Characters: Annie Eddison, Senor Chang, Abed Nadir, Jeff Winger, Britta Perry and Troy Barnes.
Disclaimer: Yeah, they're not mine.
Word count: Around 1,083.
Author's Notes: So I’ve recently started to get into Community and I find myself drawn to Annie. Fortunately, there was a prompt on Babbles in the Fictorium's "Rewriting History" comment fic meme centring on her (Annie is the last one standing in either Modern Warfare or Epidemiology). This is part two in an unconnected sequence speculating on both of those options. It’s also, funnily enough, the second time I’ve written this show or these characters, and honestly I haven’t caught up on a lot of the episodes, so I don’t know how successful they are, but I try anyway. Enjoy!
Author’s Warning: Because S1 Senor Chang appears, so does Spanish. It has been years since I’ve learnt Spanish, and most of the words appear here courtesy of Google Translate. So they’re mostly wrong. However, since I strongly believe that’s where Senor Chang gets most of his Spanish, it’s possibly fitting. And also, since I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do the accents in 'Senor', unfortunately that's absent too.
Summary: “Okay,” Jeff remarks, “am I the only one who’s starting to think the Matrix references are being laid on a bit thick?”
A community college corridor. Normally not covered in multicoloured splotches of paint, or looking like the setting of a post-apocalyptic movie (which actually makes it more cheerful and hope-inspiring than it usually is). One occupant; a young, dark-haired woman, dressed in clothing that even her grandmother might have considered unfashionable in her youth, incongruously wearing a pair of safety goggles and clutching a bright yellow paintball pistol. She inches cautiously down the corridor.
It has been hours (days? Weeks? No, probably only hours, actually) since she has seen another living person (not that anyone’s dead, they just go home after they’ve been knocked out of the game). She’s starting to suspect that she’s the last one. She’s starting to believe she’s won The Prize.
(No. Don’t get cocky, Edison. Remember what your mother used to say.
(You’ve disappointed me, Annie.
(No, not that; eyes on the prize. Wait until you’re sure. You’ve survived the Glee Club sniper trap and the attack of the Chess Club, and you even managed take down the Post-Ironic Disco Skaters. But don’t get cocky.
(That’s when you lose.)
There were seven of them. She’s the last.
She experiences a momentary pang, a feeling of emptiness deep within her soul, for her fallen friends -- her fallen comrades. Then, she remembers that it’s just a paintball game, and they’re not actually dead, and relaxes a bit.
They call it the war room. The scene of the Last Stand of the remnants of the Study Group, who all but one went down fighting against the last remaining insurgents from Professor Nelson’s Modern European History 101 Class. Sacred, honoured territory falling the valiant final battle of a worthy group of gladiators.
Actually, it’s the library’s study room F, and since most of it’s occupants are a bit too juiced to sleep and were at a bit of a loose end having been beaten, they decided to hang around and see how Annie fared. One of them has liberated (okay, stolen) a security monitor; before their last stand, it was useful to see any approaching foes through the security monitors (security being, at Greendale, about as sharp as you’d expect). Now, they use it to monitor the last survivor of their group and follow her exploits.
“She’s almost got to Pelton’s office,” Troy updates the room as Britta enters the room with a bottle and a bag of cotton buds. “No sign of anyone. Think she might have done it.”
“Don’t jinx it,” Abed cautions. “This is exactly when the third act twist would show up. The prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled. The Chosen One hasn’t faced her nemesis yet.”
Since Annie was the only one to survive the battle unscathed, Abed’s taken to calling her ‘the Chosen One’. This, he insists, is in keeping with thousands of years of messianic tradition transplanted into an action movie tradition involving one combatant chosen by powerful forces to rise above adversity. Everyone else has to stop themselves rolling their eyes; Annie Edison is many things, but they’re skeptical that even the Messiah would wear some of the cardigans she’s been seen in. And no one’s quite sure where this ‘prophecy’ he keeps alluding to is, but he insists there must be one.
“Yeah,” Jeff calls from the study room table he lies on, holding a medical pad to the scratch in his side he insists will leave a scar, “because if anywhere’s going to see the Second Coming, it’s this dump.”
Britta raises an eyebrow as she begins to pour solution onto a pad. “And there I was thinking you’d been thinking that was you.”
“Britta, not even the Anti-Christ is going to be seen dead here. And tell me that stuff you’re using isn’t herbal. If it’s a choice between bleeding to death or being drenched in something with the healing capacity of warm milk, I’ll take the bleeding to death, thanks.”
“It’s a holistic blend proven over centuries to aid in blood-clotting,” Britta retorts hotly. “And besides, you try finding a first aid kit around here. Oh, wait, you can’t; you’re lying here whining about your blemished torso.”
“I’ll have you know it hurt, Britta.”
Troy and Abed exchange murderous looks and glance over to the abandoned paintball pistols on the table next to them. They wouldn’t hurt, and they’re all ‘dead’ anyway, but it would feel so, so good...
Then Abed notices something on the monitor. An anomaly. “What’s that?”
“It’s entering the neutral zone; heading towards Pelton.”
“Coming up on Britta from behind... oh no.”
“What?” Jeff calls out, surprised. “What is it?”
Troy looks up, eyes filled with despair.
The doors behind Annie burst open, and a man in black walks in with an orange and black-striped paintball machine gun embossed with the snarling face of a tiger, and a stoic confidence that would look great in slow-motion with an doom-laden operatic chorus on the soundtrack.
Poop, Annie thinks, just before she ducks behind a nearby overturned table and the machine gun in Senor Chang’s hands roars.
(Well, sort of goes whirrr-thwap-thwap-thwap-whirrrr, actually, but that’s less cool.)
“You hear that, little chica?” Chang declares grandly. “That’s the sound of inevitability.”
“He took out all of us. Single-handedly.”
The last survivor of the Drama Club slumps against the ruined, paint-covered pillar in the cafeteria, his breathing coming out in short gasps, his shirt stained with red (and blue, pink, orange, white and yellow). “They said...”
There is a pause.
“Yeah?” Jeff demanded snarkily, “they said what?”
“Leave him alone, Jeff, he’s been through a lot.”
“Yeah, because I didn’t realize being shot with paint could be so traumatic, Britta.”
“Shut up!” everyone around them yells. Jeff and Britta look wounded, but fall silent.
“They said,” the Drama Club survivor gasps out, “that they enrolled him. And set him loose. To hunt us all down. You have to understand... they’re so... hopelessly dependent. What the dean promised... the Prize... it threatened them. Threatened the system. So much, that they will fight to protect it. And now, he takes us all out. All of us.”
“Who?” Britta asks.
“We... survived by hiding. But he’s guarding all the doors, holding all the keys. And the way he moves... I saw people empty entire clips... and hit nothing but air. To win... someone will have to challenge him.”
“Challenge who?” Troy prompts.
“Don’t you get it?” the Drama Club survivor yelled, with the last of his energy. “He’s a natural! He plays three times a week! He cannot be reasoned with! He cannot be allied with! He cannot be stopped!”
“Who?” Annie urges, sounding a bit irritated.
There was another pause.
“El Tigre,” the Drama Club survivor sighs dramatically, slumping back over with his last breath.
Jeff raises an eyebrow. “You mean Senor Chang? Senor Chang’s somehow been made a student and is playing the game? You could have just said that right away.”
The Drama Club survivor gets to his feet, huffily.
“Jeez, you don’t have to be a dick about it,” he sniffed, glaring at Jeff as he storms out of the cafeteria in a storm of petulance.
Troy looks around at the ruined cafeteria, walls covered in paint, defenses breached, paintball guns thrown away sulkily. “Senor Chang did all this by himself?”
“They must really be desperate to stop people getting Priority Registration,” Britta muses.
“Okay,” Abed replies, slipping another cartridge into his pistol, “We’ve already lost Pierce and Shirley. This changes things. I say we hole up in the Study Room; it’s got clear vantage points, plenty of furniture to use as cover, and it’s familiar. Regroup there and decide on our next move.”
“Agreed,” Jeff replies, “but let’s swing by Security first. I have an idea.”
Senor Chang has found a black suit and a pair of sunglasses that hadn’t been splashed with paint somewhere; the orange tiger-striped paintball machine gun he carries looks even more ridiculous with that get-up. Quite why he has the listening piece in his ear is another mystery entirely.
“Congratulations, Senorita Princesa. You’ll be happy to know you made it right to the end. And so close to the prize, too. But don’t worry. Second place isn’t that bad.”
Annie feels her teeth grit; where she came from, second place is for losers. “It’s not over yet, Senor Chang!” She retorts, firing a few wild shots over her head.
“Wrong!” Chang lets loose another burst from the machine gun; it thuds into the table and over Annie’s head.
Annie takes stock of her situation; the Dean’s office is one hundred feet down the corridor. In plain sight of Chang.
“You think you can beat me, little chica? I do this all the tiempo! I eat little girls like you for desayuno!
She looks to her left. A door, leading outside. Hidden in cover. She can get there, get out and flee. Leaving Chang to claim he beat her; leaving him to claim the prize.
She could you know. She could just give up. Spare herself the hassle. Spare herself getting paint on her clothes.
Lose the Prize. It’s just priority registration.
There’s a clatter as Chang throws aside the machine gun and, from within his coat, flamboyantly produces two gold-plated paintball pistols.
“You know,” Chang muses, “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here.”
“Look,” Britta points as Senor Chang rambles on the monitor about students and viruses and whatever Matrix references come into his head, peppered with various words gratuitously translated into Spanish, “there’s a door right there! She can reach it! Come on, Annie, just go through the door! You can’t beat him, just run!”
“Yeah,” Jeff snarks, “like she can hear you.”
“Hey, at least I’m trying to contribute constructively...”
“Shut! Up!” Troy bellows at them both. They both flinch back.
Abed doesn’t take his eyes off the monitor.
“You can do it, Annie...” he whispers.
And then Annie makes a decision. And it doesn’t seem like a decision at all.
She stands up, and turns to face Senor Chang.
“What’s she doing?” Jeff blurts out, stunned.
The corner of Abed’s mouth quirks up almost imperceptibly. If you didn’t know him you wouldn’t recognize this as triumph.
“She’s beginning to believe.”
Chang raises his eyes. “Well. Finally decided to try and take me on, huh? Big mistake; I’m gonna -- ”
“Less talk,” Annie interrupts, brandishing her pistol, “more shooting.”
And so there is.
If this was a film, this is where the bullet-time slow motion leaping and shooting would start.
The four remaining members of the study group watch the action unfold on the monitor with stunned expressions.
“I must say,” Britta remarks, “I did not peg Senor Chang as a gymnast.”
“And I had no idea that Annie could do...” Troy shakes his head, “... whatever it is she’s doing.”
Chang and Annie land side-by-side, pistols at each other’s heads, clothes miraculously free from paint.
“You’re empty,” he sneers.
“So are you,” she sneers right back.
“Okay,” Jeff remarks, “am I the only one who’s starting to think the Matrix references are being laid on a bit thick?”
“It’s a homage,” Abed explains, “don’t worry. It’ll be over soon enough.”
From nowhere, Chang produces a pistol.
He fires. Splat.
Annie goes down.
Dead silence in the study room. Britta’s hands cover her mouth, Troy frowns sadly, even Jeff looks a little downhearted.
Abed... if you didn’t know Abed, you wouldn’t know he was broken.
“I don’t understand.” He murmurs.
Senor Chang giggles, and walks over, gloating.
No paint anywhere on her. He missed.
There’s suddenly a paintball pistol aimed directly at his chest.
“Oh looky,” Annie smiles sweetly, “I think I win.”
And she empties the clip right into his chest.
Man, you will never hear anything like the cheering that erupts from Study Room F.
Chang slumps back against the wall, suit jacket covered in green and blue and white, breathing heavily. Man, what is with everyone and the melodramatic death-acting? Annie thinks as she walks over to him.
Suddenly, he giggles.
Annie frowns. “What’s so funny?”
“Maybe it’s the fact that there is no such thing as priority registration. Or maybe it’s... this...?” He lifts up his suit jacket; a large bottle of green paint, wired to a timer, set to five seconds. “Taa-daa.”
He’s still shrieking with laughter as Annie clears the table and the bomb goes off.
A few seconds later:
“Oh, and Princesa Duendecillio?” the now very-green Chang splutters out as he tries to stand up from under the volume of paint that is now sticking him down to the wall, spitting out globules of green, “tell your freaky little pals that Spanish 101’s been changed from one-thirty to three.”
Behind the table, Annie looks determined.
No such thing as priority registration, huh?
She gets up, walks past the stuck Chang to pick up his abandoned machine gun, and begins to stride to the Dean’s office, determination holding her head up high.
We’ll see about that.
When Pierce Hawthorne enters the ruined study room, ready for class, the triumphant hugging and yelling is still going on.
“I miss anything good?” he asks.
For once, Britta plucks up the nerve required to hug him. He doesn’t complain about paint getting on his shirt, mainly because it’s coming courtesy of her sports bra, and by extension, her boobs.