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|Next chapter:||A Pact|
"Max still isn't back," Bob Newbie announced, coming back into camp. "He's not dead, I think. His body isn't around, and there are signs in the jungle that a human went through there." "Well, we have other problems," Laurel said grimly. "Barnacle Bay kids are here...across the island, but here. I saw the spaceship with the wreck of their boat." "****," Bob said. "Competition." "Oh, the joy of a little friendly rivalry," Betty said sarcastically, despite her fear and anguish over killing or being killed. In fact, she was almost crying. "Those Barnacle Bay kids...Hauling up fish all their lives...better chances," She sniffled. "What do we have? Nothing. Not even unity." No one tried to argue with her. It was true. This alliance was only tied together by the fact that they had had no competition. Now, with lives truly at stake, this small bond would be picked apart like a corpse with vultures. Everyone knew that. In fact, Laurel was growing hostile towards Betty. She didn't trust her. A little goody-two-shoes with a perfect love relationship...In every Battle before, that type had become serious killers. Laurel didn't trust Betty to be any different. In fact, Laurel wanted to leave the camp. She had her suspicions about where Max had gone, though, so she wanted to wait until he was farther away. Athletic as Laurel was, Max was stronger. And she knew it.
The alpha of Riverview sprinted through the jungle. His destination was in sight: One of the many small mounds of supplies on the arena. A pouch no doubt filled with food, a scimitar as long as his forearm, and other pouches. Taking all of them would be imprudent; carrying them around would be difficult. As he bent to scoop up two bags and the scimitar, he froze, the provisions in his hands. Slowly straightening, he saw a shipwreck with four teenagers standing in front of it. A spaceship appeared, lifting the wreck into the air. A chunk was left behind, but the spaceship was already gone. Since the Barnacle Bay ship had arrived, these kids must be from Hidden Springs. Max almost laughed out loud. As pathetic as he had expected, they stood confused and scared in a huddle. Tonight, Max thought gleefully as he turned and silently walked away, I'll put them out of their misery.
The teenagers of Barnacle Bay weren't taking Alexander's news well. Patty Abe and Jonah Lai were crying. Serena held in her tears with fortitude, but she gripped Bart's hand tightly. Bart himself stood angrily, proud of his refusal to break down, strong in his determination to save Serena as well as himself. "Serena!" he yelled, regardless that she was right next to him. It was hard to hear a slight catch in his voice when he yelled. She bit her lip and turned to look at him. He put his arms around her waist. "Serena, you have to stay alive. You can't break down and cry. You have to keep moving. Don't let anyone kill you." "Bart, you talk like you're leaving," Serena whispered. "I am. I have to. At least one of us has to become a killer. I won't let it be you, and I doubt it will be those." He jerked his head at Patty and Jonah. "But can't you stay? Why do you have to leave in order for you to win?" "No. I'm sorry, but having four under-trained people around isn't a plan for success. I'll come back, Serena, I swear. Then we will win." "'We'," Serena whispered wistfully, as if it was the name of a beautiful place she would never reach. "'We' can't win, Bart. 'We' is not in the equation of the Goth Battles. Once you come back, then what?" "I don't know," Bart said desperately. He wanted to commit suicide once everyone was dead, but Serena would never agree to that if she knew. She'd kill herself first. "We won't do anything. If the Battles go on too long without a death, Alexander would have to let us both win. Please, Serena, just let me go." Tears filled Serena's eyes. She stroked his cheek, but nodded. With a long, meaningful kiss to her, Bart ran towards the jungle. "Bart!" Serena screamed. He turned and looked at him. "Bart, I love you," she called. "And...Win. For us." Bart nodded, tears in his own eyes now, and continued into the jungle.
The Hidden Springs kids stood stunned as Alexander's message faded into the buzz of a phone with no one on the other end. "The Goth Battles..." It was on everyones' mind, but Annie was the only one who voiced it. "The cruise...trap...arena...dead," she mumbled incoherently. Suddenly, she screamed at the silent group. "**** this! I'm not leaving!" She climbed back inside the chunk of the cruise ship. The others seemed to come back to life. "Annie! You can't do that!" Emmit Preston called. "The other contestants will find you!" Sidney Shawkti cried out. "How will you make it? There's no food in there!" Charlie Winterly warned. "I'm going to nap," Annie said stubbornly. "Call me tomorrow if you want to persuade me." With a collective sigh, the Hidden Springs kids, minus Annie, headed off to find supplies.
They couldn't have known that not one but two contestants were setting their sights on them.