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Fandom Squid Games: America [Closed]

Sub Genres
  1. Horror
  2. KRP

JayMessi

BLACKJACK!
Brad nodded a bit in response to what the other was saying. “I’ll keep my eye out and see what I can come up with.” It would take a while before Brad could determine which groups were powerful enough to disrupt, and what rumors could potentially ruin them. But it was worth the wait, and Brad didn’t plan on dying anytime soon. He did take a moment to examine the room to see if anyone caught his interest.

“So we’re in, right?” Brad asked, lifting his eyebrows as the two reached the front of the line, accepting his own tray of food. He looked over his shoulder, watching as Kat moved to question a guard. Seeing as 109 didn’t follow or attempt to seek out Luis or any other member of the group, he figured her attempt had been unsuccessful. Hopefully that didn’t matter now. Brad was more than willing to let bygones be bygones as long as Ryan laid off him and Kat a little moving forward. Even if he didn’t, Brad would just have to try to take things a bit less personally. This guy was the type that usually said shit just to get a reaction out of them.

“We should find a place to bunk tonight. Who knows how crazy things are going to end up getting.”

---

“I promise.” Isaac stated pressing his lips together as he made the statement. He’s made that promise about a dozen now, and although it never quite went his way maybe this time would be different. “Tell them about your family too. Even if the money ends up being split, no one needs all that money. I’m sure any of us who make it out of here will make sure your family is taken care of, if you...well...don’t.”

It sucked. Sato was probably among one of the most genuine souls Isaac has ever met, and to think he might not be able to live out his final days with his family...see the birth of his child. It almost reduced Isaac to tears, but it didn’t. He didn’t want to dwell on the subject because he figured lingering on it might make the other uncomfortable.

He shuffled forward now reaching the beginning of the line and accepted his own plate of food, his stomach rumbling once more in response.

“Wow, all this emotional stuff has really caused me to work up an appetite.” He offered a grin towards his friend as he moved forward towards where Michael had seated. Just distracted enough to collide into someone, which caused him to bump into someone head on and immediately drop the styrofoam tray, the food scattering along the floor.

“Wow, my bad man, I’m so clumsy. Are you okay?” Luis asked moving forward to place his hands on Isaac’s shoulder momentarily, stepping on the sandwich as he moved. “Ah, man, your food.” He clicked his teeth looking down at the mess he made. “Soy tan torpe. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you.”

Luis hadn’t bumped into the man by accident. Shortly after leaving Micheal’s side he had spotted the duo that had formed an acquantiship with the man and targeted the two. Of course, he attempted to be subtle in his approach. Anyone who wasn’t keen on his earlier interaction with the blonde might genuinely believe it was an accident.

“Ah, nah, it was my bad. I wasn’t looking where it was going.” Isaac responded. “It’s okay, I’m sure they have some extras. I’ll just get back in line and get another.”

“Are you sure that’s not too much trouble? Really sorry, again, thank you for being so forgiving.” Luis stated before moving away from the two.

Isaac turned his attention to Sato once more. “He seemed nice. I think I’ll check in on Michael and Gabriella before getting back in line. It looks pretty long right now and I think I’ll just wait for it to calm down.”

---

Benni didn’t blame the colorful hair girl for leaving. He hadn’t really given her a proper answer to any of her questions, and that was all the information he was willing to provide. His eyes followed her before she disappeared into the crowd. He scanned the room once more, until his eyes set on 333 once more.

He should really apologize to her. ‘

Well, it wasn’t only 333 that deserved an apology, but Benni couldn’t possibly deliver a personal apology to the hundred-some people whose votes differed from his own. It would be unlikely that he would be able to get an opportunity where she was without the tall blonde by her side. He probably wouldn’t appreciate Benni’s presence, but he didn’t seem like the type of man that would strike on sight. It was worth the risk.

He climbed out of his bed and approached the area beds that Micheal and Gabriella had claimed for their own group. He tucked his hands in his pocket as he grew near, but stayed a relatively safe distance away from the two. He lifted his head, keeping his attention drawn on only 333, as he didn’t want to receive the look that 36 might be giving him.

“Hey, can we talk? Alone.”

----

Sophie shouldn’t have been taken as off guard as she was that Anne had kids. Of course she did, Sophie could recollect a brief mention of a husband earlier. Most of the people in this place probably had children that they wouldn’t go home to.

She couldn’t help but let out a slight chuckle at Anne’s statement about the Nintendo Switches. Like Anne’s, her laugh wasn’t particularly a joyful one. She crossed her arms over her chest,and leaned against the wall of the bathroom.

“You know, your kids are really lucky to have you. Here you are, trapped playing kid games to the death. And all you’re thinking about is how you should’ve gotten them more gaming consoles.” She stated. “If you don’t make it out. One of us will. We will make sure they know what happened to you...that you love them. And that they are taken care of. They’ll get those Switches.”

Sophie was sure that it wasn’t much of a consolation. Anne would probably prefer to live, to not be scarred by this mess, and to enjoy raising her kids without this burden. But it was as much as Sophie could offer.

Still, six out of two hundred still seemed like bad odds. Who knew how many of them could make it to the end, how much bloodshed whatever sadistic monster who ran this thing would require. Maybe they could find more like minded individuals to form this sort of truce with in order to increase the odds. But how could they take anyone’s words here, even each other’s. Sophie was trying to come up with an answer to Anne’s question when the door opened.

“I like your hair.” Sophie stated abruptly to the newcomer. It seemed kind of ridiculous, complimenting someone’s appearance in these conditions. But something about the setting made her feel that she was hiding out with her friends in the highschool restroom like she used to do whenever she wanted to skip class. They would stand there for the entire period, and try to make friends with anyone who entered. She didn’t make many friends after leaving. She often kept to herself after dropping out.

How she wished she had more time to change that now.

How she wished she could’ve met Anne, Sato, and the others outside of these twisted circumstances.

“I always wanted to do something like that with mine. Like a pastel pink and a blue. I never did, though, because my ex said he didn’t like the idea.”
 

Lucyfer

I'mma Die On Top
The anxiety of Brad over getting into the group was something of an ego boost, though Ryan knew it wasn’t just because of him. If he didn’t have Luis and Karen – whatever her actual name was – Brad wouldn’t bother, no matter how sabotage prone Ryan was. And, considering what Brad said, he could probably start shit by suggesting information, in a way…they obviously weren’t going to believe him if he tried to say someone was cheating, but there might be a way to cast doubt by thanking people for things, or being overly nice to someone outside the group.

Something to consider, too.

“We’ll call it a probation period. We do need some more muscle here,” for surviving the nights, although Ryan didn’t consider that was going to be much of an issue that first night. He could be wrong, of course, but he figured people were too shaken up, and too busy looking for protection, comfort, empathy – a host of things – to start shit.

He wasn’t confident enough to want to start it that night, anyways, but bunk space would be good to prepare for the future.

“So you can bunk with the rest of us, I’m sure there’s a decent area around here somewhere,” that wasn’t Ryan’s forte, and he glanced around, briefly catching sight of Luis disrupt some people on their way to their own space.

Looked like others were claiming space while some went for food.

‘Karen?’ Maybe she was smart enough to do that. He sought her out, while walking, planning to grab a space if she hadn’t figured somewhere out. Even if she’d probably love to sleep far away from the rest of them. She was in this now.

~***~

Sato nodded. He had no plans not to tell the others about his family, and he added after the promise, “Don’t worry, I will. And I swear – I will haunt you if you break your promise to me,” a bit of a tease, and Sato laughed it off. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to haunt anyone. Then again, maybe his memory would do the job well enough.

Not that he planned to become a memory that soon.

The turn away from the food brought Isaac right into another person, and Sato stepped back to avoid some of it, and frowned a bit as Isaac’s own food was ruined. Sato was going to offer to share, but Isaac intended to get back in line. There was probably enough food, or Sato hoped, at least. “If you’re sure….” Sato wondered about the availability, but then, Anne and Sophie thought they could go to the restroom first.

It was probably all right, so they moved back to the pair that had taken over an area for them – or, well, one. Gabriella was moving off with another, and Michael’s glare was firmly on his back. “Everything okay?” Sato asked.

Michael let out a breath, “No.” He turned his attention away, noted Isaac’s dirty attire, “What happened to you?” he’d missed Luis’s action thanks to the approach of 109.

~***~

Their conversation shifted a bit, Gabriella wanting to dig into the reason Michael was here, before it was disrupted. Michael may have been thankful, if it wasn’t for who had disrupted it. He did, of course, offer 109 a dirty look for coming forward, and even for asking to speak with Gabriella. Alone. “N—”

“Watch my food,” Gabriella cut him off immediately, taking what remained of her food off her lap and setting it on the bed as she got up, nodding to 109, “We can talk,” she was willing enough to accept that, and sought out an area that wasn’t overcrowded.

Of course, corners and other areas would look, well, suspicious in some way, but they’d notice if anyone approached, too. There were plenty of areas around the beds that offered some semblance of privacy, and cut off access two ways – from a wall, and from the beds put away. So, she nodded towards one, “We’ll be over there,” she told Michael, before looking to 109, and then walking that way.

Michael didn’t say anything further to stop them, just glared.

And Gabriella waited until they were actually there before she turned back to 109. She was more disappointed than she was angry. Would it benefit her to tell him he’d just condemned several people to death? Likely, at least a hundred.

Likely, more than that.

He probably understood as much. “All right. We can talk here,” she wouldn’t begin with pointless accusations. What was done, was done. He wanted to talk, and Gabriella wanted to understand.

~***~

‘It might be best they not know…exactly what happened.’ Anne didn’t say that, didn’t have the time to say that, of course, with the interruption. The feeling Sophie felt was similar to the one Anne herself felt. It was as if they were caught skipping class, although this girl never would have been picked for hall monitor.

Not in the school’s Anne knew. Colorful hair was a quick ‘out’ from anything decent and professional.

The newcomer relaxed a little under the abrupt compliment, and seemed to be relaxing as she drank more of the water from the sink. ‘No water out there?’ Maybe she hadn’t even gotten a chance to look. She seemed a little, well…not all there.

Anne hadn’t been all there for a while, either. Probably still wasn’t as she applied soap to her shoes and tried to scrub the blood off.

The newcomer pulled a face at a comment about an ‘ex’. “Good thing he’s an ex,” she said, “when you get out of here, you should definitely do something with your hair. Just find a good stylist, otherwise it’ll fry. Someone who won’t let you go from dark to silver in a day,” she suggested. “Sorry to interrupt,” she added, stepping back, “I just…really needed a drink.”

“They’re not offering any?” Anne asked.

Newcomer colored. “I…I didn’t look. I don’t like the smell of barbeque and I already…well….” She was sick once already. She’d be able to go up there now, probably, and find something, “it wasn’t a fun game.”

“Understatement of the year.” Anne muttered.
 

JayMessi

BLACKJACK!
Brad hadn’t thought about the bunking situation much either, but he figured there wouldn’t be much territorial disputes early on. Especially since the staff members had seemed to ensure that there was just enough space for everyone. Brad caught a glimpse of Luis disrupting another group’s food, and he couldn’t help but wonder if they only prepared just enough food for everyone as well. If so, Luis might’ve just caused their resources to run a bit scarce.

He took in the room once more in search of Kat, who hadn’t seemed to return from wherever she had departed.

“You do that. Take this with you.” Brad said, handing Ryan his own tray. God, he hoped the guy wouldn’t tamper with it. “I’m going to get back in line and make sure Kat gets something before they run out.”

He wasn’t sure if they were allowed to be double served, but it didn’t seem like anyone was keeping track. The line had grown long so it seemed tedious.

Brenda had indeed secured a spot for the group, although she wasn’t sure how many bunks she should acquire so she made sure to lay her claim on one or two extra. By the time Ryan would be able to find her she was in the middle of an argument with a middle aged man with 272 embroidered on his chest. Brenda was in the middle of removing her jacket and threw it on the bed he was hovering more.

“See, I said it was taken.” She stated. Upon closer inspection you could see she was now barefoot, her shoes occupying two other beds.

“Look, lady, you said those last six bunks are for your friends. Do you really just have any friends? Where is a guy supposed to sleep around here?”

“I don’t care, figure it out.” Brenda snapped, which seemed to be enough to cause the man to finally give in and leave the area.

Her attention snapped to Ryan as he moved closer. “Thanks for helping me secure these bunks.” She snarked sarcastically. “Lots of vultures around here trying to take up space.”

----

After the impact Isaac had time to respond to Sato’s earlier statement. Isaac couldn’t help but let out a chuckle on the reminiscence of the ghost comment, “I really hope you find the time to visit me as a ghost, man.”

His tracksuit now dirtied with the trace hints of bbq sauce, he considered momentarily requesting another. But he wouldn’t want to risk losing his number in the process, plus something told him the masked people wouldn’t comply with the request.

Isaac seconded Sato’s concern based off the expression that Michael wore and his waning attention to where another player and his sister wandered off too. “Who’s that guy? Is he joining us?”

He reinspected his own exterior once the other pointed it out. “Oh yeah, I’m fine. I just bumped into somebody and kind of got my meal all over me. It’s not a big deal.”

----


Sophie found the sentiment of the brightly hair colored girl endearing, but rather dismissive of their current situation. Although, they all seemed to be at this moment. Maybe it was best not to overindulge on thoughts of their current circumstances. If any day could be their last, Sophie didn’t want it all to be absolutely miserable...but she expected it would be.

“Yeah, maybe we can go to a salon together. With all that money maybe we’d be able to hire the best hairdressers out there.” She commented, not caring if the mention of the money came off as a bit distasteful. She fluffed her hair a bit as she spoke offering Kat a bit of a grin before moving back into a stall.

“Hopefully they don’t put anything in the food out there. I mean, considering they drugged us to get us in this place...I don’t know if I completely trust it.” She sighed. “But I guess we have no other option, right? We might not starve in six days...but the games would be challenging without food.”

She examined the thick plastic cover that secured the toilet paper in place. Also, not unlike those in her highschool’s public bathrooms.

It was worth a shot. She lifted her leg before delivering a forceful kick to the plastic covering, to no effect. She tried once more, and then a third time, before the plastic covering split and a sharp diamond shaped piece caved into it. She moved forward, reaching into the hole she created to retrieve the plastic piece, tracing her finger along the edge. It had a bit of a bite to it, not as ideal as glass but it was certainly better than nothing.

She tucked it into her pocket and could only hope the guards wouldn’t be checking the bathrooms once they departed. Of course, Sophie’s approach at the matter was less than subtle but she acted as if she hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary after moving out from the stall.

“Maybe we should go back. Try and get some food while we can. Even if it is drugged it’ll be better than trying to make it through the night on an empty stomach.”

----

Benni walked alongside Gabriella, for a moment catching a quick glimpse from Luis who seemed to then go about doing his own thing. He was in line, possibly trying to recruit more people for his own team and opted not to disrupt them.

He placed his hand on the back of his head, looking down towards the strawberry blonde as he tried to collect what exactly he wanted to say to her. There wasn’t much less to say, there was little excuse for the way his vote swayed.

“I’m sorry.” He admitted crossing his arms over his chest as he felt the need to find more to say. Benni didn’t provide an explanation for his vote, because he figured it wouldn’t make a difference. His reasoning didn’t make his choice any less selfish. “There is clearly...nothing I can say to you to make it better. I don’t expect you to forgive me.” He said with a breath.

“But I want to...I would like to help you survive. If I can. I don’t expect an alliance or anything in return from you. I don’t have much to offer when it comes to the games…” Depending on the game. “But I want you to make it out of here.”

The apology and the offer in itself might’ve been a little selfish at its core. Although he truly did feel remorseful for how the way things turned out, a part of him also wanted to secure some sort of company on what might’ve been their final days.
 

Lucyfer

I'mma Die On Top
Ryan balanced the additional tray with a bit of a dirty look, before he rolled his eyes and carried them both back to where Brenda had set up, as she finished arguing with someone. He clicked his tongue on top of the roof of his mouth, “Hey, someone had to do it. Probably no one could have done it quite as effectively.” He took in the scattered clothes.

He actually gave Brenda real smile as he looked back at her and the work she’d already done. He knew she’d be useful. Organizational talents, and a go-getter. No one had told her to secure the area. She just did it. “Go get some food, I’ll take the shift from here,” he laid one tray down on a bed, and occupied another himself.

If Brenda felt like grabbing her clothes, he supposed he could spread a bit of his out to make sure things were covered, since Luis and Katya weren’t joining them just yet. It didn’t seem like Luis’s guy was going to come over, considering he was talking to someone else.

Ah, well.

Brenda had reserved two extra beds; they could find a way to fill them.

~***~

Michael grumbled under his breath, “Better not,” he said.

Sato arched a brow, “Why? What’s wrong with him?”

Michael sighed, of course they hadn’t watched everyone as closely for votes. “He voted to keep us here. Besides that, he seems to have some issues with 212, and 212 was just over here trying to poach me.” Michael identified, and Sato glanced momentarily to Isaac.

That was the number of the one who bumped into him, wasn’t it? His look questioned it, before he looked back to Michael, “You’re not going?”

He shook his head, “He seems to think it’s all about strength. Someone with that mindset…he’ll die.” Michael shrugged, as if it were nothing.

Sato still felt a chill at the casual way he seemed to act to that. As if it could be a casual thing. Then again, in here, he supposed it was. That didn’t mean Sato had to like it, or agree to it. “If he has some issues with 212, he could be a strong ally.” Sato suggested, “If 212 is our enemy.”

“No, he’ll leave us alone.”

~***~

Maybe they could hire the best, but Katya would go back to her tried-and-true. Working in a department store salon, but Katya could trust her. She’d gone in with the mirrors covered before and said the equivalent of ‘fuck me up, fam’ to find her hair a glorious mess of colors.

She wanted to do that again.

Instead, for a moment, she was shocked by the action of one of the women to create a makeshift knife. Her eyes widened as the plastic broke off, and she considered doing it herself, before deciding against it. Even if she needed it…well, she’d never use it. Taking a life wasn’t something she thought she could do.

“That’s impressive,” Anne noted, and akin to Sophie, she decided to do the same. It took a bit more – she wasn’t used to this, but she was able to break a bit off, a jagged bit of plastic, and stow it away. “Hopefully no one checks too often.”

“Well, even if they do…other people will come in by then,” Katya suggested, “You’re right though, we should eat. Even if it is drugged food…we need the nutrients!”

“You’re not going to get one?”

Katya shook her head, “No I—I’d never use it. I won’t tell, I promise.” She added quickly. That probably wasn’t much to go by.

Anne opted to trust her. “We’ll know if it’s you,” she said, half-teasingly, half-threat.

Katya just forced a bit of a smile, before turning to the door to lead out. She needed to get something to eat. The guard didn’t seem inclined to go in and take a look at things, so at least they were safe for the moment.

So, she was able to get into the line, noticing Brad a little bit ahead, but not willing to cut – just in case.

~***~

The apology came.

Gabriella wasn’t surprised by that. If anything, she was surprised by the lack of explanation, and the offer to continue to help. She let her brows rise. Already, she knew what Michael would say to this situation. Michael wouldn’t trust it, and he’d likely have good reasons not to.

“Tell me why you voted to stay,” Gabriella disregarded the consideration of his help for the moment. She didn’t know if she could accept it, without knowing what possessed him to risk everyone’s lives for a bit of money.

It could be his situation outside was just as fatal. Not entirely the best reason to condemn hundreds of others, but it was one she could understand, if either choice meant death – but one had an option of not dying.

“And then I’ll consider accepting, or offering, any help myself.” A small smile touched her lips, “We’re all here because we need money for…something.” Which meant there was something the money would do for him. Just as it would do for her, and countless others.
 

JayMessi

BLACKJACK!
“I figured this place has the best vantage point. We will be able to keep an eye out in case people get violent during the night.” She said, gazing back over the room. “Apparently other people had the same idea, but I’m not one to let people walk all over me.”

She figured his suggestion sounded good enough. She was beginning to grow hungry, and with only a few people in the room yet to claim their food they might be running low. “You better not lose our spot.” She cautioned the other before she made her way to the back of the line.

Luis had already claimed his own food and had the opportunity to chat with a couple of other numbers before making his way back to Ryan.

“Nice spot, Red. I can see the whole place from here.” He stated flashing the other a grin. “I got a couple more...potential recruits. Tell me what you think. 24, 245, 152 and 401. 24 is a real brainy type, wears glasses, and I’ve seen the way he’s been sizing people up. A real thinker, that one. Might be good for strategy. Not too scrawny, and young enough. 245, real meat head looking guy. Probably won’t last long when it comes to the games, but he can offer some good protection while he’s still here. 152, I don’t know if you remember but he spoke up during the little confrontation about the vote. Honestly, I got a good feeling about someone with enough will to live to condemn everyone else to death during these games. 401. That one’s gonna be a tough sell. She’s the one that has been translating for some of the non-English speakers here. She doesn’t look like much, but I’m betting that she’s gonna go the distance.”

“If you got your eyes on anyone, let me know and I’ll scout them out.”

---

Isaac looked back towards where he saw the two of them wander off to, trying to follow the conversation. He wasn’t quite able to put together the fact that 212 was the one he had stumbled into, and if he did he wouldn’t have thought anything malicious by it still.
“I mean…” Isaac stated in response to Michael’s protest. “A lot of people here voted to stay. That’s kinda why we are still here. And no offense but we could use the muscle outside the games. I mean, I know I’m not the strongest...and Sato, unless you are packing some killer biceps under those jacket sleeves, I would say we are kinda in the same boat. Plus, your sister seems to like him-considering that they broke away for a one on one conversation.”

He figured he might receive some dirty looks for stating his opinion on the matter.“Not to, like, totally disrespect your judgement if you don’t want him in we won’t bring him. I’m just saying…”

---

“My mom growing up would have bouts of being super paranoid. Once my dad died, she made sure I could figure out how to protect myself in almost every situation.” She said with a shrug. “I guess some of her paranoia trickled down into me, but she sure as hell didn’t prepare me for this. Hopefully no one else will see this and follow suit…” Sophie hesitated a moment. “Well, no one that will come at us, at least.”

She watched as Anne claimed her own shard, glad that Anne was thinking about ways to protect herself as well. She did find herself concerned for Kat, though.

She nodded in agreement that they all should get food, determined to follow along not long after the other made her own departure.

“Hey, uh, before you go…I just want to let you know. If you need a friend around here, let us know. We have a bit of a group of our own going, but I’m sure there’s always room for one more.”

She didn’t know how the others would take her inviting someone else to their group without consulting the rest of them. But she didn’t want anyone going through this alone, especially someone as vulnerable and peace loving as the woman appeared to be.

After Kat left, Sophie took a moment to was her own face and hands before heading towards the door herself.

“Ready to go back in there, Anne?”

---

Brad spotted Kat from the corner of his eyes and granted her a wave, as if inviting her to cut. He already had claim on a place in line for her, but once she didn’t seem willing to move towards him he made his way towards her.

“Hey,” He said. “I actually already got my food, I was going back in line for you. I didn’t want you to miss out. Where have you been, anyway?” He asked, looking her over. She seemed a bit better than she had the last time he’d seen her, maybe she was able to take the time to process their situation.

“I think I secured us a spot in the group. Outside of the games, I’m pretty confident we’ll be safe.”

---

Benni was a bit taken aback that Gabriella demanded an explanation from him. He didn’t respond at first, pressing his lips together considering if it would’ve been better to lie about his situation outside of here. He figured that his actual background might only give her an impression that he was more of a threat, more of a monster than he had initially led on. He could keep his answer vague and simple as he often did, and the life he made and then ruined for himself outside of here didn’t really matter anymore. No matter what happened during the games, the only thing that was for certain is that he wouldn’t be returning back to it.

He took a stilted breath figuring that he at least owed Gabriella the truth.

“Alright,” He stated taking a seat on the bed closest to them, clasping his hands together, looking up at her as he began speaking. “When I was fourteen I ran away from my caretakers, and in order to make my way I ended up falling into a pretty bad crowd. It didn’t seem bad, at first. The way they explained things to me...the way they made me feel at home, made me feel like family. It didn’t seem all that bad at first. We had a code of ethics they abided by, and we took care of each other. Sure, I did a few drug runs here and there but ultimately it seemed good.”

“Gradually the stakes increased, and I was stuck trying to justify the increasingly bad things I was doing to continue running with the group. I wanted out, but that wasn’t really an option with them. So I continued to stay, continued doing what they asked of me, because staying was easier. Safer. Recently, word got out that I had some...unsavory qualities by the groups standards. So I decided to run away. I abandoned everything I owned, stole some money that I eventually ended up losing, and planned to get out of the city…and once that seemed like a possibility, I heard my name on the news. Linking me to a murder I didn’t...directly commit. But I was there. And they have proof. The people I’m running from have influence in the prison system as well. If they find me...I don’t know what will happen.”

“With these games. If the money’s legit, I thought maybe I’d have a chance. Buy a new identity, for a start. I know it’s not fair for people like you. Who hadn’t screwed up their lives so royally. So, again, I’m sorry.”

He turned away from her glance momentarily, shifting his position slightly; he felt like he might’ve said too much. “What’s your story? Why are you here?”
 

Lucyfer

I'mma Die On Top
Ryan smirked a little at that, “This is actually thanks to Karen,” she had another name, but he really didn’t care. The nicknames would probably stick forever. Red. Karen. He added in, “The other guy had a good idea about spreading around some false rumors to disrupt the unity of others, so I think he should be in,” which meant the girl with him, but she would have her role in making whatever was said seem believable.

Which came down now to considering those people that Luis sought out. He looked to each one in the crowd in turn. He almost wanted to ask ‘why not all’, but reconsidered that. Only a few could win.

A translator sticking with a group of immigrants, no doubt, had to have an interesting story. Whether it would make her actually useful to the group was debatable. “If the meathead won’t last, we can always keep him nearby and plan to replace him. When he falls, he falls – but we should keep the others on good terms. If the brainiac is sizing people up, he’ll keep a while, I think.”

Might keep his own company.

“Not sure about the pro-lifer, but they might be hostile enough now to be useful. Or at least determined enough not to give others the satisfaction. I think they’d be good as an early bring-in with the meathead.”

As for the translator, “The translator would probably want everyone they’re with brought in, too. They’ll keep. But maybe a rough alliance can be created for outside the games? When they start losing people, it’ll be easier to bring them in on their own, or with those few survivors. Our numbers might go down, too.”

~***~

‘I don’t have to work with anyone who voted that way.’ Michael thought, irritated that he appeared to be getting outnumbered. It wouldn’t take much, and he knew that. Gabriella was likely going to come back and try to get the stranger in.

Sato seemed to lean favorably. So, too, did Isaac. He didn’t think Anne or Sophie would be too hard on the stranger, either. He sighed. There was strength in numbers. In brains. And in muscle.

They were lacking in that, as Sato laughed and shook his head, “I try to work out, but I pretty much can just lift, and it’s not 100lbs.” He had always cared about his health. Shame it somehow landed him here, with something no amount of exercising or eating right could fix.

“Fine, fine. If everyone else wants him in, I’ll tolerate it,” Michael huffed, “it’s not like I’ll have to see him outside of the games as it is.” They’d lose everything here, including each other. That was fine by Michael, though he noticed the twinge of sorrow it touched on Sato.

“We wouldn’t have to, you know,” he indicated, “Facebook is a thing.”

“I wonder if there’s a Facebook group for survivors of this shit,” Michael murmured, before adding, “the memes are probably lit.”

~***~

“Not really,” Anne chuckled, but sighed and shrugged, “but we probably should,” before their time in here got suspicious. Perhaps it wasn’t too strange to the staff. They may have seen this time and time again – people heading in here to clear their heads after the first game, taking a little longer.

So, she joined Sophie on exiting, flashing a shit-eating grin at the staff who went along with this whole thing.

Monsters.

‘No, don’t think that.’

But it was much easier to other them, than try to humanize them.

Kat seemed to have been joined by a man in line as they approached it themselves, Anne noticing that Sato, Isaac, and Michael were all together – the boys. Their boys. It was a ridiculous little thought, but it made her smile. Gabriella seemed to have gone off somewhere. Anne didn’t spot her immediately as they stayed in the line. “Things…seem calm.”

She hesitated a moment, before asking, “I know we’re probably going to do a lot of this out in the group but…what’re you living for, Sophie?” Anne had her kids. Her mother’s medical bills, that she’d yet to mention. She had a lot she would live for in this game.

~***~

Katya didn’t forget the words offered by the woman in the bathroom with the knife. Hard to forget the woman in general, of course, but she had invited Kat to her group without a thought, without even asking her name. They were still just numbers to each other.

Of course, there were nice people in here. She couldn’t be the only one. Nor Brad, who had apparently waited in line, and secured their spot in the other group. She had failed at that, by letting 109 go. She felt the wave of guilt at that, but wondered if it had been a way to get rid of them rather than let them in.

212 admitted bad blood, after all.

“That’s…that’s good,” she wouldn’t mention the others, for now. Best not to, after the work Brad had done to get them in. She wouldn’t ask what it was. “I’m sorry I couldn’t convince 109 to join. I was just in the restroom,” she glanced over her shoulder, and pointed, “I just wanted to get…better after the game.”

The line depleted, bit by bit, “Is there anyone else in our group, yet?” Maybe he had to recruit someone else. No need to know how, but she could find out if there was another. She was able to grab some food, though a complication came quickly.

"Ah, could I get the meat on the side, please?" She asked as one staff held up the ladle to slop it on. She was lucky the sandwiches weren't premade, but then, they'd be soggy.

Someone else would eat it. She could have bread.

~***~

There were omissions in the story. That much was obvious, and Gabriella hadn’t studied religion to learn how to miss such glaring omissions. Her mind attempted to fill in the blanks, some things seeming obvious. 212 was a part of the family – gang – that he had joined at some point when he hit fourteen. He ran drugs. He was a part of a murder.

Perhaps more than one.

Perhaps he had actually taken a life before.

But, he had been a child when it happened, with few visible alternatives, and certainly none that promised anything like a family. Escaping was a difficulty, and apparently, he was quite dead if he got out of here – but he wanted to live. Gabriella couldn’t fault him that. This was his way to live, no matter how frustrating it was.

The odds were better than the lottery.

“We’re all in here because we screwed up our lives in some way,” Gabriella sighed, “I just did it in the socially acceptable way by coming from a poor family and going to college. I couldn’t…get any scholarships or grants, so I took out loans. Going all the way up to a PhD, that was…expensive.” To say the least, “and on the other side of the road, I’ve found out it’s almost impossible to get tenure. I’m teaching five different courses between three schools, two of them more than an hour away from each other, and making…around $24,000 a year,” the chuckle wasn’t amused.

There was rent. There was food. Gas. Insurance – she didn’t have that through any of her jobs, of course. And then the student loan payments. It was a nightmare.

“Compared to around $200,000 in debt. My body, apparently, isn’t even worth that.” A glance up at the piggy bank. At the money they were all being taunted with. “It’s not enough.” Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough of anything. She ran on fumes every day. “I thought I could save the world if I studied religion, though. If I could figure out the secret that had people fighting wars, that possessed people to give up everything to something they couldn’t see. I really thought I was smart enough to do that.”

She shook her head. “I know better now.” This game helped solidify that.

She looked back to him, “My debt isn’t enough to kill for…but I’d rather not die, either. I’d rather have a chance to actually enjoy what passes for life. This is probably the most downtime I’ve had in…since I was in first grade.”

Socially acceptable meant it was no hardship to talk about it, just the embarrassment of being an idiot suckered in by the American Dream, and truly thinking she could do anything. No one explained the reality of it to her – or if they did, she thought she’d be the exception. “You deserve a chance to enjoy life, too. I think if the others can be convinced, you could join our group. And I don’t think the others will be as biased as Michael.”
 

JayMessi

BLACKJACK!
He couldn’t help but to let out a laugh at Sato’s statement. Isaac had never been able to retain much in the way of muscle mass either, even before his addiction he had always had a tendency to lean on the scrawnier side of things. Often weighing at just underweight for his height.

“I promised myself I’d beef up in prison. Like in those tv shows and movies where all you see is dudes lifting weights and like doing pushups when behind bars? I guess I just never found the time for it. If I knew I’d be coming here right afterwards, I guess I would’ve tried harder.” It was a blessing that Isaac was able to latch onto a group so quickly, since he figured that most people here were pairing off with people they had some sort of brain or some sort of brawn, and admittedly Isaac wasn’t an ideal choice in either department.

The brunette offered Michael a slight smile once Michael agreed to potentially let the man into the group. Nothing was set in stone, they’d probably still have to run the idea by Sophie and Anne first, and who knew if the guy would even want to group up with them even if they offered.

“Wait, do you guys think they’ve done this before?” He asked, looking between the two. “It’d be lit if they did have some sort of facebook group or something. If there isn’t already one, we should start one. Do yearly meet ups or something just check in on eachother.”

Isaac’s smile began to wane as for a moment he considered the probability of all them actually making out of here alive.

“How many people...do you think...can actually win?”

---

Brad took in her apology momentarily before shaking his head in response.

“No, don’t apologize for that. They gave you an impossible task--and after all you’ve been through today. They couldn’t have actually expected it to work…” He said, taking a moment to look down at the blood that still stained his own pant leg and shoe. Hopefully they would provide a new set in the morning.

“I saw 212 talking to a bunch of different people. At least one of them must’ve considered it. People are pretty scared, especially those who haven’t found a group yet...and Luis looks strong, at least.”

Brad stepped aside as Kat got her own tray, noting that she opted to have the meat on the side. Probably due to some form of dietary restriction.

“It seems as if we are set up over there.” Brad said, indicating where Red and 212 were situated. “Are you good to go back to them? I know they were laying it on a little strong earlier...and how they were talking to you..” He shook his head. “It wasn’t right.”

---

Sophie didn’t even grant the guards a courtesy of a glance as she made her way back to the main room. She thought about running, momentarily, seeing if she could slip past the guards and run until she found an exit. But the guards were likely concealing a weapon, the windy blank labyrinth like halls would be difficult to navigate, and even if she was able to escape this place she had no idea where they might’ve taken them. They probably weren’t still in the continental United States.

Even so, she couldn’t consider the staff members-everyone involved in these games as anything more than monsters. How could they aide in the execution of hundreds of people for mere entertainment?

Sophie took in the room once more just as Anne, nodding in agreement to the statement. “Looks like we really didn’t miss anything. The riots haven’t started yet.” She teased as she joined Anne in the line.

Her question caused Sophie a bit of hesitation. She thought about lying, fabricating a story about a family to go back to. But with her Dad dead and her mom MIA for at least two years now, there wasn’t much on the surface she had to live for. Not like Anne, who at least had her children that she needed to return to. Nonetheless, it didn’t mean that Sophie deserved to die. She wanted to leave here, she wanted to live. She would fight as hard as she could to ensure that was the case, she was fighting for herself.

The only problem was, she wasn’t sure if Anne would consider that as a suitable answer. She didn’t want to risk Anne valuing her life any less because she hadn’t yet reconstruct a proper foundation. She had completely uprooted her life to be where she was now.

But she could trust Anne, right?

“I’m living for me. I recently left my ex...which since he was in charge of most of the finances, so I had nothing when I left him. The situation I was in...was vile and I had to get away.” Sophie admitted. “My Dad died when I was nine, my Grandma died when I turned twenty, and my Mom has a habit of disappearing for long periods of time. If I get out of here, I might take the effort to try and find her again. I also want to go to college. I’ve always wanted to do that, just...never got around to it. Maybe someday I’ll have a kid of my own too. I’ve tried three times in the past, but it never really worked out for me. How about you, Anne? Why did you need the money? Don’t tell me you signed up for this place just to buy your kids some Nintendo Switches.”

-----
Benni had been far more open about his situation than he had intended to be, and he was certain that Gabriella was astute enough to have the ability to read between the lines. He wasn’t really up to the task of listing off every heinous crime he committed, in fear of facing rejection from the only person here he could truly consider an ally. But he had offered her enough. He swallowed hard as the other began to speak, figuring he’d be able to decipher her verdict on the potential of their relationship as she did so. The fact she didn’t decide to simply walk away and retreat back to her long haired acquaintance must’ve been a good sign, right?

“Damn.” Benni stated in response to her own plight. He could understand the injustice of the matter, the woman that stood before him was struggling because she sought an education in order to learn, even taught others-contributed to society in a way that was beneficial, and was earning less than her bills demanded. Benni earned more than her working outside the law by taking advantage of addicts in order to get ends meet. He sympathized for her. She didn’t deserve to be here. She didn’t deserve to be struggling financially due to her pursuits.

Benni had half a mind to ask what she learned during her studies in relation to theology, and if she had any faith herself. But by the way she spoke of it, she might not have it. Of course, Benni agreed with her conclusion. The money that could be affiliated behind such intangible forces was probably a larger motivator in ways of destruction and greed than the concept itself.

“You went to college and everything? I knew you were smart.” He said, taking on a slightly lighter tone than the usual flat monotone he chose to express, even offered her a bit of a smile as if the man was actually allowing for some personality to seep through around her.

“If we make it out of here we should go somewhere. I’ve always wanted to go to Argentina and just relax on the beach side, watch the way the waves hit the sand. I think I could do that forever.” He stated. He knew it was a fantasy. The odds of either of them getting out were slim, and both of them getting out seemed almost impossible. But he had to pretend there was something to look forward to in order to get past this part. He seemed ready to snap back into the present situation once she mentioned him joining their group.

“I’ll join if it doesn’t cause a problem.” He agreed. He knew her friend, Michael, didn’t like him. He was protective of her, and Benni had essentially effectively betrayed her with his decision.
 

Lucyfer

I'mma Die On Top
‘Yeah, I’m in a pretty messed up group here.’ Michael thought with a wry smile as Isaac joked about bulking up in prison, and Sato said he lifted – but not much. He really would be the only muscle, and while he wasn’t too worried right now, that could be an issue later. The more people he had to protect the more difficult it would be to keep them all protected.

He didn’t like 109, but he’d swallow his pride.

Michael arched a brow, “Are you kidding me? With how organized this is, they’ve definitely pulled this shit before.” It was a miracle it wasn’t well known, but then again, they were probably quite rich to be able to pull it off. Like, definitely billionaires. That might narrow the list of targets down if Michael ever wanted revenge….

As for that, he sighed. “Best estimate…ten. But that’s going to depend on the games. If they’re all like this,” he shrugged, “ideally, everyone could win, if they’d just pay attention. But I doubt it’s going to be like that. There’s going to be team games, of varying sizes for teams. I’m…not sure all of us will even be able to be on a team together, depending.” He knew a lot of games that involved just four people. Just two people.

Sato nodded, “Good point. We might want to consider divisions amongst ourselves if it comes to that. And…hope we don’t end up directly competing against each other.” That wouldn’t be pleasant, but Michael just hummed agreement. It could happen, after all.

~***~

Brad really was empathetic. Regardless of what his intentions may have been earlier, as their group suggested (and were they wrong? Always possible), he did seem concerned. It made it a bit easier for Katya to relax, and nod as he noted that 212 found some more people to consider, and she glanced to where he was pointed out by Brad.

Any of the other options hadn’t joined them, yet.

And Katya wasn’t looking forward to joining them. “We should at least claim our bunks…and it’s easier to eat sitting down,” she would go along. It was for the best, after all. She needed to eat something, and so did Brad. “Besides, your meal must be getting cold.”

So, she would return to them, Ryan lifting his hand in greeting, “Your food’s still here – though not gonna lie, I have been considering eating it.” He had already mostly devoured his. He was still working on some fries. “Go have a good cry, Kat?”

Katya sighed, smiled, nodded, “Yup. All better!” Just play along…she’d get out of here eventually. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I could convince your…um…former friend to join us.” She said to 212.

Ryan waved it off, “Braddy boy here’s got ya – though, you find out anything about those other two girls?” He’d noticed two exit not long after her. “Like are they single?”

‘I may be a pacifist, but….’ Katya wouldn’t rat on them and the knives, though she would try to turn Ryan from the stupid ideas in his head, “One was talking about a boyfriend, and the other kids, so….” No need to mention it was an ‘ex’.

“Ah. Damn.” Apparently nothing useful. Ryan accepted it at face value.

~***~

Anne didn’t feel any sensation of irritation, or even unworthiness, as Sophie answered that she was living for herself. That she’d escaped an abusive situation – and almost had children. She felt a pang as she heard that, offering her a sympathetic look for it. She hadn’t suffered any loss, either to stillbirth or miscarriage, but she could imagine the horror.

She’d had her scares during pregnancy. Who didn’t?

“We really should find a good hair stylist and live it up after this,” Anne harkened back to that, to show no animosity for what Sophie had to live for. She hadn’t had a chance to live for herself, from the sounds of it. She didn’t fault her that.

Perhaps one day she’d be a mother.

She’d have more – and she deserved the chance to have that. They all did.

“And no – honestly, divorce is expensive,” Anne sighed, “and my mother…she’s ill. I don’t…I don’t want to think it’s fatal just yet, and with more money, I could pay for better treatments, and at least…at least better comfort if she really is.” Anne answered. Taking care of her mother still barely made sense to Anne, but…somehow it felt like something she needed to do, no matter what. Despite how her mother hadn’t believed her, and all but disowned her, she was still drawn back in.

“My ex left me with enough of our debt to last multiple lifetimes, and I’d like to have a college fund for my kids – or just a life fund if they decide that isn’t for them, you know. I don’t want them to have to work as hard, or have the life choices of their parents be…huge stumbling blocks.”

~***~

Gabriella accepted the smile, the compliment, but having said all of that, she didn’t feel smart. She never did, after telling people about what she’d done. She just felt stupider. Her father had suggested she lacked common sense, that she lost it all in college, and here she was, once again proving she didn’t inherit the common sense gene in the family.

Then again, neither did Michael.

“I think going anywhere outside of the States would be good. If you want Argentina, I’m sure I’ll find something to enjoy,” it was so far from the places she considered, and it could be peaceful. It would at least be traveling…she meant to do more of that. She meant to do a lot of things, if she ever had the time, ever had the money. “We’ll go to Argentina.”

It was unlikely, but stupid dreams had gotten her through everything else.

Why not one more?

“It’ll cause a problem, but we can work through it without violence, or anything else,” Gabriella suggested, “Come on – we’ll get you introduced to everyone else. There’s Isaac and Sato with my brother right now. I don’t know much about them yet.”

Nor did she know much about Anne and Sophie.

They’d all learn. “We’ve…kind of made a deal, that if not everyone gets out, we’ll take care of anything left behind. So…I don’t know if you have much, but if there’s even one thing, we’ll look out for it. No matter how frivolous.”
 

JayMessi

BLACKJACK!
Isaac didn’t like the odds, but he figured none of them did. He didn’t like lingering on the possibility that not all of them would make it out of here. That and the added possibility that if they had to play team games, they could be potentially forced to play against each other caused some worry. Strong enough to let his concern trickle onto his face as he laid witness of the conversation between the two. He couldn’t imagine being the direct cause of someone’s execution, simply by winning a childhood game, like tic-tac-toe.

He rubbed the back of his head, running his fingers through his overgrown mahogany locks.

“I guess we should talk about that once the rest of the group comes back. It looks like Anne and Sophie are coming now.” He stated, considering the group they had now, who would he prefer to partner up with above the others? Besides Michael and Gabriella, who would obviously choose one another due to the fact they were siblings, the groups were kind of up in the air.

He figured someone like Sato, Sophie, or Michael will try to come up with a way to arrange things were the groups were balanced. Isaac didn’t see a point in planning this far ahead, though. They had no way of knowing what games they would be playing, or what size groups might be required for team centric games.

---

“Thanks for not...eating it, I guess.” Brad said, taking his tray of food as he claimed his own bed, a bottom bunk as he figured that Kat would be harder to reach by any attempts to sabotage if she bunked above him. As he sat the frame of the bed creaked under him, he shifted his focus on the food momentarily as he dug in himself.

“Aye, no shame in crying, Lady.” Luis chimed in. “Not everyone can be as cold hearted as Red, over there.”

Brad granted Ryan a bit of the glare, but relaxed when Kat was able to take the comment in stride. He let out a breath, if they all survived this it was going to be a long six days.

“I’ll have some words with him a bit later, see if I can’t turn him yet. I think we have enough to get us through the first night.” Luis explained before gesturing to her tray. “Why the hell are you eating it like that?”

“Do you have to be so creepy?” Brad turned towards Ryan. “No one’s going to want to hook up with you here, dude.”

Brenda returned to her own bunk not long after Brad's statement. “They should really have a more inclusive menu. I mean, personally I try to keep away from gluten but that's just a preference. What if someone was allergic to this stuff?” She lifted up the bread examining it momentarily. “I mean at least they gave us something, I guess.” She sighed.

---

Sophie flashed Anne a wide toothy grin. “Right? Maybe we all get our hair dyed some matching...crazy color. I’m sure the boys would love it.” She stated. “Why not, right? By the end of this we will probably have endured crazier.”

She listened to Anne’s plight, and agreed Anne deserved more. A good life for her kids, with her kids. Divorce was messy, expensive, and with debt and a sick mother to add to the strain it was reasonable that she would have resorted for something like this before she knew the stakes. A lot of people here, those who lost the games, would leave here without getting a proper chance to say goodbye to their children, their parents, their family.

“I’m sorry about your mom. Your kids deserve a chance, and your husband seems like a

Sophie paused, taking a stabilizing breath as the stakes of what was at play here washed over her again. Once offered her own tray of food, she was unable to keep it steady with a slight tremble that might’ve not entirely left since the new game. She tried to not let her concern show, though, flashing Anne another smile as she began making her way towards where the rest of the group had set up.

“What's new, guys? Did you come up with some badass strategy on how we’ll destroy these games?” She said, finding herself a spot between Sato and Michael. “Where’s Gabriella?” Her smile faded as she looked around, before capturing a glimpse of her with another player heading towards them.
“Did she find us a new teammate. A beefy one too, God Bless that girl.”

-----

“I heard it was nice, once.” Benni nodded towards Gabriella, implying that was the only reason that he had chosen the location. Staying within the States borders was not much of an option if he got out of here, but there were plenty of other places to live. And with the money, it’d be easy to figure out a lifestyle just about anywhere.

Benni stood back up once she signaled, figuring if the conflict didn’t involve violence than they’d be able to sort through it. Their alliance would be temporary, after all, and they had no obligation to speak to one another outside of the games.

Michael, Isaac, and Sato. They were all already on a first name basis. He observed the three, recognizing Sato as the man who had gone out of the way to confront the woman in shock after the first game. It took a moment of examination for him to come to the realization he hadn’t gotten the name of his own ally, and hadn’t exchanged his own as well. It wasn’t the most personal reveal out there, and the associations their names might’ve carried at one point would be rather meaningless. There was no way these games wouldn’t change them.

“People call me Benni.” He offered. He took a moment to consider the deal the group had agreed upon with one another. In order to be initiated, he would be expected to do the same. Which meant if he survived this he would be involved. Looking after the deceased family’s and loved ones, sharing his earnings with them. He had no one he necessarily felt obligated to look after, but all and all the deal seemed fair.

People would want to know that their loved ones were taken care of, after all.

“That’s fine.” He offered as they headed the direction of the group, he allowed her to lead the way since she was the face they were most familiar with. “I don’t have anyone to take care of. But I’ll consider if there's anything.”
 

Lucyfer

I'mma Die On Top
Luis was at least easier to tolerate, though Katya couldn’t forget what 109 had suggested about him. That he was terrible. That 109 himself was – or had been – too. They could easily put up fronts. Katya would try not to think of how Ryan, in the way that he was just openly terrible, might be preferable.

At least there was little doubt about what he was. Katya had too many doubts about Luis, “Vegetarian,” she answered, when he asked about the meat, as she ate the bread top. Swallowed, “I thought someone might still be hungry so there was no point not getting the shredded meat if someone here wanted it.”

They needed their strength, and Katya’s lack of eating meat could help someone, at any rate, have a little extra.

Ryan just cocked a grin at Brad, “You never know,” he said, but shrugged and easily let it go, as the conversation of the others shifted around to food options. Brenda would have preferred gluten free.

He was pretty sure no one was going to care about that. Just as they weren’t going to care about the resident vegetarian. Still, it did mean more food for them, which was a bonus. “Probably if you’re allergic, you don’t eat,” Ryan said, “But I’ll take some of the extras,” no point turning it away. He was still hungry.

~***~

‘I’m not.’ But Anne didn’t know how to say her mother got what she deserved, at the same time she was trying to take care of her. It wasn’t a healthy relationship. It never had been. And she knew in the end, it didn’t matter what she did for her mom. There would be nothing left for her to inherit. Not even the house. It would all be willed elsewhere.

She didn’t have to say anything.

Sophie seemed to catch herself on the moment, and just managed to stabilize and take her food. Anne did reach out to put a hand over her back and try to massage some life back into her, before getting her own plate.

They joined the boys on the heels of their conversation about teams, and Michael just shook his head in response, “Haven’t gotten to that point yet,” he answered, before it shifted to Gabriella – and apparently the new teammate. He sighed.

Sato explained, “Michael doesn’t seem to like the new teammate. He voted to stay,” that seemed the crux of it, and the other two should understand that, as well. It at least wasn’t some worse reason for dislike, just embedded in the decision made to condemn them all here.


And Gabriella did indeed lead Benni over, taking his name, and his words, into consideration, “I’m Gabriella,” she offered, and then, “That’s Anne, and Sophie,” for the other two. They’d now be uneven at 7, but that might not be a bad thing. It was a bit sad that Benni had nothing, but not unexpected.

He hadn’t had parents, or a family, except his gang.

And he wanted to put all of that behind him. Start anew, in Argentina. It seemed a worthy enough dream.

So, she brought him back to the group, “This is Benni,” she offered with a gesture to him, “He’s joining us, if that’s okay.”

Michael held his tongue. His answer was obvious. So was the fact he was already outnumbered.

“Yes, that’s all right,” Sato spoke.

“I’m Anne,” Anne introduced, lifting her hand up to shake, unaware that Gabriella had already offered their names, “Welcome aboard, Benni!”
 

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