulled over her options; aside from Abe and Pan, her only friends were Bungee and… Well, they were acquaintances. And any attempt to form a genuine friendship with him was usually usurped, his guard dog baring its teeth in her direction. Either way, she’d be nothing short of devastated if she’d lost Pan. Of course she wanted to do something about this mess, but without any information or dirt on Romana, they were stuck. Switch shook her head. “I don’t like any of this, but you guys know you’re stuck with me anyhow. As for getting info… I mean, remember that talk we had, Pan? About him?” Sweat collected on her palms just thinking about that man, but he was honestly their best shot. The acquaintance was off-limits, so what other options did they have?

“You think he's worth it?” Pan asked, leaning forward on the back of the chair again, “I'll do it, but only if you think it's fully worth the risks…”

Switch rubbed the back of her neck. Now she was feeling a headache peek over the horizon. “Honestly? Yes and no. I’ve never personally talked to the dude before, but I know people who have and they’re afterwards. They always get what they want, though,” she said.

Abe looked between them, brows furrowed, arms crossed. “Sorry, who?” He muttered.

“Err, not sure of his real name or whatever, but the dude goes by Tarzan,” Switch said. A knot twisted in the pit of her gut, her fingers once again drumming against her leg. “Word around Hagur says he literally knows everything about every damn prisoner on here. It’s insane. Heh… guess it fits since he’s insane too, but still.” She then held up both hands. “And don’t ask me how he knows that shit, cuz I’m just as clueless as you guys are.”

“How's anyone do anything around this joint… Blessed Warden prolly gives him our personnel files, just to watch us squirm.” Shaking her head, Pan straightened, “He might be our best bet… even if it ain't ideal. But first, we gotta survive these damn games.”

Abe’s jaw tensed, gaze falling down to the floor as he considered this option. It was always risky, messing with a prisoner with knowledge. Falling into debt. “And what, he’ll just give us the keys to our very own spaceship? At what cost? Askin’ favors.. sometimes it digs a bigger hole than the one you’re already in.”

“Hence the shifty business I brought up,” Switch said. She could see the suspicion rolling off Twitch like waves of a tsunami and perfectly understood his hesitance. “Look, we can just… keep it as a backup plan, okay? Definitely not against the idea of putting it in the back burner for now. Right now, I’m just gonna…” As she trailed off, she winced somewhat at the brief pain that bit at her temples; yep, nap time. And, in other words, avoidance of other topics. Fun. Wordlessly, she hopped off the bed she had been sharing with Abe and started slowly sauntering over back to her own.

She definitely avoided eye contact with Twitch.

“Welp, if you guys go over anymore details, be sure to get me up to speed after this power nap, yeah?”

“Yeah, yeah…” Pan rolled her eyes as she rose to her feet, “Go back to dying… I owe this man a mind blowing experience, anyhow…” She said, with a small, saucy grin to Abe, “Coming?”

“Yeah, I’m coming, just…” Abraham leveled his gaze towards Switch, staring at her pointedly even as she tried to escape the conversation. “Switch is forgetting something she wanted to tell you.”

...Switch rolled onto her side, her back pointedly facing the pair and slapping a sheen of grogginess over her voice. “Hmm? Naw, I think I covered everything. You guys go ahead and do the ritual nasty, I won’t stop ya.”

“Switch.” Abraham growled.

“For fuck’s sake…” Switch groaned, flopping onto her back and staring at the ceiling, her jaw clenched tight with a mixture of annoyance and guilt. She loved Twitch, but man did she hate him right now… Okay, fine. She didn’t hate him. Hate was a strong word and she’d never hate someone who she associated with Ohana. But still. This was turning to shit. Heaving a long sigh that soon devolved into a grumble, she ran both hands down her face before mumbling, “Something kinda… happened. During the fight, I mean.” She refused to look at either of them.

A brow rose, as Pan glanced between Abe and Switch. She wasn’t stupid, not by a long shot - part of her training was to notice body language… and Switch was a bundle of nerves and tension thicker than a hairball. But hell if she really wanted to push her to say anything. Whatever had happened, it wasn’t her business…

Except… they weren’t done fighting, and she really didn’t feel up to dying, any time soon.

“...Something aside from my staff being a bomb, you gettin’ iced by Archie and this whole damn thing being a crapstorm from the start, you mean? Has to do with you two chattin’ it up in here without me? Look… Abe ain’t my property, Switch… You two are allowed to do whatever the hell you want… Not my call.”

Abe wrung his hands, helplessly trying to calm his abrupt twitching, the muscles in his face jumping and tensing. “..Alright. Wasn’t a big deal, anyway.” He said softly, giving Switch one last look before standing up, his hand slipping around Pan’s wrist, pulling her along. “We dealt with enough bullshit anyway. I’m ready to blow some steam off, love.”

Switch winced upon realizing that Pan had noticed them chatting. Well, noticed something was off about their chatting--and that did nothing more than coat her insides with ice. She had no idea why she was hesitating now, after the talk she just had with Abe, but something in the back of her skull, everlasting and mocking, held her back. She weaved her fingers together over her stomach, forcing her emotions to dull down to something more manageable. “Heh, yeah. You two have fun now. Don’t uh… Don’t go sounding like tea kettles now. You know, cuz of the steam comment and...yeah.” Jesus--she didn’t even have enough motivation to craft a decent joke.

Pan’s frown deepened, and shaking her head, she gave Switch one last look, before nodding to Abe, “...Yeah. Right. Rest up, Switch. Back in, tomorrow.”

He knew the whole thing was wrong. But he’d tried to urge Switch to say something, and she hadn’t. So what else was he supposed to do? Shake it out of her? It wouldn’t benefit anyone. All Abe knew was that he now had to carry the weight of her secret, when it didn’t have to be one at all, and the knowledge of the fact that both of his only friends live’s were in danger only made him feel a little more desperate to win. But he shook it off, for now, ‘cause there was no other choice, ripping his gaze off of Switch and smirking at Pan. “After you, love. See you, Switch.”

Switch merely raised a thumbs up, her smile tight and words failing her. Yep. There wasn’t really much for her to say while feeling like a poor excuse for a friend and a coward. Just another day. At the very least, some level of composure was retained on her part, and it was all thanks to avoid eye contact with either one of them at all times. The disappointment in their voices stung like Hell, but she had some--a little--resistance against it.

Reaching back with her fingers, Pandora closed them around Abe’s wrist and moved to the door she’d come through without another word.
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Mobley Eats

Consume. Smother your doubts. Be fulfilled.
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Birds of the Same Flock | Interactions: Archer KatSea KatSea , Nurse Petrov and Third Person | Location: Infirmary

As soon as Archer’s form appeared in the Ascension Pod, he was stripped of his weapon, waist belt, and vest before being hauled off to the infirmary with the assistance of two guards. And a hover gurney. There was no way in Hell they’d physically assist a dog, but it was in their job description to at least guide the gurney to where it needed to be. Upon reaching their destination, the prisoner was dispensed onto an open bed, within one of several rooms devoted to recovery, and a nurse was already in the midst of approaching with a clipboard in hand.

“Good show out there,” she muttered, voice light. As if she wasn’t tending to a convicted murderer. She started roaming down a list of basic questions, voice flat with boredom; she had done this procedure for so many years that it was borderline mind-numbing. “I’m going to list body parts. You rate the pain for each one on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being no pain and 10 being holy shit why did I sign up for this in the first place. Understood?”

Archer’s initial thought was to struggle against the hands that threatened to strip him of the weapon that made him feel free for the first time in eighteen months. Instead, he grew numb, refusing to move an inch as the man’s hands skimmed across his uniform. A gurney. No. Archer didn’t need one. He wasn’t hurt in anyway he could identify. A small throb in his neck, his shoes soaked in melted snow. Nevertheless, no words escaped him as the journey became obsolete. He was there the next moment, memories blurring and preventing any chance of recollecting the all too familiar halls.

A voice. Female. Gentle. F a m i l i a r, He cooed, eyes fluttering in relief. He envisioned his own Georgina, his own little bride, white adorning her shoulders, slick with…

His eyes pried open, flickering over to greet the nurse. A pleasant, genuine smile pulling at the corners of his lips. He propped himself upon his elbows, inspecting the nurse with a careful but attentive eye. “I didn’t really sign up for this, miss...Petrov. I don’t mean to disturb you...after all. I’m...I’m in perfect condition. Unless you can patch up pride, I don’t think I should be taking too much of your time.” His smile only grew, warmth behind the motion.

Nurse Petrov merely returned the smile, not a beat of hesitance behind the motion as she replied casually, “I believe you. I watched everything, after all. But procedure is procedure, no matter how boring it gets, right? Now then…” Her blue eyes fell to the paperwork once more. “Head? Torso area? Neck? Spine? Abdominal region? Hips?” She read off the list in a monotonous tone, far stiffer than the one she had adorned beforehand.

“Empty. Moderate. Tense. Straight. Abdominal.” He listed off, matching her tone with a raised brow. His smile curled into somewhat of a smirk. “The hips could be feeling a lot better, I think, doc.” A playful glint entered his eye, although heat of natural shame threatened to creep to his cheeks.

Petrov clicked her tongue in disappointment, taking note of heat flooding Archer’s cheeks. “Those aren’t numbers, sir, but I suppose I can guestimate what you mean. And no worries, I can have a fellow employee slap some icy hot balm on them.” The last bit was said with light sarcasm; he wasn’t the first prisoner to toss out a stray innuendo and she doubted woefully that he would be the last.

“I’m in no pain. I told you I was barely scratched. It is a miracle I made it away with a simple tick.” That Abraham, he was a fool and one Archer found to cause burning hatred to fester in his heart. Abraham owed the man his life. Irritation threatened to creep onto his features, but it was smothered as he forced himself to sit. “I didn’t mean to sound lewd, miss. Your work here is very appreciated.”

“Miracles,” Petrov hummed while setting the clipboard aside. She ventured over to the cabinets, ruffling through them as she continued, “Those little buggers seem to love following you around recently, Mr. Hero of Hagur.” She came back with basic material to clean him up; the man was a tad ragged from combat, but nothing significant. Regardless, it was her job to spruce them up as much as possible. “Keep still and look at me,” she ordered.

“No miracle, nor anything supernatural. Just a little bit of luck.” Archer’s head bobbed absentmindedly as he attempted a gentle hum. “It’s nothing special. I just did what I had to do in those moments of crisis.” His fingers dug into the edges of the gurney, his thumb tracing across the top. “Hard not to look at you, miss.” He commented, light, never meant to be condescending. His smile remained warm and gentle.

A snort escaped Petrov, free and unbidden, as amusement tinged her eyes. She focused on cleaning the man’s face with a warm towel, though she managed to register his words fairly well. “Don’t bring that flattery around me, sir. Not unless you plan on getting more original with it.” She wiped off the last of grime from his visage and although it was briefer than a blink, she curved around his nose with the cloth to give it a cheeky pinch. The action clashed oddly with her deadpan expression. “But yes, I would consider you lucky as Hell. You came out with an entire knee intact,” she muttered before glancing a tad lower. “Unzip your jumper. Got to clean a bit below the collar. Protocol.”

The dumbest damn protocol in history, and one that Nurse Petrov had a hunch that Romana created only to fuck with her. Figures. She refused to give the warden the satisfaction of expressing any discomfort about it though.

Archer’s head naturally nuzzled into the warmth of the towel, his breath catching in his throat as he bathed in an action that made him feel close to human. He couldn’t explain how such a simple action brought a sense of serenity into his heart, the calm recollection of how life used to be threatening to seep back into his skull. He never thought he would miss simple cleansing that didn’t include prison showers. “I’m still on an adrenaline rush, miss. My mind can’t exactly fabricate original one liners.” A gentle chuckle rumbled in his throat, his fingers pulling at his collar as he fumbled for the zipper.

“I would prefer to walk without a crutch, and besides, that Pandora woman has one hell of a final move.” His eyes crossed briefly at the touch Petrov administered. He wasn’t sure how, but his smile became involuntary. He pulled down the zipper slowly, making sure that he stopped just beneath his collar. “You really don’t have to if it makes you uncomfortable, love.”

Begrudging understanding pulled at her features. “Fair enough. I have a hard enough time remembering English whenever I stub my toe on that one damn table leg around the corner…” She almost let herself devolve into a grumbling rant, but snapped out of her reverie quick enough to finish liberating Archer’s skin of sweat and dirt. She cleared her throat, also pretended as if the man hadn’t just leaned into her touch. It wasn’t terribly surprising; she cared for prisoners, human beings with nasty minds but an innate need for the occasional gentle care. It was brief moments like those that reminded her why she had volunteered for this position to begin with.

“Well, uncomfortable or not, Mr. Hero, I’m all done. You’re welcome to lounge here for as long as you want for the duration of the Dog Fights or head back to your cell. It’s entirely up to you,” Petrov said as she stood up and disposed the towel into the dirty hamper.

“What do you remember?” Archer inquired, eyes naturally lighting up to express interest. Petrov...Russian perhaps? Yes, it had to have been. He had heard only beautiful things about the people...hard livers, iron stomachs...pretty women...He snapped himself out of his sudden decline in thoughts. “Well, if I’m gonna be honest with you miss, I’d rather not head back to the cell. First time in almost a year I felt...well...normal again. I’d rather bathe in this respect for as long as I can. Even if it’s in the damn infirmary.” His lips pulled back into a frown. “I don’t think you want to have to handle more than you need to, though. Lot more folks are gonna end up diving in. Messy, I tell you. Cock fights always lead to....something missing.”

“Oh… usually words along the lines of ‘shit’, ‘fuck’, ‘dear lord that was painful’, and so on comes to mind,” Petrov chimed with a smirk. She leaned against the counter, arms folding loosely in front of her as she quirked an eyebrow. “I handle as much as physically possible, Mr. Hero, then go beyond that. Because I want to. You’ve got nothing to worry about and neither do I.” However, the nurse couldn’t help but pinch her brow, head tilting with a hint of curiosity. He was certainly the first murderer to cross her path and admit desiring to feel “normal”--most fruitlessly claimed innocence or boasted about their deeds.

She decided to voice her thoughts. “You’re the first murderer I’ve met to have any interest in being normal, Mr. Hero. Perhaps I should take your temperature as well.”

“Your vocabulary is that of wisemen and prophets.” Archer suggested, his smile consuming the rest of his demeanor. His cheeks were pleasantly numb. He hadn’t felt this sting in a long while, not since she slipped the ring onto his finger and intertwined their grasp. “Regardless, miss Petrov, I know when stress comes along, things become amplified and continuously tiresome. And I wouldn’t want to add any more of that onto your sweet head.”

“You must remember, miss, I have no recollections of any deaths.” Mirth shimmered in his eyes, his teeth barely skimming across his bottom lip. He shook his head, dismissive and with the vaguest hint of distraught. “Mere circumstance that I am here. But once again, you are in my graces.” Archer slowly hobbled to his feet, hand over his heart.

“I’m not one for a religion, but I can decode a compliment when I hear one,” Petrov hummed before her brow pinched, slight amusement overcoming her. “You speak as if you know my strength, Mr. Hero. I’ve handled seven years of this and have seen its worst. I’m not slowing down anytime soon.” However, Archer’s next comment made her give pause, confusion replacing the amusement, and she couldn’t help but scoff gently. “Mere circumstances, you say… Well, for the sake of civility and my need to dispose this hamper, I’ll say that I believe you.”

Moving with experienced ease and swiftness, she slipped on a pair of gloves and extracted the hamper bag, tying it into a knot. She held it up with a dry smirk. “Don’t steal or kill anything while I’m gone.”

“I’ve never been one for it either, at least not until prison. Hail Ala...or Yahweh, or God, I guess.” He pressed his hand to his lips and chuckled. “Ah, many apologies. I should not have called him by his holy name.” Smite me now. Go on. D o i t He smiled, despite the scorching thoughts bouncing against his interior skull. “For you, madam, I would not harm a fly.” He bowed his head, eyes gliding to the hamper bag. He smirked. “Have fun, love. I’ll be sure to stay nice and still while you are gone ~”

“Hail our bitchy overlord,” Petrov chimed in with her own addition to the list, the salt in her voice clear as day. She wasn’t shy about expressing her distaste towards Romana. “And hey… don’t just go around saying all that blasphemy casually. Any lightning in this place could ruin my favorite little toys.” She gestured to the advance medical devices stocked in the shelves and cabinets, her smile somehow dryer than before. With a final nod of satisfaction from Archer’s reassurance, she strode out of the infirmary, leaving him alone.

Relative peace passed for a handful of minutes, aside from the distant echo of cheering prisoners reverberating down the halls. The crowd seemed to be pleased with Archer, Pan, and Twitch’s victory, despite it ending on a flatter note than expected. However, the prisoner’s peace was shattered as Nurse Petrov returned.

Pale. Far paler than before. Her expression gave away nothing but a soul who seemed to have contacted a ghost. Avoiding all eye contact with Archer, she held his hand and slipped a folded up note into his, closing his fingers around it. “My shift’s almost over.” Without waiting for a response, she pulled off the impossible of making a casual strut appear very much like a hasty retreat.

“Hail Furor.” Archer pressed two fingers to his forehead and saluted, a dry smirk accompanying the gesture. “Don’t worry, love. The only thing you would have to dispose of would be my sorry body.” Winking, Archer watched her briefly glide out the doorway. He slowly sat upon the gurney once again, crossing his legs before leaning back and pressing his head into his hands. He closed his eyes and hummed, relaxed and cozily splayed out like a grumpy cat finally able to stretch out its greedy belly.

His eyes fluttered open at the sound of clacking heels, surprised to feel his hand in the gentle grasp of his nurse. For a moment, he desired to grasp her hand in return, to squeeze, to suggest a little smile…

Something fluttered into his palm. It felt lighter than air and gently scrapped at his skin, confusion settling into his demeanor. A note. She had delivered…

If it’s Abraham rubbing it in I am going to slice his throat in his goddamn sleep.

“Sleep well.” He bobbed his head, knowing fully well that there was a probability she could get into trouble. He didn’t want that for the poor, poor woman. Turning his head down to his clenched fist, he conducted the impossible task of unclenching his fist, staring dully down at the message.

“Now...This is what I call excitement.” He cooed, gripping the note once again in his palm and managing to let it flutter down his grotesquely orange sleeve. “I pray to God...Ala...Yahweh...Empty void of the bizarre nothing...This is not my last day.” A smile curled on his lips, and with one final push off, he dismissed himself from the infirmary, a gentle bounce in his step.

The Corner was dimly lit as always, a majority of it swallowed up in shadows and the heady scent of wet rust. A single individual leaned against the wall in waiting, his head lifting somewhat as Archer approaching. Good. He came. The man had his doubts that he would come, but that was now one step he could cross off the list.

He took a step forward, thought a small one, his visage and torso still avoiding Archer’s perception. “You came,” he said, voice strangely hoarse and gentle. More fragile than sodden paper.

Archer’s shoulders tensed and he wondered if this is what Georgina felt when her back was turned to the door of their suite. When she was kneeling on the man’s center, pressing her hands upon his chest, hearing the door creak...Knowing she screwed up. Knowing the last few moments weren’t going to be that of bliss or that of affection from the man she devouted herself to. No, no. She couldn’t have felt like this. This was horrific. It coated his stomach like plaque. The moment I feel, is the moment I regret. He smiled deviously, the fear accompanied by excitement, or was that fear? No. Archer felt fear before, hadn’t he? When the men came to his door? Take him away? No, that...that wasn’t fear. Something briefly flickered in the back of his head. The desire for normality. To step back from the Corner. To turn his head and return to his cell. He desperately worked to smother the spark of emotion, and once again, his shoulders slumped. Georgina couldn’t feel. It wasn’t an issue. Y e t…

“Didn’t think I’d get an invitation to be murdered. Usually it’s supposed to be a surprise. You know, the advantage factor and all.” Archer turned his head towards the voice, yet he couldn’t make out the figure. The voice was familiar, but his head swum with thoughts of human empathy and desires to live.

An amused giggle emitted from the shadowed figure. “Eh… No worries. Murder’s a one time deal for me,” he said. There was a moment that followed, hesitation biting at his skull, before swallowing back the sentiment and stepping forward to reveal himself. Ghostly pale. Soft blue eyes. Hair whiter than the snow that had crunched beneath Archer’s feet mere minutes ago in the simulator.

“I’ve got a proposition for you… Willing to hear me out?” Snowman asked.
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Collab with Elle Joyner Elle Joyner

Pandora wasn’t much for cuddling, but after the day they’d had, and the nightmare that tomorrow was sure to bring, she was in no real hurry to leave Abe’s side, even as the afterglow died down and she could feel the weight of reality returning, absent the adrenaline… Her fingertips traced lines over his torso, small circles and lines, senseless patterns. When she spoke, her voice was soft - a gentle hum, without accusation or irritation, free hand pushing through her hair as she rose up onto her elbow.

“...By the way… I’m not a redhead. Dunno if that’s a deal breaker or not, but I figured since the name, and bounty hunter thing was out there, I might as well get that in the clear, too.”

Though he didn’t open his eyes, a small, amused smirk flashed across Abe’s face, a little reluctant to let go of the moment. “Major deal breaker.” He hummed. “I don’t give a flying fuck about your job title, love. None of us are innocent in this cage. There’s blood on everyone’s hands. I just care if it’s gonna get you killed or not. Which it won’t.”

“Damn…” Grinning faintly, Pandora shook her head, “Just blow through my cover there, huh? When did you get so damn smart, huh? Abe ” Shifting, she laid her palm against his stomach, and dropped her head back to his shoulder, “...It could though, Abe. Get me killed, and hell… I’d be stupid if I wasn’t a little scared of that. I know everyone thinks I’m some invincible nutjob, but I got cracks, you know?

“I’ve always been smart.” He said devilishly, though the humor in his voice died away quickly. ”You’re not dyin’.” Abraham growled. “And you don’t tell them otherwise. If they wanna think you’re an invincible nutjob? Keep it that way. Nothing's happening. Not to you or to Switch, if I got a say in it.”

“Me or Switch, huh?” With a small smirk, Pan shook her head, “...I know it ain’t yours to tell me, Abe, and I ain’t gonna try and push it outta ya… But you know if you and she got somethin’ goin’ on, you don’t need to keep it from me, right? I ain’t exactly been like… a one man kinda woman this whole time. Though hell, lately…” A brow arched, as she sunk deeper into the pit of his shoulder, “I kinda have. It’s weird.”

Abe scoffed, shaking his head. “Pan, there’s nothing like that between us. I can promise you that.” He nudged her lightly. “Ain’t weird when you got a man with this body on your arm. I can see why you haven’t needed anything else,” He joked.

“Ha! Yea. That’s it, Twitch. Your body… sure.” With a smirk, she prodded his left rib with a fingertip, before shifting, straightening up, wrapping the sheet beneath her arms, “I’m worried about her, Abe. She’s been out of it more than usual, and today? Today that could’ve gotten her killed. She had the gloves, but her reaction time was no good… I ain’t worried about us winning. But I am worried about her losing. Big time. You don’t need to tell me anything, but I ain’t stupid, and if it’s not some secret Switch/Twitch love affair, then I gotta think it’s something worse. We gotta have her back in this… alright?”

Abraham fell silent, mulling very carefully over his next words. “We’re going to have her back in this. It ain’t a question.” He murmured, unsure of what else he could say without betraying Switch’s secret and her confidence in him. Absentmindedly his hand ran along her shoulder, sighing. “She’ll be alright. We’ll all be alright. And we’ll find some way off this hell ship somehow.”

“I think we're gonna have to, Abe. That explosion in the hotel? That was no accident. Gram all but told me it was comin’, and I don't think it was a warning. Seemed to think it was gonna take me out… We get through these next few days, I don't think the Dog Fights end for any of us… I didn't go through hell all my life to let some bitch take me out with a shiv. And I ain't leavin’ without you and Switch.”

“Fuckin’ hell…” Abraham hissed, wanting nothing more in that moment to wrap his hands around Gram’s neck. “If they thought a little explosion was gonna take you out, they thought damn wrong. We’re fighting to win.. surviving isn’t a question. We aren’t going out like this. None of us.” He nodded firmly.

A brow rose as Pan looked him over, and the corner of her lip curved, “Damn, Abe. You know when this thing started, I'm gonna be real, I didn't think much was gonna come from it but a damn good lay… but hell, if I don't actually kinda mind you as a person, too… That was pretty sexy, there.”

Allowing the anger that burrowed inside him to melt away for the time being, Abe rolled his eyes at her, a brimming smile present on his lips as he pulled her closer. “You talkin’ about what I just said? Or me the entire Dog Fight, because I think I was pretty damn sexy there too.”

“Mm… maybe both.” Biting her lip, she shook her head, leaning her arms against his chest, “Thanks, Abe… for bein’ the right choice. Coulda gone a lot different today without you.” With a smirk, she shrugged, “And hell, way I see it, it's out there anyways… You wanna call me by my name, that's a right you earned.”

There was a hint of surprise that filtered into his expression, hidden by the grin. “No problem. Hmm… Cybil, huh?” He hummed, letting the name roll off his tongue, bringing his hand up to drag it through her hair, admiring her beauty. “It’s a nice name. So’s Pan. Both pretty to me. It’s whatever you like, love.” He laughed. “If you weren’t certain, I only got one name. Just making sure you knew.”

Chuckling faintly, Pan nodded, leaning into his touch with a small smile, “Both sound real nice with that awful cute accent. And I kinda figured that was the case. Twitch, huh? Is that a family name?”

“Oh yeah. The Twitches got a long history. I’m actually Twitch Junior the Fourth.” Abraham retorted.

“I believe it…” Pan mused, before shifting closer, leaning in to steal a kiss, “Twitchy Four. You real keen on passing that down? Yeesh…”

“Hey now.” Abraham teased, pecking her tauntingly only on the corners of her lips. “I’m actually one of a kind. All this twitchiness? First in the generation. Ain’t no one like me.” It was a somewhat bitter sentiment, but he meant it jokingly.

“Ooh, I see how it is.. Wanna preserve the name for yourself. Hmm.” Shifting, Pan swung one leg over his hip and leaning down, stole another kiss, defiantly, “Selfish, Abe. That's what that is…”

“Never said I wasn’t.” He quipped, before actually taking the kiss, leaning into her happily. “I ain’t so surprised by the fact that you been slummin’ it with me, love. Not when we got all this going on..”

“Slummin’ huh?” A brow rose, and leaning back, scrutiny in her eyes as she looked him over, Pan shook her head with a small smirk, “Nah, Twitch. I could do a whole hell of a lot worse.”

He chuckled, a hand placed in the small of her back, enjoying her warmth against him, even if his fingers tapped along her skin somewhat uncontrollably. “You’re right. What am I saying?” Abraham grinned. “We make a damn good team, love.”

“...That we do, Abe…” And with a grin, she pulled herself in for another kiss.

Elle Joyner

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Luca leaned against the wall in quiet anticipation, but inside, he was anything but quiet. Watching River get hussled off by the redhaired prick from the loading platform was bad enough, but in perpetual motion, his mind circled around the conversation with the guards in the Dog House, around the expression on Amit's face in the hall. The night prior he'd tossed and turned, stress eating away at him. The names on the list… unknown entities… yet far too many possibilities he couldn't quite get behind. With Bah at his side, he wasn't particularly worried for his own safety, and he'd managed to sweep Chloe under wing before anyone else could. But the gnawing doubt would not dissipate.

It hardly helped that he couldn't find Amit in the crowd of faces, and shifting his gaze around the room he found far too many unwitting victims staggering nervously like lost baby deer. None of them belonged there… not Chloe, Chiko, River… not Hana… and he couldn't protect them all.

“Luca Vargas, Barham John Jones and Chloe Conrad.” He muttered, when they were called to present their team. Rolling his shoulders, he looked to Bah first, “I got your back, you got mine, Big Guy?” He asked, though he was fairly sure he knew the answer.

Turning to Chloe, he swallowed the sudden lump of anxiety in his throat, “Gonna be alright, Clo. Pretty eyes open and we'll be fine.”

Bahram swallowed hard, patting Luca on the back. He wasn’t nervous for himself, he knew he could handle himself in the ring and did not care if he was taken down. He was to be content, even in the prison setting. He knew it wasn’t the same for those who were forced into the arena, and putt swelled in his chest. “I’ve got your back, Lucky.” He promised, eyes flickering back to Chloe.

“Okay.” Chloe replied simply, the word simple and clear. She rubbed her arm anxiously, offering a smile despite the twitch at the edge of her lip. She had a feeling she wasn’t going to get through all three rounds alive, yet there was no pit in her stomach. She felt...fine. “S-still d-don’t u-understand w-why I’m w-with you. Y-you wanna w-win, right?”

Chuckling dryly, his eyes bounced over to Bahram, and a brow lifted, “You see who we got with us, right? And even without the human wrecking ball that is my roommate, I ain’t half bad. But you, Clo… You’re our secret weapon. You didn’t know that? You give us what none of these other teams have, Carina.”

“Oi, she gonna be able to crochet us a net in two seconds tops.” Bahram cut in, smirking as a small hand came to swat at his arm. He shrugged her off and grinned. “That or you’re too cute to try and aim a punch at. You’ve got that goin for ya, lass.” Chloe rolled her eyes at the statement, staring back at Luca with a questioning glance.

“W-what would that be? C-carina?” She repeated, struggling slightly with pronunciation.

Laughing softly at Bah, Luca shook his head, “There’s that… but there’s more to it. You got heart, Clo. Like nobody in here. And that?” Reaching out, Luca brushed her chin with the edge of his knuckles, “That’s gonna get us through this, okay? But uh… your Spanish? That, we gotta work on. Carino... For the boys.” He winked.

Chloe found that heat had gathered in her cheeks at the unexpected movement, wordless for the remainder of his speech. She swallowed, nodding. “G-got it. A-and s-shaddup.” She manages a sheepish grin. “I-I’m n-not even sure w-what it m-means b-but…” Slowly, she decided to make her next words very clear. “Thank, you.”

“Huh.” Bahram commented, head tilting. He had been right. He chuckled and shook his head. “You ain’t got nothing to worry about you two.”

“We get through this alright, Clo… I’ll tell you what it means.” Dropping his hand to his side, he cleared his throat and nodded to Bah, “Just… Eyes open. Long as we keep on our toes, we’ll all be alright.”

“F-fine. I’ll r-remain alive f-for that.” Chloe offered a smile, yet she began to feel a pit form in her stomach. None of this bode well. She had a feeling she’d be alright in the first fight. Hell, she almost wished she’d get ticked and out of the arena as quickly as possible. She shook the thought out.

“On a brighter note” Bahram bounced his hands against both of their shoulders. “One of us might have a chance to shave off our years, yeah?”

“Yeah…” Luca said, with a small, inconspicuous glance to Chloe again, “One of us just might, Bah.”

Bahram shot a quick wink Luca’s way and blinked at Chloe’s slumped form as she chuckled. “Ten years off of an eternal sentence, for some of us. Seems a tad cruel, don’t you think?”

“Not eternal…” Not if he could help it, anyway, “C’mon, Clo. You’re supposed to be the optimist, here. Big Guy’s the realist, and I’m the pessimist. We can’t go role reversing, now…”

“Please don’t make Luca the optimist.” Bahram pleaded lightly, lacing his fingers through Chloe’s hair. “That’s not going to end well and you know it. We need that little spark, lass.”

With a joking grumble, Chloe folded her arms. “F-fine.”

The extent of the first fight passed with a roller coaster of events and play by play reactions from the viewers on Hagur. Once the winners were finally announced and transported back to the Ascension Pods, Tributes were scrambling to crowd around their hover gurneys, some tossing out jabs and insults, others of reluctant praise for the entertaining show. Either way, the guards held them at bay as best as they could and whisked the teams away to the infirmary for a speedy recovery.

A short five minute intermission followed, allowing the simulator and clock time to reboot themselves, preparing for the next battle. In the meantime, Hana comforted her children as much as she could, all while her mind and heart raced. She prayed that her team would go last, anything to postpone the inevitable. The elder woman was split clean down the middle; for the first time in years, she was presented with a downside for loving as many people as she did on Hagur…

But there was no turning back. No escape. She had no choice.

“We are now commencing the second battle of Round One!” The guard announced. He stood rimrod straight and barked out the next match up, “Team Farhanah, Dudley, and Theodore! Versus Team Luca, Bahram, and Chloe! Step forward and choose your weapons!”

Hana’s heart sank. Dear… Sky Father. This was the absolute worst. She tried to slap on a calm demeanor, acquiring the posture of a woman who wasn’t on the verge of emotional collapse and self-destruction via moral conflict, and approached the towering shelf of weapons on slow feet. Dudely and Bombay remained on either side of her, almost like loyal bodyguards. It could’ve also been a way to prevent her from making eye contact with the other team--with her friends…

Sighing shakily, Hana scanned the weapons before her, eyes dulling over ever so slightly as she struggled to choose the device responsible for harming her loved ones.

“...Are you kidding me…” Luca paled as their fight pairing was announced, and for the first time since arriving in the room, he could not keep up a posture of nonchalance… Hana. It felt so deliberate. There was no doubt in his mind, none, that Romana had done this… This was punishment for something. Probably for ignoring the deal from those guards…

Looking to Bah and Chloe, he shook his head, “Plan stays the same. We don’t need to hurt them… but we need to win this.” Eyes turning back to the others, he frowned deeply, “We need to win…”

Bahram for the first time in his decently short life could not bear to watch a fight. He had known violence within several arenas, but people knew what they were getting themselves into. Bahram had respected every single one of his partners, knowing them well enough to love them and to break them. The fights were never meant to spill blood, never meant to capture fear or insanity in the eyes of human beings. They were meant to entertain. They were meant to pay. And in way, the Dog Fights did a much similar thing. But they were cruel. They were sadistic, and in a way, Bahram found remorse for what he had done. Something about prison brought about the idea of the human spirit.
Or some hippie bullcrap his old friend used to mutter on about. Something about that thought brought a smile to his face, and within half an hour he was transported back to reality. It felt bizarre to go back into an arena. He hadn’t brushed up in years. Yes, he kept some form of regiment up in order to maintain his health, but he hadn’t properly practiced...well, proper was one way to put it.

He had no energy in his system for his heart to sink past his chest. He should have figured Romana would have pinned them against other good, decent people. Bahram had one policy and it was this, drop kicking women or children tended to be ethically controversial. Sinking his teeth into his bottom lip, he found that any words spoken by Luca merely dissipated the moment they hit the atmosphere. His plan of going hand to hand was out. Long range or disarmament. His eyes trained themselves upon the variety of weapons, his stomach tangling into knots.

“Good God.” He grumbled, his sights settling on something far more tactical than he ever figured he would use. In his time on Earth, it was fist to fist and instincts tended to take over. Wisdom was to the side, and intelligence was only ever used when his mind cleared. He desperately forced his mind not to tumble unto his desire to fight, to allow primal instincts flourish. Instead, his hands delicately grasped a small device. The play on words of this handheld machine sent a slight sliver of irritation up into his skull, but nevertheless, a smile crossed his features. “Just about ready to rock and roll Lucky lad?”

Looking over the weapons, Luca grabbed the only thing he could think of, that he’d ever use against someone like Momma Hen… He couldn’t hurt her. He wouldn’t. But he wasn’t going to risk losing when there was a chance he could give Chloe a shot at a real life, still… One outside the harsh realities of Hagur. He selected the smoke bombs, with a small frown, nodding to Bah, “Yeah… I’m good. Clo?”

Dudley didn’t waste any time heading straight for the CWE, having liked what he had seen during the first battle; well, liked as much as he was emotionally able to. Either way, this was his first-choice weapon and after sending his teammates a dull nod, he casually marched over to a pod. Hana watched the young man cautiously, a tad uncomfortable at the thought of him handling a CWE, but understood why he desired to possess one. She placed her attention back on Bombay, whose grip remained as steel-tight as ever. He wasn’t going to leave her side, especially not during the fight, so the only weapons he’d be aware enough to use were the more defensive or recon ones.

“Here…” Hana said softly while raising Bombay’s free hand. She uncurled his fingers and rested an Eves Bot in the center of his palm. He merely stared at it. “You will the being all eyes for us, okay? And you shall stay beside me.” She adopted a firmer tone, guiding Bombay to lock eyes with her. She noted a slight flicker in his deep brown gaze, no matter how brief it was; comprehension. He had absorbed the gist of her words. “Now, you go onto the pod. Go, my child, go on.” Hana had to give him a gentle nudge, as he refused to budge at first, a hint of life sparking in his demeanor as he shook his head. Regardless, he gave in with a second nudge, and shuffled over to the pod next to Dudley, taking in the glass walls around him with a thick curtain of fear and paranoia falling over his wide eyes.

Hana scanned what was left of the weapons, before choosing the Icyhot Slingshot. She had only seen the device launch one pellet, but it was enough to majorly debilitate one Tribute and Hana wanted nothing more than for this bout to end as quickly as possible. Before she approached her own pod, she glanced over at the other team. Her opponents… Her family.

The woman’s eyes softened as she nodded. “The goodest of luck to you three,” she said.

Chloe could barely look up at her teammates, much less the opposing group. Hana just had to be in this group...the lovely woman who so insightful in reflections and loving to those around her. Chloe hadn’t known much about the other two men at her side, other than Bombay appeared to be rather nerve-wracked. Attempting to swallow down her own anxiety about the incoming fight, her hands firmly grasped the gloves, bringing them to her chest as she blinked a few times. She could do this. In fact, she would have preferred to have been ticked right off the bat. No more fights. Going back to her cell and just rotting away as she always had. However, she could sense that Luca and Bahram were not in it for survival. She would need to stay in as long as possible, as much as her stomach churned at the thought. “Ready.” She mumbled to her team, eyes darting back up from the floor to finally get a glance at the opposing fighters.

“Y-you t-too, H-h-hana.” Chloe swallowed again, her stuttering growing particularly worse. She scolded herself internally for her lack of control.

“...Yeah. You too, Han…” Luca watched her walk away and was almost positive he felt his heart drop down to his stomach, plummeting him deeper and deeper into discomfort. Pinching his brow, he shook his head, “...Podría estrangular a esa perra de un alcaide.... Let’s just get this over with.”

Hana merely swallowed and nodded in response, the emotion threatening to rise up the back of her throat and prevent air from reaching her lungs. She had to do this. She had to. But Sky Father… she didn’t want to. There were so many paradoxes teetering back and forth within her skull, raging a bloody war. Hopefully, the one she was about to step foot into wouldn’t dare to see a single drop of it.

Inhaling slowly, she settled on the Blazer and made her way towards the pod. As soon as everyone was secure and given their vests along with waist belts, the glass doors slid shut.

“Countdown to Dog Fights will begin in 10...9...8…”

Hana stared ahead. Not to lock gazes with anyone, whether it be teammate or… opponent.


The woman didn’t want to absorb any sort of human emotion in that moment; if she did, it would remind her that she was human as well and facing up to trying circumstances. They all were.


Her eyes fluttered closed.


The Tributes flickered out of existence.
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