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The game hasn’t begun

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The crew arrived at Polus in the early morning, the suns rays casting stark shadows across the scarred landscape. Hafu had insisted that they made sure to arrive on the cracked planet early, in order to give information to the new players, Koji, Ellum and Fundy, so that crew was on the most level playing field. Hafu herded the other crew into the office building, getting everyone into place around the table while she pulled open her admin panel, closing all the doors, in order to conserve heat while she gave her briefing. 

Hafu pulled out a map, sprawling it out across the table and began her explanation. She pointed out the vent locations and explained where they link up to, as well as what each building was actually called  and the general gist of where tasks were. 

“So each crew has an equipment list,” Hafu began rolling up the map, pausing and passing it to Fundy when he asked for it. She pulled a collection of items from her belt setting each on the table in front of her. A long dagger slotted into a sheath, a set of pliers, a communicator, a megaphone, and a map. 

“Myra HQ thankfully provides these, so as lobby leader I have spares if needed, your task list will be uploaded to your communicator once the game begins, and the communicator is necessary to complete both upload and download, so don’t be scared to ask for one!” She glanced among the crew, Fundy caughting her eye from over the map. 

“Wait... so you know someone’s gonna become an imposter and you still give them a weapon? That’s bad, no?” Fundy cocked his head, rolling the map up and handing it across the table.  

“Well...” Hafu glanced towards Apollo who held her gaze for a second before the two turned to 5up. 5up... who wasn’t here. Hafu made a quick headcount brow furrowed. Huh. 

“Lets just say if you don’t give it weapon, it’ll find one. Whether that’s something discarded, or your own body,” Apollo explained loosely, his body language tense as he gave the vague explanation, he made one sweeping gesture around the cluttered meeting room before clearing his throat. 

“Yeah... anyways-‘ Hafu was quickly interrupted by Dk. 

“Oh! That’s how they did competitive right? No items, no advantage,” Dk glanced over to Hafu for confirmation, she grimaced glancing towards the empty space reserved for 5up. The silence lingered on while the information settled. 

Anyways...” Hafu shifted the subject and began to explain their home rules, pointing an accusing finger at Steve as she placed extra emphasis on the ‘No Rats Gambit’ rule. 

5up was tucked away in the tree room, his helmet rested on the small wooden bench in the corner of the room while he sat at the base of the tree, head lolled back against the trunk. His eyes were closed peacefully. He had his knees drawn to his chest, elbows resting on his knees, while his hands were clasped together in front of him- his thumb pressed to his lip. 

It had started as soon as he stepped off of the ship,  the mild, uncomfortable buzzing in his head. 5up dismissed it- the game hadn’t even started yet- so he instead chalked it up to he sudden drop in temperature, the lack of moisture- he was a plant hybrid so sometimes the atmosphere of Polus was harsh and he didn’t take well to it. 

He didn’t follow the rest of the days crew to the office where he knew Hafu would give her briefing. He had heard it time and time again, it wouldn’t hurt anybody if he missed it once. He retired to the creatively named ‘Tree Room’ dubbed such due to the poor, withering oak tree crammed into the space. Lianas climbed up the tree trunk; hung down from one of its thick branches, and scattered across the wall in a spider-web of greenery, which viciously clung to life. 5up stuffed his gloves into his pocket and reached up to gently caress one of the hanging vines. A strained smile pulled at his lips as a small red bud formed underneath his fingertip. 

The buzzing had progressed. A high pitched ringing now filled his pounding skull- he scrambled to remove his helmet in an effort to release the building pressure. He set it aside and slumped down against the base of the tree, a shaky breath leaving his lips. The buzzing had spread to the tips of his now trembling fingers and down to his boo clad toes. 

They weren’t supposed to play for another hour- half an hour at least. Hafu wouldn’t start the game without him present. 

So how the fuck was he the imposter?

5up closed his eyes, pulling hi knees close to him as he counted. He could feel it take over. He could feel his veins crawling with something wrong. 

 

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6...

 

He mouthed the numbers as he counted, tapping his foot against the plastic ‘grass’ beneath him. It was Myra HQ’s attempt at making Polus more ‘pleasant’. Like being infected and driven to kill your friends could be made pleasant. 

The buzzing gained weight. Almost. It felt like a thick sludge was flowing underneath his skin, mimicking his bloodstream. He could feel it moving. 5up cracked an eye open, glancing down at his kill cooldown. He watched as it painstakingly ticked down to zero. 

He was relieved at the calm that spread through him  with the completion of his cooldown. The weight didn’t lift, but the buzzing subsided. 5up rubbed his hands across his face, resting his elbows on his knees. Now he just needed a plan...

 

So he waited. 

 

“Does that make sense?” Hafu asked looking between the crew mates once more. She smiled at their confirmation and nodded to Apollo. 

“Okay so me and Apollo will go find the pink man and then we start!” She clapped her hands together before pointing to Steve ad Dk. 

“Dumb and Dumber, you’re in charge! Don’t lose anybody.” With that Hafu and Apollo left office in search of 5up. 

They began their rounds, splitting up briefly to check in communications and weapons separately before opending the door to O2.

 

“Pink man? You in here?”

 

Silence. 

 

“5up-“ 

“You should call a meeting.”

The pair startled slightly having not expected a reply before Hafu dipped into waterwheels while Apollo checked into canisters hole he spoke. 

“The game hasn’t started yet bud, we were waiting on you for that.”

They reconvened in the central room where they noticed a figure, shroud in darkness with their limited vision, looming in the doorway of the tree room. 

“Call a meeting.”

“The game hasn’t start-“

The figure surged forwards, sinking his dagger just below his sternum and dragging down to the pit of his stomach before either crew had chance to react. 

“I said call a fucking meeting. And I meant it Hafu.” 5up pulled the long blade from Apollo, watching with mild satisfaction as his corpse crumpled to the floor. 

 

Hafu scrambled to pull out her megaphone reporting the body while 5up stared impassively at her. 

He trailed after her, slotting his helmet back into place and pulling on his gloves while they walked. They entered the meeting room to a very confused crew. 

“Where’s Dumbdog? What the fuck Happened?!” Steve shot up from his position draped across the table (he had thought the meeting was called from him accidentally pressing the button due to his position leant over it), the pen he had balanced on his upper lip clattering to the floor. 

“5up killed Apollo!”

“The game hasn’t even started yet...”

“How is he imposter?”

“I’m just as confused as the rest of you...”

Voices mixed and merged as confusion and panic was expressed and fuelled. 5up’s voice cut through the cacophony, smooth and level as always. 

 

“I told you to call a meeting.”

 

They turned to stare at where h he taken a seat, presently twisting the still bloodied dagger against the pad of his thumb. 

“I didn’t expect you to kill him!”

“And I didn’t expect to be marked imposter before the game began!” 5up snapped, in an instant on his feet with the tip of the dagger resting just under Hafu’s chin- a making her almost tilt her head to avoid the sharp tip. 

He took a step back, breathing out slowly as he mentally scolded himself for letting his temper rise so quickly. 5up dropped back into his seat, piercing the table with his dagger before leaning back. 

“Sooo, what do we do?” Fundy asked slowly, cautiously, glancing towards the man he had professed his love to time and time again. 

“Vote me out obviously.” He waved a hand to the left causing Tina to flinch and shift away, glancing up to Hafu almost questioning what she was supposed to do. 

“And since this is out of game...” 5up leant forward, elbows on the table and a wolffish grin on hi lips as he continued to speak, “One of you will have to push me into the core so my skin can boil, and relieve me from this sweet hell.”

 

He leant back once more, “So who’ll do it?”