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Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Welp! Bad end immediately. We've still got four branching options to go to from here, so its time to vote again! Options are:

-When we chose to pair with Marco and investigated the library, at the very start
-When we chose between E and Marco, after one twin's death and the other being shot by Ray
-When Jasmine killed A and H, and we chose to save E specifically
-When we were trying to decide what to do with the gun we stole from Agnos, after he killed everyone else

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MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Let's go back and re-do that last decision by taking out Jasmine, because I don't feel like we learned anything from that thanks to Simon throwing away (literally) our only chance to get information from E.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



whhhhhat just happened there

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



Yeah, I agree with going back to take out Jasmine directly.

As for this end, the only thing I can think of is he’s going deaf and blind like E.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





The other option in this situation is to get directly involved with Jasmine instead of E, so we're gonna see what happens if we focus on the person with the knife! :v:

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


BGM: Abyssal Snarl


:v: Well...I guess that does the job!

It hurt to do this to my friend, but I had no choice. It was either knocking her out, or risking her damaging someone else. Or even herself, even more than a simple knock out! Something in her caused her to go out of her mind.

At last, she dropped the knife on the way down, as she crumpled to the floor in a heap of Jasmine. The weapon was covered with a red, drying bloodbath. I panted heavily, calming down after that altercation. It had drawn a lot out of me just to do this much.



Hah... hahh... This whole business, it's... what even happened...? I don't know... but we have to treat her. We need to bring her back.

Bring... her... back?

She looked at me, strangely bewildered. I spoke about Jasmine, but perhaps she misinterpreted it. I corrected myself, to not give her false hopes.

I mean- we have to restrain J. So that way she won't hurt us...



She clenched her teeth. The sadness in her voice was impossible to mistake. I approached her to console her, but she glared at me.

Don't come closer!

She stood up and hesitated, before grabbing her sister's body and carrying it off. I watched it all happen, unable and unwilling to get in the middle of them. I waited a few minutes, though I knew I didn't have all the time in the world. Jasmine was knocked out, but she'd come awake sooner or later.



Looking around for anything to help me, I noticed that when G carried H's body away, she left something behind. The other twin once carried a map on her, and now it was on the floor. I found it strange that G didn't come back for it, but I wasn't going to complain.

I took it and looked it over. There were the names of every station, and a map of all of them, separately, in a pile. One of them was an infirmary.

Ah! I can use this to keep Jasmine bound, and treat her if needed. Didn't A say that he came back from the infirmary earlier? That means it's solved and vacant!



First, I needed to clean it. I loathed doing this, but I used A's body to do so. I wiped it off with a piece of his clothing.

:psyduck: ...Why does it have to be clean if you're planning on disposing of it???



I had a passing thought for G while I was cleaning the knife. She was the only one apart from Jasmine and me who knew what transpired here. And she was on the loose. The twin would definitely be different the next time we met. Once she'd processed everything, it would change her. Something like that could break someone.

Perhaps she was already broken. It was... partially... my fault.

Okay, first order of business done. Now, let's leave the knife somewhere no one will find it.

I put it in my outfit and lifted Jasmine from the ground to carry her down the stairs. I needed to take the train with her to head to the infirmary.



I made sure the twins weren't downstairs before I stepped out of the little lobby.

The train must've passed... I don't know which direction she took. Perhaps she went the same way. That wouldn't be good.

I spoke aloud to organize my thoughts. I needed to find a place where no one would take the knife anymore.

That's it! The rails. No one would cross them for it. Especially if I threw it into the darkness... No one could see it! That's such a good idea.



I couldn't see a thing beyond this room. Perfect. It was pitch black. I threw the knife, which echoed as it landed with loud clanks and then nothing.

It's gone now. No one will make use of it again.

It was as if I spoke to reassure Jasmine, but she was still out cold.



What a mess...

BGM: Silence
I set Jasmine in a seat. She looked like a disarticulated marionette. I made sure to position her in such a way to have the momentum work with her posture.

The train set off. I had to count the stations not to miss my stop, but I also wanted to think about the situation.

So let's make sense of all this fuckery...

I felt like Ray, swearing so much.

We all came back from our stations, except for the twins. Marco, Ray, Jasmine, A, E, and myself were there. Wait, gently caress. E was there. I completely forgot about her.

:v: Oops!

I slapped my face. poo poo! In the moment, I didn't realize I left her there, since she was so quiet. I'd go back for her later, I thought.

Whatever, right now let's just focus on this. I'm not seeing Marco or Ray anywhere at the moment. That's so weird. They're not on any of these stations, either. It's like they just... vanished.



I ruffled my hair rapidly, making a mess of it. The more I thought about Marco and Ray, the harder my head hurt! It was like reality didn't want me to think about it.

Did I mistakenly see them? Was I hallucinating? Were my eyes playing tricks on me? I shook my head, to clear it all up. Thankfully, the train stopped at the station I wanted to go to. It had stopped a few times prior, but I didn't pay any attention to those, only mentally counted them.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Ugh! I had to get used to this, especially if I needed to carry her upstairs. I needed to be quick, before the train departed again. Finally, I was on the station.

I didn't take too long, before heading to the lobby... And then right up the stairs. One step at a time, I ascended with great effort, but I managed. Panting on the halfway mark, I remained there for several moments before resuming my trek.



Ugh... this would've been easier with someone else, but... that would be kinda hard right now. Our entire group is somewhat dysfunctional. What a mess.

I repeated the words I'd said before taking the train. For some reason, it helped me cope with it.

Okay, what now...?

I got rid of the knife, so I was safe. I wanted answers, but I also wanted her to be alright first, so I could even get those answers. I went to the sink. With some paper towels in hand, I wet the lot and folded it to put on her forehead. At least this would alleviate the pain I caused her by knocking her out.

Nothing to do then but wait.

BGM: Silence


After a while, I remembered what Smiley said, and I quickly fixed my predicament. I attached a post-it note from one of the stacks I found in the infirmary to the doorframes at the bottom. On them was the indication to yell if they would go up, as this place was occupied by two already.

BGM: Ambient Strain
At least this will prevent some kind of lovely tragedy...

While I'd been waiting, I'd investigated the area but I found nothing of use. Jasmine was taking a long time to come back to her senses, so I decided to examine her again. I took her temperature, but everything seemed normal. It was when I pulled my hand away that I noticed something weird.

BGM: Anaphora Solution


Or maybe that was a habit she had when she'd been younger, and she no longer had it, whatever. What I was seeing didn't make sense. I noticed her hair could sort of... fall. With a hand, I curiously reached to the scalp, and pulled.

What... was this...?

I could remove her hair? Underneath was more hair. Did she switch to wearing a wig instead of dyeing it? What was the point of this?

This doesn't make sense. Did you try dyeing your hair another color? What happened after I left you, to attend the University of Montreal? loving... knew... I should have stayed...



Underneath her pink wig, her hair was blond-colored. It wasn't brown, it wasn't pink: it was blond. The strands couldn't lie.

What the gently caress happened to you, Jasmine...? You dyed your hair... blond?



Something was definitely wrong with this. I backed off and went downstairs to think about it. I'd removed the whole wig, and the hair underneath was... blond. It wasn't long, either. It was kept short. Maybe that was so it could fit under the wing better?

Why is her hair blond...?

Whose hair?

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I jumped back in surprise, as G came out of nowhere. She'd arrived at the station while I'd been upstairs, and she surprised me by coming out from the little dark hallway with a gate.

Uhh... Jasmine's hair is blond. I don't know why. It's not supposed to be blond. Oh- sorry- I was insensitive, are you okay?

Yeah, I'll be fine...

BGM: Advancing Shadows


It's a pretty spacious place here, huh.

Maybe it is... So uhh, what did you do with your twin sister? Did you bring her somewhere?

Kinda.



As soon as I showed any signs of detachment, G shoved me backwards.

Wha-!

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


I heard those words as my world fell upside down. I fell onto the space between the stations.

Your sister's de- GGHGHHHNN!!

BGM: Silence








With this, we have the first half of necessary information to unlock a lock we haven't encountered yet. What it actually was will remain a mystery, for now... :ssh:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



...So yeah, this one's also a bad ending (which is why it took almost no time to prepare this update). :v: Makes it really easy on me! And with that, we've still got the remaining three branch points to choose from:

-When we chose to pair with Marco and investigated the library, at the very start
-When we chose between E and Marco, after one twin's death and the other being shot by Ray
-When we were trying to decide what to do with the gun we stole from Agnos, after he killed everyone else

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Might as well go in reverse order. let's do something different with the gun.

Also [insert my standard complaint about handling E as a character very badly].

whitehelm
Apr 20, 2008


Mix. posted:

This doesn't make sense. Did you try dyeing your hair another color? What happened after I left you, to attend the University of Montreal? loving... knew... I should have stayed...



This seems like an extreme reaction to have over her having the wrong hair color. It's probably supposed to be more in reaction to her killing H, but he's not mentioning that.

whitehelm fucked around with this message at 19:23 on Jul 17, 2021

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





The next branch is down the line from the one we just finished. As a reminder...

Instead of staying at the lounge, Simon goes with A for a walk to one of the previous stations the groups had visited: specifically, the lab that he and Jasmine had just finished exploring. While heading there, A tells Simon a little more about himself- on the surface, he works in a research department at a large scale corporation, but that is just a cover for his actual job: he works as some kind of internal auditor whose job is to root out unethical activities and deal with them firsthand. He states that he, somehow, entered the Dating Game of his own volition to take Smiley down, and, while refusing to give specifics due to confidentiality agreements, implies that the facility they find themselves in may at one time have been used for something his company was involved with.

A also shows a remote he found in a previous station, and states that he believes it is the key to the “ninth person” they are meant to find. He asks Simon to work with him directly to find a way to open the locked door so that he can do his job and the group can escape. As a show of good faith, he gives Simon the remote, stating that he wants Simon to keep an eye out for anything that the remote might work on. Simon agrees, on the condition that should an escape route present itself while they continue to investigate, that they'll take that route instead. When they return to the lounge, the group partners up again to explore some of the remaining stations. Because Simon has the pens and slips of paper, A volunteers him to take E and go in the opposite direction from the group, so they can check the previously solved stations for any sign that a ninth person might be actively evading them. They do so, and eventually find themselves at a new station- a church.

After solving the puzzle at the church, the two make their way back to the lounge, only to hear gunshots from the upstairs room. A is revealed to be the shooter, and after a brief scuffle, Simon manages to disarm him and run up the stairs with E in tow. The rest of the group are now dead, and the two manage to evade A by entering a train from the other side of the station. They stop at the station with the gymnasium in it, which has a wall safe that has been left open. Simon is torn with what to do with the gun he stole from A (whose real name has been revealed to be Agnos), and last time, he decided to keep it with himself so he can confront A directly. This time, though, we're going to take a different option! :v:


BGM: Advancing Shadows


I didn't find a password in this room, I didn't find a clue about Smiley, I didn't find anything really relevant, but I could get rid of this gun. Despite my resolve, I knew that I would shake in my boots when the time came to use it. This was dangerous for me, not for anyone else. I didn't even know how to operate it.

Time was ticking down, too. Agnos would find us sooner or later. I already weighed my options. I could confront Agnos with the gun or leave the gun here and investigate a way to leave otherwise. The third option was also the “mega-door” I could unlock with the remote, but.. I still didn't know the password for it.

If only I had hints about the password... but until I did so, my options were limited.



:v: I'm sure we'll be fine without this.

BGM: Ambient Strain


I threw the gun into the safe, and locked it up. When I closed it, even I couldn't open it anymore- I didn't know the combination. At least, Agnos couldn't use it against me, and if it came to it, I would simply let him know where it was as a bargaining chip while I made my escape. Perhaps leaving it here was in my best interests?

I believed that, if I made my interest in learning how to leave apparent, it would make it clear I wasn't Smiley or his accomplice. If I was, then I could've just gone. I would know how to leave if I was Smiley, but I didn't know, so I couldn't be.

Yeah... this is as sound a plan as I can make it. It's not about convincing him that I'm not Smiley, but that I can't be Smiley.

This might have worked for me, but what about E? I glanced at the girl. She was still oblivious to most events happening. If she was Smiley, why would she hide her senses like that? This was most likely a good point to bring up when I'd eventually meet Agnos again.

Okay, Simon. You can do this. It's just an old man. Convince him you're fine, get your ticket out, and leave with E while he does whatever here.

Using some of my last bits of paper, I notified E that I was going to find Agnos. She vehemently opposed me doing such.

Don't do that, it's too dangerous! We should just leave right now.

I used another one of my last sheets of paper to explain to her that we couldn't leave. There were scanner gates, and they would detect if we didn't find the ninth person.

Oh... that does sound dangerous, but is it worth taking the chance? I'll follow you anyway.





BGM: Advancing Shadows


It was minutes later that I realized I'd been waiting in vain: he wasn't coming with the train- he was at this station already. He was upstairs! Some footsteps made it clearer. He'd been immobile for a while, most likely trying to open the door but failing. Without the remote, which I still held, he most likely stood no chance.



Unfortunately, that was also my last paper. I could no longer communicate with her.

Understood. I'll stay down here, don't worry!

Silently, I left her side and went to the lobby. I was getting really tired of these rooms, staircases, and the metro too. After this, I wouldn't take it anymore. Once this was done, I'd get my own loving car and use it. It was probably worse for the environment, but at least no one would abduct me in a car.

...No, it was probably more secure to take the public transport. gently caress it! I still wanted to never have anything to do with this place.



I could tell he'd amassed a lot of tools to do so, some of which I didn't even know the purpose of.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


What tells you I'll hand over the remote?

My eyes trailed over the many chemicals he'd tried to mix. The place really looked like a science lab now; it was as if he believed some mixture would dissolve the door, but so far he'd made no headway. I could also tell my question angered him a little. Good. If I could tick off that piece of poo poo a little, it might distract him from outsmarting me.

I am completely aware we have not been getting along as much as we should've. Instead of trusting each other then, I thought it best if we didn't, at least, distrust each other.



I am still a knight of justice, but would you stand with those who sinned? Surely you must tell that while I have done something horrible, it was necessary.

None of it was necessary. I already figured out some things, and I was going to share them before you put a bullet in my friends' heads.



How do we leave? I'm not Smiley. E's not Smiley. If she was Smiley, why would she block her senses? If I was Smiley, why did I not run away? We don't know how to leave, we don't know what to do. We're not Smiley, get it already!

He listened intently.

How about we do a trade? I need the remote, and you, apparently, need what I know, because I have understood how to leave this place.

I wasn't sure about this. He might've be bluffing.

I'll hand over the remote after you tell me, then. I won't need it after I can leave this place, so I have no intention or need to double cross you. Is that okay?



After all, why should I trust that you would hold to your word after you've left me on the station, and without my tool? Where is it, anyway?

I'll even tell you that. I'll tell you where it is first, then you tell me how to leave, and then I'll give you the remote, okay?

You drive a hard bargain. Very well.

I didn't know if I could trust him still, but just telling him where the gun was would be enough. He couldn't open the safe, anyway. He killed the people who were able to open that safe.



BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
But as soon as I spoke, he took off in a sprint. drat it! Did he get me?! I quickly launched after him and barreled down the stairs.

Hey, we had a deal! You piece of poo poo, what are you doing?

Simply what I must, young man! I do not actually care for the gun, so I will make you give me the remote!



He was holding her hostage.



I clenched my teeth. I ran out of bargaining chips, and now he had everything in his hand. I felt sorry for E. This was my fault, completely my fault.

I should've known you would do something without honor like this. Doesn't it mean anything to be a knight of justice or what?

The most important thing is to get real justice, and if you are Smiley, then you will die. But, I wish to secure that remote, and see what's beyond the room first, so give it over to me.

He smirked while E trembled, scared witless.

W-Who's this..? Please anyone, help!

I guess I have no choice... is that fine for a deal?



He released E to grab the remote. At least he was true to his word.

I believe your intention in asking me about the way to leave is genuine. However, I cannot say that I have sufficient proof to think otherwise of E. For all I know, she was the one behind all of this.

No, she's not! Her senses are all hidden, and...



What?

It is a lie I came up with when she arrived here with me. I told her to play along, and to act disabled. It would make her look inoffensive, and she wouldn't be in harm's way.



Now that I no longer can trust her...

BGM: Silence


BGM: Advancing Shadows
Suddenly, his hands rose and he shoved her right in the stomach with remarkable strength. The girl held it with her hands, her breath cut short. I lunged forward while screaming.

No, E! What the gently caress?! You piece of poo poo!!

Simon!!

She fell to the tracks and flailed wildly as the current coursed through her. Within a single moment, the girl had completely expired. She was dead. Even after she died, her body's spasms didn't stop as the current continued to course through her. I watched in horror.



You lying sack of crap! You didn't tell me how to leave, and you harmed E anyway!

All that is important is my mission, and you will not interrupt it. You and I are both as insignificant to humanity as the far-away stars in the night's sky.



Nonsense! You killed an innocent because you couldn't trust them! You're the one with the issues!

Believe what you want.

He disappeared into the lobby. I needed to punish him. But how? The train wasn't coming yet. Maybe if I...

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


It wasn't possible. I tried for a few minutes, but all I could reach without getting struck by a shock was her collar. By the time I managed to lift her up and to the side of the station, my hands were charred by the electricity. I didn't care, though. The pain was nothing. All there was in my mind was rage and vengeance. He killed my friends. He killed the twins. He killed Ray. He even killed E, and now I was going to kill him.

You're a dead man, Agnos.



Agnos, it's the pizza deliveryman! Special delivery just for you! It's justice in a package, you loving rear end in a top hat!

I walked up the stairs, screaming my one-liner with pride. When he saw me carrying E inside, he panicked.


Our collars were already beeping.

I don't care.



I watched him with a certain satisfaction, as both our heads fell to the ground. I even managed to work up a tiny bit of muscle to smile. Or perhaps I only imagined it. That bastard could find solace in the fact true justice had been served.

BGM: Silence






:v: Hey, who could've predicted not having any kind of defense while confronting a murderer was going to go badly! As for Agnos' claims.... well, he's kinda proven himself to be very untrustworthy, so I'd take anything he says with a grain of salt.

No vote this time, since there's only two options anyway; next update we'll just finish up this side of the flowchart.

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Agnos is, without doubt, an rear end in a top hat.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





Quick recap (boy, there's a lot of these when you're jumping around a flowchart, huh): After exploring the gymnasium with E, the pair return to the lounge only to find out one of the twins is dead- beheaded, seemingly from attempting to leave through one of the exit passages with the scanners. Ray defends himself but is ambushed by the surviving twin, accidentally shooting her in the ensuing struggle. She is still alive even after being shot, so Jasmine volunteers to take her to the infirmary.

Jasmine gets into the train that has just arrived bearing Marco and A, and Simon explains the situation to them. After attempting to take the firearm from Ray and discovering that the head of the twin is (supposedly) fake, the group leaves Ray behind to go explore some of the remaining stations. Simon can't pair with A because he has a firearm he found in the gym hidden in the bottom of his bag, and when we first hit this branch, we went with E, which took us to the theater. This time, we're going to go with Marco.


BGM: Silence


Especially considering it contained my gun, making it an option I couldn't pick. My decision came when we finally stopped at the station leading to the church.



BGM: Ambient Strain


I kind of want to head out with Marco, to be honest.



We've done good work so far, and I don't want to break the pattern, that's all. No offense to E, of course!

I knew she couldn't hear me, but I didn't want the others to think I believed her to be useless in escape rooms. She did have her fair share of integrity with the previous one.

Oh, no, that is not a problem at all, do not worry. What I have to confer with M can wait, regardless. Something tells me we will not be done until we have seen every room here.



Marco and I looked at each other. It seemed he got the same impression. Talking about it was useless; we both knew something was up, and we had to leave the train first anyway.

We will see each other again.

:v: Ironic words coming from someone who's going to the theater station!

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


Much like before, as soon as we stepped through, the train drove off with the duo, heading to the last of the stations on this side. Much like before, the door closed behind us as well, trapping us in a new station to explore.

Hey, before we go in, I want to look around this place.

Marco had already been in the process of climbing up the stairs before I said that, after which he came back down to join me again.



Well, first let's confirm this fact. What do you find if you go up and check the other side? Is it exactly the same room as this one, like every other station?

I'll go take a look. Call for me when you're done, and we can share information then!

He went back up the stairs. I didn't know if he'd do what I asked of him, or if he'd start this escape room without me. No skin off my back in either case. I had a small room to explore, and plenty of time to do so. Some things had caught my eye, and I wanted to take a closer look....



Since this is part of the ground level station, there's nothing particularly special about the map. I'll start by looking at the door.



That made sense. We'd get out of here when we would win, not when we would lose. That's why it was called a window and not a losedow.

:rolleyes: How about that pillar?

That was a shiny surface. At first, I thought it was a support beam, but upon pressing my hands onto it, it felt more like a large vibrating tunnel. Maybe it was for air conditioning? Strange, there was nothing connected under this station or above, except for the room we'd have to explore there.



Last thing to look at in this Active Search is the stairs.



I always climbed them two stairs at a time as a result.

Cool! This search was a complete waste of time. Guess we'd better call Marco to have him confirm the same on his side.

In the end, I decided to call for Marco.

Hey, M, you finished yet?



M, I told you to explore the other side, didn't I?

Yeah, you did! And I did, too. I realized there was nothing really important there, so I left and came up here to meditate a little.

You, meditating?

Surprising? Figured it would be. Anyway, look at this place. It's big, isn't it? It's just what it says on the tin: it's a church.

I can see that. Explored this place any, then?



I had to defuse this little joking mentality he kept relying on while we were in here.

:sigh:

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


Well... to be honest, I don't think that. I'm just optimistic. At least, I try to be. This place is really hard, you know? It's suffocating me a little. Knowing we can't just go outside...



But until we're outside, I can't let it drag me down too much, or else I'm gonna drink myself unconscious in the lounge and be useless. So that's why, if I want to win, I have to work hard. It's the same for life, too. There are so many people who try doing something or another, and they just fail. They just don't reach their goal. Why's that?



You either succeed, or you fail, there's no “trying” to do something. You either get back up and work harder, or you stay down.

I see...

I thought I understood Marco before, but perhaps this was more useful than any gaming session we've ever had together. Marco relied on his humor because he needed it. If that was the crutch that kept him up, what was mine?

Jasmine's face flashed in my head. Was it Jasmine? No... was it the knowledge that I could make it out with my friends alive, if I gave it enough effort?

Heh. Here we are, in a church, thinking about these silly things. We both know enough about religion that I'm sure you can understand how ironic that is.



Something like that. Which is why I don't like being in this place.

I dunno. Even with that, I think I'm okay being here. There's a part of me that resonates with God...

Here we go, M the evangelist. Soon you'll knock on people's doors to deliver unto them the word of the Lord.

Oh, nothing like that.



This is a church. It's kind of weird that it's here, underground.

Churches have a right to go wherever they want too, they're human just like you and I.

I was just wondering how exactly they managed to build this underground. It's pretty big, even if it looks smaller than the churches I've gone to in the past.

How many was that?

Uh... one.

He shrugged, as if that proved a point. Fair, that was only one church, so I was no expert or anything. Silently, he'd already begun exploring the room.



BGM: Anaphora Solution


My head lifted up a little. In a daze, I stared up at the arches near the ceiling. There was a lever... There was something hooked onto the arches. How did I know that? I whispered to myself, trying to make sense of it.

This is... weird. I don't feel too good, all of a sudden. Ugh... a headache...

Just as quickly as that pain surged in my head, it went away. Within moments, I already forgot what I was thinking about before. I did see the thing hooked upon the arch, though.

How... weird. Have I ever come here before...? I think I'd know if I visited more than one church... Is this... the church I visited, then, a long time ago?

Hey, S, let's get a move on! I'm not gonna do your homework!

Coming!



BGM: Algorithm Simile
As I stepped further into the church, I couldn't hide my sudden unease. Marco noticed remarkably quickly.

You okay? Wanna sit down for a bit?

No, I'll be fine. I must be allergic to the clergy.



:argh: goddammit marco

The corner of my lips twisted up into a grim smile. I understood he wanted to cheer me up despite my current state. I gave in, and sat down onto a bench. It wasn't comfortable. As I leaned back, I focused on what we could search around the room.



BGM: Active Search
Almost immediately, my gaze crossed the shape of a strange object hooked onto an arch.

BGM: Silence


BGM: Anaphora Solution


Hnng... this is... it's back...



You're seriously worrying me now.

I could hardly see him anymore. The room was spinning. Everything was moving as if it was made of water. This otherworldly feeling overtook me, and all of a sudden... I knew what to do.

Did you... do anything yet?



Okay... go to the back of the church.

He moved away from me. I watched him shrink into the waving surface of my vision. He stood there, waiting for me to talk again.

Now... the altar. There are some gears.

Gears? I don't see any gear. This is a bonafide altar. It's flat and elegant.

No... not on it, but inside.

I can't open this.

Oh... I forgot... how do we...



I saw the church. I didn't know who I was accompanying, but there was someone else there. Was it Marco? Was this me with him? No... I couldn't be sure for both. This wasn't my memory. I'd never come here before. And yet, I was seeing it as if I was living it in real time. That never happened. It couldn't have happened.

Is this... deja vu? Ugh... Okay. Simon. Get a loving grip.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl
I grabbed onto the bench and slowly lifted myself to my feet. I forced the vision to go away. Marco watched from afar, worried just like before and unsure if he should've rushed in. I moved out of the row of benches, only to trip on the side.

Ugh!

Hey man, you really don't look good. Maybe you should take a nap somewhere.



I'm fine... I'm fine. This is just... weird... and I can't stop thinking about the fact I know what to do here.

Maybe you already came to this church outside of this place, then! Maybe you have been here before.

I've never been here. I'd know if I went to a church made for a group of cultists.

I gave a nod towards the large altar in the back with the symbol engraved into it.



You're right. There are only two possibilities, then. One, you've been here, but you forgot. Maybe you came here when you were a baby? Two, you're having visions of the future.

Stop joking around...



So you're saying...

If you retrace your steps, maybe it'll go away.

I nodded. That made sense, on a stupid level, but it was my only recourse. I shakily walked to the altar and leaned forward over it, hands flat on the surface for support.

BGM: Active Search
First... the pulpit.



Still shaking a little, I vacated the pulpit to head to the back instead. Slowly, I pressed some switches positioned under the stained glass. First, the diamonds. Then, the hearts. The hearts again. Finally, the clubs. Each time I activated a card suit, the feeling we were solving the room correctly grew stronger within me.

As I finished entering the sequence, the back of the altar opened.

Wow, there are a few gears in there! How'd you know?

The vision... or whatever it is.



BGM: Alarming Silence
I can tell you're thinking something wild.

I mean, it's just... can you blame me? You're having visions of this and that...

So it was a joke earlier.

I mean, yeah. Visions from the future don't exist, and I know you've never come here. So what's up with that, then?

gently caress if I know, M. I don't have a clue either. I just... do, somehow.



Marco.

I used his name instead of his nickname. I hoped he would understand I wasn't joking.

I'm not Smiley, okay? The last thing I'd want is to put you and everyone else in danger. I have no motive, and I certainly don't have access to anything that would allow me to change all these stations.

I mean, that's a pale excuse. Of course the person who organized all this wouldn't be someone we'd suspect.

If that's your train of thought, why couldn't you be Smiley, then?



...I see what you mean. I guess I can't prove it, either. That's a bother.

Listen, Marco. You and I... we're not linked to this place, right?

He paused when I asked him, as if he was hesitating.

...right? You're not in cahoots with Smiley, are you?



BGM: Alarming Situation


I didn't know. The more he spoke, the more he accused me of being Smiley... the more it felt like he was diverting my attention. The more he was trying to prove he wasn't Smiley, either.

Did I trust Marco? I trusted Marco before. I figured he would have no role to play in this. Did my stance change...? Was this... paranoia? This feeling of helplessness engulfing me from head to toe. The idea that someone I trusted before would betray me so much. That despair.



Was... Marco... Smiley...?

Suddenly, something brought me back to reality. Marco grabbed my shoulder and shook me gently.

Hey, are you listening? You look totally out of it.

Sorry... I was...

I can tell you're getting hung up over it. I don't want our relation to be bungled up by this, okay? What I feel, deep in my heart is...

He paused again, as if he was going to say something that had been weighing on him for a long time. Maybe he was searching his words. It took about half a minute before he spoke again.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I don't claim to understand what you'd be thinking, why you did all this or how, but if you were, I'd still follow you. Whatever this is... there must be a good reason, and if you're Smiley, then that reason's important to me too.

And you won't go back on that?

No, sir. I have decided to put my trust in you, sir.

Stop calling me sir. What am I, a general?



Okay, okay! Fine then. Since you're deciding to put your trust in me, I'll put my trust in you too, Marco. I'll trust that you're not Smiley, either.

I held out my hand for him to shake. He stretched out his hand too, and before he could have any time to pull it away, I grabbed it to shake it.

Aw man, I wanted to do a quick trick on you.

You wanted to remove your hand before I took it, right?



No. You're not a ghost.

We both laughed it out. Yeah... I decided I could trust Marco.

BGM: Active Search
So... what was the next part of your so-called vision?

Clearly, we need to move this gear. It's immobile, and it can connect with that one over there.



It's in there. We don't need the incense, so empty that stuff if you want.

He turned the pot over, and with a clinking noise, the metal stick fell down to the ground. Marco grabbed it and flung it over to me.



I caught it effortlessly. I operated the machinery, and just as I saw in my vision, the side of the altar in the back opened. The small depression revealed a terminal with a bunch of numbers on it.

That's our password, if I had to guess. Let's try it out.

Yeah. But before that... ugh...

BGM: Abyssal Snarl
The room was moving again. My headache came back.

Want to sit down again?

Yeah. It'll take just a short moment.

I remained in the church, while Marco walked out of the room. I assumed he went down to both sides of the station below, unlocking the doors for our escape.



You know... this church, it's not really a real church, is it?

What do you mean?

It's probably a replica. That's why I've had that vision. Maybe it's replicated from one of the real escape rooms I've done before. Maybe that's where Smiley's getting his ideas. From real escape rooms.

No, they're usually more complicated. This feels like just an excuse to stuff two people into a room. You know, like when teens play that game where two people go in the wardrobe?

I guess. It's true they're not very complicated...

I let my eyes wander the room again. I felt much better after sitting down for a bit. I hoped this headache wouldn't come back either.

BGM: Algorithm Simile




Nobody really practices anymore, and most people seem to have become atheists now, so... probably not. I guess I don't.

Well... maybe I do, but it's not that simple. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a man of science, but for some reason, I wholeheartedly believe in “God”.

That did surprise me. I remained quiet since he quickly added onto the subject.

Before you think I'm some kind of silly boy with beliefs that can't be proven one way or another, I don't believe God made the world in seven days and all that kind of stuff. Those are just tales, or metaphors. I'm just saying God probably exists on a whole other level than humanity.



How to say this? Maybe God doesn't even create because He has a will to do so. Maybe it's more like... unwillingly. In a way, thinking about it like that, all of us might be God. It's all about the Perception of Existence. It's a theory that says... actually, I'll just do the simple part first. You remember in school, maybe someone told you one day about a tree?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see or hear it, did it fall? That kind of thing?

Yeah, exactly. The Perception of Existence would then say that this tree never existed. By “this tree”, I mean not only the tree, but also the result of the action.



That would also be “the result of the action”, and count as “the tree fell in the forest”. I'm talking galaxy levels of “possibly never witnessed”. If a planet collides with another somewhere twenty billion light years from us...

And those debris never get to us, and never affect us, then it's like it never existed? Am I following that correctly?

Yes, exactly. That's what this belief stems from. If God doesn't see something, then that something doesn't exist, but if he sees it, then it confirms that existence.



Well... that's an idea, I guess.

I didn't really believe in it, despite Marco's insistence.

Listen, I just don't really know where this belief comes from. It's just something... programmed in me at this point. I don't know why, I just feel it.



We're just lucky that we happened to be the ones who need to observe, or be observed. If it was anybody else, like an entire other race on some other planet, then we might not exist.

Yeah, that's actually a wrench in your idea. Why is it us? We might not be the only sentient life in the universe.

I guess it's us because... because it's how it happened. Higher beings are probably watching us at this very moment.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I elbowed him after he gave this long, serious spiel, only to finish it off with a stupid pun. He coughed and smirked while half bent over.

Worth it...

No, it's never worth it, you idiot. God or not, we have to get out of here anyway.

This place having a church still felt so odd. Why was that? I was interrupted in my thoughts when he stood up, nodding at me. After awkwardly strolling through the main room, we made our way to the outside hallway, and finally down the stairs.



BGM: Ambient Strain
The train was taking its time. I figured it would, but this was unnaturally long.

How long has it been?

Few minutes. Eager to get back to the lounge? We gotta tell them there's a real church here.

It's probably a fake one. Say... think Ray went off on his own, and that's why the train's taking forever?

I don't think so. What if another team finished?



I immediately thought of Jasmine alone... As if I never believed the twin had any chance of survival in the first place. The train arrived before I could chastise myself. We both stepped in it. It seemed like whatever Smiley set up was good enough to be somewhat punctual. Maybe it was finely tuned. Maybe he was driving the train himself.

BGM: Silence
Nah... that would be stupid. I couldn't even properly see into the driver's cabin. If he drove, he'd have to see, no? Otherwise, the train wouldn't stop when it needs to.



He might be the ninth person. Or even Ray. Remember Smiley in that recording they fed to us? Ray's build did match him, but... Maybe they want us to think that.

What says it's a video, too? Maybe it was real time. Maybe Smiley isn't even one of us, and they're just looking at us from the shadows, laughing at our incompetence.

Yeah... maybe. I have to think about it some more. Let's talk about it later, after we find some sort of clue.

Marco clammed up, and so did I. The train was going steady. We didn't say anything else again, until it arrived at the lounge. The moment Marco and I stepped out of the train, we heard a noise from upstairs.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Yeah. That doesn't sound good. It's like... a fight.

We both looked at each other and hightailed it out of the station. Quickly, we went through the little lobby and up the stairs.



The words of that unstable man reached my ears as I got to the lounge proper. The situation quickly came into view. It wasn't pleasant. Jasmine had her back against a wall, and Ray was yelling, holding her at gunpoint. gently caress! I knew I should've insisted earlier to take it from him! I cast a glance over to Marco. He didn't look too happy, either, but there was little we could really do in this situation. Jasmine noticed us.

Run away, you loving morons! Run, or he's gonna kill you too!

I'm not leaving you here!

Stay out of it and run!

My words caught Ray by surprise for a moment.



When we managed to get his attention, Jasmine leaped at him. The man fell under her weight. I froze up, unsure of how to handle this situation. If I got close, it would be dangerous... Marco didn't seem in a hurry to help, either, far too content not putting himself at risk. I had to do something, or else...

Ahh!

gently caress!

Suddenly, Jasmine slammed her forehead against Ray, causing him to grip his gun tighter.

Don't!



I ran forward. Everything seemed to have slowed down around me. If it's like the twin, maybe she could be saved too... drat it! This always happened because of Ray!

BGM: Android Sorrow
I fell to my knees and grabbed Jasmine's body. I pulled her from Ray, and she rolled onto her back, looking up at me. I could tell she was dying much faster than the twin.



gently caress, no! Not you!

He got my lung, I think. Or something... like that... around there... Hey... would you do me a favor?

What...? What is it?

I brought my sleeve up to my face. I wiped my eyes clean so I could see her properly. drat it! Was it my fault? Maybe if I'd gotten here fast enough...

Don't... blame yourself, and... take off my collar.

Huh? That's going to...

I'm already gone... so just take it off... after I end...

And with that, just like that, her body shut down. My hands gripped against her back, but I couldn't feel anything.



Right... just... I can't do it.

Can't do what?

...take her collar. I can't do it. You... you do it. I have something else I have to take.

I delicately deposited her body next to Ray's. Marco set off to work. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw that the collar came off without triggering any laser. Maybe it knew when its wearer was dead.

BGM: Advancing Shadows


No, my hands were trembling; I was too much of a good guy. I wouldn't... kill. I gritted my teeth. I wanted to, but doing it was just... No. Instead, I was going to punish Ray otherwise. I took his gun. In my bag now, I had two guns. Ugh! I should've pulled it out on Ray! I would've had something to stop him!

:doh:

It was my fault. I stood up with Marco.

You're gonna carry it everywhere?

Maybe we'll need it later.

Okay, well, whatever. Here, have this too, then.

I handed the gun over to him. He looked at it with surprise before taking it, hesitantly.

What about you, what do you have?

I got my own from earlier.



Silently, we both went down the staircase to take the train again. I broke that silence a few moments later.

We should get rid of those drat guns.

Why? I know you're upset about her, but...

Don't you get it? The reason why she's dead is because someone kept one. It's too dangerous. This kind of bullshit shouldn't be in the metro in the first place! What would you think if Ray overpowered me later, and then decided to grab my gun and shoot me?

I guess you do have a point... why not just off him, then? That seem simpler.

:stonk: drat, Marco, just loving saying it huh?



Once we were both inside the train, it set off again.

BGM: Silence
Ray's gonna have to live with the fact he's got two deaths on his conscience now. I don't have any of that. I'm not going to get any of that weighing me down. I don't... like it. I didn't want her to... die.

Yeah, I mean... it's nice to save someone, but we were in danger too. And we had nothing. She did lunge at him, so...



Ah, shut up, lady! “Prochaine station” my rear end!

Marco chuckled at my words. I deflated into a seat instead, holding my hands and trying to think about how this whole thing happened. How did Ray get the gun, anyway? He had a gun, that's right. Where did he get it? I knew where I got mine: it was in the safe in the fitness centre.

A safe contained an object that wasn't so safe. That's irony. However, was it possible Ray gained the gun from the room he explored with Jasmine? No, that wasn't possible. Jasmine would've never let him grab the gun if that had been the case. The only possibility, other than him taking the gun while she was distracted, was that he took it between then and the second room.

All Ray did after that was... threaten a girl... grumble during our drinks... and... he also helped A with Marco. When did he ever get it?

BGM: Ambient Strain


That was the first station I'd explored with Marco, earlier.

Hey, let's leave here.

Any idea?

I explained while we stepped outside.

Keep guard down here, just in case Ray comes by. I'm gonna find somewhere to hide those things, so that nobody can use them to kill someone again. This has been... too horrible.

Okay. Call if anything happens.



There was the clock from earlier... the cupboard... No, no, no. Anywhere I looked seemed too easy a place for anyone else to stumble onto simply by snooping around. I had to make up another plan. Perhaps...

The bins were a good place to hide something. Not inside of them- but there may have been something else I figured out. I tried to lift one up, and... Ooof! That was very heavy. For some reason, they were strangely half-bolted to the ground. I could make them turn around, very slowly. Perfect.

On the ground, I could tell the bottom of the bins didn't quite reach the floor. They had a small, elevated space, which was just enough to put an object there. I set the gun down, and slid it underneath, then pushed the bin back over it, rotating it around its bolted axis until it was perfectly fitting like before. On the bottom was a perfectly-sealed containment area, where the gun would now reside.

That's amazing. Hey, Marco! Come over here, I found something!

I called for Marco. I could hear his steps coming up the stairs.

Aye, I'm coming, captain! What's up... huh?

I heard him from the staircase. Something surprised him. I realized what that was, but far too late to act. In that moment, our collars were beeping, and a red light came from the back.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl




Why? The only thing I could think of, was... someone else came up with him? But he was alone. What exactly happened?

BGM: Silence






:v: And with that, we've unlocked the first lock of the game! ...That we still haven't encountered! Whoops! Maybe we'll find out what that's all about soon, as next update is when we move into the other side of the flowchart!

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Anomalous Sepulcher
Halfway through the flowchart! The comparisons for this update are going to be the stations and train interior.













-----

On the way back from the lab, you're given the option of talking to someone during the ride back to the lounge. For the update itself, we spoke to E, but this time, let's see what happens when we talk to the other two, starting with Jasmine.

BGM: Silence


What do you think is behind that door? I know there's some weird tube in the middle. It looks like it's full of liquid, too, but I couldn't see very well from the angle...

Maybe they're trying to revive the dinosaurs. You know, rawr and stuff.

She huffed indignantly.



I say it was random, but not like that. It's not like it was truly random. It was clearly set up.

She sounded almost disappointed that the puzzle was lame, but I knew what she meant; why even make a room like that accessible if there was nothing to do...? Was it just to see the locked door?

Companions, please pay attention to the train. We're arriving shortly.

He was right. As he called out for us, we both abandoned our topic.

And that's it for if we talk to her. The other option is talking to Agnos.



Almost right as I approached him, he inquired about our findings. Perhaps he was very interested in leaving this place, and I couldn't fault him.

No, not particularly. It was really strange, though. It was a science room or something like that. I'm not super good with any of that stuff, so I couldn't say exactly what it was used for.



Was she trying to tell me not to mention the heavy door to him? I hoped he didn't notice how awkward the end of my discoveries was. He stroked his little beard over the thought I gave him to ponder.

Interesting. A laboratory... I'm sure you've realized that we may not be in the metro anymore by now, correct? Or, perhaps, better said would be...



I nodded a little. Was it the secret laboratory, then? I couldn't tell. The old man did have a point, though: the purpose behind making that laboratory available to us was nebulous at best.

And that's that. No matter who you talk to, neither Simon nor Jasmine end up telling Agnos about the locked room- though if you talk to E, you tell HER about it, but nothing ever comes of that. :v:

-----

There are two different points on this half of the flowchart where you can ask people questions (or bring up topics of discussion) while traveling to a different station, so I'm gonna grab those here now for completion's sake.

The first one is when you decide to team up with Marco, on your way to the library. The topic we chose to discuss was the diversity in age among the group, but there are a couple of other options to choose from:


-Smiley's identity




That mask? It's really frightening. I certainly wouldn't want to eat lunch with him.

I mean, you can't tell what he looks like inside. Maybe he's handsome.

Maybe, but there's a reason why he's concealing himself, no? I think there are only three possibilities as to why.

He enumerated them all while the twins listened.



Second possibility is... he's someone one of us knows, but isn't in the group. He might be a relative, or someone with some kind of notoriety who wouldn't want to be seen.

Like a celebrity? You really think someone with such high fame would do that?

Possible. I've seen a lot of “eccentric billionaires”.

At the word “eccentric”, my mind instantly jumped to A and E. I felt bad for thinking about them, as if they were the only eccentrics in the world.



Hey, stop that! We're not in a horror movie. Though you look right at home in one.

Maybe we're not in one, but our situation is pretty dim...

Like I said, he'd be right at home.

I shook my head in disbelief. Marco just never stopped making jokes and references. I really wondered how that dunce got a master's degree in sciences.

-The train's direction



Yeah, I was. You noticed it too, huh? The direction we're going in. Doesn't make any loving sense.

Why do you say that?

Think about it, M. We were moving towards the north side before, but our destination is down from the midpoint. We're going towards the south now, or southwest if you prefer.

Eh? We were?

For once, that left him speechless. I nodded.

Yeah, that's definitely weird. I don't know what's going on, but... The whole train changed directions in the span of a moment.

[

What do you mean?

She's saying we switched trains, but we just forgot. I don't really feel like I forgot anything, personally, but whatever.

He waved dismissively at the air with a hand.

Next station's coming in shortly.

-The current time



It's 6PM. Wait, gently caress. My watch is broken.

He was looking at his arm. More precisely, under the fold of his cuff was a large watch. Even if nobody wore those anymore, older guys still had their quirks.

If it broke earlier, we're probably 6:20PM or so. I think when we were in the train before, it was somewhere around 5PM. More or less, at least.

I wonder how long this game is going to take... At least I have a good excuse for missing out on work time.



Oh, shut up.

Hmm... somehow, that time feels wrong to me. It's not correct.

What do you mean?

I think it should be earlier? I guess I was abducted earlier than you guys, then.

Before I could really ponder on what this meant, we arrived at the next station.

The other conversation is when we agree to go to the lab with Agnos- last time, we asked him about his relationship with E, as well as the stuff he has in his bag.

-A's age, and their age gap



That is correct. It is a fact that is both a gift, and a curse. I have the experience of life, but so little time to do anything with it.



It's even more difficult for many to imagine it, especially for people like... the twins, for example.

Ah, yes, our difference in ages is quite a gap. Interesting, isn't it?

The age gap?

Partially. What's most interesting is the fact all eight of us are composed of so many different age groups. Teenagers, young adults, a slightly older adult, a middle aged man, and myself.

I didn't know who the slightly older adult was supposed to be. Order of elimination, it wasn't the twins, Ray, or A. That meant... the slightly older adult would be Jasmine, Marco, E, or myself. I knew for a fact I was the same age as Jasmine and Marco. That left E. This old man knew her. I was sure of it.

:rolleyes: Glad we're all on the same page finally, Simon.

-No topic, only silence

I chose to sit down for the time being, and avoid asking him anything. Instead, I decided to think for a bit. There might be a few outcomes from the coming discovery. I wondered if he would choose to trust me after he figured out we concealed that door.



Anything on your mind, young man?

Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about this place...

I see. Please, don't let me interrupt your thoughts then. We'll arrive shortly enough.

And that's that.

Next update, we start down the other half of the flowchart! :toot:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Next update will be up tomorrow, but we have a choice coming up in the middle of the update after next so I wanted to get votes for it now (without context, because that makes it more interesting :v:): should we stay behind or should we go together?

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


OwO together.

...but leave Agnos behind if you can :v:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





As a quick reminder, this path branches from the very first meaningful choice of the game- A and E and the twins have already paired up, which leaves Jasmine, Marco, Ray, and Simon to pair up for their first time venturing out into the stations. During the very first route of the game Simon chooses to pair with Marco, and all of the routes/endings up until this point have come from that decision. This time, however, we're going to make a different choice...

BGM: Ambient Strain


Huh?

We can split the team any way you like. I don't mind if you pick who should go with Ray.

Yeah, who has to babysit him?

Ray narrowed his eyes in his direction. Yeah, I didn't trust Marco with Ray, in the end. I felt like... a fight would really break out if I put them together, which meant I really didn't have much of a choice.



:v: Finally, somebody new to explore with for once! Even if it's Ray, it's like a breath of fresh air.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Ray was intimidating, and nobody could've faulted me for not wanting to go with him, but I didn't want to let him team up with either Jasmine or Marco. What won out in the end wasn't logic, but my friendship.

I'll go with Ray, then. J, you can go with M, I trust there are no issues?

She slowly nodded at me. For some reason, I felt as though she was dissatisfied with the outcome, despite having given me the choice. At least then Ray and Marco wouldn't fight... And Jasmine would be safe, too. Marco wouldn't do anything to her. Though, knowing Jasmine, she could've been the one who would've done something to him...

She could be fairly headstrong at times.



Thankfully, I didn't have the time to regret my decision before everyone decided to move on. Since everyone had their teams set, the twins impatiently entered the train first. After noting it wasn't moving yet, my group followed suit. I figured the system was automated to some degree, or... maybe the mastermind behind all this could see us.

A shiver ran up my spine at that thought. Were there scanners on the doors or something? Cameras we couldn't see? Suddenly, I grew very self-conscious.

Don't think too much about it. I did earlier and, well, things didn't go well for my head.

She sighed in discouragement, closing her eyes for a moment. I wordlessly agreed with her. The doors closed and we were greeted by a pre-recorded speech telling us what the next station was.

BGM: Silence


With all this, I had almost forgotten- the train had French diction here. It seemed the next station was a... “garde-manger”, whatever that was.

At this point, Simon decides to strike up a conversation with the rest of the group, but we've already seen all the options here. As such, I'm going to skip this section, as well as when A and E leave the train, as the dialogue is completely unchanged from the other path. Things only change once the train stops at the station that holds the library:

BGM: Ambient Strain


As the door opened and nobody moved to take the lead, Jasmine took her chance and offered her duo to be the next sacrifices. In a manner of speaking.

Okay, okay. Let's go then, J. There's no point in wasting any time, huh? Like, it's best to be in the first picks. It's a little like when you're in gym class at school...

His voice became fainter as he walked into the distance. I couldn't hear what stupidity he was saying anymore. When the two of them vanished behind the open door, it closed, and the ones on the sides of the train did the same.

BGM: Silence
Very shortly, it was on the move once more.



I wonder if this is all just a farce and we'll be able to just walk out or something...

I mumbled to myself a little. No one else paid any mind to it. Glancing over, I looked at Ray, the companion who would spend a while with me in a room doing who-knew-what.

“Chambre”, huh? Normally that station isn't that kind of room.

Why, what is it?



I have made the decision to cut the next little bit of dialogue out, as it has a weird and tasteless “no homo” joke here, and it's not even really interesting enough to make fun of! Thanks game! :v:

BGM: Ambient Strain


The twins' body language was categorical: neither of them moved, and they remained far from us, as if telling us we were the closest to the doors and we should go.

Fine, fine...

It doesn't matter which one we take since they're all the same anyway.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
He vanished outside. I looked over at the twins, deciding to convince them to be allies instead of enemies for later.

Take care, okay? No matter what, stay safe. If you need help, remember you can count on each other. And, uh... if we meet again, I'll lend you my help too, okay?



Sure, sure. Now move along, or you're gonna miss your ride, Mr. Benevolence.

I guessed I could differentiate the twins this way: G was the shy, quiet one who was probably smarter than she looked, and H was the ball of sass. I reached into my pocket, about to put on my cap, but I refrained at the last second. The movement had been automatic, as if I was so used to putting this thing on before leaving the car. I wasn't on the job right now.



Hey, don't go without me!

I called for him, but he had already proceeded too far to hear me. I didn't even get to watch the train drive off when I entered the little lobby beyond the doors. I barely noticed the little console attached to the door, and the fact the latter closed right after I entered. I moved upstairs almost immediately.



This is... a bed?

No, this is a sandwich... of course it's a bed, what do you think?

I looked at the alcoves where the beds were situated. They were scattered over two layers. In total, there were eight beds, reminiscent of bunk beds more than anything else. For some reason, that fact bothered me. Eight... it was always the number eight here. Eight participants, eight collars, eight beds- what else was eight? Ray's brain cells?

I finally found Ray: the man was occupying one of the alcoves.

Wakey-wakey, Ray. I think we should search around here before we take a nap, even if you really want to.



Yes, I want to think about stuff too, but while we're doing that we should still search to find a way to open the door...

Ray sat up on the bed in surprise.

What do you mean, open the door? The door's fine.

When I walked in, the door closed behind me almost instantly. I guess it's supposed to do that when the pair is inside, to trap us in.

Ray groaned. Dealing with him was going to be a pain, I could already tell.



I didn't take you for a lazy person. Didn't you say you wanted to think and not sleep, anyway?

I'm not lazy. I've just had a big day.

He took his flask out of his pocket and drank from it. I lifted a questioning brow.

Lazy and drunk, too?

I'm not drunk. You wouldn't get it...

He put the container back in his breast pocket. Surprisingly, he didn't get very angry about it, despite the fact I clearly probed the hornet's nest. At first, I'd done it to get a rise out of him. Now, I didn't understand why he didn't react the same way as usual.

Let's start then. Search this area since you're already at the beds, and... I'll look over there.

He didn't seem to have a problem with it, voicing a few weak and annoyed words of acknowledgment. Pretty much what I expected from him, but now, it was time to search this place. I was hoping my friends were having more luck than I had.

BGM: Silence




BGM: Active Search


As always, in a new place, we check the map. :v:



Fascinating. There's a lot to look at in this room, but I gotta start with the poster of 'The Magnificent Zachary'.

Ray, come see this. It's an old poster for a has-been magician called The Magnificent Zachary. I think he was an illusionist or something?

What about the poster?

I dunno. I thought you might know more about him since you're older.



The guy took a drink from his flask. Assuming he wasn't masking his interest, I must've been following a red herring.

Well okay! :v: Might as well look at some of the other stuff on the right side while I'm at it, starting with the mirror.



Behind myself, I could see Ray doing whatever on the beds. I thought he was searching, but I wasn't sure. Was he... sleeping? In the middle of an escape room?

Ray, I can see you. Get up.

Shut up, I want to sleep. I had a big day. Kids like you can't get it.

I left him alone before he put me to sleep: the big sleep.

Let's see... this table looks clean. In fact, it's clean enough to reflect my face off its surface. Is this a study group or something? Surely, nobody ever ate here. The pantry wasn't even here either.. we passed it by earlier.

Talking to yourself like an insane punk now, are you?



Before I interact with anything, I'm gonna check out the stuff on the left side.





Interestingly enough, the shoes and boots here looked like the ones the others wore.

Are these... our shoes...?

Before we take a closer look at the shoes, let's check in on Ray again while we take a peek at the beds.

Hey, I thought you said you wanted to look elsewhere and I'd search this area?

Just making sure you're doing it correctly.



I can't just have you trash this whole place up. I mean, look at the state of those beds already! It would be really hard to find anything if you made the mess even worse.

Leave me alone. I didn't touch those beds. In fact, if I did throw everything out, wouldn't it be easier because it would be all over the place?

Is that what you say to other people as justification for avoiding cleaning up your room?

No, I just don't need to do it.

I took him for a man who at least had his stuff together, considering he looked a bit like some kind of office worker, but he had a lazy side to him too.



Guess its time to start poking at stuff properly. Just gonna start with the shoes and make my way right.

I tried putting them on. None of them fit, but none of them were my shoes either. On the other side of the room were the missing ones, because on this side I could only see the twins' shoes, A's boots, and Jasmine's shoes.

Ghnn... here. They fit.

I tried a pair on the other side. Strange, for them to have been here... As I removed my foot from one of the shoes, a little coin rolled out onto the floor. I grabbed it.



Next up, the light switch.

Alley-oop!



Turn on the loving lights right now, okay? I already hit my drat foot on the corner of this bed.

I obeyed and turned them back on immediately.

This place looks kind of old. Look at the lights; a few are broken. Also, it seems really impractical to have the light switch here when the beds are over there.

Doesn't matter. Next time you turn off those lights, I'll turn your lights off too.





Unfortunately, trying to turn the lights off a second time just makes Simon get upset and refuse. :v: I guess we can check out the rug now, though.

The rug felt so nice under my hands. I could pet the rug for ages and I wouldn't be bored. First, though, I cast a glance at Ray... He was asleep on a bed. Perfect. I seized my opportunity and rubbed the rug with both hands while on my knees.

Oh, this rug was just so great! It was fluffy and comfortable. Even if it wasn't a bed, I could probably sleep here.

What are you even doing?

I cast a glance up. Ray wasn't asleep- he was just lying down, and he saw me.

Uh, I was, um, searching for... pocket change.

I'll make you into pocket change if you don't take this escape room seriously.

Oh yeah? Well, how about you stand back up and search, too?

He gesticulated into the air with his arms, before dropping them onto himself or off the side of the bed. It didn't look like he was going to move from there. I needed to have a chat with him to convince him to help.

:v: That's right, loving around with the rug unlocks a conversation option.



I just wanted to know... about your drink, uh, what is it? Is it beer or something?

I needed to break the ice eventually, and I thought this would be helpful to do first. Since we would be trapped here for a bit, I thought it would be nice to get to know more about each other. Even if he didn't seem to care at all about sharing information.

It's not... ugh... Listen, its not alcohol, it's medicine, okay?

He ran his hand through his hair, visibly annoyed. It was pretty much the emotion he naturally showed, so I didn't pay too much mind to it.

I mean... if you wanna talk about it, that's fine, I won't judge or anything.



BGM: Ascertaining Speech
I don't really want to get into the details, but the medicine was partially made by me. See, I'm a teacher in a scientific field I don't want to elaborate on. I ran some tests a while back.



The people who let me in the know about this medicine, though, they were real shady. Like real, real shady. I had no choice, since all hospitals are now understaffed due to that drat pandemic. Time wasn't on my side.



He held the flask up to show it off.

Unfortunately, a side effect is that it makes me real... real violent. Like real angry. Maybe a bit paranoid, too. I hate it so loving much, but I have to take it or else I might not wake up again.

He closed his hands in fists, angry at his powerlessness.

Yeah, okay. If you'd tell the others, I'm sure...



Listen, if I go too far, just remind me of what I'm doing and I'll probably realize it's no good and stop whatever daft thing I was going to commit.



I thought Ray was uncharacteristically smart for having developed that imperfect cure by himself, even partially, and with the help of that company. I could hardly mix cereal and milk together without making it burn up in flames.

BGM: Active Search
Well, I'll keep searching around.





Oh hey, and now that wardrobe is an option to search! That said, I'm still gonna keep going left to right, so the tables are next.

When I lifted one of the cushions, there was a little metallic panel embedded into the floor. That seemed pretty important, so I kept it in mind for when I'd know how to open it. There were four screws on it, but I hadn't found a screwdriver.

Maybe I didn't need a screwdriver, though. Was this the oldest trick in the book, or what?

Before we use the coin to unscrew the panel, lets check out the cabinets.



The second one wasn't locked either, thankfully enough, and it contained a hammer of all things! I figured I'd keep this on myself since it was a highly useful tool in general. Smiley didn't tell us we couldn't take anything out of the rooms either, correct? So, that meant I was now armed and ready.

In the third and last of the drawers was a piece of paper. I unfolded it, expecting it to be some stupid gibberish, but it was actually more important than anything else...



I squinted at what I was reading. The paper was telling me someone in this group didn't belong? Instantly, I grew a little mortified. What if Ray would find this? No doubt, he'd spread fear, confusion, and paranoia to the entire lot. I couldn't afford to let him get a hold of this. This was too dangerous.

I decided I would share it with Jasmine and Marco later first, or someone more reliable at least. And what was up with that second half, too? It was full of grammatical errors. I stashed the paper away into my coat, crumpling it up a little in the process while I closed the drawers.

I found a hammer!

Good for you!

He really didn't seem to care about anything, did he?

How about the wardrobe?



Found anything in there?

Woah!

The big man surprised me, causing me to fall into the wardrobe. Luck had it the sudden movement made the doors close behind me too, trapping me in an entirely different world.



Hey, stop being dumb. Come out of there.

Oh, yeah, there was no faun, no lion, and no witch here. This was just the normal interior of a wardrobe. I came back out with a hanger in my hand.

This is all that's in there.

Really? Huh. Give me that.

He swiped the hanger from me, and then left the immediate area.

You could say thanks, maybe?



I waited for Ray to be cooperative before I opened this just in case I found something spectacular. Using the large eight-coin I found earlier, I unscrewed the corners of the hidden panel. Opening it, I found... a little box with a lock.

What did you find?

This box. It needs a key.

Didn't find one. Want me to keep hold of it until you find what you need to open it?

I guess.

As I picked up the box to give it to Ray, I spied a secret message on the bottom of the alcove. It was like a strange depiction of a hammer and a rectangle. What the heck could that have meant?



Well, only two options; lets start with the table, I guess.

This table was perhaps even shinier than the other table. No... the first table was a tiny bit shinier, upon reflection. It was hard not to reflect on it. Both of them were so shiny, they reflected constantly.

I need to get to the bottom of this. I won't rest until I've made sure I know which one is the shiniest table of the lot. Maybe I'll need to use the mirror by dragging one of those tables... No, wait, I need to put them together.

As I sat between them with them up on their sides, I realized all I managed to create was some kind of infinite mirror loop between them. This wasn't going to be very helpful.

Looks like the mirror is the right choice, then.



:black101:



What the gently caress are you doing?!

I'm breaking the ice. Hello, nice to meet you, I'm- ughk!

He grabbed me from behind with a hand, closing his fingers onto my shoulder. His digits were right next to my neck.



Okay, okay, ugh! I almost can't breathe!

...Sorry.

He let go of me and returned to the beds, while I examined what was beyond the mirror. The broken opening was giving way to another room entirely. However, beyond the red curtain wasn't much of anything.





I obviously wasn't going to take it, so I came back through the small room. It was void of anything except for a strange machine that was used to record video. On the machine was a key, but it was broken. The thing I'd searched for this whole time was right here! But since it was broken, it couldn't be used to open the box.

Dammit!

As I went back through the mirror, I realized that it was one of those tinted mirrors like in detective fiction. This place was under observation, then? By whom?

The key to open the box is broken, Ray. What do we do?

Hmm... Keep looking around, I'll find a solution.

I stared at him as if asking him if he was serious about this. I didn't believe he would be much help, but... I didn't have much choice either way.

Heh, we're outta here.

Huh? Did you figure something out for the box that quickly?



He was saying it with such coldness, as if he was talking about killing a chicken or, worse, someone.

:v: Relax, Simon. When has Ray ever been a threat to other people in this timeline?

Then with this dumbass pole of metal, it was just a matter of working it around the lock. Came unlocked in a few seconds. All this for the key, and we could've just done this from the start. loving hell.

He spat to the side before bringing his drink up to take a sip from it again.

So what's in the box?



He looked at me with a bigger frown. True, my nickname was “S”...

I swear I have nothing to do with this. Are you sure it looks like an S? To me, it looks like a square eight. The number eight again...

I muttered that last part, while Ray handed me the key card. The little box was otherwise useless, so he threw it away onto one of the beds. Before it landed, though, I saw that Ray had taken something else in his other hand and was trying to hide it a little...

What's that?

What's what?

What you've got in your other hand.



Maybe the S card inside the box stood for “sandwich”.

Hey, there were two of them so we both can have one. Gimme that.

I'm real hungry, so, can't do that, I don't think.

You want me to open the locks?

Yeah, that would be great. I need a bit more rest here.



He grumbled, but gave up and let me have one, which I instantly ate up. I'd been completely starved beyond belief before this chance meeting with food!

You're gonna trust what Smiley left here for us? gently caress if I'm gonna eat this.



Could at least do something...

I muttered that under my breath again, this time out of annoyance, and I left him alone to unlock all the doors.

Let's see... the code is 1103711141. That's a lot of ones.

What'ch the chod?

Don't talk with your mouth full, Ray. The code is 1103711141.

Ghot it.



Not that much more reliable, but a little more nonetheless.

BGM: Ambient Strain
On the way down to the station, I realized I was still holding the hammer in my hand. Swiftly, I stashed it away inside my coat. There was the possibility this tool might serve as a weapon for someone later, and by keeping it I was hoping to eliminate the threat. Not to mention, it could be useful in another room. There was no rule about having to leave behind the objects we found, right?



So we can go back, then... that's a relief. I hope the others will choose to do that too.

Are you the kind of person who always looks back and never moves forward? We could just keep going,, too. Not sure why you're so insistent on going back.

No no, I mean... Aren't you curious about what was in the first station we were at, too?

Apparently my reasoning went over his head, because he didn't seem to care one way or the other. I frowned in the face of that selfishness. Was his suggestion to leave everyone behind?

It's kind of useless to do that unless we found something of note. Since there was nothing here, we could just keep going for a while.

I decided to keep my mouth shut on the paper I found. Especially with him around, I didn't feel safe exposing the message. For all I could predict, he'd decide I'm the person who doesn't belong.

I know you don't care about the others...



Be that as it may, it's still a good idea to tell them about the scanner room, at least. It'll take a few minutes at most!

With a shrug, he took a sip of his flask. Thankful he was at least cooperative enough to wait for the train back “home” alongside me, I decided to chat with Ray a little. Even if he was antisocial, I was certain he might have some information for me.

Are you sure you're not drinking too much of that?





I wisely chose to acknowledge his retort and dropped the subject nigh-instantly, after he repeated what I said in a mocking tone.

BGM: Silence
The train set off right after the little three-step chime signaling its departure.

Anything good on the news lately?

His question took me out of my budding daydream. The surprise was most likely written all over my face since he frowned at me.



:allears:

That was hardly time-wasting before- we were waiting for the train!

Whatever. I don't really watch the news, but last time I did, I heard about some explosion in New York. Even if I didn't care for the event, had my own issues to deal with, it was, uh... It was in their subway.

That was weeks ago.

Yeah, exactly. That event. Makes you think, huh? Since we're stuck in a metro, or a subway, or whatever the gently caress you wanna call it.



I didn't personally believe terrorists were involved in that incident, but I kept quiet, thinking it best to not set him off and have him blow up on me.

Are you saying you think they're related events?

Maybe. That place got bombed really hardcore. Just feels... similar. I don't wanna hope there's a bomb here at all, but if there's one, well, I don't like it. I'd rather be miles away whenever this place gets blown skyhigh, you get me?

I silently nodded. Satisfied with my docile agreeing, he resumed sipping from his flask while leaning against the inside of the train. Maybe that medicine was making him paranoid, too.

:v: Simon he literally said paranoia was one of the side effects, keep up.

What did I believe about it? It wasn't clear. Maybe he was right, maybe he wasn't. If he was, though... we were in some deep poo poo.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Huh, feels like we're getting a lot more info on this route than the other one.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



I just realized I forgot to post the missing puzzle from the original game, whoops :kiddo: It's not as if it's a particularly interesting one, and the sequence of events Simon does to get there is basically the same as it is in the remake- get the hammer, smash the mirror, enter the hidden room, etc. The only difference is that in the hidden space Simon finds a keycard instead of a box, and uses the keycard to activate a terminal in the hidden room. This puzzle shows up when you activate the terminal:



The solution is the second square in the middle row, because the rest of the symbols show a slowly rotating 90 angle shape and that's the only one to be "wrong". Like I said, not a particularly interesting puzzle :v:

Mecca-Benghazi
Mar 31, 2012



So I guess this route we’ve prevented Ray from getting paranoid and murdery due to picking up that piece of paper?

Podima
Nov 4, 2009

You've got the Shine
You've got the power

lomarf


Ok, finally caught up on the last several updates and I appreciate that this game's plot seems to really be getting off the ground somewhat. I'm intrigued by the -28 floor elevator, and I think I have a hunch as to what that's all about. Looking forward to seeing where this goes next!

Hypocrisy
Oct 4, 2006
Lord of Sarcasm



I actually bought this game based on this thread last month. I liked it enough to 100% complete it so thanks for showing the game off.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Mecca-Benghazi posted:

So I guess this route we’ve prevented Ray from getting paranoid and murdery due to picking up that piece of paper?
I'm guessing he'll still get paranoid and murdery, just for a totally different reason.

differentiating
Mar 30, 2019



Finally had some time to read through all the updates, so my thoughts thus far:

  • I've never really gotten the logic of going by codenames in these games. This person already kidnapped you from your daily lives; at best they picked you randomly, and at worst you were targeted, but either way it's not likely knowing your name/identity gives them much more leverage than they already have. Usually it seems like it's there to help the mastermind more often than not.
  • While A is clearly untrustworthy af and is coming across as this game's Dio, I'm tempted to believe him re: E's headset. Even if I suspended disbelief regarding 3D printing eyes/ears and reconnecting the various nerves in order to make those functional again, what would the odds be of the process finally finishing right as they're about to escape? Seems too convenient...
  • I think it's pretty obvious that in the routes in which Ray gets a gun, he gets it by pilfering it from A's bag.
  • Not sure what to make of the Jasmine-wig situation. Clearly it makes Simon more suspicious of her, but it feels more like a red herring more than anything.
  • Similarly, H's fake-head is strange. Is that an indication that we may have a fake H (or fake twin in general) around, so 3 look-alikes? That'd certainly be one way of "hiding" a 9th person. Or is the H we know a robot of some sort? That would make G more suspicious by proxy.
  • Given the ending we last saw, I'm guessing the lock it relates to requires knowledge that the sensors are reacting to the collars in particular? That would explain why Marco and Simon died (since Marco still had Jasmine's collar, iirc), and it fits with how Simon got revenge on A with E's body/collar in an earlier end. Though that info seems like it'd only be useful when people are already dead....
  • Based on E's random info from the first end and Simon's random thought in the apocalypse end, so far we have _ _ L Y _ , which Simon says is "close to a word, but not a word". Presumably this is a password we'll need for a later route, using Simon's amazing ability to remember things once decapitated?

Definitely interested to see where this goes!

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


The train stopped at the library station. From the windows, I could tell no one would be boarding it back. Either Jasmine and Marco already made their way to the first station, or they continued past ours. I could tell because the door was open here, so they definitely were done with this place.

The train's doors opened and closed uselessly, as no one would be leaving here.

BGM: Silence
The chime rang out again. I basked in the atmosphere of the metro. Silent, calm... Until the train departed again.



I closed my eyes and drifted off as we went back to the first station, which I learned on the way was called the “leisure station”, whatever that meant.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
When the strain stopped moving, we disembarked. Finally back onto solid ground, I stretched my arms and legs, looking around to see if anybody was back yet, or if we won the imaginary room-solving race. Four had already finished before us. drat, we got third place.

Hey, where are the twins? They aren't back yet?

Jasmine shook her head when I called for them.



It had some food in it too, like a sandwich? Looked kinda gross, but I was hungry so it's whatever. Old man A won the sustenance jackpot though, since his room was a pantry.

I noticed Jasmine had a bag now, which she didn't have before. I wouldn't have noticed it if I'd just been looking at her from the front, since it was tied and hanging off her back. It seemed strangely familiar... and upon taking a glance at the old man, I realized it was similar to the bag he was holding. Did he share something with her?



Oh, this bag? A is lending me some stuff so I can communicate with E, too. That's just in case we split up again, we won't be stuck in the same teams every time.

:v: That's right, we don't get to talk to E directly on this side.

I see...

Off to the side was the other girl. We weren't doing much, and there was no reason to waste time, so I decided to strike up some conversation with someone. All of them were pretty much free to talk to, but the old man himself was examining the consoles. If I spoke to him, I would probably end up in a long talk. Best be if I kept him for last... Unless I wanted to move on from this situation, anyway.

:v: Subtle.



Anyway, I'll just start with Ray and Marco and go clockwise.

I came by the two of them as they were discussing what they found in their rooms.

Yeah, we found a scanner room, but we couldn't take it. We didn't find that ninth person or whatever the gently caress its supposed to be.

You sure it's even a way out?

Possibly. It wasn't part of the puzzle as far as I could tell.

Yeah, he's right. We solved the room without needing to go through it.



You two know each other that well?

Yeah, we're roommates.

I wanted to tell Marco to shut up about it, because I didn't feel right leaking all my secrets like that, but in retrospect it was pretty obvious that I knew Marco and Jasmine.

Doesn't matter. The real issue is finding that ninth person before we try leaving, otherwise...

He made a gun with his hand and pointed the end of it at his own head, mimicking it going off.

Bang. Just like that.



My hand shook a little when I remembered that fact. It was so easy to forget we were wearing the collars when, at any moment, they could decide to cook our necks clean off.

Anyway, meet back up later.

I waved them off, walking away before my nervousness became more apparent.

Next up, Jasmine.

Hey, J. Did your group find anything weird in your room?

What do you mean by that?

I don't know, like some special instructions, or additional tools, or...

We had a tablet. It doesn't connect to anything though, and its battery seems to be extremely limited. At least, that's what M said.

Marco probably operated it, if I had to guess. He's good with that kind of thing.



Weird how?

It had four hands.

It was equal to two people, huh...

Technically, we all have four hands, but our feet don't really count as hands anymore. They used to count, you know? When we were big monkeys.

Those are called gorillas.

They could be called elephants and I wouldn't really care. Ah, this is useless! Anyway, I meant to say that clock was strange, but it was part of the puzzle solving.

So nothing special, then.

Nope, nothing.



Next up is E. However, I've chosen to skip E's option, because it's more people talking around her without actually involving her in the conversation in the slightest, and we got enough of that on the other side of the flowchart, thanks! :sigh: So that means all that's left is Agnos.



I didn't know why, but I immediately believed all four of those were representative of the four codes we got from our first stations. Sadly, we were missing the twins still, so we couldn't open this yet.

Hey, I thought to open this maybe we have to enter our four passwords.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech
That's a good idea, but we're still lacking one of our search parties. I tried entering some things to test it too... Anything that isn't the solution it wants seems to clear immediately after I press “OK”.

He motioned at the first console in the wall.



Alas, as I mentioned, without the twins we won't be able to open this, and we are unable to take the train to return to our previous stations, unless we crossed the rails which is a terrible idea. That means we aren't even able to help them, even if we'd elect to send another search party among ourselves! That is quite the pickle.

Right. Nothing stops us from having us enter the codes and then leave though, no?

Ah, that's true. If we left a token force, like a duo here, they could meet up with the twins again when they were finished, enter the final code, and check this place out while the rest move on for now. It may save us some time in the long run!



The others had come by when they realized we were discussing about our next plan of action. Everyone but E took part in the discussion.

Yeah, I think we should head out too. It's true I'd like to wait for the twins, but I also want to see further in. Maybe find that ninth person too. Hard to admit, but I agree with Ray. Smiley said this station was special, right? For all we know, this place is more like a checkpoint and not an exit.

A was silent, relating what the others were saying to E while we talked it out. He spoke up to let us know of E's choice in the matter.

E would like to keep exploring, but I think I would rather stay here and wait for the twins. What about you, J, what is your preference?

Um...

She looked over at me. Seemed like she'd pick whatever I'd go with. I shook my head, as if to tell her to make her choice without taking me into account.

I'd like to head out, then. That would make four of us, I think.



Hey, wait, I didn't make up my mind yet.

Ah, that's correct too. Well, if you would prefer to leave this place and explore, that would be a little difficult for us. We'd have to remake the teams.

That's true, but...

I was flustered because they didn't even think of asking for my opinion. As it was, M and Ray would go together, and Jasmine and E would go as our second team. I would be staying here with A to wait for the twins. I didn't know if I liked that idea.



That meant I would take E's place if I went.

Okay, I made my decision.

Out with it already.

Yes, what is it you wish to do?

As the old man hurriedly questioned me, I made up my mind.



The vote I held was whether we stayed behind to wait for the twins, or went together with the others in teams. Looks like we're going with the others!

BGM: Ambient Strain
Something in me clicked when I was given the choice. I decided to not wait for the twins, suddenly believing that would be a waste of time on my end. I didn't care if we had to redo the teams.

Yeah, I'll go too. If M and Ray are together, that means I'll go with Jasmine.

Hold on. E also wishes to go, so that puts us at an impasse.

He still communicated what I said to E. In the end, E decided to stay back.

That would be our teams then, but I'm not sure about our compositions. I first aimed for the teams to mix up between people who didn't know each other too well...



Why, it might help us determine exactly what's being asked of us, of course! I don't believe Smiley took us random passersby from the streets without due cause. As a result of this, I, too, have changed my mind, and wish to head out.

That's just a loving waste of time, let's set out already.

Uh, maybe you and J could have a rock-paper-scissors to determine who heads out?

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


W-Wait, don't take it so seriously...

S, stay out of this. I have an old man to flatten.

Don't think I'll go down so easily, young lady. I've still got it.

The two of them pulled their sleeves back as if they would be going at it at full force. All I could do was watch as the two of them counted down. Finally, they opened their hands. In the first round, Jasmine lost.

Hah, I told you. Victory is within my grasp.

No way... We have to go for a best of three.

What?!



I opened my eyes wider as they drew out the battle. Her competitive spirit was off the charts. From her body, I could almost see it float above her head. A menacing dragon... And from the old man, there as much of the same. A giant bird spirit, half bird half lion. A griffin! The two of them locked into a battle for the ages.



Only the victor emerged from the duel. This time, Jasmine won and A lost. The dragon took a bite out of the griffin, severely damaging it! But it wasn't over. It was best of three, so this meant... even with the two of them scoring one point and wounding the opponent, it wouldn't be over with just this much.



At that point, I had hidden my face behind my hands, unable to see the next skirmish in any way except through my fingers. On the side, Marco yawned. Ray glared at us. Could they not understand this was the decisive moment? This single battle could end the world's conflicts... or plunge it into eternal chaos.

:rolleyes:

Finally, the two of them settled their final attack! As they did, dust exploded from the strike. I couldn't tell who won for the longest time. A powerful wind came of their contact. And finally.. finally... the dust settled. The victor was clear to me now. As I opened my eyes to look through the clouds of leftover dust, I saw...

Jasmine won! Devoured whole, the griffin returned to the aether. It had been a glorious battle, but none could stand against the dragon...

I'll go with S, then.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth


I almost felt bad when E's expression dropped a little.

It's alright; I don't mind waiting here either. Explore at your leisure, and find a way out for us, okay? Don't forget me!

And make sure the twins are safe, A.

Still dazed by the great battle of the dragon and the griffin, I made my way to the others who had been waiting for the train. It finally arrived when Jasmine joined us, too.

Heh... it was a glorious battle, indeed.

Huh?



Well, at any rate, I'm glad it didn't take too long. I always hate waiting for these things.

It's a waste of time, but what can you do? It's better than walking around, or even driving in this loving city. Traffic sucks.

Yeah, and it's big enough that walking would take forever to get anywhere too.

It seemed the two of them were on better terms. They could tolerate each other. Maybe getting over whatever they disliked about each other would be easier than anticipated. Or maybe it was just because Ray wasn't calling Marco a punk and Marco wasn't cracking a stupid joke for once.

BGM: Silence




As usual, the speakers spoke the name of the next station. This time, it was something like “security”. I decided to leave at this one with Jasmine, since I was highly curious about it. A security room... would there be video tapes there? Perhaps Smiley made a mistake and we could see something from the cameras.

We'll go first, okay. Jasmine and I will explore the security room and report any findings we might have about what the cameras will have seen.

Aw, man, I wanted to go there.

Meh, I don't care. You two can do whatever you want. Not really romantic, though.

That doesn't really matter to me...

Hmph.



Unfortunately, because we can't talk to E on this side of the flowchart, Simon remembered he has a crush on Jasmine :v:

Anyway, you two have fun.

I rose up, and so did Jasmine as the station came into view.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
Yeah, we'll go have fun. Let's see... we could go play some games at the arcade, or go watch a movie. How about it, Ray?

Ray wasn't very amused by his nonchalance.

None of that in here.

And how do you know that?

I left the train with Jasmine as the two of them started bickering again. We decided to waste no time and entered the lobby. As soon as we were in, as was customary probably, the doors closed and the train outside drove off.



She sighed, demoralized by the process we were stuck in.

I know you prefer being a free bird. We'd better get going, though. No time to waste here. The night is still young, and we've got to make it out so we can celebrate at home, right?

Jasmine flashed me a smile.

Yeah, let's check this place out and obliterate it!

She walked up the staircase without even waiting for me.

I hope in the obliteration of this place we won't end up being caught by our own petard...

It was time to see what this station really was. I stepped up the stairs, and then wandered through a brief hallway. I saw one of its ends led to a locked room with a scanner in the middle, much like the other one before.

BGM: Ambient Strain


The third door led to another room with electronics. I left that one alone for now.

This room's full of TV screens. I wonder who has time to watch all of that.

The security guards, of course.

None of them are here. Besides, this is a station, remember? The metro's security guards don't hang out in here normally.

Well... then we could watch all the Switchformers movies at the same time!

Are you insane? You'd get a headache the size of the moon.



There was a control board in front of the screens, but I had no idea how to operate it.

There's a side room, too... we should explore that one later as well.

Why don't we split up? You go in there, and I'll look here.

Okay! Holler if you want to switch places.

I nodded, agreeing to her plan while she left me alone here. Even if this room was a security room, it was still, in its own way, very ominous.



BGM: Auxiliary Search


New location, new map.



Okay, there's a lot here this time, so I'm going to start with the symbol on the floor and then go counterclockwise.

This symbol was weird. It looked like a red cross with a bunch of additional lines.

Isn't this the symbol Smiley wore as a clasp? Must be really important.

These desks were reminiscent of office desks, not so much security desks. Then again, I didn't know what security rooms really looked like.

Reminds me of my friend who used to work as a security guard... The kinds of things people did on camera were always a good story. I wonder if it's just because they knew someone was watching.



And this chair... it looks really bad. I feel terrible for anyone who has to sit on that for any extended period of time.

It made me miss my gaming chair at home. No, it was not a really expensive one- didn't have the money for that. It was a simpler one, but it was still leagues above this sorry excuse for a chair.

loving of course Simon owns a gaming chair. I should've known :argh:

I wondered how many guards this place had. There were eighteen screens lined up over three rows of six, or in three sections of six. All of them were shut down. In front of it was a console. I assumed this was used to access security footage. Yet, without it active, there was little I could've done with it, so I did little and made like a tree.

I should probably check out that station in the center of the room, while I'm at it.



And this... is this ketchup? And is that mustard over there? Is this a restaurant?!

I examined the burger thoroughly. Could I have gone for a burger on top of the sandwich I'd eaten earlier? The answer was yes: burgers were always fine. Just had to decide if I trusted the burger...

Trust nobody, not even your own beef.

I grabbed the burger and... oh, it was plastic. Something didn't feel quite right, though.

I can hear a little “clink clink” when I shake it...

Pulling on the burger a little, I managed to break it apart. Inside was a little key.

Cool.

I only had to find where to use it, now.

:v: If we interact with the alarm, Simon tries to pull it, but nothing happens.

These chairs look more comfortable than the ones behind the desks. If I ever needed to go up anywhere, they could be a chair-rific help.

Nobody laughed. Not even myself. I felt so ashamed, I vacated the area without looking at the water cooler.

What about the shelf?



I looked through the tapes, hoping to discover something from a label or another. Alas, they were all unlabeled.

Huh? Are they just empty?

There's also the AC unit.

Hey, this is the same air conditioner as the lounge's AC.

The same AC as the lounge? Wait, what lounge? I must have confused the AC with another.



All that's left is the shelf, and then we can switch places with Jasmine.

By making clever use of nearby computer chairs, I could add a few feet to my height, allowing me to reach the higher ledge where a bunch of suitcases were stashed. Still, when I got up onto the chair, it did a worrying cracking noise as if it was already on the verge of giving way under my weight.

Hang on, buddy...

I spoke to the chair, reassuring it. I grabbed a random suitcase and instantly, the chair broke apart, leaving me to fall onto the ground with a loud noise! The room shook slightly, and some VHS tapes fell off the shelves, the majority landing all over my body.



I grumbled to myself as I rose up to my feet. I hoped there was no other suitcase I needed to grab, because I figured I would've had to call Jasmine over. Speak of the devil; she just happened to wander back in.

Are you okay? I heard a loud crashing noise, as if the moon landed right in this room...

Oh, I'm not that heavy!

If you're in high spirits, then I guess I was worrying over nothing.

She popped her head back into the other room. Thanks, Jas! Real helpful! I chased that out of my head, then I tried to open the suitcase. You either “do” or “do not”, there is no try; and I didn't. The suitcase was locked up by a bunch of screws.

At least, I brought it down if we ever found a screwdriver. Or some coins... classic escape room maneuver. I tried the one I kept from the bedroom, but it was too wide. Yep, screwdriver then.



Okay, time to swap rooms!

Hey, J! Let's switch it up, okay?

Before we do, want to help me with a thing?

Sure, what is it?



A lot of shelves had piles upon piles of paper, and everything was locked up behind a gate. There wasn't even any space to walk, so if you wanted to get anything out, you had to remove what was in the front first.

Do you want help removing all this? It would take forever.

No, I found a screwdriver, but I can't get it.

Is it too high on the shelf? I can get it down, no problem.

S, I'm taller than you! No, no, nothing with the screwdriver itself. I think the box will open when we solve something else here. What I really need help with is this.



Following that, she also handed me a piece of paper. They were diagrams for the wires, pointing at where each should be connected, though which diagram was the right one wasn't clear.

According to this, we'll get a screwdriver. However, when we take it out, the door will slide shut. That means if we take it out, we'll be trapped here.

Sounds bad. Let's not take it, then.

I'm pretty sure we'll have to. The idea is that one person will take it and shut themselves in, then pass the screwdriver to the other person on the other side of the door.



Weird way of handling it. There was nothing like that for the hammer I found in the bedroom.

You found a hammer? Did you bring it with you?

Yeah, I have it on me.

Maybe we'll be able to make use of it in some way, then. Do you think you can handle this wire stuff on your own?

I took a cursory look over the piece of paper. This looked pretty easy.

I'll think about it.

I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I acted like I had to think really hard about it, leaning against a part of the console that didn't have a keyboard. In the meantime, Jasmine waved at me and left to examine the other room, where she would be more useful.



Not a lot of stuff here; interacting with the wires closes the door, interacting with the door has us switch again. I'll look at everything else first before we continue.

I didn't know what those dials were for. Was this some kind of large battery?

Even though I feel like the technology here is simple for this year, I still don't know how any of this works...

I brushed my hand on the back of my head, clearly embarrassed.

This was a blank screen. Nothing happened when I pressed on the keys.



From afar, I listened as the sound of a toilet being flushed was heard.

Yes, some really important machine.

I looked for the fuse linked to the bathroom in this area, and then I flipped it off. From afar, I heard a scream as the lights probably went down.

Hehehe... how well can your eyes work in the dark, Jas?

I talked to myself before giving her sight back, flipping the fuse back to “on”.

:v: In case you needed a reminder that our protagonist is the worst and any bad thing that happens to him is karmically justified. Anyway, let's use those wires finally!



Then, I looked at the piece of paper Jasmine left me. On it was a bunch of diagrams telling me how to operate this piece of junk. I had to put the wires in this hole... and that one... A green here... a red there... blue here and over there... Didn't work. That was the first diagram crossed out. I tried the second, same thing.

In order to make us waste as much time as possible, they probably made the last one work.

Trying to solve this big brain style, I switched my method of elimination by going in from the end instead. That only made my job harder on me because... Turns out, the next diagram on the list was the correct one! I wasted some time trying them out from the end, after going halfway from the start.

:allears:



The screen next to the wires lit up once they were all in.

Hey, J, come here! I solved it.

I didn't want to gloat, but I wanted to talk to her about this puzzle. It was hardly one anyway: the wires matched a configuration in the lot, and it had been really easy to figure out. Why couldn't she have done it?

Oh, good! You let screwdriver's cat out.

:v: It's the law of visual novels baby, we gotta mention it SOMEWHERE!!



Yes, shroud river's cat, that's what I said.

No, no, shro-ding-er

Show...ginger.

...sure, let's go with that.

So how do we even know there's a screwdriver in this box, anyway?

Because it's got an indication on it. Look, it clearly shows a screwdriver.

You're the kind of person to trust what you see at face value, huh?

What are you getting at?



No, it's Schrodinger... and what are you talking about? Are you trying to sound smart, even though it has no bearing on our situation?

Humph! I'll have you know, Schrodinger's car is a very important piece of theory for quantum mechanics...

Now he has a car, too? How many things can Schrodinger fit in his box?

Slip of the tongue! Bah, feel free to call me back ove3r when you really need my help, S!

She stormed out of the room after I made fun of Schrodinger's Cat too much. I couldn't help it; at this moment in my life, even just the mention of that thing made me facepalm. The topic of the wires completely escaped my mind, but at this point, she certainly wouldn't answer it until she simmered down.

:v: And whose fault is that, Simon?



The square with yellow and green operated like a tactile mouse. I quickly made work of this little thing, and then a nearby click echoed.

This was the puzzle in the original game; I'll post it at the end of this update.

Must be screwdriver's cat box opening.

Soon after that, Jasmine appeared in the doorframe.

Did you get it? I heard something about screwdrivers.

Yep, it's open.



Think I could do it instead? I brought it down, after all.

Let me do this one thing, at least!

I capitulated in front of her insistence. It was true she hadn't done a whole lot yet... Agreeing to her demand, I reached for the box, while she quickly slipped back, knowing the door would close. When I opened it and then took the tool out...



It's hard to see because of the text box, but there's an opening at the bottom of the door that makes it so the room isn't completely dark. This is also how they pass the screwdriver back and forth.

Huh, this is weird. In this suitcase is some kind of technology thing... It can connect to the console in the back! The screens are on, now.

She paused for a little bit.

Well, what's on them?

Hold on, this is a bit strange. I'm gonna need your hammer, think you can send it over, too?

My hammer? Really?

Yeah. Please send it over!



BGM: Silence
That would prove to be a strange mistake indeed, when I suddenly heard something bizarre...

BGM: Abyssal Snarl
The sound of glass shattering reached my ears. Did someone jump through a window? No, there were no windows here. Well, maybe on the PCs there would be windows, but... the PCs!

J, what are you doing?

I'm solving the puzzle, one sec!

The sounds of windows being smashed one after another echoed through the dimly lit room. I couldn't understand what Jasmine was doing.

What are you doing?!

I told you, I'm solving the puzzle! Almost there!



The screwdriver and the hammer were both sent back under the door.

What did you do...?

I put the screwdriver back in the box, and quickly grabbed the hammer to stash it back in my coat. I stepped out and witnessed the outcome.



So I smashed them all. I smashed all the screens, until only the one that mattered was left, and now they work.

Well, there had to be an easier way then because, listen, the hammer wasn't part of this room, right?! What if Smiley decides we did a real bad thing?

Oh... yeah, you're right. But I didn't see any other way, I swear. C'mon, let's look up the security footage before we go. There has to be something worthwhile in there.

What about the password?

She pointed at the screen. Oh, right, it was currently displayed on it.

We should unlock the doors downstairs, first.

Okay. I'll go that way.

She hurried out of here, still embarrassed about her behavior.



BGM: Silence
I left the area to also take care of a door, entering the password quickly before coming back up the stairs. Within the next minute, we were back up. I had a thought for the screwdriver we had to leave behind. Goodbye, Mr. Screwdriver- I'd never forget you.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
The screen that hadn't been smashed was lit up, and I could see a live feed of one of the rooms. It looked like a church or something like that.

Hmm... let's see what we have here.

Now that everything was open, it was easier for me to sit down and use the console. It looked a little like a computer interface, so it didn't take very long for me to get used to it. Around the system were a lot of files. Folders upon folders numbered in strange sequences were lining up the database. If someone would've asked me how many files there were, I would've answered “a lot”- the only way to refer to this many files.

Try a random one? It's not like we can tell what they all are with those strange numbers. Normally they're formatted based on dates, but in there they're named strange things.



This piece of poo poo probably has a check for corrupted files... Let's try to run a repair tool.

Assuming it's not, as you say, a piece of poo poo.

Well, it's running. While it's going, mind answering a few things for me?

Jasmine inquisitively arched a brow.

What did you find in the drawers you unscrewed?

Oh! Right, there was a piece of paper with a code. That's what I used to unlock the doors.

Really, now...



So all this with the screens...?

Oh, uh, that was part of the puzzle too. I swear.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


But what I cared for is that Jasmine wasn't giving me the entire truth. There had been something on the screens that she didn't want me to see. Was it personal? Was it worse? Was it incriminating?

Before I could truly dwell on it, the check finished. There was only a single, uncorrupted file remaining. I pulled it up and booted it up, expecting a text file or something, but it was video.

Aha! Jackpot. We got some footage, boys.



This is... What is this?

They've never gone together, I don't think?

On the screen, they were arguing. It had no sound, only picture. They were in a scanner room of some sort. After a while, the twin ran through the scanners.



I looked over at Jasmine, who pointed at the screen as if to tell me to keep looking. The feed wasn't done giving us information. Ray was panicking. He had his back to the wall, both of his hands grabbing onto the surface, as if he was trying to rip his nails off. Slowly, something was rolling back into focus.

It was the twin's head.

-----

Here is the original puzzle found on the screen in the side room in the original game:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



:smugdog: Another vote for the next update, though even without context you can probably make a pretty good guess what it's about. The options are gather more information or share with the others.

AweStriker
Oct 6, 2014



the game posted:



I think I see what this is going for. If I'm right, the answer is:


Arrange the words in the following order, top to bottom:

BLOOD
STARS
TALOS
DEVIL
NEVER
ANGEL
GREAT
MAFIA
DORMS
THERE

This puts the letters "DATINGGAME" in the red boxes.

Jade Rider
May 11, 2007

All the pages have been censored except for "heck," and she misread that one.




Share with the others. What could possibly go wrong? :v:

Junpei
Oct 4, 2015

Cuz I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here
I don't belong here

Sharing is caring!

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Gather more information, of course.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Simon's been an unhelpful jerk this entire time and I don't see why that should stop now. Gather more information, no sharing.

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




The info that would get shared would look really bad for J (screen breaking) and Ray (the video), so the real question here is whether we trust them...and gently caress no, so share that knowledge.

MagusofStars fucked around with this message at 12:02 on Jul 26, 2021

differentiating
Mar 30, 2019



I don't think trusting people with info has worked out super well so far, so let's gather more info first.

cardinale
Jul 11, 2016



I know this is a homage to 999 and VLR, where the protagonists are kind of douchey, but wow Simon is an annoying dickhead.

I vote to share with the others.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





BGM: Abyssal Snarl
Oh my god!

Huh!!

Finally, Ray looked around the room, seemingly scared from the occurrence. After a minute, he tentatively reached for the head. He grabbed it and ran out. Nothing happened afterwards.



I don't know. One of the twins... is dead?

I hit the fast-forward button. Nothing happened, until a twin came back on screen- the other twin, the one still alive. After waiting for a moment, she stepped through the scanner. However, there was no head rolling back this time. Nothing happened to her.

That's weird. Rewind that.

I looked closer at the screen while doing that. The scene played again.

Pause it!

I hit the button, while Jasmine excitedly pointed at the image.



Something doesn't add up.

Other than the fact Jasmine was swearing, which she only very rarely did, something was definitely not right. I rewound the feed to the very beginning, and let it play again.

We have to tell someone about this. If she could remove her collar...

No, I think it's best if we don't talk about it with the others for now. If one of them really died, then that means Ray's gonna do whatever it takes to hide it.



Especially if one of the twins is gone, too... Wait, does that mean they had the ninth person in their room?

Jasmine remained silent, uncertain. I decided to do a final cursory check. First, I looked at the file's name, trying to see if it would help me figure out when it was recorded, but no dice. Once again, just like the rest, it was named by a number, but it was far too high to be considered a date. I briefly considered it might be in seconds, like if it was “x seconds after the Dating Game started”, but I figured it wasn't it.

Okay... let's go, then. This could cause unnecessary strife if people find out about it. First, we have to see what happened to the twins, and what Ray's state is.

Yeah, let's go, on the double.

The two of us ran away from the room, then quickly down the stairs.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Ugh! Gah, I shouldn't be such a daredevil.

Are you okay?

Jasmine called from the station. I joined her right afterwards, where we waited for the train.

Yeah, I'm fine.

I knew we should've waited for the twins...

Didn't you want to head out?

Yeah, but I always felt like that might've been the better outcome. I was just too curious, I guess?

She sighed, clearly worried over the choice she made earlier. And after winning the battle between the dragon and griffin, too...



The train arrived. We boarded it.

BGM: Silence
After the little chime, it set off, and the only thing eradicating the silence was the announcer's voice from the speakers. While the train was moving, I thought about the situation again.

First of all, I found a note that spoke of a person that didn't belong. Was it E? Was it A? All of us had no link. Was it the twins? If a twin could take off her collar, was it her...? Or was Ray the person that didn't belong? His reaction seemed genuine. There was legitimate fear in his eyes when he was scared shitless earlier.

No, it had to be a twin, then, maybe? I kept those thoughts to myself. It was difficult to think about, because the twins were young. They didn't have the life experience to set up this entire place or anything. The twins couldn't do this. One of them died, too! Then why did I have this uneasy feeling that told me I needed to watch my back...?

So many facts didn't add up.



The simplest idea would be that the twin who removed her collar found a way to do so without dying. If that was the case, then she was gone, and wouldn't be of any help. I had to stay calm.

Station's coming. Come on... faster...

Jasmine was muttering encouraging words to the train to go faster to the station. I couldn't help but smirk at that futile endeavor. I regained my seriousness when we arrived at the station. I was now in emergency mode.

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle


Quick, into the lobby! No time to examine this place, we need to find someone, and quickly!

I wordlessly agreed, while engulfing myself into the lobby. After a short travel up the stairs and through a hallway, I emerged into a lounge. On the other side of the room was a bar. I didn't have the time to think about what this place was before A spoke to me.

Is everything alright?

I saw him behind the bar, apparently preparing some drinks for the others. E was seated on a stool, waiting for hers. And next to her...

BGM: Silence


:v:

BGM: Anaphora Solution
Time seemed to stand still while I opened my eyes wider. I could see them, clear as day. The twins were alive. Both of the twins were alive. My eyes darted to their necks. Were the collars there? I needed to check for the collars... Both of them had their collars on.

What...

Jasmine joined me momentarily. When she noticed my state, she elbowed me in the side. Contrary to me, she wasn't nearly as horrified by the discovery that two people were still alive and trapped here.

Please excuse him! He's never seen a bar in his life, so this is really surprising to him.

It's... oh...

I cleared my throat and finally came back to reality. The twins turned around by that point, so I had to put on my normal face, even if I thought I wasn't too convincing.



I see...

Unrelated to that, where's Ray?

The big man wasn't there yet.

We don't know! In fact, the twins came back just a few moments ago. Did something happen? Have you reason to search for him?



I wouldn't go that far...

The two of them could speak. As they did, I realized I felt sick, just a little. I couldn't believe my eyes. Either what I saw earlier was false, or this was false. I couldn't trust my eyes. I needed to calm down.

No, nothing happened. Everything is... all fine.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
I decided to finally play it cool.

Do you desire a drink? Take a seat, I'll make some refreshments from what we've got here.

Thanks for the offer, but I'm not really thirsty.

That was a lie- I did feel awfully thirsty. However, I lied through my teeth to get some time alone. Even if he was genuine in his offer, I had no time for this.

I just need a bit of a walk, I think.



What can I say? My body's starting to get old.

Doesn't that mean you'd want to sit down, instead?

No, no, I have to keep it in shape.

I laughed extremely unnaturally. The twins stopped caring and went back to their drinks. I hoped they weren't alcoholic or anything. What was that old man thinking? With a wave towards the others, I left them alone.

BGM: Ambient Strain
I walked back down the stairs. What was I going to do now? I debated on the proper course of action. The choice came down to sharing information or not, because I couldn't make sense of it. I could kind of trust Jasmine, even if she pulled off that weird thing with the screens. That event still lingered in my mind.

I could also collect more evidence. Currently, I thought the twins and Ray were all extremely suspicious. What about the others, though? Could I really share info like that without any lead? With this walk, I could also explore a station and gather more info. This was a difficult choice.



Per the vote, we're going to stick around and share information with the group.

BGM: Anaphora Solution


The part of me that didn't like that idea remembered how it showed Ray and the twins. It would cause some strife. Especially if I'd share it with them... so I opted not to. However, someone who wouldn't do something stupid until we had proof would be a better confidant.

Before I shared it, I wanted to clear up something that had been nagging me about the video. First of all, the twins should've never met with Ray. The only instance of this being possible was after we left. If Ray and Marco split up, then Ray came back alone, met with the twins on the way, and one of them grouped with him, then it would be fine... But I thought the twins didn't really like him. I didn't think they would ever team up with him willingly.

There was also another thing: the fast-forward had taken quite a while to even get to the point where I saw the collar-less twin. Possibly, hours had passed. We hadn't been here long enough for this. There was yet a third thing that didn't work... but I had to check the video again to be sure.

I probably have enough time. Unfortunately, I'm on the wrong side of the station to go there...



I could also take the train to another station, go up, cross to the other side, come down, and take the train back to make it to the security room. The latter was a bigger waste of time... and judging by my current situation, I didn't want to waste too much of it. I really wanted to see what the twins had found in their station, but... Ah, heck. I'd have to leave that for later. Making up my mind, I decided to crawl back up the stairs.



I passed the first doorway, successful in sneaking by. The second doorway went much of the same, but as I went through and came down the staircase...

BGM: Ambient Strain


She watched me, surprised to see me. I could either stop here to talk to her directly, and inquire on what was in her station, or I could catch the train. If I did the latter, I would save on time, but the former would let me know... ah, decisions!



This choice doesn't impact the flowchart at all, and if you go to catch the train it just skips ahead, so we'll be polite and talk to her. :v:

I made up my mind and spoke to her first. The train could drive off, I'd wait for it again.

So... is this G, or H?

It's G! You still haven't managed to differentiate us?

You're both the same, it's not my fault!

It's the eyes, you big moron. Just look at the eyes.

I'd been averting my gaze every time I spoke to them, either out of fear of being branded something unsavory for addressing younger girls or out of some other indescribable uncertainty. But this time, it was because of the video.

:rolleyes:

So what did you want to know? You wanted to talk to me about something, didn't you?

Yeah. Uh... What did you find in your room?



I see... and did you find anything out of the ordinary?

We found a bunch of maps for the entire place here, but nothing special otherwise.

And did you meet with Ray yet?

Ray again? Why are you so fixated on him?

No reason, really. Just... making small talk.

Your idea of small talk is weird as hell. Anyway, no, I haven't met up with him yet, or anybody else. We just came back here, and you guys arrived shortly after.

Okay, alright. That's all I wanted to know.



The wait for the train was a little long, but I eventually boarded it. I dropped into a seat and closed my eyes, waiting for it to go.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


If anyone else had come here, they covered their tracks very well. I doubted any of them could handle that, so most likely, nobody came by. The secret was still very safe. I played the video again from the start. What I wanted to check wasn't really at any point in particular, so I paused the feed to avoid having any movement distract me as I observed it.



The feed was in the scanner room, but I could see a bit of the room it was attached to. I narrowed my eyes a little... then I realized what I first thought. I scrambled out of the seat, left the room, and looked around the hallway. I kept my eyes low and almost bumped into the corner on the way in.

Soon, I was in the scanner room for this station. There was no mistaking it... The floor outside of this room was exactly like the floor in the feed. All the hallways had a different kind of flooring, so this was definitely here. I could tell, because the floors in the leisure and bedroom stations were different.

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


G, H, and Ray... what is your involvement in all this?

My eyes opened wide in shock at the realization. Were they behind this? Not one, but three people?

I need to tell someone... first, I need to tell Jasmine, and then maybe someone else, too. But who?

I went back to the main room and closed the file entirely this time. There was no risking someone else finding this. After that, I left the room.



:smugdog: Remember, you voted for this!



I wouldn't have to worry about leaking the secret anymore.

The twins moved out. They found some maps in their room, so according to them, they're going to... hum...

She flicked through the papers, while A observed us in silence. E was there, too, but she was silent and tranquil, drinking some juice on one of the couches.

Ah, the pool! The room we explored together was marked as “security”. Remember that live feed of a church? That's a few stations further down the line. According to the maps, we've got around 14 stations total. There's the lounge... and on that side- the one we explored with the security room- there are six stations.



She cracked a joke, but I didn't laugh. In retrospect, perhaps that was a little mean of me. The poor girl was almost visibly crushed by the suspicions she had to hold. After all, out of every girl here, she may as well have been alone then. The twins were suspicious, and E's presence was minimal at best.

On the other side, we have the pantry... the library... the Stars, whatever that is... the pool... the recreation room... and the “reactor”, which sounds really dangerous.

I also have some things to show. It's good and all to know what is everywhere, but I need to share some info with the both of you.

I called the old man over by the same occasion.

Has your walk been fruitful, then? You've been investigating something, haven't you?

Very perceptive.



Perhaps I'd been pale as one ever since I made my discovery.

Unfortunately, we have to go to the security room. I don't think I can explain very well. That means we need to split up when we get there.

It's that video, isn't it? We found a weird video... I'll explain first, and then we can go see it to check directly.

Oh, if you swear it is the truth, and can act as witness for what each other is saying, I doubt we need to go see it on top of that.

No, there's something... additional, to what Jasmine saw. But sure, go ahead and explain.



And that's what we found. Since the twins were both here earlier... both with their collars... that's strange, isn't it?

Yes, I agree. I would like to see the additional information for myself, too. Let us leave E here, she is safe and she will be waiting for us.

I hadn't thought about E's situation.

But she can't stay here alone, right?

Correct. Alas... all three of us should go to see this additional information, yet only two may.

Were they going to have another rock-paper-scissors battle? As important as it was, I needed to circumvent it in some way. We couldn't afford to waste time for another hundred years fight.

I'll go with A first. Jasmine, you can talk with E, correct? Stay here, and tell her about it too. I doubt she'll talk readily- she looks like she can handle a secret.



Let us make haste.

I didn't need to be told twice. We both left the area, and made our way back to the security room.

BGM: Ascertaining Speech


Yes, that's quite odd. I can't help but wonder exactly if this video is real.

I narrowed my eyes a little. What did he mean by “not real”?

You think the video itself is a fabrication? But the people in it are those who are with us...

Do you think they died for real, then? We can't exactly see very well. This angle isn't good. The head could easily be a mannequin, for instance.

His expression darkened a little.



Perhaps they have secrets to hide. But then... the questions are, which twin is it, does it matter, and most importantly, is Smiley two of us?

Ah, I see. You're suggesting that if a mannequin was used, then the twin without a collar isn't a different twin, but the same one.

Precisely. It would be difficult to tell which twin is involved in this mastermind business, though. Is it H? She seems hotheaded. Is it G? She's a little shy. Contradictory...

I agreed with that. I couldn't differentiate them very well either until they spoke. They had different personalities, but that was pretty much it, I thought.

Oh, right, for the additional information, take a look at the corner of this video.

I wound it back to when there wouldn't be anything in the way.

If you noticed on the way in, the flooring in the hallway here matches this one perfectly, and other stations all have a different look. Unless you tell me this floor is also in the pantry, I'm going to assume that.



My theory is that the suspicious duo has been here before already. Before the game started, they filmed themselves acting out this outcome. Then, they waited a while, and set up the tape, checked it, and then left without turning off the camera. That's why it caught one of the twins without their collar.



I was pumped about the discovery, but when he finished talking, I deflated.

Why not? We finally figured out who it was!

He sighed, apparently having realized something I hadn't yet.



Okay, fine. But we should keep an eye on them, no?

Unfortunately, the twins have left for the pool. At the moment, I know that Ray and M have gone to the science lab, which is one station further up from here. The one after them is the infirmary. I would like to explore it, so it would be open just in case something bad happened in our confrontation.

I'll stay with Jasmine at the lounge, then, so if the twins come back we can split them up and keep an eye on them.

Not a bad idea. Let us away.

The both of us left, now that our plan of action was decided. Before leaving, I remembered to close the video. Once again, we rode the train in silence.

….........

BGM: Ambient Strain


We met with Jasmine again, and I explained everything to her.

Theories, but nothing entirely concrete yet. That's why we'll stay here. If the twins come back, it's paramount we grab them and question them.

Yeah... but we have to be careful. Is that a good idea? I don't know. What if they figure out we're getting too close to the truth?

I trust in the fact the twins care for each other. If it comes to it, we can try and leverage that. I don't know why the culprit would put their sister into this horrible game, but...

That's so mean, though.

Do we have a choice? We're stuck here, aren't we? Isn't that mean, too?



It is time for us to leave for the infirmary. Should Ray come back here before the twins do, please be ready to conceal what you truly know about this sordid affair.

Sure.

A and E vanished off from the room. I was left alone with Jasmine, which wasn't a bad spot to be in.

I hope they don't take too long. I'm not completely... patient, right now.

Me neither.

To pass the time, I had decided that perhaps I could have shared the paper with Jasmine. I still didn't know if I could have trusted her. Something was making me increasingly paranoid. We had a clear goal this time, yes; that was true. However, Jasmine's behavior still weighed on my mind. I had chosen not to tell A, as that might have been the trigger to send him on the warpath.

The paper spoke of a person who didn't belong. Was it Jasmine? Was it one of the twins? Was it Ray? I had to make this choice. Did I share the information with my childhood friend or not? Would it be helpful, or would it create even further unnecessary suspicions?

BGM: Abyssal Snarl


Besides, that information might only serve to drive a wedge between us, especially with what we'd seen from the video. All of it pointed to the fact evidence was being planted, to make us doubt each other. Instead of telling her about it, I pointed at the staircase.

Let's wait for the others to come back, then.

Jasmine nodded at me. Our minds set, we both made our way to the staircase. However, something bothered me still. I knew I could trust Jasmine... so why did I decide to not share the information with her? It made sense with a bit of thinking, but I hadn't taken the time to think long and hard about it.

BGM: Anaphora Solution


I sat down against one of the metallic walls. It was cold. She stood by me, arms behind her back, against the wall. She, too, was waiting in silence. Did I have any reason not to trust Jasmine? Of all people here, she was the one I knew I could rely on the most. Where was this feeling coming from?

I shook my head. Maybe it wasn't coming from anywhere in particular. I was probably just stressed. I tried to change my mind, thinking about what the others were doing, but ultimately, it only made the wait seem even more unbearable. Finally, the train arrived on our side.

BGM: Ambient Strain


But I was wrong. I didn't know why I thought M and Ray specifically would be dropping by next, and it wasn't them anyway. It was just A.

Is everything alright? M and Ray haven't come back yet?

He walked out of the train, looking rather surprised. Something didn't feel quite right with the old man's demeanor. And where was E? The train drove off before the girl stepped outside. In fact, she hadn't been in the train at all.

We haven't seen them yet. Where's the girl?

Strange... I saw them earlier on the way, leaving their room... They seemed to have been done with its exploration. I stopped at another one on the way here. I wonder why they're not back yet... Perhaps they are hiding something?

BGM: Abyssal Snarl
And where's E?



Is she still at the other station you explored?

Yes, to put it plainly. I suppose I can tell you everything I've seen, too. First, I stopped at the security station on the way back, after I saw M and Ray unlock the door, because I was curious.



However, I did not find them anywhere, and a few stations at the back are locked. I presume they have chosen to continue without us.

Hmm... that's not good...

We should go check for ourselves, I think.

If you wish, then go ahead. I'd like to go too. Perhaps we could all go together. I'm also curious about what they found in the science laboratory... Maybe something there tipped them off?

Like what?

I don't know. This is only a wild guess of mine.

I looked at Jasmine and she did the same towards me. I didn't detect any doubt from her, so I led our little trek back to the other side of the station.

Say, why didn't you explore it on your own? The science lab.



You came from that direction, right? If they'd truly finished and were done with the place, you could've scouted it out.

Ah, that's true. I didn't think about that. In my hurry, I suppose I was merely looking for companionship to go witness what they have found as a team.

Somehow, that didn't reassure me. I passed up on further commenting on it, while we made our way back down the stairs, this time on the other side. I glanced at Jasmine, as if trying to tell her that we should stay alert. Something about the old man was a little off. His story didn't match up, because there would be no issue reaching that station on his own.

BGM: Ambient Strain




Obviously, we're talking to Jasmine. I'll grab the other option in an Extra update.

Hey, J. Don't you think he's been acting weird?

I made sure to chat with her while the old man was distracted and wouldn't hear us. I even hushed my tone, which she returned in kind.

Hmm... When you think about it, it's a lot safer if you go with three people. That way, no one would mistakenly enter a station and kill everyone.

What do you mean?

Well, we can't be more than a duo at a station. If you have three people, one of them can stay outside and alert them if someone's coming, or let the newcomers know about the fact people are already up there. That way, nobody loses their head over it.



She shrugged. By the time our conversation was over, the train had arrived. The three of us watched as the train stopped at our station.

Let us go.

We entered.

BGM: Silence
As usual, the train did its chime before leaving the deck. We took some time getting to the lab, all of which was done in the utmost silence. I couldn't have a talk with Jasmine without A hearing us, and I couldn't confront A without getting Jasmine on my back either. Finally, we disembarked.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Are they doing something wrong?

I suppose it depends on what they found up here. Figuring this part out may be crucial to the events transpiring here.

It wasn't like we had a lot of choices. It was true I could head up there with Jasmine, and give him the slip by coming back down the other side, but if we did so, he could follow us anyway.

Okay, I'm fine with it if you both are. Come back soon, though. I'll stand guard, just in case anyone else passes by.



The man waited until after we were up the stairs to speak his mind. Truth be told, I was kind of curious already about what he figured out, too. He said it would depend on what we saw here?

I believe our comrades are trying to find something to open this door at the back here. To be entirely frank with you, I have explored this station before coming back. Apologies for my tiny lie.

He motioned towards a large door that looked quite solid. By the same occasion, he reached for his bag. Somehow, this looked dangerous. What if he pulled out a...



You think that key opens this door? Fat chance, it doesn't have a handle or anything. It's almost just like a wall with a window...

No, I don't think this key opens that door. I think it's for something else. I had thought you may have found something for this. I suppose I was mistaken. I also wanted to bring you up here because I sensed you didn't trust me. Or rather... you didn't trust any of us, both between your friend, J, and me.

Well...



BGM: Anaphora Solution
Have you had the feeling in here that some of your actions did not make sense? Perhaps you've had a choice to make, and somehow, after making it, you didn't feel like it was correct?

He was right. I felt that just earlier. Thinking of it, in fact... Every choice I'd made was strange. I chose to go with Ray over going with Marco. What was up with that?

I chose to ignore the twins. My nature wasn't like that. I wouldn't abandon a quarter of all us trapped here if I could help it.

I chose to share information without gathering any evidence first. It was a blind jump, and I took it. Why did I do that? Why did I not explore the stations on my own for a while first?

I chose to distrust Jasmine. Once again, a choice that seemed contrary to what I normally should have been thinking.



I've had that feeling too. Something isn't right...

Unfortunately, I cannot control it...

He gave me a difficult smile, while reaching into his bag again. I thought he was putting the key back in, but I also heard a little noise, like a metallic object falling to the ground. I looked down to see for myself what it was. He dropped the key.

Right now... I do not believe I can understand my thoughts. Something tells me, young man, that you must be...

BGM: Silence


BGM: Advancing Shadows




Apologies. Truly, I apologize. I don't know what is coming over me, but I think this is my safest bet. I removed E, and now I must remove you.

I tried sitting up, and managed to do it after all the efforts in the world. My right arm wasn't working anymore. It felt frozen.

What do you...

Once again, sorry. I must do this, and I have no idea why. I fear I may be a marionette in some fashion?

BGM: Silence






Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Well, we officially have half the endings in the game now, for better or for worse. :v: We've got two branch points we can work from now (as the third is locked), so vote for which one you want to start from next update:

-When we chose to go with the others, instead of staying to wait for the twins
-When we chose to share what we had rather than investigate any further

Also, AweStriker got the answer right to the puzzle from the security room. Not particularly difficult, but it's kinda fun I guess. :v:

MagusofStars
Mar 31, 2012




Let’s investigate further because I’d like to see if we can figure out what everyone else was doing.

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





We're going to take the other option this time, specifically to go investigating before we share anything we've found. Maybe things will go better this time :v:

BGM: Ambient Strain
I walked back down the stairs. What was I going to do now? I debated on the proper course of action. The choice came down to sharing information or not, because I couldn't make sense of it. I could still kind of trust Jasmine, even if she pulled off that weird thing with the screens. That event still lingered in my mind. I could, also, collect more evidence. Currently, I thought the twins and Ray were all extremely suspicious. What about the others, though? Could I really share info like that without any lead? With this walk, I could also explore a station and gather more info. This was a difficult choice.



BGM: Alarming Silence


All of this was sparked out of doubt. I trusted Jasmine and Marco out of everyone in here, but I didn't know if I could even trust those two right now. Perhaps Marco was still fine. The room with the screens, however, showed me another side of Jasmine I wasn't sure I was okay with. It was too early to jump to conclusions, but I really thought Jasmine's screen smashing rampage was far stranger than I originally believed. Did I have cause for doubting her other than that? Not really. Still, I didn't want to be had. I wanted to be smart, I wanted to be courageous; I wanted to solve this situation.

What about Marco? Yeah, Marco was still fine.



While I was lost in my thoughts, I saw the train arrive on the other side. Out of it came Marco and Ray. I decided to move to the side and watch what they were doing. I hid in the little dark alcove. I didn't want to spy on them, but Ray gave me cause for concern. The two of them were talking. I couldn't make out what they were saying from afar. Straining my ear, I caught some of their words once the train left the station completely.

...wait to be up there, I need a drink!

Yeah. … … …

I couldn't hear them past that as they entered the little lobby. I stepped out of the little alcove, but Ray turned his head in my direction. Crap! He saw me! He walked up the stairs. Oh, no. Did he realize I was spying on them?



Could he be reasoned with? I realized then that this long wait between the time he disappeared upstairs and the fact he hadn't come down, meant he wasn't hot on my trail. I was just being paranoid. I slapped my cheeks to wake myself up from that. C'mon, Simon!

Yet my blood ran cold when I heard some footsteps behind me. Oh.

BGM: Alarming Situation


What are you so afraid of?

Why did he ask me that? Didn't he know? It was obvious.

I didn't hear anything, I swear! I don't know anything!

What are you prattling on about now, you dumb youth?

I blinked once. No, no, I needed to blink twice to take those words in and understand what he said. What? Didn't he come to punch me?

When you left the train, you were talking, and I swear I didn't hear anything.

BGM: Ambient Strain


I couldn't make heads or tails of what he was saying. What? That wasn't stupid, that was...

You're the biggest scaredy-cat ever, aren't you? What are you doing here alone then?

Ah... I was going to leave to a station...

Alone? We have to go in pairs, no?

Yes, but I was going to search stations we already explored because...

I stopped myself from talking. Was it really wise to spread my paranoia to the others, and especially Ray most of all?



Because...

Okay, Simon. Now was the time for your confrontation.

Because Jasmine and I found something really strange in the security room. It was a recorded tape, and we have cause for thinking some people here are... strange... and maybe involved with everything happening to us.

I decided not to drop his name out of caution.

I see. I'm in, then.

What?





Oh...

Got any objections?

N-No, of course not! Okay, let's look around together, then.

What an unlikely pairing, and yet that was what I had to deal with. After another while, the train arrived. I still didn't know where I wanted to go. I could go and search the station the eccentrics left to earlier- the pantry. I could also search the library Jasmine and Marco explored, but... it didn't feel like a priority.

Even less of a priority was the one I explored with Ray, because we already found everything there. Or did we...? There was also that weird station the twins explored; the Stars, whatever that meant. I thought that might've been interesting.

BGM: Silence


The train set off towards the first of all of those. Come to think of it, we would have to search three, maybe four stations if we wanted to cover our own, and we were only two people. Perhaps it would be best to split up. Yet, I had an uneasy feeling. I didn't trust Ray all too much, so I definitely didn't want to let him go alone to my friends' room. What if he found something?

If, at least, I did, then I could cover for them and keep those doubts about me. The last thing I wanted was for this to degenerate into a witch hunt for Jasmine or Marco, sparked by this man's own dubious thoughts. No matter what, I couldn't let him head to the room my friends explored together.

So, made up your mind yet? You look like you're thinking a lot.

I'm just wondering how we will explore four stations on our lonesome.



But what if one of us finds something really important? Maybe we should go together to one of the stations first...

Pfeh. I'm not one to conceal anything I find.

Yeah, that was part of the reason why I had yet to expose the note to most of the others. Maybe I was the snake, and Ray was a bear...

The train stopped at the pantry. poo poo, what was my choice? I didn't even make up my mind on who would go where. Ray was on the way out of the train already. He'd apparently decided for me.

Hey, wait!

Hurry up, the door's gonna close.

In the urgency of the situation, I did a very quick inventory of my choices. I could either come out on this station with Ray, or give him another to explore once he was done with this one. If I came out here with him, I could keep an eye on him. It would make our search slower, but I could definitely get him to agree with me if we found something disastrous for the eccentrics.

However, if I tricked him, I could have him go to the bedroom once he was done in the pantry, to meet him there later and avoid having him explore the library at all. That way, neither Jasmine nor Marco would have to come under suspicion.



It all came down to protecting my friends, but in which way?

BGM: Ambient Strain
Wait up, I'm coming too!

I left the train. The man turned around to stare at me as the train drove off behind me, cutting off my way back out. I wasn't allowed to change my mind anymore.

Didn't you say it would be better to split off? Not only are you a big drat coward, but you're also indecisive to boot?

I thought it would be better if we go together, even if it takes a little longer. That way, we can make sure we comb the entire place. Besides, you wanted to clear your suspicions about the others, right?

Or confirm them.



It would be best to keep an eye on him. I called from the station before heading up.

Nobody upstairs?

No. Get up here already. The others are still at the lounge if I had to guess.

I walked in. Surprised, I watched as the door to the lobby... didn't move. Right, this was a station that had already been solved. I expected the door to close. I needed to focus. Walking up the stairs, I arrived in the pantry.



:v: Why does this pantry look like a twitch streamer's gaming den?

Of course, we wouldn't be eating at these tables ever.

Well, get on with it. You wanted to explore this room, so, go ahead.

And you?

Already started.

The man was eating some kind of pickle at a table. I hardly considered that exploration, but it meant he wouldn't get in my way until I'd talked to him, at least.

BGM: Algorithm Simile


This may not be a puzzle room anymore, but we still have a Map to look at!



As always, I'll start with the left and work my way right, starting with that poster on the wall.

It said: “Summer Cool Drink”. It wasn't summer yet, though. I could've gone for a cool drink anyway. I didn't care which season it was, honestly. Yes, you can still eat freeze pops and ice cream in winter. Nobody can stop you. Go for it.

Could you imagine having a glass this big? You could fill it up with so much stuff. It was around two fifths of my height! Holding it up would need both hands. And by the time you'd be done drinking this, you'd have gained a few pounds at least. Maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea, but who knows...

Perhaps MarcoDonald's would do some stupid jokes about having fries with that. Since he wasn't here, I substituted myself for him. I was becoming more and more like that dumbass...



Ray was sitting on one, so it couldn't have been that bad. A part of me was very tempted to tip his seat over, but I felt like if I did that, my travels would abruptly end in darkness. I abstained, despite the intense desire to do so.



To get anything out, I had to either be taller to pick them from the top, or do some weird puzzle minigame on the bottom screen. I didn't want to waste time with that. Whatever there was in those compartments wasn't food for sure, and all of it had already been emptied by the eccentrics when they came by here.

Still, I couldn't shake the feeling there was more than met the eye with these fridges. Maybe not these ones specifically, but... Did Smiley really expect us to live and eat here? Why was this here? No, there was something else for sure. Was it to make us hungry? Or was it to convince us that we were hungry...?



Already halfway done! These explorations are a breeze when the puzzle's already been done :v:

Ray might have been able to know what to do with these consoles, but alone, I couldn't tell. The screens were blank, but pressing buttons seemed to activate a grid-based display. One thing I could understand, though: these opened the fridges in the back. I assumed that's where Ray got his food. If that was the case, I'd need his help to open anything here.



I clenched my teeth a little. Did this mean I'd need to get Ray's help for this? I didn't want him to be the first to find anything. If he did, then he'd share it with everyone... Maybe it would cause too much strife. No, I had to do something about it. However, I couldn't hide the fact I needed his help.

Could I figure out a way to trick him into getting me the solution without giving away what it was for?

All that's left is that box under one of the tables, which is the actual thing we need to examine to progress.



I opened the box, and inside was a lot of sheets of paper with indications in the shape of a table. They were not real tables, but computerized tables. There were a few columns and rows, and each of the squares seemed to have a code inscribed within them. I wasn't sure what the columns and rows represented.

Since this wasn't immediately dangerous, I could share this with Ray. Before I did so, I decided to make sure he wouldn't see whatever I'd find with his help. There was a pen in the box, too. I picked it up and started scribbling onto a page.



I only needed to get Ray to use the console with these instructions, and he'd never be able to look around the screen to see me opening the fridge in the back.

Ray, what do you have there?

My drink.

No, you have food, too.

So what?

So...

Nobody's going to notice a little bit of food missing. Did you have a look around this place? There's enough food for at least ten years even if all eight of us would eat every day. So, you want my help, yes or no? Let me finish this real quick, then I'll be up.



What do you want to check?

I looked around with him in tow this time.



:v: Time to re-examine everything! But first, lets talk to Ray again.

What do you want to know? You look like you want to ask me a question.

I was just wondering, Ray... You don't really talk to other people much, do you?

I don't trust people. I don't trust you, and I don't trust anybody else here. If I did, then I'd play right into Smiley's hands, because whoever it is, they could abuse that trust. I'm not stupid, and I'd rather not give him any leverage over me.

Yet, you've shared your real name without even thinking about it...

You really think Ray is my real name? You're an even stupider boy than I thought.

If it wasn't his real name, then he was hiding that fact very well with how he always reacted when we called his name. If it wasn't his real name, then, what was it? I asked him.



Is that your last name?

I'm not going to answer any more questions around my name. Now, do you want my help looking around this place, or do you want me to roll you down the stairs?

I took the former option, naturally.

:v: Gonna start with the poster again.



What do you mean?

It's the representation of a drink. You can't actually drink it.

Aren't you putting Descartes before the horse?

No, no, you're confusing Rene Magritte with Rene Descartes there. One's an artist, and the other's a philosopher. I know, really close but not the same thing.

Whatever. This poster is a waste of time, and you know it.

Everything was a waste of time, anyway. If everything was a waste of time, then nothing really was! Ray just couldn't understand the subtleties about it.

How about the fridge?



Hey, I didn't get food...

Are you hungry?

No, but it doesn't change the fact that...

Then shut up and bring me somewhere interesting instead.

Talk about rude.



I lowered my rear end onto it and, voila, I was sitting. Can't sit sideways or anything. You should know that, even if you're still a little boy.

Hey, I'm not little! I'm twenty-four!

Yeah, that's like twelve. If you wanna have your glass of water or your little cardboard juice, there's some in one of the fridges, no doubt.

I only drank soda anymore. But maybe more water would be good. Not that I'd give Ray the satisfaction of being right or anything...

In order for Simon's dumb plan to begin, we have to interact with the terminal, but Simon won't interact with the terminal until we've shown Ray the fake message in the box. :v:



I opened it up and brought out my quarry from earlier. The little trick I'd inscribed on it was still there. I had to prevent him from looking at the other paper, or else he might realize this was a ruse.

Give me that.

He glanced at it after snatching it from my hands. With an exasperated sigh, he crumpled the paper by holding it tightly.

Hey, we need those instructions!

Shouldn't this room be unlocked?

Yeah, but there's a fridge that's still locked for some reason. I can't open it. I bet there's something inside.



No, I'll open the fridge. I found all of this after all, so I should be entitled to have a look.

Do whatever, then. Whenever you're ready I can follow these dumb instructions.

Perfect. Now I needed to bring him to the console. Ray went to the console while I prepared myself. I stood in front of one of the fridges.

Okay, now try the combinations one by one until this fridge unlocks. And don't lift your collar or it'll close again!

Yeah, yeah, I get it. Be ready to open it and take whatever's inside out.



This drat thing isn't clear enough. Which combination works?

Try them all, I dunno! It's not that long, is it?

This posture is terrible, too. Smiley can go gently caress himself.

I cast a glance over my shoulder. At least he was taking my addition onto the paper seriously, even if it made this take longer. Eventually, he hit the right combination.

Okay, the door's unlocked! I'll look inside now- remember the directives to stay down!

Yeah yeah, just get that poo poo out, and we can clear all the issues later.



Inside was nothing. However, the shape of the foam previously holding the items was unmistakable. From there was something square-shaped, something in the shape of a spoon, and the third item was...It was actually two items.

Two guns.

BGM: Alarming Silence


For how long had they been concealing that? Suddenly, they jumped to the top of the list of priorities to deal with. In my head, all the usual possibilities mixed into something unsightly. What if E's disabilities had been a lie? A would've told her to conceal them in order to appear saintly. Perhaps the two of them had been planning this the whole time.

They had guns, after all. They hadn't shared with everyone else. They hadn't left them behind, discarded them, or broken them. They most likely had them on their own selves. Suddenly, my face turned into pure shock. The old man's bag! That was the perfect place to hide something like this.

I can't deal with this alone...



Speak up, pup. What do you mean by that?

I closed the fridge's door, but kept the case out. Ray took it as a signal he could stand up. I slid the case over to the ground with my foot. It stopped next to Ray. The man examined it, frowning deeply.

Guns, huh?

Yes. We need to remove them...

No, that's dangerous. Best be if we just do nothing.

What? How can you...



Are you sure about that?

Yes. In fact, you should put that case back in there, too. Make it look like nothing ever happened, just in case.

He leaned back down and typed the code again. I reluctantly agreed, and closed the case to stuff it back into the fridge. Once all was said and done, we silently left the area.

I'll be back in a little bit. I'm gonna get something to drink. This has seriously made me thirsty.

Whatever you do, don't do something dumb, you daft kid.

BGM: Ambient Strain


Wait... would I really involve my friends in this? No, that wasn't a good idea. Perhaps Ray was right. I needed to investigate another station first. The best target would be my next suspicious duo: the twins. Quickly, I ran over to catch the same train as Ray. I ran down the stairs. The train was there, and would soon leave if I didn't hurry.



BGM: Silence
The doors closed behind me. We were off.

The man had left at the second station- the library. I didn't care if he explored my friends' room now, I could tell he was genuine in the care he took in telling me that was dangerous earlier.

BGM: Alarming Silence


I stepped into the lobby. Quickly, I went upstairs. Perhaps something would've helped me here.

Wait... what's that beeping?

BGM: Accelerated Scuffle
Uh oh. It was my collar! Were two people already here?!

Is someone here?



:v: Whoops!

Crap! In my hurry to search this place, I hadn't considered that possibility. And that was A! He was armed, but at the very least, I wouldn't have to face that weapon. In the ambient darkness, I saw three red dots illuminating the area a little. I hadn't seen who the third person was clearly. I hadn't expected anyone to be here to begin with. And now, I was paying the price for my recklessness.

BGM: Silence




Podima
Nov 4, 2009

You've got the Shine
You've got the power

lomarf


Whoops!

Quackles
Aug 11, 2018

Pixels of Light.


Whoops! :v:

Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?





:v: So, obviously, there was a choice there, as shown by the branching paths on the flowchart. I didn't show the options, because the locked choice is also visible now. I wanted to grab the non-locked options first, so for this update we're starting back at the point in the train where Simon decides what to say to Ray.

BGM: Agoraphobic Sloth
The train stopped at the pantry. poo poo, what was my choice? I didn't even make up my mind on who would go where. Ray was on the way out of the train already. He'd apparently decided for me.

Hey, wait!

Hurry up, the door's gonna close.



If I came out here with him, I could keep an eye on him. It would make our search slower, but I could definitely get him to agree with me if we found something disastrous for the eccentrics. However, if I tricked him, I could have him go to the bedroom once he was done in the pantry, to meet him there later and avoid having him explore the library at all. That way, neither Jasmine nor Marco would have to come under suspicion.

Was there a third option in all this...? If there was, I'd have needed some kind of divine sign to have gone with it, because I didn't really know what else I could've done. It all came down to protecting my friends, but in which way?

BGM: Silence


Before I could elaborate further, the doors closed. Ray didn't look like he wanted to follow the plan I suggested, but, since I waited that long and the doors had closed, he wouldn't have any choice. This played right into my hand to avoid him going to the library. Perfect.



I wouldn't leave there, anyway. My stop was the Stars.

It didn't take too long for the train to get there. Since we took the train first, nobody would be here either, allowing me to have full reign over the findings in this place.

BGM: Ambient Strain


There was the same lobby. The doors didn't close because this station was already solved. I ascended, and found myself in the Stars...



Dammit!

First, I had to find a light switch. Stumbling around the room, I didn't see anything like that. Maybe on the walls there would be one, near the door... Wait, where was the door? I couldn't even tell. I thought maybe if I blindly grabbed around, I might figure out its location...

BGM: Anaphora Solution


I think this is the funniest investigation section in the game from a concept standpoint, purely because it is Simon blindly stumbling around in pitch black darkness touching everything trying to figure out what the gently caress is going on in this room. Anyway, that won't stop us from looking at the map, apparently! :v:



I guess I'll start on the right side and work my way left, since we literally can't see anything otherwise.

I could feel something cold and round. It was some sort of pillar. Might have been marble. The detailing on it more or less proved that fact. On top of it was something- a container. Some kind of chest, maybe? Finally, I found the booty. This was what all true pirates strived for, arr!

Arr, matey! Find me that light, will ye? Lest I'll make you walk the plank!

My ship continued.

Next item.



My search continued.

This was a spacious table. I followed the border with my hands and realized it was in the shape of an octagon or something? It had eight sides, and on top of it was a spherical dome. I wished I could've seen this firsthand, but without the lights, it would prove fruitless to try.

My search continued.



This was something metallic. It was in the shape of a large cube... Was it some sort of dice? I couldn't tell, exactly, but it was heavy. No, it was stuck to the floor. Whatever it was, I couldn't use it to turn on the lights.

My search continued.

So, this room is actually, technically, on a search limit timer like the theater was, just...not a literal timer. At this point the story progressed, because, if you hadn't figured it out yet, Simon isn't going to find much on his own stumbling around in the dark. :v: However, I've grabbed the rest of what he can investigate on his own before we continue- this time, starting on the left.



Or, maybe it was just made to look like a door, and it wasn't one.

My search continued.

This was... what was this? A giant telephone? Could I have made calls from here? No, I couldn't.

My search continued.



My search continued.

This was the door I came in from. I twisted the handle and it flung right open. I fell out of the room with a heavy thud.

Ouch! I really need to find the light switch, or else this will have been for nothing.

My search continued, sadly. This door only led back out.

And that's it! Time to progress the story.

I was already exhausted, and I'd barely found anything in this stupid place. I still couldn't find the lights. Perhaps there had been none? Did that explain why the twins took so long to solve this place? I couldn't blame them. I'd be in a foul mood if someone gave me a room to escape, and it was plunged in darkness.



:v: You already knew this was coming from the previous update.

That was the old man. What was he doing here? I stepped out of the room to meet him in person, before he climbed and ruined everything.

Yes, I'm here! Coming!

BGM: Ambient Strain
I walked down the stairs until I came down to his side of the station below. He was next to the lobby, right outside of it.

Is there anyone else up there?

No, it's just me. What's the matter?

Everyone's leaving to search a new station, so I came to fetch you. You've been gone for quite a while!

Yes, I met Ray and we decided to take a look around the stations everyone already searched.

Oh, is that right? That seems a little needless...



You believe Ray may be Smiley?

Maybe not that far, but at the very least, I think he doesn't have clean hands.

The old man walked into the lobby after thinking about everything I said for a moment.



:v:

Yes.

Perfect then! We can go back to the lounge and arrest him as a group promptly. You see, if there is even a hint that he is Smiley, I wish to take it. He belongs to an organization doing terrible things.



The old man's sad smile was a terrible contrast to the determination he was revealing to me. Was he that focused on revenge, he was unwilling to concede someone may yet be innocent? I shook my head at his offer.

Wait, that's a little hasty still.. I'm not going back yet. I have other things to do first.

Oh, but you will, my boy. See, I have the best tool to prove Ray is a thorn in the group's side. However, it will require your complete cooperation.



:thumbsup:

I had no idea where he got this gun, but not knowing this had been a fatal mistake for me.

As you two have split up from everyone else, he was the only one who knew where you were... and he shot you. Ray couldn't bear your presence in his grand schemes. As an agent of the MTS, he wouldn't take chances...

As the old man made up his own version of the facts, I saw someone else outside of the doorway. It was the girl- the eccentric E. Were they both in on this murder? I didn't believe Ray truly was an agent of the MTS, whatever that meant. He wasn't hired by the Montreal Transport Society, not with his uniform. He had to be a clerk or a teacher, maybe?



It is time we find out the truth of the matter, and your help is invaluable. Thank you for your sacrifice. Soon, my revenge will be complete.

I didn't... you're... you're the one who...

Nonsense! Your help is a great contribution, don't be so modest.

As life slipped away, I slowly lifted my hand and weakly closed all my fingers until only the middle remained upright.



BGM: Silence




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Mix.
Jan 24, 2021

Huh? What?



Apologies for the back to back updates, these were originally one update but I kinda didn't want to put two entirely separate room searches in the same update so I split them. :kiddo:

More importantly, we have a choice here that I want feedback on. We basically have two options from here- go back to the other branch, or do the locked route first. I'm fine with either, this is like Zero Escape in that the order you do the routes is obviously meant to be flexible, but I know some people prefer to save routes with a lock on them for last if they can help it, so I wanted to give the option of saving the locked routes for later. :v:

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