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V4 Previews

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As V4 draws closer, a number of previews have been released by the staff team, detailing some of the actions of Danya's staff as they prepare for the approaching game, as well as profiles of some of the Terrorists.

Preview 1 (Unidentified Location)Edit

Matt Richards frowned as he held his map out in front of him. He looked at it for a couple of moments, then flipped it the other way up, then he did it again. Then he crumpled it up in disgust. Richards almost threw it to the ground, but then reconsidered and shoved the ball of paper into his pocket. This forest was goddamned impenetrable and the crude map he'd been provided with was doing nothing to help matters. He'd seen nothing but trees for what felt like hours...

"Any joy with that map?"

Richards half-turned and glowered at his partner, a man whom he didn't get along with very well at the best of times and was suffering poorly right now. After a couple of days roughing it around a deserted island, neither were in the best of temperaments; so Richards was pretty sure that the feeling was mutual.

"Does it look like I had any joy with it? The damn thing looks as if it was drawn by a half-blind retard."

"Didn't know you were into cartography..."

"Kiss my ass, Baines."

The two of them glowered at one another for a few seconds before Baines sighed and shook his head. "Look, can we just keep moving? Danya'll have our fucking heads if we don't find that place on schedule."

Richards threw up his arms in irritation but nevertheless turned and continued walking. Danya was not the kindest of bosses and nothing if not unpredictable. Incurring his wrath was something most certainly not on Richards' agenda.

The pair picked their way through the forest for a little while longer and then miraculously, the trees dropped away. The mountain which dominated the centre of the island rose magestically before them and Richards felt a slight smile crossing his face for the first time in quite some considerable while. This only broadened when lowering his gaze, he spotted a small, single-story cottage tucked into the mountain's lee.

"Fucking finally," he murmured. "Right, let's check it out while we've still got daylight to burn."

"Oh I'm glad you suggested that; I wouldn't have had the first idea what to do next, otherwise," Baines remarked sardonically. Richards flipped him the bird and set off towards the cottage.

Growing closer, Richards could tell that the building was in fairly good repair. It wasn't exactly pristine in fairness, but it was far from some kind of run down hovel. Good, hopefully the interior would be the same way. Richards hated derelict buildings, they were just so... dead. It creeped him out.

Before long, the two of them were at the front door. Richards tried it and it opened easily. He looked to Baines, who gave him a slight shrug. The pair of them stepped inside and straight into a large room, which looked to be a combination of lounge and kitchen. A carpetted area was home to a sofa, a plush chair and a couple of small coffee tables. A tiled section hosted an oven and a number of small counter units. Walking further into the room, Richards could see two doors on opposite walls. The cottage wasn't sizeable, so hopefully this would be a straightforward job.

Turning to Baines, Richards gestured vaguely at the room. "You look this place over, I'll see what's through those doors."

"Got it."

Approaching the first door, Richards opened it and walked into the room. It looked like an office, complete with filing cabinets, a computer situated on a desk and paperwork all freaking over the place. He spent a short while looking around the room, opening drawers to check them for anything that they wouldn't want contestants getting their hands on. For all Richards' searching though, he turned up empty handed. It seemed as if the rangers had taken anything of use (at least as a weapon) along with them. As for the computer... well, that was just a matter of making sure the electricity was cut off. No biggy.

Richards left that room and headed for the doorway opposite. Upon entering, Richards discovered it to be a bedroom. Little was remarkable about it, just a double bed, a dresser and a TV atop a chest of drawers. He gave it a cursory look over, but it was pretty obvious that the place was empty. Still, he went through the motions, pulling out each draw and checking them. After all, Baines would delight in reporting him for not doing his job properly.

Not that Richards wouldn't, given the excuse, return the favour.

Before long, Richards returned to the main room. Baines was waiting for him there, holding a couple of kitchen knives casually in one hand. He gave his partner a curt nod.

"We ready to roll?" Baines asked. Richards gave a look around the room, hesitated, then nodded.

"Yeah. Let's keep going, we have a lot of ground to cover."

Behind them, the two men left the ranger station, looking for all the world as if the residents had just one day packed up and left...

Preview 2 (Personnel Files)Edit

PERSONNEL FILES -- CLASSIFIED --

NAME: Richards, Matthew AGE: 27 ETHNICITY: Caucasian HAIR: Brown EYES: Green

HAND TO HAND COMBAT: Competent MARKSMANSHIP: Good EXPLOSIVES: Limited LEADERSHIP: Competent TECHNOLOGY: Limited

SERVICE HISTORY: Member of Arthro Taskforce as of SotF V2, albeit on reserve until V4 preparations. See also ESCAPE INCIDENT. Taking an active role in island clearing for V4. Efficient if unremarkable. ANALYSIS: Richards, though prone to grumbling, is an effective member of the AT. Complaining should not be taken seriously, as he will still fulfil his orders to the best of his ability. Works well under instruction but struggles without guidance, though can be counted on not to make a total mess of things. Useful but not to be overestimated, best used as a grunt.

-=-

NAME: Baines, Josh AGE: 26 ETHNICITY: Caucasian HAIR: Blond EYES: Blue

HAND TO HAND COMBAT: Excellent MARKSMANSHIP: Good EXPLOSIVES: Minimal LEADERSHIP: Minimal TECHNOLOGY: Competent

SERVICE HISTORY: Member of Arthro Taskforce as of SotF V2, albeit on reserve until V4 preparations. See also ESCAPE INCIDENT. Taking an active role in island clearing for V4. Somewhat lazy. ANALYSIS: Baines is an oddity, for a soldier of his calibre, he is very laconic and laid back and has an overall poor attitude. Prone to barbs at his fellows, meaning most either enjoy his wit or are irritated by it. Works fine independantly, far too relaxed for leadership. Effective but not remarkable.

-=-

NAME: Lacoste, Cecily AGE: 27 ETHNICITY: Caucasian HAIR: Blond EYES: Blue

HAND TO HAND COMBAT: Competent MARKSMANSHIP: Competent EXPLOSIVES: Minimal LEADERSHIP: Limited TECHNOLOGY: Good

SERVICE HISTORY: Member of Arthro Taskforce as of Test Run 8. Took part in that exercise and returned several successful kills. Consistent service since then at HQ, has not been involved in many field operations. Ambitious. ANALYSIS: Lacoste is a useful asset, if only due to the funding she helps supply through her connections. Adequate technician at HQ, best kept out of the line of fire so we can continue to reap financial benefit. Also effective at gathering intelligence and smoking out moles.

Preview 3 (Jamming Devices)Edit

With a snap, Christina Stockton struck a match on a nearby tree, and raised it to light the cigarette dangling from her mouth. In short order, the smoke was rising skyward, and she felt herself calming as the wonderful nicotine filtered into her system. It was her eighth in the past hour, but damned if she cared about the state of her lungs. She didn’t expect to live to a ripe old age anyways. She was part of one of the most notorious terrorist organizations on the planet, and even if, by some miracle, she wasn’t killed in a commando strike, the odds were pretty good Danya would get bored or suspicious or have to cover something up, and she’d be killed then.

Not that it mattered. She didn’t care if she lived or died, not anymore. She had nothing left to live for, really, except for her friends. All of her friends were terrorists too. Sure, there was also her family. The family that had abandoned her, ignored her, pushed her around. She hadn’t spoken to any of them in years, but she had set it all up so that, on her death, all the money she’d saved, all the pay for her years of work in the SOTF program, would be delivered to them.

At which point, the FBI or some other organization would surely stop by to have a little chat. She wished she would be able to see it.

“Hey, Domino!” came a voice from behind her, and she turned. Shamino Warhen, her partner on this mission, was waving at her to slow down.

“What is it?” she called back to him. Shamino was a tall man, strong and somewhat intimidating at first glance. His long, black moustache and shaved head (now a bright red from sunburn) gave him the appearance of a b-rate Bond villain knock-off, and he almost never smiled. Still, once you got to know him, he was one of the funniest men on earth, at least, when he was relaxed. On the job, he was all business.

“I found a good spot for one,” he replied.

“Fucking finally.”

Christina turned and jogged back to where Shamino stood, her heavy pack bouncing up and down. She looked at what he was gesturing to: a tree with a small hole in the side. Looking into the hole, though, she saw that the tree was dead, and that the inside had rotted away. Probably some sort of horrible beetle or parasite. The hole looked just big enough, though...

She slung her pack off her shoulders, grunting. Of course, Shamino was being a gentleman, letting her get rid of her devices first, so she wouldn’t have to carry as much. Any other partner, she’d have slugged for that.

She dug one of the small boxes out of her bad, and tried to push it into the hole, but one corner caught. She growled deep in her throat, then shoved harder. A piece of wood splintered off, and the device fell with a clunk to the bottom of the hole. She leaned in close, and was unable to see it. Good.

“Only a hundred or so more to go,” she complained.

Shamino looked up at the sky, his red forehead wrinkled in thought.

“It’s getting towards noon. We’re behind schedule. Danya won’t be amused if this isn’t done in time.”

“Fuck that! He doesn’t even really need these things, and we’ll have plenty of time. Worst case, we just roll ‘em down a hill or something and say we’re done.”

Shamino raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

Christina coughed, the cigarette falling from her mouth, as she slung her backpack on once more. She started walking again, silently, then stopped about fifty feet further on.

“Fine,” she said. “You’re right. Danya’ll fucking kill us if we don’t do this right. Last time was a disaster, and we can’t let it happen again. Even though it had fuck-all to do with cell phones.”

“Can’t be too careful,” Shamino said.

The devices they were lugging all over the island were jammers, designed to knock out any reception to the omni-present mobile phones some of the students would surely have. The jammers were powerful and universal, capable of keeping absolutely any calls from being made. Not that there was reception here, anyways. The one cell tower had been dynamited early on in the conversion of this island, and they’d triple checked it already. Still, Danya was afraid that one of these high school students, these fucking kids, would somehow be able to construct a contraption to circumvent it all, and go screaming for help to the military or something.

Christina paused briefly to light another cigarette. She wondered whether some of the kids would find the butts, and, if they did, what they would make of them. It was, of course, highly possible that they would be removed by one of the cleanup crews. Hadn’t the American Civil War been won as a result of some abandoned cigars?

“You coming?” Shamino called.

---

Three hours later, they stopped for a brief lunch outside the sawmill. They ate in silence, Christina scarfing her food so she could have a few moments to smoke in peace. As she did, she looked back the way they’d come. From the sawmill, a road wound down through the felled forest, a graveyard of fallen trees and lifeless stumps. It was different from the part of the forest they had spent the morning in, and Christina found it somewhat eerie, but it had far more hiding places, so they’d managed to get back on schedule enough to allow for this brief break.

Along the road, tracks from years of truck traffic were permanently ground into the dirt, even after some time of abandonment and weather. In the middle of the road sat a huge truck, still with a cargo of logs. Just to be sure, Christina had checked it over while Shamino secured a pair of jammers nearby. The keys had, of course, been missing, but the cleanup crew hadn’t been quite as thorough as Danya was fond of. Christina had taken a few minutes to render the truck un-hotwireable, cutting out the important lines and stuffing them into her pack. Then she’d gone ahead and cleaned up, made it hard to see, just to be sure. Who could tell what Danya wanted? The sadistic bastard would probably laugh his ass off watching some hotshot try to hotwire the thing, only to find it impossible.

Danya was the one part of her job Christina had a real issue with. The man simply gave her the creeps. She tolerated the deaths of children, because, well, they were mostly monsters anyways, mostly spoiled, middle-class prats, or idiots who coasted through life, and even those few who were worth something were contributing to the overpopulation of the planet. She had enough justifications worked out to keep the guilt at bay for a lifetime. Danya, though, didn’t seem to need them. He seemed to enjoy the carnage, the death and destruction. Maybe he had some hidden reason behind it all. Maybe there was a cause, a noble purpose. More likely he was just nuts.

Nuts. That was what the whole world was. Christina found herself lighting another cigarette and crying softly. It didn’t make any sense. Why was she here? What had gone wrong? She’d had an awful life, yeah, bastard father, drunkard mother, uncle who hit her, but how did that lead her here? When did she become a killer?

That’s an obvious one...

---

Test Run Eight, it was called. Somehow, it figured into Danya’s plans. It all had a purpose, but damned if Christina could remember what it was at the moment. She was alone, separated from her group during an attack. Attacks? There weren’t supposed to be fucking attacks. This was a test run, training or some shit. They were slaughtering high school kids, for fuck’s sake.

But there was, indeed, resistance, and now she’d been cut off from the rest of her team, all because she’d panicked and gone the wrong way.

She crashed through the underbrush, on the verge of a meltdown. They had to be near here. She could hear gunfire, gunfire all around her. Were the other teams having this much trouble? Had she somehow just gotten the worst fucking luck possible?

She stumbled out into a small clearing, and froze. There were two figures there, but they weren’t her teammates. They were kids, just kids. Kids with guns. They were holding pistols, and looked as shocked to see her as she did them. They started to raise their pistols, but Christina was just a little faster, and pulled the trigger on her assault rifle, spraying them both with bullets.

The girl on the right opened her mouth, but didn’t make any sound. She tipped over and fell, hitting the boy standing next to her, and they both hit the ground together. The boy moaned for a couple of seconds, then was silent.

“Heh. Just like dominoes.”

Off to the side, she saw her team. They must have noticed she was gone and come back for her. It didn’t make sense, though. Why do that? They were risking themselves for her, risking getting ambushed again, and for all they’d known, she was already dead.

“Come on,” another of them said, gesturing to her, “Domino.”

They all laughed.

---

Later, as night was falling, they were back in the forest. They’d placed all the jammers. The island was absolutely free of cell phone reception. Everything had been done in triplicate. There were no mistakes on this.

They’d run a little late; some of the areas had been difficult to deal with. Still, they were finally done.

Christina stretched and yawned, and said, “Wonder what tomorrow will bring.”

“Me too,” Shamino said. Now that they were pretty much off duty, his bearing had eased greatly. “All we’ve gotta do is report back to base.”

Christina nodded, and made the report by radio. Danya sounded cheerful enough. She sighed in relief. She didn’t care if she died most of the time, but some days, when she did good work, were almost worthwhile.

Then, the musical beeping began. Christina watched in horror as Shamino fished his cell phone out of his pocket, flipped it open, and said, “Hello.”

She let her backpack fall to the ground, then kicked it savagely. How? How was it possible? They had triple checked everything! The island didn’t have reception in the first place. She looked at the heavens and screamed, at the top of her lungs, “What the fuck?”

Shamino looked over at her, completely calm, and displayed his phone, open to the ringtones menu. As he said, “Gotcha”, she realized he had simply played a prerecorded ringtone.

For just a second, she felt an incredible urge to leap for his throat, but it quickly subsided. He was just blowing off tension, just trying to stay sane. And, now that she thought about it, it was almost funny. Before she even really knew what was happening, they were both laughing loudly, alone in the dark forest.

Preview 4 (Collar Modifications)Edit

If there was any time that job security could be any worse, this was it.

With the fourth season of Survival of the Fittest about to go underway, just about the entire staff had been forced to crunch a large amount of work into a disproportionately small amount of time, all while the number one contender for the scariest boss on the planet breathed down their necks. Just about nothing had been completely finished yet, and the to-do list was full of incompletes and projects that hadn't even begun yet. However, with these final few days, at least everything had fallen into place; if everybody could put that final leg forward to meet the deadline, perhaps even a congratulations from the big boss man would be in order.

They weren't all out of the woods yet, though. In one crowded, sweltering room made habitable by only one overworked ceiling fan, several young men were seated around a large table, feverishly assembling the explosive collars, all based on a completed prototype that had proven, thus far, to be completely tamperproof (as per Danya's wishes; the escapees were hardly something he liked to talk about). They had made over one hundred of the damned things with no signs of stopping. "Ugh, how many kids are we going to take this year?" a man by the name of Dennis Lourvey exclaimed. It was a joke, but they were all too hot and frazzled to answer or even chuckle.

After all the parts to three or four more collars had been meticulously clinked and clicked together, the door to the room (which was already propped open by a phone book in order to allow air circulation) was pushed open all the way to the doorjam, heralding the arrival of a portly man who had an immediately recgonizable, and practically tangible air about him. A couple of the men momentarily lifted their heads or craned their necks to look, but they all immediately knew who it had to have been.

Lourvey silently cursed his job. He could've been working for Intel, maybe IBM, and yet here he was, building implements of death for a terrorist organization. As far as the kids were concerned, he held them as 'out of sight, out of mind'; he didn't watch SoTF, and he honestly would rather be elsewhere, but it wasn't like he had a choice. There were no jobs for him right out of college, despite him being one of the best amongst the best in his field (micro-engineering, to be exact). As he was about to give it all up for lost, he was invited to a rather fancy party, where he was given an offer he couldn't refuse. In any way it helped, the pay was excellent.

Mr. Danya made no delay in striding up to the table, working his way counter-clockwise around the table to observe each techie as they toiled over the collars. Like everybody else, Lourvey did his best to pretend he wasn't there, just like the unofficial mantra: keep your eyes down, keep your hands moving, keep your mouth shut. Danya had been proving his fearsome reputation to hell and back all week, constantly barking orders, screaming at employees, issuing threats that everybody was all-too-wise to heed. That Mr. Danya was scary... but Lourvey knew that a quiet, restrained Danya could be even more terrifying in his own special way. Like that, you never did know when he was about to explode, and how badly things would turn out if he did.

"How many?"

The sudden break of the silence caused two of the workers, Lourvey included, to flinch. "O-One hundred and thirty s-seven, sir!", another worker said, looking up at Danya as he said this.

"Well, keep going!" Danya barked. At the very least, his mood seemed to be no more sour than it had been all week, and nobody was dead. Yet. "Need at least a hundred more! You're going to make extras so everything's covered when some of them inevitably don't work, so I can't have you sitting around with your thumbs up your asses!" Danya kept moving around the table, coming closer to Lourvey. "And you're SURE there's no way the little kiddies will take them off?", he sneered. "Don't need any more 'heroes' plaguing this show."

"Y-Yes!" This time, it was Lourvey's turn to speak. He had a hand in designing the improved collars, after all. "Once it's on, the collars are one hundred percent impossible to remove until you allow it!" In response to this, Danya only gave a slight 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' smirk. Lourvey held back a shiver as he saw that... what did that mean?

"Well, then, and di- KEEP WORKING!" Danya pointed to the others, as they had all slipped up and stopped what they were doing to listen. As the engineers all got back to work at the loud behest of their boss, Danya looked back to Lourvey. "And did you test this?"

"Well..." Lourvey wiped off a few stinging beads of sweat from his forehead with his sleeve, swallowing a bit of spit that had accumulated in his mouth. "It's sort of hard to test the explosives without them... you know, going off-" Danya's look hardened up as he said this, and Lourvey had to avert his eyes from Danya's if he didn't want a hole stared right through him. "B-But we have tested a couple of them, the detonation w-works perfectly!" He was stammering his way through his sentences at top speed to keep Danya happy; Lourve REALLY wanted to make it to his next paycheck. "And w-we can test the rest by hooking t-them up to a sp... s-specialized tester, that way we will know for certain that they'll go off!"

Danya seemed to relax with this information, even if only slightly. If Lourvey were in a better mood (and not terrified to wit's end by being in the man's presence), he would have described his demeanor as having gone from 'a polar bear who has decided that he's hungry, and you're food' to 'a tasmanian devil who thinks your face is ugly'. Feeling a bit of confidence shine through in light of this, Lourvey straightened a little in his seat. "All possible undesirable stimuli will result in detonation, guaranteed, and as always, they possess the capabilities for remote detonation... sir." Danya's jaw tightened a little, and his hand moved up to scratch his chin.

"Just get them all done, and get them all tested. Make it so I have NOTHING to worry about." With that, the heavy-set leader of the terrorists headed for the door. Just when Lourvey thought that the massive weight pressing on his chest would be released, though, he saw Danya turn around in the doorway. "And if your 'one hundred percent' has any of the children taking their collars off, even one..." His voice had gotten very quiet... this was the side of Danya that was found by many to be far scarier. "It's YOUR head!" Danya warned roughly, pointing a finger right at Lourvey. "It'll be ALL of your heads", he followed, swaying his finger a bit to point at each and every engineer in the room. Lowering his hand, he stepped back with a glare, kicked the phone book out of the way, and slammed the door shut.

The men worked in silence, enduring the growing heat for another ten minutes before any of them felt brave enough to walk to the door and prop it open with the phone book again. As unsettling as the little visit by Danya had been, it did kick their working into high gear. They all heard the man, after all; as far as they were concerned, not one of those little brats was going to remove their collar. Not while staying alive, anyway.

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