"You can't be serious! You cannot be serious! This has to be some joke, or something!" The voice was frantic and desperate, filled with horror. It belonged to a young man, Justin Fonda, fresh out of high school, and about to experience all life had to give. But now, the chance to live at all was looking very slim. "Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God!"

He paced back and forth in the small clearing with the small pond. His hands were latched onto tufts of his shaggy, dark brown hair. Dramatic breaths came in regular bursts, trying desperately to calm himself down. After leaving the complex, he stumbled into this clearing, hoping to get a drink. Instead of fresh water, he found the water soiled by the dead body of Tammy Hilton. Her corpse was still lying face down in the water, untouched by anything since Garth.

"I'll be fine. It'll be cool. It's a fake. It's a fake!" Justin's whole body was tensed, showing the lean, but definite muscle tone he had. Every once in a while, his dark eyes would wander to the body. Every time, his breathing would sharpen. His throat stung as he swallowed vomit back down.

"Okay, okay, calm down, Justin." He dropped his arms and took a deep breath. With his eyes firmly shut, he sat briskly on the soft ground. "It's not real. It's just a game, like a reality show. A very realistic reality show. Come on, you're only eighteen! You can't die! There's like, a law, or something!" He repeated this mantra again and again until anybody listening would believe it. Of course, everybody except Justin.

He flopped back onto his back. "I'm fucked. Not in the good way, either." There was a slight rustle in the shrubbery behind him. Like a cat sprayed with a hose, Justin jumped, spun around in the air, and landed on his feet, facing the source of the noise. "Who―Who's th―there?"

"Someone who doesn't really appreciate the cute little quote you said before," a stern, yet kind female voice replied. Out from the bushes strode three people: Lindsay Fort, Vance Lara, and Jana Vasili. Lindsay cradled Jana's grenade launcher in her arm's, giving her a much more menacing look than she deserved. Vance and Jana, on the other hand, seemed relatively unarmed with only one walkie-talkie each.

"Shit!" Justin jumped back, nearly stepping into the befouled pond. "D―Don't shoot! I didn't mean it!"

Lindsay smirked. "I guess our intimidation factor is higher than I thought." She lowered the weapon to her side. This was a dangerous move since she only knew a handful of people in the game. After seeing Justin's mental breakdown, however, she didn't have any qualms about it at that moment.

"Calm down, bro." Vance put a comforting hand on Justin's quivering shoulder. Justin flinched. Vance rolled his eyes. "Dude, you're okay. We're going to help you be okay. Only if you help us be okay. Okay?"


"Vance, has anyone ever told you you're great with people?"

"Love you too, Lindsay."

"Wait, what are you guys doing?"

Before Vance could answer again, Lindsay took the responsibility. "We know nobody wants to die, and we know nobody wants to kill anybody. Well, almost." She shivered as her gaze fell on Tammy's corpse. "We're going through this as a united group. There has to be a way out of here that isn't dying or 'winning.' So…?"

"Justin," the teen quickly supplied.

"Justin. So are you in with us?"

Jana, who had been standing meekly in the background, stepped forward. "Please, Justin. We can really use all the help we can get." Tears began to form in the corners of her eyes. "I have to go back to see my kids. I have to. I'm sure you have family back home, too. Please." She choked back several sobs. It was that that sold Justin.

"Yeah… Yeah. Yeah! I'll do it. I'll help. Power in numbers, right?"

"I like this kid." Vance patted him on the back.

"Me too," Lindsay agreed.

"So what's our plan?" Justin asked eagerly.

"For right now?" Justin nodded. "Survive till morning," Lindsay said flatly.

And the Three Musketeers become four! :D SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SORRY about the forever and a half long delay. It was obnoxiously long, even for me. (That's what she said!) Anyway, sorry for this Shorty Short McShorteron chapter, but at least it's something, right? Right. Honestly, the motivation for me writing this was seeing all my AMAZING reviewers, well, reviewing! :D You guys keep me sane. I promise the next chapter will be up fairly soon. Until then, Read and Review, and I'll see you when I see you!