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 [Advanced] Sole Survivor

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   6th August 2018, 10:01 am



She thought of her own mother, probably sitting in the apartment right now. Would she notice that Ami was gone? She hadn't really gotten a chance to say goodbye, although presumably she'd be home in a few days when she failed to continue in this competition. Mama always seemed distracted lately. She came home exhausted, ate something simple—usually picked up from the nearest convenience store, and tuned in to the broadcast. Oftentimes the lights were left off, with only the glow of the screen illuminating the room. Mama often fell asleep on the sofa, the television still glaring and bright in the darkness. It projected images onto the sleeping woman's face, like some kind of strange secondary screen. When forced to walk by to get a drink of water while studying late, Ami tried not to look.

Was it better to have her mother here, after all that had happened? She didn't usually think about it, particularly not in that kind of way. But right now, talking to Makoto, she wondered if that kind of life really counted for much. Her mother did little besides work, watch television, and sleep. It didn't used to be like that, before the war. The war had changed a lot of things, so many that Ami could barely keep track of them.

She offered only a slight sigh in response, her eyes staring up at the stars. It didn't seem quite that cut-and-dried to Ami, but she had lived a different life. Not everything made the same amount of sense for every person. It was certainly getting late, though. They probably ought to get some sleep. She wasn't sure what awaited them tomorrow, but Makoto probably knew. This wasn't a vacation, after all.

"Should we turn in?" she asked.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   7th August 2018, 12:33 pm



Makoto cast one final long glance to the stars before giving a long stretch and standing up. "I suppose so," she said, adding some more wood to the fire. "This should give us enough warmth for the night, hopefully. Wake me up if you need anything." In no time at all, Makoto had crawled into their small shelter, laid down, and fallen asleep. 

Sleeping in the wild had come easy to her, after all these years.


The next morning, before the sun had even risen above the trees, Makoto's eyes snapped open and she was out of the shelter in seconds. She had heard voices from outside, but where were they coming from? Looking around, she noticed some large bushes being shuffled around, as if someone was coming through. She stood firmly, arms crossed over her chest, waiting to address who she assumed were other competitors.

Sure enough, two women, one with sandy blonde hair and the other with aqua-colored hair, emerged from the forest. They both stopped when they saw Makoto, no one knowing what to say. Finally, the shorter woman spoke first: "Excuse us, we were just looking for a water source. We don't mean to cause any trouble." 

Makoto's eyes flitted to the pile of supplies and food she had scavenged, then back to the women. She could tell by the way they stood and spoke that they were wealthy back home. But here, wealth wouldn't help them. 

"Get your water and go," Makoto said stoically. "Don't try anything funny." The two women nodded grimly and maneuvered past Makoto and Ami's camp, heading straight for the river. But the one with blonde hair stopped and turned, a cold challenge in her eyes. 

"I certainly hope we're on the same team in tomorrow's challenge," the woman said, her eyes locked onto Makoto's. "Wouldn't want you on my bad side." There was a dripping sense of sarcasm in the woman's voice, as if she knew Makoto were no match for her and just wanted to impress that upon the brunette. Makoto clenched her fists. She wasn't inclined to play nice - not today.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   7th August 2018, 12:40 pm



Ami awoke slowly to the sounds of conversation, her dreams a blurry mess. Sleeping outside did not prove as idyllic and calm as literature seemed to suggest. She found the ground strange to sleep on after years of a mattress. Her attempts at a makeshift pillow did little to prevent her from waking with a crick in her neck. She jolted away constantly, unsure of what noise she heard that unnerved her so, and sometimes falling back to sleep seemed to take ages. Thankfully, she didn't feel shockingly sleep-deprived, just less comfortable than she had always known herself to be. It was a strange contrast.

She emerged from the makeshift shelter just in time to see Makoto glaring at a blonde woman whose dark blue eyes did not look friendly. Beside her, a woman with wavy hair knelt near the river, collecting water.

"Good morning," she greeted politely, her words broadcast to the entire group. Ami looked up, concerned at the expression on Makoto's face. "Is something wrong?" she asked more softly, glancing from her current teammate to the pair near the water.

Her ankle felt much better, but she didn't really fancy a fight under any circumstances.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   9th August 2018, 10:15 pm



Makoto was surprised to hear Ami's chipper voice beside her, but she didn't take her eyes off of the two women. She took note of their body language, their attitudes towards each other, the experienced way they seemed to do...well...everything. The two had to have known each other before being cast onto the show - but how?

With Ami next to her, Makoto started to worry. If they saw Ami and had the same first impression Makoto had, they would see her as a weakness - a liability. They would spread the word and have Ami voted off the next night. What could she do?

An idea struck her. Without warning, Makoto slung a protective arm around Ami's waist, pulling her closer to that their bodies were touching. Still, Makoto didn't take her eyes off of the other pair. The wavy-haired one saw them first, and she nudged the blonde one to get her attention. And then they were all in a staring match, each couple waiting for the other to say something first.

"We'll see you at the challenge tomorrow," Makoto said, her voice now the one posing a challenge. The blonde one smirked and nodded grabbing what she could of their water collection and making her way back towards the trees.

"We do look forward to it," the shorter woman said. Her cold voice seemed to bounce off of the calm water even after they had disappeared amongst the forest. Finally, Makoto allowed her shoulders to drop, and she exhaled a breath that she hadn't realized she was holding.

"What a nice way to start the day, am I right?" she joked, looking down at Ami. She didn't notice that her arm was still placed firmly around Ami's waist - or maybe she did notice, but she didn't really care.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   10th August 2018, 6:38 am



Her only response to the inquiry was a stifled, high-pitched stammer, the brilliant scarlet flush overtaking her entire face as she looked up into the mischievous green eyes of the young woman holding her so closely. The arm around her waist, hand splayed to hold her, almost felt like an electric shock.

Ami simply couldn't remember the last time she was subject to physical contact this close! She had managed to keep people at a distance without particularly trying to keep people at a distance. She had vague memories of her father and mother hugging her as a child, but that had happened before the war, when she was still very small. It had been a long time since her mother had really looked at her, let alone opened arms for a hug or other show of physical affection. Her memories of the times this had happened recalled a passing embrace, over almost as soon as it had begun. Makoto—who she had met for the very first time just the other day—currently stood so close Ami could feel the heat from her body. This had to qualify as sensory overload. She had done her best to hold it together when the other women were nearby, understanding that this was some kind of strategy, but now she felt like she was going to faint.

And yet... she didn't pull away.

It felt comforting, so much so that she hadn't even realized she was lacking that feeling. Ami certainly wouldn't have described herself as someone craving human contact—she always thought she was doing just fine. She thought she enjoyed being alone. That's what she always told herself, that she didn't need other people and their interactions. In this moment, she would have had a hard time repeating that mantra. The thought of moving away, of separating herself from the arm draped so casually around her... she didn't want to do it. Of course, admitting such a thing sounded even more mortifying.

"S-should we... find breakfast?" she stammered, her heart beating wildly in her chest.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   10th August 2018, 2:15 pm



Makoto nodded, removing her arm from around Ami's waist and stretching both arms above her head. with the threat gone, she actually began to appreciate the beauty in the forest morning. A light fog hung over the ground, billowing around their ankles and gives the air a cool, crisp feeling. The skies were clear and blue, not a cloud in sight, the sun peeking just over the top of the trees. If it hadn't been for the two women from earlier, she probably would have forgotten that she was even in a government-sponsored survival competition. 

"Well, it's probably not the best of breakfast foods, but I can try to get us some fish?" she offered. The show sponsors had given them fishing line, but without any sort of hook to catch fish with, she would have to do this the old-fashioned way.

"I could even teach you how," she said with a wink. The thought of small, delicate Ami standing in a river trying to snatch fish straight out of the water made her chuckle.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   13th August 2018, 7:36 am



Hopefully on this island they'd have little chance of catching yellowtail, but they were near the ocean, after all. Well, she'd eat it if she had to. This was what survival was all about, wasn't it? Ami sighed; she'd just have to cross her fingers and hope for the best. She certainly couldn't imagine whining about having to eat something she disliked, especially not to someone who seemed far too practical for that kind of thing.

She tried to regain her composure, hoping she wasn't blushing as deeply as the flush on her cheeks felt. Makoto hadn't said anything. Perhaps that was a good sign? Ami felt a twinge of something she didn't even recognize as disappointment, to be turned aside so casually and comfortably after that moment of closeness.

"Okay," she replied, not sure if the wink was a challenge or not. "I'm willing to learn."

Fishing couldn't be that hard... right?
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   15th August 2018, 11:09 am



Makoto spent at least an hour teaching Ami how to fish, showing her where to look in the water, when to time your snatch, and how to hold on to the fish to prevent it from slipping away. It was a fun experience for both of them, and by the time it was over, both girls were covered in water and weak from laughter. 

The rest of their day was spent scavenging and getting to know one another, to Makoto's enjoyment. She loved teaching Ami survival tips and tricks, and was amazed by Ami's knowledge in the process. She seemed to have an amazing affinity for dowsing, whether it was finding water, finding animals, or anything really. By the day's end, they had plenty of food and materials to last them at least the week. 

The next day brought new challenges - literally and figuratively. Their first official "challenge" of Sole Survivor awaited them, and Makoto found herself extremely nervous. Not so much for herself, but more for Ami. If Ami didn't win the challenge, she could get voted off. As much as Makoto was used to being by herself, for some reason, she didn't want to be anymore. 

The two "survivalists" arrived together to the beach, where Beryl waited for them with a sickening smile on her face. To Makoto's horror, she and Ami were split onto separate teams, and the challenge was announced to be one of physicality. 

"Sole Survivors, are you ready for today's challenge?" Beryl called through her megaphone. Not a single person made a sound, except for some kid with giant glasses and a nasally voice, who cheered enthusiastically. 'That kid's gotta go,' Makoto thought to herself. 

"Today," Beryl continued, "You will be competing in something I like to call 'Pilfering Pirates'! In this challenge, both teams must race across the docks to get to the boat you see there in the distance." Beryl turned and pointed to a small sailing boat that seemed to be piled with items. Leading up to it was a thin wooden dock that branched into two directions before conjoining to form a single path to the boat. A small section of the conjoined dock was painted black. "The black zone is called the Attack Zone. There, you must tackle and fight your way to the boat. You are free to push, shove, and tackle below the waist, but not punching, kicking, or anything of the like! We can't afford broken bones now, can we? The first team to get ten items from the boat back to the beach wins the challenge, and is safe from tonight's council meeting!"

Makoto looked to Ami, hoping to give her some sort of encouraging smile, but she found it hard to do. If they had to fight their way through, there was no way that small bluenette would make it very far. 

"Sole Survivors, are you ready?!"

Makoto tightened her jaw, choosing now to focus on her own wellbeing and that of her team's. Whatever happened, she would fight to keep both Ami and herself in the game. She could do this. 

"GO!"

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   16th August 2018, 8:10 am



The optimism she felt when they arrived at the beach faded immediately upon the explanation of the challenge. Even though more aggressive forms of fighting were thankfully banned, Ami knew she was not going to be a strong contender against the others. When she reviewed the other competitors on the beach, she knew that she certainly looked the weakest, physically among them. Even the excitable girl who was shorter than her by several inches made up for it with a gleam in her eye—she certainly didn't look like someone who wouldn't be willing to give this kind of rumble a solid try. Ami doubted she'd be able to knock any of them down.

She caught the glance Makoto gave her, returning a weak smile. The face of the brunette looked stern. Ami suddenly felt a strange sense that she would be disappointing the other girl if she failed to compete well. This sat uneasily with her. When she arrived here, she wasn't too worried about her likelihood for an early removal from the game. After all, she didn't really want to be here—the prize didn't interest her that much. Going home, back to her normal life—that would be better, wouldn't it?

But now, the thought of letting Makoto down caused a strange pressure in her chest. She didn't want to do that. If she left, would she ever see the taller young woman again?

The blue-haired girl gritted her teeth as her team approached the starting area. She could hear their whispers around her, glances exchanged over her shoulders. This she knew. This was familiar. It was just like being in school again. They were trying to decide what they thought of her—if she was good enough to be part of them. Unlike school, however, this wasn't a battle of wits. Ami spent her entire life being picked last in gym class... she knew she wouldn't be a desired asset here. When she dared to look up, other eyes turned away quickly, refusing to meet hers. She didn't need anyone to explain what that meant. They'd be trying to win, and she was a liability.

The challenge began when the host called out, and Ami found herself buoyed along towards the Attack Zone. She tried to prepare, tried to strategize, but when she was in that mass of writhing bodies, it no longer mattered. She winced at the first hit, stumbling back, and barely had time to blink before the woman from before—the one with seafoam hair—plowed into her. Ami couldn't protect herself, stumbling over, nearly falling off the dock. She tried to right herself, vision swimming, looking towards the boat in the distance. If she could get to it and grab one of the items they needed, her team wouldn't think she was useless.

But then someone else collided with her from behind, something hitting her behind the legs, her knees buckling in response. She felt her shoes slip on the black-painted wood. Was that a snicker she heard? Ami hadn't seen who hit her, but she had a strange sinking feeling that it wasn't someone from the opposing team. She hadn't even climbed to her feet again before another shove toppled her over the edge, into the waiting shallow ocean.

She swallowed a few mouthfuls of salt water before she sputtered up, coughing, but it wasn't deep enough for her to have difficulty standing. She paddled back towards the beach, cheeks burning with shame. There were already piles of the required goods in the marked areas for each team, and she could hear chuckles from the opposing team and hisses from hers as she tried to run past, heading back into the Attack Zone. At this point, she doubted it would make any difference.

She'd already shown she was worthless.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   16th August 2018, 11:34 am



Makoto's long legs gave her the advantage over her other teammates, so she was one of the first to arrive at the attack zone. And of course, so was that blonde from the other morning. 

The two women stared each other down before Makoto launched, going straight for the other woman's knees. With surprising speed, the woman dodged and shoved Makoto's side, sending her rolling across the dock. Quickly, Makoto found her footing and stood in a crouch, ready to attack again, but the woman was gone. As a matter of fact, she was already at the other end of the dock, grabbing an item to take back to her team. Growling, Makoto ran to the boat just as the other survivors reached the attack zone, narrowly dodging that nerdy-looking kid from earlier. She snatched a small oil-lamp and began running back towards the attack zone, where she saw Ami getting pummeled by at least three different people. Biting back to urge to yank them all away from her, Makoto pushed forward and made it back to the beach. 

The challenge continued on like that, but to her dismay, Makoto didn't run into that blonde again. Soon enough the whistle blew, and Makoto's team emerged victorious. Looking around, everyone was covered in sand and sweat, some with scrapes and bruises from the battle. She immediately searched for Ami, hoping that she made it out okay.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   16th August 2018, 12:16 pm



The whistle had blown, but she felt like she just couldn't catch her breath. Ami wheezed, exhausted, near the "entrance" side of the Attack Zone. She hadn't managed to get across, not even once. Nor had she disrupted any opposing team member from their goals. She still struggled with that winded feeling even as she walked back towards the beach. She was one of the last to arrive, and her teammates pulled away when she approached, giving her a wide berth.

She didn't need to look up at them to know they were glaring at her. It was a sensation Ami felt familiar with. Any looks cast upon her in this moment were not friendly. There were murmured voices, too, and she felt that blush tinge the top of her ears. It didn't take a genius to piece things together—they attributed some of their failure specifically to her. It wasn't as though she could dispute it. Fighting her way through a crowd of others was not a particular skill in Ami's toolbox. The odds were stacked against her from the start.

Her body ached, and she knew she'd be sore. She was glad, now, that Makoto had been so insistent that she rest her ankle. It pained her slightly, but it didn't hurt as much as it would have if she had been forced to partake in such a challenge without caring for it.

Some of the whispers caught her ears, jibes about how unlucky they had been to wind up with her, comments about how some people bring the team down. Ami had heard variants on this before, many times. She kept her eyes down, slowly counting the grains of sand, waiting for permission to leave the beach.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   19th August 2018, 2:57 pm



Makoto clenched her jaw as her teammates snickered about Ami's blatantly obvious physical weaknesses. Her eyes bore into Beryl, waiting for the flippant hostess to get on with it. Finally, Beryl announced her team as the winner, and informed the other team that they would be attending the council meeting the following evening. The groups dismantled and began the march back to their respectful camps, and Makoto approached Ami. 

"Are you alright?" she asked, her electric green eyes full of concern and worry. Not so much for Ami's wellbeing, but more for Ami's position in the game. She was undoubtedly the one everyone would be voting off the next night. The thought of being alone in this godforsaken place made Makoto's stomach lurch. She wanted to stay with Ami, to get to know her more, and maybe even help her win. Sure, there was a lot Makoto could do with the prize money, but Ami could go miles further than Makoto would ever dream of going. 

She had to find the Immunity Idol and keep Ami safe.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   20th August 2018, 5:30 am



Ami looked up when Makoto spoke, blue eyes confused and surprised. She hadn't expected the other girl to talk to her again, not after how unsuccessful she had just proven herself to be in the game show activity. Makoto not only belonged to the winning team, it didn't take a genius to see that the brunette worked hard to ensure their victory. Ami hadn't been able to watch the other girl, too busy trying to make progress herself, but every once in a while she caught a glimpse of that ponytail, usually on the boat picking up another object or on the beach adding it to the ever-growing pile. Makoto clearly had what she needed to win not only this game, but the contest as a whole. Why would she want to bother with Ami?

She tried not to betray this sense of failure too immediately—she didn't really want to talk about how any of this made her feel. The blue-haired girl tried to put on a smile as she fell into step alongside the other girl, heading back to their makeshift campsite.

"Oh, it's fine," she answered, trying to make the words sound lighter than how she felt. "I'm just not very good at things like that. You certainly did well, though. Congratulations!"

That last part... she meant it. She didn't feel jealousy or irritation that Makoto and the opposing team had won. The rules were clearly outlined and no one cheated. It was a fair fight. She couldn't blame any of them for her own ineptitude.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   24th August 2018, 11:14 am



Even though she tried to hide it, Makoto could see the shame in Ami's eyes. This challenge was definitely not something Ami was born to do, but she still fought and persevered. Makoto had a lot of respect for that decision alone; Ami could have just chosen to stay in the water or on the beach. But she at the very least tried to help her team, regardless of whether or not they acknowledged it. 

"Oh, um...thanks," Makoto said, scratching the back of her head. "Let's get back to camp. We have to find that Immunity Idol if we're going to keep you in the game. Keep an eye out on the way back - you never know where a clue might be hiding." The eagerness in Makoto's voice was evident - she was feeling more desperation with each passing second. She was not going to let Ami go down without a fight - not when she hadn't even had a chance to prove herself to the other survivors yet.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   27th August 2018, 6:28 am



As they walked back towards the makeshift camp, she tried not to dwell on what Makoto had just said. After all, she tried to impassively reason with herself, it was certainly true. Her participation in the challenge only proved to the others in this game show that Ami was a liability. She hadn't helped her team in the slightest. This was a game—the goal was to win. Anyone who could not assist towards that end did not belong, and could expect to be summarily removed. She had experienced this before in any athletic class: first, you pick off the weak ones. She knew that nothing had changed that would remove her from that category.

So why did it sting to hear Makoto reinforce it?

To feel this way was illogical. The other girl—clearly a member of the stronger, more useful group, especially considering all that she had done to help Ami so far—obviously knew that the person she currently supported was not a valuable asset in the game. Ami had assisted with some menial tasks related to their campsite, but that would not truly matter when it came to winning. Makoto had explained that the challenges and voting mattered above all else. Plus, the young woman lived on her own in the city where Ami simply partook of the government's bounty. She had all the skills she'd need to survive. She was perfectly poised to judge Ami on what she lacked. It made sense. This was not personal—it shouldn't feel personal.

Maybe Ami was just tired.

The thoughts had managed to keep the blue-haired young woman mostly silent as they plodded along. She knew it wouldn't take long for them to return, and she didn't know anything about the "Immunity Idol" that her brunette companion mentioned, beyond the simple description that it was something desired for the voting portion of this structured entertainment. What it looked like or where it could be found, those were questions Ami could not currently answer. She let herself be occupied by other concerns, even though she knew that was what Makoto thought they ought to be doing at the moment. At the moment, after all, Makoto was the expert.

She couldn't quite say what made her look up and glance over, but she did. And her keen blue eyes focused on something. At first, she only knew it wasn't quite right, although she didn't understand what she was looking at, but then her thoughts caught up to the analysis of the visual input her brain processed. There were water droplets on the leaves of a nearby plant, but they weren't anywhere near the water source and it had not rained. Not an insignificant amount, either—when she scanned down, the dirt below the small bush looked damp, muddy even.

"Makoto," she paused, speaking to get the other girl's attention. "Does that look odd to you?"
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   6th September 2018, 12:05 pm



Trekking slightly ahead of Ami, Makoto shoved every thought to the back of her head except for that of finding the Idol. She shoved aside branches, kicked over rocks, peered at tree trunks, and practically stared down every empty patch of dirt she saw. With every step closer to camp, Makoto felt panic increasing in her chest. If she didn't find this Idol but the council meeting, Ami would be sent home and Makoto would be all alone.

But wasn't that what she preferred? Living alone, working alone, existing alone? Without her parents around, what was the point in trying to form friendships and invest in them? There was none, she told herself for so many years.

But now, she was beginning to realize just how wrong she was.

There was something about Ami's determination, her willingness to fight even though she couldn't, and the boundless intelligence that was so evident in her eyes that made Makoto's heart feel full for the first time in many, many years. She didn't want to be alone anymore.

Anger started to boil in Makoto's muscles as she shoved the leaves more furiously, kicking rocks so hard her toes hurt. Maybe she could track down the rest of those who would be at the council meeting and threaten them not to vote Ami off...

Just as this thought came to mind, Ami spoke. Her words caused Makoto to rush to where she was looking, and sure enough, there was quite the odd patch of dirt. Almost maniacally, Makoto let out a loud laugh and fell to her knees. She began digging at the patch, dirt grinding itself underneath her fingernails. But Makoto didn't care one bit, because underneath all of that dirt was the Immunity Idol.

Laughing more, Makoto brushed the wet mud off and held it up for Ami to see. "You did it! You found the idol! But how...? I was looking everywhere! You must be a scavenger or something because this is unbelievable!" she said, rising to her feet. Unable to contain her joy, Makoto enveloped Ami in a huge bear hug, slightly lifting her off of the ground. "Those jerks are going to crap themselves when they see you have this, I'll bet," she said, releasing Ami. "Let's go wash it off and relax for the night - you deserve it."

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   7th September 2018, 7:57 am



She blinked slowly, the blue eyes taking a moment to properly convey to her brain what Makoto held out. And then suddenly she was in the other girl's arms, her feet no longer touching the forest floor beneath them. The rational part of her told her she ought to be scared—she ought to fear that the taller girl intended to harm her, holding her so tightly, like a boa constrictor preparing to squeeze the life from prey. For once, the more emotional side of her brain overrode that decision. She didn't feel threatened—not in the slightest. She felt safe. Warm. Comforted. Wanted. There was something conveyed in the other young woman's actions that Ami had never felt in a hug from her mother, at least not after the war. She felt like she was important.

She didn't understand this. Her logical mind struggled against the feeling, unable to properly compute a reason. Ami had no value. There was no reason for anyone to actually want her around. She knew that; it's why she wasn't surprised that the team assigned to her on the beach for the challenge loathed her and hoped she'd be removed. She'd done so little for Makoto, obviously talented at survival, that she couldn't accept that Makoto would think she was worth having around. All Ami did was make things harder for the taller, more skilled young woman. This didn't make any sense.

When the brunette released her and made her final comment, Ami couldn't stop herself from demurring. "No, it's nothing," she insisted. "Just luck I guess."

She didn't even notice the muddy hand prints from the other woman now marking the sides of her top; she was still in a whirl from what had just happened. The thought of heading back to the camp and relaxing did sound appealing, however. Surely Makoto would love some rest and relaxation, as well, considering how hard she had worked in the challenge earlier. Ami looked up at the other girl with a smile, trying not to let the blush she could feel warming her cheeks intensify too much.

"You certainly deserve some rest, too."
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   13th September 2018, 1:59 pm



Makoto scoffed. Luck? No, you had to be really focused to be able to notice something like that hiding place. But she kept her mouth shut, because she could tell Ami was going to take the humble approach this time around. But someday, Makoto was determined to convince her just how valuable she is. 

The two made it back to camp, secured the idol somewhere safe, and spent the rest of the evening just talking and relaxing. They learned more about each other's likes and dislikes, habits and hobbies, and even shared a little bit more about their lives back home. For that night, it felt to Makoto that the problems back home didn't exist, and it was just her and Ami on the island. 

The next day was the council meeting. Ami and the rest of her team from the previous day sat together on a couple benches, while Makoto and her team sat apart, watching the event from a few feet away. Beryl stood before them, a large jar in front of her that would soon hold the fate of whoever was being sent home. 

Even now, a day later, Makoto could see all of the dirty looks Ami received from her team. She "accidentally" shoulder-checked a guy and made sure to give him her meanest glare when she caught him doing it. 

"Welcome, Survivors!" Beryl said, her voice as sickeningly-sweet as always. "You all know the drill - you will walk behind me, fill out the name of the person you wish to be sent home, and place it into the jar. After everyone has submitted their vote, I will read them off, and the person with majority will be sent home. Are we all understood?"

There was no response from the Survivors, all waiting eagerly to send Ami home. 

"Before we begin - does anybody hold a hidden Immunity Idol that they would like to play tonight?"

Makoto stared at Ami, waiting for her to retrieve the idol from her sack. The anticipation of seeing all of their faces had Makoto literally gripping on the edge of her bench, her fingernails digging into the rotting wood.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   18th September 2018, 7:30 am



This was the moment. They had talked about this, as Makoto explained the purpose of the token they had found and the way it was supposed to be used during the gameshow. Once again, Ami felt extremely grateful for her partner's familiarity with this show—although there were moments that the rules were explained, for the most part the assumptions continued to be that the contestants would already know what to do. With the lack of time and attention she had historically given to televised media during her daily life prior to finding herself here, Ami knew she would have been at an extreme disadvantage without someone to explain this to her.

So if that was the case, why did she pause now? The blue-haired young woman, already usually pale, seemed to have lightened a few more shades as she sat there, surrounded by people who made their dislike of her only all-too-evident. She felt something tighten in her chest, squeezing the air from her lungs. When she looked to the side, she felt like the people around her had twisted and deformed into something even more horrifying, their expressions of disapproval heightened and enhanced as the fear gripped a tighter hold of her. She heard her heartbeat drumming loudly in her ears, but she did not move. Her hands felt carved from stone, heavy and motionless. The blue eyes looked forward, but they did not actually see anything. It was just a hazy blur.

A memory of laughter cut through the miasma of terror. "Those jerks are going to crap themselves when they see you have this!" she remembered Makoto chuckling, the brunette gleeful, her arms wrapped around Ami's smaller frame.

This fractured her frozen state just enough for Ami to glance over at Makoto, sitting with the other team. The emerald eyes remained bright and focused, her hands clenched around the edge of the wooden benches they sat on. If she didn't take advantage of this opportunity, she knew the other young woman would be shocked and disappointed. Dealing with that from her team was one thing—she wasn't sure how she'd manage if those same green eyes looked away from her. Ami forced herself to move, forced herself to unzip the backpack nestled at her feet.

"Yes," she replied, holding the thing up. Her voice wasn't loud, but the camera crew caught it immediately, focusing in on the actions of the petite blue-haired young woman who had failed so obviously at the previous channel. Beryl, ever the professional hostess, hid her own reaction and appropriately presented positive shock and surprise.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   23rd September 2018, 8:01 am



For a moment, Makoto was terrified that Ami was going to blow the whole thing by not speaking up. Did she want to go home? Had Makoto been wrong about her all along? In a rush of desperation, Makoto was about to stand up and announce that Ami had the Idol, when the blue-haired girl finally spoke. She held the idol up for all to see, and it took all of Makoto's will not to laugh at the reactions around her. The entire council was stone-silent, everyone too shocked to say a word. Finally, breaking the silence, a raven-haired girl with violet eyes angrily said, "Well isn't that just convenient."

Even Beryl seemed to be a little surprised, but she maintained her composure. "Ami, you have the Immunity Idol, therefore, you are excluded from the voting and you will not be going home tonight. That being said, if no one else has anything to present tonight, let us begin the voting. Haruka, you're first."

Makoto watched in glee as the members of Ami's team took as much time as possible to write their votes, unsure of who to vote for now that Ami was out of the running. Finally, the process was over, and a young girl with long, blonde hair who had cried a bit at the challenge was sent home. She didn't seem to upset over it, so things seemed to work out just fine.

That night, as Makoto and Ami walked back to their camp, Makoto couldn't resist asking the burning question that pervaded her ever since the council meeting began. "What took you so long to present the Idol, Ami? Did you not want to stay? Because if that's the case, I -" Makoto paused, tightening her ponytail nervously. "I'm sorry. I guess I should have asked if this is what you wanted before diving into it. I just...I really like you, Ami. You're the first friend I've had since my parents died, and...I wasn't ready to say goodbye. It was selfish, and I'm sorry."

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Sole Survivor   Today at 11:36 am



"No, it's not that!" she protested, waving her hands slightly in an attempt to dismiss the thought. Ami felt shocked at the dramatic reaction from the taller young woman—she wasn't really surprised that Makoto brought up the delay, but she had expected chiding or... something other than blaming herself! How could the brunette have been at fault for that? It was Ami's choice—or lack thereof—which couldn't be something that Makoto controlled. So used to being held accountable for her failings, real or imagined, the blue-haired girl could barely understand someone else trying to take that on herself.

Instead, this person who had been a stranger only a short time ago, said such nice things about her she nearly felt tears in her eyes. Even as a small child she didn't have friends at school. She couldn't have imagined until this moment what it felt like to hear someone call her that word. It should have been a simple, almost meaningless word, yet it hit her with the emotional impact of a meteor. To be told that someone liked her company sounded so bizarre that it rang in her ears, echoing in her mind.

It took a second or two for her to regain her composure and sort out what she wanted to say.

"I... I froze." She swallowed the lump in her throat, already feeling the small hairs raise on the back of her neck as she remembered that terrible sense of oppressive panic when she sat among her "team." "Knowing how much they didn't like me, how much they blamed me for losing the game, it bothered me. If something like this had happened before, I would have gone home just to avoid going against the mood."

Ami felt bad admitting it, confessing her personal failure. Sometimes it was just overwhelming to be faced with so much opposition. Fighting back... that was for other people—stronger people. People like Makoto, clearly. Not weak people like Ami.
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