Explanatory author's note at the end.
Life had never been particularly kind to Alex Nunez. In fact, if she was being completely honest, it had been a bitch. Between her father walking out when she was 13 and the myriad of assholes who filled his place with bruises and broken bones, her mother's rapid descent into functional alcoholism, and the whole gay thing, Alex figured she was batting around .200. Of course, that wasn't even taking into account the rather distressing conclusion she'd reached on the bus, which was that she was stupidly, hopelessly, painfully in love with one of her best friends, the ultra-straight, ultra-unattainable Paige Michaelchuck. Alex was pretty sure unrequited love was worth at least 10 points off her metaphorical batting average. Or something. Fuck it, she didn't even like baseball. That wasn't even the point, it was--wait. Wait just a goddamn minute here, where the hell was she and what the hell was going on?
For the first time Alex was fully aware that something about her current situation wasn't quite right. The brunette looked around the room slowly as confusion turned to concern. She and the other 30 students who made up class B were in a classroom, but even in the limited light coming off the sodium arc lights outside she could tell it was a room she'd never been in. However, before her slowly growing anxiety could become full-blown paranoia, her attention was drawn to a low groan from her left. It was Paige, slumped across her own desk and just starting to come to, as were most of the others.
"Alex?" Though she sounded groggy and confused, Paige's voice cut through the haze that still seemed to be holding onto Alex and brought the brunette back to her senses. "What's going on, why is it all dark? Are we in New York yet?"
Alex shook her head, eyes still casting around the other students, looking for someone to provide her a clue as to just what was going on, coming up with nothing. "I don't know what this is, but I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." She watched over Paige's shoulder as Sean Cameron shook Emma Nelson awake.
"That's not funny." It wasn't, of course, but it was the first thing that came to her and she blurted it out without thinking. Now, instead of reassuring Paige, or at least not aggravating the situation, she'd pissed the girl off and very possibly freaked her out.
"Shit. I'm sorry, Paige, I wasn't thinking and--"
Paige cut her off, "Alex, what is that on your neck?" Her hands flew up to her neck immediately. She'd never been claustrophobic or anything of the like, but making contact with the smooth metal band and running her fingers the entire way around it suddenly made Alex feel like she was being choked.
"Paige," she said slowly, "you've got one, too. I think, I think we all do." They stared at each other as Paige fingered the band and Alex did her best not to let the confusion and fear she felt come through her eyes.
"I see you're still a quick study, Miss Nunez. Nice to know some people are. But please don't touch the collar, I'd hate to lose anyone before the game even started." The voice, distinctly male, was also familiar, setting off a wave of murmurs among the students as they tried to identify its owner. Suddenly it dawned on Alex, hitting her like a ton of bricks and bringing with it a wash of memories.
"Mr. Simpson?" Alex heard a low "oh, shit" come up from a boy somewhere behind her before the lights flocked on and the man replied.
"Got it in one, Miss Nunez." She blinked furiously, throwing one hand up and squinting as she waited for her eyes to adjust to the harsh fluorescence. When they finally did, the first thing she noticed was Simpson's appearance. He looked thinner, harder, the easy-going, small smile she remembered had morphed into a smirk that verged on a sneer, and he was dressed from head to toe in black, right down to the tie cinched around his neck (she was almost positive she'd never seen him in a necktie a day in her life). The other thing that stood out was the badge hanging from the left breast pocket of his suit coat featuring the familiar red maple leaf insignia. Simpson was with the government.
"For those who don't remember me as well as Miss Nunez, let's catch up. My name is Archibald Simpson and for almost three years I was your Media Immersion and homeroom teacher. Unfortunately I had a little accident and had to change jobs. Okay, 'had to' isn't quite right, but how many of you would want to keep teaching after one of your students jammed a knife into you?" He paused, his eyes sweeping across the group slowly before he turned around, picked up a piece of chalk and began to write on the board behind him. "But rest assured that I've put all of that behind me now. I'm ready to make a fresh start, get back into teaching. And guess what? You guys are going to be my first class. Let's get down to it, shall we? Who can tell me what the BR Act is?" He pointed to the words on the board but no one spoke. "Nobody? Come on, guys, doesn't anyone follow the news anymore? Miss Van Zandt, yes."
Alex searched for Liberty Van Zandt and found her two rows to her right and three seats back. It was a widely accepted fact that Liberty was the smartest girl at Degrassi, and while some resented her for it, Alex silently thanked the girl for stepping up to pull their collective asses out of the fire. She didn't want to know how Simpson would react to 40 blank stares and tight lips. Liberty cleared her throat.
"Well, the Millennium Education Reform Act, also known as the BR Act, was adopted 12 years ago from our allies in the Republic of Greater East Asia, where it's been in place for more than 50 years. In Canada, the act states that each year--" Suddenly Simpson hurled the piece of chalk he was still holding across the room at two girls huddled close together on the far left of the room.
"Hey!" It was Heather Sinclair and Hazel Aden. Hazel had made Heather co-captain of the Spirit Squad after Paige's abrupt departure and Sinclair had been attached to Aden at the hip ever since. Hazel rounded on Simpson, glaring, but it was the teacher who spoke.
"Miss Aden, Miss Sinclair, if you have something to say about the Millennium Education Reform Act, by all means, share with the class. Otherwise, I would highly advise you to shut up and pay attention, rudeness will not be tolerated in my classroom. Now, Miss Van Zandt, you were saying?"
Liberty swallowed and cleared her throat again. When she spoke it sounded like her vocal chords were wrestling an orange. "Uh, yes, I was saying that the act says that each year one class of grade 11 students is selected from each province and forced to…to fight to the death until there's only one left. Battle Royale." Her voice cracked and she slumped back in her seat, looking drained and on the edge of tears. The classroom erupted.
"She's full of shit, she's making it up!"
"I want to go home, I want to see my parents. You can't keep me here if I want to go home!"
"This is bullshit, you can't do this!"
"Why are you doing this? Where's Mr. Oleander?"
Simpson remained silent through the calamity, but with a quirk of his finger a soldier by the open door of the classroom nodded and three more filed in, armed with large, semi-automatic guns. The soldiers stepped forward, raised their weapons, and unloaded first a line across the ceiling, then across the floor as the students who had stood up and began advancing on Simpson fell back, some dropping to the floor, some pressed back against the wall. For her part, Alex sat in stony silence, too shocked to speak, let along move.
Once again, it was Paige who brought her back, this time with a cry of pain that cut through the rapid fire of the guns and the shrill hysterics of the students. The blonde had been struck in the leg, mid-calf, by a stray bullet. Alex could see the blood seeping through Paige's jeans, staining them a dark red as it spread. It reminded her, sickeningly, of the time one of her mother's asshole boyfriends had broken her nose. Alex had come home from Ellie's still a little stoned and singing a song about a sadistic dentist under her breath (that was the night she discovered Ellie's secret love for musicals when she was high) only to find her mother sitting at the kitchen table with a bloody washcloth pressed up to her face and an open beer sitting next to her. They ended up spending three hours in the emergency room waiting to get Emily's nose reset. As far as Alex knew, the fucker who broke it had never shown his face around their apartment again. But now wasn't the time to be reminiscing about the good old days when no one she knew got shot, now was the time when Paige was bleeding all over the fucking floor.
"Paige. Paige, are you with me? Look at me." She did, and she looked like shit.
"Alex, what is this? I mean, what the fuck is this? He-he-he fuckingshot me."
"we're going to take care of this, okay? We're going to fix you up, but for right now I need to stay calm. Just keep cool and put pressure on it, all right? Can you just stay with me and keep pressure on that for now?" Paige nodded vigorously and clamped her hand over her leg. Before Alex could say another word a boy rushed at Simpson, screaming.
"You fucking bastards! I'll kill you! I swear to God, I'll kill you!" the teacher sidestepped the charge with ease and the soldiers raised their rifles but Simpson waved them off. The boy lunged again and Simpson dodged again, but this time he brought a knife out of his jacket pocket, a switchblade, and slashed the boy across the back of the leg. The boy yelped and began limping around in a circle and Simpson took the offensive, grabbing him by the back of his shirt and holding him out in front of the class. It was JT Yorke.
Simpson shoved him toward a desk. "Sit down, Mr. Yorke, and don't do anything stupid or next time I'll let them shoot you."
"Fuck you," JT spat, careful not to sit down on his injured thigh.
"JT, don't be an idiot, man! She's not worth it! She's not worth your fucking life!" Another boy, Alex thought it might have been Toby Isaacs, called from the back.
"I would advise you to take that advice to heart, Mr. Yorke. As for the rest of you, you can thank this young man. It's people like him that are turning this country to shit. They have no respect, no concern for others, no sense of responsibility. Your generation's rotten and something needs to be done about it. So our government, sensible folks that they are, got together and looked at how other countries handle their youth problems. Unfortunately for you, they decided to go with our allies, the Republic of Greater East Asia's, method and passed a BR Act of their own 12 years ago. Each year one grade eleven class per province is selected by impartial lottery and they are, as Miss Van Zandt said, instructed to fight to the death until only one student remains. I heard someone ask about your teacher, Mr. Oleander--" Simpson whipped around and suddenly Hazel Aden staggered and dropped to the floor, the instructor's knife planted square between her eyes. Once again the classroom erupted in screaming and chaos, but this time it wasn't the soldiers who silenced the group, it was another student, Rick Murray.
"Shut up! I want to hear this. What happened to Mr. Oleander?"
Simpson smiled grimly. "Mr. Oleander disagreed quite vehemently with the selection of Class B for Ontario's game. So strongly, in fact, that we were forced to take certain…actions in order to assure he wouldn't become a problem. Now, I don't want to show you kids his body and I'm sure you don't want to see it, so let's just skip that part." He walked up to Hazel's body and crouched down. "Besides, you've got Miss Aden here instead," he said, before he pulled the knife out of her forehead. He stood up, pulling out a handkerchief, and wiped the knife off before retracting the blade, folding the kerchief, and pocketing both. "Your parents have already been informed of your whereabouts and status in the game, so don't expect anyone to come for you and don't try to call anyone, cell phones are strictly prohibited and won't work out here anyway. What I'm trying to say, guys, is that this is very real and there is no way to get out of it. Now, Ontario's BR Committee has gone to the luxury of making a video to fully explain the rules of the game and what's expected of you, but before we start are there any more questions?" Simpson nodded and pointed to a boy near the back, "Yes, Mr.…"
The boy stood up, and cleared his throat before speaking. "Murray. Rick Murray."
"Yes, Mr. Murray?"
"One, if I win can I go home? And two, how do I know if I've won?"
"Whomever wins will be allowed to go home, yes, as long as everyone else is dead. An announcement will be made when the game is over. Any more questions?" No one spoke. "All right, then, on with the video."
JT Yorke suddenly sprang to his feet. "This is fucking insane! He just killed a girl, why are you all just sitting there?! We've got to do something, we've got to tell someone! You guys, come on, we're gotta get out of here!"
"JT, sit down and shut up," Toby Isaacs yelled.
JT rounded on him, "I'm going to fucking die anyway, Toby! According to him we all are!" He pointed at Simpson, who stared back impassively.
"Mr. Yorke, sit down. This is your last warning."
JT whipped his head around to Simpson, still pointing. "Fuck you!You're nothing but a goddamn murderer! Come on, guys," his voice took on a pleading, desperate tone. "If we work together we can find a way out of this." When no one moved he screamed and ran at Simpson once again. It was a poor, limping attempt the teacher dodged easily and turned on the boy, grabbing him by the back of his shirt again and throwing him to the floor, then pulling a remote out of another jacket pocket and pressing a button. Suddenly the metal collar around JT's neck lit up and began beeping.
"I would advise the rest of you to keep your distance from Mr. Yorke."
People all but fell out of desks trying to get as far from JT as possible, pressing against the back wall and pushing the frantic boy away from them as he screamed and begged for help, thrashing about the room and pulling at the collar in vain. The beeping and flashing of the collar gained speed and Alex tightened her arm around Paige, trying to protect the girl from what she knew was coming. Finally the beeps reached one continuous tone and JT stopped still, hysteria and fear clouding his eyes, before his neck exploded and he dropped to the floor, dead. Alex felt blood splatter across her face and arms and a wave of nausea went through her as the coppery stench of it filled the room.
Simpson clapped his hands once, causing a jolt to go through the class. "All right, then! Video time, everyone back to your seats." The students shuffled back to their desks silently. With two of their own dead all doubt as to the validity of Simpson's words had been erased and a dull shock had settled over the group. They no longer acted as individuals, the corpses on the floor served as examples of where rebellion would get those with a mind for it. Instead, they simply reacted as a group, blending together to form the entity known as Class B.
A soldier pushed a television on a cart into the room and turned it on, the BR logo flickering to life on the screen before it was replaced by a tinny fanfare and the film's title.
"The Proper Way to Fight a Battle Royale!
Brought to You By: The BR Committee of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Government."
Suddenly the glaringly red hair and heavily made up face of pop star Alexz Johnson appeared on the screen and Alex had to bite back a bark of laughter. She wondered if anyone else felt like their sanity was being raped.
"Hi, I'm Alexz Johnson, and I'm here today to tell you how to properly fight - and hopefully win - a Battle Royale. First, let's start with the basics; what is a Battle Royale?
"A Battle Royale, or a BR as they're more commonly called, is a last man standing competition, sort of like King of the Hill. BR competitors such as yourselves fight to the death until only one player remains alive and that player is declared the winner. But, Alexz, I hear you asking, how am I supposed to fight when I don't even have a weapon? Whoa there, cowboy, there are a few more things we need to go over before we get to that part."
A computerized image of an island, roughly spherical in shape with a grid of intersecting lines cutting through it, appeared on the screen behind the singer.
"Right now you guys are on this island. Specifically, you're here," a square of land near the upper right side turned red. "We've taken the liberty of evacuating all the citizens so you've got free reign over the place. You see these lines running through the island? Well, that's because every six hours your instructor is going to be announcing which sectors are going to become danger zones. What that means is that if you're in a sector and it turns into a danger zone you need to haul butt or else…BOOM!The necklace you're wearing will explode."
Several of the students' hands flew to their necks, seemingly having just become aware of the collar. Alex fingered her own briefly.
"Let me explain a little bit about the necklaces. They're 100 waterproof, shockproof, and permanent. We use them to track your movements around the island and your heart rate and they can be triggered from anywhere, so if you try to escape, you know what. Oh! One more thing about danger zones: 20 minutes after everyone's left the school will automatically become the first danger zone, so get out of there quick!" 20 minutes. 20 minutes to get herself and Paige away from the school and hopefully anyone who might be hanging around. Fuck.
"Okay, on to the part I know you've all been waiting for: your gear. Each of you will be provided a bag of supplies containing the following items: food, water, a compass and map, a flashlight, and a weapon. The weapons are randomly selected to eliminate natural advantages, so you might get lucky or you might not." She reached into the green duffel sitting on the counter next to her and pulled out an axe.
"Whoa! This one's super lucky! Oh, by the way, this game has a few time constraints. If there's no winner within three days, all the collars will explode automatically and then nobody wins. And if no one does within 24 hours, all the collars explode automatically. So since we're here, let's all fight hard and make this the best BR it can be, okay?" Simpson stopped the video abruptly, an act for which Alex was infinitely grateful, the singer's cheerful attitude and morbid subject matter grating at her nerves, and the soldier from earlier wheeled the television back out of the room.
"The order in which you leave has been chosen by random lottery, boy-girl, with two minutes between each student. When I call your name step forward, receive your bag, and exit. Do not dawdle. Male student number one, Richard Murray."
Rick grabbed his own pack in one hand, dashed forward, catching the pack thrown at him by another soldier, and proceeded to trip before scrambling to his feet and darting out of the room.
One by one students left the classroom. Some of them Alex knew closely, like Marco, Ellie, and Sean; others in passing or not at all, like Darcy Edwards and Mitchell Sullivan. Then there were the two "transfer students," as Simpson called them. They had been in the room the entire time, silently blending into the corners and waiting for their numbers to come up.
The first, boy #5 Jason Hogart, had an air of familiarity to him that Alex couldn't quite place and it made her uneasy. When his name was called he all but leapt out of the crouched position he'd taken retying his boots, catching his bag on the run and disappearing, here and gone in a matter of seconds. Heather Sinclair had just left when Hogart reappeared, throwing the pack down and demanding "his" bag from the soldier passing the duffels out. He bumped into the other transfer, boy #6 Peter Stone, on the way out and the two exchanged an icy stare that elicited a chuckle from Simpson. "As you can see, they're rather dangerous. Be nice to them and you might live longer."
Alex shuddered involuntarily. Hogart was intimidating, yes, but something about Stone set her teeth on edge. He wore the black jacket, slacks, and white dress shirt of Bardell, a Catholic school on Toronto's west side and one of Degrassi's biggest basketball rivals, but the shaggy blond hair hanging in his eyes, worn Converse All Stars he wore, and easy stroll suggested complete comfort, as though Stone were in his element.
'He's a ringer,' was the first thought that came to Alex's mind. 'They brought him in to make sure people play the game. That or he's out of his fucking mind and volunteered.' Watching the boy stroll out of the classroom, pack slung over his shoulder, whistling an upbeat tune, Alex found herself deeply afraid of either option.
The list of students continued on with little incidence. Ashley Kerwin threw her pack at Simpson when the time came and stormed out, yelling over her shoulder that Craig knew where to find her. Emma Nelson walked right up to the former teacher and spit at his feet before jogging off with her duffel and backpack. It hit Alex after the girl was gone that it was her mother Simpson had been engaged to what felt like a lifetime ago. She wondered if Emma's gesture of defiance had been leveled at a father figure turned monster of a man who'd walked out on his family. Alex hoped it was the latter. She knew what living with both were like and the second had proven infinitely easier.
Her head snapped up. So this was it then. It was no dream, no elaborate joke or mindfuck prank. Nevertheless, Alex felt as if time had lost its meaning, like she was moving underwater. She looked at Simpson, smirk gone, face impassive. She looked at the soldiers, nothing more than anonymous guns, waiting for her to take her pack and get out. She looked at Paige, staring back, panic clear in her eyes, and knew what had to be done. She would protect the blonde, take her as far as she could. If it came down to it she would kill to ensure Paige's safety. And if they made it to the end, the final two, Alex knew she would take her own life for the blonde.
She took a deep breath, leaned toward the girl and whispered, "I'll wait for you," before slinging her backpack over one shoulder, catching the duffel that was thrown at her, and taking off down the hall.
40 students remaining.
So it's been…a few months. Long story short I've been in school and that really doesn't leave a lot of time for this or Ninja of the Night. Also, I'm pretty sure my muse ran off to Vegas withDoc's and had a big gay wedding. But they're back now and crashing on my couch, so the murderous teenagers and wild, sexy adventures of Dr. Sex Walrus are back in action. So just bear with me because the shit is about to hit the fan.
Now I promised very special shout-outs to whoever guessed the Mystery Lyrics in the last chapter, so, Doesn'tMeanMuch, pisces iscariot, and unleashmysoul, you're all fabulous. Now,unleash, you asked about the timeline and I'm going to do my best to explain it in all its cracktastic glory. This pretty much takes place in the present day, no crazy 2005 or 2025 timeline, and in my mind I imagine them looking basically like they did in season 5. The flashbacks kind of jump around, but for the recent ones think season 4-ish, the ones during the Simpson Stabbing period think season 2-3.
Shit's going to start going down here and you're going to see the effects that this AU world has had on some characters pretty soon. Hope you're as excited as I am for what's in store.